Tag Archives: news

Fake news and Instagram

Twitter has retweets. Facebook has sharing. But Instagram has no built-in reposting. On Instagram, there’s no instantaneous way to share someone else’s post to all of your followers.

The first version of Instagram was built by a very small team. They’ve always grown slowly and expanded the UI thoughtfully. I think the lack of a repost feature was deliberate.

When you have to put a little work into posting, you take it more seriously. I wonder if fake news would have spread so quickly on Facebook if it was a little more difficult to share an article before you’ve read more than the headline.

It’s not easy to build software that encourages good behavior. When I look at my Instagram timeline I see beautiful photos, hand-drawn art, and snapshots of everyday life. I see the very best of the world. It’s not the full truth, but it’s all true.

Instagram was no accident. The only question: was it unique to photos, or can the same quality be applied to microblogging?

SXSW and designing for Apple Watch

As I mention on the latest episode of Timetable, I haven’t attended SXSW in several years. I still think it’s right for me to skip it, but then sometimes I’ll hear about UX and iOS panels going on at SXSW, and I’ll remember some of the great parts of the conference that I do miss.

Conrad Stoll spoke on a panel at SXSW this year about his experience building Apple Watch apps. He’s had a few great blog posts recently, about both Apple Watch user interface design and also one on designing in Swift. For planning what features to include in your watch app:

“When it’s time to gather around a whiteboard and start designing your Apple Watch app, draw all of your features and start discussing some of your least obvious ones. It’s very likely that one of them represents a better use case for the watch. If you start with the secondary features you might realize that focusing there can actually improve the utility of your overall product.”

Blogs like Conrad’s are a great reason to keep using RSS. He’s not posting every day so you may forget to check the site, or miss the links on Twitter if they aren’t tweeted or retweeted when you happen to be paying attention. The best way to guarantee you won’t miss it is to subscribe in an RSS reader.

There’s a related side discussion on the Bill Simmons podcast about reading headlines instead of full articles. There’s too much information out there, and it moves too quickly, so we’ve trained ourselves to just scan headlines and comment on Twitter without going deep. That leads to increasingly ridiculous click-bait titles as publishers try to grab our attention. The only way to fight back against that trend is to slow down and read a few thoughtful essays in RSS, or work through the queue in Instapaper.

Apple News and RSS

Daniel Jalkut has an optimistic take on Apple News. He doesn’t think it is comparable to centralized publishing systems like Twitter or Medium for one important reason:

“Because the content doesn’t live on Apple’s servers. This is a key distinction in my mind. Apple’s News App serves primarily not as a source of information, but as an amplifier of it.”

Any technology that invokes “amplifier” in a review is something I want to pay attention to. I used the same word in the closing paragraph of my pitch for App.net. That service is fading away now, of course, but it’s just another reminder that even the most well-intentioned platforms are dangerous if they distract us from controlling our own content and hosting it at a custom domain.

River of news

No, I don’t mean “Dave Winer’s thoughts”:http://www.reallysimplesyndication.com/riverOfNews on RSS reader design exactly, although that’s part of it. It’s more the way we in the technology community interact with the world. Hundreds of news feeds, company chat, external IRC channels, private AIM, email dinging every 5 minutes, and the constant flow of tweets. At home, we’re connected essentially 24/7; on the road, the iPhone brings it all with us. Plus there’s the never-ending pile of work to do on too many projects.

Technology news or politics or development moves too fast and doesn’t slow down. It’s easy to feel like you’re being pulled down the river, one hand struggling to hold on to the raft and the other deep in the current, information overload all around.

Since coming back from C4 I’d been fighting a cold, which developed into a cough and sinus infection and fever and whatever worse. I finally hit the doctor up last week and just unplugged, checking email twice a day for emergencies only. I spent the rest of the day sleeping, reading, and with family — a self-imposed vacation for my brain as much as my body.

Four days later I’m feeling quite a bit better, and trying to think about what changes to make in my schedule so as to not wind up insane or dead before I’m 35. But even as I say that I acknowledge that it’s stretching the truth, because I’ve never been happier.