Interesting perspective from Fred Wilson on how Instagram is challenging the iPhone’s built in camera. His conclusion: “Clean, simple, networked, social, cross platform mobile apps will be the winning model in the mobile ecosystem and the OS vendors will not be able to maintain dominance with the default apps they ship with the OS.”
Started naming all our product releases after street artists. Our first release under this new schema is Futura 2000 (one of my personal favorites). A little context:
I’ve been a big fan of graffii for a long time. When I was a kid and I’d go on vacation with my parents I’d make them walk me around to shady places so I could take photos of the painted walls. It’s never something I did myself (I don’t have the hand for spraypaint), but I’ve been a pretty voracious consumer of the stuff for my whole life. So that’s the plan, each release gets a number, a graffiti artist and a little history lesson on who they were (in addition to some notes on the release).
Facebook did a big study on how we find information and, not entirely surprisingly, our weak ties tend to give us stuff we wouldn’t otherwise run across. Nothing really shocking there, but, as Slate notes, the scale of the study was:
The other crucial thing about this study is that it is almost unthinkably enormous. At the time of the experiment, there were 500 million active users on Facebook. Bakshy’s experiment included 253 million of them and more than 75 million shared URLs, meaning that in total, the study observed nearly 1.2 billion instances in which someone was or was not presented with a certain link. This scale is unheard of in academic sociological studies, which usually involve hundreds or, at most, thousands of people communicating in ways that are far less trackable.
Felix Salmon has a good rundown on how Elizabeth Spiers has succeeded at the New York Observer. I thought his summation of online content was especially interesting (and somewhat sad):
And so, in the proud tradition of good blogs everywhere, readers are left with a highly variable product. The great is rare; the dull quite common. But — and this is the genius of the online format — that doesn’t matter, not any more, and certainly not half as much as it used to. When you’re working online, more is more. If you have the cojones to throw up everything, more or less regardless of quality, you’ll be rewarded for it — even the bad posts get some traffic, and it’s impossible ex ante to know which posts are going to end up getting massive pageviews. The less you worry about quality control at the low end, the opportunities you get to print stories which will be shared or searched for or just hit some kind of nerve.
When I was at Naked we used to have a joke for an advertisement that was little more than a strategy line: We’d say “your strategy is showing.” If you work in the marketing world you know what I’m talking about, it’s those ads where someone wrote a line about what the brand was trying to accomplish with its marketing and rather than coming up with a creative way to represent that they just made the line the ad. (I can’t think of a really good one off the top of my head, so if you’ve got one chime in.)
Anyway, I was looking at Twitter when they first launched their redesign and all I could think was “your strategy’s showing.” Obviously it’s not an ad, but when you see the labels on the tabs at the top its so obvious that they let their strategy slip into their nomenclature decisions.
For those who haven’t noticed the new tabs are “home,” “connect” and “discover.” Home is good, it works, I get it. But connect and discover are very funny choices for a company that is otherwise almost always very impressive in its UI decisions (it’s sort of amazing how far they’ve come since they were an organization that outsourced design completely).
Anyway, back to “connect” and “discover,” what do they mean? “Connect” is interesting and I really like the new activity feed view, but I certainly wouldn’t think of what lies beneath as being represented best by the word “connect.” “Discover” takes things even further. That’s one of those words that gets thrown around (we used it at Percolate for awhile) even though I’m fairly convinced no normal person on the planet has ever though of what they do when they find cool stuff on the internet as “discovery.”
The beauty, of course, is that if you’ve got a platform with however many hundreds of millions of people used Twitter than you can actually define these things. Often, that’s the best solution since no other word perfectly encapsulates what it is your trying to represent. We ultimately went with “brew” to describe the main Percolate dashboard for brands because it’s something unique and because of the relationship with clients, something we can be sure to define as part of the on boarding process.
But still, it’s funny when you catch someone with their strategy showing.
Slate has an interesting explanation for why train systems in the US look the way they do:
The existing rule, sadly, evaluates proposals almost exclusively on the basis of how much time a new rail line shaves off commutes. But taking a train station-to-station rather than driving a car door-to-door is guaranteed to be slower unless traffic jams are severe. This has biased new mass-transit construction in favor of a very particular kind of project: First identify a highway that’s already extremely congested and where widening it is either politically or logistically impossible. Then build commuter-rail tracks in the highway median. Put the stations far apart from one another so that trains can cruise at maximum speed for a long time. Surround the stations with parking lots. Driving your car to a park-and-ride station and taking the train downtown is now cheaper and perhaps faster than the average trip on the congested highway.
Well, this quote from a research engineer at Facebook is a relief:
The tools use our own technologies (talk about dog food) so they work, look, and integrate beautifully. Best part, if someone doesn’t like something, well, they can just fix it. (To wit, our email and calendar software is off-the-shelf and is the most unpleasant tool to deal with. Get this – we have a few people “specialized” in sending large meeting invites out, because there are bugs that require peculiar expertise to work around. Not to mention that such invites come with “Do not accept from an iPhone lest you corrupt the invite for everyone!”)
Nice to know big tech companies can’t fix calendaring either. Also, while we’re here, I liked this comment about Facebook’s use of PHP:
Facebook’s outlook of PHP is largely passionless; yes, engineers understand it is far from perfect, and people occasionally rant or show some WTF code sample. At the same time, at Facebook we love doing cool things, and PHP is simply a means to an end. With our extensive framework and libraries, it’s also often the simplest means to an end.
Interesting thought from Daniel Kahneman (by way of this Economist article) on the role of overconfidence in the economy:
A cheery disposition may be necessary for societies to function. Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and Nobel economics laureate, has a chapter in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” which describes overconfidence as “the engine of capitalism”. No entrepreneur can be sure that his planned investment will succeed but if no one took a risk, new products and jobs would never be created. A certain blindness to the odds may be necessary.
I really need to read Kahneman’s book …
It’s hard to get a clear picture of how startups are doing because so much of success depends on perception and founders do anything they can to keep that perception up. For all the talk about failing and it’s value (something I don’t necessarily agree with), it’s rare to hear real stories from real entrepreneurs whose companies didn’t turn out exactly as they might have expected. 37 Signals has a nice wrap up of quotes from folks who had to shut down a product, service or company. Here’s a good one from the creator of Wesabe (a competitor to Mint):
Mint focused on making the user do almost no work at all, by automatically editing and categorizing their data, reducing the number of fields in their signup form, and giving them immediate gratification as soon as they possibly could; we completely sucked at all of that…I was focused on trying to make the usability of editing data as easy and functional as it could be; Mint was focused on making it so you never had to do that at all. Their approach completely kicked our approach’s ass.
I promise I’ll get back to blogging more non-Percolate things, but here’s one more item. Over at the Percolate blog I wrote up a quick description of how our product development process has changed since we moved to running everything off an API:
Running a product team has been a really interesting shift in career for me. Some of the stuff I learned working at agencies has been a huge benefit (working in teams, managing creative people) and some other stuff has been totally new (continually improving something instead of launching and jumping to the next thing). It’s fun to work on improving the process and flow and when you land in a real rhythm it’s pretty amazing (not that different than being in the excitement and madness of a great pitch).
I need to write up a longer thing about my overall experience, but this was a start. I’ve got a goal to write more process posts over at the Percolate blog because people seem to like them, so hopefully there’s more coming soon.
We’re hiring for a bunch of different positions at Percolate and one of the big ones is sales. My co-founder, James, wrote a good post outlining how we approach sales and hiring salespeople. This part in particular hit close to home:
I’ve thought a lot about my profession as my career in digital advertising sales has evolved. It is an interesting profession that I’ve enjoyed but there are things about being a salesperson that I’ve always been intrigued by. For starters, a lot of salespeople, even very good sales people, don’t like to think of themselves as being in a sales profession. They will call themselves ‘business development’ or ‘account manager’ or ‘chief strategy officer’, while often their goals all ladder back to a direct sales relationship with the company that employs them. They might pass it off as, ‘well everyone sells’, and while that is hopefully the case, why shy away from what your profession is? Own it and be proud to say you’re in sales.
Towards the end of my time in agencies I began to fully grasp this. Most/all of your job as a senior strategy person is actually sales: You’re helping to get client buy-off on creative ideas. As we’ve been starting to hire salespeople I’ve been talking to some of the folks I know from the agency world and trying to get them to come over under this capacity. Surprisingly, most are much more open than I would have expected. To James’ point, the holdup is almost entirely in the title, they are worried about the implications of being a “salesperson” not in the actual selling (which most of the folks in advertising I know live for).
Anyway, no specific point here other than to say you should read the post and, if you like it, come work for Percolate.
Matt Haughey (of Metafilter) has a good post about a bad Kickstarter experience. First off, I’m surprised this is the first one of these I’ve read. Second, I think there’s actually a really interesting question in the post around what you’re really doing when you “fund” a Kickstarter project. The project he talks about, a metal iPhone case, shipped with serious signal issues. In an email explanation the creators wrote, “This is also to remind people about what KickStarter is about. KickStarter is about investing/backing a product or idea and funding that idea. When you fund the idea there are ‘rewards’ involved for that investment. Backers are not ‘purchasing’ anything, but merely given a ‘gift/reward’ for helping fund the project. That’s the way I understand KickStarter’s crowd funding model.” I assume this is officially true for lots of legal reasons, but it’s not the way you feel when you’re on the site (or, as Haughey explains, when you see a prototype). It’s easy to forget that many of the people with projects on Kickstarter have never made objects before. It will be interesting to see this continue to play out.
Hardly shocking, but it turns out people are much better at predicting the behavior of others than themselves:
Psychologists have identified an important reason why our insight into our own psyches is so poor. Emily Balcetis and David Dunning found that when predicting our own behaviour, we fail to take the influence of the situation into account. By contrast, when predicting the behaviour of others, we correctly factor in the influence of the circumstances. This means that we’re instinctually good social psychologists but at the same time we’re poor self-psychologists.
It’s interesting to think about what puts us in social-psychologist mode and whether we can switch that on for ourselves. Obviously it’s not natural, but it’s got to be possible, right?
[Via Barking Up The Wrong Tree]
Clive Thompson, who I usually really dig, has an unexpected (for me at least) take on Instagram. He likes it (which I also do), but specifically he thinks the filters encourage people to look at things with a more critical/artistic eye. Makes me think about a few things: 1) I think Thompson’s point is true of photography generally. When people have a camera they look at everything as a possible photo and that changes the way things look. 2) It makes me think of Daniel Kahneman’s research around remembering self versus experiencing self and how Instagram encourages optimization around memory instead of experience and 3) My favorite comment about Instagram was from someone (can’t remember whom), who said that the app makes everyone seem like they’re living in this weird depressed state. I agree.
With all that said, I do like Instagram … So take it all with a grain of salt.
This is a fascinating concept:
ReDigi opened last year with a novel, if controversial, business concept: let consumers resell their old digital music files. Relying on the “first sale doctrine” — the legal concept that someone who buys a copyrighted item like a book or CD has the right to sell it or give it away — ReDigi operates a marketplace in which fans can upload unwanted songs and buy others at a discount.
Obviously they’re now being sued (on the grounds that they are not actually selling the original, but rather making a copy), but the broader question on whether you can have a used digital good is very interesting. Does the ability to instantly copy something kill the idea of used? What about something that’s 3D printed?
Interesting piece from Mediaite on Buzzfeed Politics: “Buzzfeed’s coverage of the Presidential race is deliberately non-traditional, and likely wouldn’t work as well with an issue that couldn’t presume the same baseline of knowledge from its audience. Nor will it take long for other outlets to mimic what they’re doing; campaign coverage moves and evolves quickly. But Buzzfeed has a head start – smart reporters, savvy infrastructure.” I haven’t spent too much time there yet, but the concept certainly sounds different.
On the surface, Facebook adding these little business cards are not a big deal (other than the scale of any initiative the company takes on). But I do think there’s something more interesting here: This is another step in Facebook owning your identity in the physical world. They’ve already claimed you in the digital world and pretty much locked things up, but the physical world is still a hodgepodge of identities split between governments, banks and employers. There’s never really been a global holder of identity data before (to my knowledge) and I’m not sure I yet understand what the implications are, but I assume it’s something Facebook is thinking a lot about.
Facebook apparently gets so many requests to take down photos because they’re unflattering that they’ve added an additional option for “I don’t like this photo of me.” It doesn’t actually get a photo taken down, rather it’s “designed to trigger compassion from the photo posters.” I’m not sure why I find this so interesting, but something about the basic humanity of being embarrassed by a photo and having to find a way to deal with that through software is very interesting. In some ways I’m surprised we don’t hear about lots more stuff like this from Facebook, after all with almost a billion people on the platform they surely run into “human problems” on a regular basis.
This one’s pretty hilarious. Google ran a sponsored post campaign for Google Chrome and in turn forget to make sure that the links included in the posts didn’t pass credibility. I’ve been really annoyed with this policy from Google for a long time and I’m happy to see them screw up. Like Search Engine Land wrote, “It also raises the serious question that if Google can’t keep track of its own rules, what hope is there that third parties are supposed to figure it all out?” Google has forced webmasters to be responsible for something that their algorithm should be able to figure out. I know that’s hard/impossible, but I thing this brings into focus how confusing the policy really is.
A search for “browser” in Google doesn’t show Chrome on the first page.
Last week James asked me for my top 5 articles of last year (he posted his) and so I spent an hour or so going through as much as I could find from last year (Instapaper archive is helpful) to come up with my list (which includes a few extra that didn’t make the top 5 cut, but were great). Here it is (I’m not necessarily sure the order is right, but it’s close):
- A Murder Foretold (New Yorker) – Here’s what I wrote about this when I first read it: “Clocking in at just under 15,000 words, the New Yorker article on the murder of a Guatemalan named Rodrigo Rosenberg is long even by their standards. It’s so worth it though. I don’t even want to say anything about it so that you can go and enjoy it yourself. Let’s just say if I could get my hands on the movie rights I definitely would.”
- The Shame of College Sports (The Atlantic) – I’ve read a few things that said this is the best piece of sportswriting in history. I haven’t read enough to say whether I agree or not, but this epic look at the NCAA was amazing. To cover something we’re all so aware of, but know so little about was a brilliant move and added a ton of nuance to the conversation around whether college athletes should be paid.
- The Information (New Yorker) – A good way to judge writing (for me at least) is how much it sticks in my head. Adam Gopnik’s discussion around the current state of internet discourse was probably the idea I talked about most. His breakdown of never-betters, better-nevers and ever-wassers gave a framework for understanding how people view the web (and technology generally).
- When Irish Eyes are Crying (Vanity Fair) – I almost didn’t include this because I’m sure it’s on everyone’s list. Michael Lewis breaking down what went wrong in Ireland. You read it already.
- The Shot That Nearly Killed Me (Guardian) – I debated back-and-forth (with myself) about whether this should make the list or not. It’s not a classic piece of journalism in that it’s not written by a single person about a single topic. However, the idea of getting the best conflict photojournalists in the world and asking them to talk about the most dangerous shot they ever took was breathtaking.
Okay, so those are my five. The last two I’m not totally comfortable with, but a list is a list …
Here are a few others that could/should be on there:
- Getting Bin Laden (New Yorker) – Somebody was going to get this story and it went to the New Yorker. There was some controversy around the amount of truth in it, but no matter what reading a blow-by-blow account of the capturing of the most wanted fugitive in the world is a pretty compelling read.
- A Conspiracy of Hogs: The McRib as Arbitrage (The Awl) – This is the only non-mainstream publication on my list and I so wanted to put it in the top five. I’m not sure there was another article this year that I enjoyed reading more. This crazy look/theory about why McDonald’s runs the McRib promotion in the way it does was totally insane.
- The Assassin in the Vineyard (Vanity Fair) – Again, part of how I judge what I read is how much I repeat it. I must have told a dozen people about this story this year. Some crazy dude holds a vineyard hostage and poisons some of the most expensive wine vines in the world. (I won’t give away the ending.)
Awesome, hope you enjoy.
Interesting story from Fog Creek about getting rid of sales commissions:
Our salespeople all estimated that they were spending about 20% of their time just keeping track of what money was due them. There was constant horse trading. And, most worrying, we created a heavy disincentive to do all the service stuff that makes customer service shine. Why would you want a system that sets up after-sales service as competition against new sales, especially if you have a small sales team? Reputation and retention, after all, are both paths to revenue.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how you build a structure for teams to succeed. Part of that structure is salary (there are lots of other parts as well). We’re trying to figure out a system that makes the most sense for the sort of company we’re trying to build and, in turn, trying to look at accepted practices with a skeptical eye. (As an aside, I’ve also been reading the Management Myth, which explains how management consulting came to be). Anyhow, no real conclusions, but glad to see others thinking about this as well.
Just in case you thought things couldn’t get any nerdier, here’s a good piece from Slate on what it takes to make a great map:
According to independent cartographers I spoke with, the big mapmaking corporations of the world employ type-positioning software, placing their map labels (names of cities, rivers, etc.) according to an algorithm. For example, preferred placement for city labels is generally to the upper right of the dot that indicates location. But if this spot is already occupied—by the label for a river, say, or by a state boundary line—the city label might be shifted over a few millimeters. Sometimes a town might get deleted entirely in favor of a highway shield or a time zone marker. The result is a rough draft of label placement, still in need of human refinement. Post-computer editing decisions are frequently outsourced—sometimes to India, where teams of cheap workers will hunt for obvious errors and messy label overlaps. The overall goal is often a quick and dirty turnaround, with cost and speed trumping excellence and elegance.
For awhile I was reading this restaurant trade magazine religiously and I loved it. There’s something about the food business that fascinates me. I think it has to do with the connection to the American palatte, there is something very basic and real there.
Anyway, the Wall Street Journal had a good piece on how Olive Garden (and other casual dining restaurants) design menus. The gist:
Americans are more adventurous eaters than ever thanks to the popularity of the Food Network, among other TV cooking programming, and the visibility of celebrity chefs. “People will say their favorite fruit is a blood orange,” not just an orange, says Shannon Johnson, executive director of culinary innovation and development for Applebee’s, which is owned by DineEquity Inc.
But for chains that aim to entice almost every demographic group through their doors, there are limits. In several years of tests, Olive Garden diners often deemed pesto too oily, bitter or green. Capers, with their salty, pickled flavor, are too unexpected for many customers, says a spokeswoman.
Good roundup from The Economist on why big companies are actually much better at innovation than people give them credit for: 1) Growth is driven by big ecosystems, 2) globalization makes size a bigger factor, and 3) innovation is expensive (and big companies have more money than little ones).
Gizmodo has a super interesting wrapup on a Nature paper about why Asian and Western food taste so different:
According to the study, Western cuisines have a tendency to pair ingredients that share many of the same flavor compounds. East Asian cuisines, however, do precisely the contrary, avoiding ingredients that share the same flavor compounds. The more flavors two ingredients share, the less likely they would be paired together in Asian kitchens.
Good perspective on why posts like “it’s time for Congress to learn about the internet” aren’t actually helpful. “If Congress is complaining that they don’t know about something that you care about, the right answer isn’t to tell them to go get educated. The right answer is to educate them. Congress mentioned the word ‘biologics’ 75 times in a month because a lobbyist spent a long time doing their job: educating members of Congress on the needs of its industry.” Generally I like these sort of things because it’s easy to spout off about how things should change, but more interesting to understand how to actually change them. But there’s something else here I really like: When someone doesn’t understand something you should try to make it easier to understand, not lambaste them for not getting it. Not that I think Congress doesn’t need to brush up on some web stuff, but we, as the web, also need to brush up on our explanations of why it matters and how it works (without all the hyperbole normally attached to it).
Some interesting data and thoughts on what people choose to read later from Nieman Journalism Lab. The gist: “But the evidence seems to be that people find time-shifting useful regardless of length, and that using these tools for really long work is more of an edge case than common usage. It appears the user’s thought process is closer to ‘Let me read this later” than “Let me read this later because it’s really long and worthy.’”
The Atlantic has an amazing roundup of photos from 2011′s volcano eruptions.
Boy, the creation story for breakfast cereal doesn’t make the stuff sound so appealing:
The [Kellogg] brothers developed breakfast flakes by accident in 1893, when Will abandoned a pot of cooking wheat to attend to business matters. He returned to find a mixture with a stale and hard consistency. Unwilling to waste the food, the brothers forced it through rollers with the hope of forming long sheets of dough. Instead, they created wheat flakes, which they toasted and served to the San’s patrons as a breakfast cereal.
I always ask friends of mine who play the guitar who their favorite guitar players are. There’s something fun about hearing from knowledgeable people about why they look up to someone else who is talented in their field. For the same reasons, I really like this roundup of favorite meals from chefs and foodwriters. You get stuff like this from the owner of the restaurant Porchetta:
Porchetta sandwich at a butchers in Bevagna, Umbria. As the owner of Porchetta I feel it is my duty to eat as much porchetta as I can when visiting Italy just so I can make sure I remember what its supposed to be. In recent years however I am sad to say that the environment usually blows away the product. Like everything else the truck stands I loved as a child seem to have become industrialized shadows of their former selves. The bread is dry and tasteless the porchetta even more so. But stumble into the dark butcher shop in Bevagna where the ceiling is covered with house-made hams, guanciale, pancetta and lonzo and in the back behind the case is a glorious porchetta. The skin is crisp and crackly, the tender moist meat perfumed with all the aromatics that it was stuffed with, sliced thick with ample pieces of crisp skin its placed into bread from stone ground wheat fired in a wood fired oven. This is where the inspiration comes from, this is what it used to be and this is still something for me to strive to reach.
I’ve been having this conversation a lot and thought it was worth posting. When thinking about Twitter I keep thinking of all the people poking fun of the service a few years ago by saying that it’s a place for people to share what they had for breakfast.
Now that Twitter has matured and redesigned it’s becoming more and more apparent that the jokes were correct. Twitter is all about what you’re consuming, except it’s not food, it’s content. Twitter is full of people sharing the YouTube video they had for breakfast and the New York Times article they consumed for lunch. The new design seems to be largely focused on this type of behavior.
Funny how jokes sometimes turn out to be insightful.
Good thoughts from Neil Perkin on curation and Percolate: “As brands increasingly become content producers, and move into content hungry practices and channels, creating interesting stuff on a sustained basis is becoming a real challenge. As does mastering not just the stock, but the flow (flow being "pieces of content, produced rapidly and at a low cost"). Brands simply do not have the resource capability to accomodate this emerging requirement without utilising different forms of curation including algorithmic, social, as well as professional. As usual, it is by overlaying the best that technology can offer, with the capability of smart, talented people that works.” Pretty awesome to see smart people picking up on some of our themes.
The last year has been totally insane. Right around this time in 2010 I left my job at Barbarian Group and gave myself two weeks before getting started on building a company for the first time. To say building a company is different than building a product is an understatement for which I can’t find the appropriate analogy. It’s been crazy and amazing and scary.
Over the last twelve months we’ve started to build a brand I believe stands for something in the industry, created a product some of the best brands in the world pay for and built an amazing team that all came over to my apartment the other night for the first Percolate holiday dinner.
Last week we got through a big milestone and pushed our 2.0 release. Iterating is the thing everyone talks about when they discuss product development and that’s what we did: Looked at the data and built a better product for our core use case (brands publishing content across social channels and their .coms).
Yesterday we announced that along with that release we also raised a round of funding to support the Percolate mission of helping brands create content at social scale. On Tumblr someone asked why we raised money if we were profitable (this is our first round of investment) and the answer is simple: We feel like we’ve found a big opportunity for brands and we’re going to run at it hard. That means hiring good people to both help us build the product (designers, product people, developers) and also to help us bring the product to brands (sales, project management). (Obviously if you do any of those things and are interested in working with us hit me up.)
I think my favorite thing from this article about the crazy floating startup village is the nonchalance about about lasers and undersea internet cables: “A laser could be good, but is susceptible to fog, which is bad in the Bay Area. We’re considering running an undersea cable from ship to shore, but it may be be cost prohibitive. [Blueseed has received estimates of over a million dollars for just the installation, but is still researching permits.]”
Reminds me of my favorite Simpson’s joke ever. Homer and Bart are on a boat in international waters and in the distance is a boat with a big satellite dish. Homer turns to Bart and says, “See that ship over there? They’re re-broadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent—or so the legend goes.”
Pretty excellent post by Brad Delong on the things he’s gotten wrong in his career (he calls it “mark-my-beliefs-to-market” time). Some good ones in there, including: “My belief that economists as a group understood as much about the causes of recessions and depressions as John Stuart Mill understood in 1829: that a downturn is a shortfall of planned spending at full employment below income caused by an excess demand for financial assets, and it is cured by either (a) having the government do the spending-in-excess-of-income that the private sector will not, or (b) having the government flood the zone with financial assets so that there is no longer an economy-wide excess demand for them.”
I’d love to see this from lots of folks … Maybe I’ll try to work on mine for the end of the year. Seems like a worthy pursuit.
Really smart thoughts from Dan Frommer on the Twitter redesign. I especially agree with his thoughts around direct messages: “Twitter is trying to de-emphasize private messaging by moving it a layer deeper in the user interface. I’m guessing there are a bunch of reasons for this, not limited to: Simplicity, perhaps relatively low usage by most users, potentially confusing rules around DMing, and that more public content is probably better for Twitter’s product and advertising goals. Some long-time and hardcore Twitter users are probably going to be upset about this, but one of Twitter’s strengths has always been its willingness to design for its mainstream users at the expense of its geek users. (Tip: To get fast access to your DMs on Twitter for iPhone, you can swipe up the “Me” icon at the bottom.)” Also curious to see where things go with brands.
Jim Romenesko (guess he’s back to blogging) does a nice look back at the hype that was Segway (aka IT aka Ginger) ten years ago. He goes back and talks to some of the journalists that covered it and asks them to try and see now what they missed then.
Just in case you’re on the lookout for a new show to watch I highly recommend Showtime’s Homeland. Both Daily Beast and New Yorkerhave written good little writeups, the latter describing it like this:
But what I love most about “Homeland” is the way it acts as an apology for “24.” The show was created by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, former writers for that series. (Gordon created the plot arcs for Seasons 3 and 4, and he was the showrunner from 2006 to 2009.) Their previous hit was popular for good reason: it was a well-made fun machine, a sleek right-wing dreamscape with just enough moral ambiguity to elevate it above a Road Runner cartoon. Unfortunately, “24” was also a carrier for some terrible ideas, among them the notion that torture is the best and only way to get information; that Muslim faith and terrorist aims overlap by definition; and, most of all, that invulnerability is the mark of heroism. Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer was tortured again and again, but he always bounced up, jack-in-the-box style, to waterboard on. Characters surrounding Bauer did occasionally argue with the show’s premises. But most of them were A.C.L.U. types who wouldn’t know a ticking time bomb if it kicked them in the face.
Another awesome project by my friend Doug Pfeffer. This time it’s Stichtagram: Throw pillows with your Instagram pictures on it.
Just in case you thought running and airline was a good business, the FT puts that to rest:
Warren Buffett’s quip about how shooting down the Wright brothers would have been a great service to capitalism is backed up by ugly numbers. In the entire recorded history of the US airline industry, cumulative earnings have been negative $33bn.
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