The culture of photography has changed so very much in less than a decade. Photography is ubiquitous. Everyone with a smartphone has a digital camera now. People joke about tagging embarrassing photos of each other on Facebook, and more often than not, they are NOT afraid to do it. Unfortunately what this means is that control over your online identity isn’t entirely in your hands.
Statute of limitations for photos
Somewhere along the line we got used to it, and tagging your friends on Facebook evolved a sort of etiquette. This article from Read Write Web does a terrific job of pointing out where it can still go wrong. Photos taken at a time in your life when you didn’t have to worry about them turning up on the internet can still appear, thanks to the ability to scan and tag older photos.
Facebook Timeline can help solve this somewhat by adding context to photos, but that doesn’t get rid of the fact that there is a photograph of you chugging from a beer bong wearing that “I support single moms” t-shirt when you were in college.
The first rule of a duct tape themed party…
There was a certain party years ago, before Facebook and MySpace were popular, that got a little crazy. I dressed up as Paul Stanley from KISS, outfit made completely out of duct tape. We partied with reckless abandon and there were photos being taken, but it was still a time when you didn’t have to worry about them showing up on the interenet.
Don’t get me wrong, the photos weren’t terribly compromising but they sure as hell weren’t all that flattering. We weren’t using digital cameras so we wouldn’t be able to check to see if the photo needed to be retaken.
Pull the trigger
Years later the photos showed up on MySpace and I was more than a little surprised at how embarrassed I was. I mean, look! I’m drinking Bud Light.
If that party had taken place nowadays, I’d be more than happy to share our revelries with an intended group of people via Glassboard. I may be a classy broad now, but college was another thing entirely. I don’t need my Love Gun plastered all over the internet, thank you very much.
We talk about privacy on this blog a lot. In fact, it’s probably the most oft-used word. However, I’d like to focus on a different word for this blog post. Creepy.
Location-based apps such as Highlight got a lot of attention at SXSW this year. They experienced explosive growth because uptake has very little friction. This is due in no small part to the fact that your location and information about you is readily exposed to those around you.
Speaking of exposed, this post from PCWorld even goes so far as to state that Highlight is “like the ‘ChatRoulette’ of iOS Apps.” It even includes a cringe-worthy screen-grab (don’t worry, it’s not a wang).
This other item posted on CNN rates the creepiness of a handful of location-based apps. Is that what we’ve come to now? Choosing a social networking app because it’s slightly less creepy than another one?
I’m proud to say that we built Glassboard as non-creepy as possible. In fact, there is no element of discovery whatsoever in the app. If you’re on it, I have no idea. We have to actually interact first. Isn’t that amazing?
- Including media is a hassle. I tend to avoid attaching pictures and videos simply because it’s not as good of an experience when I’m on my iPhone. Also, if someone includes attachments on emails, I don’t desire to click them so much as when I see them in Glassboard. Look at that thumbnail. I know you want to tap it.
- It’s noisy. I have 3 primary email accounts, and I use them for a number of different reasons. Even my email account I use just for work is still subject to spam, updates from services I’ve signed up for, and newsletters. When I launch Glassboard and want to see just what my coworkers are talking about, I navigate to the Sepia Labs board. It’s a nice quiet room for our conversations.
- Reply all and cc’ing can get annoying. A big contributor to inbox noise is being included on messages that you just don’t need. For anyone that has worked into the office, there is always a few people who hit “Reply all” for a message that was sent out to everyone. Or, it becomes a case of backtracking and cc’ing the right person to get them looped in and caught up. With Glassboard, the board members are all included (notified) on new messages, and you only receive further notifications if you have commented or liked an item.
- Emails go unread. Do you know anyone whos inbox count is at zero? I sure don’t.
- Conversation threads get mucked up (for people that know me, yes, I spelled “mucked” intentionally). Probably the biggest contributor to email’s failure as a group collaboration tool is how poorly threaded conversations can become. If you are on an email thread with more than three people, it’s likely folks will start commenting on emails from a while ago, that comment will get commented on, and you’ll lose information that came out in the intererim. This is a major problem that Glassboard solves. The commenting structure of the app lets you continue conversations on a particular item, keeping them separate from other messages.
Those are my top 5 reasons email sucks for group communication. Did I leave any out?
Yesterday I blogged about disgruntled employees, made some Jerry Maguire references (I am NOT stopping until someone tells me to), and mentioned the possibility that Glassboard is moving towards a freemium model.
This last fact got quite a bit of attention yesterday, because folks found it refreshingly honest to have us admit that we’re still exploring how we’re going to
take over the world make money. The truth is, we’ve built Glassboard from the beginning as a freemium service, modeled after other well known freemium services like Dropbox or Evernote. And in the spirit of a freemium model, we believe that you need to be able to use the service for free to get an appreciation for what the service does for you. Where we’re undecided is where to draw the line between freemium and paid.
Its a tough line to draw. We want to encourage everyone in the world to use our service, but as soon as we draw that line, we are, by design, alienating users. So how do you draw the line for only those users who are willing to pay and not push away others?
Sure, we could take the stance that anyone who uses the service should pay. But the value of our business is defined in part by Metcalfe’s law – which simply stated means: more people on the network benefits everyone.
We could take the stance that no one should pay and serve ads in the app. But as we’ve stated before, we’re not fans of that model.
So we’ve got some other ideas, but nothing formalized yet. But given the reaction to yesterday’s post, we be sure to keep you posted. If you have ideas, let us know in the comments!
Now if there was only a button in the app that said, “I’m willing to pay for this service”… wait, that gives me an idea….
March has so far been a great month for former employee rants. First there was a scathing op-ed piece from Greg Smith on why he is leaving Goldman Sachs. Now, more recently, is a former Google employee stating bluntly that “Google+ has ruined the company.”
It’s like that episode of Mad Men where Don Draper quite eloquently tells big tobacco to suck it.
(Honestly, I like to imagine when these employees depart their office for the last time they pull a Jerry Maguire.)
Back to the former Google employee, James Whittaker. He states that there were two distinct cultures at Google: “Before Google+,” and “After.” His beef is with the latter. Whittaker criticizes Google for focusing more on the bottom line and deviating away from the start-up culture that made it such an appealing place to work.
So, they changed their vision. They became embroiled with a desire to make more money. After all, they are in direct competition with Facebook. They sought to grow through providing targeted advertising. It’s a fair, trusted business model, and it’ll make the company zillions of dollars. The backlash is a rejection of this new culture. Whittaker points out that instead of giving employees a good portion of time to work on other projects (encouraging creativity and empowerment), Google now looks down on it.
This is something we at Sepia Labs want to stay away from. We’ve been asked before what our business model is, and honestly there isn’t one in place yet. We’re looking into a freemium model. I posted an answer on Quora that goes into more detail here. A business model that relies on targeted advertising doesn’t jive with our culture at Sepia Labs. We’d rather add amazing new features that people would be willing to pay us for, because they enjoy Glassboard so much.
UPDATE: We talk more about our approach to the freemium model in this follow up post.
With that in mind, we’d love for you to use Glassboard, and with a tear in your eye, trembling lips… utter the words “You complete me.”
What is good privacy hygiene?
This is the question that was posed to a number of prolific tech people in an article from NPR.org.
The opinions range from pessimism (“…it’s a losing battle.”) to acceptance (“…socially, we’re more used to sharing pictures, stories about our vacations, our music.”). One thing that is true across the board is how downright confusing and difficult it is to maintain a consistent level of privacy across all forms of social media.
Is it simply not normal anymore to expect privacy from social networks? For this reason I’m almost reluctant to refer to Glassboard as a social application. The definition of “social” has changed so dramatically it seems to insinuate that by posting on Glassboard you are broadcasting to a much larger group. When I think of “social” in the Glassboard world, I think of a room with a closed door. I can see every individual in the room. Can you envision that within Facebook or Google+? Privacy is indeed complicated and the rules are always changing. I think I can simplify things for you with this diagram (click to embiggen):
As you can see, with Glassboard it’s very distinct to whom things get communicated. With other social networks your messages can reverberate through many channels. Perhaps even to Kevin Bacon (not that that’s a bad thing).
There is no doubt that there is diminishing privacy in the realm of social communication. This isn’t to say that people are shouting their innermost secrets from the rooftops, it’s simply that we’re being conditioned to share more over our various social networks. I see the line blurring on what is acceptable to share with others. Broadcast your location? Ok. Share a baby picture on Facebook? Sure, why not? How about your full name? Phone number? When does it go to far?
In this article on Tech Crunch, John Biggs calls out Highlight for egregiously exposing his contact information.
It’s interesting to see the backlash against apps that overshare or collect data without your permission. For Biggs it wasn’t because Highlight showed his phone number to 140 strangers, it’s that he recognizes this sort of behavior as a symptom of the overall erosion of privacy. What’s even more interesting to see is that for the most part, people are just going along with all of it despite claiming that they care about privacy.
Biggs goes on to explain, “I have no right to expect privacy if I don’t police my own actions and the vast majority of us are too lazy, too flip, or too ignorant to follow through, myself included.”
It’s true. I’m the same way. But at least with Glassboard you can have a means of social communication without the risk of oversharing.