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THATJamesTaylor is live – go tell the story of what strangers always ask YOU!

“What do strangers always ask you?” Everyone has something that strangers always ask them. Whether it’s about your physical appearance (How tall are you? What’s your ethnicity?), accent (Are you from Minnesota?), or career, it’s used to bridge silence, and it’s usually pretty annoying. ThatJamesTaylor is a place to hear and tell stories about these constant encounters and what they’re like.

Please, please, please, go to www.thatjamestaylor.com and post your story (perhaps that sounds a bit desperate — that’s because I am)!

“What do strangers ask YOU?” James Taylor on Vimeo.

“What do strangers always ask you?” Everyone has something that strangers always ask them. Whether it’s about your physical appearance (How tall are you? What’s your ethnicity?), accent (Are you from Minnesota?), or career, it’s used to bridge silence, and it’s usually pretty annoying. “WDSAY?” is also a short comedic analysis of privacy and evolving social media etiquette. Featuring Seattle-ite’s in their natural environments giving anecdotes on what strangers always ask them and what channels people use to breach that etiquette. A Facebook exec weighs in to discuss privacy as well.

It’s so true it’s funny. Or sad, depending on how often people ask you the same questions over and over and over and over again.

Initial Design Scope and Competitive Analysis of ThatJamesTaylor.com (TJT)

“What do strangers always ask you?” Everyone has something that strangers always ask them. Whether it’s about your physical appearance (How tall are you? What’s your ethnicity?), accent (Are you from Minnesota?), or career, it’s used to bridge silence, and it’s usually pretty annoying. ThatJamesTaylor is a place to hear and tell stories about these constant encounters and what they’re like.

Design Criteria for TJT
The point of TJT is to give strangers (anyone) an easy way to share stories and as such, function appears more important than form – it’s got to be very intuitive regarding how to post and how to find other interesting stories.

The design must lend itself to…

  1. Usability – first thing user sees is easy way to post text, photo, or video.
  2. Searchability – secondarily, search for topics that interest them or that are related to their story.
  3. Navigatibility – quick way to find posters similar to you, or search queries.


I want TJT to be robust with stories, so it’s imperative that whatever page the user lands on (homepage, post, other page, profile), there is a call-to-action and easy way for them to post their own story. Something along a popular or trending topics in a text cloud format to help users easily see what’s popular on the site is another design element that lends itself to navigation and search. The design must also lend itself to profile building; while users may post anonymously, there will be game mechanics (rankings) or at least something that rewards contribution.

It seems the most effective way to will be with a clean and minimal approach.

3 Audiences…
Everyone has something that strangers always ask them about (physical appearance, accent, career) to bridge silence, so the audience is potentially limitless for this (as long as people have easy and incented way to post). However, in the interest of thinking who early contributors or adopters to TJT might be…

  1. Over-sharer’s – these also happen to frequently be the people asking the annoying questions too, and there is no shortage of them in life.
  2. People with freakishly unique things about them – I’m 6’7” and would put myself in this boat, we like to congregate.
  3. Extreme-scene – these people will use TJT as a vehicle to put up there gnarly videos of them doing amazing things, because people always ask them about that…

Who are Competitors?
*http://www.linkedin.com/  * http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/  * http://www.booksie.com/

Linkedin:  Defacto job network and portfolio site. To have a professional career, you must post here.

To Borrow:

  • Profile promotion: The design lends itself well to promoting heavy users and rewarding their sharing of domain knowledge. They also have started cultivating personalities on the site and promote the hell out of them.
  • Clean: It has Nice white space to break things up.
  • Intuitive: They know what the users-intent is and don’t put barriers to getting there. Pages and sitemap and simple and easy to understand.
  • Search: The box is easily accessible and defaults to the 3 use cases most relevant (people, companies, jobs)


To Avoid:

  • Confusion: They are heavily promoting themselves as a news source (when they are not used for that). I don’t want to distract from the purpose of visiting my site.
  • Cold colors: This works for job search, but I want TJT to be more “electric!”


I Can Has Cheezburger:
Photos of your cat with cra$y captions! Easy to contribute and fun and all about PHOTOS.

To Borrow:

  • Visual Cues: Nice sliding cues to most popular and new posts.
  • Simple & Sticky: The site was designed to highlight funny captions of cats, they’ve stuck to that because its proven “sticky.”
  • Post Now!: The top call-to-action makes contributing a default.
  • Sharing Now!: Easy, yet fun call-to-share on every image.


To Avoid:

  • Cheesy: This is probably purposeful, but don’t like the font choice or overall look of the layout.


Booksie:
Share your stories, poems, writing, and all kinds of other crap no one wants to read. Too free-form, TJT is directed content that anyone can create.

To Borrow:

  • Branding/SEO: They are #1 search result for “share stories” related searches.
  • Clean/Simple: They have a 1 photo, one “abstract” layout that is 1 column.
  • Robust Commenting: Contributors contribute a ton of comments.
  • Rewarding Contribution: The site is designed to promote aspiring professionals, which is a great incentive to contribute… however (see below)


To Avoid:

  • Page to Contribute too wordy: I’ll have a FB connect login or something to make signup and post fast or at least perceived to be fast.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Perhaps not the intent, but there is a lot of feedback and what people like and don’t.
  • Too Anonymous: All the comments have avatars, not photos, meaning they are passive users of the site. TJT posters can remain anonymous, but like a Techcrunch blog, I’ll encourage Facebook login for commenting.
  • Too formal: The site is designed to get authors and aspiring professionals exposure, that’s not TJT’s intent.

Helping Strangers Tell Stories, Plugins to ThatJamesTaylor.com

I chose to install the following plugins for the following reasons.

Media Library Assistant 0.71.  This plugin adds some tutorials and added functionality to the existing media library. Part of the site’s interesting stories will be enhanced by encouraging and more easily enabling the contributors to put up associated media.

Akismet is the go-to stopper-of-spam commenting and something I installed as the agreed upon leader for this. A must have for a blog surely to be as popular as mine.

Shareaholic | email, bookmark, share buttons appears to be the “funnest” social sharing widgets available as a plugin and something that will dovetail with TJT’s aesthetic.

Helping Strangers Tell Their Stories Through Simplicity: Themes that enable better sharing to ThatJamesTaylor.com

ThatJamesTaylor.com is a modern web forum to tell the story of “what strangers always ask me.” Everyone has questions that people constantly ask to fill dead air space and here are some plugins that will better enable those stories to be told.

Read More…

Geekspeak: James Taylor: MySQL: Dominant and/or Dormant?

MySQL: How it came to Dominate & Popularize Open Source Database Management, and Why it Might Die:

As every dev knows and Oracle is apt to mention, MySQL is the world’s most popular database tool for developers. If you have ever pulled data from a server it’s likely you were using Structured Query Language or SQL to do it and MySQL is the defacto conveyor of this data. Created in C and C++ and named after one of the co-founders daughters, My, MySQL was first released in 1995 and acts as the database component of the popular LAMP stack that developers use to create the relational databases that power software and websites.

It is cross-platform or agnostic meaning that MySQL will run on most operating systems. Institutions that are dependent on data integrity and massive data scale such as banks or governments don’t use MySQL because of its limitations, but the vast majority of websites and apps do in some capacity. In fact, all 10 of the most visited websites in the world use it for something. According to Twitter, MySQL acts as the “persistent storage technology behind most Twitter data: the interest graph, timelines, user data and the Tweets themselves.”

It is considered fast, free, and reliable but not without faults. Most notably, it’s acquisition by Oracle (via Sun Microsystems), which at the time raised red flags amongst developers and even had a wikileaks scandal released regarding possible collusion between the EU and Oracle, has led to more recent complaints from developers throughout the world that MySQL is being slowly killed off or unsupported in the interest of selling higher priced proprietary database tools offered by the parent company.