This week, start here:
At Dark Matter, we take all manner of liberties with the English language — occasionally getting too fancy for even ourselves. Tiffani Jones Brown, head of copy and content at Pinterest, has written a brilliant post on why Pinterest has embraced a culture of plain, direct language. To excerpt liberally:

In writing you try to say things as clearly as you can, using as few words as possible. In design you try to help people do what they’re trying to do, with as few uneccessary steps as possible. When we communicate like this, it makes Pinterest more useful and delightful. Kind of like one-click checkout on Amazon versus filing your taxes.

Not unrelated, a missive from The Gate blog connects the (forgotten) failed reveal of first iPod to the failed rhetoric of advertising. More goodness:

Ordinary people don’t go to marketing conferences.
But the advertising geeks can’t see that.
Because their entire world is the tiny world of advertising.


If you’ve not read Scott Brinker on the emergence of customer experience black swans brought on by predictive analytics, it’s a terribly compelling post. It’s hard to believe that customer centrism is anything but lip service when we’re racing to optimize every interaction against the interests of enterprise.

Paul Graham famously coined the phrase ‘schlep blindness’ to describe the phenomenon of coder’s aversion to work that required human interaction and brute force inquiry. Neil Perkin wonders whether the rocketing trajectory of Stripe isn’t due in large part to a willingness to schlep.

Tom Tunguz observes the cost of storage and cloud computing fast approaching zero and sees growth markets in machine learning and business intelligence fueled by next-generation databases. This is critical stuff.

It’s worth taking a few minutes to read the First Round interview with Lynn Perkins of UrbanSitter, if only for her smart observations on the persistent utility of Facebook Connect.

Christian Szegedy of Google Research published a fascinating update on the large-scale visual recognition challenge — effectively an undertaking to computationally recognize both objects and their context within images. If this sounds esoteric, we promise that it’s not — when we can search for objects within images, it changes both how we find and create images.

Tech Review has a great overview of the challenge, too.

The New Aesthetic bleeds into everything: miss-mixing — DJ’s making deliberate mistakes to prove that they’re not automating their sets — is now a thing.

Meanwhile, Tom Morton of the Data of Cool blog explores whether streaming and vinyl can save the music business (*spoiler*: no, but concert tickets just might).

A good phrase for your next big deck: Jugaad — a Hindu word for a creative or innovative idea providing a quick, alternative way of solving or fixing a problem. Let’s use it in a sentence: when the city of Manila turned old minibuses into an improvised ferry system, that was ‘peak Jugaad’.

Lots of talk these days about disruption, but a point from The Economist on the disrupted: the most vulnerable companies to disruption are neither the smallest nor the oldest, but rather the most rigid:

Rational managers should be able to see that cannibalising their own sales and surviving is preferable to sticking to their knitting and falling prey to competitors. But bosses may not think much about the long term, or may be reluctant to write off sunk costs.

Our friend John Willshire posted an absolutely wonderful guide to organizational field trips. A starting point: not nearly enough organizations make these trips.

An unforeseen consequence of low-cost genetic testing: sometimes you find out that dad had another family.

Take a few minutes and read Mark Boulton on why he’s breaking up with web conferences. An excerpt:

‘Corporate’ conferences expect valuable, actionable content; that is what corporations are paying for. Schlickly delivered for maximum ROI. ‘Community’ conferences have their own trends, too. Talks about people, empathy, community, and how start-ups are changing the world. Community conferences are frequently an excuse to hang out with your internet mates. Which is fine, I guess.


Martin Feijoó takes pictures of cloud formations and turns them into brilliant, whimsical illustrations of turtles, dogs, chickens and our favorite, Charles Darwin. It’s really quite lovely stuff, if you’ve got the inclination.