All Set Up And Nothing To Show

Zach Phillips on generating work before building a system

A common experience I have as an unbearable software nerd: I get a peek at a system that a prolific person uses to create their prolific output and think “God, Microsoft Word? Are you an animal?”

I then go back to tinkering with my Grand System which has generated nothing yet.

While I do think it’s a tragedy that any person is still using Microsoft Word, I’m looking in exactly the wrong direction.

I don’t know if it’s because I’m blinkered by my life online but I spent this whole post thinking about how this relates to blogging and writing.

Over the years I wasted so much time messing around with my blog that I spent less time putting out posts — and I know others do this too.

That’s not what people come for. Sure a nice blog design makes it easier to read things, but there’s little point if there is nothing to read anyway. The system is less important than the things we put into it, so do that first before worrying.

Show Your Work And The Result

Andy Matuschak about working with the garage door up:

It’s giving a lecture about the problems you’re pondering in the shower; it’s thinking out loud about the ways in which your project doesn’t work at all. It’s so much of Twitch. I want to see the process. I want to see you trim the artichoke. I want to see you choose the color palette. Anti-marketing.

I love reading other people processes. It’s the reason I share some of my own because I think others like it too. It gives me a glimpse into the lives of different people and allows me to adapt my own with practices I think might help.

I also love it when people talk about the things that don’t work. The changes made or the work they did that shouldn’t happen and had to be adapted. It stops me falling into similar pitfalls or gives me other ways of thinking. Sharing thoughts and ideas about the work before the result as it happens also helps me to understand the work and the thoughts that go into building products.

If we can peek behind the curtain we can also understand the decisions made and become closer to the project.

Waste More Time

Alan Lightman in his book In praise of wasting time:

We in the “developed” world have created a frenzied lifestyle in which not a minute is to be wasted. The precious twenty-four hours of each day are carved up, dissected, and reduced to ten-minute units of efficiency.

The whole book plays on variations of this quote. Goes around the houses and through various anecdotes to instil in its readers that this notion we have of having to fill every waking minute of life with something is preposterous.

We are all guilty of this, and you can point fingers at all sorts of reasons. Capitalism, hustle porn, marketing and millions of other reasons, but is it time we realise it’s ok to move slow?

It’s ok to not be pushing things forward all the time and not have a side hustle to fill your life. Waste a bit of time and see what happens.

Fast Moving Is Not Always Better

Matt Birchler on wanting a delay tweet button:

People sometimes act like outrage and fake news is only a problem for Twitter and Facebook, but it’s a problem for any form of social media, as these services live and breath on those quick dopamine hits you get from posting some witty rejoinder or boosting something that supports your worldview. After all, on social media we can all be experts in whatever we want.

Move fast and break things is the call from the web. A culture of push things, including code and tweets, that you can always fix later. It seems semi logical, fast paced means more progress in a round about way — but there is something to be said about missing the bus.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the Social Media platforms that we currently have, but they instil in us this need to move fast and do things without thinking.

How many times have you written out a tweet only to realise there is absolutely no point in it? I bet quite a few times, and if you paused a bit more that number would rise dramatically. Why don’t you try missing the bus a few times and see what happens.

How Facebook Makes Money

Karen Hao on Facebooks misinformation addiction:

The algorithms that underpin Facebook’s business weren’t created to filter out what was false or inflammatory; they were designed to make people share and engage with as much content as possible by showing them things they were most likely to be outraged or titillated by

I know I keep bleating on about this but it’s easy to forget this, so it’s important to remind people that you come across that don’t understand.

Eyes on the feed = more money for Facebook.

It doest matter if the information makes you happy, sad, angry or gets people killed. Hell it doesn’t matter I the stuff being shared is even factually correct. Facebook need that attention to make money and at no point will they make moves to curb the level of attention they attempt to grab from you.

They can make PR moves and spin changes however they like but its all theatre. This goes for all other large scale social media too. It’s bad for you, its bad for society.

Tracking All The Things

DHH on old school tracking:

How bizarre it would have seemed back then to learn that in the future your reading habits would not only be tracked forever by Big Tech, and thus available to any agent with a subpoena, but broadcast to the world in a variety of uncomfortable ways.

I am sure you all know my thoughts on tracking things. I hate it, unless it has a clear and transparent reason. The main point of the above post is to talk about being able to follow and consume whatever content you like, but this part stuck out to me.

Even just a few years ago the very idea of being tracked about what you do would be alien. No doubt it happened in some small instances, but by and large our lives where private.

Now we give up huge chunks of our private data either because we think it’s required, or we do so willingly for the clout! There is nothing wrong with whatever data you choose to give up, that’s your choice, but how much of it is really needed and how much is collected just because it might be needed later. Kept in data centres we have no control over, just in case.

Facebook Is Cigarettes

Make me smart with Kai and Molly:

Facebook is cigarettes… It’s Big Tobacco… They know its product causes harm and they keep minimizing the harm to keep selling product.

As Mario pointed out, who brought this to me attention, there are 2 billion people addicted.

This is a perfect analogy. We know it’s bad for not only us personally, but also to society as a whole. Yet the addiction runs deep through the world. Of course nothing will ever happen to Facebook, it’s too popular, and makes too much money.

Maybe the best we can hope is that the people that do use it are a bit of an outcast and have to huddle around outside in the rain!

I’d Hate To Loose My Stuff

Kaitlyn Tiffany on the disappearing internet

At the same time, the internet is constantly disappearing. It’s a world of broken links and missing files—often because the people in charge cast things off on a whim. In 2019, MySpace lost 50 million music files and apologized for “the inconvenience.” Around the same time, Flickr started deleting photos at random. Even though many of Vine’s most unnerving or charming or “iconic” six-second videos have been preserved, its community was shattered when the platform was shut down.

This is one of my big worries about where to publish to. I am always reluctant to get invested in somewhere that my content is because I just don’t want to loose it.

Tweets and random chat is nothing to be concerned about, but I have lost too much of my writing over the years to fools and their websites to loose more to services shutting down or just misplacing it.

You can preserve site through the internet archive as much as you like, but it doesn’t get back the links and feelings that go with it. So making sure to preserve as many details about my digital life as possible is important to me, and one things I needed to make sure my writing app does. I have toyed with the idea of also backing this up in text documents with dates etc in them, but that just another long term project that I never get around too.

The value of your words

Patric Rhone on writing a blog post instead of tweets

please place any idea worth more than 280 characters and the value Twitter places on them (which is zero) on a blog that you own and/or can easily take your important/valuable/life-changing ideas with you and make them easy for others to read and share.

The biggest thing I see people get stuck on is what to write about - and the answer is everything.

Indeed,there is a certain level of pomposity (both external and internal) you must get past to write a blog post instead of a tweet. That is why it feels so comfortable to stick to where you know best, but the words you are putting out deserve more. They deserve to be owned, published and not left to rot away.

Sure, I’d rather these words come out than not. With Andy having an understandable rebuttal to writing a blog post.

Sharing your views should be encouraged in whatever medium is best. But don’t you think the creative things you’re typing out are important enough? I think they need to be shared better. Linked to, written about and saved to aid others.

They don’t deserve to die and fade away once the newsfeed scrolls over them. Tweets don’t last, that’s part of why they feel so easy to write out. It’s why you feel so comfortable.

Twitter is “just heading to yoga” it’s not for passing on your ideas. Place some value on your words, please.

Always Positive

Joe on trying to remain positive all the time:

Right now I am struggling with having positive thoughts. I want to get away from the eternal only fighting problems. I can’t. I can’t think of anything. Yes, I know… my family is healthy, I have a nice apartment and so on. There is enough. But that doesn’t distract me.

I don’t know what it is recently but I feel exactly the same. Since January I’ve really struggled to get back to anywhere near myself.

I have found myself reacting poorly to stimulus, dwelling on negative thoughts and just not being my positive self. I feel a million miles away from where I was this time last year and there is no end in sight.

I know it’s perfectly fine to not be ok, but it’s hard to not share your negativity online.

The Importance Of Silence

Andy on his avoidance of silence

I had a brief moment of silence today, only about a minute, but the feeling I had was so jarring, so alien to me, it actually felt like it would be interesting to write about. It probably made more sense at the time

This is something I have had on my mind for, well years. I think silence is an important part of life and communication. I value the time that is spent in silence and only break it when there is something important to break it.

I completely understand where Andy is coming from though. Many people find silence uncomfortable and something that will expend a significant amount of energy to avoid. I can’t comment on the reasons behind this side everyone, but previously it was because I felt uncomfortable with my own thoughts and wanted to be entertained constantly.

I didn’t really know myself and as such there were a lot of feelings and experiences I had had that I just didn’t want to risk thinking about. When it’s so easy to gain stimulation from external sources there is little reason to look into yourself at any point. Enjoying silence is one thing. It becoming comfortable in it is a life skill that everyone should learn early on.

I have been trying, and failing, to get my son into the habit of embracing boredom and silence in order to better himself. He’s 9 though so I don’t expect too much — but I really wish someone had explained these things to me at that age. Thinking and sitting with nothing particular to do needs work though, and work is hard!

Thinking, existentially speaking, is a solitary but not a lonely business; solitude is that human situation in which I keep myself company. Loneliness comes about … when I am one and without company’ but desire it and cannot find it. - Arendt

One you know this skill, practice it and become comfortable with it, you realise what a powerful tool it is to improve the times when you are not silent. You become more appreciative of the communication in your life and able to focus more than ever.

Blogging Isn’t Social Media

The usual over inflation from David Hansson on Twitter:

I get it, hype sells things. You have to talk a good talk and apparently pick a fight with everything and everyone. This time is blogging, that apparently Hey World has fixed.

My eyes rolled so hard that I got a bit dizzy from the stupidness of this statement. Blogging has absolutely nothing to do with follows or likes so promising to fix two things that are not an issue when publishing a post on a blog is weird.

Sharing it to social media and getting views, maybe. But that has nothing to do with where or how you publish to your blog.

Privacy Labels With Caveats

Mitchell Clark on Gmail labels in their iOS app

It is worth noting that Apple’s app privacy labels are meant to show all the things that the app might access, not what information that app will access. For example, an app may only use location data when it needs to show you a map, but the privacy labels don’t make that clear — it’s just a binary used/not used. Also, the information in the labels is submitted by the company itself, and Apple doesn’t make promises about its accuracy.

It seems that the privacy labels that Apple show are more than a little bit fuzzy. Whilst it’s easy to start to point fingers, there are lots and lots of moving parts in anything to do with apps, income and huge businesses. It can’t be easy to implement these kinds of privacy options, but it seems they are not over looked by Apple.

Much like the permissions systems, there is a lot to communicate to the customer exactly why the app needs certain types of data. Whilst you want to display this clearly, you don’t want to put people off entirely for risk of loosing business.

I’m still disappointed that these don’t go far enough, but it least we are on the right track.

Digital Consumerism And App Lust

Mario Villalobos on when to say yes

There’s this mindset among many people online that I like to call app lust. It means this desire to try out the next great app because people think it’ll be the answer to their problems but in reality just serves as a distraction that gives the person a hit of dopamine. Each new app satisfies this craving, and they’re always on the lookout for the next hit. I used to be this way, and I’ve learned that I’m happier when I rely less on technology and on apps.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Gabs touched on it a few days ago, but Mario has put it perfectly. The level of consumerism and marketing tricks being used to sell apps and services is growing over time. They all promise to fix that gap in your work life, just like adverts promise to fix the one in your love life, or improve your happiness, or whatever it is. It’s all lies.

You see the same YouTubers and podcasters just happen to be talking about the same app at the same time. Flooding the market with overwhelming praise for this new thing that’s just the price of a coffee each month and will make you do sooooo much more work.

Spending time moving to a new service just because someone said so is costing you time and money. Stop it. You’re just craving the same dopamine hit consumerism sells you.

There is no answer to your problems unless you’ve used your current method to exhaustion or sorted your system out. Perhaps your current one is enough?

Stop Tracking Random Emails

David Nield gives some advice on email tracking and how to stop it

Tracking pixels can report the times and dates their associated email was opened, as well as the location of the device used, and the email client involved. That's a lot of data to feed back to a third-party that you might not know much about.

I knew these kind of things existed, but until I started using Hey I never understood what an epidemic this is. Understanding your marketing data is absolutely essential, I have skin in that game. Analytics of mass emails is absolutely essential to filling your customers needs — but the current levels of usage is frankly ridiculous.

Why on earth do you need to track your newsletter? Yes I see you, attempting to see when I open and on what device for absolutely no reason other than your ego. Stop joining in with the attention economy to satisfy your own need for validation. I’ve subscribed, I read it, it’s great. Isn’t that enough?

This is one of the reasons I kept control of my own emails because services like Substack either don’t, or certainly don’t appear to, allow you to turn tracking off. Reporting back to a third party what your email subscribers are doing is doing yourself a disservice and letting your readers down. Tracking marketing and needing to see some return for your investment is one thing, but letting someone else collect data that you have no control over is another.

Hopefully we see the same attention to data collection we have seen in browsers extend to more email clients going forward.

No Replacement For Organisation

Gaby on another ducking task manager

Bringing a lot of stress, things not being as organized, many little tasks within projects falling through the cracks. Because of it, I had realized that I needed to fix my system. I don’t want things to fall though, I don’t want to rely on my mental notes, “Oh I’ll remember that later” or “I will make a note of it later”. I am very forgetful, and more so now that I’ve got lots on my plate.

Every so often my busy life calms down a bit and I stop using Todoist and slope back to reminders or sometimes nothing at all. It’s at this point I start forgetting things and not getting all of those things out of my brain.

There really is no replacement for getting into a good task management system but many people look to apps rather than themselves. A new app rarely changes things for a long period of time unless you build a robust system too. But it certainly helps to get you started!

Stadia is dead - remember

Stadia on new Sony TVs

the TVs come with features like built-in Chromecast, Google Assistant (hands-free in some models), and later this year Google Stadia game streaming.

Whilst everyone seems to presume Stadia is dying it’s quietly starting to come built into TVs. With rumours circling that LG will be following suit, it looks like the benefits of giving away controllers and making deals with theirs parties may pay off.

Knowing what you are and what you need

Jacob Kastrenakes on Twitters new features:

Direct payment tools have become increasingly important for creators in particular in recent years. Patreon has been hugely successful, and other platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and even GitHub have all launched direct creator payment features.

Growth growth growth. That’s the name of the game in big tech and there is no room for excuses. Instead of developing and building in what your platform offers, the current state of play is stuffing everything that is good about other platforms into your own.

There is nothing inherently wrong with, cough, borrowing features as long as you know what you are and where you’re going. What becomes apparent very quickly is when the borrowing becomes desperate and this seems like one of those times. Here’s Jacob on the second feature Twitter wants to implement.

Groups have been a huge success for Facebook (and a huge moderation problem, too), and they could be a particularly helpful tool on Twitter, since the service’s open-ended nature can make it difficult for new users to get started on the platform.

Whilst the getting paid for your tweets sounds understandable, if a little far fetched. If you needed any more proof that Twitter has no idea what actually makes Twitter different from others, it’s the choice to bring closed groups into an open platform.

Whilst Twitters issues are huge and never ending, and attempts to make it more community based could be a huge positive step. Groups are not the way to do it. This limits reach, closes open discussions down and separates Twitter into silos that go against its very nature. The constant, always on, and open nature of Twitter is what attracts its users to love it most. It feels more personal than curated posts on other platforms. Twitter doesn’t need to be more Facebook, particularly at a time like this.

Of course neither of these have launched yet, and there is no date for either of these things, so I’m reluctant to make any huge sweeping judgements, but all of the features that seem to come from Twitter just don’t seem like they come from Twitter.

Perhaps shareholders need to see some return and stuffing in features that work in other places is what they demand. Who knows, but they certainly don’t seem to know what Twitter is, or what it needs.

Not Missing The Newsletter Boom

Andy Nicolaides on the new ‘blogging’ in Hey

One of the guiding principles of Hey, to me, seemed to be some simplicity and relaxing of email norms such as inbox zero and the like, so a blogging platform in an email service does, at first glance, seem a bit odd. It is, however, as I said a really interesting approach and idea and it’s something I’d definitely jump on trying if it does every become a shipping product.

Hitting the nail here on the weird dichotomy of the new feature teased by Hey.

It’s both a completely stupid idea, but also one that is very interesting indeed. One of the things I enjoy about my own newsletter is because I write it like an email to all the subscribers and not a blog post like some do.

This new feature in Hey, not yet even announced for users, will allow readers to subscribe to future posts in email or by RSS. Making it not really a blogging option, but instead a really interesting take on the newsletter boom and one I will definitely keep an eye on.

It’s Easy To Blame Facebook

Casey Newton on Facebook and Google vs Australia wrote

It’s worth mentioning that any Australian publisher aggrieved by an unfair exchange of value with Google here could opt out of search results at any time by adding one line of HTML to their website. But almost none of them do because traffic from Google drives significant advertising and subscription revenue to them.

On the news that Facebook blocked all news in Australia after refusing to make a deal, it’s easy to blame the big blue F and move on. Calls for people to delete their accounts once again rung out on, well everywhere. But the fact of the matter is that while there are a huge number of reasons to ditch your account, this issue isn’t one of them.

The banning of news sharing was miss guided and stupid, but this Australian ruling threatens one of the most open principles of the web. The sharing of a hyperlink and it appearing on other websites.

Displaying text, and the huge boxes on Google searches aside. The sharing of links to other peoples content is the back bone of many a website. Where exactly does it end? Do I have to now pay The Verge for writing a link post?

The absurdity of these types of moves that keep big media companies in good stock will now continue around the globe. No doubt Facebook et al will make some stupid responses, but it’s far too easy to blame them for everything when in reality, as pointed out by Casey, this move is exactly the right one for all of us.

What’s Essential To You?

Matt Birchler nailing it once again:

One man’s bullshit is another man’s essential features, but for me, Ghost does away with all the stuff I don’t need and excels at what I do need.

This can be expanded to soooooo many things that people get upset about. I’m the person Matt knows personally and moved to Ghost. While I moved back to WordPress for other reasons a year later I get exactly what Matt is saying here.

So many of the things I wanted from my blog in the form of webmentions and indieweb things are completely BS to most people. But I wanted them so they were essential to me.

Your blogging platform is a tool and will depend on what you want, and what you enjoy using. The most important thing is writing on the things!

Writing For Yourself And Growth

Chris Hannah on blog growth

That made me think, if money isn’t going to be a significant factor in any decision, and I have no desire to write for a specific audience, then I may as well just write for myself. Then if people like what I write about, then great, and if not then it doesn’t particularly matter.

I’ve been banging on about this for a while, but not taking my own advice (I’m good at that). Still trying to build something that works, still seeking those numbers. When in reality it’s not what I want.

If growth is your game, find your niche and do that, but it seems like a pretty boring writing life to me. I’d rather write what I want, when I want and not worry about it.

Matt Goes Back to the Mac? Sorta.

Matt Birchler on his purchase of a MacBook Air:

Next up is figuring out an angle to talk about this machine, because it's great and I want to shout about it from the rooftops. I'm going to use it a bit more than normal over the next week or so because it's new and shiny. Maybe I'll leave my iPad for good because of how good it is…but that's not likely 😛

Matt does these posts every now and again that sum up why he’s done something. And at first glance this post seems like a bash the iPad post. But it does a great job of summing up the reasons for using a Mac - and I agree with all of them.

While the iPad can do a lot of great things, editing video is not one of them. Lumia fusion is ok, but missing so many things that both speed up workflow and make editing much easier. If you make an iPad app you must cater to touch input and that doesn’t work all the time, especially when you have complex features and menus 2>3 levels deep.

I can see a world where iOS and Mac have a lot of cross over but distinctive traits that make them great at specific things. Theres still something holding the iPad back for some things and that’s ok. Let’s not squeeze things into holes they are not designed to fill, but embrace them because of what they are made for.

Moving on and significant others

Chaitanya wrote

The crux of having other significant others (as coined by psychologist Eli Finkel) is to have your needs met from more than just your romantic partner. Your partner cannot always meet all your needs even if you expect them to. So, these are the people who would go along with you to exercise or listen to you vent about things your partner isn’t interested in hearing.

This is some of my issue and why I keep a lot of things to myself. I do not want to burden my wife with my problems, but have no real significant others the share things with.

There are people that reach out, and I am very grateful for this. But how personal do you get with people before feeling embarrassed? Looking back I’m not sure I’ve ever had friends close enough to share my frustrations and worries with. That’s pretty weird isn’t it?

Mark Zuckerberg Reportedly Told Staff Facebook Needs to 'Inflict Pain' on Apple Over Privacy Dispute

Sami Fathi for MacRumours

Facebook states that choosing between tracking users for personalized ads and protecting their privacy is a "false-trade off," claiming that it believes it can provide both.

Why are you not providing it then 🤦‍♂️.

This par spin Facebook puts on its actions and the attempts to curb its control are getting laughable. We all know what Facebook is like, we all know their company is run by some one letting his ego run a mock, yet they try and spin the story every time.

Zuckerberg has a tendency to lash out when provoked so it will be interesting to see what happens. I can’t think of much they can do to harm Apple though?