The Blogroll: Week 19

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll


Matthew Guay - When Slack Won the Team Chat Market

It’s not exactly that HipChat lost the market—not at first anyhow. With deep integrations with Atlassian’s JIRA, Conflusion, and other enterprise tools, it kept a hold on the business chat market for a while. But Slack grew the market massively, making team chat a new anchor app in today’s office suites. Team chat didn’t replace email—newsletters underwent a resurgence at the same time—but it did cement its place in the workplace. And over time, businesses started switching away, leading to HipChat’s gradual decline and this week’s acquisition of HipChat and Stride by Slack.

Today, Slack’s the giant, with 88% of the team chat app market on Zapier—leaving 25 other team chat apps to divide the rest.

It goes to show the power of design and user experience. HipChat is fine — we use it daily here at iwantmyname — but it was never exciting. It never felt like a whimsical door to a more interesting world.

Providing a good service in 2018 isn’t good enough. You need to provide a good experience.

Side thought: UX people are going to rule the world. If your company leaves its UX people on the sidelines of the planning process, you’re as good as dead.


Deborah Bach - How gamers with disabilities helped design the new Xbox Adaptive Controller’s elegantly accessible packaging

“It’s great that we’ve created this controller for people to use, but if they can’t even get it out of the box, we’ve sort of fallen on our face with this whole process. This makes such a huge difference in how someone gets our device out of the package,” he said. “I still think about it and think, why isn’t more packaging like this?”

This right here is what I mean about UX. The expected just isn’t good enough — everything should be on the table every day. What can we make easier? What can we make better? Who is hurt by the assumptions we made yesterday?


Claire Lew - Managers: You’re not prepared for your one-on-one meetings. Here’s what to do.

You waste time when you’re not up-to-speed. When you walk into a one-on-one meeting not knowing what the person has been working on for the past month, you squander 10 -15 minutes to get caught up on old information. That’s 10 -15 minutes that could’ve been spent discovering and discussing new information. Instead, spend a few minutes getting up to speed before the meeting rather than during it. Specifically:

  • Review status updates ahead of time. You’ll save time by not rehashing “What’s the latest on X?” And you’ll better orient yourself on what the focus of the one-on-one meeting should be.

Especially for remote teams, this should be a priority in group meetings as well. Recapping what’s already been documented is a waste of everyone’s time — read the comms. Focus on the decisions that need to be made to move the team forward.


Manton Reece- Anchor on free podcasting

Anchor seems to be going for the YouTube model. They want a huge number of people to use their platform. But the concentration of so much media in one place is one of the problems with today’s web. Massive social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have too much power over writers, photographers, and video creators. We do not want that for podcasts.

In short, Anchor is trying to be the YouTube of the podcast world. Not great. What the world doesn’t need is another centralized internet gatekeeper. Not everything needs to be run through a centralized ad platform.


Om Malik - Juul & its House of Smoke & Horrors

In a CNBC news report, Juul spokesman Matt David said: “Like many Silicon Valley technology startups, our growth is not the result of marketing but rather a superior product disrupting an archaic industry.” First of all, there is nothing technological about this company — unless you count behavioral addiction as a common ground with Facebook and others like them. It is utter bullshit, and reporters should know better than letting this slide without serious questioning.

From Business Insider (which called it iPhone of e-cigarettes) to CrunchBase, everyone seems to marvel over their growth rates, their post-Unicorn valuations, and jaw-dropping success at raising capital. And very rarely have I seen anyone stand up and point out that it is no different than traditional tobacco peddlers like Marlboro and Camel. They are peddling nicotine-based addiction. By focusing on charming founders, their backgrounds, large amount of funds raised and crazy valuations, no one is asking the right question: why are we supporting this company that is essentially Camel 2.0?

Maybe I’m just a product of the times, but nearly every high-value business is a play on behavioral addiction (or a B2B company supporting these businesses). Cigarrettes obviously lead directly to premature death (don’t @ me), but not many addictions end up being healthy.

I’m not as enraged by this as Om is, but it does leave me a little numb. The whole startup scene and the gross amounts of VC money floating around is exhausting and amoral (at times), and I’m not convinced we’re better as a society because of it. I know tech makes lots of magical things, but I wish we would focus more on quality of life — full stop — than endless consumption and the emotional bandaid that is “digital wellness.”

My vote would be to raise US taxes considerably and recycle some of that money into public spaces and the arts (again, don’t @ me). Life has to have more meaning than “the next big thing.”

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)