Category Archives: Digital Communication

Foursquare switch to OpenStreetMap and simplify the access to the open data

On Wednesday February 29th, the bissextile day of 2012, Foursquare announced on his blog the switch from Google Maps to OpenStreetMaps.

I hope that this transition will help the open source/data world like never before. This is the first time that an Open Source project can be improved simply using an easy, known and fun application like Foursquare.

The first change reason they considered for is the economic one. Last October Google announced that more than 25,000 map loads per day had to be paid with the Google Premier API.
Thor Mitchell wrote that this change affected just 0.35% of world’s websites, but for that small amount of people the prices plans were really high.

Ed Freyfogle of Nestoria had the same 4SQ experience and solved the problem in the same “open way”. In his post he wrote strong words about the commercial attitude of the Google’s employee that represent the real value of the map services for web and mobile.

Unfortunately Google’s sales process was not good. Having agreed to a time for a call, the sales rep missed the appointment with no warning, instead calling me 45 minutes late. It was quickly obvious he had done no research whatsoever about our service, what we do, or even where (in which countries) we do it. He was unable to explain the basics of the new charging regime – for example, what exactly is a “map-view”, telling me instead to “ask your developers”. Finally he quoted a price to continue using Google Maps (just on nestoria.co.uk, one of eight countries we operate in) that would have bankrupted our company.

On the Foursquare post comments are focused on the bad OSM mapping information of cities like New Mexico and Sao Paulo, while some Russian countries are mapped better than Google Map. What does it mean?

disquis image
Grawl screenshot

Civil earth mapping is still generally incomplete according to the entity that promote it. Google Map is focused on commercial scope because it works on advertising and business applications. OpenStreetMap is focused on the openness of its platform, but depends totally from the users. The advanced digital users like the russians 🙂

Unfortunately the paradox is that the Google Map success is due to his easy personalization and integration on the web. Everyone can build a little map or can add his company on it. Using Google Map gives the sense of openness that is not real!

When users put datas on Google Map give their information to BigG that first tracks our profiles, and then filsl its local databases. Ok, it gives us a a great map service, but this is not open, its a business product that users are building with their datas and a strong usage.

If I were in OpenStreetMap I focus on little instruments to facilitate access to the map instruments. For example the maps for personal web sites, small applications for mobile and so on. Untill companies will be forced to consider OMS as a Google Map alternative just for economic reasons, the OMS project probably will not fill the mapping holes of his atlas.

Open Source and Open Data should be easy end fun. 

Foursquare has the unique occasion to spread an open source project that need to be filled with users, gamification, badges, specials and so on. Foursquare could even innovate his system developing a personal reality mapping function that goes beyond the simple check-in system. Users could build their onf maps using the 4SQ mobile technology mixed to the OSM map framework, and then they could open ecommerce corners or sell local adv.

I’ll follow them, even if for me Foursquare is still an Antisocial Network 😉

Facebook content management systemification

The most recent statistics speak about 800 million of Facebook active users.

Zuckemberg and his staff are implementing the platform improving functions, mobile, and interactions among users and the rest of the web (like, fan, follow etc).

Looking at my friends, my relatives and my collagues, I think that Facebook is not only a social network, but it is going to be the official web personal page. The functions and the importance that Facebook is going to have can’t be based only on the social interaction. The normal/low profile users, the majority, are using Internet starting from Facebook. For them is normal thinking about their personal page as the official personal medium like a blog or a web site. I think that most of them ignore WordPress, Flickr or Tumblr, and probably they might not have any reason to open a YouTube Channel or a Twitter account.

In a near future a lot of people could decide to manage their digital life just using Facebook like a platform provider for self promotion, business and social interactions.
Why?
Because on Facebook you can build a personalized page (the coming Timeline) with an exclusive url (vanity url). You can upload unlimited pictures and videos that you can embed and share inside and outisde FB. You can share contents, events, birthdays and check-ins. You can write short or long statuses (up to 63.000 characters). You can video chat and mail. You can tag people (do you remember the Blogrolls or the pingbacks?). You can follow the streams of other people even if they are not your friends (something like Feed Reader). You can create a page, a sort of web site, or a group, a sort of personal community. You can advertise and analize visits (FB Ads & Insights). You can install thousands of social application and games. You can buy and sell (check Blomming, a great Italian start up) and last but not least, you can sync and manage a lot of these contents on your mobile device.

Simplify WordPress, Flickr, YouTube, Delicious, MySpace, Foursquare and Twitter and you’ll obtain Facebook on dec’11. Ok, you’ll never have the functions of all these platforms, but do you think that the mass need them? Do you think that your mom will open a YouTube Channel for sharing her nephews videos or posting a comment to the new Italian Government?
No, forget it!

The strongest “function” of Facebook remains the social one. Everyone is on Facebook and all the companies are opening official pages that one day could replace the official web sites. Even Facebook for Developers is supporting the Facebook content management systemification. If you integrate FB on your web site you have a rapid subscribe process and easy share/comments functions, but remember that you are moving the attention of your users from your site to Facebook. The FB’s API are a great commodity, but they are a threat because one day your users could prefer remaining on the blue site avoiding your site.

In conclusion, I think that Facebook is going to be:

  • the biggest DB of people, interests and connections for the active users and the real connection between them
  • the biggest DB for marketeers for the sociographic information and the detailed maps of the user’s interests and connections
  • the biggest DB of contents and contents link because the mass produce, import and link everything on FB
  • the strongest conversation platform because we have more friends inside FB than outside it
  • the strongest potential paid social network because anyone could live without FB
  • the biggest publishing application platform because installing an app is easier and viralest on FB than anywhere else
  • the most integrated social network on the web because to reach visitors, a web site should be easily sharable and accessible from/to FB
  • the most powerful analytics platform because they collect visits, impressions and shares of real indentities building a precise social tree everywhere FB is integrated

Do you agree?

Anyway, I’ll never abandon my blogs and my other social platoforms, but fist to post this article I opened my personal Facebook Page 😉

The touchable future

Google and Microsoft are restyling the interfaces of a lot of their products and web sites. They are fighting in the office automation market, in the cloud services and in the mobile. Obviously they’ve different approach and different corporate images, but I think that there’s a convergent vision in their plans.
Look at Gmail, Greader, Gmap, G+, YouTube playlist and Chrome Start page design. They are really minimal and full of rectangular function buttons. All these functions seem to be designed to be touched, not only clicked. Imagine to use these web apps from a tablet or on a desktop with a big touch screen. It’s cool!
Once I touched my 17’ monitor thinking to write a new mail because I had the hands far from the mouse, and for me was instinctive touching the monitor.
See the little gallery of the new Google UI
touch

The same approach is recognizable in the Windows Phone and the new Metro interface of Win8, even if they are not comparable with the Google products. Microsoft is rectangularizing the start pages, not the internal applications/menus, but I’m writng about style and about the explicit differentiation from Apple with its rounded and confusing buttons.
Even the new Nokia Lumia 800 is differentiating from iPhone 4s using strong angles like the Mango interface. Love it!
Following a little gallery of the new Microsoft design approach.

I’m not a designer, but I think to be an heavy and careful user of Internet.
I think that Google is trying to reach a good interaction of its products from the touchable web with HTML5. Doing this it’s accidentally playing with Microsoft that is developing a new OS that in one core (Win 8 ) is designing three coherent UIs thanks to Metro interface and Mango.

I really think that in the future we’ll have a lot of touchable monitor in laptops and desktops, in one hand for the the decreasing costs, in another for our new interaction patterns. If you touch your smartphone while you are travelling on the bus, why you shouldn’t touch your office monitor reading a presentation or a document?

Anyway, I think that we are really running towards a future of touchable interfaces distributed in consumer devices like pc, tablets, smarphones, and professional devices like totem, interactive tables and whiteboars.

I’m pretty sure even that when we’ll have the perfect touch interface, someone will remember about Kinect, the real killer application in the Microsoft’s portfolio. Take a tour in Channel9. Here hundreds of users are experimenting the power of the body control, while Microsoft relased new SDKs and in the next year even the commercial use of Kinect. Simply great!

I’d like to design an application that uses the natural movements for the classic web applications. I’ll post it here, so check it out!

That’s onf!

A project for a kitchen applicance

I love my job and I love especially new challenges. In these months I did a lot of interviews and every time I prepared a little digital communication project to demonstrate that I studied the company and that I’m proactive.

I didn’t found any new job so I think that I’ll not repeat this approach, but I’ll share with you the presentations that I did for them.

The first one is for a big company that produces a unique kitchen appliance with already a really big audience on the web.
First to write this little project I studied the product and the impressive population of the “cooking web”. Then I analyzed the user’s web pages, the blogs and the unofficial Facebook pages, trying contemporary to reconstruct the digital strategy of the company.
At last I did even some onf line evolution of the strategy (what is onf line?) that could use the consumer’s contents to produce a new editorial product targeted for all the users.

There’s the presentation:Project for kitchen applicance