Kathy Sierra's Badass: Making Users Awesome – the book you all should read

I’ve been reading and re-reading Kathy Sierra’s book Badass: Making Users Awesome since it was released the other day and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve been obsessing about teaching and skills development theory for over a decade now, ranging from the ideological like Ivan Illich and Neil Postman to the philosophical like John Dewey. Oh, and so many research studies. All this time I have never encountered a book that so cohesively ties together so many of teaching and training best practices into a single, sensible conceptual model.

The print design mentality

Screen design isn’t print design and will never be print design, no matter how high the screen’s resolution gets.

Digital design needs to account for a level of changeability and dynamism that print has never had to deal with. The interaction model of print is embodied in the book object and not in the on-page design. The interaction model of digital has to be accounted for in the screen design itself and functionality needs to be specifically designed.

Great text transcends nothing

Disclaimer: Working on ebooks is how I make my living. Therefor you should take everything I write about ebooks with a grain of salt. Anybody whose economic future depends on specific viewpoints is more likely to hold those views, if not for any other reason than to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance. Yes, that does mean you should be sceptical about bankers on banking, real estate agents on real estate, and insurance salespeople on insurance, especially when they are defending the societal value of their profession as a whole.

The Google Wave Heuristic

What dooms software projects? Everybody quotes the opening lines of Anna Karenina at some point. You know the one. It’s the bit about happy families being all alike in their yaddayadda-blabla and how unhappy families are all unhappy in their unique blablabla. There’s plenty of stuff in Anna Karenina you could quote, but I guess most people give up on it before they get to the second half. Which is a pity because it’s a good book.

Readmill versus Kindle – Readmill is worth the hassle

Last week I decided to reread a couple of books in Readmill that I had previously read in the iOS Kindle app. Let’s see how the two compare. Kindle for iOS It’s a turd. There’s no way to express just how awful that app is while still couching your annoyance in polite language. It’s not awful. It’s fucking awful. Of course, some of the annoyance stems from general Kindle awfulness such as frequent bugs in how the platform does sharing and general disregard for basic typography.

What are self-publishing's biggest pain points?

I’ve found that the more time you spend in a problem area the more you realise how many of your preconceptions were mistaken.

So, instead of just assuming I know what the pain points of self-publishing are based on my own experience, I figure the best thing to do is to simply ask people.

In general, publishers face two separate problem areas:

  1. Making the book as good as possible. This means making the text as good as possible (writing and editing) and making the product as good as possible (typesetting and design).

  2. Finding a paying readership for the book. (Selling, marketing, PR, events, etc..)

I’m pretty sure most problems self-publishers face fall into those same areas but I also suspect that their specifics and details are going to be unique to self-publishing.

And by self-publishing I basically mean any publisher with only one or two employees and who publishes only ebooks.

So, what are self-publishing’s biggest pain points? I’d really appreciate any answers, either in the comments below, twitter or, if you want, in email. (My email is baldur.bjarnason@gmail.com for those who prefer not to contribute in public.)

Designing the covers

One thing me and Jenný have in common with our parents is that we tend to talk about our work a lot. As a result we know way too much about linguistics and journalism (our mother’s fields) and psychology (which is what dad does). It also means that we are very much aware of each others tastes and priorities when it comes to design, writing, and illustration. And one particular taste we share is a dislike – bordering on grumpy annoyance – of typical fantasy and science fiction covers.

Archive