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Remember when you received your last Newsweek in the mail? Neither do I, but I heard something about it on the Internet. Which brings me to my next point.
The publication has just been reincarnated digitally. Still in beta, the new Newsweek is superlative in my opinion, and here’s why.
First, it is not continuously publishing content. File this under “find a pattern and break it,” which is thinking I greatly admire. Instead, Newsweek will (true to its name) publish 12 stories each Wednesday. This should give their writers time to practice real journalism, a decidedly nice break from inane lists.
Second, the stories are enjoyable. Easily readable type, bold photography and a nice user experience all add up to people hanging out on the site. Advertisers call this “audience engagement.”
Third, and my favorite, it plans to blow up the digital ad unit. The site is beautiful (and ad-free, for now), and Newsweek plans to keep it beautiful. Typical banner units are ugly, muck up page design and don’t perform anyway. Why do you think Tumblr fans collectively sighed at the news of the Yahoo acquisition? Because nobody likes ads all over their Internet. Newsweek says it will adopt a rotating, story-sponsor model, with ad units that are as bold and arresting as the content itself.
I’m a fan. Let’s see how this thing performs in the wild.
When Malcolm Gladwell published The Tipping Point back in 2000, marketing people drooled all over their Palm-Pilots. “Man, we just need to get a few hipsters to sample our product and—boom!—we’ll be huge in Columbus, Ohio, by second quarter.”
That all sounded good, the idea that a small group of influencers can drive mass trends, and I still believe it to be partially true. But there was little practicality in Gladwell’s book. How exactly does one engineer a “tipping point”? (See also: Klout’s business model.)
Thirteen years later, there’s a more pragmatic book that explores why things catch on: Jonah Berger’s Contagious. In it, the author outlines a recipe of sorts for virality. Worth the read, but (spoiler alert) you’ve still got to do some thinking for yourself.
Teehan+Lax Labs, a design firm from Toronto, has developed a web application that makes it simple to create a hyperlapse.
“Hyperlapse photography is a technique combining time-lapse and sweeping camera movements,” wrote Teehan+Lax founder Jon Lax. “Typically, the camera focuses on a point-of-interest and is then moved while the focal point remains constant.”
Traditionally, creating a hyperlapse is a tedious process that requires a large amount of time or cameras. The Hyperlapse web app requires neither.
It works by stitching several Google Street View images together and then enabling the user to look around.
The application is clever, but I found the Teehan+Lax video a little misleading. I was expecting a tool that would also allow me to take virtual road trips. Unfortunately, the maximum time on a hyperlapse is about six seconds.
“The Hyperlapse site lets you create your own hyperlapse movies,” according to Lax. “The web version is stripped down so that everyone can enjoy it, which meant restricting frame rates and controls like speed.”
If you want to create videos like the one produced by Teehan+Lax, a more robust version can be downloaded from GitHub. (Open viewer.html in the examples folder.)
The code is open source, which means developers will be tinkering with it. Perhaps we’ll see a racing game built on top of Hyperlapse?
SOURCES: Jon Lax on Medium
For two years, the tech world has been buzzing with rumors about a Facebook phone. Friday, it arrived in the form of the HTC First.
The First is the first phone to feature Facebook Home, a layer that sits on top of the Android operating system. It replaces the traditional Android user interface with one built from your Facebook profile.
The goal of Home is to shift your focus away from apps and toward people, according to Adam Mosseri, director of product at Facebook.
Home upends traditional mobile UI patterns. Lock and home screens have been replaced by Cover Feed, which pulls photos and status updates from your News Feed. The experience reminds me of Flipboard, as beautiful full-screen images move across the display.
The interface puts Facebook first. Instead of strictly being an app, Facebook is baked into the core of your phone. This marginalizes other social applications. If you want to Tweet something, you have to go through Facebook.
Chat Heads is a messaging system that integrates into all apps on your phone. Every time you receive a message or text, that person’s head will appear in a circular icon on the side of the screen. If you are in another application, the chat head will overlay the app.
Jumping back and forth between apps and Chat Heads seems intuitive; however, I could see it as a burden with more than five conversations.
The design is fantastic, but will people use it?
Its success depends on how much consumers trust Facebook. Om Malik wrote a
scathing article on the privacy nightmare that Home presents consumers.
This is a big worry for me. Right now, Home gives Facebook access to information about the applications you run on your phone—it could pick up information about your calls, messages location and more.
“We store this information in identifiable form for 90 days and use it to provide the service and improve how it works,” said Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Michael Richter in a Q&A.
Facebook has said things like this before. Last August the company settled with the FTC on charges that they were “deceiving” consumer’s by telling them they could keep information private.
The trade-off might make sense for Facebook power users, but I don’t think most users trust Facebook enough to make the leap.
Facebook Home is available from the Google Play Store for the HTC First, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy S III and the Samsung Galaxy Note II.
There is probably no finer example of the simultaneously changing nature of journalism and advertising than Buzzfeed. Here’s a fascinating profile on the site from New York Magazine.
I love the simple premise that the audience decides what thrives, but is that really happening based on paid content? Is “paid viral” viral?