[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.

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[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.

[I’m Reading] Asking people to share articles…leads to more shares

As much as I wince when I see “Please RT”, clear calls to action do work on social media.
Here’s a deep-dive from Facebook’s data scientists, who went full-wonk in this post on memes (emphasis mine):

In fact, there are certain phrases that give a variant of the meme an advantage or boost, e.g. clear replication instructions such as “please post this”, or “copy and paste” give a variant a 2x advantage. Other favorable phrasings include encouragement and allusions to competition (“see how many people”), persistence cues (“status for at least”), or conditions that are easy to match or identify with (“if you love your”, “if you know someone”, “paste if you agree”, “proud to be a”). A specific pattern, “of you won’t”, occurred in prompts such as ‘95% of you won’t copy this, but the 5% who [have a positive attribute] will’. 144 memes contained at least one variant matching “won’t […] will”. These variants had significantly higher likelihood of being copied, 10.98 copies on average, relative to an average of 7.05 overall.

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But wait, there’s more. In a perceptive piece over at Buzzfeed, John Herman notes that Facebook knows when you’re being manipulative, and will punish you for it:

From the researchers’ outwardly content-neutral perspective, these are a list of phrases that help your posts get shared. From a Facebook user’s perspective, they read more like a list of irritating things that you can’t seem to get out of your News Feed. The study’s release coincides with a push within Facebook to demote what it calls “low quality” posts and memes. The company has been reluctant to define “low quality” with any specificity, and has suggested that much of this judgement will fall to its algorithms (how many people are hiding a post, for example). But it has become clear that Facebook will be making some kind of editorial judgement.

Tumblr’s David Karp does not <3 YouTube

Tumblr founder David Karp is, according to an interview he gave to the Guardian, a lover of Twitter and “lukewarm” on Google+. Nor is he impressed with Facebook “as a product”, whatever that means.

But it is for YouTube that he saves his vitriol (emphasis mine):

“The only real tools for expression these days are YouTube, which turns my stomach,” he says. “They take your creative works – your film that you poured hours and hours of energy into – and they put ads on top of it. They make it as gross an experience to watch your film as possible. I’m sure it will contribute to Google’s bottom line; I’m not sure it will inspire any creators.”

No doubt Google would disagree, arguing that a significant chunk of the 60 hours of video uploaded to the site each minute – an increase of 30% in the last three months – contains or inspires some form of originality.

But Karp is unconvinced. YouTube, he says, “was the opportunity to tell every aspiring filmmaker that if they worked really hard and really went for quality they could create great stuff. The stuff YouTube is incentivising is: build a huge subscriber base, put out a lot of videos, do the math and get as big a cheque as possible.”

Google recently did the math and found that YouTube pulls in about 4bn views a day – and has now boosted promotion of its “Partner” programme in a bid to increase the quality of videos. “YouTube offers the opportunity but they sacrifice the tools in such a major way now,” Karp continues. “YouTube is one of the most amazing creative tools in the world and I think it’s gotten a lot worse for creators.” No doubt the point is that Tumblr can close the gap.

The word-lover in me couldn’t help noticing this, either:

Karp describes technology journalism’s obsession with funding as “turpitudal”…

Excellent, under-rated word, turpitudal. Given that it means “depraved”, though, strikes me as somewhat harsh.

Speaking of words, here’s a snapshot of the literary vibe at Tumblr’s NYC HQ, where books abound:

Picture of the Elements of F*cking Style
Related:
‘Tumblr is hiring writers and editors to cover the world of Tumblr’ – Galavant Media

‘Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win’

The financial media and techie interwebs are afire with analysis, commentary and reporting on Facebook’s long-awaited S-1 filing (finance journalist speak which may be translated as, “a document that signals a private company’s intent to offer shares to the general public for the first time”).

Analysts at investment banks and hedge funds will pore over the document, as will Facebook’s competitors. They’d do well to make sure they read the “Letter from Mark Zuckerberg“, not least this bit about “the Hacker Way”. So too should product managers, developers and absolutely everyone working on the business, product and development side at major media organisations.

(Emphasis here mine):

As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.

The word “hacker” has an unfairly negative connotation from being portrayed in the media as people who break into computers. In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done. Like most things, it can be used for good or bad, but the vast majority of hackers I’ve met tend to be idealistic people who want to have a positive impact on the world.

The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it — often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.  

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best idea and implementation should always win — not the person who is best at lobbying for an idea or the person who manages the most people.  

And here are the five core values for how Facebook is run (emphasis in the original):

Focus on Impact  

If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.

Move Fast  

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Be Bold  

Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.

Be Open  

We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.

Build Social Value  

Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.

I’m not a fan of Facebook, or what Zuckerberg’s invention has done to norms of privacy or relationships.

But that is one hell of an excellent set of guiding principles.

‘the average woman updates her relationship status to “Engaged” within two hours of the guy actually proposing’

There is so, so much wrong with this:

And if really want your head to spin, think about this: according to a friend in retailing, the average Facebook woman updates her relationship status to “Engaged” within two hours of the guy actually proposing…so Facebook sells that relationship status information to retailers who have bridal registries.

Source: Is Facebook Killing Google? No, But…

H/T @moorehn and @mickwe

‘Instant Gratification With Bookmarking Can Replace Actual Consumption’

An interesting and nuanced piece from Chris Tackett at the Atlantic on how sites like Pinterest and Svpply might be reducing consumption, and which cites a Megan Garber article that prompted my recent post on lifehacking-through-Instapaper:

I don’t disagree some forms of conspicuous consumption are fading, but in the context of how we present ourselves online, I think we’ve entered a new era of hyper-conspicuous digital consumption. While the poor economy may be reducing our urge to buy an expensive car just to show we can, the new additions to our ever-growing arsenal of social-media tools are giving us new ways to show the world what kind of things we like, what clothing or jewelry we would wear (if we could), what kind of cars we would drive (if we could), what kind of homes we’d live in (if we could) and on and on. If there wasn’t a social element to Svpply or Pinterest (or Twitter or Facebook or blogs, for that matter) I think far fewer people would take the time to use these tools for personal organization. It is the overtly conspicuous nature of sharing the pretty things we find that makes these tools fun to use in the first place.

Relevant:
‘with sharing both intentional and “frictionless” — we can define ourselves not just by what we read, but by how we read.’ – Nieman Lab
‘We are seeing the twilight of conspicuous leisure, and of conspicuous waste and conspicuous consumption as well.’ – Rick Bookstaber