Everything written online today is somehow connected to the rest of the internet. Either through links to sources, referencing other websites, related articles, or sharing tools. All news and articles online today automatically has a layer of social applied to it. But how can that social layer be rethought to be more encompassing and informative? It should definitely be easy, but not frictionless. Facebook's new frictionless sharing is also known as over-sharing. But I've already talked about that before. There are many different possibilities that this rethinking could go in. Let's try and cover as many as possible.
First off, let's cover some of the ideas that I think should be in all of the possible directions. They should all be multi-platform. Just creating something for the computer, or just for the iPhone/Android, or just for the iPad/tablet is pretty stupid. More and more of us are owning multiple devices that can all access the internet and be used for social purposes. Embrace them all and get as much coverage out there as possible to make the app as useful as possible. Nowadays when I look for a program to use on my iPhone or Mac, I try and find something that is cross-platform to make it as integrated and useful in my life as possible. Even though the nature of the iPhone is a limited, controlled experience compared to the computer, I continually seek the ability to have as rich of an experience on my iPhone as I do on my computer(and sometimes, the other way around, ie TweetBot).
Like the platform coverage, I also want the content within the app to be as all-encompassing as possible, too. There should be the possibility for the user to include whatever content they want in it. The users shouldn't be confined to only what the app can provide them, or restricted to only the websites that have RSS feeds. That's possibly where some proposed technologies will come into play to help achieve this idea of completely open information.
Cool, okay, awesome, rad, sweet, that pretty much covers the overarching ideas I want in all of these directions. Now the concepts.
- RSS/News Reader App
One idea is a browser plugin for the computer, and then an app that functions pretty much the same on the iPhone/iPad. It's not necessarily a group-oriented idea, but it would be something that adds a new social layer to the user's regular web-browsing experience. It would allow the user to easily share stories and articles they liked. They could even put in a little snippet of why they liked the article so people know the user's opinion of things and why they chose to share it. This plugin would work with every single website out there because it's a part of the browser itself, and not apart of the website itself. That way, websites don't have to sign up, or add anything new to their setup, it's already there. It would encourage sharing with the other social groups already in existence and not ask anyone to sign up for a new social network. Making sharing as easy as possible, without ever getting close to frictionless sharing.
2. RSS/News Reader App
This would be a network of its own that users would have to join to be able to be a part of. Users could hook up any website they wanted to the website/app and not only be able to read the articles through the website, but also see a new layer of information that the website you're pulling from didn't necessarily tell you. It would could construct lists of the most viewed articles, the most shared, the most commented, etc. It would help give the users more of an idea of what's going on with the websites that they visit on a regular basis. It would help give them a more robust experience with more information, but not harder to take it. It may add a new layer of information, but this would all be in search of helping the users understand the content better, and understand the conversations going on. These statistics would also be created across all of the websites you have added to the app. It would put together all of the stats it created for each individual site and compare them together and find trends within them all, and point out the biggest news, most talked about. The larger the number of websites talking about a topic, the bigger and more relevant it is going to be.
This is essentially a mixture of the first two ideas. It would be much less tied to the actual websites, but still have the new, added layer of information about whats going on in the site. It was add a new meta layer of what people are talking about in relation to the articles and websites, where they're sharing them to and with, and what they're saying. There wouldn't necessarily have to be a new community set up with this. But plug in with Facebook or Twitter or something of the like. The meta feeds would help break the information bubble in all of these scenarios.
Some reflective thoughts about these three idea brainstorms:
All of these would be tailorable for the user, and also help them find content they are interested in, while also exposing them to new and different information that may or may not relate to anything they like. But it would be there to help them learn about what other people are talking about and going through. The more well-rounded a person is on the subject matters of the day, the better. (or at least in my mind it is)
And really, all three of these initial ideas would have everything applied to them, except maybe the idea of the community. Not all ideas have the community, but everything talked about in the three ideas would pertain to all three ideas. The biggest difference is what form this will take, and how all-encompassing it's design and structure is. It goes from the least intrusive simple plugin, to the boldest RSS reader-type idea, where everything is in the app created, and the content is reformatted out of it's original form and into what the app(and user) decides it to look like.
And all three of these should help make the information digestable. Not simpler or dumbed down, but create a new and easier way for people to take in the content. This should be about helping the users understand the content better.
I will most likely come back and alter/add/delete content to this post before the end of class at 10.40.