1. Tumblr needed the runway and support (otherwise they wouldn’t have cashed out, rather than raising another round)
2. Mayer has something to prove. She has to convince the world that she can make Yahoo relevant again. She’s too smart to screw up Tumblr by undermining what it is.
3. Leadership stays the same.
4. The lessons of Flickr and GeoCities are etched on the brain of every Yahoo employee at this point. They won’t fail the same way twice, not at this scale.
5. Tumblr needs some adult supervision. The one step forward, one step back approach to ad / revenue innovations and products, rightly or wrongly, screams ‘no plan’. That’s a perception that needs correcting.
I’m still very convinced that Tumblr is something important in the internet today. I just don’t think anyone knows what this is yet. The Yahoo buy gives us a chance to find out.
I’ve recently started using an Android phone (Nexus 4) for the first time in more than a year. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is how notifications are addressed.
iOS treats notifications with urgency. This can be subtle urgency (a bar at the top of the screen) or disruptive urgency (flashing the screen on from sleep mode to show you the update). This motivates a pattern of responsiveness. An iOS notification wants you aware of it now, and wants you to decide if you’ll address it.
Android notifications are much less interruptive. They live on the top status bar, changing nothing about the UX when triggered. The sleep mode notification is a small light, flashing almost lazily. The notification menu offers detail and control, but the overall feeling is one of being aware of what has happened, more than being aware of what is happening in the moment.
As a continuous partial attention sufferer, I’ve noticed the switch to Android has improved my focus, but ruined my responsiveness. I have to check to be aware, rather than being aware by default.
Given these systems are intended to offer the same function, and use the same basic elements, I find the differences fascinating.
Technology doesn’t make me farther away from things. It makes me closer to things.
The issue, however, is that it can make me closer to things that aren’t important, than I am to the people who are sitting next to me. That’s not really a failing of technology, but instead a failing of my ability to prioritize my attention and focus properly.
I’ve been thinking about this a fair bit today, as Paul Miller of the Verge starts his journey back into the internet, after a voluntary year of disconnection.
Something I consider a lot, as a person in the marketing/communications space, is the paralysis of choice. The need to strongly differentiate between everything else in a product category, so when someone’s standing in an aisle or scrolling through Amazon, they have a reason to pick you.
This is the issue most people have with smartphones and social media - even in person, you are competing for someone’s attention with the sum total of human knowledge, between 2 and 5 networks comprising the majority of social connections they have, and probably a book, a dozen saved articles, personal and professional email, and everything else.
It’s both not shocking at all that the phone offers a seductive trap for people who are generally curious, and totally shocking that we’re all taking it so personally.
When you’re with someone, and they look at their phone, they aren’t choosing another person over you for 30 seconds, even though it feels like it. They’re choosing all of the other people, and things, and stories, over you. And that they come back, and feel guilty about it, is stunning.
Going all the way back to 2009, Mike Arauz made an important point: your competition is everything on the internet. He was talking about brands, and how they are competing for the attention of youth on the internet. But the game has changed. This is now true for human interaction.
You, as an individual person, are competing for the attention of other individual people, with the sum total of collected human knowledge and attention. You. Right now. If they check an email, or open a notification, they are essentially stating that they aren’t reasonably sure that you are the most interesting thing in the world, at that moment.
Think of the inverse. When someone connects with just you, and leaves the phone in a pocket, or face down, or even leaves the text message window open and converses is real time with just you, ignoring all other possibilities…
They are saying you are the most important, most interesting, thing on the planet.
From a professional perspective, I would strongly suggest sending someone that message, as often as you can.
From a personal perspective, I hope you’ve found a group of most important things on the planet, and that you treat them as such on a regular basis.
Libraries are important. There’s specific irony in me saying this, as I haven’t had a functional library card in about 5 years, and I haven’t borrowed anything from a library myself in about 4. But I remember what having a local library meant to me when I was younger, and I know what a library would mean to me now, if it was designed in a way that let me learn how I see fit. So, this is how I would design a 2013 library.
I’d keep the shelves and stacks, and keep a modified version of the dewer decimal - based lookup system that has been a constant in my life. I’d also duplicate it. A physical collection of key works and classics would be available on the lower floors, but there would also be an expanded digital selection above - imagine a selection of eReaders organized in a library style shelf, but instead of a book, you would pick up a device pre loaded with the entire history of an author. Or with a curated selection of an entire genre or knowledge area. Instead of loose references, links would drive you to a map of where to find the next volume.
Checkout would be automatic for physical books, and members could check out digital documents in an eReader (to be picked up, pre-loaded with your selected material, at the front desk) that would hold a 1-month charge. If the battery dies, you bring it back - setting a tighter timeline feels unnecessary, and ignores the truth - people will pirate or buy the stuff they aren’t willing to let go of.
Library cards would be RFID based, if only to ensure that no one can access the higher levels without a passcard, and to let library employees know when the guy who has a dozen eReaders currently checked out has stopped by. At a certain point, losses will happen, With cheaper eReaders clocking in at prices not too different from a large, high quality hardcover, I wouldn’t consider this a priority.
Connectivity would be a must, but I’d recommend it be limited to specific work stations, and to a wifi network that (outside) mobile devices could connect to. Libraries are, in part, about information in an isolated context. If people just wanted the internet, they’d stay home.
I’d dedicate an entire floor to periodicals - either print or entire archives dumped onto full colour tablets, or desk bound touch screens. Paper is important, though - the more physical copies the better, with digital stepping in to supply an option for rare, or fragile documents.
I’d have a ‘collaboration floor’, probably either at the very bottom, or very top, of the building. Heavily soundproofed, with enough large tables, whiteboards, and vending machines filled with markers, notebooks, post-its, etc. If a city was looking for a place to put entrepreneurs-in-residence, or mentors, this would be a logical start.
And plugs. Plugs everywhere, in the top of desks, in the side of lounge chairs, not just against walls or in one corner.
A library used to be a repository of knowledge - then your cellphone became a repository of knowledge. I’d argue the next step is to make them a place of learning and collaboration, of depth rather than breadth, and of creation rather than consumption.
Or maybe It’s been too long since I was in a library.
I apologize in advance - but I’m going to talk about the cloud.
I’m starting to get worried about the number of platforms I’m beholden to - my only solace comes from the fact that they are mostly independent platforms, so losing any singular one, won’t cost me everything.
The exceptions to this rule: Google, and Apple.
I rely on Google for: email, web software, search, browser, syncing across devices, and sporadically, cloud storage and mobile OS.
I rely on Apple for: (nearly all) hardware, desktop OS, mobile OS, mobile software, desktop software, cloud storage / sync (iCloud), music (iTunes) home entertainment (apple TV, iTunes again) and content (App Store, iTunes) across all platforms.
When I feel uncomfortable with Google, it’s because of the depth of information that Google has on me, just from my search history and email.
When I feel uncomfortable with Apple, it’s because of lock-in: nearly all of my devices and software is Apple, and I rely on it heavily. Leaving would cost me thousands upon thousands in content, software, and charger plugs (seriously, I have dozens).
So, I’m trying to find independent solutions for more of my digital life, shifting to a model based on Jamaica’s motto: out of many, one people. Instead of buying in fully to any ecosystem, I’d rather create my own, out of multiple services. To do anything else makes you a pawn in someone else’s turf war.
(Ironically, the tools I use currently more or less insist on my being on either Android or iOS - they only (meaningful) players in mobile.)
This is why I’m interested in services like App.net, Dropbox and Rdio. Services that 1) are independent from OS overlords and ecosystems like Apple and Google, 2) charge money from the outset, so I can make the assumption they will be around for a while, and 3) either invest in being platform agnostic, or encourage independent devs to invest in making them platform agnostic.
I’m thinking about this today, because Apple has apparently banned an issue of the comic Saga, which I read through the Comixology iOS app, from being sold via the App Store. While there are several ways around this (buy it from comixology.com and download, buy it in store, buy a PDF from the publisher, etc), the real issue from my perspective is that it makes it clear we’re all computing in benevolent dictatorships. And that they are less benevolent than we thought.
So, my advice is to take a good look at what you’re buying into, when it comes to platforms. Aim for resilience when it comes to picking services, rather than just convenience or cheapness.
Make your own ecosystem. All the pieces are there.
(And seriously - if you see me, remind me to stop using iBooks to buy reading material.)