Realtime is a trap and the past is underrated. Reverse chronology feeds, update notifications and immediate publish/consumer experiences continue to push us towards overvaluing what justhappened. “Is this new?” becomes a qualifying criteria to engaging with content. And you want to be first to read, first to share, first to react. Retweet without even having clicked the link. All in the name of velocity and engagement.
But maybe not. Two recent products play with time in different ways. Medium has totally deprecated the idea that “publish date” should be a primary piece of metadata. Facebook’s Slingshot contains a “reply to unlock” feature which ironically removed the urgency of immediate response (at least for me).
Let’s look first at Medium. Here’s the masthead of a post:
See how faint the timestamp is? Even this position is a change from their original thinking as I’m pretty sure “publish date” used to be below the fold at the bottom of the post. I *think* this is because Medium still trying to balance the idea of evergreen timeless content with more timely stories (see hiring of editors like Steve Levy).
Now, Slingshot. I’ve already admitted to being somewhat contrarian and liking the app. They’ve got a well-documented (and controversial) social mechanism that prevents you from seeing a friend’s photo until you respond with one of you own. My initial reaction to hearing this feature was “oh man, this is going to be all about pinging photos back and forth faster and faster” but once I started using the product, reality was the opposite. Slingshot is decidedly *not* conversational – I don’t feel pressure to Like or LOL or give a reaction. I can just express myself in the moment at a given time and then use that share to flip through a bunch of banked photos from friends. To date at least it’s been different and engaging. Lightweight without being realtime.
So what do you think? Are app developers playing with time in different ways? Are you tiring of the timestamping of your life?