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Monthly Archives: May 2011


The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

In the U.S. this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the official start of summer. Many people travel to visit family and friends or just to take their first trip to the beach. In the spirit of the holiday weekend we are going to do something different. Instead of sharing the items we’ve been talking about we are going to introduce you to two services we love and share items that you could enjoy while commuting to your destination or while taking some deserved time off.

Once you discover Instapaper you wonder how did you manage without it. Created by Marco Arment, co-founder of Tumblr and coffee aficionado, Instapaper is a simple tool to save web pages to read later. The text is stripped out of any web page and becomes available, via apps on most mobile devices, for you to read when you have the time. It is also available online through the Instapaper website. Instapaper is time-shifting for text, TiVo for words.

Longreads is the perfect compliment to Instapaper. Founded by Mark Armstrong, Longreads posts links to new stories every day — they include long-form journalism, magazine stories from your favorite publications (The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic), short stories, interview transcripts, and even historical documents. The site has a brilliant search feature that allows you to filter articles based on length, so you can find the perfect article to read in the amount of time you have available.

In the age of Twitter and Facebook status updates, these two services encourage long-form reading. Here are some of the articles we’ll be reading this weekend, as discovered through Longreads:

Error Message: Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong
(Kathryn Schulz, Slate, Aug. 3, 2010)
Time to read: 16 minutes (4,050 words)
Norvig explains what happens when a company (in this case Google) takes an engineering-centric approach to its products and business. First, it means that errors are actually a good thing.

Apple & Design: The Man Who Makes Your iPhone
(Frederik Balfour and Tim Culpan, Businessweek, Sept. 9, 2010)
Time to read: 21 minutes (5,204 words)
Foxconn founder Terry Gou might be regarded as Henry Ford reincarnated if only a dozen of his workers hadn’t killed themselves. An exclusive look inside a postmodern industrial empire.

Later: What Does Procrastination Tell Us About Ourselves?
(James Surowiecki, The New Yorker, Oct. 11, 2010)
Time to read: 14 minutes (3,574 words)
Take comfort in this exploration of the “basic human impulse” of putting work off.

Master of Play: Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s Man Behind Mario
(Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, Dec. 13, 2010)
Time to read: 37 minutes (9366 words)
Jamin Brophy-Warren, who publishes a video-game arts and culture magazine called Kill Screen, told me that there is something in the amplitude and dynamic of Mario’s jumps—just enough supernatural lift yet also just enough gravitational resistance—that makes the act of performing that jump, over and over, deeply satisfying. He also cited the archetypal quality of Mario’s task, that vague feeling of longing and disappointment which undergirds his desperate and recurring quest for the girl. “It’s a story of desire,” Brophy-Warren said.

Twitter Was Act One
(David Kirkpatrick, Vanity Fair, March 3, 2011)
Time to read: 18 minutes (4,543 words)
“The Facebook Effect” author David Kirkpatrick on another Silicon Valley superstar—Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey. In submitting to his first in-depth profile, we learn about the events the led to him stepping down as CEO [since then he has returned to Twitter as CEO], his long-term goal (to become mayor of New York City), and his earliest career experiences.

Cranking
(Merlin Mann, 43 Folders, April 22, 2011)
Time to read: 12 minutes (3,068 words)
A disappearing dad with a looming book deadline examines his priorities, and promises changes.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• After more than 3 years of development, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) HTML Working Group has voted to move the HTML5 draft specification to Last Call status.

• Ad Age looks at the demographics of social media.

• This week Facebook began allowing brand tagging on photographs shared on the site. This reminds us of IKEA’s Showroom campaign implemented in 2009 (see a case study video here.) Think about what they’ll be able to create next using this new functionality.

• However that’s not the most significant Facebook news of the week. After four and half years Facebook has been granted a patent on image tagging.

LinkedIn’s very successful IPO, launched Thursday, is seen by many as a watershed moment for Social Media.

• Another must see Google Labs Chrome Experiment Film: Rome’s 3 Dreams of Black.

• WordPress.com has dropped support for IE6.

• Macworld has a great collection of articles taking a close look at the 10th anniversary of Apple’s first retail stores.

• Put the ritalin down: In Praise of Shortened Attention Spans.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

• We are very curious about Google’s introduction of the Chromebook (with their typically great animated demo video.) We’ve known that a laptop that runs on Chrome and executes everything within the browser was in the works. What’s more peculiar is the introduction of laptop rental services for business and education. With Adobe also introducing a subscription service for their Creative Suite 5.5, is leasing the future of hardware and software? Most likely it is a way to ensure that cash-strapped college students can afford the hardware and software to begin forging a brand bond as early as possible.

• And speaking of college students, a new study finds they are addicted to media.

•  On the same week that it releases a Best Practices Guide for Marketing on Facebook, the company is in PR hot water. Facebook paid a PR firm to smear Google. Leaked emails reveal Burson-Marsteller attempted to get USA Today and other titles to write criticizing Google’s privacy policies. This from the company that is constantly telling us what we should think privacy is.

• We loved this week’s Google Doodle, created by Ryan J. Woodward, paying tribute to Martha Graham. The Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance has annotated the works behind the doodle and knowing that many people would be searching for more information has cleverly incorporated fundraising campaigns to the page.

The Thinking Mechanism is a series of weekly posts, published on Fridays, covering the ideas The Mechanism is thinking and talking about with our peers and clients.

The week in quick links:

How the Bin Laden announcement leaked out. – The news broke on Twitter but last Monday everyone in New York was buying newspapers.

Sunday night saw the highest sustained rate of Tweets ever. From 10:45 – 2:20am ET, there was an average of 3,000 Tweets per second.

Situation Room photo shows Flickr is grown up.

The 7 stages of News in a Twitter and Facebook era.

Google’s latest commercial for Chrome is charming and sweet, until you realize how much information about us they already have.

The Daily Loses $10M During First Quarter. – Pioneering technology is nothing if the content is not good.

• Push Pop Press launched Our Choice, an interactive book by Al Gore, redefining the ebook(app). Software developer Mike Matas demoed the app(ebook) at this year’s TED. Benjamin Jackson reviewed it. – Pioneering technology paired with good content.

Social Media accounts are Intellectual Property.

Fortune builds app for the browser instead of building an iPad app.

Another look at Saul Bass, this time logo design then and now. – The average life span of a Saul Bass logo is 34 years.