Archive: August 9th, 2007

Apple doesn’t get the Web

Now, now, don’t go jumping to any conclusions. I’m not Apple-bashing here, I’m just sayin’…

Apple make great products—those new iMacs, the iPhone, all that stuff. And the operating system and desktop software that ships on a Mac is, for the most part, superb. But in the fast-moving, messy world of online services I don’t think the genius-led design of Apple can compete with the truckloads of nimble young upstarts making snazzily addictive products on the Web. Competing against a behemoth like Microsoft is one game; competing against an ecosystem of hungry start-ups and bedroom coders is a different proposition.

But I’m not complaining. I quite like this status quo. As long as Apple keep making great hardware and software, I’m happy. I’ll just look elsewhere for examples of great design on the Web… and when I say design, I definitely mean more than simply visual design.

The Benefits of Facebook "Friends:" Social Capital and College Students' Use of Online Social Network Sites

"In addition to assessing bonding and bridging social capital, we explore a dimension of social capital that assesses one's ability to stay connected with members of a previously inhabited community, which we call maintained social capital."

How Not To Get Noticed » SlideShare

Slides based on a usability analysis of Wordpress by some of the Happy Coggers.


In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve got a real thing about portable social networks. And I’m not the only one. At a recent meetup in San Francisco a bunch of the Web’s finest minds got together to tackle this issue. You can track the progress (and contribute) on the microformats wiki.

Ever since then, Brian Oberkirch has been doing a sterling job documenting the issues involved:

Head on over there, read what Brian has to say and join in the conversation in the comments.

Lest you think that this is some niche itch that needs to be scratched, I can tell you from personal experience that everybody I’ve spoken to thinks that is a real issue that needs tackling. Heck, even Wired News is getting upset in the article Slap in the Facebook: It’s Time for Social Networks to Open Up:

We would like to place an open call to the web-programming community to solve this problem. We need a new framework based on open standards. Think of it as a structure that links individual sites and makes explicit social relationships, a way of defining micro social networks within the larger network of the web.

Weirdly, the same article then dismisses XFN, saying Trouble is, the data format doesn’t yet offer any tools for managing friends. That’s kind of like dismissing HTML because it doesn’t offer you a way of managing your bookmarks. XFN is a format—a really simply format. Building a tool to manage relationships would be relatively easy. But you have to have the format before you can have the tool.