Instagram Didn’t Get The Tone Wrong

Fantastic commentary regarding Instagram’s clarification of its controversial (if not unexpected) policy changes:

If anything, this whole episode is a demonstration of the slippery charms of tone of voice. The terms and conditions were an example of clear language being used to convey information as simply as possible – it just happened to be controversial information.

The ‘clarification’ is an example of tone of voice being used to obscure and mollify. Almost like a filter applied to a photo, giving it nice fuzzy edges and an air of authenticity.

Baseline Grids on the Web

Jason Santa Maria:

Ratios and baselines grids can be too rigid for the inherently flexible nature of the web. Just because something works at one size doesn’t mean the same ratio will be appropriate at larger or smaller sizes.

I often design websites to a vertical rhythm, even though maintaining it can be difficult during development. Jason’s arguments made me realise that this practice goes against the grain of the medium; something I discourage in The Web Aesthetic. I need to let go of my baseline grids.

Bruce Lawson’s Thoughts on Adobe Edge

Bruce Lawson followed up on my brief thoughts with his own, having attended Adobe’s ‘Create The Web’ event in London. As I suspected, some of the code produced by Edge Animate isn’t pretty, and there’s some weird messaging around browsers not based on WebKit. Yet he agrees that overall, this is the right strategy for Adobe.

Usable yet Useless: Why Every Business Needs Product Discovery

Rian van der Merwe for A List Apart:

A “shiny citadel” from far away, as The Guardian once wrote, up close Brasília has “degraded into a violent, crime-ridden sprawl of cacophonous traffic jams. The real Brazil has spilled into its utopian vision.”

This problem echoes across today’s web landscape as well, where the needs of ordinary users spill constantly into designers’ utopian vision. All around us we see beautiful, empty monuments erected not for their users, but for the people who built them – and the VCs who are scouting them.

‘Digital Brasílias’ is a great term for all the beautiful – yet ultimately useless – products emerging from the Valley. Product discovery can help us not only design things better, but design better things.

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

Roger Ebert on the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado:

This would be an excellent time for our political parties to join together in calling for restrictions on the sale and possession of deadly weapons. That is unlikely, because the issue has become so closely linked to paranoid fantasies about a federal takeover of personal liberties that many politicians feel they cannot afford to advocate gun control.

Dalton Caldwell:

We’re building a real-time social service where users and developers come first, not advertisers.

Our team has spent the last 9 years building social services, developer platforms, mobile applications and more.

We believe that advertising-supported social services are so consistently and inextricably at odds with the interests of users and developers that something must be done.

Help us create the service we all wish existed.

Putting my money where my mouth’s been for the last few years, and backing this audacious project. I hope it succeeds.

What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?

Derek Powazek:

Every community-based site in the history of the web has essentially been a stab at creating a social network. Most of them fail as businesses, with the rare exception of small, lucky communities that become self-sufficient but not exactly prosperous. What if that’s just the way it is?

A Silicon Valley Bar

Jeffrey Zeldman:

A million people in Silicon Valley walk into a bar. No one buys anything. Bar is declared a rousing success.

What makes Twitter Twitter?

Adrian Short:

I view the latest announcement from Twitter to independent developers with a suspicion bordering on contempt. Delivering a consistent Twitter experience is a comprehensive rejection of everything that Twitter has stood for and that has made Twitter great.

Twitter’s original decision to scale the business before working out how it would make money seems to be backfiring. It turns out all the things that make Twitter a great product, fly in the face of what’s needed to generate revenue. This is especially true given its pursuit of an ad-supported business model – a strange choice when many would happily pay to use it.

I’ve always felt the idea behind Twitter would have been more successful in the long term if it had been designed more like a protocol rather than a product. By taking the route it did, it’s destined to become another service on the web that will ultimately fade into obscurity.

Twitter could have been the new email. Instead it’s likely to become the next Myspace.