Saturday, October 30, 2010

Frankly, I'm Embarrassed This Has Taken Me So Long . . .


This post is a follow-up to my post of several days ago, wherein I babble about making Uncharted more friendly for our Explorers and for potential Explorers who may not know our is an open system, a social media system, rather than a system closed to amateurs and open only to the pros.

My wife Michelle right now is taking a masters class on complex communication and information systems -- a class very similar to one I took for my masters program more than a year ago. We got to talking about complex communication situations on our walk this morning, and it dawned on me what we need to do with Uncharted to make it more user-friendly:

We've got to make the exigency that when they open their profiles, when they go to Uncharted, they're seeing what they and their friends are doing or have done, not what we want to present to them as having been done by others.

In other words, we need to get away from the Web 1.0 idea of having a homepage as the main portal and let each individual Explorer create their own portal with their own friends and their own interests showing up while we, as the puppeteers, play more of a background role, presenting stuff that we like but also allowing our Explorers to bypass our stuff completely if they so choose.

In other words, we need that Web 2.0 idea epitomized in the likes of Facebook:

Is what we're doing bad? Not necessarily? But is it making it much more difficult and much more intimidating for new and potential Explorers to sign up and post stuff and to make the site much more interesting to return to? I think so.

I've been thinking seriously about the social media sites I use. I don't use many; in fact, I use three outside of Uncharted: Facebook, Twitter, and Good Reads.

So what makes each appealing?

Facebook, well, loading stuff is a snap, and it's not necessarily required that we post, say, captions with our photos. They really feel optional. Optional because, well, if our friends have questions, they can post them right there and we can answer them on our own time. Or we can be anal and do the captions right there. With more textual babblings if we so desire.

And we can see immediately what our friends are doing, when they post, when they ask us a question. I get twenty to thirty e-mails from Facebook a day, and I don't find them annoying at all. They're just part of the experience. So maybe we can do that at Uncharted and not scare people away, but give them many more reasons to click back to our site.

Twitter. Well, this one is probably the least valuable of the three, but it does give me occasional reading material. Maybe stuff for the casual user. I'm probably using the site wrong.

Good Reads. Not a really active site because I have so few friends. But again, they make it easy to upload content, and to share content in other formats. If I do a book review and want to share it on Facebook or on my blog, that's only a click or two away.

We need that portability. Not just linking, which we're already doing with "Add This," but that portability, which lets us, with a few clicks, send stuff from one network to another. I think that would be exceptionally valuable in getting photos from Facebook to Uncharted.

Why do we need to do this?

Facebook, Twitter, and Good Reads make it easy to put up stuff. No one is intimidated in feeling they're not expert enough, because, hey, you're sharing it with friends. Perhaps we've put up the impression that there are too many gateholders at Uncharted. There aren't, really, but the impression is there, and that's to our detriment.

Also, when a person goes to an individual profile, that's great -- they get to see what that person has done or is doing. But they should, in the same screen, also have the option of knowing right away what their friends have been doing on the site as well, just like Facebook. That gets more interaction going. I admit when I go to Facebook, I go to my "home page" which is a conglomeration of my stuff and stuff from my friends. I rarely go to my individual profile, or the individual profiles of others. I go to where the mix of information is and comment and read and look at stuff that I think is neat. That gets others coming back because they get an instant message from Facebook that says, "Hey, that bozo Brian just commented here!"

So what would that look like? Well, Facebook-y. And that's not all that bad, is it?

NOTE: Just a reminder to all of you in Blogland that this isn't official Uncharted stuff. It's just me trying to think out loud.

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