Reading Notes, November 2012

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These are just some excerpts from articles, posts, and books I’ve read recently that stood out to me. Perhaps they’ll grab your interest.

The Flight From Conversation

Article of interesting observations written by Sherry Turkel at the New York Times. It details, among other things, how we have “sacrificed conversation for mere connection”.

Curating our digital selves

Interesting parallel of the digital world to the real world of advertising in which, as we all know, famous faces on magazines are never quite as they appear:

Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little — just right.

True self reflection requires trust

Why it’s so hard to find (or post) anything of deep import amongst in the world of social statuses:

These days, social media continually asks us what’s “on our mind,” but we have little motivation to say something truly self-reflective. Self-reflection in conversation requires trust. It’s hard to do anything with 3,000 Facebook friends except connect.

We expect more from tech and less from each other

We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone.

Sharing proves existence, a la Shakespeare

I share, therefore I am.

Unfortunately, our internet culture has led many to believe that if they don’t share online they will be left out. They’ll be forgotten. They’ll cease to exist socially.

On a related note - Paul Miller, a journalist at The Verge, has made some interesting observations about our innate desire to not miss out. He observes that, when we ‘miss out’ on one thing (the internet), we get to spend our attention on something else (perhaps of greater import).

Ode to a time long gone

Not too long ago, people walked with their heads up, looking at the water, the sky, the sand and at one another, talking. Now they often walk with their heads down, typing. Even when they are with friends, partners, [and] children

Dear Business, I’m scared for you

This article by Brian Hoff at The Design Cubicle is probably the best post describing the web design field I’ve read in a while.

Businesses will spend $40,000 a year on an employee who works eight to five, five days a week. However, for lack of education they won’t spend $1,000 on their hardest-working employee: their website. It works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and interfaces with more clients than any other employee (perhaps even all their employees combined).

Your website is not a feature that you can half-ass. Spend some money. Protect your future. A good website works hard for your business. Much harder than many employees can offer.

Creating a Thriving Developer Culture

I’ve worked at Arc90 (and technically still do) and I can verify Alex’s observations. There truly is a thriving developer culture at Arc that exists because of the company traits he points out.

When your employee gets up in the morning, you want the most exciting thing in her day to be related to your company … When your employee discovers something cool, you want their second thought to be “how can I use this at work?”.