The Cloud is Watching You

It’s obvious if you think about it, but this article drives some points home. If you use some kind of web service to read, listen, watch, charge, use, borrow or share stuff, that company not only knows what you’ve (read, listened to, etc.) They also know much more specifically how you did so: Did you stick with it to the end, did you do it from a particular place, at a particular time? Did you do it in one sitting or over a day or a week or a month?

If you then combine such observation across a farily large group of peope you can learn amazing things. Like how many people finish your book, or how far through it they get before abandoning it. Do they listen to the whole song? At what episode of a series do people abandon it? A little scary as the ‘art’ we ‘consume’ gradually morphs into the ‘art’ we ‘like’.

Not only will be be offered to buy new products that we are likely to buy, but the products themselves will be designed in a way that we will like them. Or the art will be created in such a way that we will want to experience it. 

Good or bad?

As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You – NYTimes.com:

Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all.

 

Quote about improvisation (from David Byrne’s new book)

I picked up David Byrne’s new book: How Music Works while waiting around in a bookstore. I flipped it to this page with this quote which I thought was quite cool. If I remember he was quoting something else. Anyway, I wonder how this general idea can be adapted to other forms of improvisation, like designing software products or teaching. I am thinking. Do you have an idea?

IMG 1113  2013 04 22 at 18 41 15

A list of UI and UX books, articles and links

I created this quick and dirty list of useful resources for some friends who wanted to dig into the latest thinking on web and mobile user interface design. I am sure this list is incomplete and quirky but I thought it would be good to share:

New Book: Founder’s Dilemmas

This book looks good: “Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the pitfalls that can sink a startup”. I came across it in the “Startup Lessons Learned” Blog, which may be the best blog about leann startups.

This excerpt talks about a common scenario with startups, where the founders assume that they way they chose to split equity on day 0 will continue to work for them as time goes on:

“How should founders deal with such developments? In short, by assuming when they do the initial split that things will change, even if the specific changes cannot be foreseen, and therefore structuring a dynamic equity split rather than the static splits used at Zipcar, govWorks, and many other startups. As important as it is to get the initial equity split right—by matching it as closely as possible thefounders’ past contributions, opportunity costs, future contributions, and motivations—it is equally important to keep it right; that is, to be able to adjust the split as circumstances change.” (fromFounder’s Dilemmas: Equity Splits)

I think I will be getting the book.

p.s. not to be a scrooge, but shouldn’t the title be “Founders’ Dilemmas”?

Do you finish books?

I love this article. It’s by an actual author talking about whether it matters if a reader reads a book through to the very end.

He starts with the basics, claiming that serious (‘mature‘) readers don’t feel self-imposed pressure to read a book to its very last syllable:

“It seems obvious that any serious reader will have learned long ago how much time to give a book before choosing to shut it. It’s only the young, still attached to that sense of achievement inculcated by anxious parents, who hang on doggedly when there is no enjoyment. “ (from Why Finish Books)

Agreed.

He then gets into much subtler ground: what the experience is of the author or writer in deciding whether it’s time to wrap things up and bring the story (and the book, not always the same thing) to it’s conclusion:

“Kafka remarked that beyond a certain point a writer might decide to finish his or her novel at any moment, with any sentence; it really was an arbitrary question, like where to cut a piece of string, and in fact both The Castle and America are left unfinished, while The Trial is tidied away with the indecent haste of someone who has decided enough is enough.“ (from Why Finish Books)

The article has several other neat scenarios and examples and ends with this, from the point of view of the author himself:

“And finally I wonder if it isn’t perhaps time that I learned, in my own novels, to drop readers a hint or two that, from this or that moment on, they have my permission to let the book go just as and when they choose.” (from Why Finish Books)

If you like reading, you will like reading this article!

I never remember anything

Finally someone writes about something that happens to me (and yes, to you) all the time.

  • What was that movie about that we saw LAST WEEK?
  • How come did it take till page 102 before you realized you had already read this book?

No friends, no need to feel shame anymore. It seems like it happens to everyone (should I add, for you smart alecs out there – it happens to everyone — eventually.)

“Did this mean that it hadn’t been a waste of time to read all those books, even if I seemingly couldn’t remember what was in them?” (from New York Times)

I never remember anything

Finally someone writes about something that happens to me (and yes, to you) all the time.

  • What was that movie about that we saw LAST WEEK?
  • How come did it take till page 102 before you realized you had already red this book?

No friends, no need to feel shame anymore. It seems like it happens to everyone (should I add, for you smart alecs out there – it happens to everyone — eventually.)

“Did this mean that it hadn’t been a waste of time to read all those books, even if I seemingly couldn’t remember what was in them?” (from New York Times)

Dan Lewis, on what it means to ‘own’ something

This post talks about the difference between owning, possessing and accessing a book or anything tangible:

“If I buy (”own”) a book, I expect to be able to do things such as re-sell, loan, rent, gift it. If I rent or borrow (”posses”) a book, I don’t, but expect to be able to do things like take it with me on a trip. If I am in your house and flip through (”access”) a book, you being a mensch aside, I probably can’t just walk out the door with it.” (from What does it mean to ‘buy’ an e-book’)

There’s another very practical aspect of physical goods which goes unmentioned, but is implied. The existence of a used-goods aftermarket. I was having a discussion the other day with someone who was bemoaning the fact that video game consoles were going the way of app stores and downloadable games. One effect of this is on the video game (cartridge) aftermarket.

There are loads of people who cannot or will not pay the new price for video games but, participate very actively in the video game world strictly by buying aftermarket games.

Contrasting the new Barnes and Nobel ‘Nook‘ reader with the now famous Kindle: one of the big advantages cited for the Nook is that their model of ‘e-books’ includes a scheme to permit me to lend my e-book (the book not the device) to someone else. This is a start. But the one who takes that the next step and provides the ability to re-sell my ebook will have yet another leg up.