Open letter to the FCC: Protect Net Neutrality!

We must keep the United States of America competitive in one of its promising industries. We currently export technology, and if we don’t innovate, we’ll fall behind.

I understand Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, et al: they offer a commodity service, and have witnessed how faster & cheaper access is available around the world, so they wish to circumvent that occurring here for their shareholders. I assert more consumers and more shareholders will be negatively impacted by allowing those gatekeepers to become the proverbial “bouncers” to the web. Policy should not be their competitive advantage.

Having worked for internet companies for the last 16 years of my career, I’ve had a front row seat in both start ups and established internet companies. The scariest thing to continued innovation losing Net Neutrality. Consumers, internet companies, and their investors will all lose so a few internet service providers can gain. It’s worse than a Zero-Sum-Gain situation.

If telcos and cable companies can control the end user experience by degrading the speed in which a new start up has for consumers, that start up has almost no chance of gaining traction. Then the risk to start a new company to bring a new concept to consumers will be much larger, and the options to find investment will be a smaller pool.

When internet companies need to pay for faster lanes of service, or be relegated to a congested slow lane, you’ll no longer see a Facebook, DropBox, Gilt, or any of the companies who have come on the scene to delight millions of users as quickly. It will slow down the pace of innovation by creating larger barriers to receive investment from Venture Capitalist, and dramatically lower valuations for any company who needs to access their consumers.

Please, Mr. Tom Wheeler and FCC Leadership, do not let the ISPs destroy consumer value from the web, and threaten a growing industry of internet based companies.

Sincerely,

James Keating

Draw today. Draw every religious figure you can think of.

As the news comes in from France, most of us are sickened. It’s terrible for freedom of expression that those whose impotence must be express their frustration with bullets.

I say draw.  Good, bad, or mediocre rendition skill, just draw. But to remember those brave to push the limit, draw a religious figure. Make it so that no figure is safe, and no major figure is left out. Make it ridiculous. Put it out there so everyone can see. I’ll update this post with my own drawings.

Once it becomes common and everyone is insulted, perhaps it will become a non-issue for some. Then some barriers can be broken down and some hate will stop flowing.

Crappy Websites

Having worked in global eCommerce for about 10 years, I’ve seen a lot of sites.  It’s been fascinating to see a number of sites evolve in time and really improve.  Obviously Amazon sets much of the pace of the eCommerce industry, and there are plenty of conversations about who is doing what and new innovations. I devour those articles myself, always looking to learn.

Then…. there are sites which hold us back as a whole. The scourge of online shopping. I’m picking on shopping since anyone can make a shitty blog (and some will call mine shitty or worse), but there seems to be a special “I don’t give a crap” when you make an eCommerce site with a terrible consumer experience. I’m dedicating a string a posts dedicated to these sites for all of us to cringe about. Interested to see if you share my opinion.

Here’s my three for the first installment:

1)  Household Goods

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Coming from the UK, this guy went complaining in Google’s Webmaster Forums that he wasn’t getting enough traffic, and it’s everyone’s fault but his. Did he actually think this is a site a consumer would buy from? Let’s run through some of the D’Oh! moments:

  • The copy looks like it was written by a 12 year German boy still learning English.
  • As you scroll through a page, things jump out because your mouse crossed an element, and reshuffles.
  • The Click-The-Flag to get pricing in your own currency instead of market specific sites.
  • The images are low grade, and slapped anywhere on the page without any love.

What is truly amazing about this site is that it does have a responsive design, but it’s poorly done which is why elements will jump out at you unexpectedly.  I googled the physical address on the site, and it turns out this site must the tip of the iceberg for a whole network of crappy store fronts run by the same guy. If you want your own crappy online store like this, you can reach John Block at his own consulting company, copywriter.co.uk, which has it’s own brochureware feel straight from 1997.

2) CustomPokersAndMore

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It takes a certain special level of bad for when a site owner wanders into Google Webmaster Forums to get told by Google themselves “start over”. For those of us who’ve been around for a while, it’s like someone took design tips from the worst of the GeoCity Homesteaders from 1999. Some highlights of this site:

  • The images are fuzzy.
  • This is just a terrible front end navigation for their eBay store.
  • There are blinky / flashy things distributed around so to make any epileptic start convulsing no mater where they scroll to on the page

To their credit, when Google told them it’s beyond hope, they didn’t lash out. Let’s hope they take the advice and the screen grab above is all that remains of the site.

3) Arngren

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Do you remember the MillionDollarHomePage? It’s kinda like that.  While the site is Norwegian, there is a UK flag symbol to help english speakers. Normally this would be a feature to change the overall site language. This guy in all his wisdom takes the opportunity to pitch you a 1992 type of handheld translator, but at least that product page is presented in English!

Break out your Kroners, and dive into the chaos of Frithjof Arngren’s mind. Don’t forget to sign up for his SkyCommuter (Flying Car) waiting list. Maybe he’ll fly it over to you himself.

James on KTLA

While I’ve been on TV a couple of times, it was never planned. I was simply walking on the street in the right place at the right time. I hadn’t been prepared and simply answered whatever question they put to me about the news of the day. I’ve been eager to have an interview.

A team member in the Shopping Division, Matt Kirkwood, reached out to KTLA and got an interview for what we know about Black Friday deals coming up. Then a couple of other team members, Mike Flacy, Kristin Cook, & Joe Warner, found some really great deals that would be happening in store.

Then the magic happened!  I went to KTLA’s Hollywood studio for the filming.  This was also a first for me, the small town PA boy walked onto a Hollywood studio lot.  All the prep work seemed to pay off, and they taped me for the Black Friday 2014 Deals segment.

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Halloween Spiders!

I love all the nature we have in Los Angeles.  It’s not something we saw a lot of back in NYC.  It sometimes seems like we’re living in a nature preserve while being in a city at the same time.  For instance, just in time for Halloween, a bunch of spiders came out to hang with us.  Verena still hasn’t made friends with them, but I’m fascinated. Scarlet doesn’t seem to mind either.