Twine

Want to write the new Zork or a Choose Your Own Adventure book?  You need Twine. Twine is an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories. You don’t need to write any code to create a simple story with Twine, but you can extend your stories with variables, conditional logic, images, CSS, and JavaScript when […]

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Writing Good Command Line Tools

Hints for writing Unix tools: I love command line programming, and this is some great advice for making Unix tools that can apply to everything. Beyond the actual advice here, I love the philosophical underpinning behind it – be non-opinionated, share well with others, don’t assume what the user wants to do, etc.  Good Unix […]

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Text Wins

always bet on text: I enjoyed this blog post about something I also believe to be true: text in the safest, most stable, most durable communication medium we have ever known. I figured I should just post this somewhere so I can make future reference to how I feel about the matter, anytime someone asks […]

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Incivility in Open Source Communities

Here’s an interesting diatribe on the Linux development community. Much of the Open Source community tries to advertise the community as one happy place to the outside. Where contributions are valued only by their technical quality, and everybody meets at conferences for beers. Well, it is not like that. It’s quite a sick place to […]

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New York Times Subscriber Numbers

New York Times Lays Off Staff, Shuts Down Opinion App: This is negative article about layoffs at the New York Times because their “multiple app” plan wasn’t working as well as they hoped. But I think it’s important to look at these numbers and acknowledge how far The Times has come in terms of paid […]

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Another Argument Against Ad Blocking

Butterick’s Practical Typography: The author of Practical Typography released it on the web, for free (he specifically refused other, downloadable formats, even).  If you wanted to pay for it, you were welcome to.  A year later, he examines what happened, and he completely summarizes the perfect argument about why the advertising model is so broken, […]

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Secret Hashtags

Inside The Secret World Of Teen Suicide Hashtags: Hashtags are being use to mobilize communities around some very bad things. What’s interesting is that the posts are public, but the hashtag acts as a password to the aggregate – so you can’t get the entire picture unless you search for the hashtag, which you need […]

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Email Never Dies

Email Will Last Forever: Absolutely agree. A wave of new companies have recently tried to replace the communication channel people love to hate: email. Slack pretends to be “an email killer”,Asana promises “teamwork without email” etc. But the promise of a world without email is a fantasy. Email represents a solid pattern of user interaction: […]

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Desktop Linux in Munich: The Aftermath

Linux-on-the-desktop pioneer Munich now considering a switch back to Windows: I remember writing about this often a decade ago. Sad to see that it hasn’t worked out, but I’ve long-maintained that Microsoft isn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. The world is still waiting for the year of Linux on the desktop, […]

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The Difference Between Reading on Paper or in Pixels

Reading Literature on Screen: A Price for Convenience?: I was waiting for someone to do a study like this. The results confirm what I suspected, as I personally tend to rush more when reading something electronically. A team of researchers led by Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger in Norway and Jean-Luc Velay at […]

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Scoop

Scoop: A Glimpse Into the NYTimes CMS: The NY Times lifts the lid on its own CMS – entitled “Scoop” – to explain how it works and what it does. The article is brilliant: it explains a lot of the features in clear terms. Some notes: The system is clearly decoupled, and they explain why […]

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Uber as an Example of the Perils of Technological Expansion

Uber isn’t the problem; taxi regulations are: This column for the Boston Globe (by John Sununu, of all people?) pulls no punches, and explains one of the problems faced by technological advancements in any field: they threaten the established status quo which someone is making money from. Uber has plenty of enemies. The Web-based taxi […]

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Does Online Advertising Work?

Online advertising effectiveness: For large brands, online ads may be worthless: A lot of startlingly honest revelations in here. Turns out that we have no idea if online advertising works, and it probably doesn’t. […] if somebody searches for “Amazon, banana slicer,” and clicks on a search ad that pops up right next to his […]

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Miller’s Magic Number and It’s (Non-) Relevance to Web Navigation

At some point, anyone working on the web has heard the exhortation that ideal web navigation should be “seven items, plus or minus two” with some vague reference to science which “proves” this is true. Some years ago, I finally decided to look up the “science” and found that this is a reference to what’s […]

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It’s Fun to Hate Microsoft

Microsoft killed my Pappy: Scott Hanselman points out the truth: the Microsoft you’ve worked so hard to hate for so long is not the same company it used to be: We’re putting source on GitHub, many groups are using Git with TFS internally for projects, we’ve open sourced (not just source-opened) huge parts of .NET […]

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How to Give a Good Conference Talk

I talk at a fair amount of conferences. Over the years, I’ve taken notes on how to do it well (this pre-supposes that I do it well, which is very much up for debate).  I figured I’d share these notes. Now, understand that I give a very specific type of conference presentation, which is 30-50 […]

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Perspectives On What “Archiving” Means in Content Management

In content management, “archiving” is a pretty common word. Systems allow for “archiving,” or there are “archive” buttons on the interface, “managing content archiving” is a bullet in a job description, etc. But there’s no accepted definition for it.  What does it mean, exactly? I appears to mean any one of the following: Move it […]

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IA is Not New

One of the problems with working in digital is that we tend to think we invented everything. We sit around and imagine we’re breaking amazing new ground, when we’re often just retreading ground that was broken long before. Consider the much-ballyhooed discipline of “content modeling” (a phrase which I admittedly use freely).  This used to […]

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The Gift of Perspective

Why your previous developer was terrible: When a new developer comes onto a project, they often find a bunch of stuff to change right away and seem to be hyper-productive right out of the gate.  It’s a matter of fresh perspective, and the ability to view the project with the perspective of the current moment […]

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The Necessity of Asynchronous Communication

Synchronous communication is over-rated.  By this, I mean the concept of talking to someone face-to-face, or over-the-phone in real-time. I’m not saying this communication doesn’t have some unique properties, but in a lot of cases, it’s not what you really need.  Rather, you need asynchronous communication, where one party says something but doesn’t wait around […]

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Two Versions of the Content Management vs. Marketing Talk

When writing about the white paper I wrote for Movable Type, I suddenly realized that I failed to post this, which is the video of the talk I did for the Movable Type Idea Exchange in NYC last fall. This is a recap of the talk I have at Drupalcon in Portland in May 2013.  […]

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