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Sharing Lives As Stories On the Web 30

blackbearnh writes "Jeff Holden spent a decade at Amazon, where he was involved as Senior Vice President of Consumer Websites with the recommendation engine, Amazon Prime, and the product review system. He's left now, and has started Pelago, a company that wants to help mobile users turn their lives into stories they can share on the web. Among the interesting effects he discusses in this interview for O'Reilly Radar is that users of their product, Whrrl, have talked about changing their lives to make more interesting stories. Holden also talks about some of the work he did at Amazon, privacy issues that arise when social networking starts to become ubiquitous, and why he thinks the Apple App Store review system is seriously broken. 'One of the things that happens with an iPhone is when you uninstall an app, it asks you to rate it. And it defaults to one-star. ... The problem is ... there's no kind of qualification. Anybody just downloads it and checks it out or doesn't check it out, right? And I think a number of people run it and they see that you have to sign in and they just delete it. And you get a one-star rating out of those experiences.'"
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Sharing Lives As Stories On the Web

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  • App Store - What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by cephalien ( 529516 ) <> on Saturday April 11, 2009 @12:39AM (#27539501)

    Does he own an iPhone/iTouch?

    When you uninstall the application, there's a large button right below the stars that says 'NO THANKS'.

    It's very clear, and .. oh, useful -- when you uninstall an application but don't feel like rating it.

    Maybe his eyes are broken.

    • by Jurily ( 900488 )

      It's very clear, and .. oh, useful -- when you uninstall an application but don't feel like rating it.

      Shouldn't that be so much the default that you don't even need to ask? Uninstalling an application is not something you want to complicate. "Remove app? Y/N" and you're done. Anything more just leads to a bad user experience. Remember: at that point the user does not want to deal with your app anymore. Imposing yet another question on them is just rude.

      They must have learned this from Windows, where a typical uninstall is a wizard, with 5 meaningless progress bars and windows popping in and out of focus at

      • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @01:28AM (#27539751)

        Actually, it sounds like you don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch.

        To uninstall an app on the device, you hold down icons until they get wiggly, then you touch the 'x'. The OS asks you two questions:

        * do you really want to remove the app, and
        * do you want to rate it

        It's unobtrusive. Really.

        This is a prime example of why direct experience trumps mental models/thought experiments. In real life, it's not a big deal. In the abstract world, it sounds like an unbelievably unwieldy thing. UI designers (and armchair quarterbacks) take note.

        • Note I said 'when you uninstall the application'.

          I didn't feel it was necessary to point out the entire process, merely the portion TFA was referring to.

          Also, in reference to another comment here - I'm fairly certain if you choose 'no thanks', it just isn't rated -- that doesn't result in a one star rate.

      • >Imposing yet another question on them is just rude.

        Agreed - bit like asking the customer to feedback to help improve the service. Amounts to asking for free advice they can profit from. And on how to get further into your pocket, no less.

    • Perhaps he meant that touching 'No Thanks' results in one star when others view that app in the app store... If that's the way it works, oh well. Could be worse - some apps never get downloaded/installed.

  • Yes, because there isn't any service out there that lets people share the pointlessness of their lives. Otherwise, so many of its users would see marked improvements over "Going to take the dog to the vet" and spreading this banality to everyone stupid enough to click 'yes' and be added as a friend.

  • JT: I guess people just have to start wearing those hats with mosquito netting on it. JH: That's right. Exactly. Maybe that'll be the social reaction. Everyone will dress in -- or they'll start wearing these -- you've seen this technology that allows you to bend light so you can literally have a cloak of invisibility. Maybe those will sell well.
  • Read Neil Gabler's "Life the Movie"; people have had a cinematic or storytelling view of their lives even before social networking sites. I guess social networking and the Internet are now giving people the chance to publish their lives as well.

  • All this means is that a one star rating means "nobody cared enough to rate it." What I don't understand is why anybody thought this story worth posting to Slashdot, or how it got accepted.
  • Major disconnect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kievit ( 303920 ) on Saturday April 11, 2009 @07:01AM (#27540925) Journal

    I was very confused when I read the summary. The first half and second half seem to deal with totally different topics.

    Life, stories and stories of lives are only interesting if they have good content. Content, content, content. Meet interesting people, visit interesting places, do interesting things.

    If technology helps you improving your life/story content: nice. We could have an interesting discussion about how that could come about.

    The second half of the story is about this dude's work at Amazon and boring technical details. When I glanced through TFA I saw that it is mostly about that, and the dude doing his best to distinguish his product from all those other web 2.0 products. This has nada nothing zero to do with an interesting life story.

    Of course the blame is on the story submitter. The title fitting TFA should be something onionesque like 'area man stares at navel and creates his own special unique superior web2.0 niche'.

    (And bad summaries are getting sort of the standard here on /., I should know better not be fooled by them anymore, maybe I am getting too old for this place.)

  • He's left now, and has started Pelago, a company that wants to help mobile users turn their lives into stories they can share on the web.

    I have a solution that kills 2 birds with one stone, but it involves him meeting up with a bucket of tar, some feathers, and a very angry chicken!

  • I've only seen this in the Denver Post. But instead of terse mini-resume reporter interviews family and writes a half-page story under the banner 'Life Story'. A paper like the NY Times may do this for a distinguished person but our paper will do this for ordinary people. Many of these may or may not have done something special as a pioneer, hobby, soldier, etc. but will have soem rich expereiences nontheless. I find these stories interesting. They stand as a comparison to my own life.
  • Someone is uninstalling his app without making it past the sign-in stage, and he's bitching about the 1-star rating he gets.

    All apps get the same treatment, sounds fair to me.

    • That was my first thought. But I read the article, and it's more complicated than that.

      Anonymous feedback has been a dumping ground for people clicking randomly or thoughtlessly, just to get the rating box to go away. Feedback attached to your username is going to increase the reviewer's investment in the accuracy of that rating. It won't solve the problem, but it will be better.

      Also, being featured by the app store brings a different audience. I have often thought to myself, I don't like the genre or t

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  • While reading the many methods mentioned for the uninstallation of apps, I noticed that incense is not mentioned---this deficiency is quite evidently the root cause of the current onslaught of harshed mellows, is it not!?!

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