[Updated at 11:30 PST 12/07/09]: Mike from Mule Design weighs in, and I like his sentiment.
[Original post]: Today on Twitter I made a dumb little joke about Dean taking down Favrd. I think the point I was trying to make was that, hey, there’s plenty enough of that going on with Twitter, but thanks for trying to reduce it. I never signed up for Favrd, but I was flattered the two or three times one of my tweets got some notice from it. I didn’t give the sudden closing of shop much thought beyond that.
Then I made the mistake of reading the comments on this post from Zeldman. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but jesuchristo I can’t believe some of the stuff I’m hearing from people I respect. Go read it. Your outrage may vary. All I can say is that community-building is for people with strong stomachs – individuals can be great, but invested groups of users very quickly find ways to be massive pains in the ass towards people who are just trying to make them happy.
Reading all of this, I decided I wanted to make a public statement to anyone out there who might be trying to make something cool for me and my friends to use. I tried to tweet it, but I was 60 characters over, so here goes:
Here’s my promise to you: if you build something, get fed up with the community of self-important assholes that use it, and decide to take it down, I’ll never publicly excoriate you for doing so. Cool?
Rather than compare someone to “an angry Hebrew God,” I feel that a suddenly-bereft former user has the following options:
a) Join another service
b) Offer to host it themselves
c) Roll their own
… and that seems like plenty options enough, even if just to keep things civil. Besides, it’s tacky to hurl biblical invective at a guy who’s obviously taken enough shit already.
I had been expecting December to be quiet from a business development perspective, and had front-loaded the workload for the quarter to compensate. I decamped for New Orleans in week 20 having successfully delivered on all of Second Verse’s outstanding obligations. While I was off eating more po’ boys than I really should have, Om Malik announced the work I did with his team on the redesign of the GigaOm Network blogs, and a variety of new opportunities have emerged.
The earliest part of this week was spent prepping for and conducting a one-day workshop with a new client; it looks likely to move forward, affording me a welcome opportunity to revisit the online video space. One of the projects that completed before the break may require some additional oversight, so a retainer relationship has been proposed. Finally, I’m getting a second bite at the apple with a project that would have me working with some of my favorite big-idea folks in a rather heady problem space. The majority of my time this week has been spent drafting and submitting proposals for all of this new work. I’m realizing that I was overly conservative in my estimation of demand, and will need to retool my Q1 projections.
There is one opportunity I won’t be able to pursue, despite it being right in my wheelhouse. I’ve been offering a bit of UX advice and direction to some friends working on a digital comics application, but they’re in need of a dedicated resource. Do you love comics, and solving hard UX problems? Leave a comment and I’ll connect you with them.
Meanwhile, there’s been some progress in making Second Verse more of a “real” company. I jumped at the opportunity to purchase the secondverse.com domain, and have redirected blog traffic away from the original dot WordPress address. The goal is to switch over to my own WP install and put up a marketing and communications site for SV, though right now I’d settle for having business cards. More on that soon. On the physical front, I’m extending my tenure within the Small Batch (Typekit) space through 2010. I’ve now got my office to myself (doubling my previous meatspace square footage!), and Bryan promises I’ll have a door at some point.
Real enough, for the time being.
Om announced the launch of the GigaOm network redesign last night. Congratulations to Om, Paul, Jaime, Shane and Peter, and the whole GigaOm team! I was delighted to help out with the redesign, and I’m even happier to see it live.
The redesign gave me a chance to work closely with friends old (Jaime Chen) and new (Shane Pearlman). Starting with some up front research, we solicited and consolidated feedback from editors, the ad sales team, and Om and then translated it into achievable goals for the redesign. We worked to hammer out the universal elements of the interface that we could distribute across network properties, prioritized functionality, and laid out content in a way that presented it in the most readable, attractive and engaging manner.
The redesign looks sharp, and that is entirely due to the heroic efforts of Jaime and the sheer talent of Shane and Peter. It was a real pleasure to work with such a dedicated and capable team. I’m very happy to see all their hard work pay off.
You have to admire the sheer chutzpah of the geniuses at Microsoft legal who filed a patent for Edward Tufte’s sparklines.
I’m reading Jonathan’s Lethem’s latest novel, Chronic City. The first chapter is a quirky, compelling read, focused on the burgeoning friendship of two very different men in a Manhattan that creeps into every bit of characterization. And while I love a good opening, there’s a ton to admire in the way Lethem broadside of The New Yorker and its audience:
In our talk marijuana confusion now gave way to caffeinated jags, like a cloud bank penetrated by buzzing Fokker airplanes. Did I read The New Yorker? This question had a dangerous urgency. It wasn’t any one writer or article he was worried about, but the font. The meaning embedded, at a preconscious level, by the look of the magazine, the seal, as he described it, that the typography and layout put on dialectical thought. According to Perkus, to read The New Yorker was to find that you always already agreed, no with The New Yorker but, much more dismayingly, with yourself.
I read over at Brand New that Siegel+Gale did an overhaul of Pfizer’s corporate identity. I like it a lot, for some of the same reasons BN did… but did S+G really need to create a messaging element that looks like a hundred tiny little pills?
There are way too many professionals in design fields who believe their work is a matter of life and death, but there are at least a few for whom this distinction is true: bridge designers. This was reinforced yesterday when a trucker died having plunged his truck over the side of the Bay Bridge here in SF.
While there’s plenty of uproar due to the frankly bizarre temporary S-curve that retrofit designers incorporated into the East-bound span, Cal Trans officials are denying it had anything to do with the design:
“We don’t believe the roadway design is the issue,” he said. “There’s just a small percentage of people who choose to ignore the posted speed limit.”
Thankfully, two of the better designers I know, Mike Monteiro and Dan Saffer, quickly put that perspective into context:
Warren Ellis weighs in on his frustration with the current batch of augmented reality applications for smart phones:
Now fuck off and make something that’ll do useful work on a phone in a village, instead of something that’ll get you laid in fucking Hoxton. Make something that has meaning outside a major metropolis.
He has a point. I’m thankful that Ben Fullerton and Jenn Bove were able to talk me out going down the augmented reality angle for a proof of concept I’m working on.
One of the (many) good points they made was that I was over-thinking the solution rather than addressing the core problem. It could just as easily be stated that augmented reality is a lovely whiz-bang solution in certain contexts, but not-so-surprisingly inappropriate where the local terrain doesn’t cast a very deep shadow of data. Anyway, go through to the link; I left the two best punchlines out of the blockquote, and they’re worth the quick read.