Memories are tragically short-lived, and always in danger of escaping our mental treasure chest.
The greatest moments of my life have made me tingle all over with happiness. Walking the Lisburn Road towards the Belfast city center as the rainy mist deposited droplets upon my glasses, transforming street lights and faces into a fish-eyed dreamy fog while the new discovery of M83’s saxophone solo added its robust soundtrack to my personal movie. Tingles. I wanted to cry out some magic word that would ensure that moment was never lost to time.
While it lives vividly in my medium-term memory, I know—even while in the moment—the pang of fear of ever losing that memory. I look back as recently as the last five years and know, begrudgingly, that some of these moments elude me.
I wonder if memory-loss is bittersweet. A culling of the less important for a top ten list committed to the human limit of long-term memory. Technology allows us to surpass such drawbacks, but at what cost? Pulling out your phone to document removes you and those around you from the moment if ever so slightly. The gain is a series of photos and videos of portions of these moments from sporadic days of your life.
In a world where I could document every moment—think an always on wearable camera, such as Google Glass—I trade the signal of the peaks, for the noise of the flatlands of each second. Many miles of desert to cross for the oasis of a rich and meaningful moment. Fear alleviated, but for what?
There is a scene in Minority Report which has stuck with me. In it, our hero watches a holographic video of his deceased wife. Overcome with desire and longing he reaches out to the hologram only to be reminded that this memory is only ephemeral; perfect in its accuracy, but impossible to rejoin. In our minds we can toy with memories and relive them, perhaps smoothing the rough edges a bit to make the thought more pleasant to hold. Complete video documentation of our lives seems harsh and too true to the details, unlike the comforting, hazy, quality of a true memory.
I’ve always found Instagram and Facebook interesting. Small square portholes into the lives of my friends. An opportunity to be a fly on the wall. Most recently, the effect that filters have added, trading off fidelity for that dreamlike quality of a memory.
Maybe we’ll look back on these photos and laugh at our wanton middle-finger waving to true archival, or maybe we’ll smile at the memory—comforted by the vignette and strange colors that leave the details to our imaginations. For now, I want to keep asking questions about how we can transcend memory, but hold the magnificence of imagination dear. So that we can enjoy the present, and dream about the future, while knowing our smiling remembrances of last night’s antics remain safe kept for revisiting. Our own personal movie.
"Glass, remember this moment."
I answered a question on Quora today dealing with long home pages. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and having recently used this type of layout again for Build I decided to share my thinking.
There are three types of marketing home pages:
Sparse home pages with a call to action. I have a strong dislike for these because they never tell me why I should care. They just shout “Buy!” or “Sign Up!” at me. Start-up and social media sites are notorious for this.
Short-form home pages tend to push you to other pages on the site where there is more room to give detail; but yet, when you split content over pages you have no ability to know a) what page a user will land on, b) which order of pages they’ll choose to explore, and c) whether they’ll explore all the pages. This results in a broken narrative structure which is counter-intuitive to the goal of most home pages: tell the story and sell the product.
Long-form home pages aim to provide the bulk of the site’s content in one place. This provides a pair of benefits: a) you can ensure the user will experience the content in a linear manner (starting at the top and scroll to the bottom), and b) most people want to finish a short story, and the scrollbar tells them there’s an end in sight. As long as your initial content is engaging enough for them to scroll, they’ll most likely stick it out for the ride. Don’t worry, people scroll—it’s the easiest interaction with any internet browsing device—both on mobile and desktop.
When you know you have a linear narrative, you can set things up and tell a more cohesive and engaging story. I like to structure pages like this as follows:
Establish the what, where, when and top-level why with a visual wow to hook the viewer. It would be advisable to include a call to action if they’re already sold or visiting the page with an intent to buy.
Convince and educate the viewer by fleshing out the reasons why they should care and how you’ll do it. This is where you make your case.
Provide a conclusion to your story. Summize. Repeat the call to action or offer alternative action steps. If users have made it this far they’re now deciding if they care enough to go forward. Make it easy for them.
You can see these principles applied on http://2012.buildconf.com/teaser/ (now archived version).
The following was written by Matt Wigham, one of the co-founders of the company I work for, Big Cartel. It was initially written for a book—which was never published—on the topic of entrepreneurship. After speaking with Matt about it, I’d love to share it with you.