How to make your blog better for readers

Designing blogs for readers:

I don’t think there’s any reasonable way, or any need, to separate vanity and ego from a personal blog. Writing is inherently about its author, and is a product of their personality and opinions – that’s not something to be shy about, and we shouldn’t try to change it either. So, write for yourself – and hold yourself to an appropriate standard, because you’d better believe that others are judging the person as well as the piece – but as soon as you publish your views, you’re inviting readers to take a look. I think that the needs of the reader and the author are more aligned than many blogging systems seem to believe.

Having had a decade to think about it, I want to share my views on what I think you do and don’t need on a blog today. Your needs may be different, but perhaps you’ll find something to think about. I bet you could simplify your blog in some way without detracting from the reading experience.

Matt Gemmell has some wonderful suggestions for offering a better reading experience for your audience. I think he’d approve of most of the design decisions that have been made for this site.

Forbes tells female game developers what to wear to E3 game expo

I recommend not clicking the following link. Seriously, don’t even give them the page views.

Going to E3 2013? Here’s What To Wear:

If you’ve been to E3 before, you know the challenge.  How do you convey credibility in promoting your game, your studio and yourself at the convention in a room full of guys gawking at larger-than-life, theme-park-like attractions and scantily clad ‘booth babes’?

Many women prefer to keep a low profile with “non booth babe” wear – like a baggy t-shirt and jeans.  But in an industry trying to attract more female gamers, its worthwhile to spend some time thinking about how what you wear can help you stand out as the savvy gaming industry expert that you are.

Here are two outfits to inspire your E3 wardrobe – one for a day at the convention center and one for the even more popular after parties.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: Forbes’s video game section is a joke.

Fox News: Obama is waging psychological warfare on Americans

Is Obama waging psychological warfare on Americans?:

I believe that the Obama administration is conducting psychological warfare on conservative Americans. Not only that but it is also waging this war on all Americans who previously viewed themselves, their country, their Constitution and their overwhelming belief in God as a force for good in the world.

The psychological warfare began with an apology tour in which President Obama publicly “confessed,” presuming to speak for all of us, for the shortcomings of America and our supposed contributions to tyranny and all manner of evils around the world.  

This confession planted in the American mind the notion that our values and beliefs might not be in line with freedom and truth.

Ugh. 

Gun rights are inextricably entwined in the American psyche with freedom to defend oneself.  Attacking gun rights, I believe, is an element of the psychological warfare on the American belief that force is justifiable when confronting evil.

Right. Which is why Obama didn’t have Osama Bin Laden killed or intervene in Libya, am I right?

If liberal Americans stand by and do not seek swift and severe justice for those who perpetrated these acts, then they will have tacitly been victimized, too. Because they will have tacitly agreed that it is acceptable for their government to target certain political movements for persecution—and that will have fundamentally changed the psyche of America.

The people responsible have been fired. What else does this guy want? Oh yeah, nothing short of Obama’s resignation.

Seen through the lens of psychological warfare, the failure to defend our embassy in Benghazi need not be understood simply as a screw-up. It could reflect an actual strategy on the part of the administration to reinforce the notion that homicidal violence born of hatred toward America is understandable—even condonable—because we have generated it ourselves and are reaping the harvest of ill will we have sown. In other words, we should take our punishment.

Yes, the President deliberately let Americans be killed. Okay.

There will be those that say that many American leaders have sought to target groups hostile to their views. Some will point to President Nixon or Senator McCarthy or J. Edgar Hoover. And that debate can be had.

But I assert that this administration is engaged in a coordinated attempt to dispirit, disarm and disenfranchise large portions of the American population and to weaken our founding principles through what is best understood as psychological warfare.

Obama is engaging in psychological warfare against the American people, but “the debate can be had” as to whether Nixon, McCarthy, or Hoover targeted groups they didn’t like?

What universe does this guy live in?

The Next Web’s Jon Russell fails at math

First sign of a comeback? HTC sales hit $970m in May, its best month of business since June 2012 :

It’s fair to say that things couldn’t have got any worse financially for Taiwan’s HTC after it posted a mere $2.88 million in profit in Q1 2013. But it appears the worst may be over as the phone maker took its first step back to respectability after announcing NT$29 billion (US$ 970 million) in revenue for May 2013.

That figure is still 3 percent lower than May 2012, but it’s close to double the NT$19.5 billion ($652 million) that the company grossed in April and represents its best month of business since June 2012.

I know tech journalism isn’t very math intensive, but seriously –  that’s not even a 50% increase, let alone “close to double.”

Update: Jon and I had a fun little exchange on Twitter. He thought I should add: no relation.

Chicago Sun-Times lets go of entire photography staff

Chicago Sun-Times Lays Off All Its Full-Time Photographers:

The Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire full-time photography staff Thursday, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, in a move that the newspaper’s management said resulted from a need to shift toward more online video.

I’m just going to point out the obvious: photographers probably make damn good videographers. Especially since it’s become rather standard practice to use DSLRs to record video.

Meet the real-life Lucille Bluth: Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board

A Publication’s Spirit, Captured – The Atlantic:

I’ve always wondered how exactly to describe the temperament, the broadmindedness, the analytical subtlety, the Id that through the decades have shaped the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. Conveniently, the Journal has filled that need, via this video interview with one of its editorial board members. Henceforth when you read the Journal’s editorials, I invite you to hear this voice, expression, and tone.

She’s arguing against letting people use bikes at a low cost. No pedestrians have been hit by a bike in New York in the last four years – while 597 have been hit by cars and trucks. She is told this and responds with a monologue that could easily pass for the words of the Bluth matriarch:

“Before this, it was dangerous. Before this, every citizen knew – who’s in any way sentient – that the most important danger in the city is not the yellow cabs, it is the bicyclists who veer in and out of the sidewalk – empowered by the city administration with the idea that they are privileged, because they are helping, they are part of all of the good forward-looking things.

The fact that the city is helpless before the driven, personal ideological passions of its leader – in the interests, ‘allegedly,’ of the good of the city – this can take many forms, but we have seen the most dramatic exposition of this in our city…

This woman is on the editorial board of the largest newspaper in the United States. Good lord.

Why you shouldn’t listen to Glenn Beck for investment advice: gold prices down 30% since 2011

After the Gold Rush – Nouriel Roubini:

Sixth, some extreme political conservatives, especially in the United States, hyped gold in ways that ended up being counterproductive. For this far-right fringe, gold is the only hedge against the risk posed by the government’s conspiracy to expropriate private wealth. These fanatics also believe that a return to the gold standard is inevitable as hyperinflation ensues from central banks’ “debasement” of paper money. But, given the absence of any conspiracy, falling inflation, and the inability to use gold as a currency, such arguments cannot be sustained.

A currency serves three functions, providing a means of payment, a unit of account, and a store of value. Gold may be a store of value for wealth, but it is not a means of payment; you cannot pay for your groceries with it. Nor is it a unit of account; prices of goods and services, and of financial assets, are not denominated in gold terms.

So gold remains John Maynard Keynes’s “barbarous relic,” with no intrinsic value and used mainly as a hedge against mostly irrational fear and panic. Yes, all investors should have a very modest share of gold in their portfolios as a hedge against extreme tail risks. But other real assets can provide a similar hedge, and those tail risks – while not eliminated – are certainly lower today than at the peak of the global financial crisis.

It’s simple: as the market gains confidence that we aren’t headed towards economic oblivion, the price of gold falls. Since the economy is actually doing alright this year, the drop over the last few months has been rather dramatic. It’s not a pretty sight:

News media needs to become more like Hollywood

How the New York Times can fight BuzzFeed & reinvent its future:

However, that is only part of the story. The trick is not to get married to just the oohs-and-aahs of the Snow Fall, but to think of it as a business opportunity, much like the way Hollywood studios creatively monetize their blockbusters. My question is why can’t newspapers and magazine companies take the same approach and build a business model that actually factors in various opportunities that something like Snow Fall can offer?

So instead of starting with a newspaper story and adapting it to different formats, the Times should start with the Snow Fall. If you look at Snow Fall closely, you can see a cohesive approach to content, one that adapts and morphs to not only the medium of access, but to diverse business models — much like the movies.

Om’s argument is that traditional news media has failed – with a few exceptions, like Paul Krugman and David Carr – to properly adopt the blog format on their sites. Instead, they have simply tried to post traditional news articles as blog posts.

As he notes, blogging is about tying together all kinds of media and sharing it through the lens of an individual’s take on the world:

Blogging is a way of editing the world and presenting it to my community, and that means everything from photos, links, tweets and videos, in addition to sharing my raw thoughts and fully packaged features, scoops and even basic news. Every act of sharing tells you what I am interested in and what I am willing to learn and talk about.

Rather than trying to shoot for tens of thousands of hits per short blog on their site, Om thinks that The New York Times should drop $25 million on making dozens of pieces like Snow Fall – long-form pieces with huge budgets that pack in tons of media and use fancy scrolling in the hopes that the spectacle will lead to millions of page views.

I think Malik is being a bit too optimistic here.

There’s a reason most blockbusters come out in summer – they’re a way to escape from the heat, relax, and keep the kids busy while they’re out of school. They have a reputation for being big dumb explosion fests because that’s what people want.

A long piece of excellent reporting like Snow Fall, however, is the opposite of that for most people: it’s thousands of words to read through with multiple pages and no indicator of how far into the story you’ve read. It’s work.

Now, I’m not saying  that making more pieces like Snow Fall would be a mistake in and of itself. It did get millions of page views. But to shift such a massive portion of the Times budget to making such pieces – even with the lower costs from already having the technology ready – would overestimate the demand for long-form journalism.

There’s a reason The New York Times has so many more readers than The New Yorker: people want news. Big stories are awesome, but NYTimes.com gets 35 million monthly page views is because people trust it to have the best reporting on the most important news happening right now around the world. Articles with word counts in the tens of thousands simply don’t meet that need.

Instead, the best thing the Times could do is to let the technology that came out of Snow Fall trickle down to average news stories. Just as CGI has become prevalent enough in Hollywood that even the lowest budget films don’t completely break the fourth wall whenever an explosion happens on-screen, The New York Times can move on from the shitty image galleries that most sites have for image-heavy articles and integrate videos more fluidly with text than the simple embeds used today.

As for Om’s point about using better native advertising (like including a Land Rover ad with Snow Fall)  – there’s no reason that doesn’t have to apply to almost every piece of news. The Times just need to put its sales and technology teams to work at making better software on the backend to let advertisers more accurately target individual articles related to their products.

Matt Smith leaving Doctor Who

BBC News – Matt Smith to leave Doctor Who at the end of year:

After four years as the Time Lord on the BBC One show, viewers will see Smith’s Doctor regenerate in the 2013 Christmas special.

Smith first stepped into the Tardis as the 11th Doctor in 2010. Taking over from David Tennant, he was the youngest actor to play the role.

I started watching Doctor Who after Matt Smith became the Doctor, but I started watching with Tennant’s episodes (I later went back and started from the beginning of the reboot). While I’m going to miss Smith’s quirkiness, I’m hoping that whoever comes in as the 12th is a bit more capable of pulling off the serious aspects of the character. 

Also: can we please just drop Clara too?

Marco Arment sells The Magazine

Yesterday, Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper and Tumblr’s first employee) sold his iOS and web-only publication, The Magazine to its Executive Editor, Glenn Fleishman.

The Magazine is a digital magazine, delivered straight to your iOS devices every two weeks. It covers all manner of subjects, from pawnbrokers to mountain rescue, to goat midwifery.

I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Glenn previously and can tell his enthusiasm toward the project and journalism as a whole will mean that The Magazine continues to break barriers that were previously holding back the digital magazine format.

Here’s what he had to say about the sale:

I love writing, and have appreciated all the time and effort my editors have and continue to put into making my words work in the right order. It’s great to work with both new writers and experienced ones to try to find the sculpture inside the block of marble.

It’s been great working with Marco, who is an exceptionally decent human being, and overflows with different facets of creativity. He’s been the art director, taking photos for the publication (he’s got a great eye), and handled all the business side. A bunch of people have my back going forward, all spelled out in the press release and in the editor’s note that’s now on The Magazine’s site.

I’m interested to see where Glenn and his (new) team (of one) take The Magazine.