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Kieran Senior
Works at Atlassian Software Systems
Attended The Open University
Lives in Guernsey
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Kieran Senior

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I just heard something incredibly disturbing.

Me: "He looks like Captain Picard."
My wife: "Who's Captain Picard?"

I just don't know who I've married :(
Kieran Senior's profile photoJosh Fletcher's profile photoPhil Pragnell's profile photo
Oh my.
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Kieran Senior

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So, I'm on Lion. I much prefer mission control, and the scrolling - whilst confusing - actually makes more sense perceptually. Apple always usually nail their changes anyway, and even the less significant changes make more sense. The changes to the terminal are also great, remembering your last viewed folder and showing the last commands issued is a nice touch.
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Kieran Senior

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Leon Håland originally shared:
+Paul Allen requested I do a 20 mil one too. No problem, Paul. I like excel, it's fun! Here's the 20 mil graph. comScore says we hit it today.

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But Google+ had Twitter and Facebook to promote it...
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Kieran Senior

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Anyone else think this article sounds like something out of a movie?
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Kieran Senior

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+Kieran Senior: "John, why did you get your kids baptised?. +John Surcombe: "y'know... just in case." :D
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Kieran Senior

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Steve Streeting originally shared:
Torchlight has sold 1 million copies across all platforms! And to think each one has some code I wrote in it :) Fantastic work guys, well deserved.
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Have him in circles
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Kieran Senior

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Nicolas Cole originally shared:
When The Dalai Lama was asked what surprised him most, he said,

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
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Kieran Senior

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I get the feeling that Facebook isn't making changes to compete, but instead it is making changes to survive.
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I think it has surpassed the point where you could have call it a "beta" now.

Google are digging their own grave in a way, they have only invited "geeks" and have implemented a user invite system, which has meant a bunch of "geeks" adding their "geek" friends. How did most of us get on Google+? Invite from a "geeky" friend?

They need open the flood gates very soon in order to get the non-geeky crowd.
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Kieran Senior

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Oliver Reichenstein originally shared:

After using this for a couple of days with an inner smile, and going through a couple of expert comments about its future with an even bigger smile, I got to say one thing: All of this here is really great user interface design. It is unbelievably good for a Version 1.0. and in spite of a lot of clever comments that gave it no chance in the battle against facebook, I can see how and why Google+ starts taking off—because—it is based on just really great user interface design.

I had to smile using Google+ like I smile when I read a really well written book, that is a book that manages to say things I felt and never managed to think. And that big smile that grew when reading geeky comments about its future, came because a lot of those expert comments sounded familiar to what at times we hear when people judge iA Writer without using it. You can't understand the quality of the interface without using it. And even then: you can't see it if you're not trained to see it.

The Interface is the product, the user experience makes the brand experience. Building better software is not about creating new features. Core features only matter in so far as they define the product in its goal. Features as such don't define the quality. And it doesn't matter so much if features are new or not. Unless they're really great, and then you should make sure that they're conceptual features (see G+ cricles, hangout) and not bells and whistles:

1. The Interface is not what but how. ("The way that you accomplish tasks with a product — what you do and how it responds — that's the interface." Jef Raskin).
2. The critical factor for UI quality is not "new" but "it works better."
3. The interface is not obvious. Just like any other specialist's discipline only a trained eye can see, or better: understand it.

I am not going to name names, but some of those smart techie, VC and social media strategist's comments I have read about Google+ show another thing very clearly:

User Interface Design standards have reached the level of graphic design, industry design and architecture, a level, where only user interface design professionals can discern outstanding work (Google+) from good work (Twitter) and average work (facebook).

And that means also that only user interface design professionals can see the strategic potential of an interface that is so far ahead of its main competitor (facebook). Zuckerberg is not an interface professional, but he can feel it from the reactions Google+ gets. He can feel that this has the potential to now only convince the early adopters, but anyone that likes his social network to be simple fast and efficient (and not just that thing that everybody uses). It's built as a threat and it works as any good threat only because it has the potential to make itself real as the threat that it is defined: To break facebooks quasi monopoly on online user identity.

1. The Information Architecture: classic and rigid in its floor plan (meta/main/subnavigation) and highly user centered in its interior design (circles and sparks). The circles concept allows you to mirror the way you perceive your social network, it doesn't force us into a certain structure of social interaction (groups and forced two way interaction like facebook or asymetric interaction with often incredibly offensive @interventions)
2. The Interaction Design: Every interaction seems to have been throught trough and designed until it's latest little bits (and those matter as much as the big bits). It even has room for some warmth (like the circle rolling away when you delete it) which is rare for Google's cold UID approach.
3. The Information Design: It is extremely difficult to keep a complicated user interface so light, white and free of lines, boxes and ornaments. The content hierarchy is always clear, color definitions and consistent and clear without labeling them. I am sure that the team had to make some concessions with the global redesign of Google, but I can't see them anywhere.

I could go on and on about this but at this point most people will be bored. I know what you'd like to hear: Is it going to kill facebook or twitter? (Just so you know: There is nothing more ridiculous than this killer meme, it's so ridiculous that I am not even sure if I shoudl use it ironically...)

Is it the facebook killer?
Google+ makes facebook look like MySpace. And that's bad news for them. Altavista, Yahoo, MySpace and all the other long forgotten online giants have shown one thing: Size and reach online are very volatile. It is so easy to switch brands online that the biggest brands can collapse within a couple of years. You need to stay on the ball. How?

By improving the interface? Yes, but... Improving the facebook interface is going to be one nightmare job. The product is so swollen with useless features and hidden traps that the only way to compete with Google+ is going to start from scratch. And that's a luxury that facebook doesn't have. It's not going to be enough to hire good designers, facebook is flawed deep down in its universitarian symmetric friendship and groups concept (this is why it works so good for collecting old schoolfriends that you don't want to be in touch with anymore).

With Features? Not really... Facebook now quickly adding features before the work as good as Google+ is not going to help. One example: When I heard that facebook is going to integrate skype to offer a hangout feature I thought:

- Wait, but Microsoft owns Skype?
- Why can't they do it by themselves?
- Why integrating a buggy product into a complicated product?
- Are they that nervous?

And as expected that facebook hangout turned out to be crappy. You better skip a feature than adding a broken one.

There is more where this came from, but let's try to wrap this up... With its currentuser base, Facebook will be here for years to come, but if they lose theyr strong point (to be the online identity service whether you like facebook or not) they are doomed to become just a lost school friend's network (that's actually what it was built for). And who wants that? Bored/boring people.

Twitter killer?
Twitter with its 140 character limit is literally made for mobile phones. No matter how much more retina we go with smart phone displays, as soon as you work with much more than 150 characters at the time, information becomes harder and harder to handle and digest on that tiny real estate (I'm not aying you can't read long pieces, but working with big chunks of information on small screens is difficult). So far I haven't been able to use the android app for Google+, but, however awesome it might be, Twitter will always have an advantage because it is conceptually more medium appropriate for mobile interaction.

Twitter also has a conceptual advantage when it comes to sharing links. 140 characters with URLS shortening is just perfect to share one link with a comment, one image or soundfile at a time.

I am definitely going to continue to use Twitter as my public notebook, but I am not sure how much I am still going to interact with it. Google+ has a couple of clear advantages for interactive communication.

1. It gives me more control over dialogues
2. It allows me to elaborate when matters get too complicated for aphorisms
3. It allows me to edit

Sure, a lot of what I particularily enjoy about Google+ right now might be gone pretty soon:

1. There is less berating and knee jerk aggression
2. I know pretty much everyone I interact with
3. No spam or advertisement

In short: I can't see Google+ competing conceptually with Twitter. It's an entirely different beast. Twitter has a more media appropriate concept for mobile interaction, it works great for link sharing, it's more flexible and the people behind it are open eyed, sharp and smart enough to stand their ground. Twitter might suffer short term from losing a lot of digerati to Google+ that are getting tired of the 140 char diet (not every thought likes to come as an aphorism), the spam, the trolling and the tediousness of following conversations around 10 corners.

Okay guys. Enough with the ranting. What do you think?
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Kieran Senior

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Paul Allen originally shared:
Google+ To Pass 10,000,000 Users Tomorrow (on 7/12)

As I promised on Saturday night, I have finished updating my Google+ membership model with new data and re-estimated the Google+ user base.

My surname-based analysis shows that the number of Google+ users worldwide reached 7.3 million yesterday (July 10) – up from 1.7 million users on July 4th. That is a 350% increase in six days. The userbase is growing so quickly that it is challenging for me to keep up, since the number of users of any given surname (even the rare ones I am tracking) seems to be climbing every day.

More impressive than last week's growth is the astonishing growth in users from yesterday at mid-day to tonight -- a 30% jump. My latest estimate tonight shows approximately 9.5 million users. This suggests that 2.2 million people have joined Google+ in the past 32-34 hours.

I project that Google will easily pass 10 million users tomorrow and could reach 20 million user by this coming weekend if they keep the Invite Button available. As one G+ user put it, it is easy to underestimate the power of exponential growth.

My model is simple. I start with US Census Bureau data about surname popularity in the U.S., and compare it to the number of Google+ users with each surname. I split the U.S. users from the non-U.S. users. By using a sample of 100-200 surnames, I am able to accurately estimate the total percentage of the U.S. population that has signed up for Google+. Then I use that number and a calculated ratio of U.S. to non-U.S. users to generate my worldwide estimates. My ratio is 1 US user for every 2.12 non-U.S. users. That ratio was calculated on July 4th through a laborious effort, and I haven't updated it since. That is definitely a weakness in my model that I hope to address soon. The ratio will likely change over time.

Since I have been tracking this same cohort of surnames from my first day, I am able to accurately measure growth over time.

I am not claiming perfect accuracy, but I do think the model is sound. A quant has suggested a mathematical formula that I can use to calculate a range of Google users with a 99% level of accuracy, and one of my employees is working on that math now. I hope to include that in future models.

Here is one way to look at my model. Imagine the U.S. government in 2020 has no money left. I know that's hard to imagine, but stay with me. Imagine they wanted to conduct a 2020 census and subsequent decennial censuses with a degree of accuracy (let's say 95%) and to do it on a shoestring budget.

They had complete data for 2010 - the population and growth rates for every city and town in the country. To do 2020, they could just take a random sampling of 100 cities and towns across the U.S. that were representative and conduct the census JUST for those cities every 10 years. If those 100 cities averaged the same growth rates as the rest of the country, then their decennial censuses would be fairly accurate but very inexpensive. (Obviously the US example won't work and shouldn't be tried, since the purpose of the U.S. census is in part to determine Congressional representation - so a complete census must be done in the entire country.)

But my project is like that - a low-budget sampling. I have randomly selected 100 uncommon U.S. surnames and I am tracking the number of Google+ users with those names - updating my counts every 2-3 days. I am assuming that the growth in G+ users with those surnames is similar to the growth in G+ users with the other 150,000 or so surnames in the U.S. If I had resources to include 500 or 1,000 surnames in my sample, then I believe my model would be more accurate. But my time and budget available for this project are small, so it is what it is. And then I take the 2.12 - 1 non-US to US ratio to complete the calculations.

I'm not sure how many more times I'll update this. I do believe it is quite accurate. Much more accurate than a guess. It is based on sound starting data, but some of my assumptions may not be perfect. I look forward to Google announcing actual user numbers, so I can stop working on this in all my spare time. Or, perhaps, someone will discover an advanced query that actually works - that returns unique user profile pages but no pages that contain posts. People keep suggesting queries will work, but so far, I have found that none of them is accurate for user counts.

For reference, here are my earlier posts on this subject:

4.5 million estimate on 7/9 (actually 12:15ish on 7/10)

1.7 million estimate on 7/4
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Kieran Senior

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The Google+ iPhone web page has officially crashed Safari mobile on my iPhone completely. I can't do anything with Safari now, even after clearing out the cache.
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The mobile version worked ok on my iPad, it's just missing a bunch of features which I miss. Looking forward to the native version.
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Have him in circles
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Software Developer
  • Atlassian Software Systems
    Software Developer, 2012 - present
  • Digimap
    Senior Developer, 2010 - 2012
  • Reformsoft
    Software Developer, 2010 - 2011
  • Collins Stewart Wealth Management
    Information Systems Developer, 2008 - 2010
  • Symantec
    Reproductions Engineer, 2006 - 2007
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Programmer, husband, father, musician
Software developer working for Atlassian on SourceTree.
  • The Open University
    Software Engineering, 2009 - 2012
  • Portsmouth University
    Computer Science, 2004 - 2008
  • Guernsey College Of Further Education
    Information Computer Technology, 2002 - 2004
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