readbag personal bookmarking

readbag is one of those incredibly simple and well-implemented services that puts a subtle but useful twist on a product in an already crowded space. The readbag bookmarking service (it’s actually a Google App Engine application) provides the functionality to do one thing very well–bookmark pages that you want to read for later.

Now you might argue that you can use any social bookmarking service to do this, or something like Evernote. But what readbag does well is eliminates all the noise of social bookmarking, and gives you a nice mobile interface (generic mobile ui or IUI for iPhones) so that you can retrieve those articles you don’t have time to read now. So when you’re on a train maybe, or waiting in line somewhere, you can read them on your phone. The little twist is that it acts a bit like a to do list. Once you’ve followed a link from the readbag interface to one of those saved articles, it gets removed from the list, assuming that you’ve now you read it. You can unarchive links if you haven’t read them yet.

This goes a long way towards making my iphone more useful as someone who is constantly finding blog entries and articles to read, but not being able to read them all when I’m at the computer. What would really work well for someone like me, who occasionally is out of reach of a cell tower signal, is an application that can create a text-only version, cached on my phone so that I can read those articles on the subway. Of course, if iPhone’s Safari ever does offline reading this wouldn’t be an issue.

This is a very well implemented product design for a service that wants to be simple. Check it out.

Designers Toolbox: OS Form Elements

The Designers Toolbox provides a nice resource for designers looking to create form elements in design comps or wireframes. The site displays every type of form element that can be generated by Windows XP IE and Firefox, and Mac OS X Safari and Firefox. Photoshop files can be downloaded for each form element.

Thanks, swissmiss.

Cartoon Network to release casual multiplayer game

Cartoon Network are building a new online gaming community that hopes to challenge the model of the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) with FusionFall, a game that leverages a community of players, but doesn't require the long term buildup of skillsets and earned resources.

We're not building a game for hardcore gamers who will spend 60-plus hours a week here. If you think of those as hour-long dramas on TV, we want to be the half-hour sitcom. All of our missions are built in a way that they can be completed in 30 minutes at most. That get-in-and-get-out style of play is what makes casual gaming so popular, and we hope it is what will make 'FusionFall' popular.

The game producers are hoping to capitalize on what they see as a growing interest in casual gaming, by providing a space that appeals to gamers who want bite-sized gameplay inside a more collaborative gaming space. The audience for this game are the youngsters who might now play Club Penguin, Habbo Hotel, and Runescape.

The Reuters article writes that the release of the game has been delayed to Fall because the producers won't release it until it's ready, citing the depth that has to be developed to get the experience right.

Users around the world translate Facebook for free

Facebook is tapping its international user community to help translate it's interface, namely the copy for its guidelines, into nearly the 2 dozen languages that represent the community's market outside the US. The localization effort is a massive crowdsourcing task that has been both criticized and lauded. The critics often point to the unpredictability and inconsistency of translations. Proponents of the effort applaud the boldness at utilizing an already eager community to contribute to making the application better for users in other non English-speaking countries.

Bill Buxton on Innovation and the Long Nose Theory

Bolt|Peters summarizes Bill Buxton’s talk at CHI 2008, which is focussed largely around his theory of long nose. The article in BusinessWeek describes the danger of trying to innovate around the long tail theory alone, and attempts to create awareness for this other phenomenon which he calls the long nose. The theory describes how the bulk of innovation is low-amplitude and takes place over a long period of time.

[T]he bulk of innovation behind the latest “wow” moment (multi-touch on the iPhone, for example) is also low-amplitude and takes place over a long period—but well before the “new” idea has become generally known, much less reached the tipping point.

In terms of the long, often slow process of arriving at that critical point of acceptance or realization, Buxton referenced in his Chi talk the work of Benvenuto Cellini. Cellini was an Italian Renaissance painter and craftsman who, Buxton pointed out, worked on a single sculpture over the course of seven years. By craft, he wasn’t a sculptor, but he was able to invest in this long term engagement, driven by a heady pursuit that ended in the creation of a masterpiece, Perseus with the Head of Medusa.

Buxton’s long nose theory asks us to focus on refining existing tools as much as creating new ones. He also reminds us to recall and understand the history of what has been done in the past. This knowledge of the history of design, and the refinement of those ideas, he argues, is what leads to the acceptance of innovation.

To make this point, he references the Marcel Proust quote below when he discusses his tongue-in-cheek press release calling the iPhone a re-release of the Newton:

“The only true voyage of discovery is not to go to new places, but to have other eyes.” Basically, you don’t transform things by doing them from scratch, but by seeing them through different eyes.

His point here is that the lessons learned and the refinement of ideas introduced in the Newton years ago, and in the research on input devices and touch screens must have certainly played a part in the evolution of ideas leading to the iPhone. This was a slow evolution, and not an overnight innovation.

Buxton also references the 30 year history of the introduction of the idea of the mouse with Doug Englebart’s 1965 demonstration to the broad acceptance of the input device in the mainstream when Microsoft released Windows 95. He goes on to say that this length of time is common–that any technological innovation “that is going to have significant impact over the next 10 years is already at least 10 years old.”

The final message of the long nose is that refinement, not invention, is the bulk of the work and creativity required for innovation.

REC: Immersive Movie Ad

The REC movie site is one of the most immersive Flash video interactive pieces I’ve seen in a long time. The site puts you into the movie as though you are watching video captured from an observer who is actually in the scene. There’s a qality to the video and the storytelling here that feels very reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project, and here it is an equally successful vehicle.

After exploring and experiencing some of the terror for a few minutes, check out the video footage of audience reactions at a screening of the film.

Placement on a Page: The Missing Ad Metric

Paidcontent reports on a study conducted by MarketingSherpa on advertising bechmarks, which showed the effect of online ad placement in relation to the fold.

According to the report, most individuals don‘t see most ads served to them—especially ads served below the fold. Despite this result, media delivery reports rarely include information on whether, or what percentage of, a media buy was served above or below the fold. On the chart below, the bottom of the blue area represents the percent of total viewers who see an ad; the top represents the percent of total viewers who scroll to a point where the ad is visible on their screen. Clearly, just being above the fold makes a huge difference.