Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.
This week, several writers brought up the age-old issue of patronage on the web, starting with Matt Gemmell:
The problem, of course, is us. We’ve created a culture of expecting to get things for free, particularly what we dismissively call “content”. It turns out that you can’t produce content for free forever. Nobody’s putting their money where their mouth is.
…followed by Richard J. Anderson:
I subscribe to the theory that an artist makes their best work when they can focus entirely upon it. A world of permanent part-time creatives, banging out everything from apps, to albums, to novels, to podcasts on nights and weekends is a recipe for a world of half-a***d, sub-par creative work.
…and then our friend (and T&T contributor) Álvaro Serrano:
Unless we collectively start valuing creative people and their craft in terms of actual money and not just praise or readership, we’ll continue to incur a huge risk that one day they’ll be gone, never to return.
There are probably others we’ve missed, but the point is clear: support the work of others if you want it to stick around.
Lately we’ve been noticing a trend of websites publishing style guides for their contributors. As a team of people who enjoy nerding out about writing (each in our own way), we find these fascinating reads.
A List Apart‘s guide is of course specific to their needs but contains nuggets throughout for writers of all kinds.
Our article space is intentionally limited to a single page. There is no room for meandering, no space for encyclopedic completeness. You need to get in, score, and get out. State your idea clearly and quickly. If your tutorial solves a problem, state the problem. Don’t warm up to your subject by preceding it with generalizations. You don’t need to tell our readers that Tim Berners-Lee invented the web before getting to your point.
If you enjoy this sort of thing, be sure to also check out the MailChimp style guide.
We don’t know the name of the Citizens of Culture writer who wrote this (it just says “C20 Editor”) but they make a good point:
Our job as consumers is to be discerning, to support and consume content that merits the time required to do so. It is after all our greatest currency. If you spend twelve dollars on a movie, you will see that twelve dollars again the next time you get paid but that 90 minutes spent watching the film will never return.
This concept will sound familiar to anyone who has read Clay Johnson’s popular book, The Information Diet.
Victor Luckerson, writing for TIME on the “John Oliver Effect”:
One of Oliver’s most popular segments was an in-depth look at changing net neutrality laws last summer. Oliver took cable and phone companies to task, accusing them of wanting to create Internet “fast lanes” that would show preference to certain types of Internet traffic above others and undermine the traditional tenets of a free and open Internet. Oliver implored his fans to write to the Federal Communication Commission to voice their displeasure with potential changes to net neutrality. The government agency received so many comments that its servers crashed.
We knew that John Oliver’s comedic-yet-informative critiques were entertaining to watch – and generally NSFW for language, by the way — but knowing people are out there actually getting involved with world affairs based on the information he shares is inspiring.
Knowledge is power, folks; humor, even more so.
If something that seems like work to other people doesn’t seem like work to you, that’s something you’re well suited for. […]
The stranger your tastes seem to other people, the stronger evidence they probably are of what you should do.
At first I thought this was just a cool photo (view the full size here) but there is an interesting data point behind the laser tagging:
In the near future, lasers will be used routinely for high-bandwidth data communications with space missions.
A laser test last November between Alphasat and ESA’s Sentinel-1A satellite demonstrated the exchange of 1.8 Gbit of data per second, using a design that could scale up to 7.2 Gbit/s in future.
When you’re trying to make things “less terrible,” do you have any greater goals in mind that guide your decisions? Why do you do all this?
Oh yeah, but it’s so abstract that people will think I’m nuts. So for a goal, I’ll just say “build tools to make us more enlightened.” I mean “enlightened” in a Carl Sagan sense, where we are the universe trying to understand itself. And we’ve long hit the limit of what we can think with our naked brain, so we need to augment it in some way with mind tools. But the tools right now are so complicated that it takes all your mental energy just to try and “hold” them, so you have nothing left to actually do something interesting. Or at least they’re too complicated for me. I’m not that smart.
Personally, I’m tired of the trivial app stuff, and the App Store isn’t conducive to anything more interesting. I think the next big thing in software will happen outside of it.
Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.