Wednesday 13 August 2008 — This is almost 15 years old. Be careful.
Surfing blogs and the web in general, I often end up at the home page for a new project, and I need to figure out what it is. Too often, the information is not forthcoming. Sometimes, these pages are small open-source projects, where documentation is a clear weak point, and the page will be mostly detailed news items intended for those familiar with the project. I can cut these pages some slack. They should do a better job advocating their work to new users, but I understand how it is that they don’t.
Odd, though, that Fire Eagle, Yahoo’s latest Web 2.0 gizmo, falls into the same sandtrap. It has a very nicely designed page, but again, I don’t know what it does.
When I arrived at the home page, I saw “Take your location to the web!”. What does that mean? Is this a hyper-local advertising service? A way for municipalities to promote local events? The next text I read on the page says, “Update anywhere: send updates from your phone”. Update what? Here I am trying to learn about their service, and I already feel behind the times and out of touch with the cool kids.
Clicking the Join button takes me to a page that starts,
Fire Eagle looks after information about your location. You can use web sites and applications to update your location, and then use that information all over the Internet.
OK, now I think I get it. Other than the odd “looks after information” verb, I’m beginning to see that this a service that tracks where you are physically, and provides that information to other applications so that they can use that location information to enrich their offerings. Why didn’t they just say so?
I think FireEagle is too cool for Yahoo as well as indicated by their need to put a logo in the lower right of the front page that says "This is Yahoo!".
I was always taught that a basic job of a creator is to be able to crisply define your creation in a way that people can understand: the elevator pitch.
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