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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The wisdom (or lack of) crowds

James Surowieki giving an interesting presentation on group behaviour - how and why we behave the way we do - and why groups of mixed ability can actually outperform those of consistently high ability: 'Even if the less intelligent ones know less, what they know is different. So diversity is really central, and therefore, some measure of randomness is useful.'

On exposure to huge swathes of information vs having seclusion and space to think: 'whether it's isolation or cacophony - both things are good. The key thing to avoid is this extensively, tightly networked model'.

Excellent podcast, thanks for the heads up posted by Ian Forrester : 17 December, 2005 16:40   Post a Comment

Beatport sucks

Grrrr. The thing is, I really want to love Beatport. It's an inexpensive and convenient source for buying all manner of underground electronic music - the kind of thing that was the preserve of the specialist vinyl shops that are now in terminal decline.

Not only are the prices reasonable, and the collection relatively extensive (and growing) but they do what we all want - offer content without DRM and in a variety of useful formats - MP3, MP4 and WAV.

So far, so good. So why oh why do they insist on doing so many dumb and infuriating things? The whole site is built in Flash, rendering it slow, clunky and inaccessible - the main point of which seems to give it a rather ugly UI (OK, I admit that this is a subjective point of view, but being a designer, I think I'm allowed to comment). Not only is this implementation possibly leaving them open to legal action under EU Accessibility Laws, but it serves no one in any way whatsoever that couldn't be better and more efficiently implemented in plain old XHTML. On a Mac, it frequently doesn't work. Typing in a search query yesterday, each successive keystroke overtyped the previous one. The buttons in the interface don't respond, or when they do, the delay is so great that you've already moved on and have no sense of what you've clicked.

Being as there's only one URL, the back button doesn't work, the refresh button (which I instinctively tried on several occasions when the interface appeared to have frozen) takes you back to the front page. And of course (a major oversight) you can't link to any content on the site because you have to use the clunky and un-reassuring search interface to get to anything.

I have content for sale on Beatport. It would be great to be able to refer any viewers of my site directly to a page where they could actually purchase our material. Surely, every one wins there?

I'm sure that they will put it down to human error, but when I made an order yesterday, I actually bought two of the same thing from a series of 3 choices (getting part 1 twice and 3 instead of 1,2 and 3). Now, I'm sure I made the right selection, but given the lag between pressing the 'buy' button and getting any visual feedback or it actually registering in your basket, the possibilities for error are endless.

To make matters worse, the trigger for me buying material was to try out the newly advertised WAV downloads. So, I made my choice, proceeded to checkout (this was my 3rd attempt by the way - had to switch from Mac to PC to proceed) then chose WAV as my format. I accepted the dialogue box that verified if I wanted WAV, paid and went to my downloads page. The only problem, my downloads were there as MP3s.

So... Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Again.

I really hope that some (or all) of these matters get resolved soon. When I discovered this site, my first response was 'there goes all my money.' But, it's so painful, frustrating and un-reassuring buying anything from this site, that for the time being, my money seems relatively safe.

Oh dear, oh dear... You should certainlly fwd your blog entry to beatport and advise them its actually online for everyone to see.

With options like this, no wonder so many people download music in lets say alternative ways. posted by Ian Forrester : 15 December, 2005 13:19   Post a Comment

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