Archive for November 2005

Google Ranking Factors

An exhaustive and headache-inducing list of things to check for if you care about SEO… which I generally don't.

Alternative Flash Components

Sometimes Macromedia's built-in components are not the best tools for the job. See: bloated.

Flash Creations

Lots of interesting examples and experiments of cool stuff in Flash.

Ads of the World

A nice collection of creative advertising from around the globe.

Hot chicks and pickup lines

Lots of interesting research going on at MIT these days.

The Making of Flash 8

A behind-the-scenes look at all the hard work that went into Flash 8.

Newsvine: Next Steps

It’s been about a week since we took the first layer of secrecy off of Newsvine, and everybody over here couldn’t be happier at the reaction so far. Without a single dollar spent on PR, marketing, or really any organized effort to get the word out, Newsvine found itself on the front page of CBS News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, GigaOm, TechCrunch, Russell Beattie, and hundreds of other places. Like David Hasselhoff, we’re even apparently big in Germany.

Is it wrong that I’m not stressed out about all of this? I mean, CEOs of startups are supposed to be working 20 hour days, neglecting their families, and generally being pains in the ass, right? I guess so, but this is fun.

Let me repeat that: This. Is. Fun.

People are excited, and we’re excited about that.

Reaction

I’ve read probably a few hundred articles, posts, and comments about Newsvine since our announcement and while most have been positive, a couple of things I’ve read several times which seemed to lean towards skepticism a bit are comments like this:

“News with comments? That’s been done.”

“Sounds like Digg, Delicious, and Google News put together.”

To the first comment, I’d say this: When the cheeseburger was invented, there were plenty of people saying the hamburger had already “been done”. I bet cheeseburgers outsell hamburgers now.

To the second comment, I’d say this: Oh my god, if that’s what we have, then I’d say we’re in pretty good shape. I love Digg. I love Delicious. And I love Google News. All they are lacking is each other.

Competition

Is there competition in the populist news space? Sure there is. There’s probably competition we don’t even know about. But judging from all the calls and e-mails we’ve gotten from VCs over the last week, it’s not competition for funding or attention… the funding is already there. It’s competition to see who can create the most compelling community of breaking information. And that’s what makes it fun.

Of the small handful of companies looking to make this happen over the next few months and years, I know we’re not the oldest or the biggest. But when I see code like this on three separate companies’ web sites who purport to be in the same space as Newsvine, my inner geek can’t help but smile:

<font face="Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular">

and

<!-- BEGIN UBER TABLE -->

and

"Please disable your popup blocker for our URL."

So in the off chance I somehow don’t have Arial installed, you’re going alternate all the way down to Swiss? Who has Swiss? And you’re going to use a font tag at all?

Anyway, enough geekspeak.

The fact is that every company entering this space will go in with their own strength. Digg has a great tech community and an impressively upstanding way of running the site. Open Source Media is strong in politics. Inform has 50-some people dedicated to finding and grouping related information. We have our roots in high-traffic news media, blogging, engineering, and design. That influence is hopefully apparent and beneficial in the Newsvine experience. I believe that in the end, several companies will be successful in creating positive news reading and news writing environments. Each will just have its own spin.

Note: The companies above are not necessarily competitors of ours. I am only mentioning them here because others have.

Beta Details

We’re well into the several thousands on the list so far, but I must admit that we plan on only letting a few hundred in for the first couple/few weeks. The reason for this (I swear) is not some sort of manufactured scarcity campaign, but rather the opportunity to take care of some obvious quick fixes and improvements that will only become apparent as people begin using the site.

The single hardest thing about building an ecosystem for participation is trying to predict user experience in the absence of it.

So if you signed up for the beta, the whole team thanks you, and you will definitely get in before everyone else does. But if it’s not in the first wave, just sit tight and your first experience on the site will be better because of it.

Compact Cross-Browser Fading

Is it just me or is 99% of the code in Scriptaculous completely unnecessary? Compact code is best.

Ultramarathons

200 miles in one race. It's hard to believe that's even possible.

Friendster Misses Kottke, A Lot

Friendster is getting a little clingy with Jason. Has social software finally begun to imitate life?

Shared
Humanity's deep future:

A group of researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute talk about where our race may be going and how artificial intelligence could save or kill us all.

Steve Jobs speaks about the future at the International Design Conference in 1983:

31 years later, it’s safe to say this is one of the most prescient speeches about technology ever delivered. Jobs covers wireless networking, tablets, Google StreetView, Siri, and the App Store (among other things) many years before their proliferation. A fantastic listen.

How to travel around the world for a year:

Great advice for when you finally find the time.

LiveSurface:

A fantastic app for prototyping your design work onto real world objects like billboards, book covers, and coffee cups. This seems like just as great of a tool for people learning design as it does for experts.

50 problems in 50 days:

One man’s attempt to solve 50 problems in 50 days using only great design. Some good startup ideas in here…

How to Do Philosophy:

If you’ve ever suspected that most classical philosophy is a colossal waste of time, Paul Graham tells you why you’re probably right.

TIME: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us:

Stephen Brill follows the money to uncover the pinnacle of corruption that is the U.S. Health Care system. A must-read article if there ever was one.

DIY Dot Org:

A beautifully designed site full of fun and challenging DIY projects. I could spend months on here.

The Steve Jobs Video Archive:

A collection of over 250 Steve Jobs videos in biographical order

Self-portraits from an artist under the influence of 48 different psychoactive drug combos.

Water Wigs are pretty amazing.

David Pogue proposes to his girlfriend by creating a fake movie trailer about them and then getting a theater to play it before a real movie. Beautiful and totally awesome.

Jonah Peretti's letter to BuzzFeed’s employees:

If you’re wondering what a excellent blueprint for a modern media company looks like, look no further than Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti’s latest email to his employees. In it, Peretti explains a lot of his company’s virtues, the most important being a relentless focus on always providing what’s best for the user. Vox Media (operators of The Verge) is the only other company I can think of which approaches this level of reform and execution.

The Covers Project:

I love this so much: a cross-referenceable database of cover songs, searchable by song or artist. Slowed down, acoustic covers — no matter the song — are so enjoyable to me that I wish it was a requirement to play one at every show. If you like them as much as I do, make sure to check out M. Ward’s Let’s Dance or Sun Kil Moon’s entire album of Modest Mouse covers.

“More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.”
- Tim Kreider’s denunciation of the cult of busyness is excellent. (via jimray)