Context Specific Content Surfacing

In a mixed paradigm environment, how do you ensure content is surfaced which is context specific?

By which I mean - how do you make your content serve the user's time-bound constraints?

What I'm trying to say is - serendipitous discovery must be restricted based on temporal imperatives.

Or, to break it down further, a user may only have a specific amount of time to dedicate to your app; how do you deal with that?

In a mobile game, the interface may present the user a choice of "Quick Play" for when the user is waiting for a bus, "Medium Play" for when the user is on the bus, "Long Play" for when the user is stuck in a traffic jam.

James Whatley blogged about this subject recently. In a mobile video app - such as the BBC iPlayer - the length of time the user can spend on the app is (probably) more important than any other discovery method.



So, I spent the weekend building a demonstration mobile service which starts with the amount of time a user is expecting to use the app.


As far as I could see, iPlayer doesn't have any public APIs, the videos don't work on all phones, and the content isn't available outside the UK. So I have used YouTube as the basis.

The "User Story"?

As a user, when I am sat on the toilet, I want to be able to view a range of interesting videos suitable to the length of my visit.

Point your phone at and this is what you'll see:

LooTube Screenshot 1

YouTube's API only gives us three lengths of video - short, medium, and long - so there's not quite as much granularity as I would have liked.

Clicking one of the buttons, retrieves a list of videos based on time. The "Quick" button will show the users videos which are less than 4 minutes long.
LooTube Screenshot 2

At the moment, doesn't allow the user to search for anything. It only takes time as a search query. It does, however, randomly select between YouTubes standard "top" feeds - most viewed, top rated, most shared, top favourites, etc.

Technical Details

You can view the source of - it's fairly basic HTML5 and jQuery Mobile. Feel free to laugh at my code and offer suggestions.


Big thanks to Whatley for the inspiration, Robbie Dale for the logo, and my wife for her patience this weekend!

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