Can We Make Newspaper Articles Shareable & Trackable

While reading an article in today’s ET Brand Equity, I felt like I had to share it with my friends, maybe put it up on LinkedIn with a comment of my own. The thing is, I was reading it on the paper, not the app or the website. And being the lazy person that I am, I would not usually go looking for this article on either of those two, just for sharing it.

But I did want to share this article with my friends, and I looked for ways to do so.
Can We Make Newspaper Articles Shareable & Trackable

Apart from the author’s email address, I could not find anything to go by.

This puts the physical paper and its reader at a disadvantage compared to the app/site & their reader.

The Obvious Way

One obvious way out is to take a picture of the said article, and WhatsApp it to the relevant people. Or tweet it, or share it on Facebook or LinkedIn.

I would have to overcome the hassles of getting a clear picture, each word being clearly captured, the lighting being right, the paper not flying away due to the fan yada yada. At the same time, there is an obvious opportunity that the newspaper company is missing here – in this method they would not know who all has read this piece of content, or even how many people it has reached.

In this day and age of tracking user attention and retargetting, don’t you think that’s a big piece all physical newspapers and magazines are missing out on?

Go Digital

So, I have a proposal for paper publications, who also have a website and/or an app where the same content is published.

Why not simply print the QR code to the link of the content at the beginning or end of the piece?

I got off my lazy behind, and found out what the online home for this particular article is:

A simple QR code leading to this article looks like this:
QR to ET article

But this would take some space to print, wouldn’t it?

This is where a URL shortener service like comes in handy. Not only can the URL be shortened to something like 20-25 characters, they provide tracking data as well. This is how a version of the same link looks:
QR to to ET article

And a crude representation of how it could look on the same article:
Can We Make Newspaper Articles Shareable & Trackable
It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it is scannable – try it out!

I am sure the designers at these papers would find a way to make it look way more attractive than this.

With this small addition to every piece of content in a paper, I am sure sharing and adoption of the online versions would also take off. Meanwhile, knowing that I can share content I would definitely be more open to reading the physical paper, since reading something like Brand Equity is not only driven by updating my knowledge about the industry, but also about finding shareable content for this blog and my LinkedIn feed.

Short Commentary: PineLabs POS UI

I was in Nature’s Basket the other day. When I took out my credit card to pay the bill, I noticed the fancy all-touch-screen POS the cashier pushed towards me. It’s a device with a cradle charger, and frankly looks quite fancy, though I do not have any qualms with the usual all-black push button POS machines we see everywhere else.

Nevertheless, it caught my attention. It looks somewhat like this:
Probable interface when actually using the POS

Except, when my card was inserted and I had to enter the PIN to authenticate, it looked somewhat like this:
Probable interface when actually using the POS

Do you see the difference? Yes the digits are switched around. Possibly some team convinced everyone that it is a high security feature and would reduce fraud/misuse of cards. Here’s my take on why this design decision has gone wrong.

What are we trying to solve here?
  • Negative use case: Someone is carrying a stolen card and has somehow figured out the PIN, though a skimmer, social engineering, maybe overheard the owner somewhere, or looked over their shoulder. Such users remember the PIN’s digits, commit them to memory, and would maybe revise it in their head while the card is being swiped. Does this interface gimmick prevent them from using the keypad? I doubt it. They are anyway going to be looking for the digits on the screen, and pausing after every keypress. There is hardly any change in behaviour for such people.
  • Positive use case: The actual owner of the card. Most of us do not repeat the 4-digit PIN in our heads before punching it. After the initial 5-10 times, we just repeat the keystrokes on the POS. It’s muscle memory for most of us. Because of this design change, we have to punch in the keys like anyone from the negative use case bracket would – punch-pause-punch-pause, and in between try to remember if 2 came before 8 or after and if there really was a 7 in the middle, because the keys aren’t where our brains expect them to be. All this design change does is make the legitimate users look like they have just cracked the PIN to a card they found on the street.
  • Now let’s talk about the other positive use cases: The elderly, disabled, kids carrying the card. Those who do not depend on muscle memory to punch in PINs. These people might anyway be remember one digit at a time, so should it be okay to switch the digits around? These people are not going to touch type, why are we making it difficult for them to look for digits? Nothing is where you expect it to be.

What is the point really of such an interface change, when it a) prevents legitimate users from using the system effectively, and b) does nothing to prevent misuse/fraud, when I’m sure that fraud prevention would have been cited as the reason number one to implement this.

Minimal Poster: Urf Professor

Pankaj Advani’s cult classic, a black comedy-cum-thriller, Urf Professor [2001]
Even though there’s Sharman Joshi and Antara Mali in the movie, the lead character was played by Manoj Pahwa 🙂

Also on Minimal Movie Posters India

Minimal Poster: Gangs of Wasseypur II

Gangs of Wasseypur II [2012 August]: Perpendicular

This is the first time I have made a poster for an unreleased film. The much loved and shared Perpendicular poster. It was appreciated by so many people who have worked on the film, including the director Mr. Anurag Kashyap himself.

Also featured on Minimal Movie Posters India Blog.

In other news, my poster for Gangs of Wasseypur I is now the Facebook Timeline cover of Faizal Khan himself, Mr. Nowazuddin Siddiqui!