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I spent several hours last night banging my head against a wall trying to get Wallabag set up. A quick cry for help in the IndieWeb chat revealed that I had been reading a ‘<’ as a ‘>’. 🤦🏻‍♂️ With that idiocy resolved, it took me about 15 mins to get things up and running this evening. There’s also an iOS app and—surprisingly!—a Safari extension, so the switch from Pocket has been remarkably painless.

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I loved Nina Li Coomes’ article about rewatching Spirited Away; it’s a film I can (and do!) go back to as well. Also noted: her point about “the precarity of media”—I’ve been bitten by stuff disappearing from streaming too.

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Lots to unpack and think about in today’s Galaxy Brain; creativity as “a by-product of mastery,” tech designed to make us inattentive, our fixation with (and veneration of) building over maintaining… 🤔

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Evidently I’m still on a bit of a LEGO kick at the moment…

Two LEGO jigsaw puzzle boxes, one of minifigures making up the classic space logo and one of stacks of minifigure heads

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Thematically related to the bookmark I posted earlier today: W3C TAG Ethical Web Principles. It’s nice to know that the people shaping the direction of the web are thinking about what can be done to make it better beyond just the technologies.

(Via Jeremy Keith)

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TIL a name for something I see almost every day, but for which I didn’t have a good label: Certainty Theatrics.

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(Note: I’ve had this article open in a tab for weeks now, and I was going to write something a little more thought-out about it, but now I just want to post it and close the window because it’s kind of depressing me.)

Ted Gioia asks “Where Did the Long Tail Go?” It’s a great question; I read and enjoyed Chris Anderson‘s book, but it’s pretty much turned out to be a bust—if anything (and I know this is a broad generalization, and that there are some counter-examples), it appears that big players selling huge amounts of high-grossing product have become even more entrenched and dominant in the market, squeezing out the potential long-tailers that were supposed to flourish.

And, sadly, I think Gioia’s explanation around why the Long Tail has proven false is accurate:

There’s one more reason why the Long Tail has died in the digital world. Web platforms aren’t really focused on serving users—what they really want to do is control users. This almost always requires them to squeeze out niche and alternative views, and force as many customers as possible to follow the herd.

The Long Tail was published back in 2006, just before the rise of the social media giants, so while the premise may have been reasonable back then, my hypothesis is that the amplification + homogenization of cultural trends (“echo chambers”) that the social silos created has made it infinitely more difficult for the people on the fringes that were supposed to benefit to actually break through and reach the audiences that would enable them to thrive.

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A couple of trivially interesting Melbourne-related things I saw this morning:

  1. Melbourne made the top 25 list of cities with the most skyscrapers, but Sydney did not (apparently, Sydney sits at #42); I would never have thought that.
  2. The City of Melbourne has decided that the smell from a Vegemite factory is “of significant heritage value” and will need to be “acknowledged” (whatever that means) in any future redevelopment. I also totally agree with the—admittedly Australian—author’s assessment that this settles the argument about the superiority of Vegemite over (🤢) Marmite.

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Since I got injured last year, running and I have not been great friends, but I do miss having something to do outdoors. And because I apparently need more aggravation in my life, I’ve decided to pick up the clubs again (after a long hiatus!) to try to spoil a few good walks. ⛳️

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The Verge is trying something “new” (is it new? Or maybe “different” is a better word?):

We also thought about where we came from and how we built The Verge into what it is today. And we landed on: well shit, we just need to blog more.

While the new design is… fine, I guess 🤷🏻‍♂️, the change in direction is something I’d like to see from more media outlets; rather than rehashing the same stories as everyone else, just link out to good reporting and spend the time working on your own stories. How well it works for them remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a worthwhile experiment and I hope it’s a successful model that catches on elsewhere.

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Had a bit of a poke around the Steve Jobs Archive that launched yesterday… had seen/heard some of it before, but still lots of new (to me, at least) stuff—that email!—to explore. Looks like there might be more to come, too (🤞🏻).

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Farewell, iPhone mini, we hardly knew ye. 😢 (Seriously, am I the only person on earth who likes having a small phone?)

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Apparently Facebook doesn’t know where all of your personal data is… unless it’s to to sell you to advertisers (or undermine democracy!), then they know exactly where it is.

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I pretty much agree with everything in this article from WIRED; the “harm reduction” language threw me off a bit at first, but looking at it in the same way as (e.g.) drug policy might not be the worst approach. Twitter is not going away, so mitigating some of its worst effects is probably about the best we can do.

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I don’t think I’m sad about the impending disappearance of Metrocard vending machines, but I did find the design story fascinating—I never picked up on the color-coded areas (which I guess makes it great design… it’s invisible).

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I started my experiment with “immersion reading” this afternoon. Initial thoughts:

  • It’s a very different way of taking in information; too early to tell if it’s more effective than just reading or listening alone, but it kind of feels like it is… will be worth seeing if my comprehension and recall is any better after I’ve finished
  • It’s quite a bit slower than my usual reading speed—maybe that’s contributing to the feeling of effectiveness?
  • Listening to an author read their own work does give first-person statements more impact… it actually is what they’ve said or felt or experienced
  • I’m not sure if this approach would work the same with fiction; at least to me, I think it seems better suited to non-fiction (but will have to try it with a work of fiction to test that assertion)

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Couldn’t agree more with this NYT article… as much as—or maybe because—I love the books, a “Tolkien Cinematic Universe” would be truly awful (still going to watch Rings of Power, though).

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“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.” Slartibartfast

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The whole piece is subscriber-only, but it’s worth reading the non-paywalled bits of the latest edition of Charlie Warzel’s Galaxy Brain about how business dudes—and let’s face it, it’s almost always dudes who are spouting this crap—talk about (🤢) “the metaverse”.

The article is a phenomenal example of what I’m going to call “business-dude lorem ipsum.” It is filler language that is used to roleplay “thought leadership” among those who have nothing to say: the MBA version of a grade-school book report that starts with a Webster’s Dictionary definition. Advanced business-dude lorem ipsum will convey action (“We need to design value in stages”) but only in the least tangible way possible. It will employ industry terms of art (“We’re first to market or a fast follower”) that indicate the business dude has been in many meetings where similar ideas were hatched. Business-dude lorem ipsum will often hold one or two platitudes that sound like they might also be Zen koans (“That value is in the eye of the beholder”) but actually are so broad that they say nothing at all.

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Jim Nielsen is (at least!) a million times better than I am when it comes to anything coding-related, but I can totally relate to this.