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Reading Notes, November 2022

Article: “App Store Ads Gone Wild”

Gruber on the App Store ad debacle:

“No ads in the App Store, period” would have been a powerful, appealing message…“We sell ads in the App Store, but they’re OK because they don’t track you” seems to be the message Apple is going for, but that’s neither powerful nor appealing.

Too many companies and brands today settle for mediocre, safe justifications in messaging. Commitment is more powerful than visual design caveats.

Apple is actually scrupulous about labeling paid placements as “ads”, and using different background colors for them. One can certainly argue that ads should be even more clearly demarcated, but if you look for it, it’s always clear. But people don’t look. If the message were clear — that there are no ads or paid placements in the App Store, period — people might learn. But if the message is that there are ads, but not many, but now there are more than there used to be, and but if you look closely you’ll see that the ads have a blue background and a small “ad” label — almost everyone is going to assume that anything that might be an ad is an ad and the whole App Store is pay-for-play all the way down.

Reddit: “The current and future state of AI/ML is shockingly demoralizing with little hope of redemption”

If you’re an artist or writer and you’re using DALL-E or GPT-3 to “enhance” your work, or if you’re a programmer saying, “GitHub Co-Pilot makes me a better programmer?”, then how could you possibly know? You’ve disrupted and bypassed your own creative process, which is thoughts -> (optionally words) -> actions -> feedback -> repeat, and instead seeded your canvas with ideas from a machine, the provenance of which you can’t understand, nor can the machine reliably explain. And the more you do this, the more you make your creative processes dependent on said machine, until you must question whether or not you could work at the same level without it.

Nicholas Carr has written in length about these kinds of ideas in his book on automation The Glass Cage.

Article: “What Comes After Chrome”

my hopes for web computing always felt limited by both the inertia of what Chrome already was (it’s hard to move the cheese on people), and by Google itself. A company that once oozed innovation now stood in its way. At some point, so much of our focus became navigating a sea of reasons not to innovate, for fear of causing users to see fewer ads. The ads model is an addictive one! And despite my lofty position at the company, this wasn’t something I could change.

Interesting insight (and admission) from Darin Fisher, co-creator of Google Chrome, on why he’s joining The Browser Company.

Article: “Jony Ive on Life After Apple”

As an evergreen advocate of distilling your thinking into writing before starting visual designs, I find it intriguing that many of Ive’s designs start as words before even sketches.

Quotes from Ive in the article:

Language is so powerful. If [I say] I’m going to design a chair, think how dangerous that is. Because you’ve just said chair, you’ve just said no to a thousand ideas.

The most important lessons you would never choose to learn because they are so painful.

I’m not interested in breaking things. We have made a virtue out of destroying everything of value. It’s associated with being successful and selling a company for money. But it’s too easy—in three weeks we could break everything.

Article: “Collaborating away”

Ideas like the shower. Ideas like our pillows. Ideas like commutes. Ideas like walks. Ideas like the morning, or late nights. Ideas like daydreams. Ideas like you doing something else so they can surprise you. ... They aren't something you control — they bubble up, they arise. You don't get to have them when you want. They come to you.

That’s an interesting interview question: how do you generate ideas?

Article: “The IndieWeb for Everyone”

Max describes perfectly my experience with Mastodon:

Ok wait, you wanted to join mastodon, what’s all this now? Tildes? Furries? Some Belgian company? Why do you have to apply? Everyone else had that mastodon.social handle - Can’t you just use that? The real one? What the hell is a fediverse?

Confused, you close the site. This seems like it’s made for someone else. Maybe you’ll stick around on Twitter for a while longer, while it slowly burns down.

Article: “Word Persons and Web Persons”

There are those who see the web merely as a tool to sell things or to gain influence or otherwise profit, and then there are the "web people" who enjoy the web as a medium of creation, who simply enjoy putting things out there for other people to appreciate.