Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

I’ve had my Apple Watch for about 24 hours now. Here are my initial thoughts as I’ve started to explore it:

  1. I’m surprised how much I’ve missed being able to look at my wrist and see the time, rather than having to get my phone out.
  2. The health-tracking circles interface is really good: it’s a very powerful visual motivator to exercise a bit more, just from glancing at your watch. Liking that a lot.
  3. The only 3rd party app I’ve used extensively over the past 24 hours is Dark Sky. That app was conceptually built for the watch, truly.
  4. The Watch is NOT an iPhone on your wrist. The sooner you get your head round that idea (and it took me a few hours), the sooner you’ll start exploring what it actually is.
  5. That sapphire screen on the Watch? Beautiful. This is actually an item of jewellery as much as it is a piece of technology. I’m enjoying having it on my wrist, even when the screen if off (which it is the majority of the time.)
  6. I’ve been up since 6.40am, and I’m on 83% battery at 3.25pm.

I’m on toddler duty, so I haven’t had that much time to really play yet. More to come as I do.

Unboxing the Apple Watch

Most of the unboxings I’ve seen have been of Apple Watch Sport. The Apple Watch comes in a rather different box:

Apple Watch in its packaging

It’s a square box in a square box. And it’s all as lovely, and finely crafted as you would expect. All the parts fit together perfectly, and slide apart smoothly.

Apple Watch packaging

The box has the contents clearly printed on the size, so the watch/band combos clearly have their own boxes. Has Apple ever had this many SKUs of a single product before?

Opening the Apple Watch box

The inner box pops open to reveal… a third box. It’s like pass the parcel.

The actual Apple Watch box

Two tabs allow you to pull out the actual Watch box. (The power cable and brief documentation are sat underneath this. Incidentally, this is the first Apple product I can remember that doesn’t come with Apple logo stickers.)

The actually box itself reminds me of the plastic shell of the old-fashioned white iBook/MacBook. I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was an identical plastic. It’s a really substantial box – something that’s clearly designed to be kept and used, not just chucked away.

Pop it open:

The Apple Watch in its box

And there’s the Watch.

All in all, it is clearly a crafted opening experience, designed to convince you that by stepping up to Apple Watch rather than Apple Watch Sport, you’ve bought a better quality product. And it’s compellingly tactile, too.

Pity the next step was rather ruined by it taking me a fair while to figure out how to actually turn Watch on…

Apple Watch in use

Once I’d done that, and spent a while syncing it with my phone, this is how it looks on the wrist:

Apple Watch in use

What do you think?

What She Left by TR Richmond: CatChat Edition

Very long term readers of this blog will be familiar with the name Tim Relf. Mr Relf is a journalist on that fine organ Farmers Weekly, and the point blogger on Field Day, a rural life blog referred to on here more than once as “Cat Chat”, a nickname stolen from Matthew Naylor, back when he was blogging.

I suspect Mr Relf is about to be known for a lot more than just Cat Chat and recipes from a farmhouse kitchen. But not as “Tim Relf“. He’ll be known as TR Richmond, instead.

A social media post…card

Some months ago, I received a postcard from Tim, promoting his new novel, which has its roots deep in the idea of the social media shadow we leave on the world. On that card he thanked me for being one of the people who started him on his journey into that world, back in my days as RBI’s blogmeister. At the time I failed to realise quite how significant that book was becoming:

The unusual concept caught the attention of Penguin who bought the book and subsequently sold it in 16 countries worldwide, in a deal that has netted the publisher and author £800,000.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has been lined up to voice protagonist Alice Salmon in the audiobook. Fellow GoT star Charles Dance is providing the voice of Professor Cooke – an ageing anthropology professor fixated on solving the mystery of his former student’s death.

Hang on. Go back a paragraph.

£800,000

Bloody hell, “TR”, you owe me a beer, mate. And not in a Sutton pub, either.

Why you should read What She Left

There’s a pretty good chance that, if you’re reading this, you’re interested in the dynamics and psychology of the new world of publishing we’ve built for ourselves on the web – this strange liminal space that exists between old fashioned publishing and chatting with your mates down the pub. A place for casual conversation that becomes a permanent record.

The book takes that idea to its logical extreme, and explores how a dead girl’s life and secrets can be uncovered from her web shadow. It’s a rich seam for thought, one that’s been explored by one friend in a professional sense, and now by another as fiction. I’ve bagged myself a copy, and I’ll review it here once I’ve finished it.

As for Tim, has it change his life? Well…

Relf, who lives in Carshalton, south London, with his wife, Isabel, and their two cats, plans to continue working at Farmers Weekly, which sells about 60,000 copies. “I really enjoy it. I’m fascinated by the countryside, food and farming,” he said.

Probably a relief for my ex-boss, who is now Tim’s boss. But I guess Tim won’t be guest posting for me any more…

What She Left is available as a hardback, on Kindle and on iBooks.

John Robinson on laying off journalists:

In the ensuing days, it was clear that a bond between the company and the employee was broken. The deal had been this:

They would work hard, do good work, miss family dinners, have coworkers critique their work, hear from readers that they were stupid and biased and worse.

We would give them a place to do what they loved, a paycheck and job security.

We could no longer provide the security.

After that day, that covenant wasn’t ever fully restored.

It’s a good insight.

I’ve only ever been on one side of the redundancy conversation, and it wasn’t the less unpleasant one.

(I’m with the coach in John’s tale: however shitty laying off people makes you feel, you’re not going home to your family to tell them your income is gone. The moment I realised I would have to go home and tell my pregnant wife that we might lose the house we were buying – that was the result of literally years of work, dreaming and planning – through no fault of my own must rank as one of the worst of my life.)

But that “bond” John talks about? You realise that it’s a lie in most companies. It’s a fiction that serves the company, but rarely the employee. The main reason I’ve never gone back to a “proper” job is that I’m making a good living working for myself. But the realisation that the “bond” between a company and employee is a comforting fiction is another one. When that is stripped away, the downsides of corporate life – the politics, the pettiness – are thrown into sharper relief.

When you Google your site do you see something like this?

Mobile-friendly in Google search

Let’s make that a little clearer:

Highlighted mobile friendly

If you don’t, you have a problem. As of 21st April 2015 (the day this post is being published), Google isn’t just highlighting mobile-friendly sites in search results – it’s ranking mobile-friendly sites better.

Essentially, if your site:

  • Gets significant search traffic
  • Has a significant number of mobile visitors
  • Doesn’t have a mobile responsive site

then you can prepare yourself for a rapid drop in traffic.

This doesn’t change search traffic from desktop and laptop computers – just mobile devices (phones, basically – tablets are not included). But given that we’re rapidly pushing towards over 50% of web traffic coming from mobile – that’s pretty significant.

I have limited sympathy for publishers who aren’t ready, because we’ve known that mobile was going to be important for at least four years now. That’s a lot of time to prepare. And yet, I’ve seen sites in the last few days which manifestly aren’t ready.

Google’s decision makes perfect sense: why should they send traffic to sites which are poor experiences for their users? But given how backward some publishers’ understanding of SEO can be, I fully expect some panic in the next few weeks are they start to see traffic drops…

Of course, publishers aren’t the only guilty ones. As Neville flags up, many big corporates aren’t ready for mobilegeddon, either. Although the formal announcement that this was coming only hit in February, the signal have been clear for years. But it sometimes takes more than clear signals to trigger a website redesign – and those companies that have held back will pay the price in the coming months.

Want to know if your site is ready? Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool.

The Apple Watch is a pretty big chunk of cash for an unknown quantity. To erase the mental pressure myself, and generate some reassurance that I wasn’t blowing the cash, I took myself over to Brighton for a Watch try-on session last week .

I was met by a nice chap called Rich (38mm steel with classic buckle on pre-order, apparently), and guided carefully through the watches. First up with the one I’ve pre-ordered: the 42mm with the Milanese Loop. Would it fit? Would I like the loop?

I was a little concerned. People have joked in the past by comparing me to a tyrannosaurus rex – tiny arms for my size of body. But the 42mm was a very comfortable size on the wrist:

Apple Watch 42mm steel with Milanese Loop

As for the loop – well, wow. It’s a very supple, smooth band, and I immediately understood the comparisons with fabric. It feels beautiful on the wrist, and looks pretty damn good to my eyes, too. The weave is tight enough that I’m not worried about trapping one of the (plentiful) hairs on my arms. A very comfortable wear.

The magnet is surprisingly powerful, and the band feels very secure indeed on the wrist. I’m very pleased – I’m confident that I’ve made the right choice for myself.

Mmm. Leather.

Next up, I wanted a look at one of the leather straps. I’m a big fan of Apple’s recent experiments with leather. I have the brown leather case for my iPhone 5S, and while it feel horribly plastic-like at first, it has aged really attractively:

Iphone 5s leather case

Not to everyone’s taste, I’m sure. But I like the distressed look. The brown leather loop has a similar slightly plastically feel right out of the cabinet, but I’m confident that it’ll age in a pleasing fashion. It works almost identically to the milanese loop, so I really like it as a more casual choice. A good contender for my second band, if I like the watch:

Apple Watch - brown leather loop

I also tried on the classic buckle – and really disliked it. It’s far too “fussy” aesthetically for me. Not something I’ll be buying.

Life in plastic, it’s…

Last up, I decided to try a sports band. I’m hoping to do a bit more strenuous exercise in the near future (I even have a bike – it needs servicing, but I have it). A sports band seems like a good call. But I really didn’t want one of the fluoroelastomer bands as my default. The rubber-like material? That’s just going to be too sweaty.

That said, I was surprised when I tried it on:

Apple Watch Sport - Black Band

The demo case only had a black band attached to a Sport Watch – and it’s really noticeably lighter than the Steel one. The Apple Watch is a noticeable presence on your wrist without being heavy, while the Apple Watch Sport is virtually unnoticeable once it is on. It was less “present” than even my Jawbone UP24. And the band? A very different feel to what I expected. It’s more of a silicone texture to the touch than traditional rubber. Very smooth, very cool.

I still couldn’t see myself wearing one full-time, but I could happily use it for exercising. And I can really see why the back aluminium and black band combo has been so popular. They look great together.

Try-on Specifics

The watches you actually try on are not “live”. They’re running through a demo loop, so you can’t really explore how the watch operates during the sessions. There were plenty of live watches, entered into demo units in the Brighton Apple Store, so I had plenty of time to play with them after the try-on session.

No, the try-on session is about fit and aesthetics. It’s much more of a fashion experience than a tech experience, and that’s a big change. I’m glad I did it – I have the reassurance that I’ve chosen the right initial model and band for myself, and would happily book myself back in, if the watch becomes important to me, and they expand the range of bands.

I’ve actually pre-ordered the brown leather loop, but it’s not showing as shipping until June, so I’ll ave plenty of time to cancel, if I’m under-whelmed with the Watch itself. And that remains the big question: how useful will it actually be once it’s on my wrist?

Interesting shift from Twitter:

If you live outside the United States, our services are now provided to you by Twitter International Company, our company based in Dublin, Ireland. Twitter International Company will be responsible for handling your account information under Irish privacy and data protection law, which is based on the European Union’s Data Protection Directive.

Essentially, if you’re a non-US Twitter user, any data protection issues around your Tweets are now handled under Irish law, not US law.

Here’s an interesting data point in the discussion of publishing content natively into social media. A magazine that is published on Instagram:

Angie explained to me that Instagram perfectly suited her vision for The Shade Room: image-centric and interactive. For her purposes, Instagram was the equivalent of WordPress. When she started the feed a year ago, her goal was to accumulate 10,000 followers in the first year. She accomplished that in only two weeks.

#VivicaFox joins the cast of #HollywoodDivas !!

A photo posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoominc) on

And how does she make money?

Since its start in early 2014, The Shade Room has grown into a lucrative enterprise. Angie told me that advertisers pay several hundred dollars to run ads on her Instagram and Facebook feeds, which might help explain why The Shade Room isn’t the only tabloidy Instagram account to gain popularity in the last year or two.

That’s enough money to employ writers and a brand manager, by the way. I’ve worked for smaller magazines than that…

[via MacStories]

Last Friday’s rather cryptic post (I even tagged it as such) was about more than just the switch to WordPress. I’ve been keen to slightly switch around my approach to writing One Man & His Blog for a while now, but a quirk of my personal psychology means that it’s easier to do at a point of discontinuity. A shift in blog platform is certainly that.

Last year, one of the most personally profound moments I had was at the Dots conference, arranged by Brilliant Noise and curated by Neil Perkin, both friends of the blog. Neil did a superb job of curating an event without a single weak speaker, but two in particular resonated with me.

Great artists steal – from a long way away

Mark Earls at Dots

First of all, Mark Earls made a compelling case that innovation is, in effect, stealing from far away:

Look a long way away from what you’re doing if you want to reinvent it. The man that invented boutique hotels took the idea of a nightclub and built hotels in that way. Marginal advantage is an idea from sport which borrows as many sources as possible. The sign of a good poet is someone who copies from far away, said TS Elliot. It’s easy to copy from next door…

Stagnation through introspection

That resonated with me because I’ve had a growing feeling that the discussion about digital journalism is stagnating, because it’s all happening internally to journalism. We’re looking at Buzzfeed and paywalls and what each other are doing, instead of casting our eyes outwards and seeing how technology and culture are changing. The former leads to copying, the latter to innovation.

Martin Elliott

The power of that idea was driven home by the brutally compelling talk by Professor Martin Elliott, about how the cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital radically reduced death rates by borrowing from Formula One:

The Formula One teams always meet at round tables, they plan for what goes wrong and they mentally rehearse what’s going to happen. They mapped the process – and found the surgical one was 10 times more complicated. They tried engineering a new bed – but it was too expensive. So they focused on human factors. And every situation is a web of complex relationships that could go wrong.

So they focused on leadership and choreography. Leadership is transferred via a checklist as needed. The most important person they hired was a dancer. No-one knew where to stand. Ballet had the knowledge they needed.

Formula One saving children’s lives in hospital? That’s stealing from a long way away – and that’s innovation.

Mental reset

At some point over the last couple of years, I’ve drifted into thinking of One Man & His Blog as a journalism blog, rather than Adam Tinworth’s blog. Now, the majority of my work currently is in journalism, so it’s always going to be heavily flavoured with journalism. But I’m granting myself the mental permission to write about wider issues that are informing the working part of my brain.

If we’re going to reinvent publishing and journalism, we need to get back to stealing from far away, as we did a decade or so back, rather than the circle-jerk of copying each marginal digital improvement that a particular site manages to create.

So, reboot time.