Why do I still not love GDGT?

GDGT logoWhen I first heard about gdgt.com, I thought the startup founded by Peter Rojas and Ryan Block was terribly clever, and right up my alley. The idea of having gadget freaks keep “had”, “have” and “want” lists makes sense both from a user’s perspective and from an advertiser’s. When the website opened to the public I was quick to register and started adding things to my lists. Some stuff that wasn’t in there yet. It was amazing to see how much stuff was entered by users.

But I don’t buy a new gadget every day, so keeping the lists up-to-date doesn’t require me to visit GDGT daily. Considering how Rojas and Block were also involved in Engadget and Gizmodo, I was hoping their new effort would replace both those blogs and become a one-stop shop for technology enthusiasts. So far, at least for me, it hasn’t.

GDGT screenshot

Looks

I don’t dislike the way GDGT looks, but it’s not the friendly mess that is Engadget either. Images are small, the color scheme is high-contrast and it all rather looks like a listing, not a magazine. All the elements look great, but the design hasn’t won over my heart, and chances are it won’t.

Auto-generated

Another thing I rather like about both the major gadget blogs is the humor. Gizmodo especially has some pretty funny writers. Gadget news can be pretty boring (who cares about yet another point-n-snap camera?), so some comic relief is in order from time to time. Because your GDGT homepage is auto-generated, most of it isn’t funny. And currently, not all of it is relevant to me either. The above screenshot is from my GDGT stream, and I can’t help but wonder how a USB headset ended up on there. I hate those and would never use or buy one.

Community

As a community, the only thing connecting me to other users is possibly owning (or having owned) the same gadgets. I find it a little awkward to befriend someone just because he or she also has an iPod Touch. Unlike with other social networks, very few of the people I know in real life are on GDGT. Basically, I feel lonely :).

So, i guess what it comes down to is that GDGT isn’t a blog, and not a very natural community either. It’s one f those websites I really wanted to love but find myself visiting less and less.

5 Comments

  1. I think some of these are absolutely fair criticisms. Although just to let you in a little on these bits:

    In terms of design, since our legacy was in gadget blogs, we wanted to do something that looked radically different from Engadget, Gizmodo, and the other sites out there right now. It’s a work in progress, though, and we’ll continue to evolve it over time to make it a bit friendlier.

    I totally understand where you’re coming from with the algorithmically generated feed on the front page, however that’s one of the reasons we introduced the personalized home page, so you can filter out content as you please. And that fits into your point about the community. It’s not necessarily only about meeting new people, it’s about benefiting from the collective knowledge of the gadget community. If there’s a product you’re interested in, you will get updates about it (new discussions, review links, user reviews, etc.) on your home page simply by having it on your have or want list. So in the same way you follow your friends on other sites, we also let you follow follow gadgets you’re interested in.

    Hope that helps clarify things a bit!

    (Oh, and if you need to make more connections with your peeps on gdgt, check out our recently introduced friend finder / invite tool! http://gdgt.com/invite/ )

    Comment by Ryan Block — October 13, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  2. Hi Ryan. Thanks for commenting. Most of the things I wrote weren’t meant as criticism. I just noticed how I wanted to love GDGT but instead ended up not going there very often. The reasons I gave could very well turn out to be unique to my personality.

    For one thing, as much as I love gadgets, I only buy very few of them. I felt really guilty when I abandoned my Palm III, and as a result I tend to scrutinize what to purchase and whether I really need. As a result there’s only one or two items on my want list, which could be why my personal stream isn’t great for me. I noticed you have a very impressive list of gadgets, so it probably works better for you.

    Also, I love reading about a much wider variety of devices than I’d actually consider buying. Gizmodo especially ventures out into “absurdly expensive” and “just plain absurd” territory, which i love. Had GDGT been around when netbooks hit the market, they would not have been in my personal stream (didn’t own a regular laptop or MID), but I ended up being an early adopter. A ‘watch’ list might cure that btw, come to think of it.

    The invite thingy is pretty nifty, although only one of my Twitter contacts turned up.

    I’ll try putting more things on my want list. You’re not going to force me to actually buy them right? :)

    Comment by Roy — October 14, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  3. I have to say that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling Roy. And I’ll also say that Ryan said in his comments does help some in that I think I’m supposed to be visiting gdgt.com in order to find out more about the devices I have, want, had and for the most part it has been the first place a look because I trust the users their more than most sites.

    I would add that although I do love the newletters and maybe it will just take time, there’s SOMETHING missing. I love the brand and the writing but I just don’t find myself talking about it to others as I might usually. Maybe that’s ok…not like I don’t know where to go when I want some knowledge. Thanks for the article and the comments.

    Comment by Rai-mon Nemar — January 21, 2011 @ 11:41 pm

  4. I am interested in this, maybe I’m late to know, but I’ll try it now, thank you for this Review

    Comment by New Motorcycle — January 22, 2011 @ 5:00 am

  5. I think you love that site because is a great site i am loving it too.

    Comment by mensajes claro — March 12, 2011 @ 5:41 am