Instagram: How not to do messaging

Hi, today I'm going to remind you that spyware manufacturer Facebook's subsidiary Instagram has a messaging interface that is so bad that it might actually be an intentional prank.

There are three different places where messages can show up, and in each, any actual communication is completely swamped by ephemera:

  • Click "Heart" in the bottom row:
    • ← Noise!
      XYZ liked your post
    • ← Noise!
      XYZ started following you
    • ← Actual message!
      XYZ mentioned you in a comment
      (No read / unread indicator on any of this)

  • Click "House" at bottom left, click "Paper Airplane" at upper right:

    Here each line contains an invisibly-small avatar and how many seconds ago they were active, but no summary of the message. For that you have to click on each one. What you get is:

    • ← Noise!
      XYZ mentioned you in their story
      (1cm tall screen shot included!)
    • ← Noise!
      XYZ tagged you in their post
    • ← Noise! Also WTF!
      XYZ: No longer available - Double-tap to like
    • ← Actual message!
      XYZ sent you a message

  • "House", "Paper Airplane", "Messages, N Requests"

    For some reason, this one does show you a message summary.

    • ← Noise!
      XYZ (not a friend) mentioned you in their story
      "Do you want to let XYZ send you messages from now on?" (because a "mention" is a "message" in this bizarroland)
    • ← Actual message!
      XYZ (not a friend) sent you a message

Yeah, we really need three different places for this crap, each of which manages to drown real, explicitly-addressed messages in stalky-mentions, with no way to filter out the chaff. I'd like to see those messages because those are direct, intentional communications from my customers, and they're probably expecting a response. All the rest of it -- the mentions, the likes, the tags -- are unactionable, and are at best interesting only in the aggregate (and that's being generous).

To be clear: if you want to see all of the messages that people have typed at you, you have to go to all three places.

And then, let's say you're a business owner and you want to see what photos people are posting that are tagged at your location. Well that's easy, you just activate the following series of heiroglyphs on the dialing computer:

  • "Magnifying Glass", "Search field" (select it but don't type anything), "Recent", "[Your business]" (but the version with the "Pin" glyph, not the other one) , "Recent".

And, you have to do all of this on your phone because their web site is a completely nonfunctional afterthought. It contains the "Heart" page, but not the "Paper Airplane" or "Magnifying Glass" pages. Also you can't be logged into more than one account at once. Oh and did I mention that neither the Instagram web site nor their API allows you to upload photos or videos? YOU HAD ONE JOB.

Also: "Link in bio" is the new "Skip intro", which is to say, both should be permanently branded into the foreheads of whichever engineering manager's decision led to the rest of us ever needing to see those words.

(Something something Zawinski's Law. Something something Greenspun's Tenth Rule.)

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

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The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight

On the western flank of the Hoover Dam stands a little-understood monument:

...commissioned by the US Bureau of Reclamation when construction of the dam began in 01931. The most noticeable parts of this corner of the dam, now known as Monument Plaza, are the massive winged bronze sculptures and central flagpole which are often photographed by visitors. The most amazing feature of this plaza, however, is under their feet as they take those pictures.

The plaza's terrazzo floor is actually a celestial map that marks the time of the dam's creation based on the 25,772-year axial precession of the earth.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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