there are 17 posts from March 2011

March 29, 2011

goddamn that's good

At some point in my life I swear I'm going to stop feeling inadequate when I come across things I wish I had thought of, and just start enjoying them. Fully.

Bill Ryan's Insulted by Authors is one of those things.

March 24, 2011

how i think about color


March 23, 2011

what else did serlet disagree with?

Gizmodo speculates on why Bertrand Serlet, the father of Mac OS X, is leaving apple. "Now, as the company moves into its modal-based, touch-centric future, Serlet may have disagreed with this merging of iOS and Mac OS X philosophies in Lion, which will eventually lead to a complete migration to a new unified OS, more iOS than OS X."

Other unconfirmed things Serlet may have disagreed with, that may have led to his departure:

  • The brand of coffee in the Apple cafeteria.
  • The kerning of the type on his business cards.
  • The naming strategy for Apple conference rooms.
  • The colors of the new iPad cases.
March 23, 2011

i only made it 50 pages

Graydon at OR Books posts about the challenge of reading Finnegans Wake while lauding Stephen Crowe's page-by-page illustrations of that impenetrable fortress. "Have you ever attempted to just finish reading the first page? I have a better chance of getting called up by the Mets than finishing that thing, and I bat ninth and play right field for my rec league softball team."

March 23, 2011

celebrating people

Wil Shipley's post Celebrating Bertrand Serlet and Craig Federighi is about as opposite in tone from this morning's Gizmodo post as you can get...and that's worth celebrating. "So, we’re losing a great man in Bertrand, and we’re gaining one in Craig. I think most people want to know 'is this good for Apple?' Well, what’s good for Apple is: Bertrand wants to do something different, Craig wants to do this, and the most effective employees are the ones who are doing exactly what they want."

I'm not part of that community, and I've never come close to meeting either man, but reading Wil's post was a joy: it's full of respect, passion and love for the people behind the products.

March 21, 2011

stating the obvious

Dave Winer's first "blog post" was October 13, 1994. He uses that fact as a springboard to remark on how the evolution of blogging to what it is today hasn't exactly been an unguided and autonomous process. "Designing software is hard work. The things that seem obvious after-the-fact were anything but obvious before. The best things, the most useful innovations, are the ones that seem so obvious later that they melt into the fabric of reality and become invisible." Yes. (See also all the recent discussion about baked v. fried blogging platforms.)

(And since we're throwing dates around, my first "blog post" was August 1, 1995. It linked to Dave, of course.)

March 21, 2011

measured progress

Nicholas Carr on how Google is measuring Google's impact on intellectual output. "Lord knows it's great that we can answer well-defined questions a lot more quickly today than we could 20 years ago, and that that allows us to ask more, and more-trivial, questions in the course of a day than we could before, but Varian's desire to apply measures of productivity to the life of the mind also testifies to the narrowness of Google's view. It values the measurable over the nonmeasurable, and what it values most of all are those measurable variables that are increasing thanks to recent technological advances. In other words, it stacks history's deck." Worth reading in full.

March 19, 2011

fallows on christopher

James Fallows remembers Warren Christopher. "Shortly before LBJ left office, Christopher came to speak at Harvard and also met with mainly suspicious and hostile staffers on the student newspaper, including me. In those days anyone from the Administration could expect to be shouted down about Vietnam policy, and Christopher was. But then he patiently made the case for the historic importance of LBJ's efforts to address poverty and racial injustices. It was an illustration of how his temperament, sometimes criticized in his SecState years as phlegmatic or dull, could also be seen as unflappable and determined."

March 18, 2011

new rules for the new bubble

Steve Blank has a great post on the new bubble. "Startup exits in the next three years will include IPO’s as well as acquisitions. And unlike the last bubble, this bubble’s first wave of IPO’s will be companies showing “real” revenue, profits and customers in massive numbers. (Think Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, etc.)  But like all bubbles, these initial IPO’s will attract companies with less stellar financials, the quality IPO pipeline will diminish rapidly, and the bubble will pop."

March 17, 2011

the fear of missing out

Caterina Fake, on FOMO: the Fear Of Missing Out. "It’s an age-old problem, exacerbated by technology. To be always filled with craving and desire (also called defilement, affliction) is one of the Three Poisons of Buddhism, called kilesa, and it makes you a slave. There is true meaning in social media—real connections, real friendships, devotion, humor, sacrifice, joy, depth, love. And this is what we are looking for when we log on."

March 17, 2011

paywall reactions

I've been collecting some interesting bits throughout the day about the NY Times paywall announcement. Will update this throughout the day with more as I find them...

Dave Winer: "Wouldn't it have been wise to, at this juncture, offer something to sweeten the deal. Something truly exciting and new that you get when you pay the money. Something that makes your palms sweat and your heart beat faster?"

Megan Garber at Nieman: "None of those details are surprising. (Other than the prices, which, wow.)" (I agree. What's interesting, though, is that this will probably push me to subscribe to the weekend paper edition. I want the Sunday Times the digital stuff would be gravy.)

David Weinberger: "Really? The entire nation of Canada is just a beta tester for the US and the rest of the world?How do you find out what version number is Canada up to, anyway? Click on the maple leaf?"

Cory Doctorow: "Lots of people are going to greet the NYT paywall with eye-rolling and frustration: You stupid piece of technology, what do you mean I've seen 20 stories this month? This is exactly the wrong frame of mind to be in when confronted with a signup page (the correct frame of mind to be in on that page is, Huh, wow, I got tons of value from the Times this month. Of course I'm going to sign up!)"

Danny Sullivan: "NYT introducing new roulette paywall, where whether you have to pay or not depends on how the ball drops." (This, I think, combined with Cory's point above, will be the biggest weakness: I'm an (obviously) engaged consumer of the Times, and I don't understand how this is going to work, and when I land on the wall it's going to feel random, and it's going to make me reach for the back button instead of the "subscribe" button.)

Felix Salmon: "What does all this mean for the New York Times Company? I can’t see how it’s good. The paywall is certainly being set high enough that a lot of regular readers will not subscribe. These are readers who would normally link to the NYT from their blogs, who would tweet NYT articles, who would post those articles on Facebook, and so on. As a result, not only will traffic from these readers decline, but so will all their referral traffic, too. The NYT makes more than $300 million a year in digital ad revenue, so even a modest decline in pageviews, relative to what the site could have generated sans paywall, can mean many millions of dollars foregone. On top of that, the paywall itself cost somewhere over $40 million to develop." (Go read the whole thing -- Salmon does the math on the potential impact, and argues that it won't be big.)

Mark Potts: "This really looks like small potatoes, perhaps just a sop to virulent 'we must get paid!' factions within the Times." (There are these strains of virulent factions? I'd love to learn more about them -- are they journalists? Or business people? Or do they run the subscription business? I can't imagine the Times making this massive bet (tech investment, business model change, etc.) just to appease some people on the management team...)

Andrew Ross Sorkin: "To honor our commitment to our loyal DealBook readers, all our articles will continue to be accessible without a digital subscription." (Wow.)

Danny Sullivan: "In the end, it seems like you want a paywall that gives your most loyal users something you don’t give the drive-by readers. I suppose convenience is part of that, but right now, as announced, the paywall is so riddled with holes that drive-bys won’t be inconvenienced at all."

March 16, 2011

transaction economics v. attention economics

Kevin Kelly on features, products and companies. "[The feature] may be novel, useful, desirable, and marketable. But how big and autonomous will it be? Is it big enough to sell as a product in itself, with all the necessary support that requires? And is that product big enough to be able to sustain a company and all the overhead an organization demands?"

His conclusion, which you should go read for yourself, made me think that the inverse of Coase's transaction economics (and the theory of the firm) is attention economics. Probably not an original thought, but it's the distinction between demand-driven company boundaries and supply-driven company boundaries.

March 16, 2011

matt webb on fukushima and engineering

Matt Webb on Fukushima and engineering: "The thing we have to realise is that this isn't an era of control. Our attempts to control the world have multiplied so much that they themselves have become part of the system, part of the world, and the entire thing has once again become chaotic, unpredictable, and uncontrollable."

March 16, 2011

gawker does good headline

I ran into Rex Sorgatz in the Austin airport yesterday afternoon*, where we were contractually obligated to talk about the Gawker redesign. (For the record, while it's generally inadvisable to bet against Denton, I'd take Rex's side of the bet.) My take: what was missing for me in the redesign was the ability to do the quick scan -- to get the < 2 minute read on the Gawker take on today. The "blog view" makes it better, because my GOD they write the best damn headlines.  Here are a few from today:

So good.

* Look, kids -- name dropping and conference dropping in one clause! Having a discussion about Gawker while in the Austin airport should have earned us both some sort of "My God, could you be more cliche?" badge on Foursquare.

March 08, 2011

quickly on the quickbar

I've been loving the reaction to Twitter for iPhone's Quickbar, because it puts into sharp relief some of the challenges Twitter's facing in connecting "personal" use of the service to what's happening "globally."

The goal of the feature seems clear: expose users to more of what's happening on Twitter, in real time. This is a laudable goal! If you don't spend a lot of time surfing trending topics, or searching for new people to follow, your timeline quickly becomes a stale echo chamber -- the same voices prattling on about the same stuff, over and over and over. Twitter needs to keep the experience fresh for users, and make it easy to become more engaged with the service over time. And the Quickbar is a step in that direction: put information from outside my timeline in (or at least on top of) my timeline. And, at the same time, grow the available promoted inventory.

There are issues with its current implementation: it shouldn't lay on top of my timeline, and it feels like the app is requesting updates to its content first before pulling new tweets in my timeline. (Priorities, priorities.) That said, I have faith those will be addressed either in the update that's coming...or some future update. I've enjoyed using software developed by Loren Brichter for a long time now, and I trust that Loren and the rest of the Twitter team wants to do right by its users.

But, as pointed out by my colleague Jeff Reine this afternoon (in a non-HREF'able conversation), the problem with the Quickbar is that for a good number of users the trends surfaced there are too far away from their day to day experience of Twitter. There must be many, many people who tweet about Lord Voldemort, Severus Snape, or even Tigerblood...but none of them are my friends. The disconnect between what's happening in my timeline and what's happening in the trends is just too great. I tune out the Quickbar because it's consistently not of interest.

Now, I know that I'm not in the demo for the trends, and perhaps I'd be served better by that other app down the road. After all, Twitter's a big big place, and I while I may not want to discuss Harry Potter every day, I appreciate that there are (many, many) people that do. But I think there's a better way, a way to use timeline real estate to connect the personal use of Twitter (what I do with my friends) to the global community of Twitter users and trends. I'd love to see the Quickbar become something that's more surprising -- a mix that combines things that are "near" to me (popular items from my friends, recommended users to follow), "medium distance" to me (trends from my location) and "far away" (global trends). I should want to see what's in the Quickbar, just to see what it's offering now. And if some of those were ad supported, great. And if some of those were even curated by actual humans ("You should know about how this particular hashtag, even though it's not trending"), all the better.

March 07, 2011

stop the train i don't understand it anymore

Sometimes, you read a thing on a blog and your head goes Wait, what? From Pitchfork: "Last week, Badass Digest reported that Nine Inch Nails frontman and Oscar-winning film score composer Trent Reznor would write the score to the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and that Reznor would also have a cameo appearance in the movie, playing the vampire that kills Lincoln's mother."

March 04, 2011

breaking the logjam

It's been a busy couple of weeks; all appearances on this blog to the contrary. At SAY Media (where I head up our Artist Development efforts) we launched a new project:  The SAY 100. There's an (overlong) post about it (and a video!) on the site's about page if you want to learn more. But here's the short story:  (a) we believe in strong voices, (b) we believe curation is a good thing, and (c) the best way to demonstrate those beliefs is to show who and what we're talking about. Huge kudos to the whole team at SAY that put the site together, and I had a blast working with the curators (Clay! Seth! Amanda! Jeff! Jane! and more!) who picked some incredible people. We threw a big party in New York this week to celebrate; thanks to everyone who came out.

Also, during the midst of the madness last week I made a quick xtranormal video of an imaginary debate between Jason Kottke and David Galbraith about the merits of The Hangover. Jason blogged the whole backstory.

OK, enough about me. You've seen the placekitten thing, right? Love it.