Google Reader, Google+, and retweets.

Something I said yesterday on Twitter got a bit of traction, and admittedly, it’s because it was reactionary. I read this post and something didn’t sit right with me. So I started talking about it… in slightly elevated tones. And then other people started talking too. And before long, I had riled up more than a few people, and judging from the retweets (still coming in this morning), a few more people have joined the fray.

But now, in the cold light of the new day, I’m re-reading everything, and I may have overreacted. I make it a point of pride that I can readily admit when I’m wrong, because I find more value in learning than being right all the time. I may have read a little too much into the post itself. I may have seen the movement of Google Reader closer to Google+ as a strategic move by Google to force some more social down our already fatigued internet throats in an effort to increase activity in a social network I tired of within weeks of its closed launch. I may have done those things. But there’s a very good reason why I might have:

“We think the end result is better than what’s available today, and you can sign up for Google+ right now to start prepping Reader-specific circles.”

If you read that post, and parse it for what it’s worth, you can’t make out what is actually going to take place:

“We recognize, however, that some of you may feel like the product is no longer for you.”

Will Google Reader be completely subsumed by Google+? Or will we just get a +1 button where the other sharing options used to be? Those are two very different extremes that affect the user base in drastically different ways. Considering that a great many users of GR may do so through third-party apps, if Google decides to silo that product within the busy walls of G+, it could really bother some folks.

And that’s precisely why I reacted the way I did – because I just don’t know. I’ve come to rely on GR as a dedicated and reliable news tool, and I use it with a handful of different apps. I never go to the web to view it. If that post had been clear about the changes (for instance how it affects different user types, i.e. web users vs. app users syncing with the service) I would have felt very different about it. But that’s not the position that the post took, and that’s exactly why I’m uneasy about it.

Google’s been pushing very hard for G+ to become a thing for everyone. After a short while, it felt like a part-time job to me. I don’t want to work to have to get my news, and that kind of movement for GR will likely polarize a lot of its users. Let’s hope Google, a company that trumpets how open it is (whether accurate or not) allows that flow of information to continue the way we’ve grown to enjoy receiving it. Part of me thinks they will, just for the “eyeballs” argument, but part of me doesn’t know. That social data buy-in is very tempting.

In the meantime, I’ll be looking for clarification on these points, and if anyone has any, please don’t hesitate to send it my way, here or on Twitter.

Nickelfish v4.0

After many months of planning, design, and construction, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that our new site is live! We’ve been trying to do this for a long time, but as the old saying goes “the shoemaker’s children have no shoes”, and we’ve been busy making awesome stuff for other people, neglecting our own tiny slice of the internets.

But no more. We’ve got a colorful, engaging look at some of the more recent work we’ve done and the new project pages reflect the pride we feel from the work. We’ve added many new members to our team, so we’ve fleshed out a little personal space for everyone, and we had some incredible artwork commissioned for us to depict the team as the superheroes they are. Be sure and read the alter-ego bios on the About page, they’re just fantastic. There’s a few other nerdy laughs tucked around the site amidst the copy, primarily for our own amusement, but we’re sure a few of you will crack a smile here and there as well. And since some of you have asked in the past, we added a new Downloads section where we have some cool desktop wallpapers done by our design team that you can grab.

I’m going to personally try to blog more, and I’m bringing a few people kicking and screaming with me. We do a lot of thinking about stuff, and we like talking about it, so we’re going to start sharing with you as well. A few team members have expressed an interest in writing about their respective fields, so I’m going to do my best to keep that train rolling. As always, you can follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. There are some great photos and videos on the Facebook page from around the office and some events that we’ve had.

Overall, we’re so happy with the way the new site looks and feels, and it’s long overdue. We really wanted something that we could show to people without disclaimers, and we feel we’ve hit our marks for now. We have plans to continue revising and adding features within the site, including some white papers that we’ve done on various topics, so keep an eye out for them. I’d love to know what you think about everything, so hit me up on Twitter and say hi.

Nickelfish

Tired.

On the heels of what many are describing as the cataclysmically disappointing iPhone 4S announcement yesterday, the internet is rife with tales of Apple’s inevitable post-Steve descent into oblivion. Why, the mere suggestion that Tim Cook has bungled his first big show is enough to send bloggers the web over into paroxysms of glee, breathlessly recounting every misstep, every missed opportunity, and every underwhelming demonstration onstage at that emotionally vacant press event.

But today, after the smoke’s cleared, I’m just tired. I’m tired of the outlandish expectations the media creates. I’m tired of contrarian backlash, built on incorrect assumptions about how an extremely successful company needs to operate to continue on the path to further success. There simply isn’t any way to even view Apple announcements through any lens of reality anymore, and it’s tiring.

Vultures feed on the flesh of the dead, but Apple is far from dead. We’ve stopped getting news from many of the sites we used to read voraciously every day, because what they’ve started serving up is reverse hyperbole, seemingly with the intention of portending the end of Apple as soon as possible in some juvenile effort to scream “FIRST” when it happens and link back to the post. This is a company that currently has more money in the bank than most people can even fathom, and yet people are lining up to tell them they’re “doing it wrong”. I think when you can absorb most of your competitors without breaking a sweat, you buy yourself a little latitude in your decision making process.

For every reality distortion field, there exists an inverse reality polarization portal, where all of the things we ought to be excited about are derided endlessly and deconstructed to the point where nothing is even worth doing anymore. Yet Apple still sells millions of phones, every time, in spite of both of these phenomenons.

The most annoying part, though, is that after all of the nay-saying, market comparisons, vitriolic voice of the people and such, most of these writers will buy that phone, regardless of the lack of new body type. And they might even write something about how it’s actually a pretty big step forward and start focusing on how Apple is creating experiences as opposed to glass and metal bricks with which to do things. Because that’s actually the story that gets buried under the lede right about the time Apple releases new stuff. Heaven forfend you decide to focus on THAT, in which case you’re immediately labeled as a sycophantic Apple fanboy.

If anyone were actually analyzing this at any sensible level, it would become apparent that Apple’s not playing the same game everyone thinks that they ought to. In fact, they’ve never played the same game as the rest of the market. Why in the world would they start now, when they continue to move ahead of everyone else in the game they are playing? Because an enclave of echo chambered writers thinks they should?

Here’s your new headline for the iPhone 4S: Normal people unfazed by ludicrously unbalanced narrow market perspectives; plan to continue spending untold sums of money on new iPhone and apps. If you don’t like the new iPhone, I’m totally cool with that. No one says you have to. I think we all secretly wanted to be blown away yesterday by a new phone style delivered straight from the future itself. In fact, the presentation (in my honest opinion) left quite a bit to be desired.* But when you project your irrational “analysis” onto the population at large, you’re not reporting news anymore. You’re just tiring us out, and eventually, we’ll stop listening.

Update: 10.06.11 7:47 am

*and sadly, now I know why.