Friday reading #12

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 20 July 2012

Roll up! Roll up! Stuff your Kindle, Instapaper or Pocket app full of the finest juiciest long reads and interesting links I’ve siphoned off from the web this week. After suggestions by @byekick and @lynsey_s I’ve also made it into one of Arc90’s “Readlists” - making it easy to shove them onto your ereading/ebookification device in one fell swoop - “Friday reading #12 on Readlists

Friday reading

“Pitch the future while building for now” - Andrew Chen
“I’ve come to believe that leading with the day-to-day product is definitely the way to go. Build a great product, even if it looks/sounds like a toy, and get the retention and engagement you need. Once you have that, make the big-picture story work.”
Read the full article

“No backlog” - Matt McAlister
“I’ve never had a feature that really mattered to me just fade from memory.”
Read the full article

“These designers did for fun what news sites can't do to save their business” - Jon Mitchell, ReadWriteWeb
“There are no rules about how to fund media in this attention-scarce economy. So experiments have to be fast, lean and flexible. Looking at it that way, it’s no surprise that the most appealing news solution I’ve seen in a long time comes not from a sclerotic news company but from a studio that knows how to package all kinds of communication from scratch.” Great piece, interesting experiment. ReadWriteWeb fall into a classic headline trap though – they aren’t designers, and they can’t sustain this as a business.
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“From programming to business: Lesson 0” - Sidu Ponnapp, Electric Sheep blog
“Businesses often succeed because of a serendipitous series of connections between people. The acquaintance at a meetup that suggests a feature, the interviewee that thought you were unusually nice that recommended you to a VC, the colleague that actually wrote the code that makes your product go... all of these people contribute to your success in unpredictable ways.” [via @jonnyrichards]
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“The dangerous gap between those who make software, and those who use it” - Rian van der Merwe, Elezea
“We know how to help these users — we’re simply not doing it. We don’t have a choice, we have to talk to them. It’s easy to start: take your laptop with you on one of your coffee breaks, and ask some people if you can show them what you’re working on. They’ll love giving you feedback, and you’ll walk away with a better understanding of the usability divide — and some very real ideas about how to narrow it.”
Read the full article

“Will DIY Pay for R&D?” - Porter Anderson
“The underlying assumption here is that in traditional publishing, it’s the blockbuster books that effectively generate what passes for research and development money, R&D.” Interesting take on some arguments advanced by Eugenia Williamson.
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“Please RT” - no byline, n+1
You’ve got to admire someone (or an anonymous committee) who can write “Somebody, often somebody you wouldn’t expect, condenses the World-Spirit into a great joke, epigram, or aperçu” then goes on to criticise the fact that “The economic cheapness of digital publication democratizes expression and gives a necessary public to writers, and types of writing, that otherwise would be confined to the hard drive or the desk drawer.”

Oh. No. Actually, you don’t.

Read this to realise why an end to elitist publishing may not actually be a “scrolling suicide note of Western civilization” when this hypocritical snobbery is the alternative.
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“Meet the Micropublisher: an interview with Thom Chambers” - Adam Westbrook
“I believe that micropublishing is the best way to make a living with words. By taking up the professional attitude of a traditional publishing house, you help readers, turning them into fans and customers. A micropublishing house is a publishing house for the self-publishing world. It’s a combination of the intimacy of blogging with the professionalism of traditional publishing houses.”
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“Visualizing change: An interview with the noun project” - Valerie Casey, Core77
“We decided the biggest impact could be made by building a platform for visual communication. Symbols serve as some of the best tools to overcome many language, cultural, and even medical communication barriers. Having designers from around the world engage in creating a visual language doesn't just create symbols for what already exists, it also creates symbols for what we want to see in the world—things like Community Gardens, Sustainable Energy and Human Rights.” [via @edhorsford]
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“Vim Creep” - Rudis Muiznieks
If you’ve never used a command-line-style text editor, this will mean nothing to you...
Play the game to learn keyboard shortcuts for Vim

“Why ‘A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self’ is a Viral Video Success” - Greg Jarboe, Search Engine Watch
“When you’re writing the title of a video, cleverness isn’t as effective as clarity. In fact, one can say clarity is the new cleverness. So writing a title that is self-explanatory gets you farther than writing a clever title that nobody can quite figure out what it is you’re alluding to.”
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“The Tim and Freya show: Is social media changing the public space?” - Fiona McCann, Storyful
“Though authors have long been mining private lives for public work, Godley’s tale did nothing to disguise the protagonists, even including a photograph of Tim as he left the train. Yet the resulting saga – personal lives made glaringly public – has many defenders”
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“What the Instagram backlash says about the future of media” - Mathew Ingram, GigaOm
“Running through many of these criticisms is a kind of anti-amateur argument: real photography should be left to professional photographers, real journalism should be left to professional journalists, and so on. Can tools like Instagram be used to post shallow photos of nothing in particular? Of course they can, in the same way Twitter can be used to post messages about what you had for lunch, and a blog can be nothing but a repository for your ranting about cats, or whatever your personal obsession might be. But that doesn’t change the fact that these tools also break down the barriers for participation by talented amateurs of all kinds — photographers, writers, journalists and movie-makers. And smart media companies are taking advantage of this.”
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Things you might have missed...

By me on currybetdotnet this week:

Plus some write-ups of events I’ve recently spoken at:

And a reminder...

Forthcoming training and talks:

Keep up to date on my new blog