Support Net Neutrality

This article lays out good reasons why real conservatives should support net neutrality:

“But net neutrality isn't even a government-provided service like the highway system. It's just a set of rules that allows private companies to profit from providing essential services while protecting consumers and the vast majority of businesses from manipulative, anti-competitive behavior.

ISPs argue that they provide all of the innovation and investment in the internet, but they're not what makes the internet special. Businesses large and small, from Facebook to Airbnb, make the internet what it is. Net neutrality has allowed them to start, to compete, and to prosper — all because consumers can largely make decisions based on cost and merit rather than what Comcast or AT&T prefer.”

Ello

The concept of an ad-free social network could really take off as a backlash against the current norm of Twitter, Facebook, etc. Business and advertisers have completely invaded our personal connections.

I would be surprised if Ello gains mass appeal. It feels more like a designer's portfolio site than a social media site. The design and UI (user interface) reminds me of Cargo Collective, a popular portfolio creation service. Ello feels too designer-y, like it's trying too hard to be cool. I think most people won't "get" it.

However, it definitely could find an audience and gain traction among a certain user-base, which might be the goal. The new trend in social networking is specialized niche networks that cater to connecting specific demographics based on interests or commonalities.

Seems to me that Ello is catering to anti-mainstream hipsters who want to share their artistic filtered photos and latest gluten-free, vegan-friendly restaurant find ;)

People Don't Read Anymore

I've noticed an alarming trend lately: people aren't reading. Friends have been commenting on articles that I share without actually reading them, and sometimes without even clicking through the link to see the entirety of what I've shared. I know this because their comments reveal that they don't know the contents of what I've shared.

This issue goes beyond just my Facebook friends. I have noticed many other indicators that people aren't reading anymore. Headlines have become punchier and more enticing to get people to click on them. Actual written articles have gotten so short and to the point that they are mere summaries with a link to the full article. There are even less and less substantial articles being written, in favor of the image or GIF-based lists that BuzzFeed popularized.

At work, we were discussing how to help users understand that we are collecting certain data to increase the legitimacy and safety of the site for the users' benefit. The setup we had was a paragraph of information, and it just wasn't getting the point across to the user. My answer was simply "people don't read anymore."

As a designer, the fact that people don't read is a problem I have to solve for constantly. How do I convey a large amount of information visually, with as few words as possible? More often than not, I have to assume that people will not read the details if I don't present them in an enticing, easy–to–digest format. Even that is usually not enough.

This is one reason catchy headlines have become the norm. Ridiculous headlines drive clicks, and clicks equal advertising dollars. Ridiculous headlines are also fun for people to share with each other. "Hey, did you hear about this crazy thing?!" The recipient usually doesn't have to read more than a few sentences, watch a video, and/or look at cute pictures of kittens.

I'm all for sharing cute, funny, exciting things with friends. My concern is how this behavior translates to more serious issues. The recent Israel–Gaza debacle has resulted in a multitude of online chatter in opposition to Israel's activities. It started as a slow trickle of articles that one or two friends had liked, and, within a matter of weeks, has quickly escalated to a large amount of my Facebook friends voicing their disapproval with posts about peace in the Middle East and calling for an end to the unfair killing.

This does not rest well with me. I do not trust that the people making the noise actually know the reality of the situation. The Internet empowers ordinary people with the extraordinary ability to influence large swaths of people. It can be an incredible tool for social change, but it can also reward the loudest voice, which isn't necessarily the smartest voice or the voice of reason.

As I've witnessed this chain of events unfold over the last few weeks, it has made me realize just how powerful the Internet can be as a means of spreading propaganda. The thing with propaganda is, if it is done well, people want to believe it. It is a lie that sounds like the truth. Misinformation can spread like wildfire without check; people overlook glaring inaccuracies to be the first to share the next big thing. Our appetite for instant information is insatiable.

My question is this: if people aren't actually reading and thinking critically about the information that is presented to them before sharing it with others, what implications does this have when there are serious issues at play? What about justice? I just hope it isn't too late for Israel.

Netflix Should Use a Dark UI

I don't think the redesign is as poor as this article claims, but I agree that it's lacking the nostalgic quality that the former logo possessed. I do like how sharp and highly legible it appears on-screen. However, as someone who uses Netflix primarily through the browser, I think the new website is too bright. Most people watch Netflix at night, when their eyes are tired, right? So the site should use a dark UI, not a light one that's hard on the eyes. Where was the UX designer on that one?

Netflix Has A Boring New Logo It Doesn't Want To Talk About

It Fits In Your Pocket!

The iPhone 5s should be a powerhouse. The A7 chip with 64 bit computing, the M7 chip (for a new generation of health and fitness apps), major camera upgrades, and the Touch ID (fingerprint sensor) are all exciting new features. I’m baffled by how they fit all of that stuff in the same size housing as the iPhone 5, while supposedly improving battery life (slightly). The new home button design is pretty slick as well.

Even though I could have upgraded phones a year ago, the iPhone 5 was simply not compelling enough to me. I don’t need to waste money just to have the latest and greatest if what I have works fine. Alas, my 3-year-old iPhone 4 has gotten too slow to do many intensive tasks and I often find myself waiting for words I just typed to show up on-screen. I have to carry it in my back pocket because its life-support aka battery-case makes it too thick to fit in my front pocket.

A few months ago I was seriously considering the HTC One for its bigger screen and sleek design. However, I decided against it because Android still isn’t clean enough for me. I know if I had Android I would be endlessly frustrated trying to customize everything to my liking. I would rather spend that time reading articles or doing something more useful on my phone.

While I would still like a larger screen like on the HTC One, I am willing to compromise for a smaller screen because I think the power-packed iPhone 5s and the sleek new iOS 7 provide a compelling combination. I also can’t wait to have LTE speeds, play Plants vs. Zombies 2, and carry my phone in my front pocket! Hooray

Stop Blaming Technology

I get really ticked off when I hear people complain about how technology is ruining society and that people aren’t as spontaneous as they used to be and blah blah blah. Technology is an easy scapegoat for our problems. Sure, technology has a part in the issues with modern society, but some people act like it is the problem, and that is just not true. Democrats are not the only ones to blame for our problems, nor are Republicans. Everyone and everything plays a part in the successes and failures of life.

What sparked this rant was a Facebook post quoting someone who was claiming that we are not as spontaneous as we used to be because of our phones and that every time we do something online we are ruining ourselves a little more.

That is complete malarky. Technology is a tool that empowers us to live better lives and connect with the people we care about. Just like everything else, it should be used in moderation with self-control. Anyone who is tired of their phone can turn it off. If you don’t want an iPad, you don’t have to buy one. We are still in control.

I choose to write a blog about my trip so that other people can learn from it. I choose to post photos to Instagram because I like taking photos and I like sharing them with family and friends. Nothing about that is degrading me as a free-spirited human being. If anything, it is making me better because I am constantly learning how to better communicate with the people I care about. And I can stop any time I want.

The car isn’t to blame when someone dies in an accident. The gun isn’t to blame when someone is shot. Why then is technology to blame for what is lacking in society? We can only blame ourselves because we have always been and always will be the ones controlling our destiny.