The author seems to be essentially describing an addiction, and suggesting that the compulsions can be ameliorated by placing arbitrary divisions in the consumption stream. I have to admit, it would be interesting to see if there's a difference in consumption behavior between infinite scroll schemes and manual "Next Page" navigation... maybe this has already been studied?
It would probably be overkill to force this on users ("sorry, we're taking away infinite scroll because some of you couldn't control yourselves") but I can see it being potentially useful as an option in apps, available for those who find themselves in need of structure.
Anyway, I'm not entirely convinced it would solve addiction... after all, cigarettes come in discrete units, and we all know how that turned out.
Not sure if this is replicated by others, but this may reveal something fundamental about how I interpret information in printed form.
I'd never willingly implement or recommend infinite scrolling on a website or mobile app. If a client wants it, I would dissuade them at first with reasons against it, but if they insisted I would implement it reluctantly with a fallback to pagination.
It also helps that my browser implements a "fast forward" mechanism, where I can go to the next page in pagination without actually clicking a link. Just have to do a mouse gesture or click the arrow buttons on the mouse. If it were something more commonly used (unlikely to happen sadly) it would make browsing paginated content so much easier.
Personally, I love infinite scrolling when I'm consuming content. The problem I face is when it is online content and I've followed a link. This isn't a problem for websites I view in a computer, because I usually just open a new tab and when I close it, I'm right back where I left off. If the site or application stopped after only 20 items, perhaps it was that 21st item I would have really been interested in reading.
For the past several years I've mostly switched to devices like my phone and tablets. Applications don't often feature the same approach and can't as easily return to the view I was looking at. This really limits the usefulness of infinite scrolling. If the application unloaded in the background, when I return to it, the view has reset itself at the top of the list. If I'm a hundred "pages" into the stream, I need to start over with new content that has arrived since I started reading, scroll for a few minutes until I start to recognize content that was close to where I left off, and then actually find where I went off on a tangent.
One solution to fix this problem would be a user enabled filter that hides content that I've scrolled past and only shows "fresh" content. Pagination usually solves this problem for you by having a view that includes where you are in the list. Of course that is invalidated when the whole stream is reset, but if only 10 new items have been added, it wouldn't take that long to resume where I left off.
Finally, sites that weight the ranking, like Reddit or Hacker News, cause both systems to foul up. Since the content resorts it is practically impossible to determine "where you left off." Implementing a mechanism to hide headlines for posts I've already scrolled past, would go a long way to resolving this last problem. In a best case scenario, I'd be more productive. In a worst case scenario, I'd be no better off than I am today, but it is difficult to think of situations where this design wouldn't be beneficial to the end user.
Then your mobile browser starts to lag and fucking crashes because it exhausted memory. Not to mention breaking the back button and the footer-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow issue. This thing has to die.
btw, Medium breaks text selection on mobile safari :/
With pagination this is literally 1 click!
I would suggest sites without filtering is the problem.
To get content that is a fixed length and consumable without overindulging, there needs to be a fixed amount of content that 1 person can digest. Otherwise, you just have this database/collection of content that 1 person cant quite possibly read in one sitting... regardless of if there is infinity scrolling, pagination, or some other way to navigate.
Newspapers, in a way, curate what they are going to display each day. It's like a filter in a way. All the content is filtered to show what can fit in X amount of pages.
Websites with this problem, if they want to solve the problem, need better filtering. That might not be the only solution, but i feel like it's a major contender in helping combat the problem of trying to figure out what to consume amongst limitless content consumption.
Some activities just go on forever. We learn that certain activities have an end and others don't. The ones that don't we give attention to in a manner proportionate to their importance. In representing content streams as infinite, publishers are simply mimicking the interminable reality of that activity. Future generations will never have learned that there's a daily endpoint to what you can know about your friend's lives, current events, etc. What a silly proposition!
I (wildly) speculate the feeling that an end state is needed springs from weakness/inability in moderating one's impulses. The end state then is really just a crutch to force one to stop some obsessive activity.
[Edit: removed disparagement of Star Trek DS9.]
Simply putting a stop to scrolling will not end the feeling of unsatisfaction, it will not end the fear of missing out. Infinite scrolling is the consequence, not the cause of our dissatisfaction.
An alternative explanation might focus on when and how discipline and self-restraint should be exercised, the ways in which content can be curated, or how and why one might take steps to learn about such things.
Unfortunately I think the easiest answer is gamification, sure to create much gnashing of teeth.
We usually would take the newspaper to the beach or a cafe, spend a few hours there just reading the paper (trading sections every so often) and chatting a bit about what we were reading. It was as nice ritual.
Nothing wrong with a "never ending story" and there's a considerable clientele for that in older media too. The LoTR trilogies also have that similar feeling for me - I'm left with a bit of a craving after watching just one.
What is, perhaps, new is the immediacy of the never-endingness. One phone-screenful is all you get at a time.
Isn't this confusing source and outcome? Even if your app (or website) adds an 'end' point, it would only be artificial. The news never ends. Instagram and Twitter never sleep. If you can't be your own gatekeeper (eg, by following a very small number of users on Twitter) then I doubt an artificial 'end' point from another gatekeeper will help you. Rather, I suspect, you'll simply add more apps to your daily reading list - an infinite number of finite apps to keep the infinite consumption option available.
What could possibly go wrong?
The results are not good.
The URL should auto-update to reflect the current state of the content that has been loaded onto the page (the only exceptions are when the content is highly dynamic and pagination becomes somewhat meaningless over even short time intervals).
Either manual invocation of the scrolling should be necessary (so access to the site footer is not restricted) or else the site footer should be re-designed so it is still accessible (Twitter, for instance, just puts an information box on the left with links that would normally be in the footer).
It is also very important that clicking on a link on the page and then going back should restore the full state of the page, including scrolling position, at least to the greatest extent possible.
Ideally a visual separator should be inserted between different pages of content. This helps the user maintain context of where they are in the content stream.
> As opposed to infinite scroll with updating URLs that inserts 10 different items in your browser history
is avoided with correct usage of the HTML5 history API. You can update the URL without inserting a bunch of extra pages into the browser's history.
Simply put, I follow ~30 medium-activity accounts, I go to bed and when I wake up, I can't reach the same point in the timeline again as over 800 tweets have been posted.
Please, for heavens sake, allow the addicted to read their whole timeline. Thanks.
What we really need is for the app to keep track of where you left off, cull the new posts into a separate page, giving you something easier to work with and catch up.
There's an expectation that curated content should be a high-quality subset of the whole internet, and providing an endless stream of content undermines that expectation.
Oh man, this is giving me a great idea! Content consumption needs to be gamified! Score points for actually reading an entire article. I could use something like that.
Obviously, as it is a live feed, it doesn't "end", but if your feed doesn't grow faster than you consume it, you will complete reading it in the same sense you complete reading your email inbox. It's a personal preference if you treat twitter like an email inbox (read everything) or like daytime tv/elevator music (a never ending stream of noise).
If you start browsing random tags on flickr, or randomly stumble through global twitter feeds of infinite depth, that is no difference from the streams of tv or radio that existed before too.
This idea was initially used well in Mailbox as some people do finish triaging their email. But even there completion congratulation had its problems. It was always quicker to leave mail in the inbox if it was needed later. That meant processing it just for the sake of 'completion' wasted time, and ruined the associated sense of satisfaction.
All that's not to say infinite scrolling is always perfect UX. If done without some signposts, or other way for the user to get oriented, infinite scroll can be terrible -- like infinite pagination.
1. nausea caused by endless web content, esp. by Facebook, Flickr, Mobile Apps, News Feeds
2. headache caused by intellectual bloat on consumption of too much content
3. compulsive behavior caused by intense boredom and brain freeze
Standard reaction to an excess of intellectual carbs. Paginating that crap would be like individually wrapping each slice of that cake you bought for yourself - a misguided strategy to slow yourself down that you'll blow right through when you're sugar-crazy.
These services have no end because they have very little structured content at all.
Perhaps it could be designed to rise into view if you move the mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen, or in mobile application, perhaps it is visible when scrolling but after a predetermined timeout, it lowers out of view.
Another possibility would be for it to show when you scroll back in the list, like the address bar does with Chrome on Android. It is a little less discoverable, especially since the direction the footer would move is counter-intuitive to the scrolling movement, but once that behavior is seen the first time, I'm willing to bet that it is easily recognized and understood how to bring it up again in the future.
This isn't really a problem with infinite scrolling, but it may be a problem with the implementation.
when infinite scrolling is bad:
1)When it moves your page location up when loading more.
2)When it loses your location because you clicked on a link.
when infinite scrolling is good:
1) Not clicking load more or next.
Also, Facebook already tries to show you what's important and it already gets users panties in a bunch because they don't understand edgerank.
So is the onus on the mobile developer to solve or for the user to adjust their behavior?
Hmmm, I disagree. This seems like a solution in search of a problem. Adding pageloads by removing infinite scroll seems to me to be a clever way of putting more ads in, something I'm 100% against.
No, I think I like lots of things to be finite.