Summary notes from Joshua Schachter talk

[My notes from the recorded talk of author at the Carson Workshop Summit on the future of Web Apps:]

  • Scaling
    • Recommends reading: Cal Handerson & Brad Fitzpatrick (Flickr & LiveJournal) presentation on how to make things fast (scaling) – helped Joshua a lot
    • Nagios – to figure what went wrong, get alerts
    • Use caching everywhere possible
    • figure where you can be latent (slopy), & be latent there
    • wait to see what actually breaks before it actually does
    • Know how to tune DB & Apache
    • Put Proxy – not Apache – before it: prioritizing services, load balancing
    • e.g., someone saves the site to his disk – this will blow the site
    • e.g., Greasemonkey script that checks delicious on every web page
    • throttlling
  • API – help adoption
    • the easier API is, the more they’re used
    • don’t expose the internal identifier, especially if its sequential or computable (people will iterate on it)
  • what features to add?
    • things that are crucial for success (eg tagging) – very usable, must be added
    • don’t add something that exist elsewhere (e.g. messages)
    • if something is asked, try understand the reason, what’s the real problem that needs to be solved
    • some features have a too heavy performance price (eg query calculus)
  • put RSS every possible thing
    • always be able to answer: is there new data in this RSS (by time)? this will save access to data
    • RSS is the heaviest traffic
  • hide everything of the underlying framework (e.g., filename.php)
  • watch for new behavior in the application, & decide what to do with it
  • solve a problem you really have (Joshua had a text file with 26K bookmarks) – because you really understand the problem & passionate on solving it better than whoever don’t have it
  • every day your system isn’t open, you’re loosing users & input. get it out there asap
  • aggregation of attention (what’s popular today) is cool when the population is small, if its big there’s too much bias. create piles of attention
  • spam – people will try to get to the pile of attention
    • when you track spammers, don’t give them any feedback (error messages &c)
  • tagging:
    • useful for recall
    • ok for discovery
    • bad for distribution
    • not all metadata is tags
    • make people make the minimal amount of work
  • understand the motivation of the people
    • user 1 have to find the system useful (from selfish reasons)
    • if the value is from many users, it’s problematic
    • the tip: the users community should want to get more users to the system (evangalize, viral)
  • beaware where you spend your efforts (e.g., a feature no one ever uses)
  • watch your system carefully
    • intuition backed by data
    • measure everything
    • how people react to features, what they do
    • measure behavior rather than claims
  • testing is very important
    • user acceptance testing
    • everybody on the team should look behind the mirror on actual user labs
    • when doing labs, don’t give them todo’s
    • they worked with “Creative Good
  • use the users language
    • don’t make them use your language
  • registration for seeing is a roadblock
    • give as much functionality possible without registration
    • users want to get a good idea of what they’ll get before registering
    • you must show them, they won’t read about it
    • registration should be as fast as possible, & get you to where you were before
  • understand where you’re breaking the current paradigm, but other than that, learn & use how the world/internet work (emulate it)
  • you have to develop a set of morals
    • its the users data, not your data
    • CRUD their data
    • up to remove all your account data
  • infection vectors
    • Joshua spend $0
    • promote evangalism
    • RSS is good – you evade channels, get to applications & users
  • understand how a community uses your system
    • Joshua don’t want to own the community – the community is elsewhere
    • just enable communities use your system, don’t force them anything

[See also:


18 thoughts on “Summary notes from Joshua Schachter talk

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  3. Interesting read. There is currently quite a lot of information around this subject around and about on the net and some are most defintely better than others. You have caught the detail here just right which makes for a refreshing change – thanks.

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