Il feed cronologico sta morendo

La cascata d’informazione non filtrata e ordinata cronologicamente a cui ci ha abituato Twitter,, i blog prima e Facebook poi è un modo sempre più inefficace di processare e organizzare l’informazione online, scrive Casey Johnston:

The feed arose as a simple way to take advantage of the new possibilities of the web. How should information be sorted when it’s being created continually, and not in packaged issues or editions? Early on, putting content in a long list according to the time it was posted made the most sense. It’s the easiest way to organize anything, ever: You just make a pile, and the oldest stuff is at the bottom. It was a perfect paradigm for social networks: It’s transparent, so you don’t need to explain to your users how it works. It fits nicely on a smartphone. Best of all, it encourages people to constantly refresh, which reads as a certain kind of engagement.

Unfortunately, chronological order doesn’t scale well. Once a medium or platform has had its here-comes-everyone moment, the stuff you actually want to see gets buried in an undifferentiated stream — imagine a library organized chronologically, or even the morning edition of a newspaper. People are doing too many things and they are happening all at once, and the once-coherent experience of people using a platform unravels into noise.

Nel momento in cui un servizio raggiunge un numero considerevole di utenti, il rumore diventa troppo forte e non solo si fa fatica a tenersi aggiornati ma si fa anche fatica a capire con chi si ha a che fare — con chi si sta comunicando:

And, as it turns out, the same neutrality and transparency that made time-based sorting so appealing can be a particular liability for social media. It’s an established fact of social media services that, once they reach enough size that the potential audience for a post becomes nebulous, people shy from posting on them, because they can’t predict what reaction they’ll get. This — called “context collapse” — is why we’ve seen group messaging services boom as broader social media ones have flattened; in your Slack or HipChat or GroupMe, you know how your friends or family will react to a link you post. On an open and unfiltered social media feed, the outcome of posting to a public is far too unpredictable.


Cos’è successo a Google Maps?

Justin O’Beirne ha notato che la cartografia di Google Maps è cambiata notevolmente negli ultimi anni: le strade si sono fatte più prominenti, mentre molte delle città un tempo segnalate sono sparite dalle mappe.

Mettendo a confronto due mappe dell’area di New York, una del 2010 e una del 2016, si nota come la prima ponga un’enfasi sui nodi (le città) e di come la seconda, invece, si concentri più sulla rete (le strade):

Nessuna delle due, però, è particolarmente usabile o utile. Se vi capitasse di perdervi nell’area è probabile che anche quella del 2016 non vi servirebbe a molto: riporta i nomi di solo 8 città, contro la prima che ne segnala segnala 46.

Il cambiamento è avvenuto probabilmente a causa dello smartphone — della necessità di rendere la mappa leggibile anche su schermi piccoli. Scrive Justin:

Given these trends, it’s likely that Google Maps was optimized for mobile — and this explains some of the changes we observed earlier.

Unfortunately, these “optimizations” only served to exacerbate the longstanding imbalances already in the maps. As is often the case with cartography: less isn’t more. Less is just less. And that’s certainly the case here.

Google should add some of the cities back to its maps, and the maps would be better and more balanced.

I hope that they do.


In memoria di Google Reader

Silvia Killingsworth:

There was a time (2007) when I had hope for this Internet. There was once a humane way to sift through the day’s news that wasn’t just standing under a faucet of opinions and viral pixels that get stuck to you and then you have to pass them on like germs because you are just a vector. It’s like if, instead of reading the newspaper (haha paper) of your choice, your neighbors and frenemies just shouted whatever they thought was newsworthy in your general direction, UNSOLICITED.


Invece di posizionarsi come social network, Twitter dovrebbe puntare di più sull’API

Dave Winer:

S3 set the pattern for all the subsequent AWS services. And they’re delivered so many, filling almost all the niches you could imagine, sometimes with multiple products. But the one niche they have never attempted to fill is what Twitter does. Real-time Internet-scale notification with an easy to understand user interface. Turns out this is one of the big things that was missing from the Internet itself. […]

Because there is no web service that does what Twitter does, yet — it’s not too late for Twitter to open up another business model. I think it would totally kick ass. We need it. And I think they’d quickly forget that Twitter was ever going to be, exclusively, an advertising-based system.

Nel momento in cui Twitter ha ristretto le API è diventato meno interessante e promettente. C’è ancora tempo per invertire la rotta, invece di ridursi nell’ennesimo social network e alternativa a Facebook.


Unicode passa troppo tempo a pensare alle emoji?


Ultimately, Unicode’s Emojigeddon boils down to a few essential questions: Are emojis a language? And if not, what exactly are they? Why are their regulation and evolution overseen by a bunch of language nerds and engineers? Typographers, linguists, and text-encoding experts including Unicode’s president generally agree that the character set does not rise to the standards of an emerging language.

“People have strategies for stringing them together, of course, and deriving greater meaning — everyone knows eggplant is an erection and people sext with the vegetables, but that does not make it a substitute for language,” Everson said.

But for others, emojis’ ubiquity makes the character set a meaningful mode of expression that transcends traditional linguistic barriers — vegetable sexting included — and is quite the opposite of a dumbed-down “cartoon.” Language or not, they argue, when millions of people zealously adopt a new, authentic way to communicate, it becomes important whether Everson, Unicode, or any linguist, typographer, or academic agrees.

C’è una questione interna al consorzio Unicode — l’entità che si occupa di codificare i caratteri dei vari alfabeti del mondo. Compito di Unicode è di far sì che anche lingue sconosciute o morte siano rappresentabili in codice, assegnando a ciascun carattere un codice univoco. Unicode è anche l’entità che si occupa delle emoji, e la questione è questa: le emoji sono un linguaggio?

Secondo alcuni contributori storici le emoji stanno distogliendo l’attenzione del consorzio da alfabeti e caratteri meno conosciuti ma comunque importanti — per chi ha a che fare con manoscritti o testi antichi, o per chi usa un alfabeto poco conosciuto o popolare ma comunque parte della propria cultura. Unicode garantisce che anche queste persone possano scrivere e fare uso, su un computer, della propria lingua.


Ricevi le notizie del giorno nella tua inbox

Ogni mattina: 5 link selezionati con cura + le notizie del giorno

I camion che si guidano da soli stanno per arrivare, e automatizzeranno milioni di posti di lavoro


Shipping a full truckload from L.A. to New York costs around $4,500 today, with labor representing 75 percent of that cost. But those labor savings aren’t the only gains to be had from the adoption of driverless trucks.

Where drivers are restricted by law from driving more than 11 hours per day without taking an 8-hour break, a driverless truck can drive nearly 24 hours per day. That means the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost.

L’incentivo economico di un camion che si guida da solo è troppo alto perché non succeda. Oltretutto mentre costruire un’auto in grado di districarsi fra le strade intricate e trafficate di una città è complesso, muoversi in autostrada, fra le città, è una questione più semplice — accadrà molto prima.


Il giornalismo deve sorvegliare gli algoritmi?

Columbia Journalism Review:

Algorithmic accountability builds on the existing body of law and policy aimed at combatting discrimination in housing, employment, admissions, and the like, and applies the notion of disparate impact, which looks at the impact of a policy on protected classes rather than its intention. What that means for algorithms is that it doesn’t have to be intentionally racist to have racist consequences.


L’iPad della metropolitana di Londra

Alcuni screenshot delle applicazioni per iPad che Transport of London ha realizzato internamente per il suo staff, per monitorare lo stato della Tube e gestirla.


Come migliorare la carta d’imbarco di Ryanair

Un redesign che la migliora notevolmente. Mi chiedo perché non ci abbia già pensato Ryanair: eliminerebbe molti dubbi e intoppi.

UPDATE: Mi fanno notare che questa è, effettivamente, la carta d’imbarco di Ryanair. Usando l’iPhone da più di un anno per biglietti e check-in non ero a conoscenza del cambiamento.


La bottega delle applicazioni

Erick Tseng ha raccontato i suoi otto giorni in Nord Korea in un post su Medium. Fra i (molti) dettagli allucinanti del post, a un certo punto descrive il loro App Store: non uno store che risiede sullo smartphone, ma un negozio fisico in cui i cittadini si recano per caricare un’app sul loro telefono.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Am I not allowed to see it?
Minder: No, it’s not that. It’s just not here.
Me: Not here? I don’t understand. Where is it?
Minder: Well, it’s a store. We would have to go there.
Me: Wait, your App Store is a physical store?? <pause, as I digest this incredible information> Can we visit one?
Minder: No, it’s not on our itinerary.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Their App Store was an actual place! You physically go to this place, ask a man behind the counter for the Mosquito Repellent app, pay him, and he plugs a cable into your phone and installs it for you! Mind officially blown.


Combinare i font: una guida semplice

Type Burrito spiega, semplicemente, per chi non ne capisce molto e si sente intimidito, come combinare e scegliere i font:

If you have two fonts that work together but still seem a little too similar, try changing the size or weight to add some variety.

Need more unity? The easiest place to start is to look at the shapes of the letterforms. Or try something more subtle and sophisticated: unify your typography by finding type designed around the same time, or to find type inspired by the same tool or medium (broad-nib pen, carved in stone, etc—you can usually figure this out with just a bit of googling).


Håkon Wium Lie, l’inventore del CSS

Oliver Lindberg:

If CSS hadn’t been developed, designers might have gone elsewhere, explains Lie. HTML could have turned into more of a page description language, akin to PDF. Indeed, designers had already started making pictures out of their documents. “Because that meant you could control every pixel in there. So you could get the fonts, colours, you needed. You still see some of them around. If that had become the norm, we could have ended up with the web being a giant fax machine.”


I dettagli che non avevate notato

Sapevate che la lucina su uno dei lati dei MacBook — quella che lampeggia quando lo chiudete, mandando così il Mac a “dormire” — è stata progettata in modo da imitare il ritmo del respiro di una persona che dorme? O che le ventole del Mac rallentano quando usate Siri — in modo che possa capirvi meglio?

Business Insider ha una buona lista di questi dettagli che, perlopiù, passano inosservati.


L’odio per le donne in rete

Jessica Valenti:

I’ve been writing online long enough to not attach my value as a person or writer to strangers’ opinions, but it would be a lie to say that the cumulative impact of being derided daily isn’t damaging. It is. It’s changed who I am on a fundamental level. And though I’d still like to think of myself as an optimistic person, being called a “cunt” or “whore” every day for a decade leaves its mark.

Il Guardian ha analizzato 1,4 milioni di commenti che sono stati bloccati dai moderatori del sito dal 1999 a oggi. 8 su 10 dei giornalisti che hanno ricevuto la maggior parte di questi commenti, abusivi e minacciosi, indirizzati a livello personale invece che sul contenuto o sulla tematica di un articolo, sono donne.

Altri studi confermano che internet è un luogo ostile, per le donne:

In 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up a bunch of fake online accounts and then dispatched them into chat rooms. Accounts with feminine usernames incurred an average of 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day. Masculine names received 3.7. […] The Internet is a global network, but when you pick up the phone to report an online threat, whether you are in London or Palm Springs, you end up face-to-face with a cop who patrols a comparatively puny jurisdiction.

(via Mantellini)


Apple ha ucciso l’Air?

Jack March:

I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Apple will never release a new 1 product with the ‘Air’ branding again.

For starters, the words ‘Light’ and ‘Professional’ are no longer a dichotomy, though they were when the original MacBook Air was launched in 2008. For Apple to achieve the the title of ‘World’s Thinnest Notebook’ they had to compromise on performance and expansion slots. It was a very niche and expensive product, only for people with the primary priority of portability. In 2016 – where nearly all products from Apple and competitors are thin and light – Apple’s distinction of ‘Air’ is redundant.

Ci sono due ragioni per cui l’Air ancora esiste: costo (è il laptop Apple più accessibile) e il fatto che i nuovi MacBook piccoli e leggerissimi siano anche estremamente limitanti — per ora, esattamente come lo fu l’Air nei primi due anni d’esistenza. Nel momento in cui questi miglioreranno, l’Air molto probabilmente se ne andrà.

Il MacBook Pro è oggi quasi leggero e portatile quanto l’Air, mentre i nuovi MacBook diventeranno il nuovo Air.


Design Facts

Una bellissima raccolta di trivia sul design — del tipo chi ha disegnato quel famoso logo, quando nacque la parola “graphic design” o chi ideò il packaging dell’Happy Meal.


Quanto varia il significato di un’emoji da piattaforma a piattaforma

Ogni piattaforma ha delle proprie emoji. Seppure queste siano realizzate seguendo le linee guida rilasciate da Unicode, variano molto nello stile e nell’implementazione causando così interpretazioni e letture inaspettate. Mettiamo che abbiate inviato, dal vostro iPhone a un vostro amico che usa Android, la faccia sogghignante con occhi sorridenti (😁): l’impressione che avrà sarà probabilmente diversa da quella che volevate trasmettere; l’emoji è notevolmente differente fra i due OS!


Just seeing the difference in emoji presentations is revelatory in itself. But then it gets even more interesting. GroupLens researchers asked subjects to rate 22 anthropomorphic emoji from five platforms by sentiment, using a scale that ranged from strongly negative (-5) to strongly positive (5). And here’s where you start to see where “grinning face with smiling eyes” goes so very wrong. Apple’s average sentiment ranking was almost -1, while Microsoft, Samsung, LG, and Google all were 3 or above.


Le fotografie come bookmark della nostra vita

Om Malik:

In other words, “the term ‘photographer’ is changing,” he [Peter Neubauer, the co-founder of the Swedish database company Neo Technology] said. As a result, photos are less markers of memories than they are Web-browser bookmarks for our lives. And, just as with bookmarks, after a few months it becomes hard to find photos or even to navigate back to the points worth remembering. Google made hoarding bookmarks futile. Today we think of something, and then we Google it. Photos are evolving along the same path as well.

Thanks to our obsession with photography—and, in particular, the cultural rise of selfies—the problem of how to sort all these images has left the realm of human capabilities. Instead, we need to augment humans with machines, which are better at sifting through thousands of photos, analyzing them, finding commonalities, and drawing inferences around moments that matter. Machines can start to learn our style of photography.

Il mio archivio fotografico non è mai stato così incasinato, al punto che da un paio d’anni a questa parte ho rinunciato a metterci mano. Confido e affido tutto al miglioramento di soluzioni come Google Photos o Forevery, che siano capaci di organizzare le foto automaticamente, per me.

Al contempo, ultimamente, mi chiedo spesso quanto abbia avuto senso scattare quasi quotidianamente così tante fotografie negli ultimi anni. Per il numero (piccolo) di volte in cui sono andato a riguardarle, e per via di funzioni e servizi come On This Day di Facebook, o Timehop, che vogliono ricordarmi ogni giorno quello che stavo facendo, pensando o scrivendo anni prima. Come scrive Om Malik utilizziamo oggi le foto come dei bookmark: non conta più la qualità della foto o l’importanza del momento, le foto sono diventate il modo più facile per appuntarci quello che ci sta succedendo. È utile, però, registrare tutto in maniera così estensiva? Servirà a qualcosa, o è un’ossessione al voler per forza ricordare tutto nei dettagli che non porta a nulla?

Così come internet ha facilitato il restare in contatto con le persone, ha reso anche difficile dimenticare — e un ricordo, una memoria, alla fine è fatta anche di questo. È una cosa sfumata e poco chiara — una cosa di cui ci si ricorda, ma che non si ha più o non è più. La dettagliata e sempre disponibile libreria fotografia dell’iPhone, e i post sui social network, rendono al contrario tutto attuale, registrano le cose esattamente com’erano nel momento in cui avvenivano — non come ce le ricordiamo noi dentro noi, con i buchi causati dal tempo.

Da un articolo già linkato alcune settimane fa:

Part of the palpable dissonance comes from the fact that many of our posts were never intended to become “memories” in the first place. An important question gets raised here: what’s the purpose of all this “content” we serve to platforms, if it’s useless in constructing a remotely valuable history of ourselves? Are we creating anything that’s built to last, that’s worth reflecting on, or have social media platforms led us to prize only the thoughts of the moment?


I network non sono neutrali

Eric Meyer:

That’s one of the biggest differences between the early web and what we have now: that it’s easy to share ourselves. Entire business sectors have been built and vast fortunes made on making that impulse easier to satisfy.

The challenge now is in how those fragments of our lives are treated. This is as much a social question as a technological problem, but the two are not separable. What Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and every other at-scale social network does now—everything they make possible or impossible, everything they make easier or harder—will shape what we think of as normal in a decade or two. It won’t utterly control the way we use the web, but it will undoubtedly influence our online behavior at a deep level.

And so those who build the systems of interaction have a unique responsibility, because what they allow and forbid defines them. As Derek Powazek has said, “What you tolerate is what you are.” What networks allow, and more importantly what they encourage, defines them as well. A network where it’s easy to attack and difficult to defend makes a very different value statement than one where it’s difficult to attack and easy to defend.


Cos’ha Snapchat di diverso dalle altre applicazioni per scambiarsi messaggi

Louis Harboe:

Video calling. You thought you understood how it worked. It’s Skype. It’s FaceTime. It’s your friend requesting to see you in real time. (Probably when you don’t want them to.) You thought you understood how it looked too. Your friend’s face, fullscreen, front and center. Your face, smaller, off in the corner. (You look over there when you want to adjust your hair.) That’s video calling. Right?

Wrong. Just when you thought you had it all figured out—just when you got comfortable with video calling—it’s changing. That’s right. That FaceTime thing? Old news.

Snapchat non è solo una chat senza memoria; offre un modo unico per restare in contatto e affacciarsi sulla vita dei propri amici.


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