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kottke.org posts about Jason Kottke

Gawker’s Kinja, circa 2003

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 27, 2012

Gawker has rebranded their new commenting system…it’s now called Kinja. The name is recycled from a project that Nick Denton worked on with Meg Hourihan starting in 2003. Kinja 1 was an attempt to build a blog aggregator without relying solely on RSS, which was not then ubiquitous. Here’s a mockup of the site I did for them in late 2003:

Kinja 2003

Luckily they got some real designers to finish the job…here’s a version that 37signals did that was closer to how it looked at launch.

Where is the team that worked on that Kinja? Nick’s still hammering away at Gawker, Meg is raising two great children (a more difficult and rewarding task than building software), programmer Mark Wilkie is director of technology at Buzzfeed, programmer Matt Hamer still works for Gawker (I think?), intern Gina Trapani is running her own publishing/development empire & is cofounder of ThinkUp, and 37signals (they worked on the design of the site) is flying high.

Subscribe to Jason Kottke on Quarterly

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2012

Quarterly is a hybrid of a magazine and an online store…you subscribe to people and receive items in the mail. It’s a fun idea and I’m pleased to announce that you can now subscribe to me on Quarterly. Here’s what I’m planning on sending out, very generally:

Each day on kottke.org, I attempt to find the interesting in everything. Part of that is casting a wide net and looking for connections between seemingly unrelated things. I hope that — for instance — a sports freak can appreciate something about how the human brain works, a book editor is enticed to read about the history of the American automobile industry, or a startup CEO can find business lessons in fashion. In that vein, I’ll be sending you things that you didn’t know you wanted to see until you saw them.

Price is $25 per quarter with the first mailing shipping in about two months. Sign up!

kottke.org redesign, 2012 version

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 05, 2012

If you’re actually reading this on the site and not in RSS (guys, come on in from the cold, don’t be shy), you’ll already have noticed that I changed the “look and feel” of the site. In doing the design, I focused on three things: simplicity, the reading/viewing experience, and sharing.

Simplicity. kottke.org has always been relatively spare, but this time around I left in only what was necessary. Posts have a title, a publish date, text, and some sharing buttons (more on those in a bit). Tags got pushed to the individual archive page and posts are uncredited (just like the Economist!). In the sidebar that appears on every page, there are three navigation links (home, about, and archives), other ways to follow the site (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and an ad and job board posting, to pay the bills. There isn’t even really a title on the page…that’s what the <title> is for, right? Gone also is the blue border, which I liked but was always a bit of a pain in the ass.

Reading/viewing experience. I made the reading column wider (640px) for bigger photos & video embeds and increased the type size for easier reading. But the biggest and most exciting change is using Whitney ScreenSmart for the display font, provided by Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ long-awaited web font service, which is currently in private beta. Whitney SSm is designed especially for display in web browsers and really pushes the site’s design & readability to a higher level. Many thanks to Jonathan and his web fonts team for letting me kick their tires. I believe that kottke.org is one of only two sites on the entire Internet currently using H&FJ’s web fonts…the other is by some guy who currently lives in a white house near Maryland. Barnaby something…

The reading experience on mobile devices has also been improved. The text was formerly too small to read, the blue border was a pain in the ass (especially since the upgrade to iOS 5 on the iPhone & iPad changed how the border was displayed when zoomed), and the mobile version was poorly advertised. The site now uses the same HTML and CSS to serve appropriate versions to different browsers on different hardware using some very rudimentary responsive design techniques. Whitney ScreenSmart helps out here too…it looks freaking AMAZING on the iPhone 4S’s retina display. Really, you should go look. And then zoom in a bunch on some text. Crazy, right?

Sharing. I’ve always thought of kottke.org as a place where people come to find interesting things to read and look at, and design has always been crafted with that as the priority. A few months ago, I read an interview with Jonah Peretti about what BuzzFeed is up to and he said something that stuck with me: people don’t just come to BuzzFeed to look at things, they come to find stuff to share with their friends. As I thought about it, I realized that’s true of kottke.org as well…and I haven’t been doing a good enough job of making it easy for people to do.

So this new design has a few more sharing options. Accompanying each post is a Twitter tweet button and a Facebook like button. Links to posts are pushed out to Twitter, Facebook, and RSS where they can be easily shared with friends, followers, and spambots. I’ve also created a mirror of kottke.org on Tumblr so you can read and share posts right in your dashboard. I’ve chosen just these few options because I don’t want a pile of sharing crap attached to each post and I know that kottke.org readers actually use and like Twitter, Tumblr, and even Facebook.

So that’s it. I hope you like it. Not every page on the site has the new design yet, but I’m getting there. For reference, here’s what the site has looked like in the past. Comments, questions, criticisms, and bug reports are always welcome.

A pair of recent interviews

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 30, 2012

Five Minutes on The Verge: Jason Kottke:

Then it’s eight more-or-less solid hours of ass-in-chair because surprisingly, that’s the way stuff gets done.

The Setup: An interview with Jason Kottke:

My white desk doesn’t work so well with the optical mouse, so for some dumb reason I’m using a 242-page book called Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer as a mousepad.

Robottke = robot Kottke

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 28, 2011

As part of a series of articles about robots in the workplace, Farhad Manjoo has his colleague Chris Wilson build a robotic Jason Kottke to see if it could pick links as well as I can. Say hello to Robottke.

In computer science parlance, Kottke doesn’t scale. That’s a shame. While services that collect popular stuff online are useful, they lack any editorial sensibility. The links on Techmeme and Summify represent a horde’s view of the Web. The material on Kottke represents one guy’s indispensible take. The Web ought to have both kinds of aggregators, but I’d love to see more people starting link blogs that offer a clear editorial vision. But how do you get more of something so hard to do?

Enter Robottke. Over the last few weeks, Chris Wilson has been building a machine that aims to automatically generate links you might find on Kottke.org. Robottke isn’t meant to replace flesh-and-blood Kottke; we just want to come up with a list of items that Jason Kottke might link to each day.

You can check out Robbotke here. How does it work? We began by crawling all the sources that Jason Kottke is likely to look at every day — we look at all the sites he links to, and all the stuff that people he follows on Twitter are sharing. The hard part is choosing the best, most Kottke-like links from Robottke’s collection. It’s helpful that the human Kottke meticulously tags all of his posts with keywords. When Robottke finds a link, it searches for topics that it knows Kottke likes — the more it finds, the higher the article ranks.

Hey, that riderless bike link at the top of Robottke actually looks pretty interesting…

Hi, everybody

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 15, 2011

Jason asked me to fill in this week as he bunkers in an undisclosed location pursuing interpretive dance training. He’ll chime in with some posts here and there, though, along with some videos of his training.

I’ve been here before, but if you don’t remember I write Unlikely Words. I’m hoping for a good week on the internet, and if you find any gems, buzz me on Twitter.

Introducing Stellar

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2011

For the past several months, I’ve been working on a new web app/site called Stellar. Stellar helps you discover and keep track of your favorite things online. If you like playing around on Twitter or Flickr, you’ll probably enjoy Stellar. There are a few dozen people using Stellar right now and some of them seem pretty enthusiastic about it, so I’m encouraged to open the site up a bit more. As of just this minute, you’ll be able to do a few things with Stellar:

1. View people’s fave pages. For example here are my faves, Meg Hourihan’s faves, Dennis Crowley’s faves, Matt Haughey’s faves, Ainsley Drew’s faves, Heather Armstrong’s faves, Anil Dash’s faves, etc. You can find others by browsing around the site a bit. You can also look at the “best of” pages, a person’s items faved by others…here are my items faved by others.

2. Sign up to reserve your preferred username and request an invite to the beta. FYI: I’m letting people in reeeeally sloooowly so even if you sign up right away it might be awhile before you get in.

3. Current Stellar users will each have a few site invites to give away.

And that’s about it for now. You’ll be hearing more about Stellar in the next few days/week/months here on kottke.org, but you can also follow the Stellar Twitter account for updates. Thanks.

Debating The Hangover

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 25, 2011

The timeline of events goes like this:

Last night, I posted the trailer for the sequel to The Hangover.

This morning, my friend David posts the following on Twitter:

Poleaxed by indication that pop culture aesthete @jkottke might actually like Hangover, the execrable frat boy flick

To which I replied a few hours later:

@daveg Are you kidding? That movie is hilarious.

Anil suggested a debate:

@jkottke @daveg I will pay you guys for an Oxford debate about the Hangover’s merits, or lack thereof.

And Michael Sippey went there and posted a video of an animated David and an animated me having a debate about The Hangover:

I thought you were a pop culture aesthete.

No, I’m from the Midwest.

You live in Manhattan.

But I grew up eating hot dogs.

But you write about expensive conceptual restaurants and post pictures of contemporary art like that thing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where the woman sat at the table all summer.

That’s a pretty accurate five-line bio of me.

The very first Gawker design

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 11, 2011

With all the buzz around the new Gawker design, I figured I’d dig out the first design I ever showed Nick for the site back in October of 2002:

Gawker 2002 design

Nick didn’t like it too much. Background too dark, masthead text not logo-y enough. Two weeks later, I sent him this, with a half-assed technicolor logo that I’d dashed off in Photoshop in like 30 minutes:

Gawker 2002 design

To my shock, he loved it — so much so that they’re still using the damn thing! — and that design was very close to how the site looked when it launched.

Layer Tennis tomorrow

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 09, 2010

I’m going to be commentating a semifinal Layer Tennis match between Mark Weaver and Mig Reyes tomorrow at noon Eastern time. The twist: there’s a secret ingredient:

Today’s competitors have cooked up a little something different for you today; they have suggested that we go Iron Chef style for this match. So, I have chosen a “secret ingredient” for today’s match in the form of a design element that will need to be used in each volley.

If either of the competitors wants to know the ingredient before match-time tomorrow, it’ll cost you $500…or $1200 for exclusive knowledge. Personal checks accepted.

My favorite stuff for kids

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2010

Over at Playgrounder, I shared some of our family’s favorite gear for kids.

An improvised toy: Old Fashioned Quaker Oats canister ($4). You know, the big can. Buy it, eat oatmeal for months, and then give it to your kid when you’re done with it. It’s a drum, a car garage, a cave, a shaker, a block carrier, a hat, an echo chamber, a steam roller, a doll’s bed, and flower pot. Basically the perfect cheap, replaceable, recyclable, open-ended toy.

My interview on The Pipeline

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2010

I try not to do too many interviews these days (they tend to get in the way of actually getting stuff done), but I was pleased to be interviewed for an episode of Dan Benjamin’s Pipeline podcast.

They discuss blogging for a living, general vs. niche blogs, content longevity, making the transition to full-time blogging, how taking a break (even for a week) can affect traffic, finding links, guest bloggers, the good and bad of comments, and more.

(Christ, is that my voice? I *was* just getting over a cold…)

My year in cities 2009

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 29, 2009

Not sure why I’m bothering to do this list for 2009 as I didn’t really go anywhere, but here it is for posterity:

Waitsfield, VT*
New York City, NY*
Boston, MA*
Orange, MA*
Springfield, MA
Nantucket, MA

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Here are my lists for 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Y2K, no big deal

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2009

I contributed a short essay to Newsweek’s 2010 project for the Overblown Fears list: Y2K.

Despite the media hype, the biggest story about the Y2K computer bug is that nothing happened. Trains didn’t spontaneously derail. McDonald’s didn’t roll back to turn-of-the-century pricing (no Happy Meals for a ha’penny). And the banks didn’t lose all of our money; we’d have to wait another eight years for that.

Farhad Manjoo recently did a 2-part piece on the lessons of Y2K for Slate.

Minna Kottke

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2009

Hello everyone. I’d like you to meet Ollie’s little sister, Minna Kottke.

Minna's first day

Big yawn! She was born at home (on purpose!) early this morning; mother and baby are resting comfortably. I am weakened by an unrelated sickness but proud and happy. Ollie can’t stop talking about her. “Minna! Minna!” He’s going to be a great big brother.

So, things are going to be a little slow around here for a bit, especially the rest of this week. Starting next Monday, I’ll be joined by a part-time guest editor for a couple weeks. But more on that later. Now: sleep.

Some of my favorite books

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 04, 2009

The Week asked me to choose a selection of my favorite books for this week’s issue. I’ll take any opportunity to recommend Tom Standage’s The Victorian Internet.

Even though it’s a history of the telegraph, this book is always relevant. The rise of the 1830s communication device continues to be a fantastic metaphor for each new Internet technology that comes along, from e-mail to IM to Facebook to Twitter.

Spark interview

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 17, 2009

There’s a short interview with me about what I do on kottke.org on this week’s Spark radio show on CBC. There’s also an uncut version of the interview that runs about 20 minutes which includes many delightful false starts and ahs and ums. What can I say, I’ve got a face for radio and a voice for print.

Layer Tennis tomorrow

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 09, 2009

Tomorrow at 3pm ET: Layer Tennis match between Jennifer Daniel and Jillian Tamaki with commentary by some guy named Jason Kottke. What is Layer Tennis?

Two competitors will swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and then we post it to the site live. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens. A match lasts for ten volleys.

Update: Here’s the match preview.

Speaking at the Dot Dot Dot Lecture

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 27, 2009

On March 11, I will be joining Jen Bekman (of 20x200), Nicholas Felton (of those cool personal annual reports), and Rebekah Hodgson (of Etsy) at the next Dot Dot Dot Lecture. We’ll be talking about curating, aka that thing I do for a living.

Curatorial strategies are spilling out of galleries and museums and into our everyday design practices. As emphasis shifts from designer to consumer, the vital role of designer is often that of mediator, shaping ideas and content created by others into another user experience. How have these new pivots changed the role of designer from one of artisan to one of curator? Four lecturers speak to curation as a way of design life, and how their audiences learn from, are inspired by, and gain insights from it.

Come for the Felton, stay for the Bekman, and don’t mind me, my talk’s only 10 minutes long. (Actually, I just noticed that they’re “sold out”.)

My year in cities, 2008

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 29, 2008

For the fourth year in a row, a list of all the places I visited in 2008.

Waitsfield, VT*
New York City, NY*
Boston, MA*
Orange, MA*
Springfield, MA
London, UK
Paris, France
Buffalo, NY
Binghamton, NY
Cedar Rapids, IA
Nantucket, MA
Las Vegas, NV
Washington DC

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Note: We didn’t actually spend the night in Paris, but we were there all day so I threw it in there. Here are the lists for 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Personal light cones

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 02, 2008

When I was born 35.2 years ago, a light cone started expanding away from Earth out into the rest of the universe (Minkowski space-temporally speaking, of course). Thanks to updates from Matt Webb’s fancy RSS tool, I know that my personal light cone is about to envelop the Zeta Herculis binary star system, located 35.2 light years from Earth in the constellation Hercules.

With a mass some 50 percent greater than the Sun, however, and beginning its evolution toward gianthood (its core hydrogen fusion likely shut down), Zeta Her A is 6 times more luminous than the Sun with a radius 2.5 times as large. Nevertheless, the star gives a good idea of what the Sun would look like from a great distance, in Zeta Her’s case 35 light years. The companion (Zeta Her B), a cooler class G (G7) hydrogen-fusing dwarf with a luminosity only 65 percent that of the Sun and a mass about 85 percent solar, orbits with a period of 34.5 years at a mean distance of 15 Astronomical Units (over 50 percent farther than Saturn is from the Sun). A rather high eccentricity takes the two as far apart as 21 AU and as close as 8 AU.

Hercules is of course named for the Greek hero, Heracles. Next up is Delta Trianguli, another binary star system, in about two months.

My yearbook photos

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 17, 2008

If I travelled through time for the purpose of attending high school, here’s what my yearbook photos would look like:

Yearbook

Make your own at Yearbook Yourself. The 1988 photo approximates what I looked like in high school. (via merlin)

Clusterflock’s Deron Bauman did an interview with

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 20, 2008

Clusterflock’s Deron Bauman did an interview with me the other day over IM and posted an edited transcript. This seems to be the bit that everyone is pulling from the interview so I will as well:

Other times, it’s not so fun running a visible site. Some people are determined to deliberately misunderstand much of what they encounter in life. Sometimes I have a hard time realizing that that’s their problem, not mine.

kottke.org is ten years old today

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2008

Three cities, two serious relationships, one child, 200,000 frequent flier miles, at least seven jobs, 14,500 posts, six designs, and ten years ago, I started “writing things down” and never stopped. That makes kottke.org one of a handful of the longest continually updated weblogs on the web…something to be proud of, I guess. The only thing I’ve done longer than kottke.org is sported this haircut. (Perhaps not something to be proud of…the hair-in-stasis, I mean.)

Being a digital packrat, I have screenshots of all the past designs the site has had. When I started, the posts were actually hosted on another site of mine, 0sil8, that I’d been doing since 1996. I didn’t know at the time that kottke.org would eventually kill 0sil8. This was the first design (full size):

kottke.org, initial design, 1998

It’s a little misleading because there’s only one post shown on the page…there were usually more, displayed reverse chronologically. The stars were a rough rating of how well that day had gone called the fun meter.

When I moved the site to its own domain after a few months, I redesigned it to look like this (full size):

kottke.org, circa early 1999

The aesthetic was influenced by the pixel grunge style of Finnish designer Miika Saksi…you can see some of his older work here. The font in the navigation is Mini 7Silkscreen was still several months away at that point. The fun meter is still present as is the all-lowercase text, a house style I thankfully dropped a few months later. The cringeworthy writing took a few more years to iron out…if it ever fully was.

This one’s still my favorite; it turned a lot of heads back in the day (full size):

kottke.org, circa late 1999

With dozens of spacer gifs and five concentric tables, it was a bitch to code. There was also a capability to modify the look and feel of the site…you could choose between this design, the older design pictured above, and a text-only version. Inline permalinks were introduced on kottke.org in March 2000 and subsequently the idea was spread across the web by Blogger.

But it only lasted for about a year. In late 2000, I swapped it for this one (full size):

kottke.org, circa 2000

The familar burn-your-eyes-out yellow-green makes its first appearance. I never really meant to keep it or for it to become the strongest part of the site’s identity. After this design launched, I cycled through a few colors (the old yellow, blue, red) before getting to the yellow-green…and then I just got lazy and left it. For 8 years and counting. The post style underwent several changes with this design. In June 2002, I switched to Movable Type after updating the site by hand for four years. Soon after that, I added titles to my posts. In late 2002, I added a frequently updated list of remaindered links to the sidebar. In late 2003, the remainders moved into the main column and have become an integral part of the site. I also started reviewing movies and books around this time…kottke.org became a bit of a tumblelog.

In July 2004, I refreshed the design a bit…tightened it up (full size):

kottke.org, circa 2004

After about a year, I changed it again to the current look and feel (full size):

kottke.org, circa 2005

Sorry, that got a little long…there’s a lot I didn’t remember until I started writing. Anyway, I didn’t intend for this to become a design retrospective. Mostly I wanted to thank you very sincerely for reading kottke.org. Over the last ten years, I’ve poured a lot more of myself than I’d like to admit into this site and it’s nice to know that someone out there is paying attention. [Cripes, I’m choking up here. Seriously!] Thanks, and I’ll see you in 2018.

My Year in Cities, 2007

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 01, 2008

Here are all the places I visited last year…much less travel than in previous years. Having a baby will do that to your schedule. For a few months there, I don’t think I left a 20-block radius of Manhattan.

New York City, NY*
Rochester, VT
Anguilla
Boston, MA*
Orange, MA*
Waitsfield, VT*
San Francisco, CA
McMinnville, OR
Portland, OR

One or more nights spent in each place. Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times on non-consecutive days. Here are my lists from 2005 and 2006.

Just a gentle reminder: I’ll be commenting

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 12, 2007

Just a gentle reminder: I’ll be commenting on today’s Layer Tennis match between Chuck Anderson and Steven Harrington. Things get underway in just under an hour (3pm ET).

Ollie Kottke

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 06, 2007

Dear internet, I’d like you to meet Ollie Kottke.

Ollie Kottke

Some vital statistics: He was born on July 3 just before 1pm, weighed about 7 lbs., 2 oz., loves to eat (and then sleep), is O.K. (ha!), dislikes sponge baths, unfortunately doesn’t have any descenders in his name, both mom and baby are home and doing fine, Ollie is not a particularly popular name right now (and is not short for Oliver), and I’ve never been quite so content as when he fell asleep on my chest yesterday and we snoozed together on the couch for an hour or so. A little slice of heaven.

Also, I’m going to be taking about two months of paternity leave from working on kottke.org. I’ll probably post a few things here and there when I can, but it won’t be a priority by any means. I hope you all have a good rest of the summer and that you’ll find the site again when I start back up in the fall.

Update: Meg has a post up too and there are photos on Flickr.

Line items under “Skills” in my future

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 27, 2007

Line items under “Skills” in my future resume: refreshing all feeds, making things unbold, tab management, pressing cmd-z, scrolling, and posting to the future.

Working from home today…I’ve got ye

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 20, 2007

Working from home today…I’ve got ye old webcam on for awhile this afternoon.

kottke.org is 9 years old today

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2007

On March 14, 1998, I made the first post to this little site. And I’m still standin’ (yeah yeah yeah). Here’s to 9 more years. Actually, I’ll settle for making it to 10. Baby steps.

In addition to my regular duties on kottke.org, I’m editing Buzzfeed today. Stories so far: Bracket Madness, Sweet Sweet Passover Coke, and 2007 Movie Season. More to come this afternoon.

And if that weren’t enough excitement for one day, it’s also Pi Day. (Whoa, the Pi Day web site uses Silkscreen!) I bet the Pi Dayers are really looking forward to 2015 when they can extend the fun to two additional decimal places.