Jun 03, 2011

mobile: the bored in line network

Jonah Peretti once told Gothamist that “the Internet is powered by bored office workers who sit at their desks forwarding emails, surfing the web, reading and writing blogs, and IMing funny links to their friends.” He called this the Bored at Work Network, or BWN.

The mobile corollary to the Bored at Work Network is the Bored in Line Network, or BLN. Mobile is powered by bored smartphone owners standing in line, updating their Facebook statuses, reading Twitter, thumbing through Instagram, playing a turn on Words with Friends, checking in on Foursquare or flinging an Angry Bird.

Web experiences have optimized for the BWN: related story links, skyscraper ad units and share buttons designed to divert attention and spread virally to other bored people. Mobile experiences are quickly optimizing for the BLN: bite-sized moments of media consumption, content sharing or game play designed to last as long as it takes for the person ahead of you to pay for their groceries.


  • Being on the home screen matters. When you’re bored in line, do you reach for an app or for your phone’s web browser?
  • If you’re translating your web experience to mobile, think about if and how it works for the BLN. Would you read your site while bored in line? (Relatedly, responsive web design is necessary but not sufficient tool for the mobile web.)
  • Remember that with the BLN, you’re not competing against your competition. You’re competing against Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and the dopamine rush of flinging an angry bird at those obnoxious green pigs.

Hat tip to Todd Lappin of Telstar Logistics for the lunch conversation (God, I love lunch) that motivated this post.