Like for blogging?

Thinking: is the Like for blogging related to the Linkroll (since a link is like a Like)? I should get an email or notification when someone Likes my post. That’s the feedback loop I’m talking about. And Liking should be 1-click. So is adding to the linkroll 1-click?

It is conceivable that there is simply no distributed solution that can compete in user experience with a closed solution like FB and such. But that doesn’t sound like it would be true.

The new blogging, again

I’m oldschool but I like blue and white. New look today.

Now, the new blogging. Can we reproduce the LIKE in the world of blogging? The feeling of immediate feedback? The one-click micro-payment that has no limits.

Here’s a related thought: why do people think stuff on blogs is more private than stuff on Facebook? (Technically it’s not.) Because more people see it on Facebook. And you get feedback.

Blogs need more feedback. Commenting is too much work. Where’s the LIKE button for blogging? (And I don’t mean the WordPress Like button, that just feel like micropayments to Matt.)


The dictatorship of data

How data was misused in the Vietnam war.

In 1977, two years after the last helicopter lifted off the rooftop of the U.S. embassy in Saigon, a retired Army general, Douglas Kinnard, published a landmark survey called The War Managers that revealed the quagmire of quantification. A mere 2 percent of America’s generals considered the body count a valid way to measure progress. “A fake—totally worthless,” wrote one general in his comments. “Often blatant lies,” wrote another. “They were grossly exaggerated by many units primarily because of the incredible interest shown by people like McNamara,” said a third.

Census categories: What happens when you let everyone self-identify?

I’ve blogged about this before, the US census is an ongoing and fascinating categorization case study.



From the article: “By 1970 the government was collecting census data by mail-in survey. The shift to a survey had dramatic effects on at least one census category: race.”

  • First, it resulted in a dramatic increase in the Native American population. Between 1980 and 2000, the U.S. Native American population magically grew 110 percent. People who had identified as American Indian had apparently been somewhat invisible to the government.
  • Second, to the chagrin of the Census Bureau, 80 percent of Puerto Ricans choose white (only 40 percent of them had been identified as white in the previous census). The government wanted to categorize Puerto Ricans as predominantly black, but the Puerto Rican population saw things differently.




Categories and the world: categorization of abuse and dependence

New and improved categorization of abuse and dependence just joins them, with this amazing quote in the article, where two students were trying to figure out the difference between abuse and dependence.  

“Isn’t ‘abuse’ like when you get a DUI?” said the medical student.

“Yeah,” said the psychiatry resident, “and ‘dependence’ is when you get withdrawal, right?”

“I think ‘abuse’ leads to ‘dependence,’” said the neurology resident.

“Or maybe ‘abuse’ is not as bad as ‘dependence’?”

“So what about our patient? He’s pretty hard-core.”

“I see him all the time in the emergency room. Totally intoxicated.”

“I’ve seen him drunk on the train.”

That sealed the deal.

“Dependence it is!” they all agreed.

Social design talk notes

Never too old to learn.

  • I believe in fundamentals.
  • Adaptation, evolution. Design = solve the problem. (So changeable design > unchangeable design.)
  • Community = group that works together.
  • Group -> social -> trust.
  • Trust each other to get things done.
  • Our environment is everyone else.
  • You want to be unique but also fit in. You feel lonely.
  • So you form an “identity”, so you can fit in but be apart. A representation of yourself.


  • Create an outside world we can control. Collect. Music. Home. Friends we trust. World is not so scary then. 
  • Can also create inside world we control: yoga, music, meditation, learning, …
  • EVERYONE is doing this.

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone” (Thoreau)

Social design = facilitate communication.

  • People just need to talk.
  • Need identity, trust.
  • People need connection.

Social Graph (nodes & edges).

  • If you write it out, forms a narrative. Story.
  • Narrative leads to identity: this is me. This is what I did.
  • The connections give things life.
  • Graph is very valuable information.


  • Don’t hide info, show it all in feed.
  • Keeps going, like life.


  • Pile of things that I like.


  • When something happens, send feedback (like, pin, repin, tag, …).

“Virtuous cycle of sharing” -> enough stuff and connections so it grows.

Might as well build things that bring people together.


Old faceted tags screenshot

Saved via here (via a trippy duckduckgo search), I found this screenshot of a semantic tagging system that I built and then gave a talk about around 2005/6 or so. The idea was that tags were organized in facets, which gave them some level of meaning (ie. “sanfran” is a place), and from that meaning and from tags that were used together, you could infer more meaning (ie. “peter has been to sanfran”).


2013 social media cleanup

Let’s see:

  • New blog at (and’s image import is just magical btw). This was the biggest deal.
  • ITTT for cross-posting to Twitter from blog. This is meant to encourage me to blog as opposed to posting on Twitter.
  • Turned off bunch of apps on Facebook. No more cross-posting from Twitter to Facebook. Twitter is work-world, Facebook is friends/family who don’t care about my geeky rants.
  • Still using Path as my private little Facebook for a few select people.
  • Next: set up phone apps for everything.

I moved my blog

To a new domain (with redirects), I put it on And may I just say: the moving and importing of content was ridiculously easy. WordPress even copies images from your old site into your new site. Automatically – nothing you have to do. That’s impressive.

Feature debt and the art of taking things out

There is 1 feature in your current product that you could take out today, without any negative consequence at all.

Taking it out will make maintenance and software evolution, technical debt, support, and probably even the user experience better. It will make your codebase more maintainable. It will make everyone happier. You added that feature because you thought it would make a difference, but it doesn’t.

In evolutionary terms, taking this feature out will increase fitness (or keep it fixed) while decreasing complexity.

That’s feature debt.

No product is so perfect, so optimized that all of its features are in perfect balance, all necessary, all required.

No digital product anyway. Here’s one that’s pretty close. But note:

  1. It’s very simple.
  2. It’s been optimized for centuries.

So let’s assume that there is 1 feature in your product that you could take out, with positive effects. Once we agree on that, it’s quite likely that there are more than 1 features that you could and should take out. There are features you should not take out, too. The more complex the product, the more features you should take out. Facebook surely has dozens of features that they could take out today, and the net effect would be positive. Google probably has hundreds. Windows has thousands.

There’s not a lot written about the art of taking things out once they’re launched. Taking things out during the “design process”, sure, but not after it’s launched.

Apple is famous for removing features from live products. They’re also famous for launching products with very few features, but that’s for a different post.

There are 2 kinds of features that you can take out: features that nobody uses, and features that some people like but that aren’t helping *you*.

Features that nobody uses are easy to take out. The hard part is to define “nobody”. Early on (first year or two), I like to go with 10% of my active users. If not even 10% of my active users are using this feature, we should probably kill it. You could do 20%.

It’s easy to know when nobody uses your feature. Track it. Once you use metrics to inform (not drive) your product decisions like this, you’ll never go back. But that’s another post as well.

Features that a significant amount of your users actually use and like are harder to take out. But if they’re not helping *you*, perhaps you should. These are often features that are attracting the wrong kinds of users, or encouraging the wrong kind of activity, or perhaps they just don’t fit with the direction you want to take the product in.

If you’ve never considered taking features out of a live product, try it. It engenders a whole different mindset. You’ll start asking, before even developing a feature: do we really need this? It will make you want to measure things. It will make you think more deeply about your product. It will be good for your team. That’s probably a rule for a good product team: takes features out of live products.