Stop Not Linking, Forever.

Frequently, blogs copy a news article, reword it, and repost it wholesale, without adding any new research. They very often lose information or veracity in the transliteration of the post. This is a useless practice that needs to stop. Marco Arment, the instapaper developer, says that you should cite your sources visibly – not only does it make you more honest, it provides more raw information for the reader.

There is a tendency among spurious hacks of the world to present someone else’s idea as ones own. As much as I hate the wrong and harmful idea of patents (the exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years), plagiarism is a different beast – in news media especially. The crime here is some part lack of attribution, and some part loss of information.

Arment has this to say about the phenomenon:

The most ethically and professionally sound practice when you have little value to add to the source story is the linked-list approach. Give a teaser quote and a prominent link. Make it clear that you didn’t write the target article, there’s more to be read there, and here’s how to get to it.Don’t replace it. Send your readers there.If you’re truly providing value, you should have the confidence to send your audience away, knowing that they’ll come back to you. If that’s not the case, don’t bother publishing.

It’s true. If you want to pontificate, great! If you want to build on someone else’s point, fine. Cite your sources and don’t massage facts, or you aren’t a journalist. And credit the original research, or you’re a plagiarist. Easy.

My Time at MokaSocial

For twelve months, I was part of a startup with Koa Metter, a great designer and friend. I could write/yell/brag/bemoan reams about it, but I mostly I’m just fondly remembering sitting in coffee shops and writing apps with him. Apps don’t come easy, that’s for sure, and it’s lonely out there.

MokaSocial started as a product company, and our first few apps were promising – but not quiiiite delivering for two incomes. So we started contracting, which was even more fun, if a little more stressful. We got to build mobile apps for the New York Public Library, and the American Heart Association, and a ton of other awesome clients. Both parts were great, we learned a ton, made some cash, and got positions we love: Koa’s at HTC and I’m at Sporcle. All in all, the whole thing couldn’t have been better.

I sure did love being part of  a startup – Koa and I have a few loose ends to wrap up, and a fucking killer robot game to finish with our favorite Game Developer Emory Myers, but man, it was a hell of a ride. Something I’d wanted to do for years.

Abrupt Goodbye

Collaborative story telling

Abrupt Goodbye is a collaborative chatting game released by an indie game studio. The whole thing is browser based and all of the content is user generated. I think that it’s possibly a first foray into a entirely new type of game.

The premise is supplied: A blind man is waiting for a train, a woman approaches him and talks.

Abrupt Goodbye is cool for a number of reasons:

– It is infinitely replayable – each completed game extends the content of the game a little bit, so the next game is longer and more varied.

– It’s totally asynchronous, but puts two ‘sides’ against each other. Each side is several players working together without communicating.

– The system is set up to be self-improving – as you choose your conversational options, you vote for the most interesting ones. So there’s a constant positive reform going on there.

You can crowdsource communication the wrong way, (as with some blog comments), or you can do something really great with it, like Abrupt Goodbye. Go play, it rules.

The Comment Transcompetency Halo Effect

When you’re reading comments on a [blog|youtube|forum|news article], and it’s the kind of toxic or wide-open environment that breeds bad comments, you might experience the following:

  • Comment 1: hay guise i think this is cool i don’t know about you but i like pickles
  • Comment 3: This post kind of reminds me of Neuro Linguistic Programming or something. Also, the president is not a Scientologist. He is, however, a robot.
  • Comment 4: Macs suck, they dont have viruses becuz nobody even cares enough to right them lolol

After skimming those comments, I get the distinct feeling that “yeah, maybe the president is a robot.” It’s as if anyone who can string along a coherent sentence in a real landfill of a comment thread becomes a trustworthy informant, and things they follow with seem a little bit less crazy.

That, right there, is The Comment Transcompetency Halo Effect. Now that you’re aware of it, don’t ever be fooled by it again.