Creative community Colourlovers has acquired another creative community called Forrst in a bid to create the preeminent place on the Web where creative types can come together, make pretty things, help each other get better at making pretty things, share pretty things, and ultimately monetize them. The combined site wants to make great design simple and accessible and create a lucrative business doing that.
Two great communities, now merged. This is one of the few types of acquisitions I believe are actually beneficial in the long term.
Until I feel the design and workflows are good enough for a wide release, I’m working on building a private network of extremely well-vetted bloggers. I’m running it with more of a newspaper model than a blogging platform model; I plan to offer copy-editing and other benefits to help improve the writing of members on the Network, for example.
I've been wondering why Apple hasn't implemented pull-to-refresh in any of its apps. It is a fundamentally better user experience for refreshing time-based list items. As it turns out, patents may be the issue. In a patent titled “User Interface Mechanics,” owned by Twitter and listing Loren Brichter, the developer of Tweetie (which Twitter purchased), among its inventors, the abstract describes pull-to-refresh behavior:
Input associated with a scroll command may be received. Then, based on the scroll command, a scrollable refresh trigger may be displayed. Subsequently, the scrollable list of content items may be refreshed in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated. In at least one instance, it may be determined that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated in response to determining that the scroll command was completed while the scrollable refresh trigger was fully displayed.
This is fairly ridiculous and serves as a showcase for the need of software patent reform.
I think once you publish something, you lose control of it. At worst, you inspire mockery and parody. At best, you become material for future work, because what you’ve made is successful, interesting, or relevant. Usually, it is both.
All work produces spill-over repercussions that usually go against the will of the work’s creator. The creator wishes to retain authorship and control the work, while those in the culture wish to use, transform, and remix it. If the work is truly successful, it will defy authorship and turn into a shared experience for everyone. Those works are the hardest to control, because they diffuse, and spread wide by permeating into the air. The become a shorthand for those who make or enjoy similar work, becoming a shared vocabulary.
The situation requires things from both those who create the work, and those who wish to use it.
For the initial creator, they must resign most control upon publication, especially on the internet. Their work will be used to say and do things they don’t intend. Ideas, in truth, go further when others carry them, and this usually means they will go in directions the original author did not intend or imagine. For instance, I’ve had a quote of mine (“People ignore design that ignores people.”) taken out of context and used to justify two completely contradictory design methods. So it goes.
For those that use the things made by others, they should credit where possible, and have their work be transformative in some way. They can carry the ideas of others, but they must to take it further or a new direction. Then, they are obliged share alike. To not do both is to go against the goodwill initiated by the work’s creator.
And for both, we should recognize that all creative processes use materials from those who came before us, and respect the meaningful influence of others. We’re part of a long line of people who make things. It is a privilege to get to use the work of others in our own.
A couple of months ago, after being irritated by the complexity and uninspiring nature of most blogging platforms, I decided to build my own solution to power dcurt.is. It is codenamed Svbtle . The first interface I built just contained a simple list of articles with a “new post” form, like almost every other blogging management system ever created, but it has slowly evolved into something that has hugely improved the quality of my thinking and writing.
The management interface has evolved to organize posts like my brain does; there are two states: an idea and a published article. When I have an idea, no matter how developed, I throw it into the ideas pane. This creates a physical scrapboard for organizing my thoughts. I work on ideas over time, and, when one of them becomes developed or good enough, I'll publish it and it'll move over into the published column.
This interface doesn't force me into thinking about ideas as posts, like every other blogging system does. I don't have to sit down and think about a title and content, and I'm not expected to publish immediately. The disconnection between draft ideas and published posts makes a big subconscious difference. It allows ideas to start abstractly, to ruminate for a while, and then, as I work on them, to become more and more concrete until they're ready to be published as articles. The side effect of this is that ideas I would never have written down before now become fully developed posts. It has hugely surprised me.
This is the editing interface after some amount of writing, showing a post I have been working on for a while that isn't quite ready yet, called The Best (click to enlarge):
When I'm writing, I want to have no distractions, so I removed all of them. When I have control over the visual style of my posts, I tend to take it a bit too far, which hinders the quality of my actual writing and prevents me from publishing. So I removed all styling options; Markdown and some restricted HTML are the only tools for styling posts. One of my main goals for this new writing interface was to encourage myself to spend more time writing and less time presenting.
The bottom bar contains the four main actions I usually want to perform on a post: preview/share, options, status, and the commit button. Hidden under “options” are things like being able to manually specify a permalink and to change the publish date.
The Svbtle Network
Other than a simple settings area, all of the features of Svbtle are described above. That's it. It really is the essence of blogging; there are no plugins, no post types, and no social bullshit. Each post has one unusual feedback mechanism which has no external repercussions: Kudos (see the right side of each post on any of the network blogs).
I wrote this engine entirely for myself, without the intention of opening it up to other people. But since realizing that it has improved the way I think and write, I've decided to open it up to a small number of vetted bloggers. At least at first. The goal is simple: when you see the Svbtle design, you should know that the content is guaranteed to be great. Network bloggers are encouraged to keep quality high at the expense of everything else.
The Svbtle Network is an experiment that brings some of the best things from newspapers (editing, vetting, etc) to a network of independent bloggers. It is focused on the writing, the news, and the ideas. Everything else is secondary.
I think this makes sense for web sites, but not web applications.
I think it's hard for us, as technology people who use the web every day, to understand how big of an effect the click-wait model has on our thinking as we explore and use stuff on the internet. The future is absolutely client side. When I click on something, the interface should react instantly. There is no reason to talk to the server after every single request.
Despite 37signals and DHH's denial, Rails is slowly evolving into a powerful API for running client side applications.
The price: $180 million, plus another $30 million or so in employee retention payments […]
Zynga will get a New York-based team of about 40 people, and a series of games that OMGPOP has produced over the past few years. But the obvious target here is Draw Something, a sort-of social Pictionary game played on iPhones and Android handsets.
Draw Something was first launched on OMGPOP's website five years ago. It remained there, as a relatively obscure game, without much usage. Six weeks ago, it was ported to iOS. Today, the company is worth $180 million.
Apple's market cap on the day of Dell's request was $2.733 billion. This morning, Apple announced a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share. Given 932 million shares, the total quarterly payment by Apple to investors will be $2.47 billion. About four months after the dividend takes effect, Apple will have given all of the money back to the shareholders.
When I was growing up, AIM was the main system I used for communication over the web. I used it every day. In fact, the first time I ever experienced mobile data was through AIM on a never released beta product called the AOL Mobile Communicator, a small black box that was manufactured by a little-known startup called Research in Motion. Though I only had it for six months, that little device changed my life; it was the first time I can remember using a product that gave me a glimpse of the future.
It's strange that AOL was never able to find a happy place for AIM. As the most popular instant messaging system in the United States for many years, AIM was a massive enterprise. But it was never really a product; no matter how hard AOL tried, AIM has always seemed to gravitate toward being something that is extremely difficult to monetize: a protocol. AOL tried to make it a social network, but failed miserably. They were on the cusp of trying to make it cool, but that effort has been cut short.
Last week, AOL laid off the entire AIM team. Only a skeleton crew is left behind. Nick Bilton reports at the New York Times:
The AOL Instant Messenger group took the deepest cut […]. A former AOL employee said the group was “eviscerated and now only consists of support staff.” This person, who asked not to be named because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the company, added that “nearly all of the West Coast tech team has been killed.”
There really isn't much to say; AOL has given up on AIM. The servers will probably be kept up for a while. But at some point in the future, probably when no one cares anymore, AIM will sign off and never come back.