17 January 2012

Google Application

For Communities
With Google Calendars, in a home-made application, you can enhance the awareness of a community about events just by sharing permission and embedding it into a HTML page. It can be seen on the website "http://stereomedia.org/NewHaven/Calendar/listings.htm"where you will see that there is an embedded Google Calendar. 

This particular embedded calendar contains events that are posted by the community. I have given a wide variety of people direct access to the calendars, and they post their own events. Then, I promote the calendar with stickers that have QR scan codes. 

The result? A website with recognition whereby I can talk to someone about it or hand someone a sticker, and occasionally I find someone who has already seen the site.  Then I'm able to get first-hand account feedback.  

The feedback generally directs the website's user experience. It's much more tangible to acquire advice about screen layout when you're able to ask specific questions.  It's difficult to take everyone's advice into consideration, but occasionally when someone makes a recommendation, sometimes it becomes clear quickly that it's a good idea.  

What I've created is essentially a community-based Google account.  People can post their own events to the calendar through the permissions that are granted to their gmail.  The calendars have themes, such as music scene, outdoors, or sports.   (located in the folder Stereomedia.org/NewHaven).  

That website connects to Google in several ways, through a single account.  The Youtube page is connected to the Blogspot which is connected to another folder back on my server.  The two are inter-woven in such a way that it becomes possible to not notice the difference between my webpages, and the interface provided by Blogspot.  

If google were to create a template for this kind of website, and turn my human CMS into a real one, it would work wonders for communties trying to organize their lives in the way that the alternative weekly paper is supposed to perform.  That's been the catalyst for the entire project:  to build something better than the local Advocate paper.  This could be implemented on a wider scale for more communities, and it would be a kind of new social organization for the internet.

Archiving events is a major feature of Blogspot, and should be a major part of the internet. It's as people seem to forget the world can change. Therefore a Blogspot site from 1998, if one existed, would be remarkably interesting. Simply because it's not 1998 anymore, even if the blog would have appeared commonplace at the time. 

Also, another major feature of Blogspot which helps people understand the nature of the internet, is that you don't have to befriend the author in order to visit and read the author's thoughts, or share in the author's experiences. That is more like the old internet that I know. With that in mind, people who create blogs are writing with the intention of informing their audience about a subject or topic that might really change the interface of someone's life.  

People think that music will change everybody's life. However, recipes can change people's lives. The way that an organic farm operates might change people's ability to grow their own food. But it all depends on the presentation, and that's the user experience which makes the functionality of Blogspot so vital to society right now.

The user experience is at every level. It's even at the volume level for the background music in the video that you embedded on the webpage. It's even how the aesthetic from the video matches (or clashes) with the background image that you've chosen for the website. It's not even just with aesthetic, though. It is also with the way that button themes in their chronological placement indicate what people should click first, as usually being over furthest to the left, with 'contact' always at the end. These are themes, but they work because they're commonly used. That's what makes a website design look familiar, even if it's for a site that has never been visited before. 

If more people dedicated their time to creating Blogspot pages, it would be an improvement to Facebook. What would make Google Plus even better than it is now is by having it connected to people's Blogspot pages, which function similarly, if not better than Facebook pages, in particular with regards to its customizability. To build an official Google Blogspot iphone application which allows the total linkage of a smartphone to Picasa web albums for photos, youtube for videos, and Blogspot for the actual location of the post, would be an improvement on internet content sharing possibilities. It could also be linked to Facebook and have it post on a Facebook wall automatically when the user posts it to Blogspot. 

Once that's the case, you will find that more people read content from Facebook, whereas FB does not contain any of its own content except for photos and text.  The facebook video offering nearly fails because YouTube is more practical.  Most people do not use FB video, and embed Youtube video files onto their FB pages.  

Therefore it makes no sense to try to replace FB with something like G+, because FB already performs that function, and can compete with improvements.  But it's important to acknowledge that the content of the world is not from FB, but merely pasted onto FB.  

Keep in mind though that FB is the passing conversations of a room.  It's society's short-term memory.  The rapid fire of information makes it very difficult to remember any one particular part of it.  Therefore what I suggest is to concentrate on providing better access to the longterm memory of the internet, meaning blogs with original content.  And facilitating those blogs to exist and flourish on the internet would be a means for Google to have a positive impact on society, by helping communities organize for the purpose of more inclusion in activities such as dogdeball in the park, and by helping those communities provide the media coverage for the event, so that society can share memories, which definitely brings communities together.  

One of the biggest areas where an Interaction Design is necessary is within the Blogspot editor.  It needs some improved features!  See the attached link to the graphically illustrated version of this job application, as mentioned in the cover letter.  

Next, how Picasa shares photos has changed since Google Plus.  You can no longer embed slideshows from Picasa in a blog.  In fact, you can't even get a URL for a picture with the way that Picasa has been integrated into Google Plus.  This takes away from the practicality of the photo sharing site, and makes it more difficult to use than its competitors, namely flickr.  Ideally, G+ would be integrated differently into Blogspot so that sharing photos meant posting them as a slideshow to a blog, which would then be 'mentioned' in a post on the Google Plus stream, where it's linked.  

Think about it this way.  People are OK with storing all of their savings in a bank, which they can access online.  With the correct username and password, it's possible for anyone to access their savings, and yet they're still ok with it.  Then why on earth would people not be OK with the idea of a voting process that is somehow tied into a login process on the internet?  

While Google does not provide election administration, only coverage, I would at least consider the suggestion of a program called "Google Municipal."  In this particular organization, it would be a platform set up to assist a municipality (like a town, borough, or city) to organize its public offices in such a way that it becomes possible to navigate through a virtual city hall, to find the people you need to contact.  

The additions that could be applied to this kind of account might include the statistics of traffic by the parking department, or high school track and field by a high school coach.  All accessible for them to enter the information from a google login, and all available through a URL that is given to the community as a whole.  

The other concept I have designed is for a "field agent" to exist.  The most important service that Google can provide to a location is the passing of skills to the community.  Rather than expect the education system to create leaders who can explain Google products to students, Google could provide its own community field agents to assist with the organization of programs like future Google Municipal.  A field agent hosts seminars at schools which are hosted at assemblies and explain and describe all of the functions of Blogspot, encourages kids to use it for positive purposes (like building a blog about something creative or productive that they actively engage in, or to pursue collecting parts of school projects onto Blogspot sites and linking those projects to a main hub for a school-based google network based on a blogging platform).  

The pilot program that I'm suggesting for this Field Agent position would be in New Haven, CT.  I've already received the endorsement of community members all across the board, including representatives from City Hall and Yale.  If you'd like these recommendations to be presented, they can be assembled if this is something that Google would seriously consider doing.  The idea would be to create a community-based website unlike any other, with the hopes of its success to drive other communities to follow in its development.  

I would hope that you might consider the possibility of creating a new position of Field Agent, with this pilot program in New Haven to possibly shape the direction of Google as a Community Network provider.  It would be the ultimate user experience!

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