My Hypothesis Feed


Next Generation Web Services: Flickr (by Jeremy Zawodny)

Flickr has been on my radar for a while now, but I only recently began to start playing with it. I’m impressed as hell. After my first 10 minutes of playing with it, I found myself thinking “why don’t we build stuff like this at Yahoo?” In other words, I realized that we could probably learn a lot from this when it comes to building next generation applications at Yahoo. (Whether or not we do is a whole separate topic of discussion.)

and then ironically, yahoo killed it

The future of work: social, pop culture and wood stain — Benedict Evans

you could say the same thing about a lot of new productivity apps as well – they’re trying to capture something intangible about the way we work, collaborate, share and organise. Now that we’re all locked down, half the software engineers on earth are sitting at their computers swearing at their tools and thinking of new ways to collaborate, with video, text, voice, screen sharing, or something else again, and with synchronous or asynchronous models, or something else. But the interesting ones here aren’t just ‘video’, or ‘screen sharing’ or ‘notes’ – they’re bets on how to present that differently, and to work differently. They’re bets on psychology and on how people might feel about working that way.

Tags: [product] [design] [technology]

It’s really easy to explain what Rigup, Everlaw, Onshape, Figma or are trying to do. They might not succeed (just as the wood stain might not be any good) but you know exactly what the problem is. You could say the same about WhatsApp, or perhaps even early Instagram. They’re discoveries – they found a problem and found a solution (and then executed like crazy for a decade, of course). ‘Do you need wood stain that’s quick drying – yes or no?’On the other hand, in the last decade, as social has expanded and splintered way beyond Facebook, we’ve had an endless flow of new social experiences that aren’t utilities in that way – they’re pieces of pop culture. They have some ideas about how people feel and ideas about something that might express that, and they launch out into the internet like fireworks, or like fashions, bands or magazines. They think they see some piece of the zeitgeist and some way to express it.

Why Are We Still Consuming News Like It’s 1899?

Having read the last 10 updates on the efforts to cool Japanese spent fuel storage pools, I’ve noticed a very annoying problem. After the initial 3 paragraphs that contain the latest update, the rest of the article is just a regurgitation of the previous 24-hours worth of stories that I’ve ready 9 times before. Why can’t the reporters just write a short update on the latest news? If you don’t understand what’s happening, the update makes no sense. But if you’re like me and are following the news closely, I feel like I wasted my time. This update-the-last-story practice is a leftover from the days of printed newspapers and wire updates. There’s no need for this today.

The traditional methods of news-writing, such as the reverse pyramid, the various “editions” of news pose big limitation on how news is reported and consumed. Unfortunately, internet-based changes such as reverse-chronological blogging of news, inability to archive yesterday’s news, poor commenting quality, live-blogging, and others have made news consumption an even more frustrating experience.

The front-page of a newspaper is an iconic symbol. One that sums up a generation’s influences and chronicle life-defining events. But more than ever, those front pages, ported to the web, don’t fit the way we use the web.
Walking through the hallowed halls of the New York Times, the front pages of the Gray Lady on historic days call out like a collective social memory. Unfortunately, news site front pages have lost the cultural benefit of archiving our collective memories — I have no easy way of knowing what the homepage of looked like on September 11, 2001. And at the same time have become less influential due to the rise of social media — we’re much more likely to dive directly into the story from a friend’s Tweet as I rely more and more on social filters to tell me what’s worth reading.

6 billion people can’t agree on a single perspective — let alone fit an entire world of news on one homepage. Talking to news editors, it’s clear that their job performance is more and more tied to generating traffic and news front pages are their drug of choice. The more traffic you can draw off a homepage, the better you are at your job. That’s a very poor way to use very talented editors.
The web can do much than this. Techmeme is a great example of a front page for mainstream tech news. Hacker News is a great example for a developer community front page. The list of examples can go on and on. By curating the news that appears on the front page, editors and curators set a powerful tone and setting for future coverage.

The solution isn’t Google News — even though it’s an excellent service, it’s still a thin layer of aggregation technology atop a traditional model of news and sections. When I compare Google News against the amazingly fast-shifting landscape of the news world, Google News’ strength are aggregation and distribution, not presentation.

In relation to point 3, I think a news editor would argue that they do curate the news. Obviously traffic is an important factor but it’s not the only metric. Getting the top link on reddit for a novelty video or picture might boost ad impressions but it won’t do much for longtail stuff. If newspapers used community-driven tactics like reddit’s upvote system (for example), who’s to say the news wouldn’t be “gamed” by SEO marketers, or buried by politically-motivated downvote mobs? We need good people to edit and curate, as you say, and I think we have them. There’s always room for improvement though – will follow this idea with interest.

I do find point 2 a little tricky, though. I agree it would be cool to be able to flip back to arbitrary dates for news sites and see how they covered major events. At the moment your only option for that are caches and versions, assuming they exist. The one issue I find with that, from a technical perspective, is how to actually store that information. Speaking for my own newspaper, our front page changes by the minute and it’s hard to capture a “definitive” edition for that day. When do we archive that day’s front page? Or do we break it down by hour? What about half hour? This could go really granular. What if someone wants to view our homepage from 6 months ago but we’ve since removed the particular template or component that page used? How do we support backwards-compatible webpages from an arbitrary time period?
The Guardian, my company, has a content API which developers can use to build their own hacks with. It’s free, offers full article text, and goes back for years’ worth of data. With it, people could build their own version of our homepage featuring all of the news from a specific date, optionally filtered by tags, sections and more. Obviously this won’t reproduce how the page looked visually, but is that what’s important here? Your first point suggests that you don’t care about additional backstory when you just want to know what’s new, so why care about layout? Not that I don’t think it’d be cool to see these old front pages, but is that what news (particularly online) is all about?

I like having the update in the story’s beginning and the older version at the end. Sometimes having an explanation of what occurred earlier is helpful and places the update in a larger context.

Every journalist worth a damn already has his or her own blog. You’re not really saying anything new or constructive, IMHO. The last thing i want is the FOXNEWSbot tracking what i already know.

Google Launches Living Stories News Experiment With New York Times & Washington Post

Story arcs? Before I explain more, let me set some definitions:

Article: An individual news piece about a particular news event
Story: Often used as synonymous with article, when talking about Living Stories, I’m using it to refer to a current news event that many individual articles might be written about. The debate on health care in the US Congress is a story.
Topic: Sort of an umbrella term that might encompass many stories. For example, there’s a general topic of health care in the United States. The current debate in the US Congress is one story in this topic. The debate held during the Clinton years is another story. The formation of Medicare is another story.

My article in Nieman Reports: An Antidote for Web Overload at

For the longest time, whenever I read the news, I’ve often felt the depressing sensation of lacking the background I need to understand the stories that seem truly important. Day after day would bring front pages with headlines trumpeting new developments out of city hall, and day after day I’d fruitlessly comb through the stories for an explanation of their relevance, history or import. Nut grafs seemed to provide only enough information for me to realize the story was out of my depth.

Tags: [getting things in] [sensemaking]

Let Them Perish

As a side-effect of bad interviews, talented and well-spirited people feel bad for being treated like a commodity. I can relate to that. But that’s the world we created for ourselves over the last 200 years. It’s not pretty. I don’t like the way things work. But you know what? I like to develop apps. And I’m struggling to survive. Literally. I live below the poverty line for years now. I understand this is a risk not everyone wants to take. I don’t believe “getting a job” is a viable solution for folks like me, though. Even if the interview process isn’t stupid, the work may turn out to be a drag. Because organizations cannot offer fulfillment. They use your time and skill and trade it for money. Being indie offers a totally different perspective. Teams like The Soulmen do, too. You may find fulfillment there; a place where you can express yourself through the work you do. Organizations which conduct formalized interviews at all, not so much.

You Can’t Please Everyone – AVC

One of the things I have learned from writing here is that the same words will generate very different reactions from people. Last week I wrote about the value of bluffing. It triggered a ton of inbound email. I received two emails within seconds of each other.One said “that is the best advice you have ever shared” The other said “people will go to jail because of you” I just shook my head and smiled. That’s how it goes when you put your thoughts and ideas out there. But there is also a lesson for leaders in here. You will not be able to please everyone in your company and you can’t try to do that. You must be true to yourself, you must be authentic. You can’t pander. It is useful to get the feedback, to listen to it, to try to understand it. But you can’t let it jerk you around. You have to have the courage of your convictions and you need to be consistent with them.

Zettlr – FOSS markdown editor for personal knowledge management and publishing | Hacker News

Does anybody find that graph view (like in Obsidian) useful? I play around with it for a while, but I don’t really find it useful for any particular thing. Also overtime that graph grows too big to be visually easy to see patterns etc.


      ziftface 7 hours ago  [–]

              Sometimes it's an alternative to search. If you don't know exactly what to search for but remember generally what it's related to, you can zoom in to nodes you know are somewhat related and find something you're looking for that way. I can't say it's something I do every day but it's come in handy.


      lukevp 10 hours ago  [–]

              Thanks for your insight. I agree for a knowledge base, where you don’t want to persist all information, and precision is important. Most of my note generation tends toward writing down historical updates (project a is at stage b on date c) or recording minutes of a conversation (x person said y was ok to implement). Or perhaps I have this task to do and once it’s done I only need to know when it started and completed. There is no inherent ordering or importance to this note data until I need to recall it. That is the type of note I typically take, and many others too. It’s a different use case


      kd5bjo 11 hours ago  [–]

              I have a suspicion that fast data entry and automated search might be a red herring for this sort of tool.  I believe that the real utility of my notes comes from actively engaging with them, and automation runs the risk of damaging that.My own system (which is an entirely physical one) is designed around this principle; each step is designed to make me engage with my own recorded thoughts in a different way:- Every note gets written on an A5 sheet of cardstock, with a unique slug written in large print at the top of the card.  The bottom ~(1/3) of the card is reserved for cross-references.- After writing a note, I look through the file box of existing notes for 2-3 related ones; these become the initial cross-references and are notated on both cards.- The new card gets photocopied, and the original placed in the file box, ordered alphabetically by the slug/title.- The copy gets turned into a flashcard by blacking out the title and put in a Leitner box (a physical spaced-repetition system)

I find it hard to get people to write down anything. And if they do, they often times don’t put enough effort into it, like writing down some bullet points without context or screenshots without adding text. This is a personal and cultural problem at companies and in teams. A lot of people don’t know how to generate value from taking notes/documentation and aren’t good writers in general. I’m still thinking about how you can teach people what’s important when it comes to writing and when to take notes.I couldn’t agree more with your second point. Search is probably even more important than taking notes in the first place. I find myself searching through my notes multiple times a day, even if it’s something you can find at Google at the same speed. But my notes are mine, meaning I know what I can’t remember or in which form I need some piece of information. Sometimes, I write a long article about something and other times some bullet points are good enough. When I share my notes on a team/organization I try to make sure the context is clear. It’s a bit like code: it’s read by an order of magnitude more often than written/changed.We built Emvi [1] to make note taking more collaborative and with focus on searchability and ease of use. I hope I can write more about this topic on our blog. In case you have ideas on how to solve these cultural problems, please let me know

There are problems with search: you have to know to search for something, and you have to know how to search for it. In some cases this is an issue, in some it isn’t. I have had many times over the years where I reviewed my notes and reminded myself of things I had completely forgotten. Search is useless in that case.


              I think this trend of better knowledge tools is missing two very important pieces of human nature1. If we have time to enter something into a knowledge base of any kind - then we have time to just jot it on a piece of paper.2. If we dont have time (or think it is important at that moment) then what solves the problem for us is not a knowledge base, but search.You see the thing about Google and Facebook etc, is that if they were collecting all this information about me, and it was treated like medical information about me it would be far more useful to me (and far less useful to Advertisers).I want a web browser that remembers every single page I have visited (#) and then lets me search them.  Then someone could write a spaced reminder thingy for me - spent more than 5 minutes on a web page did he - he will want to refresh that page in 2 weeks and then 4 months.Yes, knowledge bases are excellent for clearly defined study efforts - like y'know, university, but for the rest of life, explicit note taking is a cost that we need some activation energy barrier for.

I want a web browser that remembers every single page I have visited (#) and then lets me search them. Then someone could write a spaced reminder thingy for me – spent more than 5 minutes on a web page did he – he will want to refresh that page in 2 weeks and then 4 months.

A Zettelkasten-style system is just a bunch of files in a single folder, with lots of links between them.What makes these kinds of notes work is the purpose they are written for, and the links. Two people can have the exact same notes, but link and tag them completely differently, because each of them will have different goals and purposes.

I do think that the area of knowledge management is very interesting and worthy of discussion. When it comes to tooling though, I’ve tried out a couple and I don’t find anything superior to a folder full of markdown files + your favorite text editor (I use VSCode, but I don’t think that’s especially important).I’d say the most valuable thing these tools provide is a way to link notes. That’s the part that was missing from most of my attempts to build my own knowledge base, creating connections between the things I find and store in a way that’s personal to how I think.In the end, my ZK is nothing but a folder filled with md files that are all linked with each other in some way. It’s synced to my phone and my tablets, so I always have them with me and I can always amend or work on them

we ought to welcome more exploration in the area of knowledge management. I love seeing new systems, open-source projects, applications, SaaS (though not as much) taking on this problem space.Since the days of index cards, through Vannevar Bush’s Memex, Ted Nelson’s Xanadu, Englebart’s mother of all demos, HyperCard.. In some ways I think the past decade took a step forward and a couple steps back. The personal computer, as an augmentation of the human intellect, has creative potential yet to be explored.—Edit: A recent one I found delightful is the Johnny Decimal System.

think the main unsolved problem is that we need our notes organized both based on subject matter, as well as based on importance, with a high level of granularity on both dimensions (i.e. sentence level granularity)It’s very hard to come up with a good, simple mechanism that lets you look at notes from both of those perspectives and to mix those two levels (i.e. “show me the high importance notes organized by subject”)One associated challenge is that we don’t really have a good way of knowing importance of information ahead of time, so an additional problem is to come up with good heuristics for estimating importance based on other factors.

It’s a tough problem to solve.My co-founder and I worked on our product in this space for two years before we released it, and we still have a huge list of features and ideas that we’d like to integrate.The problem is that everyone’s brains work differently / everyone has a different workflow, which is I think why we’re seeing such an explosion of tools in the space. We’ve tried to address that with our app in a variety of ways, but it is very much an uphill battle.

It would be awesome to see these kind of tools taken to the next level. So far we are “just” doing Zettelkasten in computers.What I mean by the next level is something like:- when I pick up a new e-book, show me the chapters that have new ideas that I’m not familiar with yet, so I can skip the things I already know- let me see how my ideas/opinions on a given topic were evolving through time, which encounters have influenced them- let me publish a slice of personal knowledge base for others to explore, let me see what my friends published (better social media?)

Hegel (b. 1770) is purported to have used a version of Zettelkasten, as described by Hegel’s sister: “He approached his reading as follows: Everything that seemed remarkable to him he wrote on a separate sheet of paper, which he identified at the top by a general label under which the particular content had to be subsumed. In the center of the upper edge he then wrote in large letters—not infrequently using Fraktur letters—the keyword of the article. These pages he ordered alphabetically … and thus could by means of this simple method use his excerpts at any moment

Matt’s Predictions

The more you use a particular service, the better it will know you (and this may be true across technology platforms, e.g., through your Google account).  This will increase a consumer’s cost of switching, and perhaps decrease their exposure to opinions and information which don’t support their existing points of view.


The fundamentals are the same no matter if you want to be a healthy over-performer in tech or a professional athlete: push your limits and swing the pendulum back and forth from stress to relaxation: Fast and eat; exercise and rest; work and meditate.

The Pizza Crust Problem, or…the Wrong Way to Find a SaaS Idea

  1. Pick an audience that buys things. One you can study, reach, and persuade.
  2. Then figure out what they need and want.

You need to deeply understand not just a problem, but the people who have it.

Because there are infinite ways for a fledgling business to fail, but there’s only one way to succeed:

Make enough sales to cover costs.

Boring? Unsexy? Not even the slightest whiff of pepperoni? Maybe. But… basic math can’t be denied: If your costs exceed your revenue long enough, you fail.

That means that the most important question for any new potential product is:

Will people buy it in sufficient quantities for profit?

The What? doesn’t matter, really.

The most crucial ingredients are Who? and How Much?

That’s why I advise my students, friends, blog readers, and literally anyone who will listen to start with the audience.

Why link out? Four journalistic purposes of the noble hyperlink

Links can sidestep this debate by seamlessly offering context and depth. The journalist can break a complex story into a non-linear narrative, with links to important sub-stories and background. Readers who are already familiar with certain material, or simply not interested, can skip lightly over the story. Readers who want more can dive deeper at any point. That ability can open up new modes of storytelling unavailable in a linear, start-to-finish medium.

storytelling: digital, not digitised

Tags: [getting things in] [storytelling] [getting things out] [getting things across]

Technorati: State of the Blogosphere 2008

“Blogging continues to splinter into many different categories, providing an incredibly rich ecosystem of self expression tools and compelling content for readers. The prototypical personal blog, where a single writer simply writes their daily thoughts on their life and/or topics that interest them, will always be hugely popular. But multi-author blogs will continue to thrive as well. And a huge percentage of blogs focus on single topics of interest, from tech news to wine to knitting. Whatever it is you are interested in, it’s likely to have a community of people who share that interest.”

“But perhaps the most interesting development is the steady evolution in the definition of a blog itself. Today photo and video blogs are already common. Microblogging platforms like Twitter and Friendfeed are the fast food equivalent of the blogging world, and continue to gain popularity because they let people update multiple times per day with 140 characters or less on what they are doing, how they’re feeling, etc. Not only is microblogging a terrific method of self expression, the value of the raw data that’s created is enormously important. The Twitter messages I read during the two presidential conventions gave me a good idea on how people reacted to the various speeches. It’s not statistically relevant, but pollsters will be watching that data more and more closely over time.”

    “Whatever happens next with blogging, it's here to stay. And I can't wait to see what comes next.”

    Michael Arrington

“Blogs represent the best chance for companies to inform the conversation.”

    Richard Edelman
    President and CEO

reminds me of the whole “brands and companies need to join the conversation now!” buzz in the early web2.0

Tags: [web2.0]

“Although today’s form of blogging is a volunatary form of self-expression, in the future our experiences, actions, locations, and preferecnes will be auto-recorded directly to the web.”

“The future of blogging will be an auto-synching of our lives directly to the web —often a quiet recording in the background”

    Jeremiah Owyang
    Senior Analyst, Social Computing
    Forrester Research

“Blogging is getting easier and easier and some day, we’ll all have blogs of one sort or another. Most won’t look like my blog, maybe more like mytumblog or my twitter feed, but even more likely they’ll look like something else.”

“Earlier this year I wrote on my blog [], ‘Honestly I am not envisioning anything other than this; every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet.’ That’s where we are headed and blogging is a big part of that.”

    Fred Wilson
    Managing Partner
    Union Square Ventures

“I blog in Spanish and English for different reasons. In English I blog to communicate my ideas and views, in Spanish, where for some unknown reason many more people comment, I write to learn. The collective intelligence of my commentators is greater than mine.”

Martin Varsavsky
Founder and CEO

Tags: [writing] [getting things across] [getting things out]

“In 2004 when Technorati started, the typical reaction to the word ‘blog’ was ‘huh – can you repeat yourself?’ Today, blogs are everywhere —even presidential candidates have blogs. The blog has forever changed the way publishing works —now anyone can be a publisher. The issue is no longer distribution; rather, it’s relevance.”

Technorati defines the Active Blogosphere as: The ecosystem of interconnected communities of bloggers and readers at the convergence of journalism and conversation.

Welcome to the new Technorati

Our new website becomes the entry point to our advertising platform, our core product. There we proudly stand beside website publishers by providing them the right toolset to navigate and monetize the ever-evolving online advertising marketplace.

Our history includes providing such services as a blog search engine and authority index helping bloggers and website publishers get their content discovered well before social media redefined discovery. Over the past 6 years, we’ve grown into a successful ad platform that helps those types of websites earn revenue from that content.
With this new website, we hope to shape the conversation of online publishing, specifically around advertising technology and programmatic revenue.

Adversarial Interoperability | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Adblocking: How About Nah?: The early Web was infested with intrusive pop-up ads, and adversarial interoperability rendered them invisible. Today, adblocking is the largest boycott in history, doing more to curb bad ads and the surveillance that goes with them than any regulator.

a taxonomy of different kinds of interoperability, from “indifferent interoperability” (I don’t care if you plug your thing into my product) to “cooperative interoperability” (please plug your thing into my product) to “adversarial interoperability” (dang it, stop plugging your thing into my product!).

Interoperability: Fix the Internet, Not the Tech Companies: a taxonomy of different kinds of interoperability, from “indifferent interoperability” (I don’t care if you plug your thing into my product) to “cooperative interoperability” (please plug your thing into my product) to “adversarial interoperability” (dang it, stop plugging your thing into my product!).

Jon Udell

Participation in the services is thus an “at will” arrangement. If you maintain well-structured information, you can as easily mesh it with another comparably-equipped service. So the switching cost, as economists say, is low.

Not even wrong: ways to predict tech — Benedict Evans

“They laughed at Columbus and they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” – Carl Sagan

Designing journalism to be used

News can no longer be (only) about the mass update. Stories need to be targeted to those who might be able to improve the situation. And journalism’s products — which are more than its stories — must be designed to facilitate this.
News needs to be built to engage curiosity about the world and the problems in it — and their solutions. People need to get lost in the news like they now get lost in Wikipedia and Facebook. There must be comprehensive stories that get the interested but uninformed up to speed quickly. Search and navigation must be improved to the point where satisfaction of curiosity is so easy it becomes a reflex. Destination news sites need to be more extensively hyperlinked than almost anything else (and not just insincere internal links for SEO, but links that are actually useful for the user.) The news experience needs to become intensely personal. It must be easy for users to find and follow exactly their interests, no matter how arcane. Journalists need to get proficient at finding and engaging the audience for each story.
And all of this has to work across all modes of delivery, so it’s always with us. Marketers understand this; it’s amazing to me that the news industry has been so slow to catch on to multi-modal engagement.

everything would work perfectly if we had all of these and people are actually rational and diligent with infinite resource.

Tags: [behaviour] [media] [tools] [technology] [product] [design] [journalism]

In this framework, the purpose of journalism is to deliver each story to the right 1%, at the point when they need it. Saying that most people won’t read a story about Madagascar doesn’t get us very far; that’s expected, and that’s the only way it can be in an era of spectacular information overload.

I don’t know whose job it is to facilitate the creation and nurturing of communities around issues; maybe it’s fine to let Facebook have this role. What I do know is that journalism needs to concern itself explicitly with figuring out who its audience is — for each story, down to the level of individual people and groups. Where in the world are those 1% who have something to say or do about the coup in Madagascar, and how do we connect to them, and connect them to each other?

In fact, we know that most people won’t work on anything at all. This is the nut of the 90-9-1 rule which seems to hold across many different types of online social activities: 90% of people are just audience, 9% are involved in some way, and only 1% are the real creators.

This targeting is something that users could do for themselves to a large extent, given the right interface. Today, the personalization features of almost every digital news product amount to 1) showing me stories that happen in my zip code and 2) letting me pick from a small set of coarsely defined “sections.” Why can’t I subscribe to updates on particular stories? Why can’t I set up alerts for particular terms? Why can’t I tell my news app “no more updates on Lindsay Lohan, ever”? Etc.

the internet is not a broadcast medium. A newspaper or a TV report is the same experience for everyone, while my usage of a web site or an app can be extremely personal.

It doesn’t make sense when pages are effectively infinite, and there’s no obvious reason that my reading should overlap with yours

I don’t want the product with the best content overall, I want the product that is going to serve me up the best content every single time, regardless of whether or not it was created in-house.

discovery, aggregation, curation. narrator

Tags: [media] [getting things in]

People spend hours roaming Wikipedia; they don’t spend hours on or or or (which actualy has a far bigger audience than any traditional news outlet.) Wikipedia also tends to take the top spot in Google results, which means that more people link to it than they do to any news site.

or google just ups the ranking of Wikipedia in their algo

Tags: [blackboxes] [media]

the question can’t be “how can we make better stories?” It must be “who are our users, what would we like to help them to do, and how can we build a system that helps them with that?”

relevant to SH also

Tags: [Qs] [scrapinghub]

Digital news product design has so far mostly been about emulation of previous media. Newspaper web sites and apps look like newspapers. “Multimedia” journalism has mostly been about clicking somewhere to get slideshows and videos. This is a little like the dawn of TV news, when anchors read wire copy on air. Digital media gives us an explosion of product design possibilities, but the envisioned interaction modes have so far stayed mostly the same.

digitised, not digital

the newspaper and the television show as the user chose to use it was the product.

Newspaper stories online and streaming video on a tablet are not those tools. They are transplantations of what was possible with paper and television. Much more is now possible, and I’m going to try to sketch the outlines of how newsroom products might better support the people who are actually changing the world.

digitised, not digital

Most of what we see around us isn’t built on votes. It’s built on people imagining that some part of the world should be some other way, and then doing what it takes to accomplish that. Democracy is fine, but a real civic culture is far more participatory and empowering than elections. This requires not just information, but information tools.

to me, journalism’s core mission is to facilitate agency

Muneeb on Twitter: “Crypto and the web are merging. There will be no difference between information and money.” / Twitter

More accurately, information is wealth, not money.

Information solves problems and uplifts wellbeing, and is more closely analogous with wealth-creation.

Money is a medium of exchange, and tracks net changes in wealth.

What Happened In The 2010s – AVC

Facebook built and acquired its way into owning four of the most strategic social media properties in the world; Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Most importantly, outside of China, these four companies own more data about what we do online and also control many of the important channels to reach us in the digital world. What society does about this situation stands as the most important issue in tech at the start of the 2020s.

This ultimately benefits the three large cloud providers (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) who are providing much of the infrastructure to the tech industry to do this work at scale, which is how you must do it if you want to be competitive.

other tech sectors will find an easier time recruiting talent to their regions and away from Silicon Valley. And talent is really the only thing that matters these days.

This was a very positive development as subscriptions better align the interests of the users and the developers of mobile and web applications and avoid many of the negative aspects of the free/ad supported business model. However, as we end the decade, a subscription overload backlash is emerging as many consumers have signed up for more subscriptions than they need and in some cases can afford.

2/ The massive experiment in using capital as a moat to build startups into sustainable businesses has now played out and we can call it a failure for the most part. Uber popularized this strategy and got very far with it, but sitting here at the end of the 2010s, Uber has not yet proven that it can build a profitable business, is struggling as a public company, and will need something more than capital to sustain its business. WeWork was a fast follower with this strategy and failed to get to the public markets and is undergoing a massive restructuring that will determine the fate of that business. Many other experiments with this model have failed or are failing right now. When I look back at the 2010s, I see a decade during which massive capital flowed into startups and much of it was wasted chasing the “capital as a moat” model.

Technorati—the World’s Largest Blog Directory—is Gone

You won’t find our blog claim process or authority index on this new website, as that technology is being redesigned and optimized to help publishers get discovered by advertisers and earn more for their highly-valued content.

On May 29th, 2014, Technorati removed millions of pages from the web, deleting their entire blog directory and all associated information.What’s more interesting is that they performed this action rather stealthily, without an announcement of any kind. Technorati’s motive behind this sudden decision is presumably related to their increased interest to focus on developing their advertising network.

Subtext (@JoinSubtext) / Twitter

It seems like the holy grail in news innovation right now is finding a format that scales meaningful engagement without intermediaries controlling distribution strategy.

Platforms = your , ≠ your .

Talk to Me for an Hour

Long ago I did a thing called “talk to me for an hour”, where anyone who displayed the good sense to read this blog could book time with me to discuss anything they thought would be interesting. Eventually life got in the way and I had to close the offer. But! I’m now stuck indoors indefinitely, and after 6 or 8 works of intense covid-related work I’m out of the sprint. This seems like the perfect time to bring it back. In fact I’m making it even easier: instead of e-mailing back and forth to find a time, you can book time on my calendly directly.  All I ask is that you have a starter topic in mind. We don’t necessarily have to hold to that, but I’ve found these conversations go better when there is somewhere to start.
Topics you might want to talk to me about:

What’s the best way to learn new subjects?
You, Elizabeth, are obviously wrong about […]
Human relationships: how do they work?
The small selection of video games I have very strong opinions about
The education system.
Anything you’ve seen me write about, although I reserve the right to not remember things.
I, [reader], know this cool thing and want to share it.

Startups vs. Systems: Why Doing Good with Tech is Hard

Really, you need lots of deep conversations, and I had perhaps a dozen during my time at Blue Ridge. One of the big successes of the fellowship program is the Design Insight Group, essentially a database of people who have the types of problems we’re trying to solve. We met people in many different contexts, such as interviews, focus groups, and site visits. It was an absolutely essential part of the work, as user contact always is. Even so, it was sometimes uncomfortable for me. What do I say to a mother who has just told me about getting getting thrown out onto the street with her 4 year old son because she couldn’t afford rent? That sort of thing will probably never happen to me or my friends – which is precisely the point of talking to her.

Technologists understand that mastering programming takes 10 years, so they should imagine that grappling with social issues also takes years, not months. I’ve worked on technology-enabled social efforts before (mostly around investigative journalism) but I’ve never worked on access to justice, which makes me a complete beginner in the space. After two months of hard work, I can make a very rough sketch of the ecosystem, and I might be able to list the major issues. I can barely see the outlines of what it is that I don’t know.

You’re It! » Tim Bray Asks The Right Question (And I Try To Answer It)

To answer Tim: the job I want to do is to make systems that better represent our own changing human mind. I think the personal quality of Tagging is getting toward that in a better way than Search is.

demand is different than supply, retrieving is different than searching, and keeping is different than finding. Tags are demand-side tools allow us to do things that supply-side tools don’t.

earch centers around the supplier. Tags center around the user, and any technology that recognizes that each user is the center of their world has good adoption characteristics.

First, tags keep found things found. Search is about finding things, tags (in the mode) are about keeping them. Like many people, I stopped remembering things when the internets came along, and started remembering pointers to things instead.

Microsoft Word – SE-engagingmanagersCS.docx

I organised the team based on those skills

it takes up a lot of my time, but for my team that hour really means something to them

work hard and get along with the right people

pull themselves together; it’s not a difficult job

I’m not too worried because I’ve got a great relationship with all the senior guys

This new push for customer satisfaction scores is just a passing phase

no one had shown them what it took to be great

If anything goes wrong it is up to me to have conversations with the people concerned in the team to get it sorted. When things go well, I make sure that the team celebrates it.

I am having to shout at them all the time just to get the place even set up

surely the staff should know what to do, half of them have been doing it long enough

Contextualizing Context

What happened five  minutes ago is great, but “10 things you need to know about health care” is more useful. We need journalists thinking that way more commonly. As participants in the news system, we need to demand that. We should say, we don’t understand this topic. Build stuff on your own for topics you don’t understand. Find the best links, pull them together. The web rewards context. The pieces that provide it become seminal pieces rewarded by search engines over time. Start with the users and their need to participate in the news and have a handle on the world.

idealistic worldview. many journalists would love to be able to. the problem is systemic. start by onboarding media corporations


both. can. exist.

Journalists may think, we’re doing so much and now you want to provide context!? Think like an engineer. Make it an imperative to do work you can re-use to provide context. You can use that subduction plates info graphic again and again with every story you write about earthquakes. It’s redefining the notion of “today” value. You’re writing something TODAY that’s only appending something that’s already valuable. Engineers don’t do work they can’t re-use. Do work you can use next time.

sure this will be nice. but how do we get there? and is it worth the investment and learning curve?

the good media will “get” this and do some balancing act

Wikipedia is structually inspiring to us. Instead of bifurcating the story into a bunch of components, Wikipedia was pulling information together. Wiki works really well over time. It’s often the first choice people go to for news a year after something’s been in the headlines. Currently we present it as “more information”. The consumer doesn’t necessarily want “more information”. We want to present the minimum you need to understand a subject, and then develop that as your need for more increases.

because we think we don’t have time. everything is urgent, important


obsessed with speed

but again, it’s not zero sum. there is place for both styles

The web also rewards news providers who provide context. People are far more likely to re-visit the wikipedia page or the topics overview a year after a news event. Thompson’s “The Money Meltdown” site pulled together the best links to explain the financial crisis. Matt posted it on his blog and in one month, 50,000 unique visitors came along and looked at it 75,000 times. It speaks to a desire. It’s all about pulling together links, in some cases. What’s difficult right now is automating it. Link barns as topic pages aren’t working.

basically: there’s a demand for evergreen essays. but there’s also demand / place for soundbites and torrent of throwaway patchy breaking news

Tags: [media]

Journalists who did the Giant Pool of Money project were also confused when they started, then went on a journey of discovery. The people involved with financial systems did the explaining, and the journalists connected that explanation into a way that made sense. Afterward, it makes following the financial crisis with far more ease. If you understand the background, it helps you better understand the experience. Enriches you overall.


Other news organizations are providing topics pages (the TT has more than 250 of them plus extensive candidate and elected officials directories).  Thompson argues this is still not the best way to do it because most topics pages are largely automated collections of links that still don’t put all those links into context. Google’s tried to automate contextual information with Living Stories and it’s proven how hard it is.

and insanely difficult problem

There’s also very little reward for providing context if you’re a journalist. News reporters see it as doing something “extra”, providing “more info”

forced to type faster than they can think

In prior platforms, we couldn’t give background due to limits on time or space. So we learned to produce news with updates. The ecosystem was not conducive because reporters were producing for primary time-specific models.

We need an intellectual framework for themes and situations and debates in the news. That’s what context means.

“Suppose your laptop continually received new updates that you didn’t have software for,” Jay Rosen said. News is much the same way; designed to provide constant updates to a larger narrative that doesn’t exist or isn’t currently provided by news producers. Audiences actually need systemic, not episodic information. Need an intellectual framework for episodic news to make any sense.

We receive more information than ever, and a lot of it is ambient and unsatisfying. Take health care reform as an example. “Most of the news is ‘episodic’,” says Thompson. You hear a little about the excise tax, Stupak, reconciliation… the torrent of information is hard to keep track of. Then, new torrents of headlines come at us all the time. We ASSUME that over time this will cohere into real knowledge. Eventually you hear enough about public option that you understand a little. Mounting evidence indicates that when you’re faced an ever growing flood of headlines it’s not useful.

try and rethink what we prioritize, how we organize information, and how we share it

Texas Tribune founder John Thornton imagined the TT as an attempt to do what the movement talks about — provide knowledge, not news.

Some great thinkers in media are leading what I’ll call the “context movement”, a push toward giving audiences more satisfying, better understanding of the worlds in which they live instead of  simply presenting ephemeral, episodic stories as journalists always have

The case for context: my opening statement for SXSW at

But mounting evidence indicates that this approach to information is actually totally debilitating. Faced with a flood of headlines on an ever-increasing variety of topics, we shut off. We turn to news that doesn’t require much understanding – crime, traffic, weather – or we turn off the news altogether.
It turns out that in order for information about things like the public option and budget reconciliation to be useful to you, you need a certain amount of systemic knowledge to be able to parse it. You need an intellectual framework for understanding health care reform before the episodic headlines relating to health care reform make any sense.

Techmeme – Wikipedia

Techmeme works by scraping news websites and blogs, and then compiles a list of links to the most popular technology-related news of the day, which is continuously updated. The stories selected are chosen primarily by an automated process. The service is fed a list of websites, and then it finds other websites that are similar to these to find similar news stories and to keep the focus on technology news. Once the website finds sources that provide a good source of technology news, they are added to Techmeme’s database so that it can track them for future updates. In December 2008, the original automated process was supplemented by two human editors—Megan McCarthy and Omer Horvitz—who manage the mix of headlines. Three additional editors were added in November 2009, Rich DeMuro, Lidija Davis and Mahendra Palsule.[8] Rivera has suggested that website owners get linked to by other web pages when possible because it increases the chances that Techmeme will find their website.[4]

Weblogs Archives – Page 3 of 22 – AVC

I regularly get people coming to me and asking me to write a book. I always pass because I can’t imagine writing in a format that has an end. I can’t imagine writing in a format that doesn’t provide instant feedback. I can’t imagine writing in a format that requires a structure. I can’t imagine writing in a format that isn’t a stream of consciousness. I can’t imagine thinking about what I am going to write more than ten minutes before writing it. I can’t imagine killing trees to carry my words. So I will continue to write a blog. It’s the perfect format for me. AVC is way more than a book. It is a living breathing thing that sustains me and that is me.

Tags: [writing] [getting things out] [perspective]

Designing journalism to be used | Jonathan Stray

Democracy is fine, but a real civic culture is far more participatory and empowering than elections. This requires not just information, but information tools.

Aggregates go mainstream

This is how the old promise of non-linear, ‘interactive’ video is being fulfilled–by disaggregating long-form content into chunks and reaggregating them in interactive but editorially sensible ways. What consumers ‘want’ in this case is not the individual clip, but the whole navigable sequence.

Crude variants speak of finding ‘great’ content; more sophisticated accounts add the notion of context (different people want different content at different times in different places on different devices), trust and recommendation (‘if he likes it I might like it too’).

Now any publisher can reach any audience–provided audiences want the content. But how do audiences get to want what they want, where and when they want it?

Content is nothing on its own. It only exists as part of conversations — understood not in the usual ‘blogsphere’ sense of deliberation, but as shared concerns (not my term), concerns that we must partake in to be part of communities.

My point is that content–or, more precisely, the transaction of consuming content–is only meaningful as part of a wider conversation that is made up of countless related transactions.

The latest contributions are much closer to my initial idea. In a recent post, John Hagel argues that “in addition to unbundling and rebundling of content, media companies face a choice: do they want to remain product businesses or do they want to become audience relationship businesses?” In a related note, Jeff Jarvis reflects that “the future of media is not distribution, it’s aggregation” — it having been previously established, of course, that content is not the thing either. And Charlene Li recently made a similar point.

Prismatic Pivots To B2B, Packaging Its Content Interest Graph Into APIs For Different Verticals – TechCrunch

Prismatic gets a percentage of the revenue increase that it generates for publishers, while developers pay a flat monthly fee based on usage, Cross says. It’s still working out pricing for hedge fund API usage. (As a point of comparison, the revenue model for the old Prismatic was the same as the current model for publishers. “We just meant for it to be more like Adsense/Adwords where we ran all this in our own consumer products too,” Cross notes.)

the plague of monetisation

Tags: [business] [the plague of monetisation]

“Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and LinkedIn have been driving revenue and engagement with machine learning for years, from recommendations and personalization, to ads and e-commerce,” Cross says.

“It’s not clear there’s enough of a news junkie audience to sustain [those] companies by consumer Internet standards,” a source told us. “It’s also not clear that even a beautiful, relevant product can tear people away from social networks as the primary distribution channel for that kind of content. People turn to Twitter/Facebook for reasons stronger and stickier than news.”

Collaboration is the Killer App

This dovetails nicely with the book I’ve been reading: The Evolution of Useful Things by Henry Petroski. He claims that most design is a series of failures that revolve around the idea that there is no perfect design, just design that seems to solve the problems as we current see them.

Jon Udell

So for example, as I process my daily RSS inflow in Bloglines, it’s very much in my own interest to put the few items of most value in a place where I can find them later. That I’m also putting them someplace where you can find them, that you may be doing the same thing for me, that we may collectively move toward standardized use of shared topics as we iterate this process, that reputation-based filtering may then begin to operate on the emergent set of topics — all this is goodness, and may ultimately matter, but my participation (and yours) does not depend on these outcomes. Pure self-interest is a sufficient driver.

This sets up the virtuous cycle that Dan Bricklin has called “the cornucopia of the commons”:

We’ve heard plenty about the tragedy of the commons –in fact,
it pops up in several other chapters of this book. In the 1968 essay
that popularized the concept, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Garrett Hardin wrote:

Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels
him to increase his herd without limit — in a world that is
limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each
pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the
freedom of the commons. Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.

In the case of certain ingeniously planned services, we find a
contrasting cornucopia of the commons: use
brings overflowing abundance. Peer-to-peer architectures and
technologies may have their benefits, but I think the historical
lesson is clear: concentrate on what you can get from users, and use
whatever protocol can maximize their voluntary contributions. That
seems to be where the greatest promise lies for the new kinds of
collaborative environments.
[Dan Bricklin: Cornucopia of the Commons, Peer-to-Peer, Chapter 4]

It’s hard to know how this notion of routing items to topics will evolve, but it feels interesting and useful. Suppose you are researching some topic, let’s say Unicode. Today you’re likely to start with a Google search, which will turn up some good resources. Where do you go from there? A likely next step is to identify bloggers who speak authoritatively about Unicode. But how do you construct a view of what those Unicode-savvy bloggers have said about Unicode, over time? And how do you subscribe to what they will say about Unicode? It’s not easy to federate a group of sources with respect to a topic.

inbound items fall into three categories:

Must be acted on immediately.
Can be discarded.
May be of future interest to ourselves, our colleagues, or others.

  1. just in time
  2. irrelevant
  3. just in case

What Is Web 2.0

The Long Tail
Small sites make up the bulk of the internet’s content; narrow niches make up the bulk of internet’s the possible applications. Therefore: Leverage customer-self service and algorithmic data management to reach out to the entire web, to the edges and not just the center, to the long tail and not just the head.

Data is the Next Intel Inside
Applications are increasingly data-driven. Therefore: For competitive advantage, seek to own a unique, hard-to-recreate source of data.

Users Add Value
The key to competitive advantage in internet applications is the extent to which users add their own data to that which you provide. Therefore: Don’t restrict your “architecture of participation” to software development. Involve your users both implicitly and explicitly in adding value to your application.

Network Effects by Default
Only a small percentage of users will go to the trouble of adding value to your application. Therefore: Set inclusive defaults for aggregating user data as a side-effect of their use of the application.

Some Rights Reserved. Intellectual property protection limits re-use and prevents experimentation. Therefore: When benefits come from collective adoption, not private restriction, make sure that barriers to adoption are low. Follow existing standards, and use licenses with as few restrictions as possible. Design for “hackability” and “remixability.”

The Perpetual Beta
When devices and programs are connected to the internet, applications are no longer software artifacts, they are ongoing services. Therefore: Don’t package up new features into monolithic releases, but instead add them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. Engage your users as real-time testers, and instrument the service so that you know how people use the new features.

Cooperate, Don’t Control
Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of cooperating data services. Therefore: Offer web services interfaces and content syndication, and re-use the data services of others. Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely-coupled systems.

Software Above the Level of a Single Device
The PC is no longer the only access device for internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected. Therefore: Design your application from the get-go to integrate services across handheld devices, PCs, and internet servers.

Lemmy, an open-source federated Reddit alternative, gets funding for development | Hacker News

As basically all social media platforms are doing the exactly same thing as Reddit, we are not in a good place. We really can’t allow our political discourse and views to be dictated by a handful of group thinking denizens of Silicon Valley blinded by political tribalism.

Bokardo » Blog Archive » Why We Can’t Compare Folksonomies to Search

The more I use and observe other folksonomies, the more I realize that we don’t use them to find “stuff”. We use them to discover “personally-related stuff”, which is really hard to do with a search engine.

searching vs tagging.

clay says: search is for finding. tag is for keeping

tags are contextual and personal

searching are keyword-dependent but more or less more objective

On Coding, Ego and Attention

When something is “out there” it’s hard to make it personal because it’s not my ball, it’s the ball. It’s not my problem, it’s the problem. It’s not my idea, just the idea. It’s not my Pull Request, just the Pull Request.

With more expertise comes judgments and expectations that slows the learning process. We start making predictions about reality instead of allowing reality to surprise us.

It’s clear to me now that it’s not about what I know, but rather how I think that’s different on these days.So the two questions for me are: (1) How can I have more good days than bad ones? And, (2) what exactly am I doing differently on my good days?

Context is not a bolt-on

We need to figure out new ways to present information, but more importantly, design pathways and flows that guide readers where they need to be. Pathways that encourage people to stick around and explore. I pray for the day when online newspapers stop mimicking their dead tree counterparts and start looking like they were made for the web.

We’re doing poorly at providing the necessary context to understand big issues, but we’re doing even worse at making whatever context we do provide an essential part of the news experience. Quite simply, we’re really, really bad at meeting people’s information needs. Let alone exceed them.

If people search through your website, will you guide them to topics first, or will they get a list of individual stories and updates to stories?
Does your front page even hint at the fact that people can get more than just the daily news at your site?

Tags: [information architecture] [sensemaking] [getting things across] [getting things in]

If you eventually do manage to find the information you need, kudos. You’re obviously very committed to learn more. But wasn’t the whole “we need context” meme prompted by the acknowledgement that most readers get confused and quit way before that stage?

Tags: [UX] [misinformation] [disinformation] [sensemaking] [media]

But the converse holds as well. Context and analysis can be too much an integral part of the regular news flow. In 2008, Jay Rosen complained that those rare events, when newspapers do explain the very basics of tough issues, get lost in the moment-to-moment news stream:

In a world where everybody read the daily newspaper, providing context to the news wasn’t really that much of an issue. You could assume that most of your readers knew what you were talking about. You definitely wouldn’t have to recount every story from the very start. Not that the pre-Internet days and the golden years for journalism meant people always grasped the bigger picture. But they had enough background information in their brains to at least follow the smaller picture as it evolved. News magazines took care of the rest.


Tags: [UX] [product] [design] [media] [JIT x JIC] [information architecture] [technology] [getting things in] [getting things across]

How the Facebook Ad Boycott Will End

spur incremental changes to their policies

Ultimately, YouTube emerged from the ad boycotts bigger and stronger, rather than weaker, as a business. The big brands that had withheld ad money generally restored it after the company made changes. The upshot is that YouTube today is more restrictive and carefully moderated, though its fundamental model is unchanged. It continues to be problematic in other ways, such as nudging users toward increasingly polarizing and extreme content via its recommendation algorithms.

In a 24-hour period starting on Thursday, corporate giants Verizon, Unilever, and Coca-Cola announced that they would “pause” their advertising on either Facebook specifically, or social media in general, as part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign.

8 Laws Driving Success In Tech: Amazon’s 2-Pizza Rule, The 80/20 Principle, & More – CB Insights Research

It is the natural trajectory of business to seek out new ways to drive revenue from products like microwaves, televisions, refrigerators, and speakers. And now that microwaves and TVs can effectively operate as mini-computers, it feels inevitable that manufacturers would look to collect potentially valuable data — whether for resale, for product optimization, or to bring down the sticker price of the device.

Tags: [privacy] [technology]

SixDegrees was followed by companies like LiveJournal, Friendster, and MySpace. At its peak in 2006, MySpace had 100M users. Facebook that year recorded only 12M users.
However, within a decade of its launch, Facebook grew to have over 1.2B monthly active users. Today, it boasts over 2.5B.

Nieman Reports | An Antidote for Web Overload

I started to realize that “getting” the news didn’t require a decoder ring or years of work. All it took was access to the key pieces of information that newsrooms possessed in abundance. Yet news organizations never really shared that information in an accessible or engaging form. Instead, they cut it up into snippets that they buried within oodles of inscrutable news reports. Once in a while, they’d publish an explainer story, aiming to lay out the bigger picture of a topic. But such stories always got sidelined, quickly hidden in the archives of our news sites and forgotten.

Web/Tech Archives – AVC

Ad blockers are hugely popular. Close to 800mm people around the world use them to avoid intrusive ads and data collection. I do not use an ad-blocker but I completely understand why one would choose to do so. And yet much of the media business is supported by advertising. There are a growing number of subscription-based media services, but many people cannot or won’t pay for content and the vast majority of content consumed on the web is advertising supported.

People do care about privacy, but the sacrifices we make for privacy must come at a low enough cost that we will make them. As DuckDuckGo has improved its product, more people have used it. The combination of increasing awareness of the issue of data privacy combined with better user experiences for privacy-focused competitors will drive us all to an online experience where privacy has a lot more value to everyone.

heard this the other day: “people usually don’t mind sharing their data (implicitly agreed to it anyway), they just don’t want to be surprised. so let your customers know how you’re using and processing their data” (seth godin on some podcast, can’t remember which one. perhaps akimbo)

Tags: [privacy]

Web/Tech Archives – Page 2 of 72 – AVC

But it is also true that Tumblr was bypassed by native mobile applications like Instagram and Snapchat where it was even easier to post about your life. Tumblr was both a blogging platform and a social media application and while I always loved the versatility of the platform, native mobile applications benefit from simplicity, not complexity.

Sonja Blignaut on Twitter: “Question: How do you see the difference between meaning-making and sense-making?” / Twitter

you make meaning from what you make sense of

Sense-making: determining where would fit, in various contexts, respectively. Meaning-making: determining your attitude towards it, depending on how much you like its sense(s) in your preferred context(s).

Sense-making – “What is going on? What are the processes of cause and effect?”

Meaning-making – “What are the possible implications of this for me?”

sense-making is more about our ability to perceive what is occurring, while meaning-making is more about how we attach it to other experiences/goals.

Meaning is the “processing” of information – made by an agent or machine able to make meaning of it. we mash up meaning w information because interpretation is automatic/immediate.

Meaning is not carried by a message from point A to point B – information is. Meaning is derived from context & prior knowledge.

Adblocking: How About Nah?

The Biggest Boycott in History
The rise and rise of ad-blockers (and ad-blocker-blocker-blockers) is without parallel: 26% of Internet users are now blocking ads, and the figure is rising. It’s been called the biggest boycott in human history.
It’s also something we’ve seen before, in the earliest days of the Web, when pop-up ads ruled the world (wide web), and users went to war against them.

Internet users didn’t take this situation lying down. They wanted to use the Web, but not be tracked, and so they started to install ad-blockers. A lot of ad-blockers, and more every year.
Ad-blockers don’t just stop users from seeing ads and being tracked (and indeed, some ad-blockers actually track users!). They can also stop the publishers and marketers who rely on tracking and ad-clicks from earning money. Predictably, industry responded with ad-blocker-blockers, which prevented users from seeing their sites unless they turned off their ad-blocker.
You’ll never guess what happened next.
Actually, it’s obvious what happened next: users started to install ad-blocker-blocker-blockers.

THINK / Musings» Blog Archive » diversity within the real time stream

The links that are created are also very diverse. Its harder to summarise this without offering a list of 100,000 of URL’s — but suffice it to say that there are a lot of pages from the major web publishers, lots of YouTube links, lots of Amazon and eBay product pages, and lots of maps. And then there is a long, long tail of other URL’s. When a pile-up happens in the social web it is invariably triggered by link-sharing, and so usually sees it in the seconds before it happens.

link shortener: rich insight into web activity…

Tags: [internet] [analytics]

So where were these 20.9m encodes created? Approximately half of the encodes took place within the Twitter ecosystem. No surprise here: Twitter is clearly the leading public, real-time stream and about 20% of the updates on Twitter contain at least one link, approx half of which are links.   But here is something surprising: less than 5% of the 20.9m came from (i.e., from Twitter’s use of as the default URL-shortener). Over 45% of the total encodes came from other services associated in some way with Twitter – i.e. the Twitter ecosystem — a long and diverse list of services and companies within the ecosystem who use

In an attempt to answer this question about the diversity of the ecosystem, let me run through some internal data from is a URL shortener that offers among other things real-time tracking of the clicks on each link (add “+” to any URL to see this data stream).   With a billion links clicked on in August — 300m last week — has become almost part of the infrastructure of the real time cloud.  Given its scale’s data is a fair proxy for the activity of the real-time stream, at least of the links in the stream.

I have been thinking about the diversity of data sources, notably the question of where people are publishing and consuming real-time data streams.

Knowing is Not Enough

What we are built for is unclear, but pattern recognition seems to be important — we more readily see the patterns we’ve already recognized, which makes us much more likely to see evidence that already supports our beliefs. We  also respond peer pressure, because we have to live with the people that we have to live with. And we like to divide us from them at all scales, maybe so that we can hog all the good bits for “us”, but maybe just because it’s more fun to believe we’re better.

We are not built for reaching consensus, and probably a lot of what we hold dear is arbitrary anyway,

THINK / Musings» Blog Archive » Creative destruction … Google slayed by the Notificator?

the question of how much you can squeeze out of a context less pixel and how context can to be wrapped around data seems to be the beginning of the next chapter.    People have been talking about this for years– its not that this is new — its just that the implementation of Twitter and the timing seems to be right — context in Twitter search is social.

What comes next?   I think context is the next hurdle.    Social context and page based context.

relevance == context, no? has suddenly become the source for pages — not conversations, not the real time web.

just remembered the “twitter allows for near real time view of the world” notion early 2010…

Tags: [internet] [web2.0] [technology] [phenomenon]

How is real time search different?     History isnt that relevant — relevancy is driven mostly by time.    One of the Twitter search engineers said to me a few months ago that his CS professor wouldn’t technically regard Twitter Search as search.   The primary axis for relevancy is time — this is very different to traditional search.

so. I’m not looking to optimise for relevance. but perspective.

betaworks had invested in Summize and the first version of the product (a blog sentiment engine) was not taking off with users.   The team had created a tool to mine sentiments in real-time from the Twitter stream of data.    It was very interesting — a little grid that populated real time sentiments.

When they bought YouTube the conventional thinking was they are moving into media –  in hindsight — its media but more importantly to Google — YouTube is search.     They figured out that video search was both hard and different and that owning the asset would give them both a media destination (browse, watch, share) and a search destination (find, watch, share).  Video search is different because it alters the line or distinction between search, browse and navigation.

When they bought YouTube the conventional thinking was they are moving into media –  in hindsight — its media but more importantly to Google — YouTube is search.     They figured out that video search was both hard and different and that owning the asset would give them both a media destination (browse, watch, share) and a search destination (find, watch, share).

Consumer-aware, context-aware

Smart news organizations know that in 2015, the value of our attention will continue to eclipse the value of our clicks. The best way to harness attention in the digital ecosystem is to service the consumer’s needs rather than simply repackaging content to fit the form factor of her various devices.

It is possible to offer consumer-centric versions news content by creating and distributing compelling stories using technology we already have.

Those are activities. What about satisfying a consumer’s motivations? Like many people, I want to be delighted, inspired, and engaged. But I consume news content for different purposes depending on the story and situation. Just because I’ve read one article about the Sony hack doesn’t necessarily mean that I want more stories about Sony as a company or about hacking in general.

Was there really just one ideal digital version of your story? Of course not: There were likely many versions, each of which depended on a bunch of variables related to the consumer. Is the consumer at home? At a new location? At work? Is she commuting? At the gym? Does she most likely want to read a long, in-depth story right now, or would she be happier just getting a few bullet points? Does she already know a lot about this story, or the key players and facts be new to her? Would she be happier with a video or a text-only version? Is this a story that her friends are probably talking about?

Consumers will start to lose their appetite for the listicles, explainers, and quizzes that delivered so much traffic this year. The next opportunity for news organizations to gain market share isn’t through a new storytelling template, but rather in a new form of hyper-personalization.

It’s critical news organizations reframe their thinking now, as the device ecosystem grows more disparate and the volume of content continues to explode.

What is the ideal version of this story for this individual consumer, given what she’s doing, what she’s thinking, what she’s been reading or watching recently and how much time she has at this very moment?

Responsive design doesn’t address the consumer’s needs. It solves the needs of the device.

Quotes Archives – Feld Thoughts

Here’s something to chew on: “Should facts get in the way of truth?” Or, “Should truth get in the way of facts?”
Your truth (or my truth) and deeply held beliefs are complicated things that can change. But, facts have no feelings.

Context is content — BuzzMachine

Part of what I’m trying to argue in my speculations about the fate of books is that context both defines and enriches content. Without that context, the content is poorer. The ability to link to and from content and its antecedents and successors in a chain of criticism, contribution, questioning, correction, argument, and remixing becomes part of the content itself. The timing of content matters, of course. What content does not say says a lot about it, as well. Who creates or consumes content also defines that content; chick lit is chick lit because it is written and read by chicks. And thanks to the ability of digital media to capture our content actions, the act of consumption is now an act of creation; our iPod playlists, our Amazon breadcrumbs, our Google clicks, our Flickr links, and our RSS aggregations are all collections of interaction with content that become content themselves.

[Dave Nemetz on Twitter: “Successful media companies of the future will be direct-to-consumer.

They won’t need to rely on retail distribution (SEO, social media, aggregators).

Instead they’ll own the customer relationship via email, subscription, and community.” / Twitter](

That’s a great soundbite. It’s exactly what musicians have been saying about record labels for decades. Writers about publishers. Artists about galleries. But certainly… This time it will be different.

The key is consumer focus not just the model. That means things that work for consumers like bingeing. Social sharing. Most of these companies were built on artifical scarcity and control.14

Dave Nemetz@davenemetz·Jun 23Yep, consumer focus – and not giving into all the temptations to put the “business” first – is the hard part.11

Jason Hirschhorn@JasonHirschhorn·Jun 23If we just look at how traditionals generally view windows and bingeing, clearly there is still very little of that thinking.

I think distribution will matter when building an audience. What do you do if you are starting from scratch?22

Dave Nemetz@davenemetz·Jun 22Find an on-ramp. It could be another platform, talent, buzz/PR, or something else. Then, focus on conversion.

Successful media companies of the future will be direct-to-consumer.

They won’t need to rely on retail distribution (SEO, social media, aggregators).

Instead they’ll own the customer relationship via email, subscription, and community.

Technorati – Wikipedia

In 2016, Synacor acquired Technorati for $3 million.[21]
As of May 2020, the Technorati website no longer operates.

The company’s core product was previously an Internet search engine for searching blogs. The website stopped indexing blogs and assigning authority scores in May 2014 with the launch of its new website, which is focused on online publishing and advertising.

Response: Eye Always on Bureaucracies

Joyce Purnick’s explanation for why newspapers pay insufficient attention to investigative reporting suffers from the same logical fallacy as Peter’s lament. No newspaper ever has enough resources to cover everything that should be covered. No newspaper ever has enough space to print all the stories that should be told. This means editors must make hard choices. Rather than dreaming about a larger staff or more column inches, they must decide that the shipping news is no longer relevant.

The smarter news apps are, the dumber they get

Zite had a small but vocal fan base, and its engineers’ talents are apparent. And Flipboard, which has a world-class team of product builders, may well prove more adept at integrating a team of software engineers than a cable news network. But twice now Zite has sold a dream of personalization that keeps failing to materialize. Algorithms have proven brilliant at many things, but newsgathering isn’t one of them.

Notably, Flipboard has succeeded while mostly avoiding the content-discovery game. The app grew to 100 million users by offering a sleek, elegant user interface for browsing the news and social networks simultaneously. It brought a relaxed, magazine-like reading experience to the busy, often ugly world of online news consumption and has thrived as a result. Adding an expensive content-discovery layer to Flipboard is unlikely to hurt the company much — but it seems unlikely to help much, either.

Newsreading-app developers hire PhDs to do the easiest thing imaginable — find you something interesting on the internet that you haven’t already seen — and then beat you over the head with it, bludgeoning you with an endless barrage of links that never feel half as personalized as they’re made out to be.
Hiring PhDs to do the easiest thing in the world
The truth is that the news remains stubbornly impersonal. The crisis in Ukraine or the scene at the Oscars may not affect your life directly, but you’re likely have some interest in it anyway. That’s why big portals and social networks are so effective at delivering the news: they cater to broad audiences, and to the stories that move us to share them. Most of us don’t have enough niche interests to spur us to open a specialized niche-news app every day, no matter the quality of its machine learning. Apps like these are only ever going to get so far helping people find hidden news about volcanoes.

Newsreading-app developers hire PhDs to do the easiest thing imaginable — find you something interesting on the internet that you haven’t already seen — and then beat you over the head with it, bludgeoning you with an endless barrage of links that never feel half as personalized as they’re made out to be.

Short doesn’t mean shallow

Online is different. We can move the context, verification, and background out of the main story, paring the piece down to a thing of streamlined beauty — but all the depth is still there, via links, for anyone who wants it.

Writing style needs to change to take advantage of the hyperlink. That’s the message I want to inject into the discussion about whether deep, long-form writing can survive online — especially long-form journalism. Many people assert that articles need to be shorter online than they are in print, and Nic Carr even famously argues that the internet is making us stupid by destroying our attention span.

Context is personal – Almighty Link

new writing skills are required. There are so many times that I think it is the thought process, not the technology that can move journalism ahead. In some cases, new ways of thinking, analyzing and delivering information will require the adoption or creation of new technologies. That is when technology enters into the equation.

suddenly: Roam

Tags: [TfT] [media] [journalism] [writing]

Daily journalism and monkey screech

If you’ve been following an issue, the latest story is likely to make sense. If you haven’t been following along, the latest incremental nugget may make as much sense as a macaque. It’s a data point without context. A fact without meaning. And that’s our problem. For a large and growing segment of the community, the paper is full of monkey screech. We might get the emotional context now and then, but mostly it’s a puzzle.

On Coding, Ego and Attention | Hacker News

Well you’ve heard the advice on looking at a problem from a different point of view, right? Usually this is intended in the sense of changing the context or reframing the problem, and it works, but takes effort because we all have our default go-to mental models. But it turns out that changing the mode of your thinking (eg. visual vs. kinesthetic, etc.) is just as helpful, and the act of trying to phrase the problem verbally is usually just different enough from just thinking about it (I believe even if you are mostly a verbal thinker) to do the same trick.

This is my way of thinking: 99.99999% of applications out there still will store their CRUD into a standard relational DB and run on standard operating system with standard protocols.Sure you can create a lot of fuss all around it, but I feel we create a lot of fuss because of ego, because we want to be perceived that we came up with new ways.The reason to not conform is ego. Software is perhaps the cheapest ego boosting tool ever created.

Matt Thompson on adding context and depth to how we report news

So I’ll start theoretical, then I’ll get to practical. Theoretically, we focus a lot on news as we’re talking about journalism and how it’s evolving and what it’s going to become and what it is. My focus, working as a web editor, a web producer, is on context. And I’m trying to figure out what context looks like — what more contextual journalism, more context-rich journalism looks like on the web.

Here’s to the weirdos • Ben Huh

when I say “weirdos”, it doesn’t mean literally the people who walk around the streets who talk to themselves. I’m talking about those who believe passionately in the world you want to build for them.

Feld Thoughts

“As complex systems, these communities go through tipping points or phase transitions, where the overall state suddenly goes through a radical transformation. Seemingly small actions produce dramatic success but are the result of the infinitesimal, often unseen changes happening over time.”

Scrolling is easier than clicking

So here is the real difference: scrolling is a continuation; clicking is a decision. Scrolling is simply continuing to do what you’re currently doing, which is typically reading. Clicking, however, is asking the user to consider something new…is this new thing the same as what I’m already doing, or something new? Obviously this is a small interaction…but think about it in scale. Hundreds or thousands of decisions taken together add up to real friction.

momentum, inertia, interrupted flow

Tags: [human] [technology] [UX]

Weblogs Archives – Page 2 of 22 – AVC

I read a lot of email newsletters and I love the simplicity of them. Receive, read, forward, maybe reply, delete. If I was starting AVC all over again, I’d head over to TinyLetter, which my daughter uses, and start writing. But I’ve got legacy issues to consider. I’ve got an archive, a three letter URL with a lot of Google Juice, an RSS feed, a community, and a number of other things that I’ve built up over the years. Many AVC readers don’t bother with any of that and simply subscribe and read via email. For them, AVC is an email newsletter. The number of readers who engage that way has been growing a lot in recent years and it is now the majority of readers. That speaks volumes to me and suggests that is how most people want to get this content every day. So I’ve got an email newsletter with a lot more overhead. The community requires moderation and maintenance. We have to actively manage spam. I need to keep up with WordPress, which introduced a new UI that most people dislike (I’m mostly fine with it). I have a hosting service to deal with. And the email and RSS feeds are powered by third parties who do a great job for me but need some level of staying on top of. That is a fair bit of technical debt that I’ve built up over the years and would go away if I was using a modern newsletter service like TinyLetter. So I am going to experiment with simplifying AVC a bit in the coming months. One thing I am going to do for sure is cut back on the comments. I have seriously thought about shutting down comments and I have done that for a few posts. I am either going to shut them down for a week and see how that feels. Or shut them down except for a few posts a week (like Sunday and Tuesday). The truth is comments are used by a very small portion of the AVC readership. But the people who use the comments are very active and engaged. So removing comments won’t impact a lot of readers, but it will impact the most loyal readers. So I want to tread lightly here. But I also want to lower the overhead of writing and managing AVC and comments are the highest overhead feature on AVC.

Creating a native currency inside a social system is powerful. It allows you to start “charging” for things that should have a cost associated with them while still allowing the system to be “free to use.”

One of the suggestions I received when I blogged about that recently was to charge for comments. I don’t want to charge for commenting because I want this to be an equal opportunity place for people to speak. However, when something is free, it is abused. We have spam and trolls.

I have never been compensated for a guest post and would never accept compensation for a guest post. All the content that is published here, since the start in 2003, has been created by me or by people I know that I thought you should hear from. I am not opposed to paying for promotion and I understand that influencer marketing is a big marketing channel now. Some of USV’s portfolio companies spend real money doing that. But this space is not for sale, to anyone or any message. And it never will be.

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