Instagram co-founders step down.

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are stepping down:

Mike and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’re now ready for our next chapter.

We’re planning on leaving Instagram to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.

We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next.

—Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder & CEO

You don’t need to read headlines to know kids have been ditching Facebook in record numbers for quite a while now. Most of the social media action is on Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Snapchat.

The departure of the Instagram co-founders isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, but at the same time no platform lasts forever.

Huawei the Copycat

Huawei has replaced Samsung as the top Apple Ripoff Artist. Let’s also not forget they’ve been caught trying to pass off DSLR pictures as phone camera samples.

But for now, check out Huawei’s latest nova 3 phones compared to the iPhone X Apple released just last September:

Huawei doesn’t stop at copying the hardware. They copy the product photography styles and angles too.

But why stop there? Why not copy the wallpaper styles too:

I wouldn’t be able to feel proud of my work if all it entailed was reacting to what other people made and trying to copy it as closely as possible.

Yesterday was Apple’s Keynote where they announced the new iPhone Xs. I’m curious how long it will take Huawei to update their own product line to match.

Categories:

Influencer

Tags:

 /  /  /  / 

“The result is a two-track presidency.”

The New York Times published an anonymous Op-Ed essay by a senior member of the Trump administration, something they’ve never done before:

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

Scathing.

Categories:

Politics, Tromp

The Bullshit Web

Nick Heer breaks down the problems with the Web today:

The average internet connection in the United States is about six times as fast as it was just ten years ago, but instead of making it faster to browse the same types of websites, we’re simply occupying that extra bandwidth with more stuff. Some of this stuff is amazing: in 2006, Apple added movies to the iTunes Store that were 640 × 480 pixels, but you can now stream movies in HD resolution and (pretend) 4K. These much higher speeds also allow us to see more detailed photos, and that’s very nice.

But a lot of the stuff we’re seeing is a pile-up of garbage on seemingly every major website that does nothing to make visitors happier — if anything, much of this stuff is deeply irritating and morally indefensible.

He draws a great analogy between widening highways and increasing internet bandwidth:

You know how building wider roads doesn’t improve commute times, as it simply encourages people to drive more? It’s that, but with bytes and bandwidth instead of cars and lanes.

Now, instead of encouraging companies to build more efficient websites, Google swoops in the save the day with AMP:

Launched in February 2016, AMP is a collection of standard HTML elements and AMP-specific elements on a special ostensibly-lightweight page that needs an 80 kilobyte JavaScript file to load correctly. Let me explain: HTML5 allows custom elements like AMP’s , but will render them as elements without any additional direction — provided, in AMP’s case, by its mandatory JavaScript file. This large script is also required by the AMP spec to be hotlinked from cdn.amp-project.org, which is a Google-owned domain. That makes an AMP website dependent on Google to display its basic markup, which is super weird for a platform as open as the web.

How kind of Google to create a copy of an entire website with all the extra bullshit stripped out. As Heer points out, this is not Google being altruistic. It’s all done in service of itself.

Resist the bloat. Trim down your website. Cut the fat. Kill the bullshit.

Categories:

internet, Technology

Tags:

 /  /  / 

Reply Hazy, Try Again Later

Over at Slate, Will Oremus lets us know Alexa is losing her edge:

As recently as a year ago, Amazon single-handedly controlled the global smart speaker industry, with a market share upward of 75 percent, according to estimates from two of the leading market watchers, Strategy Analytics and Canalys, based in Singapore. Amazon itself boasted in a February earnings report that it had sold “tens of millions” of Echo devices in 2017. That figure included not only its flagship Echo smart speaker but the Echo Dot, Echo Show, and other Echos, the company clarified to me (though not other Alexa-powered gizmos, such as the Tap or Fire TV). It makes sense that Amazon was crushing the competition, because there wasn’t much competition yet: Google had just launched the Home in late 2016, and Apple’s HomePod was not yet on the market. The Echo has been available since 2014.

Would-be rivals faced an uphill struggle. Amazon’s head start in smart speakers resembled the daunting leads that Apple famously built in portable MP3 players, smartphones, and tablets. But Apple’s high prices at least gave competitors an opening to build cheaper alternatives for the mass market. Not so with Amazon. Because it viewed Echo partly as a path to Amazon purchases, the company sold its smart speakers at affordable prices, opting to maximize sales rather than profit margins. How could latecomers compete?

First off, Oremus is being selective with his MP3 player timeline.

Apple entered an already crowded MP3 player market when it launched the original iPod in 2001. The classic and often quoted ‘BrownFury’ on SlashDot said what all short-sighted nerds at the time were thinking, No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.

Table stakes, erroneously determined by the dorks, had been set. Apple was a day late and a dollar short. Except they weren’t.

Amazon was first to market with the Echo, but not best to market. The smart speaker product segment is still a young one and it’s unclear which one(s) will be the winner(s). A few weeks ago I questioned the value of a speaker you can order things from (will this blog entry look cute and naive in a decade?).

As I see it, Google seems to have the biggest lead in AI assistants and voice recognition/dictation, but Apple will be releasing iOS 12 in a month which includes Siri Shortcuts, something I’m very excited about.

Maybe Apple ends up dominating the premium end of the smart speaker category, mirroring what they have been doing with the iPhone for 10 years, while Google and Amazon fight for the rest. Maybe Google winds up the winner.

We don’t know. Won’t know for a while.

Tags:

 /  /  / 

Square Peg in a Round Hole

The Verge has a look at Google’s revamped Wear OS.

First off, ‘Wear OS?’ I know they replaced ‘Android Wear’ a while back, but when you update a product or service you’re supposed to make it better. Engineer-led companies are just the worst at product naming and branding (and Microsoft is still champ).

Secondly, Google wants their round watch interface to work so bad, but it just doesn’t:

The circle is a beautiful shape and in my 20 years of being a graphic designer I’ve seen many attempts made at round interfaces on everything from kiosks to websites, with varying degrees of success.

Screen real estate is extremely limited — therefor valuable — on a watch and by using a round screen Google is throwing away a lot of real estate. They’re also throwing away the whole history of written language.

Unless Google is presenting Mayan and Aztec calendars on their watches, circular screens are inferior to rectangular screens for presenting anything more than the time.

Categories:

Interface

“This is 40 years of deceit coming home to torment him.”

‘He’s Unraveling’: Why Cohen’s Betrayal Terrifies Trump:

Res, meanwhile, was the Trump Tower construction manager. A few years after that, working to refurbish the Plaza Hotel after Trump paid far too much for it, she up and quit—unwilling any longer to take Trump’s explosive moods and turbulent treatment. In her 2013 book, All Alone on the 68th Floor, she recounted an especially unnerving experience as she installed some cut-rate marble. “Donald took one look at this marble and started screaming at me,” she wrote. “He was shaking. ‘You did this,’ he said. ‘You bought this cheap shit and now you are making me look like a jerk. You’re no fucking good.’ I said, ‘Look, Donald, this is the marble you approved. It was cheap, you wanted to save money. Don’t blame me.’ It was like pouring gasoline on a fire. His face was red. His mouth was all twisted and I thought to myself, if he hits you, just take a fall. I did think he was going to hit me.” Res has been a steady Trump critic since he announced his presidential candidacy. Trump once responded by calling her “nasty.”

It’s seems Trump has been running a loyalty Ponzi scheme his whole life, burning bridges and firing people and then moving on and finding new people who are ‘the best’.

He’s reaching the end of the line of people willing to be loyal to him.

Categories:

Tromp

Open always wins, right.

Epic’s first Fortnite Installer allowed hackers to download and install anything on your Android phone silently

I’ve been using computers since I was 4 years old and even though I could acquire the technical knowledge needed to maintain a clean Android device, I’m not sure I’d want to. It seems like it can be a lot of work.

How do the majority of non-technical Android users deal with all the bullshit that comes with an “open” platform like Android?

Of course Google’s dirty little secret they’ll never admit is that Android isn’t really open.

Categories:

Mobility, Technology

Tags:

 /  / 

The Nomadic Web

Alexander Singh (via kottke):

Over the past 25 years, the web appears to have transitioned from a primarily nomadic culture to a mostly agrarian one, mirroring the Neolithic Revolution 10,000 years ago.

The simplicity of HTML-only site building, spaces like Geocities & Angelfire, and cultural artifacts such as web rings coupled with poor search engine tech saw us navigate the web like nomads: from point to point, link to link.

The web has developed & so have the skills necessary to build within it. HTML was easy. CSS took a little more time & JS more again, alienating most and establishing a class hierarchy. Discovery was solved, weakening point-to-point navigation.

The literate Priesthood can still build & interface with the web, but the vast majority of people are relegated to the peasantry. “Fortunately” for them, motivated benefactors have offered a Faustian bargain to make their lives “easier”.

Corporate Feudalism has emerged to create centralized, “safe” spaces for the peasantry to work & play. Attention is farmed and sold in exchange for convenience, protection, mediated self-expression & an indifferent audience. You can do anything if it’s within their borders.

Interesting observations. I haven’t taught at the university level for around 7 years, so I’m not connected with young designers as much as I was.

I’d be interested to find out how many young, internet ‘nomads’ there are today, building their own ‘handmade’ websites (like this one with WordPress, customized CSS and MySQL) or launching readymade versions with Squarespace (like my portfolio site).

Small Fry

The long-estranged daughter of Steve Jobs, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, has written a memoir called Small Fry.

She was interviewed by The New York times and a few ironic nuggets caught my eye:

Ms. Brennan-Jobs has a husband, Bill, a longtime Microsoft employee now launching a software start-up. He has two daughters, aged 10 and 12, and he and Ms. Brennan-Jobs have a 4-month-old son. As she drinks her juice, Bill is nearby with the children, and there’s an easygoing energy in the house.

A husband who worked for Microsoft for many years. How cute.

Ultimately, Mr. Jobs left his daughter an inheritance in the millions — the same amount as his other children — and she is not involved in the allocation of his financial legacy. If she was in charge of his billions, she says, she would give it away to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — a curious twist given her father’s epic rivalry with Apple’s archnemesis.

Such a rebel.

It was another uncomfortable reminder that even though “Small Fry” is Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s story — one written in a precise, literary style — her father’s myth looms so large that she cannot control how her words are received. When choosing a narrator for the audio version, she nixed the ones who spoke his lines too harshly or without humor.

So much of Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s effort with the memoir seems to be to show how brutal Steve Jobs could be — and, in doing so, to reclaim that brutality for herself. And how she wants to reclaim it is to love it.

Lisa shouldn’t feel any guilt if Steve comes across as a prick in her book.

I’ve read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, numerous personal anecdotes of people who worked with him, and watched many videos of him both on and off stage. He was an eccentric asshole, to say the least.

Of course that’s just one dimension of him. An important dimension, but one of many.