Friday reading #25

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 19 October 2012

And so Friday rolls around again. Here is my weekly round-up of long(-ish) reads from the worlds of UX, journalism, publishing, and 80s synth-pop. If you are so inclined, you can get the whole lot bundled together as a Readlist, optimised for iOS, Kindle, and other ereading experiences.

Friday reading

Out Of The Ashes Of Dead Trees” - Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast
[Print publications are] like Wile E Coyote suspended three feet over a cliff for a few seconds. They’re still there; but there’s nothing underneath; and the plunge is vast and steep…There’s a reason why Drudge Report and the Huffington Post are named after human beings. It's because when we read online, we migrate to read people, not institutions.”
Read the full article

Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web” - Adrian Chen, Gawker
“I asked if he regretted anything he had posted, now that he’d be found out. No, he said. ‘I would stand by exactly what I’ve done.’ The problem was, he explained, that if his identity got out, his many enemies would start attaching lies to his name because they simply don’t like his views. They would say he was a child pornographer, when all he had done was spearhead the distribution of thousands of legal photos of underage girls. They would say the fact that he created a subreddit dedicated to Hitler meant he was anti-Semitic, when really it was just trolling.” Brilliant journalism. An absolute must read.
Read the full article

Responsive Comping: Obtaining Signoff with Mockups” - Matt Griffin, A List Apart
As well as having some interesting ideas on how designers-trying-to-code and developers-trying-to-design can help each other, it makes this salient point: “Sending clients in-browser comps is remarkably easy, as it turns out. We just e-mail them a URL. Clients can look at the designs in various browsers and on various devices, resize them, click links and navigation, and check out hover states. Instead of asking our clients to pretend that an image is a website, we show them… a website.”
Read the full article

Oliver Reichenstein on design” - Tanya Combrinck, .net magazine
“When we release a new update and there is no negative feedback for more than a couple of hours I get nervous. No negative feedback means that you are doing something wrong. A product that doesn’t polarise has no energy. This doesn’t mean that you need to make people angry on purpose. What you need to do is try to make a product so strong that it’s obviously only for a clear target audience. Then you need to find ways to solve the big problems it has, so it becomes a product for everybody in your target audience.”
Read the full article

The Emperor’s New Clothes” - Alan Mather, In the eye of the storm
“What is happening now has the air of a great science experiment - ironically, that’s what GDS call some of the work that they do internally as they test out concepts. Such experiments can go bang of course. Sometimes, or at least once if scientists are right, there is a big bang. That’s largely inconsistent with a government approach where requirements are mapped out and delivered over a period of years, fulfilling policy objectives as they are ticked off. Of course, the historic approach has not worked out so well - we only need look at NHS IT, ID cards, Fire Control and so on to see that a new model is needed. The question is whether the GDS model is the one that achieves scale transformation right across government, or whether it is another iteration in a series of waves of change that, in the end, only create local change, rather than truly structural change.”
Read the full article

Why museums suck” - Howard Hwang (aged 15), LA Youth
“Most museums suck. Really they do. Museums always have that cold feeling. Very adultish and professional, it makes you uncomfortable. And museums are filled with old people. I don’t have anything against old people, but I’ve noticed that when there are old people around, it’s usually boring.”
Read the full article

The Stigma of Synth: My Secret Life with Depeche Mode ” - Aaron Gilbreath, Gawker
“When the Mode subject came up outside my controlled environments, I offered a prefabricated answer for every charge then quickly changed the subject. If a student in math class said the members seemed effeminate, I’d say, ‘Of course they do. They're British.’” Touching essay about how growing up as a Depeche fan meant everybody in an all-boys school thought you were gay. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Read the full article

Things you may have missed

The vexing issue of managing football comments on a newspaper website” - Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“with a period away from working in-house at a news organisation, my perception of user comments has shifted. I stillmiss them when I read a printed paper. However, when you work for a site running community areas, you tend to see the 2% of really good community interactions. Outside of the business though, you mostly see the 98%. ”
Read the full article

‘Engaging Facebook through EdgeRank’ - Kelvin Newman, Jeremy Waite and Martin Belam at a4uexpo” - Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“What is important to note, he said, is that 66% of users have ‘Liked’ five brands or less. That means that your social media presence is unlikely to be competing for space in the news feed against other banks or insurers or whatever vertical you work on, but you will be competing instead with Lady GaGa and Coca-Cola.”
Read the full article

Not quite the future of publishing yet - Pitchfork, Bat For Lashes, and mobile phones” - Martin Belam, currybetdotnet
“I first tried to view it from a link on Twitter, on my phone, over 3G. Even trying to recreate the experience later on my fat home broadband I got about thirty seconds of it rendering nothing whilst it loaded, followed by a fraction of an image. Every time I tried to scroll, pinch and zoom, or explore the article, it snapped back to the same picture of Natasha, too fast for me to even get a screengrab of how poorly it rendered.”
Read the full article

Forthcoming talks and events

I’ll be talking and teaching at the following events over the next couple of months:

Keep up to date on my new blog