Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage


Feb 15

Tech Writing in the Voice of an Erudite 19th Century Gentleman

Posted: under Amusing Nonsense, Gulp With Enthusiasm, Mobile commerce, Sip With Assurance.
Tags: , , , ,

If we’re going to have to suffer through endless TOS statements, they might as well be fun to read

dave lafontaine as edwardian gentleman

A tip of the hat in an absurdist setting.

I seem to have struck some kind of nerve this week in responding to a whimsical Tweet referencing something that we are all guilty of – losing focus while slogging through an overflowing email inbox, and forgetting to respond.

Viz:

So this got me wondering: what if we started crafting elaborately gracious responses to common tech messages that we all get and grit our teeth over?

Such as the Terms Of Service that we all click to make go away, because reading it makes our eyes cross and causes our spleens to spasm & release huge amounts of red blood cells because clearly our very existence is in danger (read this in the voice of Doc Holliday in Tombstone for the full effect):

Updated Codicils That Shall Govern Henceforth Our Relationship (formerly known as “ToS”)

“Dearest User, please rest in utmost comfort and assurance that we take it as our most enduring, nay sacred duty, to vouchsafe the utter privacy and sanctity of the interactions that you shall have with this, your new iPhone. It shall be as though invisible guardians of legendary ferocity shall be stationed around the server racks housing all the data that is gleaned from these aforementioned actions; guardians that shall repel all efforts to winkle out even the tiniest details about the taps, swipes, shakes or gentle caresses that you bestow upon the humble & unworthy device you know hold in your shapely hand.

“However, we feel duty-bound to confess that from time to time, it does and shall become necessary for us to garner further revenues; and as much as we might wish it otherwise, we are not saints, and we, as all humans do, fall victim to the gross (some might unkindly say “bestial”) exigencies of maintaining hearty revenue streams to ensure our continued existence as a tech company in that most odious Darwinian battleground quaintly known as “Silicon Valley.” Thus, we shall regretfully and reluctantly engage in the auctioning of that data to businessmen, men of the world, men of a certain character … men with bulging wallets and the desire to Know Things About You…”

Dearest Wishes That Your Travails With Our Device Have Reached a Satisfactory Conclusion (formerly known as “Follow-up Customer Service Questionnaire”)

“Recently, you in your wrath & righteous anger, found it necessary to engage in an extended conversation with the cringing and unworthy peons we have designated as our Help Team. While we recognize that your fully justified frustration and impatience with our HomePod Speaker System was, at that moment, reaching Brobdingnagian levels, and that your fury at the white rings our wretched product left upon your Lårftnoörg end-table are ineradicable and permanent — still, our designated peon, when attempting to convey our sincerest regret, was alarmed by your stated intention to track down & locate the designer of the HomePod and insert this device into a cavity that shall not be named by polite people (but which is located in the fundament of even the most dignified being), and thence upon to use a sledgehammer to beat upon it until it shall be firmly embedded, yea unto the point where it shall sprout from the head of our designer, as though it were Athena springing whole from the skull of Zeus.

“We have since calmed our peon – never fear, for they are become accustomed to such flights of choler whilst being in our employ – and yet, we feel a compulsion upon us to inquire as to the level of satisfaction that you have garnered from your interactions with Haqib, so we may calculate the stiff thrashing that we must perform on him. If you would, please click upon the number below, being upon the scale of 1-10, that corresponds with the number of strokes from a rattan cane that we shall invoke upon him.”

Please Do Allow Us To Gently Yet Persistently Blandish You With Useful Information (formerly “Click Here to Subscribe”)

“As you have arrived here at our most humble & unworthy site, via the vast and trackless expanse of the digital ethereum, eschewing all other sites in this moment, and have perhaps found what we have collected here to be to your liking — may we importune upon you to signify your approval by clicking upon the button below, thence to trigger the appearance of a form that shall allow you to receive regular missives from us?

“It shall be the work of but a moment, and shall require only that you render unto us your name and the email address by which we may swiftly and securely transmit to you the dual-level opt-in form that diligent email newsletter registrars require of us as proof that we are not that sub-creature, the lowest of the low – the dire & deadly Spammer? For we are not, and never shall be, that we swear unto the very Heavens above.”

 

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Feb 20

The UX of Decent Online Discussions: Twitter’s New Troll-Killing Algo

Posted: under Blogging, Sip With Caution.
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Twitter declares open season on trolls

“I think the new moderators are striking *just* the right tone for dealing with the 4chan infestations…” (/lame attempt at New Yorker-style caption)

Twitter is rolling out three new tools to crack down on trolls, spam & abuse

Meanwhile, there’s also “Project Coral” – backed by NY Times, Washington Post and Mozilla – rolling out Talk and Ask, aimed at making comment threads a way to connect with an audience – rather than to alienate & depress them. Read More

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Aug 02

Bill Cosby is Not Dead Yet: A Viral Marketing Set-up?

Posted: under advertising, Amusing Nonsense.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

First day back from a much-needed “decompression” trip to the redwood forests of West Marin, and I’m greeted by the strangest trending topics when I fire up Tweetdeck for my re-immersion in the raging info-torrent:

twitscoop shows bill cosby denying his demise as top trending topic

So many people are ReTweeting Cosby's denial of his demise that the keywords are showing up all over trending topics.

Strange. The words “Cosby,” “demise,” “rumors,” “confirming,” and the Palin-esque portmanteau “rebuttaling” are trending. So when I click through to see what everyone’s talking about, this comes up:

twitter users retweeting cosby demise denial

Check out how many people are just hitting the "RT" button to repeat what Cosby said -- without any sort of editing of the message whatsoever. Thus including the bit.ly link.

Wow. OK, either there’s some sort of radio or TV contest going on here, or there’s a genuine story brewing. How can I tell that it’s not just one Twitspammer clogging up the Twitosphere? Well, check out the sources of the Tweets: Twidroid, web, UberTwitter (not shown: Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, and about a dozen other clients).

Spammers give themselves away by using only one (or at most two) channels to shovel their dreck. Usually they just compromise one platform and then quickly cram their message through the crack in the security wall before someone notices and plasters it over again.

Still, there’s a possibility that there was a massive exploit of user’s Twitter accounts, and that the weblink will lead to a page where the Trojans & Spyware lurk. So, setting the various anti-virus & script-blockers to “Red Alert” status, I clicked on through. Turns out that the Cos actually does have an app.

Bill Cosby's twittered rebuttal of his demise

A simple message - and one that has been picked up by a significant portion of his million-plus followers.

Now, I’m not sure if this was entirely scam-free. Cosby is a shrewd marketer & hustler; I wouldn’t put it past him to stage a non-event like this to take advantage of the overheated, overhyped nature of the Twitosphere to get his name out there (and how many times in the past six months have you actually even heard Bill Cosby’s name? Yeah, like that). One of the surest ways to cause a kerfuffle was proved a year ago when the news of Michael Jackson’s death caused the FailWhale to appear … so maybe Cosby & his web team figured out that sock-puppeting a rumor of Cosby’s sudden death would be enough to set off a ruckus.

Which Cosby could then take advantage of by issuing a denial … and tying that denial to a message plugging his new money-making app.

Convoluted? Damn Skippy. Like setting up a three-cushion shot on an uneven billiards table. Being carried in the back of a flatbed truck. Over a rutted backwoods Arkansas dirt road.

Then again, Bill Cosby was something of a hustling pool player, once upon a time…

Bill was not always "Mr. Establishment." He had a funky side - maybe it was Sidney Poitier that brought it out of him...

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