Robin Rendle on RSS

Robin Rendle has a nice piece on RSS, reading, and writing on the web1. Robin covers some of the ways RSS helped writers find community, and writes about the current state of the RSS ecosystem. He also writes about the benefits to publishing on your own site instead of a platform:

Folks now seem to recognize the value of having your own little plot of land on the web and, although it’s still pretty complex to make your own website and control all that content, it’s worth it in the long run. No one can run ads against your thing. No one can mess with the styles. No one can censor or sunset your writing.

That brought to mind a short blog post from a few years ago by Frank Chimero, “Homesteading”. The original is no longer linked on his site, but Internet Archive has a snapshot. Frank writes:

I’m returning to a personal site, which flips everything on its head. Rather than teasing things apart into silos, I can fuse together different kinds of content. Instead of having fewer sections to attend to distracted and busy individuals, I’ll add more (and hopefully introduce some friction, complexity, and depth) to reward those who want to invest their time. I won’t use analytics—actually, I won’t measure at all. What would I do with that data anyway? In this case, it’s just more noise. The singular thread that runs through everything is only “because I like it.”

I’ve found it useful to have a little of both as part of my daily reading: it’s nice to interact with folks on-the-fly via Twitter, but that’s a different mode than the leisurely exploration of a personal site that feels akin to browsing someone’s bookshelf and sensing the history behind each item. My own RSS habits took a dip a few years ago as my Twitter use peaked, but lately I find myself drawn more and more to RSS, a quieter space that seems to give a better return for my time.

  1. It seems wholly appropriate that I ended up reading Robin’s post because of RSS — I had missed it in the Twitter stream, but I subscribe to Susan J. Robertson’s RSS feed, and she linked to it a few days ago. (I realized that I only followed Robin on Twitter, not via RSS. That’s all fixed now.) 

Susan J. Robertson on “Aging Out” of Tech

I’ve been thinking about tech and aging lately. It feels so much like a young person’s place to be, with the emphasis on spending all of your time learning and working, be it paid work or side projects. I’ve been the oldest person, or one of the oldest, at most places I’ve worked the past few years. And recently a friend talked about aging out, specifically in regards to being a woman in tech, making plans for what to do next since she knows so few older women in tech. It got me thinking, a lot. I realized that I hardly know any women over 45 who are still working in tech. It’s less than the fingers on one hand.

Susan writes about her particular experience of being a woman in tech, but over the break I found myself thinking about many of the same things. I quite enjoy learning new skills, but I also find myself rejecting the implicit assumption that by participating in tech culture I must devote all my free time to learning and staying on the cutting edge.

I feel that tension more often these days as I move deeper into a role that is weighted heavily towards management (as opposed to writing code). I worry that the further I get from day-to-day coding, the less portable I become in the tech economy. I also wonder how much tolerance I have left for an industry that overwhelmingly values novelty and aesthetics over accessibility and usefulness.

Jorge Arango on Design Artifacts

Loved this graf:

It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of believing that artifacts are the design. I’ve seen situations where stakeholders specify upfront the types and quantity of “deliverables” for a design project, with no regard for what they will be used for. Designers willingly comply because they, too, tend to measure their progress based on the wireframes, sketches, prototypes or whatever else they’ve produced. This is a mistake. Artifacts are communication tools. They’re a sort of language we employ when communicating intent; a means to create ​a feedback loop between the design team and others in the world — which is to say, a means for bringing others into the design team. Using the wrong feedback loop with the wrong audience at the wrong time can do more harm than good.

(Via Kevin Hoffman.)