Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ category
Klout is a free online service that “measures influence across the social web.” You would think that when an entity decides to go live with this kind of service that they would have fundamental policies and practices in place. You know the kind of practices and policies to not only provide this service as consistently and as accurately as possible, but to deal with problems gracefully as well. It is looking more and more like Klout has either disregarded these practices altogether or are trying to experiment with these practices and policies on their live production environment. Either way this is looking very bad for them. There have been numerous articles and observations on how their algorithm is easily gamed and how some speculate it relies on an archaic model of measuring networks versus influence, but my biggest problem with Klout is how they manages problems.
Several times in the last few months something drastic has gone awry with the majority of user influences which is the foundation of their service and what has the response been? The response has been to leave the system up and running while obviously broken and to provide the typical vague and honestly bullshit customer service replies that do not address what the real problem is or when this pain point can be expected to be resolved. When you take the plunge and build your business model on something that some people can take very seriously, leaving up broken results and not providing an honest and open answer is a sure fire way to shoot yourself in the foot. Klout has a lot of growing up to do in this department and they could seriously benefit from taking a few simple steps to helping themselves in future outages or algorithm quirks.
First thing first Klout could really benefit from actually taking their service down for the periods when something is obviously broken. They can do this as simply as Twitter with their use of the Fail Whale, and maybe even have a statement saying what the issue is and most importantly state that they are working on resolving it. Being more open on their social media presences is also a huge step in building their own clout when Klout goes down for a while. Instead of making users chase their own takes and ‘reconnecting networks’ that were never disconnected and honestly won’t solve their issues they can prepare an honest and open statement saying what went wrong and a broad estimate of its rectification. I am not saying they need to set an exact time, but saying something like “We are currently investigating the issue and expect to have it resolved later on in the day” is a great alternative.
Once Klout actually realizes that they are dealing with actual human beings and not the numbers they put on their profiles, and evolve to deal with their problems more gracefully then I just might recommend Klout as a tool for measuring social influence on the web. Until then it is yet another handy tool for connecting with other like minded individuals, nothing more.
A well written contract should be a fundamental part of any freelancer’s business model. It does not matter if the work is for family, or a donation to a charitable organization, boundaries and responses to unforeseen circumstances need to be addressed. Suppose you get hit by a garbage truck tomorrow, or suppose your client does. Suppose your client in his desire to rebrand goes for an option that already exists and the current rights holders sue. What happens? The contract is there to be the course of action to be taken in cases such as this, or in cases of clients who don’t pay, missed deadlines and permissions to release and use work. A good contract should be able to address all of these issues.
In writing my own contract and having it professionally vetted I have found it necessary to include clauses for: copyright, reservation of rights and publication authority, expenses, payment schedules, scope of work and responsibilities, force majeure(act of God) and lastly cancellation. This is a lot of ground to cover, and to some it can be a daunting task. Some designers wrap everything into one large contract, others make project based mini contracts. I actually use a combination of the two. I use a long term general contract that covers my rights, the client’s rights, expenses and payment, force majeure and cancellation. For everything else I write project specific proposals and in the case of completed projects that the client wants me to maintain I will write a one year maintenance agreement. The proposals cover the quote and specific fees (total cost), timelines, my responsibilities, scope of work, and client responsibilities. Maintenance agreements cover duration of the agreement, billing, and scope of support.
Each style has its advantages depending on the clients and the projects. I have found my method to be a fairly flexible solution that has worked well for a wide array of clients and projects.
For the other freelancers out there, let me know in the comments section what system you have in place and why you like it. I would definitely welcome an open discussion on this topic. If you need help or want a template to get started with, feel free to contact me either through the comments or via email. There are great resources out there and I will be more than glad to help you sort through it and to figure out a workable solution.
This past week I attended SharePoint Saturday – The Conference (SPSTC). This was my first time attending a conference/convention of this type, and it was a great experience overall! As a little background; I have, off and on for the last three years been doing branding design, and UI/UX design for Microsoft SharePoint. Recently I have been teaching myself the ins and outs of SharePoint 2010 in regards to UI/UX and branding. The SharePoint community has some exceptional talent, amazing creativity and it is a very friendly group that is easy to get along with and to share ideas and experiences with.
I walked away from this conference with a treasure trove of information, from XSLT, to jQuery in SharePoint, master page manipulation and design… this list could go on for a while. As I implement more advanced solutions for designs I want to get done or have tasked, I will be blogging about these concepts, fixes and unique uses of SharePoint here or as a guest writer for other blogs that have graciously invited me to do so. To those of you who have followed me on twitter or have visited my blog during SPSTC, thank you, I do hope to keep in touch. With this conference behind me, I look forward to learning even more, to keep pushing my own limits and the limits of SharePoint, and I hope I can do this all over again next year, or maybe at the next SPTechCon!
I was pointed to a blog today, put out by the Smithsonian that has me a little intrigued and concerned. The Smithsonian has launched a new program called the Department of Innovation. The aim of this group is to “…track all things innovative, not just in science and technology, but also in how we live, how we learn, how we entertain ourselves.” The program basically is just there to point at the innovation of others. This concept is hardly original nor innovative. I am not going to go on a tangent about whether or not the government has any place to spark innvoation, the government has done so in the past through different agencies’ research and development, but the establishment of this group seems to be nothing more than an attention getter or diverter. Fostering innovation, rewarding it and educating for creativity are the keys to sparking innovation and creativity in multiple aspects of our lives, blogging about about is a nice thing to do, but it hardly warrants a government department.
One blatant thing when seeing this though is the dated and poorly thought logo. The logo (shown below) featues three gears in an interlocked layout, they cannot move due to their placement. To me using gears as a methaphor of “the gears of the mind” is quite dated. The fact that they would not function in theory or in practice already speaks poorly of this group as well. I am not going to fault the designer alone here though, I know how getting branding approved though government chains works, it is a long process where many eyes look over the proposed branding to ensure it fits the bill, isn’t innacurate or illegal and that it looks good (it is like approving branding in the private sector, only longer). It is a damn shame that a group working on promoting innovation would let this theoretical halt in process exist in their logo, and not have a touch of creativity and dare to say, ooh I don’t know… try something new? If this is the extent of today’s government to be innovative, I am very much afraid of what the future holds.
If the Smithsonian can rethink and redo their branding, and apply a little innovation themselves, the Department of Innovation may have a chance at being more than a once glanced link on Digg or Reddit all because of their horribly executed logo.