Tumblr vs Posterous (PEG on Tech)
The answer is as easy as it is counter-intuitive: Tumblr is a New York company and Posterous is a Silicon Valley company.
Or, to put it another way: Posterous is an engineered product, while Tumblr is a designed product.
via Daring Fireball
Or is it? A friend criticizes her analysis for being superficial. It’s too simple and too broad of a generalization to compare these two products that have both reached their states based on feedback and design decisions and attribute them solely to regional “ways of doing things,” especially while ignoring both: the entrenched adoption of SEO conscious Blogspot/Wordpress/SixApart in a West Coast that likes working things and has many options; and the burgeoning exploration of adolescent visual-philes on the East that like new things and has little option.
To base (nearly) every part of the comparison on the “Design” of each (and actually, to only consider one to have actually been “designed”), and to do so without even a solid definition of “Design” (as encompassing the ideas of ‘Approach’ and ‘Strategy’) is probably the major flaw in the “Design” of this analysis. When non-designers talk about design, this inevitably occurs.
What she does know is what any experienced user (not developer) knows, which is User Experience, and it seems as if that is the only thing she’s able to weigh.
The end conclusion however, is that time will tell, and perhaps even this novel little musing will catalyze improved UI developments on both companies’ parts. No doubt the comparison will be revisited.
D: i don’t disagree with the results, i disagree with the analysis. you can’t make broad generalizations like that
they are all designed well, and they are all engineered well
tumblr is marketed well to be surebut those are two very niche productsit could have been an accident of circumstance
maybe tumbler did well because it caught on amongst the new york blog elite
me: also true and more probably among the adolescent east coast kiddies and hipsters
D: my sister was hyping up tumblr a long time ago while in brookyln because she said tumblr was the next big thing
and everyone was throwing tumblr parties
maybe posterous didn’t succeed because west coast people would just startup their wordpress
me: it seemed the writer was trying to find an example that described what she saw was a diff in SiValley vs NY, and tumblr vs posterous simply fit
it wouldn’t be like SF Chronicle vs NYT
D: as for landing page flows and product marketing
me: they stuck with the tried and trueand knew they could trackback and adsense
D: um, facebook and google have awesome landing pages flows right?
D: so the examples don’t fit
me: because they were older/knowledgeable users?
SixApart and WP are based here after all and Blogspot
D: there’s a lot more choice for people to try out at various launch parties
me: perhaps it was just regional
D: of which silicon party has tons more
me: and yes, about Google and Facebook
though you’d have to confirm for
me: how much FB’s landing page changed from the beginning. google is truly dead simple, no doubt.
D: I’m talking more about the process in which their landing pages are done
Split and multivariate testing, which leads to the end result of google having simple forms and facebook having lots of options
me: but to compare FB would be to even find a competitor… Myspace??
D: myspace didn’t do enough analytics
me: yes, google and fb were done overtime. i think it’s an interesting general synopsis overall, trying to make the case for Design.
it’s very… hip… of her to bigup Design as the solution or prevailing aspect
D: hip but completely wrong and shows her complete lack of knowledge as to how the industry is going.
just like the person who left google because he didn’t like his designs being analyzed in a scientific way
me: who did? that’s silly
D: douglas bowman http://stopdesign.com/archive/2009/03/20/goodbye-google.html
me: then how is the industry going » to allow testing and feedback to determine design? (which is and always has been the more measured way)
D: testing and feedback has nothing to do with design. design is always present
good design is always needed
D: you have a page A which is what you start out with
you use testing and feedback to make changes to refine A
and then you use your gut and instincts to make a conceptual leap
which is the difference between posterous and tumblrs landing pages
which is the difference between gmail and hotmail in the begining
facebook and myspace/friendster
so typically you have A vs A(variants) for a few months
then you try A vs B
coming up with B is a purely design and gut kind of thing
D: but you still analyze A vs B the same way you did for A vs A(variants)
me: (i want to see where youre going w/ this)
D: shades of blue, for example
design is ever present in all of those
you can improve posterous conceptual leap of emailing them to start your blog
you can improve tumblrs landing page as well
but that doesn’t mean one is more “designy” than the other
me: i see what you mean they are each implementing a diff concept
choosing their own ‘best’ A vs A(variant)
D: right so maybe posterous hasn’t done as good of a job with it? even though the bottom addendum to the post says they’ve been growing faster
me: but you’re saying you can’t compare Tumblr vs Posterous, like she has, because it’s superficial
D: it’s not a good comparison they have completely different mechanics behind the site they are different sites
me: i’ve been seeing more posterous use with pro blogger
12:25 PM D: they offer different services
D: it’s a facebook vs friendfeed comparison
some of the features align but the basic premises don’t
posterous did a smart thing too, they basically ensured 100% deliverability
and made sure they are always hooked up in terms of mobile posting. people will associate a post with an email account, not going online to post
me: i was going to clarify that too: posterous based on email-posting
tumblr on.. traditional mce
how did they ensure 100% deliverability
D: because people are expecting an email
people are emailing the account all the time
the posterous domain link will never be blocked
it will never trigger any spam filters, which bigger companies do all the time
me: you mean on Posterous side ya posting from email is a good feature.
i remember flickr tried that
D: except posterous is training their ENTIRE user base to start from that
facebook is just now starting to do that
theres a lot of benefits with iphone and black berries
seems like posterous has their plan future proofed
me: because they can’t browse, but will always be into email
can the argument be made that one is really better than the other, or does it just come down to preference
D: can’t make the call right now will have to wait
me: is it wrong to say that the design of each is based on regional mentalities/values.
except the web is so small
the designer community so fluid
i think it’s just more each individual designer’s tastes
me: ic. you say it’s even smaller, down to one person (or the lead designer, whomever)
D: yup i don’t think you can spot regional difference
me: so then perhaps the writer is just using the examples to project her own pre-existing characterization of NYC vs SiValley.
i think maybe that’s why her argument is so startling upon first read. because no one usually thinks of “oh that website definitely came from California, or that one from Spain” (at least, i did not think of Posterous vs Tumblr as a regional diff)
12:45 PM i thought of posting method first
D: it’s startling because it’s so wrong me: also, the target demographics of each are subject to different options hah
D: so did myspace fail because it was less technical and more orientated about giving users ability to design pages?
and because it’s in los angeles as opposed to bay?
because bay is so much more engineering orientated? completely ignoring that so many awesome designers are from the bay
me: doesn’t the “failure” come in the low-brow argument
D: i didn’t follow the last sentence me:
me: the impression of FB’s design is cleaner, and “higher end” and “professional”
D: or…… as some people say, “less choice”, “less customization”
me: yes, on the other p.o.v.
12:50 PM people who like standards like FB?
D: i try not to make generalizations when it comes to companies
only when it comes to people i dislike
and my eating habits and personal flaws
or Things I’m Annoyed By
like pretentious female “tech” bloggers
as if females can be techy
me: can i quote you haha
D: tech, or gossip rap =)
me: but that’s diff, still. she’s a reporter
D: reporter, or gossip queen
me: ok ok “reporter”
D: i look forward to her nudie pics she posts of celebrities
me: makes me think of Gawker
D: i love gawker
me: bah, Tumblr succeeded because Gawker succeeded…
me: there is no universal metric for measuring design effectiveness
D: of course not
you measure to a specific KPI
for google it’s probably engagement or actually how many ads seen
for facebook it’s user interactions and also how many ads seen lol
me: design as an approach, means every company has it’s own approach
like Wordpress’s mojo factor to determine blog of the dayv
me: Twitter’s justification that it is growing faster than yesterday despite quantcast stats that say it’s levelling
so that’s why you argue her analysis was flawed
she was trying to compare apples to oranges and concluded that oranges are more successful because they look better when cut in a cross section
and have more liquid to swallow easier
D: yes that’s a good analogy…
Things Magazine (their tumblr) references the idea:
Archive and Conquer, a tumblr, tapped into the new vogue for curation culture, linking to this essay, ‘A Complimentary Rant on the State of Convenience at Repository. From Archive and Conquer, a paragraph that’s worth quoting in full:
‘I worry about the echo chamber of tumblrs and their ilk and the meaningless repetition and amplification of digital objects. I’m obsessed with the way that people collect, hoard, and re-broadcast photos and music and words without also creating their own. I’m not saying every tumblr reblogging pictures of hot girls in kitten earmuffs or grainy photos of Parisian cafes is as intentional and special as [Gabriel] Orozco’s working tables, but the impulse, I think, is similar. We are overwhelmed, and if we can pick and chose a few objects that we like, put them in a place where we can keep them, it helps us to exercise some kind of control over the flood, even if it leads to visual/aural/literary ADD and a tawdry kind of exhibitionism: look at all these things I found. But while I’d rather not bother with some peoples’ online collections, I think some are interesting as works in progress, and some seem like ready-made archives, perfect and complete.’
I think what’s more accurate, however, is that it’s the articulation of what’s been happening the last two years that has emerged. The inclination was already present. Due credit should be given to the tumblr/posterous platforms to catalyzing a new widespread practice, but ffffound and perhaps even flickr set the tone for clones like yayeveryday and the bevvy of image scraper adsense blogs out there today.
What I see is that, most of the time, “emergence” is actually the dawning of an idea, which has already existed, on the observer’s mind (and the subsequent assignment/classification of that status). It is the appearance of the observer ON the culture, and not simply the culture TO the observer. It didn’t appear out of thin air.
Maybe this is a moot kind of argument. Maybe it’s just wayyyyy too late for me to get more complex and thought out. I don’t even want to touch the “Creative Class” association with this. Leave that for the self-proclaimed.
Still, the immediate, salient point to me is the relativity of the “discovery” (and the implication of a one directional view on the part of ThingsMagazine, which is to be expected since we are how we are) - that a culture can emerge to an observer who is always looking for something new, just as much as an observer can emerge on a culture which has always been there, being itself. This phenomenon, of course, is only observable by those not involved in the sight. Namely, us.
Maybe it’s just one of those math problems where two trains leave two cities and end up hitting each other in the middle, inevitably.
Endnote: I will, for the record, say that I completely agree with A&C’s assessment. In fact, the articulation of meaning-making as a result of the overwhelming delugeis the pretty fresh spin that I like. I think people who are learning or who are becoming versed in a language will naturally select only those words and units that they can logically and sensibly use to express themselves. The world pool of images is growing exponentially to mirror the emotions and soul of their creators, that there is such a vast vocabulary to choose from. And even these “1000 word” images are fast becoming abstracted and used by people as but single elements in the chain of their statements, both unconscious AND intentional. Fuck a 1000 word diary, or even a 100 word poem, or even a 13 word haiku: we can use pictures now. what could be more apt to capture a specific mood that we have, that we only know when we see it?
What A&C points out with their thought, is that this curation is a reaction — a reflex — and this is observable just by the very physical/visual manifestations asstreams.
The people of the world are feeling. We express our moods, not just because we can, but because we want to; our need for dialogue compels this to be true.
Understanding the Social Media Userbase
I was following a passing curiosity about the significance of “rssCloud” and I found four interesting links.
1) new Neilsen ratings in FB vs MySp. interesting visual graph.
2) “Teens don’t Tweet, Isn’t it obvious?” another interesting visual graph.
they provide some interesting figures that give one an idea of what’s happening on the surface, in terms of raw %.
However, the key article to read is the one by Danah Boyd, which digs into the underlying psychological behaviour/motivators of loyalty to social networks. Some of these mindsets we already understand, but she goes into great detail. The previous two links/figures merely provide an appetizer to her paper.
3) “Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace.” (Danah Boyd, 2007)
This last one was especially relevant because I got into a conversation investigating/questioning why there are no black people in the mainstream Tech elite or audience for tech news (ex: the panel of experts at the upcoming Techcrunch50). Actually, the conversation restarted with the statement “there are no black people in science fiction because they are not considered in the future.” Is it lack of outreach, is it lack of talent? Super heavy issue that I had some personal but off-the-dome opinion on, and much of my thoughts tended to lead back to class/racial guilt/time=money=power/education (if you want to read them, i’ll send it to you - I don’t know if i have the balls to post it online).
Finally, since we are on the topic of building/analyzing online communities (or OFFLINE, let’s not forget), I think everyone should read this:
iThink: The Seven Principles of Designing Communities of Practice, which references a 2002 HBS paper.
All this should make your brain grow a little today, this very special day (Those who are 27 this year, this is double double special).
i got to all these links starting from the aforementioned i Think (If knowledge is Power, should Truth be Useful?), a site, edited by a Purdue U professor, focused on the social impact of communications technologies (heavy focus on Wikipedia).
Founder of the Growing Power Urban Farm, Will Allen proves that there is growth in the inner city.
Beautiful philosophy and model of sustainability in urban areas.
THE MODERN CEO
“Success unshared is failure.”
- John Paul Dejoria (“The Modern CEO”, Malibu Magazine, 11/2008)
An icon of socially responsible entrepreneurship since the 1980’s, JPD’s story is truly an American Dream, truly still possible. Nothing short of a “wow what the effing hell, he did that?!”
Props to Malibu Magazine for the interview feature and also for the great publication (I saw the newsstand version but never got a chance to blog about it). ”THE BLUE ISSUE,” get it? Not “GREEN” because.. it’s Malibu.
(Source: yacht, via tlvx)
(via artsy) Meet Sol LeWitt’s right-hand man. -This is pretty interesting.
The Science of Snobbery: How We Are Duped Into Thinking Fancy Things Are Better
Several months ago, this author sat at a classical music concert, trying to convince himself that wine is not bullshit.
That may seem like a strange thought to have while listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major. But Priceonomics had recently posted an article investigating The Price of Wine, part of which reviewed research that cast doubt on both consumers’ and wine experts’ ability to distinguish between quality wine and table wine or identify different wines and their flavors. It seemed a slippery slope to the conclusion that wine culture is nothing more than actors performing a snobbish play.
Listening to an accomplished musician while lacking any musical experience resulted in a feeling familiar to casual wine drinkers imbibing an expensive bottle: Feeling somewhat ambivalent and wondering whether you are convincing yourself that you enjoy it so as not to appear uncultured.
Given the inexplicable, unintuitive conclusions of this research on wine, thinking about classical music promised firm ground to stand on. Despite the influence of class on classical music consumption and the fact that outsiders do not necessarily recognize and enjoy great music performances, no one believes that Beethoven and their 10 year old cousin play the piano equally well. Surely in just the same way a $2,000 bottle of wine and a $5 bottle are not indistinguishable?
This past week, however, Priceonomics reviewed research that cast similar doubt on our ability to appreciate great performances of classical music.
Max Levchin, speaking on pre/post-Paypal, The Mafia, HVF and data, App/Smartphone Revolution and what it means for computing and personal lives, and of course, Innovation.
Interview by Charlie Rose
A Mystery Behind the Rise of Student Debt
The wild growth of student debt seems like an illness with an obvious cause. Both enrollment and tuition prices went on a tear over the past two decades. Add the two together, and you get today’s trillion-dollar problem. Right?
Well, not quite. In a recent report, the Hamilton Project’s Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney argue that the student-loan boom is, in fact, a bit more more mysterious than journalists and student advocates tend to acknowledge. It’s not that tuition hikes and growing class rolls aren’t playing a part — they certainly are. But there’s something else going on, too. In time, it seems, the average student has started paying less out of pocket towards her own education, as shown in the green area in the graph below (the purple area shows grant aid and the blue shows loans).
Jordan Weissman, on McDonald’s embarrassing and deeply telling financial planning guide for its employees. (via theatlantic)
(Source: iansomerhalderr, via mollymimieux)
Aaron Levie, BOX.net
The History Channel
Bell Telephone Acoustics Lab, 1947 by Eric Schaal
“Bell Telephone engineer in a research room designed to eliminate 99% of all outside sound”