Recently, in preparation for our final alpha launch, we began to wonder if there was anything more we could do to make StormDriver better. To make it more unique, rewarding – and simpler at the same time.
After some talking, thinking, and even more talking, we finally understood what lies at the heart of our system, when you trim away all the subpages, functions, options and buttons. It’s the instant discovery sharing – the ability to see when someone, somewhere, somehow discovers something cool you didn’t know of.
We wanted to make this core idea more visible throughout the system. To bring it into the light.
Just imagine tens of thousands of users browsing the Web at the same time. And imagine, that every time any one of them stumbles upon something valuable, he or she sends a strong signal, a loud “ping” that means “eureka!” or “I found it” or, to be more precise, “it’s awesome here, come and join me”.
You, as a user, are able to participate in “eureka” moments of other people. You can also share your cool findings at the click of a button.
That is the core idea want to stand behind.
Ping it out and ping it loud
Here’s where “Ping it” comes in. It’s our new function. A homing beacon, like the one I just mentioned. A loud signal, that resonates through StormDriver, and sends ripples to the global stream and all the other streams in our system. It’s louder for people who follow you, fainter for unrelated strangers. And to send this signal, you don’t need two “thumb” buttons with drop downs. You need only one, big button.
And that’s what “Ping it” is – a button, that becomes central to the page browsing pop-up, and to the whole philosophy of our system. By pressing it, you can send an instant signal, a ping, from any interesting place you find yourself in. You can share you discovery seconds after you’ve made it, and others can do the same. Page visits no longer dominate the streams. Pings do. We hope it will help you see more pages that really matter.
“Ping it” will also come in form of a bookmarklet, that allows you to ping pages while you do your day-to-day browsing in your favorite browser. Additionally, we will offer it as an embeddable button, that content owners can put on their sites. Think of this button as a Foursquare check-in for the world of web content.
Though to some extent a number of pings allows us to calculate the value of the page, ping is not a score, or a direct replacement of the “Rock” button. Ping doesn’t mean you “like” the page or that you want to bump up its score. It means you want to show others you’re there now and that others can join you if they want to. It’s about the real time aspect.
That’s the key difference between “like” or “+1” and a “ping” – first two are for showing your friends you liked something, the third is for instant check-ins to cool websites, for telegraphing everyone out there where you are now. It’s about putting your marker on the digital map of the Web.
Topics + pings = awesomeness
It’s hard to go into more details without describing our upcoming topic system, because pings and topics go hand in hand. Together, they create the ultimate crowdsourcing tool, as you can ping things to any existing topic, or create your own, and then get some contributors to help you build it!
For example, if you like vintage robots, you can ping every page you find about them to an appropriate topic. Other robot aficionados will see your pings in real-time, and may be able to add their own. Together, you will create a throughout and awesome robot topic you can then share with the world, as every topic page has a unique URL that’s available to unregistered users! And that’s just the beginning of what’s possible with this system!
More changes on the horizon
I know some of you might say that good old thumbs were better than ping-like check-ins. But before you pass your judgment, let me tell you two things. First – it is a necessary change, as it makes our system more unique and simpler at the same time. Second – it neatly wraps around our core ideas and solves some privacy issues. Third – it’s a blast to use!
Hopefully, you will be able to test pings and topics really soon, it in a brand new alpha release, that will be deployed very shortly. Stay tuned!