Cameras 3,4&5

Three more cameras have gone into the wild today – one on the southbank, one in central london’s oxford street, and one handed to Peter from the Fifty Quid Danger Fund so he can put it somewhere of his choosing. You can find their location on the camera tracker.

I was walking along the southbank as my wife and I wanted to go and check out O2’s The Memory Project – nothing to do with our little site, but a really nice idea nonetheless. Basically, they have created a 360 view timelapse of the southbank, which is taking images right now. Inside the installation, you can view old images from the panorama’s last few days of capturing. Walking closer to the screens shows you newer images, further away, older (or vice versa). I’m not sure when its there until, but check it out – its a nice concept.

And finally, we’ve had our first request to make a DIY camera bag – all the way from Boston MA, in the US of A. Woo! Thanks Tom. Hopefully we’ll be seeing his camera location pretty soon.

why tweet?

As twitter increases in users and awareness in the mainstream, more and more people are asking ‘yeah, but why?‘, more so than many other arguably less useful services. I’m not sure why so many people need a definitive answer to use what is such a simple service to join. The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss sums it up best I think:


There are so many possible uses for Twitter. It’s a very functional group messaging service – if your ten closest mates were signed up you could say ‘I’m in the pub’ and would only have to send one message instead of paying for ten. And you could also use it for more creative projects, something I’d like to explore when I clone myself and have some time to do ‘art’ outside of all-consuming work time.

The real point, though, is that we should all be a little more willing to explore these tools without feeling the need to classify it or nail it down to some definite function when it is still so young. So many inventions were born out of a completely different idea; vinyl records were a spin-off (no pun intended) from a project for talking dolls or some such… It’s far easier to dismiss something out of hand than to be open-minded, creative and playful.

Three Sites / One Day

Honestly, you wait for a site launch for a couple of months, and three come along at once. Big shout out to the team for the launch of three sites last night (in order of project length and blood/sweat/tears).

Vitra

vitracom

This project has been a couple of years in the making, and the passion and effort put into the site shows. Chris, the lead developer, has pretty much worked on it single-handed since he started, and its a testiment to his dedication.

adidas Dream Big

dreambig
A new campaign from the football team with some really nice video content.

adidas Cricket

cricket
The new adidas england cricket team shirts.

The Screw You Coefficient

“Flickr users hate video. Digg users don’t want their site to become DiggSpace. Facebook users are sick and tired of application invites. Unfortunately for you, these companies couldn’t care less, and I’ll tell you why.”

There has been plenty of talk recently over whether social networks, or indeed any small loved app or site, which grow in both users and functionality, forget about their core idea which made them so great and loved in the first place. Twitter for instance is still relatively simple and holds true its original idea, whereas Digg are adding social networking tools, Flickr have added video support, amazon sell food, tesco sell insurance – okay maybe i’m over-extending. But the discussion is a valid one. Mashable, from which the quote above comes, propose the ‘screw you coefficient’ – one method of deciding whether a new piece of functionality or approach will make improved revenue for your one-time-blog-now-mega-super-app.com, contrasting loss of users against increased wonga.

Personally, whether its a commercial decision or not, I’m not sure adding 100s of new features is always a good thing. In fact, I lie, I’m sure it is not a good thing.

For instance, as i mentioned above, twitter does one thing, and does it extremely (mostly) well. They’ve created a well rounded API which allows others to extend their core functionality, but twitter.com itself is staying true to the central idea. They do need to be a little careful, recent interface changes are adding more and more links, @replies and following topics etc. etc. are neat additions, but much more and it could go the way of Microsoft Word – a 1000 new features, where most people only use a handful.

This is why 37signals tools are loved and arguably hated in equal measure. Their perceived ‘arrogance’ towards developing applications the way they see fit is actually keeping their tools simple and effective, rather than curtailing to pressure to add this, add that. Heck, I still use notepad.exe daily, i love gtalk’s simplicity over any other IM, my favourite colour is whitespace (its actually red but works for making my point), and fit for purpose is always better than bloat for possibility.

In creating the first few pages for disposablememoryproject.org, I had to remind myself of that. i’d started creating page after page after page, one for contact, one for the concept, one for every paragraph in essence, until I stopped myself. This could go on a single page – everything the user needs within one screen – bang! and the dirt is gone! So, I rehashed, and rebuilt into a single page. So much simpler.

Having to write the postcards/instructions was similar. I originally wrote a longer set of instructions, but realising the text limit restrictions on moo.com postcards, I had to sub sub sub, into just a few lines – and for the user – that is SO much better – bang! and the waffle is gone!

Applications are the same – simple fit for purpose tools to enable you to do what you need/want in a super simple, low barrier to entry, way. The problem comes when you find yourself switching between 20 apps to carry out each distinct task, thats when the argument for bloating your product appears – but honestly it shouldn’t need to. Open APIs and data portability aim to allow for interchange of data between all of these apps (that’s the plan anyway), leaving each app’s interface to do what IT does well.

Simple is good, simple is powerful, simple is relaxing.