Archive of: writing

  • On reading and writing

    It’s a world wide web out there. There’s plenty of room for everyone. And I, for one, love reading the words of others.

    Jeremy Keith

    I have been very lax about writing anything of substance on here recently, apart from the end of year lists. I must try harder.

  • On writing

    Remember what it is you’re trying to do when writing for a wide audience: communicate an idea clearly and accurately.

    If a reader ends up confused, it’s not their failure as a reader but yours as a writer.

    Alok Jha

  • Penguin Tasters

    My favourite publisher is at it again. Soon after announcing they would be experimenting with DRM-free audiobooks, Penguin today announced their new Penguin Tasters program.

    From today (or actually from six months ago if you were sniffing around some of our new novels on the Penguin website) you can download the opening chapter (or chapters) of all Penguin’s new fiction for free. Yes, that’s right. FREE. For nothing. In pdf form – which you can print, email, view on your PC screen or a Blackberry, Palm or iPhone – these Tasters offer you the very beginnings of Penguin’s latest novels. You can get your mitts on some great stories without having to give a jumped-up calculator the keys to your bank account. It’s an entirely risk-free way to discover new authors, to read new stories (and to pass them on to your literate friends).

    I’ve been quite effusive in my praise of Penguin before, but I think deservedly so. They seem to relish in experimenting with what it means to be a publisher in this day and age, and it’s a joy to watch them innovate.

    (Disclaimer: My employer was recently purchased by Pearson, who also own Penguin. Make of that what you will)

  • Convenience Wins, Hubris Loses

    Ian Rogers of Yahoo! Music has had enough of the shortsightedness of the music industry and he’s not going to help them screw over customers any more.

    Last week, in a excoriating talk, he lays out his history of involvement with music on the internet, and exactly why their position to date has been ridiculous and petty.

    Suing Napster without offering an alternative just seemed like a denial of fact. Napster didn’t invent the ability to do P2P, it was inherent in TCP/IP. It was like throwing Newton in jail for popularizing the concept of gravity.

    I’m here to tell you today that I for one am no longer going to fall into this trap. If the licensing labels offer their content to Yahoo! put more barriers in front of the users, I’m not interested. Do what you feel you need to do for your business, I’ll be polite, say thank you, and decline to sign. I won’t let Yahoo! invest any more money in consumer inconvenience.

    It’s heartening to see someone in Ian’s position taking this stand and saying “no more”. The question is whether the music industry is listening.

    I suspect not.

    Hat tip: Nat Torkington at O’Reilly Radar.

  • 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.

    - Jeffrey Zeldman

    Issue 242 of A List Apart has just been published with two great articles on that oft-forgotten tool of the user experience, the writing. Better Writing Through Design by Bronwyn Jones and Reviving Anorexic Web Writing by Amber Simmons.

    You owe it to your users.

  • Penguin to publish books with “naked” covers

    Now this is a stroke of genius. Penguin are starting a new series of classic books, but with plain white covers, giving everyone the opportunity to create their own design.

    According to consumer research conducted on what factors matter to people when they decide whether or not to pick up a book in a bookshop, the cover design comes out as most important. So this might be the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.

    These “naked” covers will be made of art quality paper and shrink wrapped to stop them getting dirty before purchase, there is also an associated gallery for people to submit their creations.

    The first six to be released are:

    • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • Magic Tales by The Brothers Grimm
    • The Waves by Virginia Woolf
    • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    • Emma by Jane Austen

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Penguin, I feel they’ve been a genuine innovator in publishing ever since their inception in 1935 (the history of the company is a fascinating read), and this latest idea is right up there with their best.

    By a complete coincidence I’m right in the middle of The True History Of The Elephant Man, their presence in my book collection is that pervasive.

    Hat tip: BoingBoing

  • Books

  • I've Got A New Job!

    (don’t panic boss, it’s not like that)

    I’m pleased and honoured to announce that I’ve been hired by Mink Media as an editor on Bleepblog, the U.K. technology blog. I’ll be working with the irrepressible Mr Anderson on bringing you the latest and greatest gadget news from the U.K. and Europe – with the odd story from elsewhere if it’s shiny enough – as well as interesting tidbits from the world of technology.

    For a geek like me it’s a dream calling!