Not feeling nostalgic per se, but inspired by Daniel Burka’s tweet from earlier today, I dove into the Wayback machine and went hunting for some of my earliest website designs and writing. Embarrassing in a way, but still fun to read.
Here is my post celebrating one year in America on December 5th 2001:
Almost A Year [ Living In America ]
A few more days and I will be here in seattle, WA, USA for a whole year.
It definitely evokes emotions. Not just because the holiday season is in full swing and I miss the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt.
The longer I’m here, the more I realize that I have no chance of escape.
Memories of Germany fading away.
Well, not for you, you will always be able to tell, hey that funny guy with that accent, yeah and I still do things different.
But slowly I my chameleon skin is turning from black-red-gold to red-white and blue.
You get tired of always be different, be that guy who does things different. Hey I want a TV, wanna watch some american national broadcast. Let me go shopping in supremely and eat junk food all days.
You see, the stereotypes are still there, I’m still German.
An alien, living in a foreign country, speaking a different language.
But let me look back:
A year ago arrived in this country, got a job, started a life.
I love it! I do. Never would I have thought that I would enjoy my work so much, would have so many opportunities to grow and expand at my work.
Seattle is a beautiful city, I still wanna cry when I look at the high-risers and remember my child hood dreams.
I find time to explore the city and the neighborhoods around seattle. I’m close to getting a car. The people are the same, here, in germany, in africa. You find friends, companions, people you wanna share a time of your life and you meet people you wish you would’ve never met.
Family shines in a different light here. I enjoy getting to know Trixy’s family and getting comfortable with the differences.
It was an awesome year, and now I’m waiting for the first snow that shut down the city, cause nobody has winter tires on their cars nor knows how to drive in a weather like this with all those hills and bridges…
mathias – looking back at the year  [live life loud] 
Two thousand and One I wrote this. This December will mark my fifteenth anniversary in the country. Too early to think about, but this needs to be commemorated, celebrated, marked with a special occasion of sort.
And yes, I am blogging at LiveLifeLoud since 2000. Thank you for noticing. Back then I owned the dot net domain which I since dropped in favor of the dot com.
Marco Arment brings it to a point:
Nobody’s really talking about it, but I suspect this is a wider trend: blogs aren’t dying, but they are significantly declining. 2015 might be a rough year.
The popularity of the personal blog reached a fever pitch when the Google search engine introduced a new way of ranking search results. This allowed the little guy to compete with any big organizations on the ‘front page of the internet’, the first results page on any search term on Google and to a lesser extend on other search engines.
One marketers figured this out, Google had to do something about the increase in ‘gaming the system’. In order to kill the ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ SEO guys it in turn killed the native search result.
Google seemingly decided that it was easier to take over the first 10 results of a search term by ads and internal promoted links than to try to constantly fight the ‘marketing experts’ that ran amok over the last few years by constantly tweaking their search algorithm.
Then social media came along and changed the game entirely on how people find content. Google.com is not the front page of the internet anymore. Alternate ways of searching through Siri and other input tools increasingly are eating away at the prominence of the monopolistic, yet still loved approach of ‘doing the internet thing’ from a few years ago.
Buzzfeed’s ‘listicles’ are a response to people consuming content on social media sites. Have you ever found a Buzzfeed article ranked on the first page in a search result? This approach ccompletely ignore their ranking in search engines. Listicles are the new SEO-type gaming. They are just gaming social media sites. So it should be called Social Media Optimization SMO, I suppose?
It’s weird to think of this new phase of the internet where we approach a more television-like scenarios where channels rule and one person’s interaction and consumption with content is entirely different to the next.
This is the law of the land, Marco concludes:
If we want it to get better, we need to start pushing back against the trend, modernizing blogs, and building what we want to come next.
I agree, and I haven’t even talked about mobile devices yet and their impact on our lives and how differently we consume content today.
Personal blogs flourished 15 years ago Back then the ‘blogger’ was the rockstar. A person who had access to a computer with internet. He/she was able to curate the best content for it’s readers. We envied the Kottke’s and Gruber’s of the world for having the time to dissect and find articles, and gems all over the world and present them to us in an engaging manner. Bloggers like them were the tour guides of the vast and unchartered territories of the world wide web.
Blogging was the most productive way of interacting with the flood of content a person encountered on the web. A blogger actually created something. A response, an article commenting on whatever happened today.
But as we are consuming content on the go, we are in a complete different spot to respond. On mobile the copy/paste/link to an article is cumbersome, still. Typing a 500 word article in response to something is not an option on mobile devices. (I’m writing this article on my Mac, but ready Marco’s initial article on my iPad.) We might read the article in the bathroom, on the bus, while walking the dog. We’re not in a place to respond. And if we can’t respond succinctly aside from ‘liking or having’ then the moment has past and the immediate stirring is gone.
In ‘Is blogging dying in the age of Mobile‘ I argue:
None of the star writers, the role models for the blogging community have cracked mobile. The indie magazine startups all have failed. Some of the must-read websites have added ‘responsive designed’ code to their blogs to make them more user friendly to read, but none have figured out a sustainable model for their business. No great apps have surfaced. No app engines like WordPress or TypePad for mobile app development, publishing and distribution. The indie heroes of the app generation all have created a game. TinyWings, Letterpress, Monument Valley lit up the internet for a few month and are soon after ‘played out’ and people move on. There’s no staying power for indies in the app market place.
This at the core is what’s challenging creators from keeping up their blogs.
So, what will be next? What’t the next creation and consumption tool/app/platform that will allow indie makers to engage directly with their audience again and create a living for themselves?
Discover what it feels like speed climbing the Eiger North Face and the Matterhorn via the Hörnligrat on an app on your iPad from the comfort of your home. This is all thanks to GoPro. They are completely changing the game as to what’s possible in documenting and creating stories and thus allowing people a first row seat to the what it feels like climbing mountains like this.
Blows me away every time one of those apps/products/promotional pieces is released.
I remember watching Everest at my local IMAX in the early 2000s and feeling disappointed at the few good shots we got from the upper part of the mountain. Until it dawned on me that this is not a place where it was back then even possible to shoot proper multi-angle footage. Now everyone can carry a GoPro with them and capture HD content from anywhere in the world.
Where would you take a GoPro?
This looks cool.
In general I am happy with my Apple Airport. But I also have a small apartment, so the reach doesn’t matter to me. What’s interesting is the ‘guest invite feature’ and the log of interference and activity on the network. I wonder if it can truly fix the endless Comcast modem resets. I doubt it.
Is the social media tool for outdoor lovers. Just found it and downloaded the app. Pretty slick idea but with still some rough edges. The team reached out to me on Twitter and said that a 3.0 version is in the works and will be released soon. So, if you’re always wanted a place to post awesome pictures of your hikes and other outdoor endeavors and need a place for inspiration and community this app might be it.
Ben Brooks makes a very compelling case to stick with WordPress for your blogging platform and I agree with him wholeheartedly:
If your site is taking active time of yours to work on, you’re doing it wrong. If your site restricts your flexibility to grow, scale, and customize — you’re doing it wrong. If you can’t publish from any browser, anywhere in the world, with no special tools, you’re doing it wrong.
Once you’ve recorded your podcast, it’s time to edit. Editing can be incredibly simple—trim the beginning and end point and be done with it—or as complicated as you want to make it.
Almost everyone who is doing a podcast is talking about how they podcast. What equipment they use and sequence of software edits they perform before hitting publish. Reminds me of 2008 when Twitter started first getting hot and all the gurus used the service to tell us how the services should be used. Helpful at times, but sort of defeats the purpose of what the service is for. More than just promoting itself as a service.
Essentially, Facebook has determined that algorithms alone are not enough to determine the makeup of one’s News Feed. The mix is so important — not just to individuals but to collateral players such as the news business, the apps industry, and the Internet meme machine — that the ultimate tech company must acquaint itself with the Antediluvian art of asking people directly what they want.
Happens on all social channels. Computers can’t guess our mood. Perhaps there lies the future of journalism somewhere.
A poem, by yours truly.
Kevin Rose’s North Technologies recently launched a little pet app called ‘Watchville‘. It’s a fun little app for watch enthusiasts, hardly a mass market product. Aside from some watch setting tools it offers a ‘feed stream’ to the most popular watch blogs around. It’s niche. It’s cute. But.
Kottke and others have decried the fact that blogs aren’t found anymore. RSS is dead and social trounces out everything. Content is being brought to us from all sides, every moment of our lives. We don’t need curators anymore.
The Watchville app is curation, with just a bit more stuff.
The Watchville style app could become a app building engine/tool. The basic idea of the app could be refashioned as a customizable reader for curating favorite blogs in a app for reading and following you favorite blogs. One could add custom feeds for following your favorite blogs. But if the app could become an WP style engine and template. Every blogger could launch their own ‘Watchville’ app in the app store. Curators like Gruber and Kottke could have their own app in the store, filled with their curated content, and a little bit more.
Perhaps there is something there.
Michael Sippey on Medium:
A theory of email newsletters, in three points. Email newsletters are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and I’ve been thinking about why this is the case:
1. They work because we live in our inbox. Newsletters work because they’re delivered to the app that is on our phones, our tablets, our laptops: email. This delivers an interesting side benefit of dayparting: because we’re always in our inbox, newsletters like The Skimm can build an audience in the morning, and Dave Pell can own the afternoon. (By contrast, blogs I feel are suffering because they’re currently lacking a natural distribution channel: Reader’s dead, Twitter is overwhelming, Facebook algorithms ‘em to /dev/null.)
2. They work because the mental model is simple. Sign up, get things sent to you. Don’t want it anymore? Unsubscribe. And in the meantime, you are in control: want to get alerted as soon as it hits your inbox? Fine. Want to filter it and read it later? Want to forward it to a friend? Fine. Want to reply and deliver vitriol to the sender? Fine.
3. They work because publishers have just a few simple metrics that they can optimize for: subscriber growth/churn, open rate, clickthrough rate. Problem: most reporting tools are still too “campaign” focused (as opposed to longitudinal relationship focused), but given enough time your audience will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
We’ve all been reading more, consuming more, and enjoying more content in more places. And yet the bloggers (individual content creators with their own platform) have not found a way to solve the puzzle of how their content should be delivered on mobile devices. Successful bloggers from the time way before the iPhone might still be riding on their successes but most are not increasing their audience or creating anything new or noteworthy.
Currently podcasts are all the rage and everyone’s been talking about gear, production tools, and the feasibility of building a dedicated software. But that’s a different discussion.
Audio and video has its place. Video is cool if you want dedicated attention from your audience and your content better be good, otherwise people will tune out. Audio is great for passive listening, while working out or during your commute.
Blogs are the perfect way to consume content for most other times. You can focus on text just with your eyes while ‘doing something else’. Sitting on the couch watching the ‘second screen’ called television for example. Reading also allows you to consume content much much faster than listening or watching.
There’s a huge upside to written content. Yet, bloggers like Kottke, or Gruber, or even Zeldman have not taken advantage of the new screen sizes and helped us rethink and redefine how written content should be delivered on mobile screens.
So far the discussion on content creation on mobile screens often is limited to the input. The keyboard, or the lack thereof.
• When most online content was consumed on desktop PCs it felt natural to take what inspired us and immediately jump into action, reply and craft our response. Now we might read that awesome article on the loo or on the bus. We can bookmark it, but certainly aren’t in a position to immediately blog about it ourselves.
• How many “Kottkes” do you have in your Facebook feed? Mainstream media’s popular social sharing sites like Facebook and Tumblr have opened quick emotional-driven sharing a mass-phenomena. It becomes harder to cut through the everyday crap. It gets boring to share when everyone is sharing cat pictures and Buzzfeed lists all day long.
• Many nerds who write have focused so far on the keyboard input as the main barrier to blogging on iPads, but I disagree with that. They glass keyboard might be something to get used to but I enjoy it, it can work. What I am missing is the quick copy/pasting which makes modern link blogs so powerful. Copying the link, selecting a snippet of text for a quick a blockquote is really really hard to do on the one-window iOS’s devices. The constant back and forth between apps is a huge drag and just not fun.
• Commenting below the articles were short lived on the web, and for good reasons. But for many small bloggers the comments helped create not just traffic, but a community. It was the instant feedback, not on a third party site, but right below the words you write on the website you created. This gave you validation and made you keep at it. Yes, this is probably the weakest argument on my list. The commenting is still happening, and perhaps even more so, but we as content creators aren’t connected to it anymore. We don’t see where our articles are posted. As the web is becoming more silo-ed and fragmented Google Analytics, for years the standard in traffic evaluation is becoming more and more useless. You have to check and maintain several analytics tools which puts too much focus on the numbers.
• Google killed it’s Reader. This one was coming with announcement. But many bloggers I know lived and died by having created their curated feed of blogs and news sites, which they checked daily for inspiration. This has been replaced by Twitter and Tumblr for most parts. But the retweet allows only a few characters, hardly enough to consider yourself a blogger.
• None of the star writers, the role models for the blogging community have cracked mobile. The indie magazine startups all have failed. Some of the must-read websites have added ‘responsive designed’ code to their blogs to make them more user friendly to read, but none have figured out a sustainable model for their business. No great apps have surfaced. No app engines like WordPress or TypePad for mobile app development, publishing and distribution. The indie heroes of the app generation all have created a game. TinyWings, Letterpress, Monument Valley lit up the internet for a few month and are soon after ‘played out’ and people move on. There’s no staying power for indies in the app market place.
When the screen went smaller and we put it into our pockets we rewrote our CSS and focused on responsiveness. Well designed websites you can read on any screen. This was a great first step. Next came the native app. Everyone threw HTML and CSS into the wind and painstakingly created native apps to fully take advantage of the look and feel of mobile interfaces. But this is a non-starter for bloggers. Objective-C, Xcode and the app store are just too big of a hurdle to overcome. By the time a inexperienced part time developer has successfully created and deployed an app the next iteration of iOS is shipping and you can start all over. To give individual bloggers their own app you need something like the ‘famous 5 minute’ install WordPress offers. This needs to include the release into the app store. And then you have an app just in one app store. It pains me to say, but there are other mobile operation systems out there.
The next challenge to overcome is to get notifications on mobile right. Only over the last year developers recognized how important notifications on mobile devices are. And iOS8 is offering app developers more options around this. One example is the notifications in Safari. Websites have offered this for while now, but it never occurred to me to allow this ever. And I have never read that anyone has done this in a way that it would feel right, and be successful. So, what perhaps might’ve been a good idea is currently not taking off.
In the meantime we play more, watch more videos and listen to more podcasts. People still write, but it increasingly gets lost in all the other shiny mobile goodness we are touching, tabbing and sliding around on our screens.
(Part II: ‘An inspiration from an unlikely Source’ will be published soon. Follow me on Twitter if you want to be notified!)
I love Workflowy and use it all the time for brainstorming new ideas or cleaning up and refreshing older ideas. Workflowy creates lists fast and helps me structure quick or longer thoughts in a way that it helps me organize my brain. Apps with the goal to help you brainstorm above all need to be fast. And that Workflow is.
Here’s one little feature request I have though: I need some space. Breathing room of you will, between the lists I’m creating. Currently every line is a list item and starts with a bullet. I wish I could create a line, after I hit return, that would create a completely empty line. This would allow me to separate my list elements a bit more and the breathing room would allow for more visual separation, thus making it easier to find beginnings and ends to thoughts.
Every time I try to use a professional tool with my iPad I end up getting frustrated at how much slower the touch interactions are than just using an old-fashioned keyboard and mouse on my Mac.
I feel the same way. But all the solutions currently offered stink. There must be a better way?
More levels. Love it. Downloaded it. Paid for the in-app purchase.
Ready to play… this weekend.
Studio Neat on offering their app Slow Fast Slow for free:
When you launch Slow Fast Slow for the first time, you are presented with our “ad” for the Glif. It consists of five screens that you swipe through, showing off the features of the Glif with text and looping videos. A link to studioneat.com to learn more and hopefully consider purchasing the Glif is included towards the end.
Just what I was thinking last week. The app as an ad platform to sell other stuff. If done well, meaning properly placed ads fitting within the theme, this could actually work and create a great new marketing platform.
The iPad’s number one complain for me over the last few month has always been storage space. Both my iPad mini with laughable 16GB and even my 32GB are constantly full and I have to delete apps.
If apps are supposed to be the big draw for the iPad and the iPad is offered as a full computer replacement than Apple absolutely has increase its storage capacity. And not just double it, but actually offer full computer-sized storage options.
That would in one simple announcement change the game without the need for huge “innovation”. And it would shine a completely different light on the iPad with what it can do and how it can be used.
Apple will solve the storage issue with their new Photo offering coming early next year, but this will be just a stop gap solution.
Has anyone thought of Apple working on refreshing the iPod line?
It’s been way too long would fit this product. And the brand ‘iPod’ is too good to just let wither away.
Perhaps the iPod will come back in form of a fitness band. To grease the skids for the idea of a computer around your wrist before the Apple Watch release early next year?
Building something like Ello costs money. They have a team of at least seven people, and have worked on it for months. That doesn’t come cheap.
Good morning free-loving, free-spirited enthusiasts.
Yes, I find myself tweeting less now that I’m living abroad. My assumption is that it’s mainly related to the time difference (8 hours).
Felt the same way when I travelled in Europe. But not just Twitter-usage. iPhone usage in general dropped significantly. Partly because I was hanging out with family, party because people around me used phones/technology in general a lot less.
And yes, I was fine with that too.