What I realise, now, about getting old is that it is possibly less about the old, and more about the getting.
To experience something is often the only way to truly understand it, and sometimes that just takes a while. Or it takes being in the correct place at the correct time. I was fortunate to have been an eager twentysomething around that social media took off, deeply invested in the possibilities and potential. I’ve been on Twitter for 16 years, as of this week, which is less time then the going rate for defrauding people out of billions of dollars.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and those that followed have not exactly lived up to the wide-eyed potential that I hoped they could fulfil, sacrificing so much at the gods of engagement and growth.
Back to base principles, then. There’s two sides to social media: connections, and content. Blogging was—and remains—bad at connections, but having your own home for “content”—writing, photos, links, not so much video—that is not at the whims of bankers and billionaires is feeling like it might be a good idea again.
So here we are. I’ve dusted off the design so it works for things that aren’t big long articles, and am typing in the compose box like it’s 2001.
For the “connections” bit Mastodon seems like it… might work? But we’ll see. Follow me if you’re on there, or just add this site to your RSS reader. Those things still exist, too.Visit ➔
It took a minute—and sometimes sounds a bit like Moby?—but I have got truly engrossed in this record. It’s the only thing holding back Taylor Swift from dominating my Replay 2022 mix…Listen ➔
If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”
This rings so true (or at least it would if I had time to read it…).Visit ➔
‘Music apps – beyond the hype’ takes an in-depth look at the business realities of producing, marketing and monetising music related apps. The event features an overview of the music apps market, practical advice on how best to market your apps, instructive lessons from a variety of artist apps case studies, and a variety of speakers from across the music apps value chain.
I’ll be talking about the Adele mobile app at this tonight – hopefully should be a pretty interesting event.Visit ➔
"Love Interruption" is the first taste of Jack White's debut album, Blunderbuss, out April 23 on Third Man Records/XL Recordings.
Firstly: new Jack White solo record! I am a massive White Stripes fan, so this is a Very Good Thing. Also, we made a widget for it that spins at 45rpm:
I’m not sure if I’ve really mentioned the widgets we’ve developed and have been using since last August – they’re quite nifty, if I do say so myself. They’re HTML5-based and work on iPhones, iPads and other mobile devices; they get detected by the lovely HypeMachine so they show up when bloggers post about them; they’re completely fluid (using both media queries and a dab of JS) so they should work at any size; and lastly you can use them as little iOS web apps (if you have a data connection) – try saving this page to your home screen for example.Visit ➔
The short version is that Google search results are going to be automatically personalized (to a greater degree than they were already) for each user, with signals drawn from your Google+ Circles being used to highlight things your friends — or you, yourself — have shared. Any of these personalized matches will appear alongside ‘normal’ search results. And Google will also pull in photos shared on Picasa or Google+ (they’ll even show up if you’ve marked them private, but they’ll still only be visible to you).
It seems like there’s an ever growing opportunity for someone to come in and do search much better then Google does it, stripping it back to basics and focusing on the quality of results (which are appalling for so many search types – anything product focused just leads to page upon page of retailer sites, for example).
I think the attempt to (badly) add social features to all of their platforms could be the undoing of Google.Visit ➔
Pitchfork is a popular-as-hell indie music blog. It's got a hipster-snobby reputation and the reviews are best summarised as "When Adjectives Attack," but their recommendations tend to be on the money and I've found a lot of good music thanks to their Best New Music category.
Pitchfork's also got a reputation of being a real tastemaker, anointing new albums & artists to the big leagues. But is this backed up by the data? I decided to find out.
In short: they don’t (although you need more data for a less flippant conclusion). Also: yay for graphs!Visit ➔
Little Printer lives in your front room and scours the Web on your behalf, assembling the content you care about into designed deliveries a couple of times a day.
You configure Little Printer from your phone, and there’s some great content to choose from — it’s what Little Printer delivers that makes it really special.
This is just a little bit magical. There’s something incredibly compelling about a device that takes the modern internet – Foursquare checkins and all – and makes it something physical.
Also, the design and accompanying video are perfect:Visit ➔
We'll cover the week in Wired news as normal, including stories about the first lab-grown hamburgers, airmiles for cyclists, batteries that charge in 15 minutes, wine bottles made from paper and Mongolia's plan to cool itself with giant blocks of ice.
And we'll also look back at the last year of trends we've covered on the show. Nate, Duncan, Katie and Liv each pick their favourite topic and we bring a whole host of special expert guests onto the show to discuss how those trends will evolve over the next year.
At about 31mins in you can hear me talk a little bit about music apps (and it turns out I don’t at all sound like I think I do).Visit ➔
Recently at Mark Boulton Design, we’ve been working on a redesign of the global visual language for a large sports network. Like many web sites delivering news and editorial content, they rely on advertising for their revenue — either through multiple ad slots on the page, or from video pre-rolls.
Early on in the project, we discussed Responsive Web Design at length. From an editorial and product perspective, it makes perfect sense. Who wouldn’t want their content adapting to a device their reading it on? Who wants to pinch-zoom again and again? From a business and product perspective, we’ve seen this from multiple clients who want to take advantage of certain interactions on certain devices — swiping for example — for users to better engage with the content in a more native way. All good. And then advertising comes along and things get challenging.
Really great post on the pitfalls of integrating advertising in responsive sites. Seems like this could well take a lot of time to fix properly – most sites just don’t have the leverage with their advertising provider to be able to shift their advertising around.Visit ➔
Earlier this week, we reported on the launch of Sting 25, an iPad app celebrating Sting’s solo career. But how much did it cost to make? More than one million dollars. This is according to the Wall Street Journal.
The app itself – if you’re a Sting fan – is pretty nice, but over $1million to develop is just plain ridiculous. A quick glance at the credits – which is several pages long – tells you why: when you involve big agencies, they’re very good at spending your money.
I find it interesting that Chevrolet and AmEx feel they are getting enough value from having their logos slapped on the splash page to finance such an endevour (assuming that is that they’re together stumping the cost). By then, sponsorship is the only way to go if you’re spending that much money on an app like this as you sure as hell aren’t going to sell 100,000 copies at $9.99.Visit ➔
And then there’s the feature that leads to my biggest gripe: Pages have both a +1 button and an ‘Add to Circles’ button. The latter is what permits the Page to start sending you updates. And the +1 button? It does essentially nothing, at least as far as users are concerned.
It’s not exactly surprising that Google have launched brand pages for Google+ but I do find it pretty surprising that they seem so bandy thought through. They seem to be the bare minimum that they could have launched with, which would be fine if there wasn’t a very developed alternative dominating the market already.
I have my concerns as well over the inevitable land grab that will happen as soon as everyone can make these brand pages; one of the big things they’re pushing is the integration with Google search, but I really don’t want a Google+ brand page showing up as one of the top results for one of our artists (as it’s almost the last place I’d want people to go) – to the point that actually, maybe it’s worth steering clear for that reason alone.
Checking my Google+ feed now shows the last post as being from 4 days ago, and if I go 10 posts down it’s almost a month ago. I have pretty much the same set of people loaded into it as I do on Facebook, and the latest activity there is 2 minutes ago. I do wonder where Google is going to go with this…Visit ➔
The Grand Theft Auto series is probably my favourite set of games released by any single developer; not so much for the violence, but for the storytelling and amazing open world gameplay (without tying it down to anything tedious like levelling up or any of that rubbish).
This trailer for GTA V (which is confusing the 7th full GTA game, confusingly) looks pretty amazing to me; yes, it’s not exactly a radical departure – I know some people are disappointed it’s not in a new setting, maybe one outside US – but for me that’s not the point; the location will be actually different, with different things to find, but most importantly with a different story (and it does look like a different take this time, as it’s seems to be eschewing the “work up from the bottom” storyline the last few have employed).
I’ve written previously about how games are their own art form, and I think the GTA series is one of the perfect examples of that. Interactive storytelling, without skimping either on the “interactive” or the story.Visit ➔
One thing we’ve heard from a very good source is that a key aspect of the service will be “scrobbling”. The term, made popular by Last.fm, means that when you listen to a song, it gets sent to your profile without you have to do anything. I assume there will be a way to turn this off, or a way for you to selectively share songs, but this is a key to the service.
I’m loath to speculate on rumoured products like this – who knows what it’ll actually be – but this sounds like it could be massive. Facebook is already the biggest single driver to artist websites, and this will just make it even more powerful.
It also – sorry to say – sounds like it could be the final blow for Last.fm; why have a social network just for music when the biggest social network has most of the features (that mainstream users want, at least).Visit ➔
Amazon.com Inc. is talking with book publishers about launching a Netflix Inc.-like service for digital books, in which customers would pay an annual fee to access a library of content, according to people familiar with the matter.
Or: Spotify for Books.
I think I’ve blogged before how I think this is a potential killer product; people only read (most) books once, so a rental model rather then a ownership model makes way more sense.
There’s also nothing stopping them replicating the ad-supported free service as well, or how about you get a year’s free service when you buy a Kindle? Could be very interesting indeed.Visit ➔