Jan 8, 2008

dopplr in spades

signing up for yet another online service can be a risky proposition these days. a dopplr invite came into my inbox a few days ago and i tooled around with it for a bit. i quite liked it and invited more people (actually, quite a few people), at which point the user experience went south. within an hour, i had 20 emails from various people asking why i'd invited them to dopplr 5, 18, 14, 28, 12 times. as my inbox continued to fill up with irritated emails, i resolved never again to invite people to anything. i filed a bug on the dopplr homepage and then went hunting around for an actual person. no email contacts were listed on the site, so i cast a wider net. i eventually found matt biddulph's blog (he's the CTO) and sent him an email. within 20 minutes, he'd replied to say that they were working on fixing the problem and, this morning, they'd emailed everyone affected to apologise.

now, that's pretty nice. dopplr's actually a good idea, and executed well. apart from the broken bot, now apparently fixed, it's nicely done. re: the bot, their rapid response to my email and matt's email apology this morning makes me feel good. i will admit that this is mostly for reasons of ego (it's always nice when someone else is abject on your behalf), though it's a good sign that they take seriously problems like this that affect user trust.

i like the idea of being able to engineer serendipity: dopplr lets you note your travel destinations and times and then shows you where and when you overlap with other people that you know who have shared their travel plans with you. their privacy and access controls seem to work pretty well, the UI is clean. the grace notes too are all true -- i particularly like how each city is marked by a different colour, though i'm left wondering how they decided that reykjavik is . todd falkowsky has done some interesting stuff to try and find the colour palettes of different cities by photographing major landmarks and extracting principal colours from them. sounds like a flickr geotagging exercise is in order.

in any case, dopplr is good, and i'd like to know where you're going.

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