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Sharing Lives As Stories On the Web

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the questionable-inevitabilities dept.

The Internet 30

blackbearnh writes "Jeff Holden spent a decade at Amazon, where he was involved as Senior Vice President of Consumer Websites with the recommendation engine, Amazon Prime, and the product review system. He's left now, and has started Pelago, a company that wants to help mobile users turn their lives into stories they can share on the web. Among the interesting effects he discusses in this interview for O'Reilly Radar is that users of their product, Whrrl, have talked about changing their lives to make more interesting stories. Holden also talks about some of the work he did at Amazon, privacy issues that arise when social networking starts to become ubiquitous, and why he thinks the Apple App Store review system is seriously broken. 'One of the things that happens with an iPhone is when you uninstall an app, it asks you to rate it. And it defaults to one-star. ... The problem is ... there's no kind of qualification. Anybody just downloads it and checks it out or doesn't check it out, right? And I think a number of people run it and they see that you have to sign in and they just delete it. And you get a one-star rating out of those experiences.'"

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30 comments

It was a dark and stormy night... (0, Offtopic)

GoldenPhi (1033178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539355)

when I was first to post!

Like Casey? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539359)

Casey Serin changed his life to make a more interesting story for his blog readers. And what a disaster that turned out to be.

CaseyPedia [caseypedia.com]

App Store - What? (3, Informative)

cephalien (529516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539501)

Does he own an iPhone/iTouch?

When you uninstall the application, there's a large button right below the stars that says 'NO THANKS'.

It's very clear, and .. oh, useful -- when you uninstall an application but don't feel like rating it.

Maybe his eyes are broken.

Re:App Store - What? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539539)

It's very clear, and .. oh, useful -- when you uninstall an application but don't feel like rating it.

Shouldn't that be so much the default that you don't even need to ask? Uninstalling an application is not something you want to complicate. "Remove app? Y/N" and you're done. Anything more just leads to a bad user experience. Remember: at that point the user does not want to deal with your app anymore. Imposing yet another question on them is just rude.

They must have learned this from Windows, where a typical uninstall is a wizard, with 5 meaningless progress bars and windows popping in and out of focus at random, making keeping your attention on something else impossible.

Re:App Store - What? (3, Informative)

mveloso (325617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539751)

Actually, it sounds like you don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch.

To uninstall an app on the device, you hold down icons until they get wiggly, then you touch the 'x'. The OS asks you two questions:

* do you really want to remove the app, and
* do you want to rate it

It's unobtrusive. Really.

This is a prime example of why direct experience trumps mental models/thought experiments. In real life, it's not a big deal. In the abstract world, it sounds like an unbelievably unwieldy thing. UI designers (and armchair quarterbacks) take note.

Re:App Store - What? (1)

cephalien (529516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27543095)

Note I said 'when you uninstall the application'.

I didn't feel it was necessary to point out the entire process, merely the portion TFA was referring to.

Also, in reference to another comment here - I'm fairly certain if you choose 'no thanks', it just isn't rated -- that doesn't result in a one star rate.

Re:App Store - What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27545351)

In other breaking news: monkeys like bananas.

Re:App Store - What? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27540025)

>Imposing yet another question on them is just rude.

Agreed - bit like asking the customer to feedback to help improve the service. Amounts to asking for free advice they can profit from. And on how to get further into your pocket, no less.

Re:App Store - What? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539981)

Perhaps he meant that touching 'No Thanks' results in one star when others view that app in the app store... If that's the way it works, oh well. Could be worse - some apps never get downloaded/installed.

Vstavay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539507)

Vstavay, proklyat'yem zakleymyonniy
Ves' mir golodnykh i rabov
Kipit nash razum vozmushchonniy
I v smertniy boy vesti gotov.
Ves' mir nasil'ya my razrushim
Do osnovan'ya, a zatem
My nash my noviy mir postroim,
Kto byl nichem, tot stanet vsem!

Pripev:

  |: Èto yest' nash posledniy
    I reshitel'niy boy.
    S Internatsionalom
    Vospryanet rod lyudskoy. :|

Nikto ne dast nam izbavlen'ya
Ni bog, ni tsar' i ni geroy
Dob'yomsya my osvobozhden'ya
Svoyeyu sobstvennoy rukoy.
Chtob svergnut' gnyot rukoy umeloy,
Otvoyevat' svoyo dobro -
Vzduvayte gorn i kuyte smelo,
Poka zhelezo goryacho!

  |: Èto yest' nash posledniy
    I reshitel'niy boy.
    S Internatsionalom
    Vospryanet rod lyudskoy. :|

Lish' my, rabotniki vsemirnoy
Velikoy armii truda,
Vladet' zemlyoy imeyem pravo,
No parazity - nikogda!
I yesli grom velikiy gryanet
Nad svoroy psov i palachey, -
Dlya nas vsyo tak zhe solnitse stanet
Siyat' ognyom svoikh luchey.

  |: Èto yest' nash posledniy
    I reshitel'niy boy.
    S Internatsionalom
    Vospryanet rod lyudskoy. :|

More interesting life (4, Funny)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539509)

Yes, because there isn't any service out there that lets people share the pointlessness of their lives. Otherwise, so many of its users would see marked improvements over "Going to take the dog to the vet" and spreading this banality to everyone stupid enough to click 'yes' and be added as a friend.

Re:More interesting life (1)

WildStreet (1362769) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539805)

My dog is offended. He worked hard to learn how to twitter.

Re:More interesting life (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539903)

He's just feels rejected because after all that effort, still nobody notices he's a dog.

Re:More interesting life (2, Funny)

dkf (304284) | more than 5 years ago | (#27540353)

My dog is offended. He worked hard to learn how to twitter.

Life's a bitch.

Or at least he hopes it is.

Hope the villagers in Englend don't read this..... (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539533)

JT: I guess people just have to start wearing those hats with mosquito netting on it. JH: That's right. Exactly. Maybe that'll be the social reaction. Everyone will dress in -- or they'll start wearing these -- you've seen this technology that allows you to bend light so you can literally have a cloak of invisibility. Maybe those will sell well.

Re:Hope the villagers in Englend don't read this.. (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539599)

Who needs invisibility when they don't need to leave the house; they can just be more interesting on their cell phone.

In other words (0)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539579)

More creative data mining. No thanks.

Great, more social networking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27539891)

Why is it in Web 2.0 America with every kind of social networking gidget and website and product available to me, I feel more isolated from the rest of the world than I ever have? It seems that since the advent of social networking sites friendships have become disposable - if things can't be worked out there's always Facebook or Myspace available to shop around for a new pal, and finally it's easier to do that then actually try to put any effort into mending relationships. Maybe social networking and the endless putting up of life stories on the internet with the desire to only receive praise and validation for any behavior is part of the journey towards the dystopian ideal of Dostoyevsky, where Western society is totally alienated from itself and is a place where all behavior is equally valid and acceptable, and nothing is not permitted.

Life, the Movie (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539893)

Read Neil Gabler's "Life the Movie"; people have had a cinematic or storytelling view of their lives even before social networking sites. I guess social networking and the Internet are now giving people the chance to publish their lives as well.

Who cares? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27540071)

All this means is that a one star rating means "nobody cared enough to rate it." What I don't understand is why anybody thought this story worth posting to Slashdot, or how it got accepted.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545367)

It got posted because it mentions the iPhone.

Major disconnect (2, Insightful)

kievit (303920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27540925)

I was very confused when I read the summary. The first half and second half seem to deal with totally different topics.

Life, stories and stories of lives are only interesting if they have good content. Content, content, content. Meet interesting people, visit interesting places, do interesting things.

If technology helps you improving your life/story content: nice. We could have an interesting discussion about how that could come about.

The second half of the story is about this dude's work at Amazon and boring technical details. When I glanced through TFA I saw that it is mostly about that, and the dude doing his best to distinguish his product from all those other web 2.0 products. This has nada nothing zero to do with an interesting life story.

Of course the blame is on the story submitter. The title fitting TFA should be something onionesque like 'area man stares at navel and creates his own special unique superior web2.0 niche'.

(And bad summaries are getting sort of the standard here on /., I should know better not be fooled by them anymore, maybe I am getting too old for this place.)

Now we know who's to blame for these stupid ideas (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27541211)

He's left now, and has started Pelago, a company that wants to help mobile users turn their lives into stories they can share on the web.

I have a solution that kills 2 birds with one stone, but it involves him meeting up with a bucket of tar, some feathers, and a very angry chicken!

Behaves as expected. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27541291)

"Anybody just downloads it and checks it out or doesn't check it out, right? And I think a number of people run it and they see that you have to sign in and they just delete it. And you get a one-star rating out of those experiences."

If I download an app, and it won't let me do anything without fishing for more of my personal information then I'm going to be annoyed, and I'm glad that my annoyance is being conveyed to the developers and other potential users.

obituraries versus "life stories" in our paper (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27541633)

I've only seen this in the Denver Post. But instead of terse mini-resume reporter interviews family and writes a half-page story under the banner 'Life Story'. A paper like the NY Times may do this for a distinguished person but our paper will do this for ordinary people. Many of these may or may not have done something special as a pioneer, hobby, soldier, etc. but will have soem rich expereiences nontheless. I find these stories interesting. They stand as a comparison to my own life.

"Seriously broken" (1)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27541757)

Someone is uninstalling his app without making it past the sign-in stage, and he's bitching about the 1-star rating he gets.

All apps get the same treatment, sounds fair to me.

Re:"Seriously broken" (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545669)

That was my first thought. But I read the article, and it's more complicated than that.

Anonymous feedback has been a dumping ground for people clicking randomly or thoughtlessly, just to get the rating box to go away. Feedback attached to your username is going to increase the reviewer's investment in the accuracy of that rating. It won't solve the problem, but it will be better.

Also, being featured by the app store brings a different audience. I have often thought to myself, I don't like the genre or the design or whatever it is, but I'll give it a chance because someone thought it was good. The same way I hate rap in general but really like certain things. I listened to those on recommendation and enjoyed it, while the ones I randomly found myself were crap.

If the ratings system doesn't account for these kinds of things, it can give a warped view. Especially if it is a question of what is more mainstream because you are exposed to 9x% of the platform users. The rating system in that case doesn't measure how good it is, or entertaining, or worthwhile, or creative.

At that level of exposure, the rating is a measure of how manstream your app is. That is, how likely the average person is to like it. Because with a large enough sample size it actually is a measure of how much the average person likes it.

Credible professionals (1)

LiveChatWithCredible (1494713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27546661)

Hi all,
Could you please visit http://mjr.in/ [mjr.in] and share endorsements and testimonials of extra-ordinary professionals you have met till date.
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On a more serious note: (1)

JamesonLewis3rd (1035172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27548405)

While reading the many methods mentioned for the uninstallation of apps, I noticed that incense is not mentioned---this deficiency is quite evidently the root cause of the current onslaught of harshed mellows, is it not!?!
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