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Archive for August, 2007

Plaxo heading in the right direction?

Friday, August 31st, 2007

I think on a weekly basis I complain about how awful the internet experience has become when you have to register for nearly everything these days — even at times to rate a video you just viewed on a site you’re probably only going to visit once because a friend sent you the URL! I can’t count the number of times I’ve just closed the window in frustration.

Life would be so much easier if you could get away with using a single password for all of your sites — but we should all understand the dangers in doing so. Many sites do not encrypt your password in the database field, and administrators of forums, blogs and pretty much nearly every site have access to view your username, email address and password. All they’d need to do is try the same information on more secure web sites and they now have access to things they shouldn’t. Scary stuff – which is why I always make my passwords unique, and try not to make them slight variations. This is why it’s so difficult to keep track of the many sites we register today, and why it’s such a painful and unforgiving experience.

So – of course I am registered with many sites… from LinkedIn and Plaxo to Facebook and MySpace. I started using Plaxo years ago when it first came around and thought it was an awesome invention. I was able to keep up with co-workers (current and former). Then came LinkedIn, and I left Plaxo behind. It was a surprising split for quite some time, where some of my co-workers that I’d invite to try out LinkedIn, said they preferred Plaxo – but they had no idea what LinkedIn was all about. I finally kept bugging them to try LinkedIn, and now there are only a few co-workers who still use Plaxo, and most others are now using LinkedIn to manage their contacts.

Plaxo was very much a thing of the past for me. It reminds me of my days using Webcrawler [look back] as my search engine in? ’91 or so? until I met Yahoo and Google ;) Yesterday, a friend and I were joking about how many different mediums there are these days that you need to keep track of for managing contacts and even friends. You have Outlook, LinkedIn, Instant Messengers, Home Email, PDAs/Mobile Phones, Business Cards, MySpace and Facebook just to name a few. While we were chatting, he mentioned that Plaxo has wised up and is helping you aggregate this information from other sites and applications you use… they are calling it Plaxo 3.0 and Plaxo Pulse. It supports Outlook contacts, LinkedIn, Google Calendars (Gmail contact sync coming), Yahoo address and calendars, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Check out the Plaxo video tour on YouTube (gasp, just don’t try to rate the video or you’ll have to register!)

So, it looks like Plaxo has taken it upon themselves to make an effort to clean up the mess all of us web site creators are making =) I am now off to try to find my password for Flixter, since apparently someone I don’t know just sent me a message and I’ve only logged in once.

// Jacob

Web Related Events updated

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

This has been a little over-due.? Here are the upcoming events for web related expos and conferences. You can view them below, or reference them on the Industry? Events page:?

An Event Apart
Chicago, IL
August 27-28, 2007

Photoshop World 07
Las Vegas, NV
September 6-8, 2007

Flash Forward
Boston, MA
September 19-21, 2007

Adobe MAX 2007
Chicago, IL
September 30 – October 3, 2007

Web 2.0 Summit
San Francisco, CA
October 17-19, 2007

Hollywood, CA
October 22-23, 2007

Dx3 has been Canceled


// Jacob

There’s something about MySpace

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

I’ve been wondering about something ever since I recently started using MySpace more often. I had created an account about 6 months ago to just toy with the site to get a better feel for its flow, functionality, and to really just better understand why it has been such a success. I created the account and just left it, but I deleted the infamous ďTomĒ, who annoys the hell out of me (and even more when people leave him on their friends list!).

After a bit of time, friends started adding me and getting on my case for not using the site. After a bit of peer pressure from these friends, I realized that I had to actually use the site for THEM, and I had to make it look better than the default template that they used or else Iíd look like a dork. Again, peer pressure.

Initially, I had quite a few pains using it. The flow of the site was poorly designed as links were never where youíd expect them to be, and the site was really designed as an after-thought… it was almost as though they designed the site, which then became successful, and they just kept piling more and more on top of it without really stepping back and analyzing the flow of the site and working through the information architecture. I feel over-whelmed trying to figure the site outÖ thereís way too much scattered and thereís no real organization.

Now, I’m not talking about how poorly designed the user “MySpace” profiles are. I donít think that needs any speaking to as I think we all know how bad they can get. I am purely talking about the interface and navigation in which, after you’ve logged in, you use to view comments, manage/customize your profile, account, etc.
I couldnít fathom how a site as poorly designed as MySpace, could be at all successful. There are obviously many factors that came into play for the siteís success, but then a thought dawned on me a little when I was going to update my profile this evening:

Because MySpace itself is so poorly designed, and almost every page looks like a tornado had gone through more than a few times and took us back to the 80ís, people feel comfortable and at home with it. They donít feel as though they need to worry about font sizes, font colors, number of fonts-types used on a page, whether or not something is readable, whether or not something is making their page blow out of 1024 (1004) pixels resolution, is compatible with certain browsers, is draining your memory like mad or crashing your browser. They donít care about web standards Ė itís all about having a page that you can call your own, being able to post stupid animations and videosÖ and not have to worry if it doesnít look right since everyone else has a funky looking page too Ė and surprisingly, Iím starting to ďget itĒ Ė and Iím also liking it.

Iíve also been comparing my experiences with MySpace, versus other Social-Networking sites out there. When I use LinkedIn (which I use every day and strongly urge you to use it if you don’t), I believe that the site is one of the most well designed sites out there. Iíve been through just about every page, and completely understand how it is organized, and have even checked out new features, because itís so well designed. But I donít feel ďat homeĒ with itÖ it feels more like a site for work and my career, than for play. The same goes for Facebook. I just received two invites on Facebook this morning Ė one from a friend of mine, and another from a complete stranger. I added them, and just closed the site. Facebook is one of those sites that I use rarely, as I had with MySpace earlier, and only use for others, not for myself. This could of course evolve into me changing my perception of Facebook. Right now, I donít use the site because for one, I donít need another social networking site to have to track, and second, I donít know how to use it yet and am unfamiliar with the benefits of using it.

So, those are my thoughts on MySpace for now.. thereís definitely something about it, and Iím still digging through it. I believe MySpace really helped change the way mainstream users use the web, and because of their success, I believe there will be some very big contenders coming right after them. I have definitely removed MySpace from my status of ďGeocities 2.0.Ē?

// Jacob