Weekend read: Why a lack of photography killed Google+

It’s not as if Google+ is dead, but you log on there and it seems like it is. Here’s one idea of why:

The internet is not a place of fierce loyalty. Create a transformational product or build a better service and people will use it. Thus Hotmail gave way to Gmail, and MySpace to Facebook. So you can understand why Google thought it could build a better social network in Google+. But that’s not what happened. Or at least, it wasn’t able to build a more popular social network. But why not?

The answer to the question of why Google+ failed is simple. It’s the reason why any social network succeeds or fails. The answer is photos. Google+ now has one of the best photo management tools there is, period. It finds your best pictures for you, it’s amazingly searchable, it auto-generates highlight films and cool photos albums, and it even turns your burst shots into animated GIFs. Fancy! But all of that came far too late in its history. The big mistake Google+ made was in starting out as a place for people to have meaty in-depth discussions.

Why Photos Rule The Internet – Charlie Warzel, BuzzFeed (19 March 2015)

It could be true. I’m not convinced because actually I like a meaty read and I’ve never had that from Google+. Still, read the full piece and see where he’s going with all this.

Weekend read: trying to kill GPS with an axe

Nearly a quarter of a century ago, two men attempted to axe the GPS programme – entirely literally:

On May 10, 1992, the activists Keith Kjoller and Peter Lumsdaine snuck into a Rockwell International facility in Seal Beach, California. They used wood-splitting axes to break into two clean rooms containing nine satellites being built for the U.S. government. Lumsdaine took his axe to one of the satellites, hitting it over 60 times.

They were arrested and faced up to 10 years in prison for destroying federal government property, causing an estimated $2 million in damage. Ultimately, Kjoller and Lumsdaine took guilty pleas and were sentenced to 18 months and two years in prison respectively for an act of civil disobedience they named “The Harriet Tubman-Sarah Connor Brigade.”

Acting in a tradition of civil disobedience established by the Plowshares movement while citing the leader of the Underground Railroad and the heroine of the Terminator series, the Brigade’s target was the Navigation Satellite Timing And Ranging (NAVSTAR) Program and the Global Positioning System (GPS). Back then, GPS was still a fairly obscure and incomplete military technology, used in some civilian applications (the first civilian GPS device, the Magellan NAV 1000, came on the market in 1988) but far from a mainstream resource. Today, GPS feels almost more intimate than industrial or weaponized.

The Failed Attempt to Destroy GPS – The Atlantic

Read the full piece to find out why they tried and why at least one of them doesn’t regret it.

Do these three things every day

Drink tea. Eat chocolate and – sorry? No? There are things you can do that will help as well as be deeply satisfying and rewarding?

They’re what are called foundational habits. Each one is doable, demonstrably beneficial and best of all, allows you to build other positive habits around them. If you can check these three boxes off each and every day, you’ll not only be more successful, but you’ll be healthy, happy and wise too. It’s not everything you ought to do, but it’s a good place to start.

Three Positive Habits To Practice Every Single Day – Ryan Holiday, Thought Catalog (2 March 2015)

I’d like you to read the full piece because it’s good and it’s interesting and its convincing. But I do also think it’s two things, not three.

For the three stated habits are: read a book, exercise and take a walk. Aren’t those last two at least related?

I didn’t see your message, sorry

It is handy when you know that someone has seen your email or your text or your update or your anything, but actually it is never handy. You’re a writer, you know they’ve seen it, why aren’t they saying anything?

Worse, you’re wrong. They haven’t seen it. They really haven’t seen it. I’ve had this come up with people who tell me they know so-and-so read their email DAYS AGO and so is being rude not replying. Or they NEVER OPENED IT ONCE, same thing. In each case, you don’t know. Maybe they saw the three-line preview on their iPhone and didn’t bother to open the message. Maybe they got eleventy-billion emails that morning and simply didn’t see yours in there.

But none of that matters when the person in question is you. And when the question in question is whether you have read something or you haven’t. You could just let the online world go on its little way, sending out read receipt acknowledgements wherever it may, or you could fight back. Stop it happening.

Lifehacker’s got your back. Read its full feature on how to switch off bleedin’ read receipts in the most popular software around.

Sunday read: Design is Eating the World

The industrial revolution democratized consumption. By rationalizing the production process, things were made vastly cheaper and more plentiful. The average person living in a developed country today has access to more products and services than even royalty did a century ago.

Yet there have been some trade offs. In earlier days, craftsmen created products from start to finish, but now each part of the value chain is now highly specialized. As Leonard Read so aptly pointed out in his 1966 essay, I, Pencil, even the manufacture of a simple writing implement is beyond the reach of a single person.

This has been especially true of design. In the days of craftsmen, each product was a singular event. In an industrial environment, however, a design is repeated thousands or even millions of times. That leaves no room for whim or fancy, because each element is tightly integrated into a massive industrial complex. Errors are profoundly expensive.

Design Is Eating The World – Greg Satell, The Creativity Post (21 October 2014)

Read the full piece.

…and one sad

After 30 years, the original US version of Macworld magazine is to go out of print. It will continue online and the UK version is unaffected, it will still publish a print edition, but Macworld US is gone.

I’ve never written for the US one but I did have a column for a spell in the UK edition. It feels like another me from another life but it was there. So strange to think of that now.

Back when I was in computer magazines for a living, there was always rivalry between Macworld and MacUser. What I didn’t understand until right now when I looked it up – or maybe I’d just forgotten, it is a long time ago – is that MacUser began as a UK title. The title was then licensed to a US company and later, when that firm got out of the magazine business, another firm took it on. But they had also taken on Macworld and they weren’t going to keep both running. So whatever was Macworld US and whatever was MacUser US merged operations together and became Macworld.

But I worked for that US company. Ziff Davis. Long gone from magazines, which in some ways now seems prescient, it had a big advantage that even as I worked in the London office, I could request a copy of US magazines. I would request the US MacUser.

Back then, it was such a good read that I’d request it and I’d keep it. I remember moving house and having to decide the fate of many years’ worth off MacUser issues.

I can scare remember the days of having to wait a month for news and there is no magazine now that I regularly read.

I miss that experience. And as sad as I was when I learnt that my old mag, PC Direct, had closed down, tonight I am just that little bit sadder because MacUser as was, Macworld as it became, was just a damn good read for a long time.