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Industry News

Catch up on interesting new discussion and industry news.

    Beyoncé, Coldplay, and the myth of the “average” user

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 11, 2016 at 6:37 AM
    I am not qualified to talk about politics so don’t worry, I won’t. That said, Spencer Kornhaber’s essay on Beyoncé’s Radical Halftime Statement is so incredibly good (and very applicable to product design) that it’s worth discussing here. The part that I found particularly interesting is how differently Beyoncé and Coldplay view their “target markets”. Beyoncé is very focused:

    But in pop and in politics, “everyone” is a loaded term. Stars as ubiquitous as Beyoncé have haters, the...

    There’s nothing wrong with reading ebooks

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 11, 2016 at 5:37 AM
    Paula La Farge challenges the idea that ebooks are inferior to physical books in The Deep Space of Digital Reading:

    There’s no question that digital technology presents challenges to the reading brain, but, seen from a historical perspective, these look like differences of degree, rather than of kind. To the extent that digital reading represents something new, its potential cuts both ways. Done badly (which is to say, done cynically), the Internet reduces us to mindless clickers,...

    Google: Crawl Rate Increases Are Not Related To Algorithm Updates

    by rustybrick
    Feb 11, 2016 at 5:04 AM
    Often I'll see webmasters and SEOs say that they see a huge spike in GoogleBot crawl activity on their web sites and thus, they are expecting to see an update in the upcoming days...

    When the internet makes us relive bad memories

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 10, 2016 at 8:11 AM
    Facebook’s “On This Day” feature has always felt really strange to me. It’s an algorithm that’s aware of its weirdness, hence the almost apologetic “We care about you and the memories you share here” message that surrounds it. As if it knows it’s bound to get it wrong and show you something you don’t want to be reminded of.

    Leigh Alexander provides an interesting perspective on that feature and our social media “memories” in What Facebook’s On This Day shows about the fragility of our...

    Netflix and the problem with established interface mental models

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 10, 2016 at 6:54 AM
    There were some interesting Netflix articles over the past week or so. First, Nathan McAlone writes that Netflix wants to ditch 5-star ratings:

    The problem, [CPO Neil] Hunt tells Business Insider, is that people subconsciously try to be critics. When they rate a movie or show from one to five stars, they fall into trying to objectively assess the “quality,” instead of basing the stars on how much “enjoyment” they got out of it.

    Here’s an example. Let’s say you had fun...

    Query Classes

    by AJ Kohn
    Feb 9, 2016 at 10:00 AM
    Identifying query classes is one of the most powerful ways to optimize large sites. Understanding query classes allows you to identify both user syntax and intent.

    I’ve talked for years about query classes but never wrote a post dedicated to them. Until now. Query Classes

    What are query classes? A query class is a set of queries that are well defined in construction and repeatable. That sounds confusing but it really isn’t when you break it down.

    A query class is most often...

    Why being online is worth the effort

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 9, 2016 at 7:38 AM
    Matthew Malady has an interesting take on the “I went offline and lived to talk about it” essay. In The Useless Agony of Going Offline he discusses one of the biggest benefits of technology—knowing more things:

    At the end of the experiment, I wasn’t dying to get my phone back or to access Facebook. I just wanted to get back to being better informed. My devices and the Internet, as much as they are sometimes annoying and frustrating and overflowing with knuckleheads, help me to do...

    Automated empathy in healthcare

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 9, 2016 at 6:21 AM
    This is an interesting story on the topic of algorithmic empathy1. In Hospitals Employ Email ‘Empathy’ To Help Doctors And Patients Keep In Touch Barbara Feder Ostrov discusses a program that sends patients automated emails to ask them how they’re doing:

    Doctors can send daily emails with information timed to milestones in surgery prep and recovery and ask patients or caregivers for feedback on specific issues patients may face during recovery.

    The doctors may write their own...

    Google Mobile Algorithm Tests Underway?

    by rustybrick
    Feb 9, 2016 at 5:11 AM
    On Friday, Dr. Pete Meyers, the man behind Mozcast said on Twitter that his tool picked up significant ranking changes in the mobile search results. He said "URLs on page one jumped from 80.9% to 88.7%." That is very big but within 24 hours...

    Why projects fail if they neglect research

    by Rian van der Merwe
    Feb 8, 2016 at 8:20 AM
    Erika Hall’s The Secret Cost of Research is a great explanation of why research is essential for products to succeed:

    The reason design projects that neglect research fail isn’t because of a lack of knowledge. It’s because of a lack of shared knowledge. Creating something of any complexity generally requires several different people with different backgrounds and different priorities to collaborate on a goal. If you don’t go through an initial research process with your team, if you...