No Noovo, No!

UPDATE: Andrej from Noovo writes in the comments below that they have modified Noovo’s UI flow so that the selection of contacts for invitation to their service is no more clearly defined.  Thankfully, this post is now history and lessons learned.

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I thought about sending this feedback directly to Noovo but it’s important to warn others and also have a place to point all the people who have received Noovo’s auto-invite and replied back to me, “is this real?” If and when Noovo modifies their sign-up flow to address the concerns I’ve outlined below, I will happily update this post.

When I sign up to test out new service, I take care to not let the service email my contacts with spammy invites. Yesterday they got me and I ended up inviting all my friends to a service I was only testing out, embarrassing me and turning me off from spending more time with the service to figure it out. Crafty placement and defaults were to blame.

noovo facebook

1. The first thing noovo does is ask you for your facebook credentials. There’s small text in the upper right corner says “skip” – most wouldn’t notice this making it seem like handing over your facebook account is a requirement.

noovo friend

2. Next they present the standard, “Login with your favorite service to see if your friends are already using us” screen. There is even some text at the bottom, We do not store your login details nor do we use them for any other purpose than to retrieve your contacts.

noovo invite

3. This is the real sneaky one. I’ve already fallen into this trap so I can’t show you what the screen looked like before (the above is from a second account) but imagine this. I logged in with my Gmail credentials, was redirected to a page on google.com confirming that I was giving one-time access to noovo to read my contacts file.

I then got a version of the screen you see above that had 10 or so contacts in the blue portion, these are people already registered on noovo that I could connect to. But, because I had several lines of people already on the service, it completely hid the contacts that were not on the service and were checked by default to be sent and invitation to the service once I clicked “Next”

Two things.

a. Noovo never said they would use my credentials to send out invitations, just to retrieve contacts.

b. By hiding the list of invited contacts checked off below the fold, there is no way I would know unless I saw the scroll bar on the right of the screen.

noovo email

4. The email invite was a real work of social engineering as well. Please respond or ian kennedy may think you said No. I would have deleted my account off of noovo but I don’t want people accepting my invite only to find that I’m not there. Laying the guilt trip on me and my friends is not the way to entice people to join your site.

Way to make my days guys. I’ve been spending all afternoon explaining to everyone what happened.

Is this the new Obama phone?

Sectéra Edge

CNN wonders if the Barak Obama’s new phone is the Sectéra® Edge
(love the multiple super-scripts in the product name!) by General Dynamics. Features include a “classified key” that you flip when you want to jump on the Top Sekret network for calls, email, or browsing.

Click on the image above and check out the one-line “trusted display.”  Just the thing to check in on twitter.

Not exactly a svelte device (it’s a little bulkier than a Palm Treo), this thing runs Windows Mobile. Goes with the territory I guess. It’s been reported that the White House PCs are running a six-year old version of Windows.

Oh, and it costs $3,350, without a data plan 😉

UPDATE: Turns out he’s going to get a real BlackBerry after all.

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There is no such thing as “Social Media”

For the past several years I have hitched my name to the phrase social media. I used it as a handle to describe the mix of blogs, photos, status updates, and other methods of personal broadcasting that I used to get the word out and solicit feedback on new ideas. In the past, there was a clear distinction between media produced this way, collaboratively, often by amateurs, and that which was popularly referred to as mainstream media.

We’ve reached a tipping point. In my mind the lines between social media  and other types of media are so blurred that it’s not even useful to distinguish the two, just drop the “social” because all media is now social. Take these examples from just the past few weeks:

Along with others, I first heard about the crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson via twitter. I was also amazed to see the twitpic photo featured on the network news stations – quality of composition was trumped by a camera phone that was in the right place at the right time. While the first reports were from twitter, more comprehensive coverage was to come later from the professionals but the twitpic and reader comments made up an important part of the overall package.

For the inauguration yesterday, CNN and Facebook shared a single URL. On the left side was a live video stream from CNN while on the right side was a stream of comments from Facebook.

CNN & Facebook
Screen Capture by Steve Garfield

While the video was very compelling, I have to confess that the real-time commentary from the peanut gallery on the right was absoultely captivating. If you measure media by the amount of attention given, most of my time was spent on Facebook feed. Mashable’s got more details on the numbers but it would be interesting to see a heat map of where people collectively spent their time on this page.

A couple years ago I asked how to define social media. In that post, Stowe Boyd said that is was defined by the, “annotations or social gestures left behind by active readers, such as comments, tags, bookmarks, and trackbacks.” Based on that definition, what we saw on CNN yesterday, and the ease with which people can create, reference, and annotate all media, it’s no longer useful to segment out something called “social media.”

There is no such thing as social media when all media is social.

YouTube as a Search Engine

My son was featured in yesterday’s Sunday New York Times in an article (At First, Funny videos. Now, a Reference Tool) about the unforeseen use of YouTube as a research tool. We all associate videos with entertainment but Tyler has taught me that with the addition of meta-data and micro-chunked content, it’s possible to use YouTube as a rich source of reference material.

Tyler's New York Times article

I was contacted by the reporter, who had seen a post on ReadWriteWeb about Tyler’s use of YouTube and wanted to bring the story to the New York Times’ readers.

My father commented, “It is the inclination of succeeding generations to simplify.” Tyler is on to something. For certain things (contact juggling, macarena, or bugatti vs. fighter jet), YouTube is going to explain things to you better and quicker than plain old text search results. You can sort by not only Relevance and Date Added but also using meta-data from community actions such as Ratings and View Count. Finally, using the example from the article, if you search on platypus, embedded in the results is a pre-defined playlist of over 40 video clips all about the animal.

Tyler was pleased to see that the article was in the “Bright Ideas” section. His comment about his pose in the photo was that after over 200 photos his head was feeling a little heavy. Strangely, the local newsstand didn’t carry the Sunday Times so we had to go to a Starbucks to get a copy for the photo above and as a keepsake.

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Playmobil Security Checkpoint

playmobilIs this for real? Amazon has it listed in stock and ready to ship. Thankfully we can count on the Amazon reviewing public to bring out the snarky truth.

Some choice excerpts:

Thank you Playmobil for allowing me to teach my 5-year old the importance of recognizing what a failing bureaucracy in a ever growing fascist state looks like. . .

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed . . .

I am waiting for a few accessories though, kids size jackboots and a toy Taser. . .

Geeknews points out it’s not all just good guys. They have bad guys too.

Thanks Todd Sampson for the Friday laughs.

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Handbag TV

handbag tv

From the not quite sure about this department.

Spend a lot of time sitting on the bus or train with your handbag in your lap wishing you could catch up on all your favorite TV shows and movies? BagTV from London has created a line of handbags with a built-in monitor for just this situation.

The first in a range of new products, is a beautifully crafted ladies hand-bag, which comes in a range of cool colours, leathers, and fabrics, integrated with a high quality 7in TV screen combining, DVD, and Mpeg player.

The screen sits behind a protective transparent shield and enables the owner to literally watch Films/Videos either on DVD or downloaded to the bag.

The system comes with full connectivity for use with computers or digital cameras through USB port and SD card slot, allowing the playing of scrolling photos on the bag.

Just add wifi connectivity and a touchscreen and you could use this to surf the web as well!