The Matrix has one of the all-time greatest opening scenes. Let’s talk about why it works.
When we were introduced to the team at The Atlantic they were creating a series of articles about “Population Health”. They wanted to tell these stories in an interactive and visual way. The challenge was to create interactive visualizations based on industry concepts and make them accessible to both healthcare professionals and the a casual audience.
From the beginning we knew we wanted to create an experience that was familiar from an interaction perspective but different from a visual perspective. We aspired to take the traditional editorial content The Atlantic is known for and combine it with a rich digital narrative.
The easiest way to create, share and discover beautiful stories.
This makes me want to switch jobs.
Welcome to Facebook Stories, a new site dedicated to sharing the extraordinary, quirky and thought-provoking stories and ideas from the more than 950 million people around the world who make up Facebook’s community.
Dan Catt, who fell in love with Instagram just a little bit, and out of love with Flickr, just a little bit over the holidays:
Christmas morning was almost magical.
The previous year on Flickr was almost as magical, once people had a chance to sort through the 100s of photos they’d taken with their dSLR, pick out the best ones, run them through lightroom and then get a chance to upload them. It was nice to look back on the Christmas mornings that people had, rather than having.
In his follow-up post he notes:
Flickr is for the story I want to remember, Instagram is for the story I want to tell now.
A few notes on the new design after a quick look and some read tweets:
- The textarea to compose a new tweet has gone from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” to “Compose a new tweet” … #hmmz.
- NewNewTwitter still has these dreadful hashbang urls.
- DMs apparently are not prominent anymore. One reason for this could be fairly low usage? (#3), although I’d like to see some stats confirming this.
- The new Discover tab is all about storytelling, a trend which I’ve applauded before. Still some work to do (it’s nowhere when compared to Storify for example, but the basic idea is there)
The iOS has also been updated to reflect these new changes. Guessing that Twitter for Mac will follow soon.
More about the new new Twitter →
In his goodbye he talks about his developer love-hate relationship with Gowalla, highlights some of the points where Gowalla has failed over the years, and points out some points that have gone wrong with the release Gowalla 4
Above that he also notes some extras that could’ve been done with the whole stories aspect (about which I’ve jotted down my own ideas), to make the feature even more genius than it already was.
I was meaning to write a blogpost on Gowalla 4. About how I used it less than before. But also about that when I use it (which I still do from time to time), I use it in a more engaged way.
In the blogpost on Path 2, I was going to state that “Path 2 is what Gowalla 4 and the new Facebook app should have been”, yet left that out because I wanted to save that for the Gowalla 4 post.
Now that Gowalla has apparently has been bought by Facebook, and after Inferis coined a likewise phrase on Twitter, I think it’s time to dig up that statement again and go a tad more in depth.
A much disputed move that Gowalla made in their fourth version was the removal of the items, even though a few months before that changes to the items were made to actually promote them.
To me, the item hunting was the feature that made Gowalla unique (you’d get no standard points or badges, but nice items) and — above all — fun: Gowalla was a game.
Next to letting people know where you were, the items in Gowalla were the real incentive to checking in:
- Will I get an item at all?
- If I get one, will it complete my collection?
- If I get an item will I be able to trade it for an actual prize?
- Is there an item dropped at the spot that I can trade a duplicate I have with? (although that question could easily be answered though 😉)
As some have written before, the possibilities with items were endless, and could’ve have helped further shaping Gowalla.
Now, Gowalla 4 wasn’t all bad. One core feature defining Gowalla 4, next to the city guides for example, was the introduction of stories. With the stories one, instead of saying “I am here”, is now saying “I am here with my friends X, Y and Z” making it all more social (one could even tag friends from other platforms, such as Facebook).
Each story one made can be compared to a journal entry, and that’s how I ended up using Gowalla 4: only if there was a worthy event I’d check in, add my (Facebook) friends, post some photos and add some comments. After an event was done, the story would serve as a memory one can share, whereas a check-in before would only serve as an entry in a check-in log.
Some memories/stories I now look back at are the surprise party we had when my brother turned 30, a beerfilled party I attended, taking my son to a meet and greet with a childrens’ character, etc.
Technically related: A technical point worth noting regarding the Gowalla 4 release was the API breakage. Some stuff just stopped working, without prior notice. And it wasn’t the first time this happened. My advice to anyone upgrading their API: please notify your developers before making the changes (*), or — even better — version your API to prevent stuff from breaking at all. Will spare you some sad/furious developers.
(*) When the new check-in API was released, Gowalla did notify developers. With version 4 that unfortunately was not the case.
The Timeline not only represents your profile/wall in a timeline, it also allows you to back-log some important events you’ve encountered in your life.
Just as Gowalla has shifted towards storytelling with their Stories, Facebook will be also be shifting towards this, and a rather big story too: the story of your life. When were you born? When did you get your driver’s license? When did you buy a house? It soon will all be on Facebook (if you choose to do so).
It should also be noted that Facebook has recently released an update to its mobile app. Although it’s technically a very interesting app, the Timeline feature is nowhere to be found in it.
In September, the second incarnation of Instagram landed upon us. In a year time this app went from zero to hero. Mainly the fact that it is really easy to post photos quickly, even with some nice filters applied made this app fun to use and thus an instant success (Maslow at work fellas: Functional > Reliable > Usable > Pleasurable).
Instagram (version 1) quick demo
In version 2 no crazy new features were introduced to: next to sporting a higher resolution and some new filters that was about it. And even although some filters in Instagram 2 where kinda FUBAR, Instagram took the hit standing as people already were in love with the app.
As mentioned before, Path 2 has hit the jackpot with its new version and has become quite the storyteller: from telling where you are (cfr. Gowalla, Foursquare), what you are doing (cfr. Twitter), who you are with (cfr. several others), to what you are listening to (cfr. Last.fm, GetGlue), posting photos with filters (cfr. Instagram), and posting videos. A pity Path doesn’t support movies/tv series though (cfr. GetGlue), or it’d be a true digital polyglot.
Piecing the pieces of the puzzle together
Having used Path 2 the past few days it’s become clear that this app is about as close as it can get to being a Swiss Army Knife and might ultimately replace several apps you’re already using. For example when Instagram came around it replaced Camera+TiltShiftGen+CameraBag+Flickr/Twitter/Gowalla (part of ˜) in one go for posting a filtered photo at a given location.
Comparing Path 2 with the other mentioned apps (Gowalla, Facebook, Instagram) it’s also become clear that the other apps have some catching up to do, in order to remain fresh.
- The UI of Path 2 just stands out. The rest has fallen victim of an overused mobile pattern.
- Although Path 2 still has some work to do fine-tuning the home page (with the time of all your friends’ activity), it’s a feature that should’ve been in the Facebook App update.
- Although the filters in Path 2 are not as good as Instagram’s, Path can become a worthy contestant.
- If Path does some tweaking allowing several photos to be grouped in one story, it can easily push Gowalla out of the niche it has located itself into.
I’m pretty sure it’s become clear by now that apps/services will always have to push forward (*) in order to remain fresh, around each corner a contender can pop up and hit one hard. An aspect I see returning in most of the apps is storytelling. Without storytelling, I’m quite sure, no app will survive in the long run.
Is Path then such a treat to others? No. But it has potential; The ideas are there. It plays the storytelling card, which is directly linked to emotion, rather well. With some tweaking, I’m pretty sure it can outwin some apps. I hope the other apps find energy in this and re-invent themselves; again, if necessary.
(*) Beware, change isn’t always good though: Don’t kill features people really love, even if it’s only a small portion of your user base who might just be your platform advocates (cfr. Gowalla); and don’t make big changes too swift (cfr. Facebook’s layout changes).
I went to Sydney, followed the trail of filming locations for The Matrix, and attempted to recreate shots from the film.
My mind just exploded knowing that I actually was there about two years ago, residing in The Radisson, just around the corner of the Phone Booth Location.
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