Mobile diary: who do you trust?

According to the New York Times, Facebook is rolling out an improved social login platform that will let users control how much information they share with sites they log into. Of course, Facebook will still collect lots of info about which sites you choose to connect with, but that’s to be expected. One goal of this, obviously, is to make social login with Facebook preferable to social login with other services (or creating unique accounts for each service) so that Facebook has that much more data and a more important part in your activities on the Web.

Google phone

This got me thinking; I tend to not use social login much, preferring to just set up separate accounts with different services. I’m not sure this really matters, but at least I have the perception that I’m sharing less data that way. When I do set up social login, I generally prefer to use Twitter rather than other services. For some reason, I am less worried about Twitter (compared to Facebook and Google) using my personal data for aggressive marketing and other purposes.

Is this justified? Am I just fooling myself? I’d love to hear what you think.

Note: I included this image (from 2006) in part to commemorate the official closing of the Nokia/Microsoft deal, and the end of the Nokia mobile phone era. I spent 10 years at Nokia, developing software, writing standards, and marketing platforms through the rise and fall of Nokia’s smartphone business. I’m proud of the company and my role in it; I learned a lot and we changed the world.

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A good year at work

I’ve been working at PBS (the US public television network) since March 2012, as head of product management for PBS LearningMedia, an on-demand streaming media service for elementary and secondary educators. I led the effort to rebuild the site and content repository from the ground up in 2012, which we completed in time to launch the new version in January 2013.

To celebrate a year of the new LearningMedia, here’s a quick summary of what we’ve accomplished (thanks to Rachel and Michael from our station relations team for most of the data):

  • The new PBS LearningMedia site serves 500,000 registered users and attracts over 2 million page views per month, nearly 5 times the traffic of the old site
  • 134 PBS member stations in 51 states and territories are now offering a localized PBS LearningMedia Service to educators in their communities.
  • 35,000+ digital resources make up the PBS LearningMedia content library, with over 66% contributed by local stations. 
  • 10 states have school districts that are implementing the Custom Service, offered in partnership by local PBS stations, including WGVU, KET, WNET, SCETV, WTJX, WGBH and WHRO. The PBS LearningMedia Custom Service launched last spring and offers access to state educational standards, additional content and account management features, and enhanced reporting and analytics
  • Two CODiE Awards for excellence in education where bestowed on PBS LearningMedia in 2013. This is one of the highest accolades available in the digital education space – Best K-12 Solution.

2013 was a very productive and successful year for our team and for PBS in general, and I’m looking forward to a new round of activity and achievements in 2014.

Best wishes for a happy and successful 2014!

Adventures in product management: healthcare.gov

As product manager for a public web site at PBS, I’m following the news about the development of healthcare.gov closely. From my perspective this looks like an extreme product management challenge, as illustrated in an in-depth report in the Washington Post.

Like many product managers, I’ve certainly dealt with difficult customers and stakeholders, and had to manage unclear requirements and unreasonable expectations. Those experiences, however, look like child’s play compared to the toxic mix of politics and partisanship that were the main concerns of the customers of the healthcare site. It’s easy to say that more or better developers (or product managers) could have avoided the serious start-up problems of the site, but the Post report shows that the real problems came from the people creating the requirements, not the team implementing them.

As John Dickerson writes in his summary of the Post report in Slate:

Apple and Google would never have allowed the problems that Cutler outlines in his memo to fester. But then again, Apple and Google would not have had to deal with an environment where their rivals were plotting to remove all the equipment from their product laboratories every night.

In other words, if the customers and their business are crazy, there’s only so much that the technical team can do.

Mobile diary: the view from over there

Thanks to QuirksBlog for this reminder that the mobile tech landscape isn’t the same all over the world. This survey of the Indonesian local browser market shows the importance of browsers that I expect most American mobile phone users (and mobile experts) have not heard of, or at least don’t take seriously.

Number one in Indonesia with about 56% of measured traffic: Opera (more specifically, the Opera Mini proxy browser).

You can find more fun data like these over at StatsCounter.

Mobile diary: the new Flickr: missing the mobile boat?

My favorite online photo service, flickr, recently released a radical new design for its desktop site, which has attracted mostly positive reviews (particularly about the terabyte of free storage) but also much grumbling from long-time flickr users about the design and usability of the new site.

I still haven’t made up my mind about whether the new design is a net plus or minus, but I do think that it’s perhaps a bit behind the times. Flickr has released a rich, bandwidth-intensive desktop interface at a time when Internet usage is rapidly shifting to tablets and smaller mobile devices. Right move at the wrong time?

From Mary Meeker’s latest Internet Trends report: http://www.kpcb.com/insights/2013-internet-trends