Self-publishing is the new blogging

Everyone a writer, everyone a publisher, everyone a citizen journalist.

Everything that could be digital would be. Content wanted to be free. Then we had to get paid. But animated smack-the-monkey ads were so declassé. Ch-ching, Google AdSense, ch-ching, The Deck advertising network, ch-ching your ad network here.

Everyone a writer, everyone a publisher, everyone a citizen journalist, ch-ching.

First the writers and designers did the writing. Then the non-writers who had something to say did it. Then the people with nothing to say got a MySpace page and the classy ones switched to Facebook.

And ch-ching was heard in the land. And the (not citizen) journalists heard it, and it got them pecking into their Blackberries and laptops.

And then the writers and designers, ashamed at rubbing shoulders with common humanity, discovered the 140-character Tweet and the Tumblr post. No stink of commerce, no business model, nothing that could even charitably be called content, and best of all, no effort. Peck, peck, send.

When you’ve flown that far from Gutenberg, the only place to travel is back.

Enter Lulu, all slinky hips and clodhoppers. Self-publishing is the new blogging. No more compromises. No more external deadlines. No more heavy-handed editors and ham-fisted copyeditors. No more teachers, lots more books.

You don’t need distribution, you’ve got PayPal. You don’t need stores: there’s only two left, and nobody buys books there, anyway. You don’t need traditional marketing. Didn’t we already prove that?

Got book?

[tags]blogging, editing, publishing, self-publishing, writing, writers[/tags]

ALA 248: Obscure meanings and addresses

In Issue No. 248 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

Graceful E-Mail Obfuscation

by Roel Van Gils

Hide e-mail addresses from spam bots while revealing them to readers as real, clickable links. This transparent and fully automated solution guarantees that all addresses on your site will be safe—even the ones that show up in blog comments!

Greatest Copy Shot Ever Written

by Nick Padmore

“Got Milk?”, “Don’t leave home without it”, “Good to the last drop.” You know these taglines and the products associated with them. So what makes a great copy shot? Is there a formula? And can understanding advertising help us write better web copy?

[tags]design, webdesign, alistapart, copywriting, email, e-mail, obfuscation, headlines, taglines, themelines, advertising[/tags]

Proposed Catch-Phrases for the Next Bruce Willis Film

  • E-I-E-I-O, motherfucker!
  • Hi-ho, the motherfuckin’ dairy-o, motherfucker!
  • Anchors aweigh, motherfucker!
  • Hinky dinky parlez-vous, motherfucker!
  • Skip to my loo, motherfucker!
  • A tisket, a tasket, motherfucker!
  • Pocket full of posies, motherfucker!
  • The cheese stands alone, motherfucker!

[tags]catchphrases, hollywood, screenwriting, scriptwriting, brucewillis[/tags]

Words, words, words

Writing has always been the beating heart of online user experience. It is also the single aspect of creating online user experience that designers and developers almost never study, discuss, or consider when tasked with creating a website—except perhaps to ask when the copy will be ready.

The exceptions to this rule are almost always the people who, in one way or another, move the medium forward.

Those who place a premium on the “content” of sites they build most often see those sites succeed. Those who value and practice good writing become the bloggers people read, the editors of magazines with healthy page views, and the creators of communities to which others flock. And those who consider clear and brand-appropriate writing an essential part of the interface design process create the Flickrs and Basecamps we love and business people respect. (Sorry to always cite those examples, but, hey.)

Long lost to the mists of time, the first issue of A List Apart declared its allegiance to writers as well as designers and coders, and sought to present the art and business of website creation as a holistic enterprise in which words matter as much as anything. And from time to time over the years, we’ve refocused the magazine on writing—whether it’s writing the user interface or cleaning up uninspired, client-supplied copy. Perhaps we have not done enough to support writing or to include writers in the virtual conference room. But we’re working on it.

Presenting Issue No. 242 of A List Apart for people who create websites:

Better Writing Through Design

by BRONWYN JONES

How is it that the very foundation of the web, written text, has taken a strategic back seat to design? Bronwyn Jones argues that great web design is not possible without the design of words.

Reviving Anorexic Web Writing

by AMBER SIMMONS

Intelligent web content is the literature of our time. Amber Simmons argues that conventional approaches have starved the life out of web writing.

[tags]writing, writing the user interface, webdesign, alistapart[/tags]

Link ‘n Park

Travel day. While I’m singin’ in the rain between New York and Philadelphia, here are some nice, dry links for your pleasure.

Cover Browser
Jackpot link! Recall every lost issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Identify with Betty or Veronica. Discover the Mad Magazine you never knew. Cover Browser intends to catalog the cover of every comic book (not to mention every book, game, DVD, magazine…) ever printed. With 77,000 entries, they are just getting started. Via Veer.
Things on Things
If basking in the nostaliga of Cover Browser (above) makes you feel like everything that can be digital is becoming so—and if that thought (however inaccurate it may actually be) makes you wonder if widespread digitization is changing the way we perceive and value reality—you’re not alone. But you may not be as articulate about it as the pseudonymous author of the untitled essay posted yesterday at Things Magazine. Read it. Bookmark it. Share it. Via Coudal.
Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster
The great Jared Spool on lessons to be drawn when a hot new feature fails to please the public for whom it was ostensibly created.
Multi-touch on the desktop
Hockenberry on interface design. Some people who love the iPhone can’t wait for multi-touch to come to the desktop. Hockenberry explains why it won’t.
Radio Telepathy
Eclectic music podcast.
Design Interviews: ROB WEYCHERT of Happy Cog Studios
Web designer, artist and writer Rob Weychert on typography, humor, haiku, neurotically meticulous attention to detail, and the bearded cult.
iTrapped
A photoset on Flickr (and a new meme). Fun!
There is no “first blogger”
Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of Salon corrects the breathless coverage of The Wall Street Journal, beginning with its fallacious assertion that “It’s been 10 years since the blog was born.” There are journalists who get this stuff right, but not nearly enough.
Icon Archive
Over 12,500 desktop icons, organized in sets, for Windows, Macintosh and Linux Systems. Non-commerical use is allowed in most cases. The site’s offerings are culled from other sites (e.g., Star Wars 2, by Talos, comes from Iconfactory); original authors are credited and linked.
No Compassion
Artist Jiri David’s manipulated photos of Bush, Putin, Berlusconi, and Chirac.
Hope is Emo, Chapter 9
Hope gets emotionally damaged at a family wedding. (Video.)

Get up in my grill. View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia.

[tags]comics, cover art, digitization, UI design, rob weychert, jared spool, facebook, multi-touch, icons, manipulated images, hope is emo, wallstreetjournal, salon, blogs, blogging, first blogger, radiotelepathy, itrapped [/tags]

Since 1995

Oops, there goes our anniversary. On 31 May 2007 this site turned twelve years old. Ah, memories! Who can forget …

  • Gifplex (1995, an early “web multimedia” art experiment)
  • The Ad Graveyard (real ads that almost ran, 1995–1998)
  • Pardon My Icons (unusual icons for your desktop or website, 1995–1998)
  • 15 Minutes (interviews with movie stars and “cyber stars,” 1996–1999)
  • Ask Dr Web (an early guide to designing websites; taken offline because the presentational HTML techniques it advocated have long since become outdated thanks to web standards)
  • Mr Jenkins’s Last Martini (1996, the web’s first alcoholic haiku contest)

… and all the other juicy Web 1.0 Goodness™. Not to mention a couple dozen discarded designs, legions of obsolete splash pages, and a certain Daily Report that was initially dumped onto a page called coming.html and maintained daily and steadily for years before it became conscious of itself, acquired a title, and moved to the site’s front page.

The web found me and claimed me. Everything else followed. Maybe you feel that way, too. Thank you for what you bring to the web, and thank you for twelve years or your part of it.

“The independent publisher refuses to die.”

Related

Daily Reports from 1997 On
You don’t need the WayBack machine to go way back in zeldman.com history. Enjoy these representative Daily Report pages from 1997 on (including the famous HTML Fist).

[tags]zeldman, zeldman.com, blogs, blogging, independent content[/tags]

ALA 238: copywriting 101, evangelizing 102

In Issue No. 238 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

Evangelizing Outside the Box: Web Standards and Big Companies

by Peter-Paul Koch

Nearly a decade after The Web Standards Project named the core standards for web development and began persuading browser makers to support them, the negative rap on web standards is that they’re fine for bloggers, freelancers, and small shops, but somehow inappropriate for big corporate and e-commerce sites. This is a lie. Contrary to popular belief, designers and developers at many big companies use web standards in their work every day. They just don’t talk about it. For standards awareness to reach the next level, they’ll have to start talking, says PPK.

Who Needs Headlines?

by Shaun Crowley

A designer formats and places text. Technically, the job ends there. But some designers go further, sharpening their clients’ content to grab and focus user attention. In so doing, they create more effective sites—and gain an advantage over other designers. Drawing on decades of copywriter lore, Shaun Crowley discusses seduction by headline and other principles of writing that sells.

The Web Design Survey
The Web Design Survey has closed. Thanks to all who took time to answer the 36 questions it posed. Our findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

[tags]alistapart, copywriting, writing, webstandards, web standards evangelism[/tags]

Monday breakfast links

Berners-Lee: reinventing HTML

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web and founder of the W3C, announces reforms:

It is really important to have real developers on the ground involved with the development of HTML. It is also really important to have browser makers intimately involved and committed. And also all the other stakeholders….

Some things are clearer with hindsight of several years. It is necessary to evolve HTML incrementally. The attempt to get the world to switch to XML, including quotes around attribute values and slashes in empty tags and namespaces all at once didn’t work.

9 to 5 = average
To be great in design takes passion and work.
Sending XHTML as text/html Considered Harmful to Feelings
I love this.
Web Directions North
Our Australian friends set up camp in Vancouver, for what looks like a great two-day conference on standards-based design and development (Vancouver Canada, February 6-8 2007). Speakers include Kelly Goto (Gotomobile), Andy Clarke (malarkey), Adrian Holovaty (Chicago Crime, Washington Post), Douglas Bowman (Google Visual Design Lead), Dan Cederholm (SimpleBits), Joe Clark (joeclark.org), Dave Shea (CSS Zen Garden), Cameron Moll (Authentic Boredom), Molly Holzschlag (Molly.com), Veerle Pieters (Veerle’s Blog, Duoh!), Kaitlin Sherwood (Google Maps US Census mashup), Tantek Çelik (Technorati).
Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance
By Andrew Kirkpatrick, Richard Rutter, Christian Heilmann, Jim Thatcher, Cynthia Waddell, et al. Don’t let the unsexy title fool you. Vast and practically all-encompassing, this newly updated classic belongs on every web designer’s shelf. (Better still, open it and read.)
I Cannot Possibly Buy Girl Scout Cookies From Your Daughter at This Time
By Charlie Nadler in McSweeney’s.
Gemini Girl
New women’s blog elegantly designed by Ray McKenzie.
eMusic: 33 Folkways LPs
Thirty-three important Folkways Recordings for download. Louis Bonfa, Mighty Sparrow, Woodie Guthrie, Henry Cowell and more.
On having layout – the concept of hasLayout in IE/Win
Technical but reasonably easy to follow discussion of why Internet Explorer’s rendering of your design may suck differ from your expectations
“Apple’s Backup App is Shit”
God bless SuperDuper.

[tags]W3C, webdirections, accessibility, haslayout, browsers, mcsweeney’s, folkways[/tags]

ALA 222: wraparounds and wordsmithing

Save time by tricking PHP into managing your tricky text-wrap problems; use that time to fix your About page. Everybody wins in Issue 222 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

Your About Page Is a Robot

by Erin Kissane

Everyone has one. No one likes to talk about it. No, not that. It’s your About page, and it needs a little love. ALA’s Erin Kissane guides you through a beautiful journey of self-discovery.

Sliced and Diced Sandbags

by Rob Swan

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to get text to flow around an irregularly shaped image? Wouldn’t it be even better if we could automate the process? Have no fear: Rob Swan is here to show us the way.

[tags]design, a list apart, alistapart, webdesign, php, writing, copywriting, about[/tags]

Inspiration and perspiration

AIGA | Aquent Salary Survey Calculator
Are you getting paid what you should? Find out with this free online calculator, created by AIGA and Aquent after surveying nearly 6,500 design professionals.
Pantone’s Fall Fashion Color Report
The fashion forecast is for cool, calm colors from the earth. Wear them tomorrow, see them on your website the day after.
Magic 8_Ball on ‘Zune’
Daring Fireball has fun kicking Microsoft’s me-tooism.
CreativeIQ: Create Letterhead Templates in MS Word
Creating letterhead templates in Microsoft Word that don’t suck.
Most Inspired
Design inspiration aggregation.
Netdiver: Outstanding
Design inspiration, collected by Netdiver. Sharp concepts and fresh perspectives.
“People nearby started to panic”
A mobile phone rings on a London-to-New-York flight.
Time Capsules: Douglas Coupland: September 11
From the vantage point of a 52-day book tour that began on September 11, 2001, the author recalls the surreal first days of post-9/11 America.
Congress: Hall Pass Revoked

If Net Neutrality didn’t do enough to get you squirming HR5319 AKA Deleting Online Predators Act AKA DOPA should serve as proof that Congress should no longer be allowed to vote on any laws governing the internet. In case you missed the news, DOPA basically will require all public schools and libraries to block access to social networking sites and chat rooms.

The Agency Model is Dead – Blue Flavor
Brian Fling of new agency Blue Flavor lists “signs of the decline in the traditional agency” and discusses his agency’s nontraditional approach.
AppZapper – Making uninstalls easy
AppZapper for Mac OS X lets you confidently try new apps while knowing you can uninstall them easily. Drag one or more unwanted apps onto AppZapper and watch as it finds all the extra files and lets you delete them with a single click.
Bokardo: Why Netscape Will Succeed
Bokardo, a blog about social web design, says Netscape’s reinvention of itself as a mass-market version of Digg will succeed.
Zach Klein: Connected Ventures + IAC
The guys behind collegehumor.com sell to Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp.

[tags]design, business, inspiration, fashion, color, AIGA, salaries, links, digg, netscape, blue flavor, bbc, douglas coupland, 9/11, 911, writers, book tour, publishing, memoirs, mac os x, macosx, software, net neutrality, online predator, london, new york, nyc[/tags]