Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend Odds & Ends

Happy holiday weekend (to US readers anyway). A few items of interest...

The sound of one Web 2.0 site clapping: A while back I wrote about the GORB, which struck me as one of the more obnoxious ideas to come down the pike: a place where you can leave anonymous criticism of people, indexed by their email address. The GORB's founders claimed it would lead to fabulous unbiased feedback on people. I noticed last night that the main feature on their home page is now a "GORB the Candidates" feature. Because lots of us have personal experience with Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani, don't we? Looks to me like a desperate quest for relevance (and perhaps attention). Buh-bye!

OMG It's Fabulous! Really! If, like me, you find the uncritical adoration poured at every Web 2.0 startup, no matter how silly, by assorted bloggers a bit trying, you might enjoy Uncov. It's a completely blunt and nasty take-down of most Web 2.0 sites, with criticism based on the ideas and the technology behind them. The writer is a techie and so there's a lot about bad coding, but he also regularly points out that many of these outfits are doing things that other people tried (and found couldn't support a business). (Pageflakes gets regular and deserved knock-downs.)

Is he too hard on some of them? No doubt. But it's still a breath of fresh air after you're read a few blog posts (often from prominent bloggers) gushing about a web site that lets you save a record of the dust bunnies in your house online, and share it with your friends.

All Your Eyeballs Belong to Us. You would think, seven years into the 21st century, that people would have realized that web ads to bounce out over the content you came to a site to read and then stay there - without even a close button - and keep hanging there, blocking your view of that content, even ten minutes after you arrived at the page - are stupid, offensive, and obnoxious, and are a good reason to never visit a site again. What good is content if you can't read it?

You'd also think that a site like CNET, which spends a lot of money on its content, would actually want people to read it.

You would, it seems, be wrong.

Email Clients: Failure of Innovation. This is just one of my pet peeves. Why are email clients so thoroughly disappointing?

When Google introduced Gmail, with its concept of tagging messages instead of filing them into folders, I was thrilled. It's brilliant. No more "Did I put that in a folder for clients, saved messages, sign-up information, or somewhere else?" Just tag it with every relevant tag, and you can find it either by looking at those tags or with Google's kick-ass search.

I'm really surprised nobody has thought to incorporate this into an email client. Outlook continues to be the same lumbering beast it's always been, with your messages stored in remote sub-folders that you will never, ever find again. Apple's client is slicker but still basically a filing cabinet from hell. Thunderbird combines the clutziness of Outlook with a fantastically obtuse interface. (I know some people love it, but I tried... I just can't.)

I would have thought that Google would come up with some nifty little client that caches your mail offline and gives you a web interface just like Gmail to use when you don't have a network connection. (Yes, this does happen... often!)

I use Google Apps for my business mail, and I prefer working in the webmail interface to using any email client. Except then you're on a plain... the wifi at your favorite cafe is acting up... etc. And so it's back to Outlook.

That's all the griping. There, it felt good to get that out of my system! See you next week.

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