Another look at the menace, mediocrity and occasional magnificence around the world of social media.
Architects of the Doomed User Experience
Navigation Arts–a Washington, D.C.-area design firm best known for its work for defense contractors, trade associations and government agencies–has helped relaunch the Charlotte Observer’s website. A leader in usability and enterprise websites, Navigations Arts has produced. . .
. . .a site nearly indistinguishable from its peers that have stuck stubbornly with the newspaper-with-multimedia-and-nervously-managed-user-interaction model that has proven so incapable of producing sufficient revenues for newspaper publishers across the country.
To paraphrase the sounds of the season: Is this the change we need?
- For community features the Observer it has deployed Pluck, the popular off-the-shelf 2.0-in-a-box application suite.
- It uses the two-layer drop-down navigation you can find on any custom WordPress template worth $75.
- It makes the misstep of labeling video as video ["hey, lookit, Marge, they got movin' pictures on this website!] instead of according to the underlying content.
Worst of all, the site also ubiquitously highlights the sad, sweet, desperate “subscribe and get miles” link that demonstrates a profound, perhaps fatal misunderstanding of how news companies need to operate in a digital world.
Note to the Observer’s Dept. of Clue Procurement: It’s not about selling newspapers any more.
Imagine Henry Ford selling the Model T with an ad that says, “Buy the car and we’ll give you discount on a horse too!”
A Look Behind the Curtain of Wikipedia
Wikipedia is supposedly all about “transparency,” allowing users to see who’s been authoring and reauthoring Wikipedia pages. In practice, exploring this information is like reading source code for a mortgage disclosure document.
The Palo Alto Research Center has debuted WikiDashboard, the beta version of a tool designed to help you visualize who’s been up to what on the back end of those Wikipedia entries. It’s the newest of several tools that take up this task.
Here’s an image identifying the most prolific authors of the Wikipedia entry of John McCain.
Click on their names and see what they contributed to the entry, how much they contributed and what they’ve added to other content around Pediaville.
n.b.: Would all Wikipediasts stop using that term “disambiguation”? It’s a smug, exclusive word that says to the world: We’re wonky digitalinfogeeks. Join our club or stay the hell out. Makes you wonder just how committed the architects of this project are to creating an encyclopedia “by and for” the people.
And finally, Our Regular Sighting of the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse ™:
Have you spotted other middling, memorable or malignant examples of social media webbery? Please share the wealth and leave links in the comment section below.