Happy July 4th! Going to see Inside Out today. Somehow managed to avoid spoilers this whole time. I’ve even had the Art of Inside Out book for weeks and resisted reading it.

→ 2015/07/04 9:43 am

App Store delivery truck

Charles Perry follows up from Brent’s post on the App Store with this point of view:

“Today, the App Store is basically your delivery truck that takes cash on delivery. We wouldn’t blame a delivery truck for our business failure. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s not a delivery truck’s responsibility to ensure that there’s a market for our products. That’s what market research is for. It’s not a delivery truck’s responsibility to advertise our products or introduce them to customers. That’s what marketing is for.”

I really like this analogy. However, if you take everything Charles says as truth, it reveals an even more serious problem: the 30% that Apple charges for distributing bits on their truck is outrageous. It’s flat-out wrong to charge such a high percentage if they are providing no value above credit card processing and file hosting.

Speaking of Tesla, I’m almost finished reading the new Elon Musk book. Fantastic look behind his life, early internet startups, and of course Tesla and SpaceX.

→ 2015/07/03 2:12 pm

EV spots are crowded at Whole Foods this afternoon. I was about to take the last spot, but then saw a Tesla pull up… Feels right to defer to the nicer car, right? I parked elsewhere but they ended up going past too.

→ 2015/07/03 2:09 pm

Linkblogging and the open web

Dave Winer writes about Circa and their fundamental mistake of not embracing the open web with easy linking:

“Linkblogging is a real thing, and there are people who are good at it. But if there’s no URL for each story, you can’t linkblog it. So they didn’t grow fast enough. I think this is almost mathematical. No one, going forward, should try this. Each story must have a way to get to it through a Web address.”

We can be cynical about what the “open web” means, thinking it’s just marketing or spin. But it’s real and Dave shows how obvious it is to understand. It doesn’t matter if a web site or iPhone app is based around web technologies like HTTP and HTML. If it can’t be linked to or there’s no web API, it isn’t part of the open web.

Linkblogging is a special form of microblogging, and a significant part of Twitter is actually linkblogging. Tools that understand linkblogging will typically reduce the friction of writing by prompting for a quick note to go with a URL that’s already on the clipboard, for example. I don’t usually blog in this style, but I made sure these linkblog posts look great in the platform I’m working on.

Microblogging with Typed.com

Dan Counsell wrote a long post this week about the planning and executing of Realmac’s crowdfunding campaign for Typed.com. It’s worth a read for the careful thought he put into it:

“I spent two weeks planning and building the entire campaign. I started out with the video as I knew this would be a huge amount of work and to be honest, it was also something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with doing. Every popular campaign I looked at had a half-decent and engaging video. I did a lot of research and it turns out the flow of the video should be something like this: Introduce yourself, talk about the problem, move onto the solution that you’re building, and finally finishing up with a direct plea asking for pledges.”

The beta for Typed.com is well underway, and linked in Dan’s post is a support forum for users. This post by Realmac designer Elliot Jackson especially caught my eye:

“We don’t have an API yet but this is something I’ve been enjoying playing with for shorter posts. My workaround is to send the content over a URL then decode it and use JS in the browser to fill in the form elements (tags etc).”

He details a way to send short microblog posts to Typed.com by using Drafts and Editorial. Check out the full post for his JavaScript and Python scripts linking these apps together on iOS. I’m really looking forward to Typed.com’s official launch.

Tim Duncan back for another year. Danny Green staying with a 4-year deal. Kawhi with a max contract. Rumors about Aldridge. Next year’s looking good.

→ 2015/07/02 2:36 pm

Enjoyed working from downtown today until I realized how much the parking garage is probably charging me, and the traffic I’ll hit on the way home.

→ 2015/07/01 4:27 pm

Disney closing animation park attraction

In a couple weeks, Disney will close its “Magic of Disney Animation” attraction at Hollywood Studios. This area of Disney World was always one of the better ideas I’ve seen at an amusement park, mixing a ride with an actual working animation studio that produced Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, Brother Bear, and bits of other Disney features. Cartoon Brew writes:

“It’s a bittersweet ending for an attraction that introduced many young people to the art of hand-drawn animation and inspired untold numbers of budding artists to consider animation as a career. One of the park’s original offerings after it opened as Disney/MGM Studios in 1989, it gave attendees the chance to watch Disney animators at work.”

Before I had kids, I visited the park in the late 1990s and spent some time watching the animators. I asked the park employee if I could hang out after the tour had continued on, just standing there looking through the glass as an animator shot a pencil test for some rough or cleanup animation for a scene from Tarzan. I’m not sure how long I stayed there; it could have been 15 minutes or it could have been an hour. But I remembered every detail from that animated scene when finally seeing Tarzan in the theater, and for years after until today.

By the time we could take our kids there, Disney had already closed down their animation studio in Florida, turning the ride into an empty shell of what it used to be. I wish my kids could’ve seen it as it was meant to be.

“Write the apps you want to write in your free time and out of love for the platform and for those specific apps. Take risks.” — Brent Simmons on the state of indie software

→ 2015/06/30 1:20 pm

Apple Music and free Beats 1

Apple Music launched today with iOS 8.4. Christina Warren has an early review for Mashable, in particular mentioning the value of For You:

“The real heart of Apple Music is the For You tab. This is basically your music homescreen. When you open the section for the first time, you’re asked to go through a discovery exercise. This was lifted directly from Beats Music and it’s one of the best discovery tools I’ve used over the years.”

If Apple Music can be thought of as Beats Music 2.0, then the Connect tab is probably a little like Ping 2.0, an update on Apple’s first attempt to build a music-only social network. As Daniel and I discussed on Core Intuition 187, any service that demonstrates a network effect — everything from eBay to Twitter — needs some critical mass of users to reach its potential. I was curious whether Apple could achieve this if the Connect feature was locked behind a paid subscription after the initial 3-month trial.

What I missed is that Connect and even Beats 1 will be free. From the Apple Music page:

“Even without a membership, you can listen to Beats 1 radio, see what artists are posting on Connect, and hear our ad‑supported stations.”

Beats 1 is one of the more interesting aspects of Apple Music to me. I just signed up for the trial and plan to continue at the $15/month family subscription.

Paul Krugman on the triumph for Obamacare

Writing his op-ed for the New York Times, Paul Krugman reacts to just before and after the Supreme Court upheld a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act:

“Was I on the edge of my seat, waiting for the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare subsidies? No — I was pacing the room, too nervous to sit, worried that the court would use one sloppily worded sentence to deprive millions of health insurance, condemn tens of thousands to financial ruin, and send thousands to premature death.”

He continues by countering many original arguments against the law, from not insuring enough people to costing too much. He wraps up with:

“Put all these things together, and what you have is a portrait of policy triumph — a law that, despite everything its opponents have done to undermine it, is achieving its goals, costing less than expected, and making the lives of millions of Americans better and more secure.”

And that’s not the only big news from the Supreme Court. Nice way to end the week.

Don’t solve everything

When I talk about microblogging, sometimes I get feedback asking what we should do about cross-site replies. That is, if you’re distributing microblog posts across different domains rather than centralizing them all on a service like Twitter, how do you solve linking together conversations and @-replies across those sites?

I don’t have a solution for that. Of course I’ve thought about it. I wrote 12 years ago about Trackbacks, which were an attempt at solving this. IndieWebCamp has more recent, related proposals.

For my new project, I’ve chosen to just plainly admit that I don’t have a solution for a next-generation Trackback. I will instead have limited centralized replies and favorites. It’s not ideal, but that’s why I call what I’m working on halfway-decentralized. It’s a next step, not the final step.

It’s okay not to solve everything. Cross-site replies and conversations need to come from the community, evolving organically from what people are building with their customized WordPress themes, experimental RSS readers, and new client software for posting. The open web advances incrementally, not all at once, and trying to fight that by tackling too much will get us nowhere.