“Digital literacy.”

The term “digital literacy” is often referred to as if you can use a spreadsheet or a text editor. But I think digital literacy is closer to looking both ways before you cross the street. It’s a warning to think about what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing, what you’re doing, and thinking critically about what to accept and reject . . . Because in the absence of this kind of critical thinking, it’s easy to see how the phenomena that we’re just now labeling fake news, alternative facts [can come about]. These [problems] are showing up, and they’re reinforced in social media.

Source: The Internet’s Future Is More Fragile Than Ever, Says One Of Its Inventors

A highly recommended read.

The iPhone was an impossible product.

Ten years in and the full potential of the iPhone still hasn’t been fully tapped. No product in the computing age compares to the iPhone in terms of societal or financial impact. Few products in the history of the world compare. We may never see anything like it again — from Apple or from anyone else.

Source: Daring Fireball: Perfect Ten

I recently switched back to Android after using an iPhone for a couple of years. I prefer the Android ecosystem, probably because I’m so plugged into everything Google.

But Android wouldn’t be where it is without the clarity of purpose that the iPhone introduced us to: a device to replace all your other devices.

On the Microsoft (and Samsung) side of things, I dig where they’re going with Continuum and DeX. Plugging your phone into a terminal and using a full screen and mouse and keyboard? I love it. But I’m a geek who enjoys these sorts of things. And I don’t think that much of the rest of the world feels the same way about it.

And so again I come back to Apple and the iPhone and the magic that Steve Jobs unveiled ten years ago on that stage. iPod. Phone. Internet. Entertainment. Communication. Information. All in your pocket at all times.

The Meeker Report is an effective piece of content marketing.

So, all of this is to say that I encourage you to read the full report. And I encourage you to trust the actual stats on the actual graphs. But take the report for what it is — an extremely effective piece of content marketing, promoting the trends and interests of a company selectively invested in the space.

Source: The Carefully Sculpted Reality of the Meeker Trends Report

(Insert comment here about “everything is marketing”.)

Product management for SMB marketing websites?

A distinction we like to highlight at Postlight is that a product manager is not a project manager. Don’t get me wrong. Project management is important. But the focus is too often on maintaining a process, not shipping a product. That’s sensible on big projects, but less useful when you need to bring a product into the light. Product managers get in there. Moving things around. Dropping things off. Explaining to the team that the research doesn’t support this tactical move or that. My co-founder Paul Ford says that a good product manager has a crooked index finger from hitting “Command-R” to reload a web app tens of thousands of times. I think that’s right — you’re looking for that person willing to obsessively look at tiny changes until the entire picture of the product comes into view.

Source: What Makes a Good Product Manager?

Tangent time.

Lately I’ve been thinking about SMB marketing websites & eCommerce websites in the context of product management.

You have all the ingredients of a web app. There are UX considerations, performance considerations, back-end logic and infrastructure considerations, user stories and jobs-to-be-done.

(Isn’t monthly unique traffic similar enough to MAUs?)

So, along that train of thought… I wonder what principles we can borrow from product management and apply to SMB marketing & eComm websites?

(Aside: I’m a big fan of Postlight. You should read their blog and subscribe to their podcast.)

On predicting and dismissing technology.

In 2000, it seemed as though the only question any telecoms investor ever asked was ‘what’s the killer app for 3G?’. It turned out that the killer app for having the internet in your pocket was having the internet in your pocket: a general technology breakthrough matters not because of a particular application that it enables but because of all and any of them. I had little idea of the specific ways you’d use your phone to access all the world’s information and share stuff with your friends, but it was a safe bet you’d want to do it somehow.

Source: Not even wrong – ways to dismiss technology — Benedict Evans

Really enjoyed reading this essay from Benedict Evans on how new technology is often dismissed as a toy.

I feel this way sometimes about machine learning, AI, VR, AR… despite also recognizing their tangible, happening-right-now applications.

Aside: Appreciated this almost-timely (and relevant!) comment from Christopher S. Penn’s newsletter: “For the average business, AI is purely hype. The average business is still working on implementing Google Analytics correctly, still trying to determine what a lead is worth. Implementation of and direct use of AI for the average business is many years off, if ever.”

Missing GeoCities

Basically, I miss Geocities. I miss the feeling of any given webpage being a moment in time, a familiar blaze on an unfamiliar trail, a place where URL hacking was a shortcut and not state manipulation. I want apps to look like I’ve been there, not like the Ghost of Material Design has. I want the web to look like my living space, which is neither clean nor limited to a six-color palette. The one-page webapps that neatly shunt us into text areas do so beautifully, but all the content we can ever create won’t break the surface of their style guide. They tell us to make more things that look like this and act like this. There’s comfort in consistency, sure—but that horizon in the distance is only a landscape, painted on a sheet.

Source: Bless This Mess

Props to Kevin Barrett from Postlight for the pang of nostalgia.

We’ve got all this hype around authenticity and individuality and being creative. Meanwhile we’re rearranging grey boxes on our screens and calling it cutting-edge design.