Things that are going and gone. The looming end of Google Reader leaves me looking for some other way of grokking my 322 feeds. I want a solution that I know isn’t going to be withdrawn arbitrarily because my use of the service doesn’t figure in some sort of business model, so I think I need to roll my own solution. A data store I can sync across machines, some tooling that lets me read and mark items; probably a doc-oriented database and some libraries based in ruby or python should do it. I start some hunting through a search engine not provided by Google.
In my search I find a library that seems promising, albeit hosted on code.google.com (I think resentment is a good emotional state to inhabit while judging service providers). I find python package which is pretty mature, started in 2002. Looking through the source I find the clincher. It has nothing to do with the quality of code, but the serendipity of the find: its originator is Mark Pilgrim, the developer and writer behind lots of influential online resources who suddenly vanished from the internet. People call it ‘infosuicide’, erasing your digital traces. I see the attraction, whenever my completionist self-archivist nature faces up to the impossibility of capturing the definitive information simulacrum of my life.
Pilgrim did it properly, marking all his domains as ‘410: Gone’. It’s the opposite of Google’s approach really. Pilgrim has gone, but yet here I am looking at his code, planning to use it in my search for a solution to the Google problem. Google are taking their tools away, fully expecting me to carry on gorping at their corporate might.
Translation and less-than-pristine reinterpretation damage the fidelity of the message. There is no copy-and-paste equivalent for verbal storytelling. A photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of an image will always render that image indistinguishable from the original.
The reason waterall is predominant is because it is perceived as cheap. A colleague of mine who is the director of a digital agency recently pointed out that ‘agile’ often tends to mean that you all get to go off for a week and play around and have some fun; if you can find clients willing to pay for such things, then great. Naturally, the client would rather not spend money on fun: they have a project and a plan, and they need it built. Selling agile methods is often onto a hiding because of the perception that agile is expensive frivolity while waterfall will get you something made within sight of your budget.
That’s really a problem about buzzwords. As soon as you take a process and brand it, it is easily separable from the process and can be coated in any arbitrary associations. The label becomes more important than the practice it was meant to signify. A week or two after I did a class on Kuniavsky’s critique of the waterfall method, a guest speaker from a digital agency came in and raved to the same students about this method they use called ‘waterfall’. A couple of days ago I saw a recruiter advertising a post in a design shop where they use ‘agile methods such as waterall’. It doesn’t help to use a different label - scrum, user-centred design, spiral - it’s the label itself that is the problem. The only way to mitigate the effect of this semiotic drift is to be as transparent as possible about your practice.
The new Home app/UX/quasi-OS is deeply integrated into the Android environment. It takes an effort to shut it down, because Home’s whole premise is to be always on and be the dashboard to your social world. It wants to be the start button for apps that are on your Android device, which in turn will give Facebook a deep insight on what is popular. And of course, it can build an app that mimics the functionality of that popular, fast-growing mobile app. I have seen it done before, both on other platforms and on Facebook.
But there is a bigger worry. The phone’s GPS can send constant information back to the Facebook servers, telling it your whereabouts at any time.
So if your phone doesn’t move from a single location between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home. Facebook will be able to pinpoint on a map where your home is, whether you share your personal address with the site or not. It can start to build a bigger and better profile of you on its servers. It can start to correlate all of your relationships, all of the places you shop, all of the restaurants you dine in and other such data. The data from accelerometer inside your phone could tell it if you are walking, running or driving. As Zuckerberg said — unlike the iPhone and iOS, Android allows Facebook to do whatever it wants on the platform, and that means accessing the hardware as well.” —Why Facebook Home bothers me: It destroys any notion of privacy — Tech News and Analysis, via Tim M. (via new-aesthetic)
In the interview, Rushkoff gives voice to so many of the things I have been feeling about news consumption: that making sense of news events is increasingly difficult because newspapers don’t fit the bill and live-blogging is confusing as ever; that Facebook invites misrepresentation; that the NY Times consumption experience is becoming increasingly frenetic because they have so many different versions of it. The Wall Street Journal (and I agree here), on the other hand, stays better anchored in time:
The Wall Street Journal has held onto a lot of what the nightly newscast provides, shockingly even with Murdoch at the helm. There’s this sense that they understand. There’s a periodicity to what they’re doing, so they stay anchored in time. The New York Times, on the other hand, it’s so hard to even comment on them, because there are so many New York Timeses happening simultaneously. It’s schizophrenic. I don’t even know how to consume it anymore.
The larger point is this (summed up by Mathew Ingram):
Rushkoff isn’t the only one to notice this: for me, the tension between those two modes of information delivery — the real-time stream and the fixed-in-time reservoir — was best described by Robin Sloan, author and former Twitter staffer,in an essay about what he called “stock” and “flow.” Those terms come from the world of economics, where people are used to talking about stored value (such as cash and other monetary instruments, or physical resources) and the real-time fluctuation in the value of those things: i.e., the trading of currency or the sale of goods.
Sloan said at the time that the idea of stock and flow was “the master metaphor for media today,” and I think he was right. We are all caught between the stream and the reservoir — because we want to be part of the real-time flow, but we also want to capture the value that comes from taking the time to analyze that flow.Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal wrote about this challenge in a recent piece on the life of a digital editor, but it is something we all struggle with, whether we are theNew York Times or just someone trying to keep up with the news.
FJP: Finding a path through the media madness is a pretty enormous life goal of mine. Looking forward to reading the book.—Jihii
An episode of the popular cartoon has been leaked (and lost) written and directed by the incredibly talented animator David O’Reilly, fully rendered in 3D and featuring many crazy glitch / net-art styles.
I say it appears to already be taken down, but it was located here
UPDATE: It’s on YouTube!!! Thanks Dubi!
Invisible design propogates the myth that technology will ‘disappear’ or ‘just get out of the way’ rather than addressing the qualities of interface technologies that can make them difficult or delightful.
Intentionally hiding the phenomena and materiality of interfaces, smoothing over the natural edges, seams and transitions that constitute all technical systems, entails a loss of understanding and agency for both designers and users of computing. Lack of understanding leads to uncertainty and folk-theories that hinder our ability to use technical systems, and clouds the critique of technological developments.
As systems increasingly record our personal activity and data, invisibility is exactly the wrong model.” —No to NoUI – Timo Arnall
“Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of the web as an open, accessible, and universal community is largely the reality”
WaSP - “Our Work Here is Done”
“We’re going to be able to dump our ideas directly to digital media,” Jepsen said.” —The Disappearing Interface - Liz Gannes - News - AllThingsD
A Dark Pattern is a type of user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills.
Normally when you think of “bad design”, you think of the creator as being sloppy or lazy but with no ill intent. This type of bad design is known as a “UI anti-pattern” Dark Patterns are different – they are not mistakes, they are carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind.” —Dark Patterns - User Interfaces Designed to Trick People