Search, navigation, and the debundling of services

Benedict Evans on lists and the debundling of aggregators and services (3min) makes for required reading. Of course, most of what Ben writes enters the Internet cannon. This is particularly thoughtful — plus it gives you a nice, tweetable, deck-quotable nugget at the end:

The problem with using a list instead of a searchable database is how you get to scale – or perhaps, what kind of scale you can have. So, Yahoo’s hierarchical directory (a list of lists) got to 3.2m entries before collapsing under its own weight – it was too big to be browsed, and reached the point that only search made sense (and Google did better search). But if the list is shorter (that is, more aggressively curated as opposed to just compiled and catalogued), then who’s doing the curation, and more importantly, how do you find the list in the first place? All curation grows until it requires search. All search grows until it requires curation.

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Not unrelated, this on the increasingly-complex relationship between search and navigation (3min) — and the metrics they spin off — from Gerry McGovern:

There are certain tasks that are search-dominant, there are certain tasks that are navigation-dominant, and there are certain tasks where people like to use both search and navigation, at different steps in the task.

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Martin Varsavsky contemplates implications of the ‘life in bed economy’ (2min), in which the Internet allows us to eat, socialize, be entertained, shop, study, read, and consume services — all while flat on our back.

Devices, eagles, vultures and personal assistants

Rian van der Merwe has a fascinating post this week on our burgeoning AI conversations (4min), the implications for choosing to trust a single service voice (Alexa, Siri) or the crowd of networked services. This isn’t nearly so Kubrick as it sounds, and presents an enormous challenge to service and product designers.

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You’ve probably read that the Dutch police are training eagles to capture wayward drones (3min and amazing). Perhaps you’ve seen that the Japanese police are catching drones with (other) drones #droneondronecrime (4min). You probably haven’t seen the Peruvian army of Go-Pro enabled trash-finding vultures (5min).

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From a fantastic piece by Peter Bihr on connected products (5min), this lesson for product designers — learned (mostly) some time ago by their web colleagues:

A connected consumer product, just like a connected home and even city needs to be legible, and fail gracefully.

 

Unfettered access to content (some restrictions apply)

Joshua Gans wrote a terrific piece this week on Louis CK’s latest low-tech insurgency in the content culture (2min), highlighting 7 distinctive elements of Horace and Pete’s.  It still feels like we’re radically over-intellectualizing content, doesn’t it? As the piece points out, Louis CK succeeds by virtue of the simplicity of the execution.

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Speaking of brands misunderstanding content and access, Katie Notopolous’ scathing piece for Buzzfeed on shame as a UI element (8min) is brilliant reading, if you’ve not seen it. Share vigorously with your team.

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Finally, it’s Yeezy’s world and the rest of us are just living in it, going to the cinema pub (about an hour, 75 minutes if you have to park) to take in Swish Waves. This is how mega-records drop in 2016.