Derek Jensen

Writing to new heights in design and life.

Jan 16, 2013

A better search

Recently Facebook announced what they are calling the third pillar of their focus on creating the best social network. With one pillar being the all encompassing, but also out-dated feeling Newsfeed the second pillar is the new personal bulletin board they call Timeline. Now, the third is Graph Search.

In typical John Gruber fashion, he had these brief but to the point words on the announcement:

So Google got into social networking with Google Plus, and now Facebook is getting into search.

No doubt right now Google is the best at search. They have been with us almost since the beginning of the Internet. Google has now become a verb we use to search for something. And what's really interesting is many that are not tech-savy refer to Google as the Internet.

Facebook on the other hand was introduced after many have already been using the Internet for mainly finding interesting sites, playing around, and partaking in the practice of email. Since the inception of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of the talented team have focused on building what many are seeing as the first, true social network. Heck, there was even an actually good film made depicting the inception of Facebook called, "The Social Network". Facebook became a verb referring to checking out one's profile (which is now being called Timeline). But, more I see Facebook being one of the most popular nouns on and off the web.

No doubt both Google and Facebook have the largest user base among the entire web. With social technology on the rise that bridges the gap between the online and physical worlds Google was quick to notice they are going to be missing out if they don't create a place for their users to establish a home. Sure you might make your homepage or have their browser called Chrome downloaded, but building and retaining connections and details of each person is much more important.

And this is what Facebook has been doing from day one. When talking about privacy and handling personal information you are likely to run into discussions or talks about how poor Facebook handles all of this. To me, it's not that they handle it poorly (they certainly could improve) but they are the largest and most popular social network. A good social network requires lots of personal data. And like with everything related to technology the more convenient you want your life to be the more privacy and personal information you have to risk. Life is all about gambling.

Facebook's first two pillars (Newsfeed and Timeline) defined what Facebook is today. Their newest pillar called Graph Search marks the future of both Facebook and Google.

Here's why.

The Graph Search by Facebook allows you to naturally type into a search field of what you're curious about or looking for. It's less about navigating through the Internet and more about organizing what you're interested in.

Speaking of a naturally type search this reminds me of the Siri functionality on many iOS devices. You don't have to worry about saying certain commands. Instead Siri works to understand what you mean by what you're naturally saying. All the work and what impresses us all happens in the background. No doubt that is what Facebook is pushing to achieve with Graph Search.

Personally, this Graph Search will push me back to using Facebook more. I will still use Twitter to connect and find out about great and interesting pages on the web. Dearest Google, our relationship is continually growing farther a part.

Google thinks they know you, but Facebook actually does. All because of you. All because of us.

Dec 14, 2012

Don't build to monetize later

This is where I greatly admire the advice by Jason Fried and the entire 37signals team. Also MetaLab, one of the best interactive design agencies has this same belief.

That is that you bootstrap. At the end of the day you should have either made some money from what you've built that only is from your customers, not stakeholders or investors OR have a way available for people to give you money.

I'm creating a publication and the norm is to make money from advertising. I love the idea of advertising because of the magical power it holds when done right. But, I don't love the idea where advertising is the main monetization strategy. Your business then is purely based off numbers and you should just put yourself on the stock exchange floor constantly fighting.

What ever happened to being creative. At least offer something where people can pay you for something great in return. Heck, I'd pay The Verge a monthly subscription for just simply taking me behind the scenes of their daily operations.

When building, launch with initial opportunity to make money. Getting more traffic to bring in advertising is the last resort, in my mind.

Dec 13, 2012

Don't Wait, a new book by me

Today I received new that I wouldn't be able to graduate due to not meeting a specific professor's requirements for a certain class. Immediately I could go on a rant about how poor our education system is setup that is supposedly here to help better society.

With that aside, I was truly saddened and mainly disappointed at myself. I was given a deadline months in advance. Failed to meet that deadline. Pushed myself for an entire week to get everything ready as the deadline was extended one more week. Problem was that all prior weeks leading up to the deadline everything I had done was poor and I was essentially trying to rebuild a rusty and weak car into something functional like a brand new BMW.

This didn't work and when I reflect on it there are many things in my life where I failed to execute, procrastinated, or just waited too long. It's like I'm scared of the future or of completing something and being evaluated. Or quite frankly maybe I just suck at doing.

Which all brings me to this. I'm writing a book called "Don't Wait." The goal is to write about my experiences related to this recent failure to not only help myself but help others faced in a similar situation as me.

Since I'll be doing something. I'm going to try to make this as public as possible. EVERYBODY, I'M WRITING A BOOK!

Haha... but kidding aside I want people to enter their email on the Don't Wait book page so I can be held accountable and push myself to deliver on something that I truly feel will be beneficial for many. More importantly so I can move on and be better.

Nov 29, 2012

Inspiring words by Don Draper from season 1

Just think about it deeply. Then forget it. And then an idea will jump up in your face.

From Indian Summer when talking to Peggy about writing.

I have more to say on this later.

Nov 26, 2012

A new realm of publishing, part 1

Publishing can been seen in many facets online and through our digital screens. The root of what is powering the publication both technical and belief explains the new realm. To explain, I want to focus our attention on The Verge, Matter, and Daring Fireball.

The Verge is an immense platform built for lots of content during a typical week with updates made to stories as they come in. They've touted their content management system called Chorus for being responsible in handling all of this "madness". The Verge is after traffic, but their content doesn't lack because of it. What's certain is advertising pays their operation.

Matter recently started and is focused on embracing the idea of great journalism with more words than articles at a time. While focusing on an article at a time they put your attention towards a distraction free environment while also being able to enjoy the content on other screens rather than just through a web browser. To enjoy the article you must pay for an account or buy the article for 99 cents. Readers here pay for the operation without worrying about advertisers.

Daring Fireball has been around since the beginning when we called blogs weblogs. That's what it feels like at least. What John Gruber has does is impressive to say the least as it's still a site I and thousands of people read. When he has something comprehensive to say he writes an article that is in the long-form category. And when he just wants to add his thoughts, make a quick point, or shine light on a different perspective he offers links with some supporting words. Here John actually supports his work both through paid membership with added features and advertising syndicated through a network called The Deck.

These three publications are not mind blowing ways of publishing. They are bases of how I see the new realm of publishing. More and more publications will use technology to either deliver complex experiences, in-depth subscriptions, or simply feel like you're empowering an individual to write or make content.

Something I've been thinking about in building Resimplify.

Chris Mod points out the trend of 'subcompact publishing', whereas Ryan Singer of 37signals points out how their is a barrier to this new realm of publishing. That barrier being building the technology powering this publications.

This will improve. I'm just thinking about what will exist and how everyone else will embrace.

Not mentioned, but worth noting are Svbtle, Medium by Obvious, and Circa.

I'll be talking more about this new realm of publishing in part two...

Nov 25, 2012

Dedicated to understand

I'm writing to those that have an interest in designing our world with regards to a creation of mine in the works called Resimplify.

Resimplify is a new kind of publication focused on the world we design. Resimplify is not a blog. Resimplify is not a magazine. People come to us to consume ideas and thoughts pushing the creative and critical mind.

We understand why designers and people building our world do what they do. We understand why they release unfinished products. We understand why they copy. We understand why certain styles and practices exist today and tomorrow. What you should understand about us is that we understand to analyze and analyze to create and form our stance or belief. How we design has many variations of practice and belief.

We are constantly evolving our beliefs, but we do have foundations. These foundations are our guides. Our handbooks to reference when analyzing. Our words that we look to inspire and capture focus of others to believe in with us. Our foundations are as follows:

  1. Form should always follow function. Function solves problems whereas form creates attraction. We shouldn't attract people to an idea or product that is scrappy. And form is there to be iterated on for the sake of solving the function or the many functions involved.

  2. Marketing is the pulse of our world. Entertainment is the relief to build meaning or reconnect with our inner self. Together marketing and entertainment are necessary to create a movement or addiction. No single tool or platform will work. Being creative, taking chances, and copying to iterate and integrate is the main attraction.

  3. Perspective is everything. Not only must you put yourself in shoes of others, but you must understand them. Without perspective you are closed. Being closed doesn't help you and it doesn't help others in this diverse, complex world.

  4. Experiment. Copying is good to understand what works. But, you must be willing to extend the bar and iterate where either they left off or build new parts entirely. The point is to experiment. Trying is testing and testing is about understanding.

Resimplify is a new kind of publication focused on the world we design. We push ourselves to understand. In the end you will read many articles, consume different kinds of content and gather with others through the content and the other stuff we create.

If we're on the same page join us right now.

Nov 25, 2012

Press Reset Post-reflection

I admire the people part of Vox Media. They know what matters and what matters is the people, their voice, and a firm belief in creating something special.

Many blogs, magazines, and overall publications exist today. Many have retired and many are reborn everyday. To stay alive and keep going like The New York Times the concepts of authenticity and hard work will pay off. I have no doubt that Vox Media's The Verge will do just that in the technology space as they've already disrupted and gathering so many attentive eyes and ears.

Then there's Polygon. A site dedicated to enriching the hobby of video gaming.

After watching the Press Reset series, which explores the making of Polygon, I couldn't help reflect on the future of Resimplify. Remember Resimplify is a publication I'm building. At the end of every episode I see new challenges and dreams on the horizon.

Thank you Polygon and the team behind the making of Press Reset for inspiring me to do my best in building Resimplify as well as being aware of all the challenges that may exist.

A colorful life is filled with challenges. No challenges means not enough risk. Not enough risk means being stale. That's my opinion.

Nov 22, 2012

Admiring Shopify and applying

No doubt tech companies are on the forefront in offering perks to their employees. Many companies won't offer perks unless their is pressure to do so either from their competition or the law.

Perks are to reward existing employees and attract aspiring ones. I stumbled upon the career page of Shopify. I previously applied to work as one of their content management interns. Even though I wasn't offered the position the way they went about telling me the news was admirable.

You could say I've built this little relationship with them that I'm looking to strengthen. Several ways this could happen. I could apply for another position, I could visit their offices, I could open up a store through them, or apply what their doing to something I'm building. If I decide to ever sell goods no doubt I'm going with Shopify, but until then I'm applying what they do to what I want to do.

As you may know I'm building, along with a great team, a new kind of publication called Resimplify focused on the world of design.

The ultimate plan is to have great people with a skill in writing and a passion in design to be working together bringing change to our world.

When taking a look at the perks of Shopify I've modeled what I'd like to make possible for my future team at Resimplify when I'm able to.

  1. Apple gear is important for working together effectively both with tools and ways of communication.
  2. Full benefits is important in making sure everyone is taken care of when they need to be.
  3. Conferences is important in continuing our education and having important conversations with others.
  4. Daycare is important in lowering stress as well as providing a good basis for further education.
  5. Housecleaning service is important in coming home to actually enjoy family time or just relax.
  6. Drinks provided is important to stay hydrated or wake and starting good conversations.
  7. Maternity and parental leave is important to respect the care of their newborn(s).
  8. Allowance and accessories is important in continuing a fun environment as well as providing assistance to both work and everyday life.

I admire Shopify and I'm applying their perks when I can to Resimplify.

Nov 16, 2012

I'm thankful

I'm thankful for the mistakes I've made, the lessons I've learned, being stubborn with those I love, sticking up for what I believe in, telling the truth, taking chances to explore, having a creative mind, making friends, deleting many friends off Facebook, tweeting what many would say is excessive, being part of the greatest company in the world, knowing one of the best teams around, having food, having water, having shelter, having Internet freedom, having a sense of community, being able to vote, being part of a great university, having great professors, having a supportive advisor, companies that believe in change over money, the idea of streaming music and video, the people I'm inspired by, knowing leaders of all kinds, those who are honest, those who have perspective, those who sacrifice, being able to type, being able to hear, being able to see, and to be alive right now.

I've never been so thankful in my life and it's only going to get stronger. It's truly amazing what certain events and people do to and for your life.

Thanks for reading along.

Nov 11, 2012

Ending big box retail starts with a different Target

Many cities outlaw big box retail for their outlandish amount of space where the idea of numbered aisles and departments are okay. Big box retail is designed like a manufacturing plant with shopping carts being forklifts. The idea of a manufacturing plant should stay with actual manufacturing of goods for now. And the idea of big box retail should die in favor of a different Target.

Hands down Walmart is the largest big box retailer that together with their wasted space parking lots make up a great chunk of our nation's ground. In second place is Target. Personally, I'd rather support Target for their community efforts and well they aren't Walmart.

When a second place contender changes their approach to becoming number by being just a little bit better to something completely different they rework society. Traditionally if you compete head on you are going to get tired. It's the chances and thinking differently that get put you in a higher and better spot.

It's time for a new, different Target. A Target store that is small, in many town squares, and becomes the national chain of various kinds of local stores. The idea of big box retail seems to have come from trying to solve the problem of supply and demand while getting the best profit margins. Big box retail is one way to design an effective system for the people in corporate offices, but it's not the right design for our world.

-talk about how big box retail is a one stop shop for everything but that lacks how a city can and should be planned to support those needs effectively and spread throughout the city.

-when you organize everything together both long lines, traffic congestion, and .... create actual inconvience. Cities need to plan smarter but because zones are just based on level of commercial rather than specific types of commercial big box retail exists

-more developments are growing in favor of villages of stores at the center of apartments and single family houses

-the idea or concept of a village stems from a town square where people from nearby come to gather and meet their various needs

-turn aisles into sidewalks and large parking lots into open space where people gather along with homes followed by efficient transportation systems.

-just because we have land available doesn't mean we should use it -just because there is more space on the page doesn't mean we should use it. White space is good. Open public space is good. And I'm not talking about parking lots.

-include drawings/ sketches of what I'm talking about:

-divide up a common walmart store into various other stores that create a village

-basically this is what Target should think about or someone that wants to take retail away from big box... Sears or Kmart?