Journal

Does Google Have Any Social Skills at All?

Sam Biddle:

Everything new from Google is prima facie fantastic, and served with the best intentions. Google is a monolithic company, sure, but it’s filled with geniuses who want to make your life easier through technology. Nobody’s faulting their ambition, or questioning its motives. But we have to wonder: Are these new things meant for regular people, or the data-obsessed, grace-deficient Silicon Valley nerd vanguard?

Built to Not Last

Khoi Vinh:

Several times a year, Apple rolls out hardware products that are, in terms of pure design smarts and innovation, leagues beyond what their competitors are capable of. Their machines are more beautiful, better built and, admittedly, longer-lasting than just about any other high tech hardware out there. But if the durability of, say, a Dell laptop is two or three years, and if Apple’s hardware improves on that two or even three times, it’s still not doing that much better than the mean. What would be really impressive is an iPod or iPhone that lasts for decades.

I felt an immediate and desperate yearning for the new MacBook Pro when it was unveiled, as I do after many of Apple’s product announcements. Yet I soon realised that I can wait a little longer before upgrading my current set-up. In fact, I’m finding myself looking at people using older Apple hardware with increasing admiration.

As such, I’m not sure I buy into Khoi’s argument. Apple product can last if treated with care, and those scratches perhaps highlight a problem with our own attitudes, not Apple’s.

Be sure to read the comments and Khoi’s follow up too.

The Slow Web

Jack Cheng:

Timely not real-time. Rhythm not random. Moderation not excess. Knowledge not information. These are a few of the many characteristics of the Slow Web. It’s not so much a checklist as a feeling, one of being at greater ease with the web-enabled products and services in our lives.

I like the sound of the Slow Web.

Flying The Flag

Andrew Mitchell, the International Development secretary, has unveiled a new logo that will appear on overseas aid provided by his department; be it grain packets, schools or water pumps.

Flipping The Bird

With a worsening financial crisis and continued destruction of the world’s natural resources, there are undoubtedly more important things to worry about than Twitter’s slightly tweaked bird logo. Yet here we are.

MATTER: Welcome Clearleft

I’m stupidly excited to be working with Phil, Jeremy and the rest of the Clearleft team on MATTER, a new home for independent long-form journalism focused on the big issues in science and technology. We had our first workshop this week, and the neutrons are already firing about some of the possible directions we can this.

Sweep the Sleaze

Oliver Reichenstein:

Social media buttons are not a social media strategy, even though they’re often sold that way. Excellent content, serious networking and constant human engagement is the way to build your profile. Adding those sleazy buttons won’t achieve anything.

I approve of this message, which might seem ironic coming from a peddler of social media icons. Perhaps I should include this health warning in the accompanying ‘Read Me’ file.

Let’s Be Less Productive

Tim Jackson:

The care and concern of one human being for another is a peculiar “commodity.” It can’t be stockpiled. It becomes degraded through trade. It isn’t delivered by machines. Its quality rests entirely on the attention paid by one person to another. Even to speak of reducing the time involved is to misunderstand its value.

Modern Medicine

Jonathan Harris:

These vignettes draw comparisons between software and medicine – in their dual capacities to heal and to hurt. They explore the nature of addictive technologies in relation to business, the power that software designers are presently wielding over the masses, and a new way of imagining companies: as medicine men for the species.

This is essential reading for anyone designing software. Essential.

Highly Optimized Images for the Web in 3 Steps

Pascal Altena:

In this article, I’ll cover the techniques I use to make images load fast on a webpage.

A beautifully succinct yet informative article that begs to printed out and stuck on the wall next to every web developer.

All the Oxygen Trapped in a Bubble

David Heinemeier Hansson:

Sure, people are being employed, money is changing hands, but come Monday morning, the hangover is that we spent a bundle to build a lot of shit that’s not going anywhere. As a result, we missed out on doing other worthwhile things. All those smart and talented heads, and all those benjamins, didn’t progress the economic base in a way we’re going to care about tomorrow. And that’s a damn shame.

Put another way, “the best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads” – that’s the view of Jeff Hammerbacher, an early employee of Facebook.

Kiwibank: Standing Up for Something New

Banks aren’t the most likeable organisations, but I’m developing a soft spot for Kiwibank, a New Zealand-based bank competing against larger Australian-based rivals. Their latest advertising campaign suggests they’re willing to stand up for something new “and even a bit crazy”, and in the world of banking, a responsive website is just that.

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