User Interfaces should be more than friendly and intuitive - UIs should also remove the many opportunities users have to make fools of themselves.
New to Facebook, and wanting to avoid information overload, I have been regularly skipping the Invite-all-the-people-you-know-from-every-email-account-you've-ever-owned call-to- action.
But late in the day at the end of a long week, I finally decided to take advantage of "Invite your Gmail Friends Who have already jumped on the FB train."
I entered my super stealthy gmail password after my already populated gmail address and pushed the Go/Next/Getonwithit button and was rewarded with a large selection of people who meet the following criteria:
1. Already have a Facebook Account 2. Appear somewhere in my gmail account (inbox, outbox, under deep cc cover, etc.)
Perusing cautiously and carefully, I selected a large handful of people I know who might be feeling magnanimous enough to accept my virtual friendship offering. Pleased with myself, I clicked the same Go/Next/Hurry-up-and-finish button.
The next screen was purely irritating.
An apparent, "Are you sure?" screen asked me to validate that indeed I wanted to invite the exact collection of persons I had JUST selected. I clicked the blue Go/Forward/Get-on-with-it button at precisely the same moment I noticed the verbiage atop the enormous list of names explained this particular list a little differently:
Here are a bunch (and we mean ALLOT) of random people that are in your gmail account and don't necessarily have a Facebook account. You may not know them all because they could have been part of massive emails, mailers, groups, craigslist postings, cc's, etc. but, with the click of the seemingly innocuous button below, you will invite every last one of them to be your friend.
I suppose there were multiple explitives I unleashed but really all I remember is frantically hitting the CANCEL/ABORT/REDO button again and again.
The damage was, as they say, already done.
Let's consider the impact of my little User Idiocy moment. I believe, on the conservative side, I invited well over 500 people to my Facebook account.
The 12 Yahoo Groups and all group members who have ever posted to one of those groups received an invite. Every individual who has asked about an item I'm trying to unload on Craigslist received an invite. The collective distribution for each of the mass family emails I am privvy to received an invite. The entire board of my children's PTA, previous clients from my days of freelancing, fellow freecyclers, help desk personnel, our family doctor, chiropractor, dentist...
My Top 3 favorite repsonses:
"Do I know you?"
"I'm not interested, sorry"
"My mom got an invite from you. Who are you?"
Obviously User Idiocy at it's finest. The best part? Facebook is kind enough to repeat this offer to that unsuspecting population monthly. The gift that keeps on giving.
Background: The day before Easter, big scientist/inventor (aka: hubby, engineer) thought it would be interesting, educational and stimulating to show gymnast princess bookworm (aka: daughter, munchkin#1) and daredevil whirlygig/little engineer (aka: son, munchkin#2) a video on the world's premier bug man. The fearsome threesome made it to the part where super smart bug man allows himself to be bitten by fire ants on his hands before I called them to dye eggs.
Several hours later...
The children were nestled all snug in their beds when munchkin number two became concerned in the head. "The ants are all over," he said quite distraught. "Mommy and Daddy they are just in my thoughts."
A shrug from the hubby, "I didn't think it was bad" Signalled to me there were words to be had. Not with the hubby but with the boy, The contraption above his head was not just a Dollar Store toy.
"Let's go little man, back off to bed, Seems there is a Dream Catcher poem to be said." Together we looked at the apparatus taped on his wall And I imagined words that could resolve this all.
I thought quickly tho the wine kept me mellow and said the following with my little fellow.
"Dream Catcher, Dream Catcher, please be compliant Please stop all ant dreams especially those that are giant. Dream Catcher, Dream Catcher, this would be totally sweet Because tomorrow morning will be filled with treats."
The little engineer made me repeat it, just for good measure But the words themselves relieved all the pressure. And when I checked in on him after just 10 minutes The little guy was crashed dreaming of M&Ms with the peanuts.
While I've been blogging since before the term (and this site) existed, I'm not one for consistency, maintenence or long-term relationships (beyond the almost 15 years I've got going on with that wonderful man I married).
Consider this a fresh start with a very old username.
And the impetus for this particular fresh start?
Spending a few days in SF attending the Web 2.0 Conference and Expo.
Groovy people, smart people, motivated people. The buzz is the social web and there is a considerable amount of passion in the space. But there is something that is nagging at me - ultimately we are all busily trying to inspire humans to use computers to make their interactions (with the computer) more human. I know, oversimplification and generalization but here's the example that I'm just stuck on.
Have spoken with a couple of people about Akoha and other pre-release social and philanthropic sites I've come to understand that these are online games designed around inspiring compassionate human interactions.
Before I raise my virtual fist to pound into the virtual air, let's be clear, there are times when the end justifies the means.
My point is simply in the irony in the online interaction goal: Making things more human.
That doesn't seem like it should be so hard now does it?