In the past month and a half, we have seen an incredible land rush to utilize Kickstarter to bring back classic game franchises. It started when Double Fine Adventure launched, and ended up raising over three million dollars. Leisure Suit Larry, Wasteland 2, and Shadowrun Returns soon followed. Are they riding the coat tails of Tim Schaefer? Who cares? That doesn’t matter — we’re getting a bunch of crowd-funded games by people who really care about the franchises.
I do like this trend. I just wish there was a Kickstarter to convince even more game developers to do Kickstarters.
It's been a well kept secret, but you may have heard Facebook will Buy Photo-Sharing Service Instagram for $1 Billion. Just what is Facebook buying? Here's a quick gloss I did a little over a year ago on a presentation Instagram gave on their architecture. In that article I called Instagram's architecture the “canonical description of an early stage startup in this era.” Little did we know how true that would turn out to be.
My ongoing coverage of the Instagram acquisition over at MacStories. After my take on today's news, I am commenting on the best coverage found on the Internet – I am glad not everyone is acting like this. Courtney Boyd Myers had another particularly good story at The Next Web.
I typically don't care about acquisitions, but I find today's news one of the most exciting things that have happened to mobile and photo sharing in a while. I use Facebook, I use Instagram, and I am genuinely excited about the promise of Instagram's essence and nature being kept alive. I am one of those people who are intrigued by Facebook's internal culture, and who think the company has basically won the race to the de-facto social network product.
I hope Zuckerberg understands they could elegantly transition Instagram to becoming a Facebook product without ruining it. They should use Instagram as a way to gain new users and explore a new space, a new area of mobile. It's uncharted territory for big companies like Facebook.
Facebook has the resources, scale, and talent to keep Instagram as it is, possibly better, perhaps more connected to the social network.
In 1888, New York journalist David Goodman Croly published Glimpses of the Future, a “compilation” of predictions about the future “to be read now and judged in the year 2000”. I found the original link on Reddit, which pointed to this roundup by Greg Ross, based off the original book as digitized by Duke University.
I decided to collect a few additional predictions by Goodman Croly about the technological innovations we'd see in the future.
On “pictures and voices” in education:
Sir O. – It seems to that in that case a novel or romance could best be given in a public hall, with a stereopticon for the scenes, characters, and actions, and the graphophone to give voice to the conversations.
Mr F. – That would make a kind of drama to it, although without actual actors. It would be pictures and voices. And that reminds me, I do not see why the stereopticon is not more used in schools, instead of textbooks, for giving children an idea of history, geography, and the habits, and scenery of distant countries and their inhabitants. Education should appeal more to the eye and to the imagination, and not depend so much on words.
You seem to forget the marvels of chromolithography. It is now possible to put in twenty colors on one plate, and to give all the tints of nature with singular fidelity. True the chromo of today is looked upon as crude and inartistic ; but I venture to predict that it will be so far perfected as to allow any well-to-do family to have art galleries of their own, in which will be found reproductions of all the great paintings of the ancient and modern world. The crowning glory of our age will be when the highest art is brought within the reach of the poorest purse.
There is a conceit in Bellamy's “ Looking Backward,” which may become a reality. In the year 2000, he says, it will not be necessary to go to a meeting to hear a political orator, or to a church to be edified by a fine discourse, or to a concert hall to hear the noblest instrumental or vocal music. The telephone and the graphophone will be so perfected that we can enjoy these pleasures at our own homes. Now there may be something in this. Who knows but what news paper judgments may be set aside by the ability of every citizen to get into direct communication with original sources of information.
Reading these predictions today is just incredible. 124 years ago, Goodman Croly already had the basic gist of modern photography, education, film, and digital information just right. Most important, even if some of those technologies were already being developed back then (such as motion pictures and “photography”), he could see how the man of the future would use them every day.
And we can't even get our WWDC predictions right.
“I have no notion of being able to tell what the future has in store for us. The best we can do is to indicate the drift of things.” - David Goodman Croly
Rdio VP of Product Malthe Sigurdsson tells Janko Roettgers of GigaOM the company is working on a Pandora-like radio functionality to improve the “passive listening” experience of the service.
“We need to get better at passive listening,” Sigurdsson told me during a conversation at Rdio’s office in San Francisco this week. The move in a way echoes some of the things developers have been doing with Spotify apps, and both point to a bigger problem for music subscription services: With unlimited access to millions of tracks, choice can be a challenge.
Roettgers reports how, for music streaming services, which give you unlimited access to millions of songs for a monthly fee, the real issue becomes discovering artists and finding out what you want to listen to, exactly, among all those releases and available artists.
For the past 6 months, I have been using Rdio and am very happy with it. The biggest reason for switching was the existence of an iPad app, which, surprisingly, Spotify still doesn't offer.
In fact, I think Rdio's iPad app is even better than its Mac client – and the feature I like the most is its dedicated Recommendations section, which uncovers artists you might like based on your music listening habits. I use this on the iPad all the time, but with the launch of NewRdio the Mac app has lost the separate section for Recommendations, focusing on heavy rotation from your network. Rdio says they are “working on improving recommendations and better integrating them in the new Rdio experience”.
The new radio functionality seems intriguing. But I do hope Rdio will bring back and invest more resources in building smart Recommendations, becoming sort of a “Zite for music”. Better algorithms to determine what a user is going to like based on behavioral patterns and history are one of the best tools web services have to separate “all content” from “the best content” going forward.
MG Siegler has some good points about why it would make sense for Apple to release a 7.85-inch iPad. I still don't agree with this, though:
But even at a high level, all of this is too technical. The bottom line is that there isn’t a week that goes by without someone coming up to me and gushing about the iPad, but wishing it was a bit smaller. Not everyone feels this way, of course. And that’s why Apple will keep the 9.7 inch model as well. But there are plenty of folks out there who want a smaller version.
Like I said, of all the people I have talked to in the past two years about the iPad – not just “nerds”, as you would suspect from a tech writer – no one ever asked me about a smaller version. In fact, in my experience, people are typically afraid a screen so portable and relatively small could make for a bad reading experience for prolonged sessions. And that's exactly what Apple is trying to improve with the Retina display.
I'm not sure about the need of a smaller iPad yet, but read MG's post for some good counterarguments.
Such a minor, yet nice improvement on the Dropbox website: you can now drag & drop files from your computer and onto the browser using Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
Dropbox has been making some great improvements to its website lately. I like the new interface, and the photo viewer has been revamped as well. I use the Dropbox Mac app all the time, but drag & drop support in the browser is going to help me share screenshots publicly a lot faster than before.
On Tuesday, Instagram launched its long awaited Android application. Co-founder Mike Krieger shares the details behind the “tools and techniques” that power Instagram (via 512 Pixels).
The last few weeks (on the infrastructure side) have been all about capacity planning and preparation to get everything in place, but on launch day itself the challenge is to find problems quickly, get to the bottom of them, and roll out fixes ASAP.
I find this post fascinating also because my girlfriend signed up to Instagram yesterday, and she was pleased to find out “it's just an iPhone app” after all the talk she heard about it. It's an app – with lots of cool tech behind it.