Links for Friday September 12th 2014

  • What if Steve Jobs had been running Apple’s Event on Tuesday? – Jiggity’s Essays
    I don't agree with the article's presupposition that Steve's way would have been better, but I will say that I think that the write has very neatly nailed to difference between Jobs' keynotes, and the modern ones, and he has nailed something very important about Steve's way of explaining these things – the emphasis on the human connection, on what these devices will let us do to enrich our lives, rather that the technical specification and Jony Ive's design-porn angle.

Sad Days

I’ve been noodling about in odd moments with a bit of writing with the working title “The Death of Retrofutures” – about how we don’t imagine the future in the same way we used to, and how I think that’s a shame.

Today, I see that BERG is closing down.

I am incredibly sad to see this. BERG are, or were, one of the touchstones I use to describe the best sort of work there is to be done down the internet mines, the sort of work that I really seriously admire, and, on my better days, aspire to do. They were a firm concerned with invention, with taking these technologies that shape our lives, interrogating them, and really thinking about how to use them to do something that actually improves people’s lives in some small way. They really did get on with the job of imagining the future, and we’re all poorer for them not being in operation.

I wish all those employed there every success in their future endeavours – I can’t imagine anyone on that team will have any trouble finding something new and interesting to occupy their time.

Struck a Chord

This one’s doing the rounds, but it struck such a strong chord with me that I want to give it its own post, rather than just linkblogging it.

Brent Simmons, on the relationship between blogs and “social media”:

My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.

At this point, I’m not 100% on “it will outlive Facebook”, I admit. I do live in the hope that it will outlive the relevance of Facebook, but at this point, I fear that Facebook and Google are IBM-like – they’re only going to fade away when we pass through another major tech boundary that significantly alters the something fundamental about how we use the internet, and even then, it’ll be a fade and a change, not an outright death. I suspect that anything big enough to do that to Facebook will also be big enough to obsolete this little blog.

But that aside: yes. I may be a control-your-own-data crank, but in ten years I’ll still be able to be here, doing this that way I currently am, if I want to be, no matter what decisions are made by some other company. That’s worth a lot to me.


Just marking the date and time, really.

I always used to say I couldn’t write a novel. That I couldn’t do long-form prose. I might write comics scripts, and role playing games, and all sorts of drivel, but not a novel.

Guess what I just finished writing?

Let’s be clear: it’s a first draft, at best.

I’ve already got loads and loads of notes for things I need to re-write. And even once I’ve done that, I’d be amazed if it were publishable. For right now, it’s going in a box until christmas, in any case. I’ll come back to it in a few months, and see what, if anything, I want to do with it.

I’m aware that “have written an unpublishable novel” is hardly one of the world’s great achievements, and that there are plenty folks I know who’ve enjoyed some modest success by taking the obvious next step.

But honestly, I never thought I’d get to this one.

Next step: start writing second novel. Make it better than this one.

Although possibly not tonight.