Blog posts I didn’t write in 2010

In a notebook using the service/software Evernote, I collect ideas for possible blog posts. Rarely do these ideas make it into posts. They turn out to be just thoughts or observations. Some get tweeted. Some, I’ll share via Google Reader. Most get cleared out — or re-filed into another notebook — at the end of the year.

Here are some of the things that got cleared out over the past few days. Or, I guess another way to view them is: Here are some topics I may have been, at some point, interested in learning more about — or writing about. But, life and work were more important.:

1. I wonder if anyone at Sequoia Capital ever talks about that Malthusian presentation they required their portfolio companies to attend a couple of years ago. I wonder if they’ve ever had a “why we were wrong” or “why we were right” presentation.

2. My theory on why many (perhaps, most) historians and economists and reporters and bloggers are not typically very good when it comes to analyzing the present or predicting the future. My theory: There are tree-viewing experts and forest-viewing experts. Both are important. However, your tree-bias or forest-bias will make it hard for you to be objective when it comes to having the mindset to interpret the other. Most of those jobs reward tree-viewers. Forest-viewers are better at predicting the future. Forest viewers provide more latitude for the unexpected.

3. My prediction of precisely what will happen in the GOP between now and the November 2012 election — so you can ignore all the Blah-blah, media coverage between now and then. First, the politically-obsessed wing of the media will be obsessed with the GOP’s “right-wing” obsession with a Palin-Huckabee contest — that will last through Iowa. Palin crashes and burns at some point. Huckabee crashes and burns later. The eventual nominee will be from Massachusetts. He’ll lose in November.

4. What it will take for Obama to win in 2012. He’ll redefine “the middle” as being something other than “moderate,” something like “pragmatic” or “rational” or “most Americans” (anything but, “silent majority”). His backers (including those with blogs) will begin to realize in early 2011 that elections sway entirely on one thing: “the economy.” They will realize the importance (necessity) of “pragmatic Americans” being optimistic and will recognize that focusing on an improving economy will be the key to Obama being re-elected. In other words, they’ll realize their current obsession with how America is headed over a cliff is a great way to unseat an incumbant. Pragmatic voters support the candidate they believe will most likely keep their 401-K from losing value. A flag-waving, it’s morning again in America — don’t mess it up — campaign is the way to get an incumbant re-elected. Those who want Obama to be re-elected will likely realize pessimism about the economy is their real opponent. If they don’t, then he’ll lose. (Ask Ford, Carter, the first Bush.)

5. Why do people think it’s an injustice that the top 1% of American earners earn more than 1% of total American earnings? It’s like thinking it’s an injustice that the top 1% of college basketball players will make it into the NBA, while the other 99% will have to be satisfied with having had the chance to go to college on a basketball scholarship. Or, that it’s an injustice that the top 1% of high school seniors will get a larger percentage of Ivy League acceptances than the other 99%. I can think of better examples of where the U.S. economic system needs fixing than the “top X percent” one.

6. What you can do with Flipboard’s stealthy evolution into being a third-party social media management app (rather than a mere “social magazine”), especially its support of Google Reader integration, is something I look forward to showing my non-geek friends with iPads (however, I won’t use any of the phrases found in this sentence); primarily to trick them into finally using an RSS newsreader without knowing it.

7. How the Kindle, the iPad and an emerging infrastructure that supports those who just want to find, access (both paid and free), organize and read great writing are changing what, why and how I read long-form articles, essays, short stories and books. (Especially, such long-form supporting apps, services as Instapaper, somethingtoread.com, longreads.com, etc.)

8. A long post on why I’m obsessed with the Kindle Singles Store, even though it hasn’t yet launched.

9. The NPR App I’d like to see: Allows me to mix audio feed from their programming with some type of pace/beat music. I can do it w/ iPod’s multi-task, but I can’t easily hack the mix of volume on the two tracks. NPR has both music and news programming that could be pre-mixed.

10. A post about why people should stop trying to understand the iPad much like my previous posts about why it’s impossible to understand Twitter. The iPad, like Twitter (or the telephone or computers, in general) is not important for what it is, it’s important for how one uses it. How I use it and how you use it are different. You don’t need to convince me your use is correct and mine is not.

11. Who is Heraclitus and why does his name always show up in smart people’s posts.

12. Why eBooks and “whatever magazines are called in a digital form” don’t need video to be enhanced. Simplicity, readability, contextual tools — all are much more important.

13. Why I’m not an early adopter, even though people believe I am.

14. Airport advertising (the translucent poster kind) is mostly awful — and why. With examples of both bad and good.

15. “What’s the simplest thing that could possibly work?” (I wanted to write about this 2004 interview with Howard Cunningham I ran across something during the year.

16. Prosopagnosia: It’s a condition where ones brain does not recognize faces, even those of loved ones. I had never heard of it until 2010, and then heard two different interviews on NPR. I think I was going to use it as a metaphor for something. Unfortunately, I have a brain condition that causes me to forget things I don’t write down.

17. The smartest things on the internet: All the free things that can teach you stuff. While there are online universities and training sites that are generating billions in revenue, there is also an endless variety of ways to get free courses, lectures and books online, as well — not for credit or degrees, but for learning. My post was going to cover MIT’s open courseware, iTunes U, Wikiversity and Project Gutenberg — which is just a small sampling.

18. Every gadget I’ve ever wanted now exists in an affordable, consumer-friendly version; except for a flying car. However, I’ve discovered it’s not the flying car I find so appealing — it’s the “not driving” part. If I have the ability to work and communicate and collaborate at all times during the kind of trip I’d use a “flying car” to journey, most of the reasons I’d want to fly go away.

Now that I think about it, I’m going to put this post in that “ideas to blog about” notebook.

You, too, can be an ebook publisher

Like the New York-centric consumer magazine industry, commercial book publishers and, frankly, most everyone, think of books found in bookstores and libraries when they consider what book publishing is. Perhaps they’ll concede there are some independent book publishers out there somewhere, and perhaps lots of books that are published by “the academic press,” but that’s about it. Oh, except for those “vanity press” things people publish, (that, in their minds no one reads). And text books, yes, there are those, also. And, come to the think of it, there are lots of reference books that are in bookstores and libraries also, but they would never show up in any review of books. And then, there are all those manuals that come with every product you purchase — I guess those are books, also. So there are many types of documents formated as books that are not listed in the New York Times best selling lists each week.

Our understanding of “vanity press” and self-publishing is evolving rapidly — even if the traditional publishing powers-that-be have refused to acknowledge it (with some notable exceptions.) However, with progressive authors like Seth Goden leading the way, and, the proliferation of a wide-array of technology (like on-demand printing and eBooks) and enticing business models (like Amazon’s 70-30 split of eBook revenues), the term “vanity publishing” will soon be placed in the trash heap of pejoratives.

Last week, a small, but perhaps significant step was made in this inevitable march towards the day when an organization or author who wishes to sell a book will finally finish off the disintermediation of what we currently think of as Book (with a capital “B”) Publishing: Apple announced that an update to its desktop document software Pages includes the ability to save a document as an ePub file is included.

While some observers have cast this as an Amazon vs. Apple move, such characterization makes little sense to me now that the Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (how one publishes an eBook to be sold via the Kindle Store) now supports the ePub format. I’m not a student of this particular skirmish of the technology wars, but it seems more of a slam at Adobe’s PDF format than a swipe at Amazon. (Adobe is also the company behind Flash, the video format that doesn’t work on the iPhone or iPad.)

So, here’s the deal: If you have a Mac and iWorks and you want to self-publish an eBook and sell it via Amazon.com or Apple’s iBookstore, you now have all the technology you need. (Of course, there are ways to do this using Microsoft Word and some hacking, but I’m talking about the easy way, not the Word way.)

(I feel the need to add a sidebar comment at this point: If you’ve never tried to sell a self-published book, you’re better off not trying it the DIY way first time out of the gate — or maybe, never. If it’s a book you actually want to sell, I suggest you enlist the assistance of what Apple calls “iBookstore Aggregators.”)

The professional designers who work with me have professional tools that export beautifully designed documents to more formats than I knew existed. However, I predict that for those who are comfortable in Keynote (the software, Pages, works exactly like Keynote, without the “effects”), this “save as ePub” feature could be a very significant step in the journey towards you becoming a book publisher.

Also, while this post pertains to “digital” eBooks, the process and “aggregators” also can be used with Print-on-Demand, as well.

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