Nir Eyal: Where is the Web Going?

Content Creation by Nir Eyal

Prescient, from 2012, by Nir Eyal.

The Curated Web is characterized by a fundamentally different value to users than the social web. Whereas Web 1.0 was characterized by content published from one-to-many and social media was about easily creating and sharing content, from many-to-many, the curated web is about capturing and collecting only the content that matters, from many-to-one. Like all successive phases, the curated web is a response to the weaknesses of the previous phase. Users inundated with too much content are looking for solutions to help them make sense of it all. Curated Web companies solve this problem by turning content curation into content creation and, following the predicted trend line, they see unprecedented percentages of user participation. Each re-pin, re-blog, re-tweet, creates a curated, easy-to-use stream for future information to flow.

By designing new interfaces, and suddenly making information accessible, innovative companies have just begun creating the Curated Web. By extrapolating the trend line, we can expect new startups to engage even higher numbers of users in creating content by making creation even easier. As our ability to create content increases, perhaps one day becoming nearly effortless, we are likely to see new interfaces to help us make sense of all the data, and hearkening the next phase of the web.

The Ludicorp Business Philosophy

Ludicorp created Flickr back in the day. Via Kottke.

“Business owners do not normally work for money either. They work for the enjoyment of their competitive skill, in the context of a life where competing skillfully makes sense. The money they earn supports this way of life. The same is true of their businesses. One might think that they view their businesses as nothing more than machines to produce profits, since they do closely monitor their accounts to keep tabs on those profits.

“But this way of thinking replaces the point of the machine’s activity with a diagnostic test of how well it is performing. Normally, one senses whether one is performing skillfully. A basketball player does not need to count baskets to know whether the team as a whole is in flow. Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.

“The game and styles of playing the game are what matter because they produce identities people care about. Likewise, a business develops an identity by providing a product or a service to people. To do that it needs capital, and it needs to make a profit, but no more than it needs to have competent employees or customers or any other thing that enables production to take place. None of this is the goal of the activity.”

To which the Ludicorporate added: “The goal is to kick ass.”

Reviving The Atlantic

How The Atlantic went from losing $7M in 2005 to turning a profit this year, as reported in the Times.

How did a 153-year-old magazine — one that first published the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and gave voice to the abolitionist and transcendentalist movements — reinvent itself for the 21st century?

By pretending it was a Silicon Valley start-up that needed to kill itself to survive…

“We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic,” said Justin B. Smith, president of the Atlantic Media Company, who arrived at the magazine’s offices in the Watergate complex in 2007 with a mission to stanch the red ink. “In essence, we brainstormed the question, ‘What would we do if the goal was to aggressively cannibalize ourselves?’ ”

Kenya Hara on MUJI

I love this quote from Kenya Hara of MUJI, via my Automattic colleague and design cylon Michael Pick.

We don’t want to be the thing that kindles or incites intense appetite, causing outbursts like “This is what I really want,” or “I simply must have this.” If most brands are about that, MUJI should be after its opposite. We want to give customers the kind of satisfaction that comes out as “this will do,” not “this is what I want.” It’s not appetite, but acceptance. Even within acceptance, however, there is an appropriate level. Our goal is to elevate it as high as possible…

…I would like to recognize the fact that desire sometimes involves obsession, causes egoism, or strikes a sour note. I wonder if humankind, having rushed after desire, has finally reached an impasse. Both the consumer society and individual cultures, chasing after desire and driven by appetite, are hitting a wall. In this sense, today we should value the qualities at work in acceptance: moderation, concession, and detached reason. Might acceptance be a form with one more level of freedom? Acceptance might involve resignation and slight dissatisfaction, but raising the level of acceptance thoroughly eliminates both. To generate “this will do,” by creating this very dimension of acceptance, one that is clearly self-confident and also truly competitive in a free economic society: this is MUJI’s vision.

The New Normal: “Half-sized Asset Returns”

“Capitalism, I would assert, thrives on more, more, and more, but not so well when there is less or an expectation of less. This is not the Malthusian thesis, which maintained that at some point the world would run out of food to satisfy a growing population; it is an assertion that capitalism depends upon final demand and that if there ever comes a time when population growth slows, then the world’s most efficient economic system will be tested. If anything, my thesis is anti-Malthusian in its assertion that there will always be enough production to satisfy a growing population, but perhaps not enough new people to sustain growing production.”
Bill Gross manages PIMCO’s gigantical bond fund. This excerpt is from his August client letter.

Sic transit gloria mundi, Milan edition

“As a matter of profit and loss, it doesn’t make sense to store wool in a spa and let it convalesce for six months, but the methods of Luciano Barbera were never destined for a get-rich-quick guide to manufacturing. His business will make sense only to customers, and for them, quality has a logic of its own.”
A look at the waning days of a bespoke merchant: “From Taxis to Textiles, Italy Chooses Tradition Over Growth”