Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design Published in: CSS, Layout, User Interface Design, Mobile, Mobile Design, Mobile Development Discuss this article » | Share this article » The control which designers know in the print medium, and often desire in the web medium, is simply a function of the limitation of the printed page. We should embrace the fact that the web doesn’t have the same constraints, and design for this flexibility. But first, we must “accept the ebb and flow of things.” John Allsopp, “A Dao of Web Design” The English architect Christopher Wren once quipped that his chosen field “aims for Eternity,” and there’s something appealing about that formula: Unlike the web, which often feels like aiming for next week, architecture is a discipline very much defined by its permanence. A building’s foundation defines its footprint, which defines its frame, which shapes the facade. Each phase of the architectural process is more immutable, more unchanging than the last. Creative decisions quite literally shape a physical space, defining the way in which people move through its confines for decades or even centuries. Working on the web, however, is a wholly different matter. Our work is defined by its transience, often refined or replaced within a year or two. Inconsistent window widths, screen resolutions, user preferences, and our users’ installed fonts are but a few of the intangibles we negotiate when we publish our work, and over the years, we’ve become incredibly adept at doing so. But the landscape is shifting, perhaps more quickly than we might like. Mobile browsing is expected to outpace desktop-based access within three to five years. Two of the three dominant video game consoles have web browsers (and one of them is quite excellent). We’re designing for mice and keyboards, for T9 keypads, for handheld game controllers, for touch interfaces. In short, we’re faced with a greater number of devices, input modes, and browsers than ever before. In recent years, I’ve been meeting with more companies that request “an iPhone website” as part of their project. It’s an interesting phrase: At face value, of course, it speaks to mobile WebKit’s quality as a browser, as well as a powerful business case for thinking beyond the desktop. But as designers, I think we often take comfort in such explicit requirements, as they allow us to compartmentalize the problems before us. We can quarantine the mobile experience on separate subdomains, spaces distinct and separate from “the non-iPhone website.” But what’s next? An iPad website? An N90 website? Can we really continue to commit to supporting each new user agent with its own bespoke experience? At some point, this starts to feel like a zero sum game. But how can we—and our designs—adapt? A flexible foundation Let’s consider an example design. I’ve built a simple page for a hypothetical magazine; it’s a straightforward two-column layout built on a fluid grid, with not a few flexible images peppered throughout. As a long-time proponent of non-fixed layouts, I’ve long felt they were more “future proof” simply because they were layout agnostic. And to a certain extent, that’s true: flexible designs make no assumptions about a browser window’s width, and adapt beautifully to devices that have portrait and landscape modes. Huge images are huge. Our layout, flexible though it is, doesn’t respond well to changes in resolution or viewport size. But no design, fixed or fluid, scales seamlessly beyond the context for which it was originally intended. The example design scales perfectly well as the browser window resizes, but stress points quickly appear at lower resolutions. When viewed at viewport smaller than 800×600, the illustration behind the logo quickly becomes cropped, navigation text can wrap in an unseemly manner, and the images along the bottom become too compact to appear legible. And it’s not just the lower end of the resolution spectrum that’s affected: when viewing the design on a widescreen display, the images quickly grow to unwieldy sizes, crowding out the surrounding context. In short, our flexible design works well enough in the desktop-centric context for which it was designed, but isn’t optimized to extend far beyond that. Becoming responsive Recently, an emergent discipline called “responsive architecture” has begun asking how physical spaces can respond to the presence of people passing through them. Through a combination of embedded robotics and tensile materials, architects are experimenting with art installations and wall structures that bend, flex, and expand as crowds approach them. Motion sensors can be paired with climate control systems to adjust a room’s temperature and ambient lighting as it fills with people. Companies have already produced “smart glass technology” that can automatically become opaque when a room’s occupants reach a certain density threshold, giving them an additional layer of privacy. In their book Interactive Architecture, Michael Fox and Miles Kemp described this more adaptive approach as “a multiple-loop system in which one enters into a conversation; a continual and constructive information exchange.” Emphasis mine, as I think that’s a subtle yet powerful distinction: rather than creating immutable, unchanging spaces that define a particular experience, they suggest inhabitant and structure can—and should—mutually influence each other. This is our way forward. Rather than tailoring disconnected designs to each of an ever-increasing number of web devices, we can treat them as facets of the same experience. We can design for an optimal viewing experience, but embed standards-based technologies into our designs to make them not only more flexible, but more adaptive to the media that renders them. In short, we need to practice responsive web design. But how? Meet the media query Since the days of CSS 2.1, our style sheets have enjoyed some measure of device awareness through media types. If you’ve ever written a print style sheet, you’re already familiar with the concept: In the hopes that we’d be designing more than neatly formatted page printouts, the CSS specification supplied us with a bevy of acceptable media types, each designed to target a specific class of web-ready device. But most browsers and devices never really embraced the spirit of the specification, leaving many media types implemented imperfectly, or altogether ignored. Thankfully, the W3C created media queries as part of the CSS3 specification, improving upon the promise of media types. A media query allows us to target not only certain device classes, but to actually inspect the physical characteristics of the device rendering our work. For example, following the recent rise of mobile WebKit, media queries became a popular client-side technique for delivering a tailored style sheet to the iPhone, Android phones, and their ilk. To do so, we could incorporate a query into a linked style sheet’s media attribute: The query contains two components: a media type (screen), and the actual query enclosed within parentheses, containing a particular media feature (max-device-width) to inspect, followed by the target value (480px). In plain English, we’re asking the device if its horizontal resolution (max-device-width) is equal to or less than 480px. If the test passes—in other words, if we’re viewing our work on a small-screen device like the iPhone—then the device will load shetland.css. Otherwise, the link is ignored altogether. Designers have experimented with resolution-aware layouts in the past, mostly relying on JS-driven solutions like Cameron Adams’ excellent script. But the media query specification provides a host of media features that extends far beyond screen resolution, vastly widening the scope of what we can test for with our queries. What’s more, you can test multiple property values in a single query by chaining them together with the and keyword: Furthermore, we’re not limited to incorporating media queries in our links. We can include them in our CSS either as part of a @media rule: @media screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .column { float: none; } } Or as part of an @import directive: @import url("shetland.css") screen and (max-device-width: 480px); But in each case, the effect is the same: If the device passes the test put forth by our media query, the relevant CSS is applied to our markup. Media queries are, in short, conditional comments for the rest of us. Rather than targeting a specific version of a specific browser, we can surgically correct issues in our layout as it scales beyond its initial, ideal resolution. Adapt, respond, and overcome Let’s turn our attention to the images at the base of our page. In their default layout, the relevant CSS currently looks like this: .figure { float: left; margin: 0 3.317535545023696682% 1.5em 0; /* 21px / 633px */ width: 31.121642969984202211%; /* 197px / 633px */ } li#f-mycroft, li#f-winter { margin-right: 0; } I’ve omitted a number of typographic properties to focus on the layout: Each .figure element is sized at roughly one third of the containing column, with the right-hand margin zeroed out for the two pictures at the end of each row (li#f-mycroft, li#f-winter). And this works fairly well, until the viewport is either noticeably smaller or wider than our original design. With media queries, we can apply resolution-specific spotfixes, adapting our design to better respond to changes in the display. First of all, let’s linearize our page once the viewport falls below a certain resolution threshold—say, 600px. So at the bottom of our style sheet, let’s create a new @media block, like so: @media screen and (max-width: 600px) { .mast, .intro, .main, .footer { float: none; width: auto; } } If you view our updated page in a modern desktop browser and reduce the size of your window below 600px, the media query will disable the floats on the design’s major elements, stacking each block atop each other in the document flow. So our miniaturized design is shaping up nicely, but the images still don’t scale down that intelligently. If we introduce another media query, we can alter their layout accordingly: @media screen and (max-width: 400px) { .figure, li#f-mycroft { margin-right: 3.317535545023696682%; /* 21px / 633px */ width: 48.341232227488151658%; /* 306px / 633px */ } li#f-watson, li#f-moriarty { margin-right: 0; } } Our figures can responsively change their layout to better suit smaller displays. Don’t mind the unsightly percentages; we’re simply recalculating the widths of the fluid grid to account for the newly linearized layout. In short, we’re moving from a three-column layout to a two-column layout when the viewport’s width falls below 400px, making the images more prominent. We can actually take the same approach for widescreen displays, too. For larger resolutions, we could adopt a six-across treatment for our images, placing them all in the same row: @media screen and (min-width: 1300px) { .figure, li#f-mycroft { margin-right: 3.317535545023696682%; /* 21px / 633px */ width: 13.902053712480252764%; /* 88px / 633px */ } } Now our images are working beautifully at both ends of the resolution spectrum, optimizing their layout to changes in window widths and device resolution alike. By specifying a wider min-width in a new media query, we can shift our images into a single row layout. But this is only the beginning. Working from the media queries we’ve embedded in our CSS, we can alter much more than the placement of a few images: we can introduce new, alternate layouts tuned to each resolution range, perhaps making the navigation more prominent in a widescreen view, or repositioning it above the logo on smaller displays. By designing responsively, we can not only linearize our content on smaller devices, but also optimize its presentation across a range of displays. But a responsive design isn’t limited to layout changes. Media queries allow us to practice some incredibly precise fine-tuning as our pages reshape themselves: we can increase the target area on links for smaller screens, better complying with Fitts’ Law on touch devices; selectively show or hide elements that might enhance a page’s navigation; we can even practice responsive typesetting to gradually alter the size and leading of our text, optimizing the reading experience for the display providing it. A FEW TECHNICAL NOTES It should be noted that media queries enjoy incredibly robust support among modern browsers. Desktop browsers such as Safari 3+, Chrome, Firefox 3.5+, and Opera 7+ all natively parse media queries, as do more recent mobile browsers such as Opera Mobile and mobile WebKit. Of course, older versions of those desktop browsers don’t support media queries. And while Microsoft has committed to media query support in IE9, Internet Explorer currently doesn’t offer a native implementation. However, if you’re interested in implementing legacy browser support for media queries, there’s a JavaScript-tinted silver lining: A jQuery plugin from 2007 offers somewhat limited media query support, implementing only the min-width and max-width media properties when attached to separate link elements. More recently, css3-mediaqueries.js was released, a library that promises “to make IE 5+, Firefox 1+ and Safari 2 transparently parse, test, and apply CSS3 Media Queries” when included via @media blocks. While very much a 1.0 release, I’ve personally found it to be quite robust, and I plan to watch its development. But if using JavaScript doesn’t appeal, that’s perfectly understandable. However, that strengthens the case for building your layout atop a flexible grid, ensuring your design enjoys some measure of flexibility in media query-blind browsers and devices. The way forward Fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries are the three technical ingredients for responsive web design, but it also requires a different way of thinking. Rather than quarantining our content into disparate, device-specific experiences, we can use media queries to progressively enhance our work within different viewing contexts. That’s not to say there isn’t a business case for separate sites geared toward specific devices; for example, if the user goals for your mobile site are more limited in scope than its desktop equivalent, then serving different content to each might be the best approach. But that kind of design thinking doesn’t need to be our default. Now more than ever, we’re designing work meant to be viewed along a gradient of different experiences. Responsive web design offers us a way forward, finally allowing us to “design for the ebb and flow of things.”

Why I Have Been Made to Feel Ashamed of Liking Asian Men

Why I Have Been Made to Feel Ashamed of Liking Asian Men My name is Hadassa Noble and I work as a wing girl for Kezia Noble, the world’s leading female pick-up coach, here in the United Kingdom. In my line of work, I often have to ask my students what their type of woman is (in order to point out possible girls for them to approach). Everybody has ‘their type’ by which I mean, the features and traits they admire in the opposite sex. Some may look for blondes, others brunettes, some like tanned skin, others like pale skin. Many guys I teach and speak to broadly claim that they are attracted to Scandinavians – “tall blondes from Sweden!” Similarly, many women I speak to go ga-ga over Latino men – “their accents and dark features are so sexy!” This is nothing strange, in fact it is very ordinary, nobody complains and everyone either agrees or disagrees politely. However, when I am asked my type, I get a very different reaction. “I like Asian guys,” I say. The most common reaction I see are: People gasp. People take a double take. People laugh. Even many of the Asians I tell react this way! Just as some men like tall Swedish blondes, I like Asian men – I have a preference for the facial features, less body hair, slighter build etc. However, I am not rewarded for this like of Asian men, if anything I am scorned for it by both Asians and other races. Of course the initial reaction from Asian guys, when not shock, is “Awesome! High Five!” or “Wow great! A white girl who likes Asian guys! This makes me so happy!” which is a rather sad reaction as it indicates a lack of self-esteem in many successful, good looking Asian men, who believe they are less appealing due to their race. However, when looking in further into the opinions of Asian men on women of other races favouring them I have found a less than appreciative reaction and in some circumstances I feel I have been personally attacked and accused of ethnic stereotyping and only liking Asian men because they fulfil a part of my so-called obsessions and lifestyle. Let me first elaborate on my situation. As well as working as a wing girl I am a full time university student, who is devoting three years of her life (and £16,000 GBP approx. ) on a Japanese Language degree at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) a leading British University specialising in Asian and African studies. I have, therefore, a great interest in Japanese culture, as well as a whole interest in the East Asian region. I always explain to people that I fell in love with the East when I read a book about China at eight years old. I enjoy Asian cooking, Chinese movies, Japanese dramas, K-POP and J-POP, J-Rock, a select few anime, Japanese literature and language. Yes, there is no denying it, I have a wide and very strong interest in Asian culture, I make no attempts to deny this fact. However, because I like Asian men, myself (and other girls like me) have been generally accused of only liking Asian men as part of our obsession and are more attracted to a racial stereotype than to real Asian men. Strangely enough, people who know me will also know that I am obsessed with Vintage Hollywood (Golden Era circ. 1920-50s) does that mean every American guy I might be attracted to fits into that obsession? I find it funny that no one has ever accused me of that. If I become detailed about what Asian guys I like I dig myself an even deeper grave. “Which famous Asian guys do you like?” someone asks. I reply “Oh my favourite is Arashi’s Matsumoto Jun, X Japan’s YOSHIKI and I also love JYJ’s Kim ‘Hero’ Jaejoong too.” “So only East Asian? Only Korean and Japanese?” they continue. “No….I only really follow Korean and Japanese celebrities, that’s why I picked those three.” “Most Asian guys don’t look like those pretty boys, they don’t represent Asian guys!” comes the mocking retort. “No I know….my ex-boyfriend was Chinese and he never looked like that. And my first (and longest) crush is David Bowie in ‘Labyrinth’, he was very pretty but I don’t think he represents Caucasian men either. I think I just like pretty and very effeminate looking men. Some happen to be Asian too.” But the accusatory tone is there, and I immediately have to defend myself. If a guy said he liked tall blonde Swedes I wouldn’t immediately ask why Swedes and not Norwegians or Danes. Nor would I accuse any female celebrities of those countries of not being a fair representation of the race. Celebrity crushes, have always been, the ultimate, the number 10 of ideal looks in the opposite sex – one who dwells on these celebrities live in a dream-like haze of prolonged adolescence. Perhaps I do like Asian guys who dress a certain way, I like crazy dyed hair and flash clothes, and guys who wear make-up too (I like that on white men too, surprise surprise). I also like men who wear vintage 1930s/40s style clothes, but as that doesn’t fit into my so called stereotype of an Asian male it is ALWAYS ignored. Women who like Asian men are also accused of racial stereotyping personalities. The most common being; Asians are hardworking. My ex-boyfriend used to mention this one a lot. “Asians are hard-working? All except me, I’m lazy.” He’d laugh and we both agreed it wasn’t the worst prejudice to have. It is no worse than meeting any guy and saying “he looks like a nice guy, he dresses well and always says hello to everyone.” But after a few dates turns out to be a bully and a cheat. Positive discrimination will always be altered on getting to know someone, and unlike with negative discrimination you are more likely to take the opportunity to get to know that person. As a Jewish girl I’m always told that Jews are hardworking and good with money, rather than being offended by it, I laugh and wish it were true for me. It is even worse for men. White men I know who proclaim to like Asian girls admit this with a lot of wariness, they are often accused of liking so-called subservient, “geisha-girl”, china-doll like girls, and are recommended to get a mail-order Thai bride. Who is the one doing the racial stereotyping here, I’d like to know. So although, Asian men often praise me and smile when I proclaim to be attracted to them I have come to find that there are underlying accusation and a fear of me simply because I am very interested in Asia, and my celebrity crushes are of representations a certain (perhaps disliked) Asian minority. Because of this, I have now become less vocal about my affection for Asian men, and I’m sad that I am accused of racial stereotyping of a region I have taken the effort to study and learn about in detail at university. I am sure some of these accusations are real for certain women and one should be justly wary of anyone who seems a little too keen but please do not direct at every woman who suffers from a strong case of “Yellow Fever” – surely this is just another stereotype too?

Facebook’s 2012: IPO, a billion users and a shift to mobile

Facebook’s 2012: IPO, a billion users and a shift to mobile By Hayley Tsukayama, Published: December 24 Facebook had what may be the most eventful year in its history in 2012. After months of preparation, the company went public in May -- with some unexpected results. As the site hit a billion users, it also struggled with the pressure to make money without hurting the experience on the site. Finally, the company made several moves to address its self-admitted largest weakness -- the shift to mobile devices. Here are some highlights (and lowlights) of Facebook’s year. Going public: Eight years after it was founded, Facebook hit the public market with a highly anticipated initial public offering. The company originally priced shares at $38 and saw a initial spike to the $40s. But technical glitches and hype brought the company’s shares down -- fast. The stock closed at its opening price after the first day of trading and has never fully recovered. Last week, Morgan Stanley, , the lead underwriter for the IPO, agreed to pay a $5 million fine to Massachusetts’ securities regulators for selectively disclosing revenue figures to certain analysts and not the general public. Facebook shares, meanwhile, are mounting a slow climb to $30 per share. A billion users: The company hit a new milestone this year as growth continued to skyrocket. In October, Facebook announced that it officially recorded its billionth user. The company is seeing its greatest growth in regions such as Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. In its last earnings report, Facebook said its number of daily active users had grown 28 percent from the same period last year. It is a sign of strong growth for the company, which moved to a larger campus in Menlo Park, Calif., last year. Privacy flaps: Facebook has always had a difficult relationship with privacy, having to walk a fine line between pleasing users and pleasing advertisers. Though the company states in its policies that it does not sell personal information to advertisers, many users remain wary of the company’s data collection and use practices. For example, when Facebook announced planned changes to its policies, more than half a million of the site’s users voted against the changes -- which included removing the option to vote on policies. However, Facebook required 30 percent of its users, or 300 million people, to vote to overturn a change, so the company moved forward with its new policies. The company continues to make changes to its policies and has rolled out several initiatives to explain how privacy works on the site -- including redesigning the controls in December. Instagram: In part of an aggressive growth strategy, Facebook moved to acquire several companies in 2012. The most notable was the April acquisition of Instagram, the photo-sharing social network founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. Facebook bought the company for $1 billion in cash and stock, though the deal depreciated slightly with Facebook shares. When the deal was announced, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the two companies would maintain a measure of separation. Since the acquisition closed earlier this year, the two companies have faced some growing pains. Instagram announced last week that it intended to change its terms of service. Some of those changes, particularly regarding the language around licensing photos on the site, were not well-received by users and Instagram was forced to revert to the original language. Shift to mobile: Facebook users began visiting the site more through mobile devices than on their computers. In its last earning report, Facebook said it had seen mobile users increase 68 percent over the same period last year. Mobile use gives Facebook the option to reach more aspects of users’ lives more immediately, and the social network has introduced several initiatives to make the most of the fast-growing platform. In the past year, Facebook has remade its main apps and also revamped Facebook Messenger and introduced two new apps -- Facebook Camera and Poke. The company still has work to do in figuring out how to better display advertisements on the smaller, mobile screens and has recently said it will concentrate on making effective ads appear in users’ news feeds. Facebook Gifts, Promoted Posts: Facebook has also been trying to find ways to generate revenue directly from its users. The company has introduced a couple of ways to do that. One is through a gift-buying platform built on top of its network that will remind people of friends’ birthdays and offer the option to send a gift from within Facebook. Users can also increase the visibility of their personal posts by paying a small fee to promote updates within their network of friends.

Why startups shouldn't be afraid of Facebook cloning them

Why startups shouldn't be afraid of Facebook cloning them It takes a lot more than a clone to take out a scrappy startup with dedication to its vision. by Ben Parr December 24, 2012 10:03 AM PST It'll take more than a Poke to knock out Snapchat. (Credit: Screenshot by Ben Parr/CNET) How long does it take a multibillion-dollar technology juggernaut to clone a popular social networking app? The answer: less than two weeks. I am, of course, talking about Poke, Facebook's clone of Snapchat, the app whose messages self-destruct after 1 to 10 seconds. As many people like to point out, it's perfect for sexting, but there are a lot of other fun and innovative uses for this clever type of messaging. For all intents and purposes, Poke is almost identical to Snapchat. Snapchat is focused on photos and videos, while Poke adds self-destructing messages and the classic Facebook poke feature to its arsenal. Poke relies entirely on your Facebook friend network, while Snapchat can dig into your contacts and let you share (sexy) photos with strangers. One key difference: Snapchat already has a loyal user base that sends more than 50 million photos across its network every day, with many of its users teenagers. But Poke is quickly catching up. Within a day of its release, the app rocketed up the iOS charts to become the No. 1 free app in the App Store (it's now at No. 3). Snapchat currently occupies the No. 7 spot. It's an impressive feat to hit No. 1 in the App Store, even for the world's largest social network. Facebook, unlike other giants, has the ability to quickly approve, build, and release products. The fact that it took just 12 days for this app to become a reality is simply mind-boggling. Big players entering your market doesn't equal Armageddon Should entrepreneurs just give up on their app ideas, simply because Facebook could eventually clone them and crush them with a billion users? Of course not, and anybody who thinks that Facebook (or any other big company) cloning a startup's product spells Armageddon for that startup doesn't know what they're talking about. Remember when Facebook tried to make a Foursquare competitor? How about the time it tried to make a Groupon competitor, and it went nowhere? The same is true of its Quora competitor (Facebook Questions) and even its Craigslist competitor (Facebook Marketplace). I could go on and on, but the point is clear: a big company launching a clone can be scary, but it doesn't mean Armageddon. There are two other factors to consider: defensibility and vision. Remember Facebook Questions? It sure didn't stop Quora. (Credit: Facebook) Defensibility As I have previously explained in depth, a product's defensibility comes from either its technology or its traction. Technology startups' products aren't easy to clone because they have proprietary technology that even the big companies don't have. Just imagine AltaVista trying to clone Google -- it wouldn't have succeeded. The other type of startup is the traction startup, whose product is defensible because it has a growing network of engaged users. Why use a new social network or app, even one from a large company, if your friends aren't using it? Instagram is a prime example. There were dozens of photo-sharing apps, but only one with large-scale traction. Facebook knew that Instagram's was so strong that it posed a threat to Facebook itself, so it did the only sensible thing it could: it bought the company. Snapchat's current users aren't going to immediately abandon the app for Facebook's Poke. They've built up friends, messages, and a history on Snapchat, and they will continue to invite their friends to join. Poke's launch could affect user growth as potential users may choose it over Snapchat, but Poke also brings a lot more attention to the market and may end up boosting Snapchat's growth. How both apps perform in the App Store over the next few weeks will give us a better idea of Facebook's impact on Snapchat. Defensibility matters, though it's always better if you have proprietary technology that even Facebook can't clone. Vision The other thing that people seem to be forgetting in the Poke vs. Snapchat debate is the long-term vision and commitment each team has to its respective products. Snapchat's founders have been at this since May 2011. They've had time to think about the road map for their product, and they don't have dozens of other products and projects to distract them. Snapchat's founders reportedly turned down an acquisition offer from Facebook. They wouldn't do that if they didn't have a long-term plan they were confident in. Poke, on the other hand, is essentially a two-week hackathon project led by Zuckerberg and product guru Blake Ross. I doubt they've had time to develop a long-term road map for the product. It's not even clear whether they're going to keep working on the app or simply let it languish in the App Store. Will Zuckerberg divert engineers and resources to developing Poke for the long haul? I doubt he's even thought about it. I don't know what Snapchat's long-term vision is, but I bet it involves more than photo messages that disappear after 5 seconds. You can bet Snapchat will come fighting back with new features soon, though. Will Facebook care enough to respond? Perhaps. Will Facebook continue development on Poke for the next two or three years in order to keep up with Snapchat? I personally doubt it. Final thoughts My point is this: it takes a lot more than a clone to take out a scrappy startup. It also takes a long-term commitment by a juggernaut. For Facebook to take out Snapchat, it will have to constantly add features to Poke and find ways to either contain Snapchat's growth or chip away at its core user base. This is easier said than done, even for a company like Facebook. Don't be afraid of the juggernaut entering your market, entrepreneurs. If you have a long-term vision, focus on defensibility and build faster than the competition, you'll eventually become the juggernaut.

Is Paying to Message Strangers a New Texting Business?

Cellphone carriers are making less money from text messages thanks to free messaging services offered by Facebook, Apple and other tech companies. But now Facebook is running a test to see if it can make some money by charging people to send messages to strangers. Facebook said it started the experiment with a small percentage of users last week. For $1, a message sent to a stranger will show up in the recipient's in-box. Typically, when you send a message to people who aren't connected to you on Facebook, it shows up in a box labeled "Other," which is often ignored. LinkedIn, the social networking service for professionals, offers a similar paid service. When people sign up for premium accounts, they can send a limited number of messages to people they aren't connected with each month. For instance, you can pay $20 a month for a premium account that allows you to send three messages to strangers each month. Who would want to pay to send a message to strangers? Perhaps a job seeker could ask an employer about getting some work. Journalists could benefit from having another alternative to phone calls and e-mails. Facebook says research has shown charging for messaging is the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and get people messages that are more relevant. Now that the cellphone text message is quickly becoming old-fashioned, is this the new premium text message? Sure looks that way.