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The GlideBlog

Principle and premises of GlideBar. Thoughts and theories on the digital landscape.

Chickens and Eggs

Which comes first: A widespread behavior, or the tools that support it?

Did online get social because we built social media, or did the apps arise in response to our itch to be more social online? Did we start posting pics because our smartphones added cameras, or did the cameras show up when apps made it fun and easy to share photos?

Those of us who lived through those evolutions can debate the cause-and-effect. (And those who didn’t can share a good laugh at the idea of a world without such basic ‘necessities’!)

But like most chicken-egg questions, the sequence between tools and behaviors is less important than the inextricable link between them. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Youtube… these and countless other apps would lose much of their appeal, or even basic function, without the ability to post personal media. And much of that media would be far less compelling without an arena in which to post them.

So it really doesn’t matter which came first. What matters is that, for those popular functions, the behaviors and the tools that support them fit each other like a glove.

But what happens when what we do isn’t well served by the tools we use to do it? What if the tools actually make the behavior harder?

At GlideBar, we think that’s precisely the situation when it comes to a behavior so widespread that it arguably defines the modern digital user: multitasking.

A Bad Fit

Our phones. Our tablets. Our laptops, TVs and gaming systems. The vast majority of Americans between ages 15 and 50 spend hours of their day actively juggling two or more of these devices. We do it surprisingly well (if we do say so ourselves)… which is all the more surprising when you recognize that none of these tools is actually designed for multitasking.

On the contrary, today’s tools and the apps they support are designed to engage. Which is to say, they’re built to grab and absorb our time and attention. They’re hands-on, lean-in, user driven; a car we drive, not a delivery service we enjoy. They’re meant not to help us as much as to win us.

If you're a device maker or media property, you see your users' time as a zero sum game. Every minute a user spends in THEIR arena is a win; their goal is not to serve you but to capture your time so they can monetize it. So it's no surprise that the environments they create are 'sticky' -- built to pull you in and keep your attention.

That's good for them. But not for you.

Plays Nicely With Others

At GlideBar, we think consumers deserve better. And we also think that a media platform can win, not by outcompeting other tools and platforms for their users' time and attention, but by providing a service that complements multitasking behaviors and makes them easier.

So when we designed GlideBar, we set out to create a user experience that makes it easier for users to find, scan and watch great video... while actually living their lives.

We know people will be doing other things while using GlideBar (making breakfast, watching TV, gaming, checking texts and posts.) And we know people will continue to use many of the great content services out there (services like YouTube, Twitter, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Tumblr, and Pinterest.)

We get it. (We like them, too.) So we see it as our job, not to win users away from their favorite sources and devices, but to make it easier to enjoy them all.

We believe the answer is Moving Media. A platform that gathers video you want, based on your content connections and custom interests, and a user interface that delivers them in an easy, moving stream that lets you sit back or lean in as you choose. Your videos roll by, like a news feed or score ticker, making it easy to scan and manage your video viewing at your own pace.

Some users may leave their GlideBar scrolling for hours, checking on and off, maybe adding videos to their Watch Later playlist to view later. Others may use their GlideBar for a quick catch-up first thing in the morning or lying in bed at night. Others may find that GB is the perfect way to keep one eye on their personal video feed while focusing mostly on their TV, email or gaming.

The truth is we don't know what activities you'll find yourself juggling. We just know that the tools you've been using to do it weren't made for that purpose, and in fact are built to make it harder.

We believe we can do better. And we think you deserve it.

Updated: Jan 11, 2018

In our opening post of the GlideBlog (What's The Problem?), we discussed what we at GlideBar believe to be the two prevailing challenges of modern media.

"The first is discovery: How do I FIND the things I want most?

The second is acquisition: How do I actually GET those things?"

A key theme of our theory was that these problems – born of an overabundance of options, and an access model based more on retrieving than receiving – are so deeply entrenched that, ironically, most of us rarely notice them. They are the forest we don’t see as we go about finding, cutting and hauling our targeted trees.

At GlideBar, we think there are powerful solutions to these challenges that also lie ‘hidden in plain sight.’ That is, we believe each of these modern problems can be addressed with solutions that are not new at all – mechanisms we know and use in older contexts, but have not been applied effectively to newer challenges.

Solution #1: Power Playlists

Finding great video today isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack. It's like looking for the best needles in a needle factory.

So if the problem involves finding what we want most in an ocean of options, the solution must involve curation, the selection of one item over another.

We believe the PLAYLIST is an ideal solution to this challenge. Why? Because playlists offer curation at scale. If the problem comes down to the sheer volume of things to choose from, playlists let us collect (and discover, and share) quality items in volume, too. So instead of searching for individual items I like, one at a time, a single great playlist can deliver me tons of great content.

So far so good. But here's the rub: Not all playlists are created equal.

A conventional playlist is a static repository. A place to store things I want to come back to later. Think of them as a bank account with no interest: If I deposit $10 today and don't add more, then a week or month or year from now, I'll still have just $10.

At GlideBar, we have re-imagined what a playlist can be, and reengineered what it can do, creating what we call Power Playlists.

Two examples:

  • Our List-in-List function lets you embed other lists into a 'master' playlist. These 'sub-lists' are linked dynamically, so as their authors edit their collections, those improvements automatically pass through to your master-list. So as your 'sub-lists' grow at their source, your 'master' list grows along with it. A way to collect collectors; a tool to find and curate curators.

  • Our Adopt-a-List function lets you take a list created by another user and save it 'as your own', so you can rename it and edit it as you wish. This means people who like great playlists, but don't have time or energy to build them from scratch, can get a head start by finding lists they like but want to improve.

If conventional playlists are like a bank account, we can say that a GB Power Playlist is like a stock portfolio that can only go up. So if I buy ten stocks for $1 each today, my holdings may only be $10 on day one... but they will grow and grow as each 'stock' -- i.e. each sub-list I have added to my master list -- is grown by its author.

This List-in-List structure is a powerful tool for organizing a wide range of video that is thematically-related. A list called "My TV" could be broken into sub-lists featuring Late Night TV, DayTime Favorites, Awards Shows, Sports Clips, etc. In turn, each of those lists can be built from sub-lists focusing on individual shows, and those lists can contain sub-lists featuring favorite scenes, collections of work by a specific actor... and so on, ad finitum.

We believe that by letting users build lists out of other lists, these Power Playlists become much more than static collections. They create a new kind of programming, a Dynamic Video Channel, that combines the customization of personal choice with the ease and power of external curation at scale.

The result is that when you see a playlist card in GlideBar, that single card ("My TV") can contain any number of sub-lists, representing thousands of hours of great video, all linked thematically, all chosen by you OR by another user you chose to embed. That single card is, in fact, a Dynamic Video Channel.

Solution #2: Moving Media

The second core problem we set out to address involves something even more basic than finding the things we want. It's about how we move around in our digital world, how things ultimately get to us, and how we manage multiple flows of information.

The modern digital experience is built on user-driven navigation. It's a model in which getting something means doing something. Active retrieving, not easy receiving. Contrast this with, say, watching TV, where once you've found what you want to watch you can sit back and take it in passively.

Compounding this challenge is the fact that we all now deal with multiple inputs at the same time. The movie on TV. The text from a friend. The quick email check. The breaking headline. The latest score. The notifications about your pic or post.

These various inputs don't just overlap. They compete with each other, by design, because they are rooted in a model that rewards quantity of engagement (How much of their time did I get?) over quality (How much did I help them solve a problem?)

At GlideBar, we believe today's consumer is tired of having to do all the driving... even if we don't always recognize it. Tap, tap. Click, click. Swipe, swipe. Constant navigation is the loud hum we don't hear, until it finally stops. It is the sore knee we've learned to live with but would love to heal if only we could.

And those competing claims on your attention? We do our best to manage them, but we do so using platforms and devices never meant for multi-tasking. They're like the stores designed to keep shoppers in. They're built to be hands-on, and to pull users in and keep them there. They're like spoiled children: they don't play well with others.

GlideBar thinks it's time to do better. And we believe that, once again, the best 'new' answer lies in a time-tested solution. MOVING MEDIA takes a solution we all know -- the scrolling ticker; information streamed in line, designed to live alongside other interests and activities -- and applies it to your video discovery experience.

Think of the ways that tickers help you co-manage information streams every day. The news crawl at the bottom of a TV screen. The scoreboard flowing in-game updates. The stock updates streaming by while you watch a feature. Tickers were designed to provide a steady flow of information that comes to you passively, in a way that lets you control your attention level. They don't demand your focus and require hands-on navigation; they're built to help you, not win you.

We at GlideBar believe Moving Media is a perfect solution to today's multi-tasking demands. And so we have designed a user interface purpose-built to provide a passive streaming experience for your custom video discovery.

[Yes, we admit it: "Moving Media" is a pun of sorts, in that it works on several levels. We hope that the (video) media you encounter on GlideBar will 'move' you, and we aspire through our innovations to 'move' the media market toward the model we think will serve users best. But at core, "Moving Media" says what it does and does what it says: It provides you a steady stream of video cards, presented in horizontal ticker fashion, that literally move -- gliding gracefully across your screen.]

So whether you use GlideBar as a primary activity ("It's my morning video catch-up") or for secondary glancing ("I like to sit back and scan it while watching TV"), our Moving Media interface is designed to serve you with a user-centric experience built on easy receiving, not repetitive retrieving.

Here's to old friends. And new solutions.

In a world obsessed with novelty, where it sometimes seems a given that the newest approaches must always be best, we at GlideBar are proud to apply proven solutions to new challenges.

If their basic familiarity undercuts their high-tech 'wow' factor, that's okay with us. We remain laser-focused on seeking the best solutions for the biggest problems. And we believe that any solution that puts users at the center of the experience, not as a prize to be won but as a person to be served, is a solution whose time has come.

Good apps solve problems. And if the problem an app claims to solve doesn’t apply to you, or you don’t think it does a good job addressing it, you move on. That seems like a good place to start in introducing our new video discovery app, GlideBar™.

The problems GlideBar™ seeks to solve are so big and basic that, ironically, most of us don’t notice them much. We live with them, because 'that’s the way things are.'

At GlideBar, we think it’s time to do better. We believe the fundamental problem with today’s digital landscape comes down to two issues…

The first is discovery: How do I FIND the things I want most?

The second is acquisition: How do I actually GET those things?

So what’s so hard about finding and getting what I want from my digital world?

After all, in so many ways, this is the golden era of digital access. Never before has so much content been available to so many, with amazing speed, effectively for free.

But that bonanza comes at a cost. And it’s a cost we’re so used to paying that we generally don’t even notice it.

When it comes to FINDING what I want, the cost of the sheer volume of free content available to me (including video) is TIME.

If the video clips I want to watch were food, then today’s digital landscape would be a buffet with hundreds of tables, each the size of a football field and full of fantastic foods. Sounds great... but I have to walk around every vast table myself, and then go from one to the next. The problem isn’t that there aren’t delicious foods to be found; it’s that there are so many things to choose from that finding what I want most right now can be exhausting. And it's all on me to make it happen.

When it comes to GETTING the things I want, the cost of a digital world where the onus is on me to seek, find and choose it is EFFORT.

Tap tap… click click… swipe swipe... Today’s tools are overwhelmingly user-driven, where hands-on navigation is a given, and getting anything means doing something. At GlideBar, we think using our digital devices is like driving a car: When we first got our licenses, we were happy to drive anywhere for any reason; driving was something we ‘got’ to do. But now, a day spent driving around on errands makes us feel like our lives are running us instead of the other way around. We don’t want to stop driving altogether, but sometimes it’s nice to have our dinner delivered.

GlideBar does it better.

We think that getting great video should be more about receiving than retrieving,

and that our tools should make our lives easier, not demand our constant attention. So instead of that huge buffet with countless massive tables, GlideBar is like the conveyor belt at a sushi restaurant, where you sit in your seat and watch as tasty tidbits go by, leaning in only when you see something you want. The good stuff comes to you, and you decide what you want and when you want it.

GlideBar is purpose-built to address the core problems in today’s digital landscape – finding more of what we want, and getting it more easily. We think that's a solution worth sharing. We hope you'll agree, and want to see and learn more.

In our next post, we'll go into more detail on the two solutions we think achieve that goal, which we believe set our service apart: Power Playlists and Moving Media.

Until then, thanks for reading, and happy Gliding.