Compared to a lot of tech users, I am not an “early adopter”. I refuse to buy v1 Apple products, bugs are irritating, lack of design polish is stupid, and having nothing to do on a site is boooooooooring. All this means, of course, is that I AM an early adopter when compared to non-tech people. Or, you know, the majority of people. I am, however, generally aware of the stuff and/or things I am “missing out” on, as (like a good little nerd) I aggressively and obsessively read The Internet.
Imagine my surprise then, when my sister (a lovely, smart, totally un-technical human being) turned me on to the site Pinterest. It’s amazing, actually. The site is slick, well designed, buggy as shit, and amazingly popular. Especially with women. Non-technical ones.
Another site is GetGlue, which has been on my radar for a while, but only because my cousin has the occasional post exclaiming that he’s watching something. It’s a neat little site where you “check in” to what you’re reading/watching/playing and rewards you with badges. Regardless of whether this sounds like your cup of tea or not, it’s telling that I only heard about it from non-technical people.
I have a theory as to why these two amusing sites slipped through my normal tech circles. With regard to Pinterst, the tech isn’t interesting, and what they do have is buggy. On the other hand, for people who don’t work in tech, the entire internet seems buggy, but it’s also generally less pretty. Don’t think so? Just wait till the next phone call from your grandmother trying to figure out what “liking” something does on Facebook. She can’t tell a feature from a bug, and vice-versa.
GetGlue, on the other hand, is gamification pure and simple. As a rule, those of us in the tech field are pretty bored by gamification. But Farmville users aren’t. And it turns out they watch movies.
My big takeaway from this is that existing techie start-ups and social sites are operating backwards. They have a high tolerance for poor design (both graphic and UI/UX), and low tolerance for buggy tech. GetGlue turns every activity into Zynga game (in a good way, surprisngly). Pinterest, on the other hand, has gorgeous visuals, a great UI, and maddeningly buggy tech. But to the “average user” (you know, those mythical people you talk about in meetings whilst pretending they will be able to learn your latest tech offering without any help…) everything on the internet is already maddening.