Monthly Archives: March 2010

Early Season Honours…

It was pleasing to hear that Arsenal.com has been named Best Sports Website at the 2009 UK Website of the Year awards. The official website received the highest average rating for content, design and navigation in the sports category. More than 850,000 votes were cast as UK web users selected their favourite websites in 22 categories.

It’s nice to win stuff whatever it may be – I enjoy the fact that we always win the groundsman awards and random stuff like that that shows the club looks after more facets than most.

I actually visit the official site relatively rarely – to purchase away tickets and very occasionally for some injury news. The partisan nature of it doesn’t really interest me. I’ve seen us play the most appalling game of football and lose and then read the match report at Arsenal.com suggesting we were somehow robbed and focussing on the one time that we managed to string a couple of passes together. I also can’t compare it to many other clubs. I’ve seen the Man City site which is highly regarded (I think Poke created it?) and it is quite nice but I value the health of my computer too highly to venture near the Spurs or Chelsea sites… It seems most sites are much of a muchness – in fact they seem to follow the same template designs…

It made me think about what the site could do to make my experience more enhanced. I’m not sure the club would like ceding control of the brand in the following ways – but personally, here are a couple of thoughts that would enhance my user experience…

  • How good would it be if Arsenal.com contained a section of the site that acted as an aggregator for content across all the blogs and media content that goes on out there? From one perspective, it would be utterly terrifying for the club to link through to content where Arsenal fans unleash diatribes on every element of the club – but this could be offset by a disclaimer saying these views don’t represent those of the club and would in some ways demonstrate that the club is ultimately constructed by what Arsenal fans think of it. I love this ad agencies site that does exactly that with all it’s clients.

 

  • I’d love to know the twitter usernames of other Arsenal fans so I could follow them easily (rather than stumbling across them…

 

  • How about a twitter feed on various topics or even an official arsenal twitter feed that tells me when away tickets go on sale or team news as it happens?

 

  • A bespoke email service that recognises how many away credits I have and sends me an alert to say that the booking period is coming up so I never miss out?

 All in all though – the user experience is pretty good. I read someone suggesting that the online supremacy of the core site could in some ways be driven by the media savvines of Arsenal fans in general. Certainly, the club has some great blogs and without the balance of perspective – they are clearly the best out there! I’m not sure this bears any relevance though on the official site.

 So, a nice win for the Arsenal. Hopefully the prelude to the main prizes on the pitch come May…

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Productivity, Fulfillment and Status Anxiety

I read Seth Godin’s post today on all the things that someone can do that are better than TV. In the past I’ve also read Clay Shirky talking about the cognitive surplus – and indeed fully bought into it. It makes sense  to buy into a thought process that encourages productivity.

On reflection though, I’m not sure these mantras  are necessarily as healthy and fulfilling as the authors suggest them to be. For the majority of intelligent people, there is a desire to fulfil potential and somewhere along the line there has been a universal acknowledgement that productivity = fulfilment.

 There is no doubt that satisfaction comes from a sense of achievement. Ticking off a to-do list creates fulfilment in many instances, as does making the most of your passions.

 Is there a danger though that when we don’t feel like performing a variety of tasks based around our passions, that we feel a sense of failure? And are these thought processes actually creating a form of status anxiety amongst people who want to achieve and try their best – but simply can’t ‘produce’ 24/7?

 Watching TV isn’t bad. Switching off isn’t bad. Each of us is different and we need to find the balance between what we feel we should achieve and what our body and brain are telling us.

 Recently I found myself running around frantically. I wanted to see the best films, theatre, art, music before anyone else. I wanted to know everything about anything. And then I realised it wasn’t making me happy. I love going to Arsenal football club and watching the games – but, taking my lead from the likes of Clay Shirky, I began to feel that I should be conducting interviews with fans, writing blog posts, getting involved with supporters groups, creating banners for injured players – rather than just going for a few pints with friends after the game. And when I didn’t, I felt bad.

 So whilst productivity is important – I think it needs to be tempered with some reflection on what truly makes you happy. And if happy is sitting on the sofa watching crap TV – then go for that. Cognitive surplus or not cognitive surplus.

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Have Google lost their human touch?

We all love Google don’t we?

They’re all – well…’googly’. They make you feel all nice and warm with their irreverence. They’re nice people too. I mean which other company has a mantra that says ‘don’t be evil’.  They’ve built up this reputation over a number of years. So does ‘Buzz’ make us love them more or less…

 Steve Jobs is a master predictor and back in January – he referred to the ‘don’t be evil’ mantra as bullshit and maybe he had a point?

 The mantra was borne out of a recognition that large corporations often maximize short-term profits with actions that destroy long-term brand image and competitive position. Supposedly, by instilling a Don’t Be Evil culture the corporation established a baseline for honest decision-making that disassociates Google from any and all cheating.

 Google are against short term gain with actions that destroy long term brand image?

 So, why have they inexplicably admitted launching a service with insufficient testing in the form of ‘Buzz’? They have had to make a series of changes to the service after backlashes from users concerned about intrusions of privacy. It’s turned out that Buzz was only tested internally and bypassed more extensive trials with external testers – used for many other Google services. Google said “We know we need to improve things.”

 All this just doesn’t sound like ‘Google’. Rushing out a new product to maximise presence without thinking it all through? Not putting the consumer first?

 “We’re very early in this space. This was one of our first big attempts,” Todd Jackson, Buzz product manager, told us.

 Um… so what was Orkut? Google Friend Connect?, and Google’s other attempts at social media?

 The reality is that their position in the marketplace meant this couldn’t fail (from a numbers perspective)

 Maybe the lack of fear of failure made Google behave in ways that typically they haven’t? Google has only released two numbers so far: there have been over 9 million posts and comments in about 56 hours, amounting to around 160,000 posts and comments per hour. The other number: over 200 mobile check-ins per minute, nearly 300,000 mobile check-ins per day.

 Google Buzz is bigger than Twitter 

But is it at a cost? By Buzz creating your followers for you, it’s been easier to gain traction but I think it comes at a real cost. With Facebook and Twitter, your network has been created by you. I don’t think Google gets that.

Sometimes algorithms work… sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you need humans to make decisions.

 Has Google misplaced it’s human touch?

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