A UX design walkthrough of Feedly’s new Explore experience

Eduardo Santos: Introducing feedly’s New Explore Experience

I’m a pretty light user of Feedly these days, perhaps because RSS is just a chronologically ordered dump of too much information and I’ve grown to prefer a little machine intervention, but this detailed breakdown of a feature redesign is quite the pleasure to read.

Feedly probably does have a bigger role to play in aiding content discovery (no one can get enough of it), but what’s interesting is that an RSS reader approaches it in a different way from others like Flipboard. It’s less about piecemeal articles, topics, or user-curated magazines. It’s sites! Boosting little known sites and blogs exhibiting consistent quality serves a much more important cause: feeding the cycle of good content creation and letting authors grow their follower base, not enjoying random hits of virality at the whim of algorithms and chance.

Tumbling Lots

Why is Tumblr so easy to post to? I rebooted mine a scant 11 days ago, and so far I’ve managed 101 posts, with 7 more in the publishing queue. Why have I never used this WordPress blog in that way?

Does the word ‘blog’ carry some kind of expectation? I know why I don’t tweet that much: I’m a bit of a long-winded person. I’ll share a link or two, but it’s unsatisfying to say just one little thing beside it. Tumblr feels like a long-form Twitter, occasionally visual, and the Dashboard really feeds interaction and inspiration by giving you things you like and would want to pass on. Retweeting on Twitter draws a line between the things you saw and the things you said. The character limit, again, prevents you from adding your own words. I don’t see Pinterest as anywhere the same thing, although people tend to think Tumblr and Pinterest are playing in the same space. Pinterest is nothing like Twitter, for example.

Anyway, really enjoying it so far, even though posting from the mobile app isn’t very good. You can format far better (such as grabbing a photo from a site you’re linking to and using it as the image) on the desktop using their bookmarklet.

Visit if so inclined: http://sangsara.tumblr.com until I buy a domain for it.*

* My friend Ci’en made a great observation: we start projects, then we buy a domain name to get serious, then we feel the crushing and boring weight of commitment, and then we abandon them completely.

The Project Graveyard is Adjacent to the Project Factory

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I have a bad habit of jumping into projects without thinking them through, and then wrestling with whether to abandon them or work with what I’ve gotten myself into. Some don’t really matter too much, because they don’t matter to anybody else.

The Round Down newsletter was a blast to do for a year, and then we had to take a break as free time to do unpaid work quickly ran out with new family commitments on both sides. I don’t know yet when we’ll renew its metaphorical print run. The job of finite, packaged news gathering and delivery has been picked up by a few more professional outlets since we started, and I enjoy a few of them myself.

I also wanted to do a blog called T-Axis for a little bit, and started posting a few things to a Tumblr to get a feel for it. The T being for Tech, and the idea being a look at stories of transformation in various markets and professions as a result of technological advances. That impulse will now probably continue as a research project at work.

But I liked getting back into posting at Tumblr, and longed to produce with it the way tumblelogs are meant to: a mix of wordless visuals, reflexively reblogged elemental units of interest, links, quotes, and dumb GIFs. It never felt right doing that here on my personal blog, although I’ve tried it out several times over the past 13(?) years.

So now I’ve rebooted my main Tumblr at http://sangsara.tumblr.com, tentatively called “Business Suit and Cat Ears”, which is also the general editorial direction. Do follow if you like the sound of UX design and apps rubbing up against pixel art of Mt. Fuji.

The other current project I’ll be a little busy with right now is getting a house furnished and moved into ASAP. The recent photo above was from a somewhat fruitless day of visiting warehouse showrooms, looking for the perfect couch (3-seater with chaise, dark fabric, raised off the ground, firm cushions, wide armrests). I’m beginning to think it doesn’t exist. Consumer electronics makers take note: I’m not even going to consider a next-gen console or 4K TV until your friends in the furniture industry get their act together.

Write Moves

Was time for a new logo too
Was time for a new logo too

After 11 years of blogging on what is now Google Blogger, I’ve exported everything and moved to a WordPress-powered site. It didn’t go all that smoothly and may still screw up, but so far I’m enjoying the platform, its modernity, and the apps/services I can now use with my blog.

During the process, I looked back on a couple of old posts and a few abandoned other blog projects, and discovered a younger, different sounding me. I suppose that was a time when everyone kept a blog instead of a Facebook page – but it all starts the same way, nobody thinks anyone important is ever going to read their nonsense or see their silly behavior.

But every time I read old writing, the same thing happens, and I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phenomenon: amidst the disposable are pieces you can’t believe you wrote; thoughts you could hardly string together today in quite the same way. Which is why I’m inclined to value these posts more than easy and fleeting social network updates. It seems the purpose of blog archives is to simultaneously inspire and shame our creative selves with examples of what should still be possible, and how far we have yet to go if we’ve discovered that the last few years were spent going the wrong way.

Missing comments and link posts

Switching from a “blog” subdomain to “www” has caused Blogger to lose all previous comments. I don’t know if I should be upset about it. There were good ones that offered useful information long after I’d posted on a subject, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it except switch back.

In the meantime, I’ve sorted out a format for outbound links. Their post titles are preceded by an arrow symbol (➟) and clicking on one brings you straight to the relevant page.

SANGSARA.NET changelog: April 2010

Here’s what has changed:

– This blog is now found at www.sangsara.net. It was previously at blog.sangsara.net, a distinction that became wholly unnecessary about five years ago, when I took down the other more static bits of the site. Eventually, all my online activities will be viewable here.

– The Tumblr-powered linkblog, blast!, has been discontinued. The original idea for that was to create a wall between the longer posts I write and the things I find interesting and want to link to. From this point on, those two activities will be merged here on this blog. Outbound link entries will be strictly text, an execution I’ve admired in John Gruber’s Daring Fireball blog, who was in turn inspired by Jason Kottke.

– I’m leaving behind my favorite yellow (E3C046), seen in every design since 2002.

– I’ll be using one of Blogger’s new features to add ‘Pages’ to this blog, starting with an About Me profile page.

– You’ll find an old-school Blogroll for friends’ sites in the right column. This is an experiment of sorts. Let me know if you’d like to be linked.

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Here’s what hasn’t:

– The RSS feed is still at http://feeds.feedburner.com/sangsara. Most subscribers to this site won’t even notice the changes listed above.

Positive Machine and Pocket Plastic will continue to be maintained as separate projects. Just in case you didn’t know, the former deals in strange, off-color iPhone app reviewery, while the latter is a place for me to post photos and look at developments in iPhone and toy camera photography.

– The archives are intact. I had wanted to wipe those earlier uncertain steps and start over, but decided against taking the easy way out. I’ve lost a lot of web content over the years and it hasn’t made me a better writer. You can build better things in the present when you have the past at your back.