rethinking the ownership of the web canvas

I still read a lot online; mostly through a feed reader, which I pay for. Part of reading through a feed reader is not seeing the content in its original context, except for those sites that encourage the user to click through to read something.

If you’ve been online for a while, you will be deeply familiar with the way that online advertising generally works. The banner ad itself is over 20 years old. Immunity to online advertising is called banner blindness: the particular structures that appear on a webpage are often not noticed by seasoned readers of the web.

This led – over many years – to an escalation of online advertising: becoming more and more difficult to avoid – full-screen pre-roll pages, site takeovers: all kinds of things.

I wouldn’t normally comment, but the Next Web, May 2015 (I’m including the date in case you need to find it in the wayback machine) did something I haven’t seen before, and appeared to change the relationship between ad and content.

On this site, when it loads, you’re presented with the site’s top nav, and some social media buttons, and a small “show article” link, but the article itself has floated off to the right of the browser window, so only a small sliver is showing. You know you’re on the right page, but the message is a new one to me – this is the advertiser’s space, and we’re just going to place the article over the top of it, because we know that’s important to you.

It made me think “I should pay more attention to this ad” – admittedly, for products I’d already heard of, and with really beautiful design – in a way I haven’t seen for a long time.

The ability to shape the experience of a visitor to your site should not be underestimated, even as there’s perceived pressure that “no one reads your site” anymore.

There is still a strong tendency among the people who build the web to think of it as a “page” first, and to limit their output to the constraints of print and paper. Admittedly, of responsively designed paper, but paper nonetheless. The capacity to communicate a sense of home and place, a hierarchy of interactions between stakeholders, has barely been tapped.

I expect to see even more innovation in the content-publisher space, even as the giant sites like Facebook move to bring more of the web’s content within their walled garden.

resources for modern storytellers

Over on Medium is a list of 60 free tools for modern storytellers. Writing, websites, sources of payment, reporting, organisation, news updates, audio, video, images and resources; emails, social media, SEO.

It’s a good list, but the trouble with such a list is not knowing where to start. It’s a long journey between wanting to be a storyteller and actually having a successful online business. 

So bookmark the list, but start with the small things. Write one story. Put something out into the world. Don’t worry about having a 3-year master plan, just start simply.

netflix: overview

I’ve had a fairly busy month, with a fair bit of doing some laptop-work in the evening with something on the TV in the background. Much of the last month this has been some kind of Netflix show or movie, and overall I’ve been impressed.

The range is not exhaustive, though there is plenty to watch. Overall, though, it’s been the stability of the platform that I’ve enjoyed. The system remembers what you’ve watched, where you were up to, and there is not long to wait before whatever you’re trying to watch starts up.

Compared to Apple-TV, where you can wait minutes (sometimes much longer) before a movie, or even a trailer is ready to play, this is quite impressive. As much as I have wanted to support Dendy Direct, I’ve found their system to be really flakey in its connection from iOS device to Apple-TV via airplay. If i had to choose whether to support Dendy or the iTunes store, I would support Dendy, but if it’s not going to play back the movie without dropping sessions or endless buffering, then that’s going to be a problem.

Overall, it seems like having another streaming service available is going to be a good thing for improving the quality of every streaming entertainment provider.

The final question is whether having access to so much material is a helpful thing: I suspect it’s a little too tempting for me to watch more than I’m aiming to watch, and saps my enthusiasm for creating new things (it’s been, for example, a long time between blog posts here).