This is something of an experiment of gathering up the stuff online that has caught my eye this week, that I've found interesting, informative, insightful or generally worth sharing.
Note– just because its caught my eye this week doesn't necessarily mean that its new this week. (ie. This is not necessarily news.)
A look at a recent Facebook-sponsored study of smartphone usage.
(Expect to see more about Facebook and mobile this week…)
No more "skeuomorphic" reel-to-reel tape (which I actually liked.) Is this a sign of Jonny Ive's new influence on Apple's software design? Probably not. But more importantly for podcast listeners, there is still no Show Notes functionality, which I consider almost essential to the kind of podcasts I listen to (where I might be listening to people talk about something I haven't read, but want to).
The idea of 'visceral apps' is an interesting one, and certainly chimes with my experience; why the inertia of a scrolling gesture is so much more satisfying than clicking a scroll wheel or dragging a scroll bar. (And why badly implemented versions are worse than nothing at all.)
My son is nearly 4. I can't remember when he started playing with my iPhone and iPad, but I think it would have been before his first birthday. He is having computer lessons at nursery, and has a basic understanding of the keyboard & mouse interface, but on the iPad he is absolutely in his element. (I've been particularly impressed by how well he has picked up Bad Piggies.)
So I was particularly interested in this article, taking a look at the effect of modern (ie. iPad/iPhone) technology is having on the very young children who are growing up with it.
My favourite part – the description of kids apps as "rattles on steroids".
Yahoo bought Summly (an app that creates 3 bullet point summaries of stories) for a rumoured $30 million. The big story is the fact that the founder was only 15 when he started the company (and 17 at the time of the Yahoo! buyout.) Which has led to some more interesting articles – What's Actually Wrong with Yahoo's Purchase of Summly?, and a follow up note from Marco.org – as an ex-developer on Tumblr, Macro Arment has an informed point of view on working for a company run by a young CEO, and the issues of their age overshadowing their work.
My guess is that, assuming that the $30 million figure is accurate, it is misleading – or at least, it isn't going straight into a teenager's pockets, which is the picture the reports would like to paint it. I would assume that they are getting something more than a quickly shuttered app and 2 new employees; for example, paying off Summly's debts (ie. pay back investors, plus interest) and continuing Summly's licencing of 3rd party (SRI) technology.
I suppose you could argue that this is the fairly obvious point that if you let something take up some of your finite resources (time, energy), then something else will suffer. But still, things that might be obvious on a personal level have a funny habit of being overlooked on a corporate level. (As the poster says, "None of us is as dumb as all of us".)
George Orwell in 1944 lamented the divide between wordy, stilted written English, and much livelier speech. “Spoken English is full of slang,” he wrote, “it is abbreviated wherever possible, and people of all social classes treat its grammar and syntax in a slovenly way.” His ideal was writing that sounded like speech. We’re getting there at last.
It seems that vinyl record sales are on the rise – from 0.9m in 2006 to 4.6m in 2012. Suprising – but considering the job that my own dead CDs do, could be an interesting hint at a future where the remaining physical music sales are on the less compact disc format.
A little heavy on analysis and light on musical theory/understanding (ie. suggesting that GarageBand should replace the VI dim chord - which sits within a major scale - with the more popular II or III which don't. Although I should note that I'm not too hot on music theory myself…)
But if you have any interest in writing music, you should definitely check out Part 3 and the interactive tool.
A piece from John Naughton on the influence of the Moleskine notebook design beloved of 'creatives' on today's digital equivalents.
Related - a look at how the company's recognisable product and branding has enabled to to build a business with a 42% operating margin, pushing for an IPO at 22-29.1x earnings.)
(Unrelated - I've been trying to figure out how to turn my own mess of Moleskin notebooks and the kinds of apps that Naughton talks about into some sort of manageable workflow…)
Apparently the parts of your brain that become active when you are reading 'silently' to yourself are the same parts that become active when you are listening to voiced instructions - according to the results of some experiments on 4 people with electroencephalographic electrodes underneath their skulls.
Vaguely related - in a passage from Augustine's Confessions, he mentions that;
When [Ambrose] read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.
I find it fascinating to imagine a time when the practice of reading silently to yourself was considered so unusual to be noteworthy.
While the rest of the world gets excited about the sort of data that Google Glass could be collecting, posters are now looking back at you…
I'm a big fan of interesting data visualisations, and also very interested in the data that is coming from social media (and what it can tell us.) So needless to say, I loved this…
"Today's internet is integrated into our lives in ways that have surpassed even the wildest prognostications of the 1980s – it's the default way of signing your kid up for after-school dance classes; for paying your gas bill; for posting videos of police violence; for remitting funds to distant relatives; for getting permission to put up a garden shed; for booking a vacation; for finding out whether you need to go to the A&E; for writing a paper or essay for school; for earning a living – and increasingly for everything else, like buying groceries, shopping for insurance, getting a degree or qualification, and all the other activities that constitute full participation in public life. None of those things are related to the entertainment industry, but none of them are taken into account when the industry's pals in government draw up their plans for fighting "piracy." Everything we do today involves the internet, everything we do tomorrow will require it."
A favourite scenario of futurologists is how progressions in technology will make the idea of going to the supermarket obsolete. But it looks like that vision may be more futurismic than futurology; the cost of delivering your grocery shopping is quite a bit more than the charge that you see on your bill. (Of course, we don't see the cost of running a supermarket store on the receipts we collect from the checkout tills either, so this might not be telling the full story…)