… web developer, writer, and consultant based in Hveragerði, Iceland.

I write about web dev, interactive media, digital publishing, and product development.

I’m available for consulting and hire.

Weeknote 10 - A clear view and more reading

It’s better to know the situation early.

Work

The good thing about doing proper product research is that you have a much clearer idea of where your product stands in the market landscape.

The bad thing about doing proper product research is that you have a much clearer idea of where your product stands in the market landscape.

It kind of makes it hard to maintain a pleasant illusion about your work and where it stands. But, as hard as it is for the ego, I’d much rather we find out that our expectations and ideas might not be as realistic as we hoped now, when the project is in its early stages and we still have months of funding, than later, when we will have spent months working on features we can’t sell.

So, even though the conversations over the past couple of weeks have been a bit tough, they have also been essential. They may have been a downer to start with but now knowing more makes me more hopeful.

Media

My sister has been suggesting for a while that I watch more documentaries so this week I watched Food Inc. and large parts of The Staircase. Both were quite depressing, to be honest.

Interesting. But depressing.

Books

I didn’t manage to read much during the week but managed to put the three day weekend here in Canada to productive use.

I decided to mix in a bit of non-fiction in my reading as well, which was a sound decision, although I focused mostly on re-reading books that I hadn’t read in 15-20 years:

  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster. A re-read. Very much of its time. It does a good job of staking out games design as a creative art form. But if you already agree with that premise it doesn’t really have much to say.
  • The Humane Interface by Jef Raskin. Another re-read. An amazing, underrated book that manages to be timeless in a field that’s easily as mercurial as the fashion industry. It does so by focusing on two things: 1. an idiosyncratic overview of the best research in interface design from the first few decades in software; 2. a dedicated focus on the road computing did not take, the ideas and approaches that were ignored by the mainstream. A lot of the ideas outlined in this book have ended up as fixtures in software platforms that came out after the book was written like iOS, Android, and later versions of macOS. Truly excellent.
  • Writing Space by Jay David Bolter. And yet another re-read. This one was a big disappointment. It was devoid of anything resembling practical value and it spends more time trying to be clever about now outdated then contemporary cultural issues than on anything that could be useful to either a writer or designer. I loved the first edition of this book when I read it almost 20 years ago. Now I’m wondering whether I’ve changed so much in the intervening 20 years or whether the first edition was just more interesting than the second. Either way this book did not interest, engage, or entertain me.
  • Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers. Not the best Lord Peter Wimsey novel. A little bit too focused on the puzzle. Most of the characters were honestly a little bit boring and the setting was a little bit too placidly pastoral for my taste. Hopefully the next one will be a return to form.

Photography plans

I have a clearer idea for what to do now with the Parc Jarry project. Now it’s just a question of finding the time to put it all together.

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