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kottke.org posts about weblogs

An appreciation of 10 years of Daring Fireball

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 13, 2012

Daring Fireball turns 10 years old today and Robinson Meyer has an appreciation at The Atlantic.

Gruber’s best when he’s writing about perfection, excellence and what it takes to achieve either. He can describe eight iPhone Twitter clients, or the software limitations of the iPad, and evince a common sense of aesthetic. His voice can be muscular and rigorous. The man’s clearly animated by a hatred of everything he knows to be BS.

I share Meyer’s assertion that Apple’s “engorge[ment] as a company” has slightly flattened the site’s tires, but Daring Fireball remains my favorite blog, a spot it has held for several years now.

Now here’s a look at how DF’s design has changed over the years, presented in animated GIF form:

Daring Fireball, 10 Years

Update: I love this analysis of DF’s content over the years, especially the visualization of the shift in interest from desktop to mobile.

Google Earth Time Machine

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 30, 2012

The Google Earth Time Machine blog uses Google’s historical satellite maps to make now-and-then comparisons of interesting places around the world. Like the transformation of this Texas river bend into an oxbow lake over 60+ years:

Google Earth Time Machine 01

Google Earth Time Machine 02

(via stellar)

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.

Curators gonna curate

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 01, 2012

Former kottke.org guest curator Choire Sicha rails against the dirty filthy c-word. That’s right, “curator”.

Your metaphor is all wrong. More likely you’re a low-grade collector, not a curator. You’re buying (in the attention economy at least! If not in the actual advertising economy of websites!) what someone else is selling — and you’re then reselling it on your blog. You’re nothing but a secondary market for someone else’s work.

I got fresh Sicha content. Anyone buying Sicha? 2-for-1 Sicha for the next hour only. Free embedded tweets! I’m also selling links to @curateordie for a limited time only, act now!

Epic Pepys diary rebroadcast to end

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2012

More than nine years ago, Phil Gyford started publishing The Diary of Samuel Pepys online as a time-shifted blog…perhaps the first of its kind. During that time, each entry in Pepys’ diary was published 343 years after Pepys originally wrote them. In time, a popular Twitter account was added. The final entry will be published tomorrow (May 31), which is when Pepys suspended his diary in 1669 due to poor eyesight. Congrats on the run, Phil!

How to blog anonymously

posted by Jason Kottke   May 15, 2012

From former call girl blogger Belle de Jour, a guide on how to publish online and maintain your anonymity.

You will need an email address to do things like register for blog accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and more. This email will have to be something entirely separate from your “real” email addresses. There are a lot of free options out there, but be aware that sending an email from many of them also sends information in the headers that could help identify you.

When I started blogging, I set up an email address for the blog with Hotmail. Don’t do this. Someone quickly pointed out the headers revealed where I worked (a very large place with lots of people and even more computers, but still more information than I was comfortable with). They suggested I use Hushmail instead, which I still use. Hushmail has a free option (though the inbox allocation is modest), strips out headers, and worked for me.

(thx, fred)

Process blog for the NY Times Graphics dept

posted by Jason Kottke   May 01, 2012

chartsandthings is a behind-the-scenes look at how the infographic sausage is made at the NY Times.

A history of The Huffington Post

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 19, 2012

A long and thorough history of The Huffington Post from Michael Shapiro at Columbia Journalism Review. HuffPo cofounder Jonah Peretti calls it “the best article that will ever be written about the creation of the Huffington Post”.

In the course of a few hours, Peretti would watch with wonderment as Arianna Huffington eased herself from setting to setting, all the while making the person she was talking with feel like the most interesting and important person in the world, hanging on every word, never shifting her attention to check one of three BlackBerries. “I loved being a gatherer,” Huffington would later say. “I don’t really think you can make gathering mistakes.”

Peretti saw this talent through a different prism. “Arianna,” he says, “can make weak ties into strong ties.”

He returned to New York to discover that Lerer was already a few steps ahead of him. He wanted to talk about the venture the three of them would embark upon. “I remember him saying things like, ‘We don’t want to build a big website,’” Peretti would recall. “‘We want to build an influential site.’”

Sort of related: there’s an interesting article to be written about Google’s relationship with blogs. Early on, blogs provided Google’s Pagerank algorithm with plenty of links to rank (I would argue that without blogs and the personal web, Pagerank simply wouldn’t have worked…businesses didn’t link to anyone but themselves at that time) and then a few years later, with Huffington Post leading the charge, blogs filled Google with all sorts of crap and nonsense that made it less useful.

Happy tenth birthday, waxy.org!

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 16, 2012

One of my favorite blogs in the whole wide world turned ten years old the other day…waxy.org is one of the handful of sites I visit manually every day. Creator Andy Baio talked about the milestone and shared some of his favorite posts from the past ten years.

Most of the interest in writing online’s shifted to microblogging, but not everything belongs in 140 characters and it’s all so impermanent. Twitter’s great, but it’s not a replacement for a permanent home that belongs to you.

And since there are fewer and fewer individuals doing long-form writing these days, relative to the growing potential audience, it’s getting easier to get attention than ever if you actually have something original to say.

Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time. It’s why, after ten years, my first response to anyone just getting started online is to start, and maintain, a blog.

My favorite part is how Andy casually mentions he has a complete archive of The WELL. Ten more years!

kottke.org redesign by the numbers

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2012

A month ago, I launched a redesign of kottke.org. While there are still a few issues to iron out1, I am overall very happy with it so far.

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.

Aside from those three things, one of my unstated goals with the redesign was to increase the number of people reading kottke.org2 and I had a hunch that the focus on simplicity, sharing, the reading experience would do just that. Using Google Analytics and a couple of other sources, I compared the traffic stats from the past 30 days (I didn’t include the day of launch because that was an outlier day, traffic-wise) to that of the previous 30 days. Here are some of the results. (Except where noted, when I say “traffic”, I mean visits.)

- Overall traffic to kottke.org was up 14%. And February was a pretty good month itself so that’s a nice bump.

- As I hoped, the two areas that saw the most improvement were mobile and referral traffic. Mobile was the lowest-hanging fruit I addressed with the redesign…kottke.org’s previous mobile experience sucked. It’s better now. And the focus on sharing boosted referral traffic.

- Mobile traffic now accounts for 19% of kottke.org’s traffic and increased by 25% over the past 30 days. iPad usage in particular shot up 40% and iPad users are spending longer on the site than they previously were. iPhone and iPod touch traffic both showed double digit percentage increases as well.

- Referral traffic now accounts for 45% of kottke.org’s traffic and increased by 28% over the past 30 days. Most of this increase come from social network sharing. Traffic from Facebook increased by 45%, Facebook mobile was up 43%, Twitter increased by 6% (I already did Twitter sharing pretty well before, so not a huge jump here), and Tumblr referrals went up 125%.

- That big Tumblr increase was due to kottke.org’s new Tumblr blog. Having kottke.org posts be properly rebloggable is paying off. In addition, it’s got over 800 followers that are reading along in the dashboard. I’d like to see that number increase, but I’d probably need to engage a bit more on Tumblr for that to happen.

- For reference, kottke.org’s Twitter account added 1000 followers over the same period, about 20% more than the previous month.

- One of the small changes I made was to stop using post titles for posting to Twitter. I had hoped that using more descriptive text would make the tweets more easily retweetable…look at this tweet for example and compare to the title of the post it links to. This hasn’t really happened, which is surprising and disappointing.

- I also removed the links to the tag pages (like this and this) from the front page. I had a hunch that very few people were using those links compared to the real estate they took up and the traffic numbers bear that out…traffic to tag pages decreased only 3%.

That’s enough for now…I very rarely dig into the traffic stats so it’s difficult to stop when I do. That and it’s rewarding when you redesign something and it actually works out the way you thought it was going to.

[1] Like this weird Safari bug that results in overlapping link text. Many people have reported this but it only happens sporadically (and usually goes away with a refresh) and I can’t reproduce it or find any other sites/designers who are having the same issue. Oh, and it seems like it only happens on OS X Lion. I have no idea if it’s the web fonts or something in my CSS. Anyone have any ideas?

[2] Not for $$$ reasons, although that is certainly a consideration. No, it’s more that I believe there are literally millions of people out there who are not reading kottke.org that would love it. I put a lot of myself into the site, I’m proud of it, and I want people to see it. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and I would also like the unlimited power that comes with millions of readers. evil cackle and cat stroking noises And the money. even more cat stroking noises And the chicks. expensive champagne cork popping noises And my kids’ love and respect. surprisingly loud whining noise that you can’t even believe came from someone less than 40 inches tall oh come on you just watched Wallace and Gromit for the past hour and you want more orange juice jesus come on give it a rest and now there’s a surprisingly loud whining noise coming from a 38-year-old man that should know better…

OMG American history LOL

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 04, 2012

Perez Hamilton is a site covering American history through the lens of gossip blogger Perez Hilton. It’s up to the 1690s now…here’s an account of Leisler’s Rebellion from 1691:

During all the drama between the Boston revolt, New England and New France going to war and King James II being overthrown, German-American Jacob Leisler seized control of New York and ruled it against the wishes of the new King William III. In response, KWIII sent a new governor to NY, but he didn’t get there for a couple years because he was lazy delayed by bad weather.

After an awkward stand-off resulting in words along the lines of, “You’re not governor, I am!” and, “No, bitch, NY is mine!” Jacob Leisler was finally arrested by the REAL governor and sentenced to death.

This is riDICKulous. You can’t just steal New York and expect to get away with it!!!!

If it was THAT easy, don’t you think we’d have stolen it loooong ago?? Where else can you get the best food and fashion in America??!

Blog skis

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2012

Atomic sells a ski called the Blog.

The Blog is ideal for freeskiers who refuse to compromise on airs and tricks in the backcountry.

(via meg)

Those who think The Onion is real journalism

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 08, 2012

The Literally Unbelievable blog is collecting examples from Facebook of people who think stories from The Onion are real.

Onion Is Truth

(via ★swissmiss)

Halloween or Williamsburg?

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 26, 2011

Got this from several people yesterday: are these people dressed up for Halloween or just live in Williamsburg? It’s surprisingly difficult to tell.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Noses

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 18, 2011

I’ve found it! The world’s best Tumblr reveals itself after years of searching: Teenage Mutant Ninja Noses. It’s a collection of photos of celebrity noses modified to look like ninja turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Noses

Internet, can we best this? I have my doubts.

Stalking in the age of Facebook

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2011

This is the contemporary take on the guy-meets-girl-at-party story. Guy isn’t particularly interested in girl but at some later point starts surreptitiously taking photos of her and posting them to a secret blog. Girl finds out, isn’t creeped out at all. Boy doesn’t feel shame at girl’s discovery, only that it ruined his creative outlet before “he might have gotten better at it or something”. Girl decides to interview boy for her communications class. You know, completely normal.

She messaged Walker through Facebook, and at first he seemed receptive. “He thought it was funny,” said Merker. But after an initial show of interest, Walker got skittish, canceling and rescheduling the interview repeatedly. When Merker finally sat down with him, it was only after she had managed to catch him off-guard, saying she was already in his neighborhood and offering to meet at a bar.

Walker had one condition: he wanted to do the interview “in character” as the persona he had established through the blog. That would mean interviewing Merker, too; after all, any blogger who had devoted an entire Tumblr to a single person would certainly take the opportunity to directly question his subject.

You know when Mark Zuckerberg says stuff like privacy doesn’t matter and Facebook makes formerly private information public without notice and all the tech pundits (most of whom are older than Zuck) go bananas tearing out their hair about how stupid and crazy that is? Now you know where Zuck and Facebook are coming from.

The Wirecutter

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 04, 2011

Not sure if it’ll stay like this, but what a great idea for a gadget site for normal people: a list of recommended technology products broken down into categories based on how people actually make buying decisions. Sample categories include Best Laptop Ever Created, The Great TV I’d Get, and Best Wireless Carrier.

Museum of 8-bit video game title screens

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 03, 2011

Title Scream is a collection of 8-bit video game title screens. Not just static images either…animated GIFs, yo.

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…

Things that Apple is worth more than

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 21, 2011

New Tumblr: Things Apple is Worth More Than. Such as: the GDP of Singapore, every single home in Atlanta, Georgia, and all the illegal drugs in the world.

A fond farewell to The Obscure Store

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 06, 2011

Jim Romenesko is shutting down The Obscure Store and Reading Room after thirteen years. TOS&RR was an early blog that helped shape many that came after it…it was one of my favorites back in the day.

Romenesko was also one of the first, if not the first, full-time bloggers…the Poynter Institute brought him on in 2000 to write the MediaNews blog. Romenesko is stepping away from Poynter (he’ll continue as a part-time staffer) and will launch a site on his own domain soon.

(Fun fact: I did the design for TOS&RR back in, what, 2002? 2003? I was amazed (and somewhat embarrassed) to discover that the logo survived until the present day.)

The Kid Should See This

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 24, 2011

Great new site from Rion featuring online videos, photos, books, and other media that’s appropriate for little kids.

There’s just so much science, nature, music, arts, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven’t seen. It’s most likely not stuff that was made for them…

But we don’t underestimate kids around here.

With obvious exceptions, media “made for kids” is mindnumbingly dumb. YouTube, Flickr, and Vimeo are amazing resources of not-made-for-kids but totally-appropriate-for-kids stuff like what Rion is posting here. I’ve often wanted a Wikipedia For Little Kids (for the iPad) that’s almost exclusively video- and image-based that I could let Ollie loose on to learn about stuff. (via @swissmiss)

Fake + logo = Fauxgo

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 09, 2011

Fauxgo is a site that collects fictional logos from movies and TV shows.

Dinoco

Happy 12th birthday, MetaFilter!

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 14, 2011

Wow, for the 12th anniversary of MetaFilter, Matt bought the domain of the first site MF ever linked to (cat-scan.com) and dedicated it to stories from the site’s early years. More here.

Fastest possible drawings of everything

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 07, 2011

A blog composed of quick drawings of objects, like so:

Fast cake

Colossal

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 29, 2011

Can’t remember who tipped me off to this (Cederholm? Hoefler? Pieratt?), but Colossal is a top-notch visual art/design blog. There are a dozen things on the first two pages that could slide right into kottke.org quite easily. He’s on Stellar too!

Game of Thrones food blog

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 17, 2011

The Inn at the Crossroads is a blog dedicated to exploring the cuisine of George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Ice book series, from which HBO’s Game of Thrones is adapted.

The Queen took a flagon of sweet plum wine from a passing servant girl and filled Sansa’s cup. “Drink,” she commanded coldly. “Perhaps it will give you courage to deal with truth for a change.”

On pagination navigation

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2011

Sippey posted a brief item on pagination navigation on “river of news” type sites, comparing the opposite approaches of Stellar and Mlkshk. I thought a lot about where to put those buttons and what to label them. There’s no good correct answer. For example, “older” usually points the way to stuff further back in the timeline that you haven’t read, i.e. it’s new to you but old compared to the first page of stuff…are you confused yet? I focused on two things in choosing a nav scheme:

1. The Western left-to-right reading pattern. If you’re in the middle of reading a book, the material to your left is a) chronologically older and b) has already been read and the material to your right is a) chronologically newer and b) unread. From a strict data perspective, a) is the correct way to present information but websites/blogs don’t work like books. b) is how people actually how people use blogs…when a user gets to the bottom of the page, they want to see more unread material and that’s naturally to the right.

2. Consistency. Once you add page numbers into the mix — e.g. “< newer 1 2 3 4 older >” — it’s a no-brainer which label goes where. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the reverse: “< older 4 3 2 1 newer >”.

Also, I do whatever Dan Cederholm does. (But dammit, he does the opposite on his blog! Hair tearing out noise!!) That said, I like Sandy’s suggestion of getting rid of the “newer” button altogether:

We put “Older” on the right, but did away with “Newer” altogether in favor of a link back to page 1. If they want to go back to the previous pages, people can use their back button.

http://mlkshk.com/p/212C

Or maybe put “newer” at the top of the page? Still a waste of screen real estate? Anyway, once I figure out how I want to do infinite scrolling on Stellar, those problematic older/newer buttons will go away. Huzzah!

Queen of All Me Media

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2011

Dooce gets the NY Times Magazine treatment this weekend. More than anything, reading it made me nostalgic for a certain short period of time where people could write personal blogs intended to be read by more than just family and a few friends without worrying about money or a “personal brand”. God, those were the (clearly unsustainable) days…here’s the new reality:

Amy Oztan, who blogs at SelfishMom.com, is particularly transparent when it comes to her sponsors. She has a lot of them — companies who pay her, in money or in product, to advertise on her site or to mention them. Oztan has an entire section explaining how she makes her money, including an extensive index of tabs she uses to alert readers to the economics of everything she writes. It starts with Level 1 — “The product or service mentioned was provided to Amy free of charge (or at a considerable discount not available to the public)” — and goes up to Level 13: “This is a sponsored post. Amy was compensated to write this post. While Amy’s opinions in the post are authentic, talking points may have been suggested by the sponsor.” In between these extremes are compensation for inserting links to a certain Web site, attending an event or administering a product giveaway. Which pretty much explains why, between daily witticisms, she so regularly describes how she offered Kleenex to the woman next to her at a conference or placed her HTC HD7 Windows phone on the tray table next to her when she lucked into an empty row on her last plane trip.

Movable Type sold to Infocom

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 21, 2011

Six Apart Japan, Movable Type, and the Six Apart brand will be acquired by Infocom, a Japanese IT firm.

We are happy to announce that Six Apart KK (SAKK), a Japanese subsidiary of SAY Media, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Infocom, a Japanese IT company, as of February 1, 2011. As part of this transaction, SAKK will assume responsibility for the worldwide Movable Type business, and the Six Apart brand.

We at SAKK are very excited to continue our investment in Movable Type, the Movable Type Open Source project and the worldwide community of developers, publishers and bloggers around the world that use Movable Type.

This depresses me. (via waxy)