Another two weeks gone and another newsletter hitting your inbox. I know how much you enjoy reading my ramblings, and I think I have recovered everyone that I lost after the last edition! I have no idea what happened to my Ghost install, but it mysteriously broke, and it seems I am not the only one that experiences these weird happenings, so that makes me feel a little better.
Before I start anything this week, I want to ask for some opinions on this very newsletter. After more than a year writing it I am thinking about making editions require a subscription. I am delighted with the way things are going, but like my friend Daryl Baxter said many times, writing words isn’t free, neither is hosting, so perhaps a little push into the black is needed.
I don’t want to charge for more editions, or longer editions, but then the question is how and what to do. Furthermore, I tried a voluntary contribution before and that fell flat on its behind! The last thing I want is to put people off reading, I’ve never turned stats on for tracking readers, I just don’t believe in it, but seeing the subscriber list grow after every edition is enough feedback for me.
Let me know what you think, I am thinking something arbitrary like £10 a year, but even that could be a big stretch for some.
The Digital Itch
It wasn’t very long ago I wrote about digital consumerism, and spending money on apps you don’t need. As with many things though, it’s easy for me to say and less easy to actually do. So when Ghost updated its platform to 4.0 the feelings of moving again instantly hit.
This has nothing to do with advertising or persuasive techniques and everything to do with fear of missing out. Partly because I was invested in Ghost for a while, and still am with the newsletter, and also partly because the grass is always greener. The itch to dive in starts.
I think I just enjoy the process of having something to work on, to keep my mind busy when not working, and just generally feel like a bit of a nerd. Thankfully FIFA 21 launched on Stadia on Wednesday, so I have something else to do, otherwise I might have spun up another DO droplet and started playing straight away!
One of the things I focus on, particularly online is maintaining my true self and not falling into the trap I have seen so many do and start loosing myself. Time and time again I have seen people that I know very well start to gain a following, gain some traction online and then completely lose themselves. They become either a mouth piece of the company they work for, or even worse for themselves.
One of, if not the only reason, I follow people online is that they are an interesting person. They have a personality I like to read updates from, and post some of their work along the way. For some strange reason the balance starts to tip and their stream becomes an endless search for views, likes or whatever metric they base their importance on. Personality gives way to adverts and it always sucks.
It’s hard to maintain a balance of displaying what you do, but who you are is more important and more interesting.
UX And UI
For the past few days, I have been looking into the new notes app, Craft. It has been lauded up as the best app currently available, so understandably I wanted to take a proper look. I rage quite a couple of times previously because it was missing loads of things and wanted to charge £45 a year, but this time I went deep.
I posted a long thread about strange little bits that hadn’t been thought through properly. Including some weirdness with sharing vs exporting and poor implementation on Markdown. Perhaps the tendency to try to make it too powerful has lead to oversight in the ways it can actually be used. In an attempt to be more things to more people it feels more than a little lost.
It looks almost like an online Notion in places, and would allow me to store a lot of work related text files and PDF I have currently in folders easier, and allow them to be updated effortlessly. The exporting options in PDF and Word Doc look great and fulfils most of the things I often need to email to people — but I digress. The real root of this is thinking about UX rather than UI.
I can’t help but compare it to Notion in the fact that it too suffers from this slightly lost feeling. All the things have been thrown in, but thinking about actually using them takes more brain power than it actually should do. This is of course all my opinion. These things may have been thought about and decisions made that lean the other way from my usage. However, I am not alone in this feeling, reassured by several people on Twitter that they came to the same conclusion that leads me to believe that the UX need some serious attention.
Since a thread of conversation on micro.blog about images used on blogs and particularly the hate towards Unsplash I have been thinking about image usage. I am not going to stop using Unsplash, it gets a lot of hate but that is simply because you see the same images recycled all over, but I am starting to put a bit more thought into them.
It is built into Ghost, and is really easy to use on WordPress (and it's free) so is a great resource to pull on. However it does get tiring seeing the same images used time and time again. Also it means your blog or newsletter looses a little individuality when leaning too heavily on stock images. Simply searching for a simple term and using one of the first few surfaced means you are always going to use the same as everyone else.
There is nothing inherently wrong with that but it’s a personal choice. Some of the time now I am not using an image when I typically would have slapped something in. I wonder if the use of images has something to do with grabbing attention online, particularly those service with content preview cards look much worse without images in them.
When I pasted in these links I realised that the vast majority of my reading is done on The Atlantic. I don’t know what it is about their posts that really seem to peek my interests. The writing is top notch and the subjects usually overlap with topics I am interested in ,or sometimes push me into areas that I haven’t looked into but fit really well with other things I have read. I should apologise as I guess this is how people get indoctrinated into certain ways of thinking, but I wont.
Before I Go
Thank you to all those that contributed to my charity run. It was as hard as I imaged, and it took every fibre of my being to finish the last few runs. Safe to stay that I wont be doing anything that tough in a hurry, but raising almost £1,500 for a charity that means a lot to me is fantastic. Thanks again.
Take the very best care of yourselves my friends.
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