Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Karen Templer
Salon, Readerville, etc
Salon, Readerville, etc

Karen's posts

Post has attachment
I love what Scott "The Sartorialist" Schuman has done with his archives. (In fact, I like everything about the site since he did the redesign and WP migration, and took it to a more professional level in every sense.) Generally speaking, not enough attention is paid to archives — even on a long-tail site like The Sartorialist. It's wonderful to give people the option of how they want to browse: in this case the standard posts stream vs. a thumbnail or list view. But the bonus in this case is that the thumbnail-view pages wind up being gorgeous, scrollable galleries of Schuman's work. Witness:

My only gripe — which they're probably working on — is that your selection isn't being saved. So if you choose the thumbnail view and then click to a different month, it reverts to standard view and you have to click thumbnail again.

Regardless, great stuff. My compliments to the Colorz crew.

Post has attachment
Netflix algorithm fail —

Post has attachment
Making s'mores on Moon Mountain with the WordPress VIP crew. 

Post has attachment
Name That Earworm

I recently made up a dopey new office stress-break game, which we call Name That Earworm. I hear it's already spreading beyond the bounds of our office, thanks to +Vynce Montgomery, so, on the off chance it becomes a national phenomenon, I feel I should take public credit for the invention.

The concept is simple: It's a two-step variation on Hangman, which we were already in the habit of playing on a whiteboard. The twist is, the phrase should be a line from the song you currently have stuck in your head. Your compatriots have to guess the lyric, but the puzzle isn't officially solved until they've also named the song it's from. Pictured here is our first outing, which you can see was solved without a single body part hanging from the gallows.

For optimal fun, you want the line and the song to be non-obvious but reasonably gettable. And don't use a line that gives away the title, or else there's nothing left to guess. It can also help to declare the genre before you begin: e.g., it's a show tune, or an 80s favorite, or my most recent affliction, Schoolhouse Rock.

Somewhere I saw an oblique reference to a smart idea idea about how to save G+ posts for later. (At least until Google adds a proper bookmarking function.) Make a circle with only yourself in it -- call it Saved or Inbox or whatever. As you encounter posts you want to come back to, reshare them to that circle. Then when you've got the time, click to view the stream for that circle. Duh.

To keep it from becoming a mishmash of read and unread posts, once you've read/watched/reshared a given item just mute it and it's gone.

Post has attachment
Not sure how Acne Paper made it to its 15th issue without my knowing about it. I had to hear about it from an @InterviewMag tweet the other day, linking to an interview with the editor. At that moment in time there were 4 issues still available and I instantly ordered them all. Well, they've arrived and they are gorgeous -- artsy, oversized, deliciously papery, all my favorite things. (Two saddle-stitched; two perfect bound.) It will be a challenge not to drool on them.

If anyone knows how I might get my hands on any of the missing issues, please let me know!

And here's that Interview interview:

Northern Discretion: Thomas Persson of Acne Paper
View album

Post has attachment
I'm really grateful to everyone who reshared my Sunday post about Circle management, in part because it's provided me with a lot to observe about how G+ is working on various functional levels. And I've been flooded with follows by people who are brand new to me. I'm looking forward to checking you all out.

Meanwhile, I feel compelled to say that I'm not here just to post about G+, as my public posts to date might indicate. (It's just the most thought-provoking thing I've seen lately.) If you know me from Twitter or elsewhere, I talk about tech, design, media/publishing, books, politics, and other stuff. As you may have discerned, I haven't figured out yet how I'll organize my Circles, but I'm inclined to keep it extremely minimal. So most things will probably be public. Time and experimentation will tell ...

Post has attachment
Circles, Part Deux: It's Complicated

In a lot of ways, I feel this is like the early days of Twitter -- a world still small enough that you can actually check out the profiles of new people you run across, or who've reshared or commented on your posts, and see if their posts are of interest. Of course, the hurdle is Circles. I might go to check out someone and see only an empty posts page, because they've shared everything with Circles I'm not a member of.

It's a discoverability problem, obviously, and one each user will have to solve for themselves. Are you here to share with people you know, or here to be discovered by (and to discover) new people? Or some combination of the two, which is the great opportunity of G+. That will influence how you use Circles and how much you opt to post publicly. Which brings me to this aforementioned second post about the implications and usage of Circles.

As useful and flexible as they are, they raise a number of questions a product nerd like me could spend untold hours pondering. Here are some of the more preoccupying ones, for batting around in comments I hope:

1) Does it necessarily mean anything to be in someone's Circles?

Everyone has no doubt felt this. You add someone and they add you back. Nice. Except then sometimes you never actually see anything from them. Are they not posting? Or did they put you in a Circle marked "Courtesy Follow"? It's human nature to wonder, but on a more practical level it sets up a very different dynamic from Twitter. (Which I continue to think is the more important corollary here than Facebook.) Many people I pay close attention to on Twitter are now here and have been added to my Circles and added me back. But if they aren't posting stuff where I can see it, it's not the equivalent of the experience I have of them on Twitter. Here, following someone is a statement of interest or intent, rather than an action with a predictable corresponding result. I find myself hoping, in the broadest sense, that people won't wall off here what was once publicly shared there.

2) How will we know who's interesting?

This one has many more layers than I could begin to cram into this post, and others have been posting thoughtfully on various angles, so this will be clumsily brief(ish). As noted above, if people are limiting access to their posts, you can't know what subjects they're even posting about, much less whether they have anything new or interesting to say on those subjects. And then there's the issue of gaining access to the posts. It's one thing for John Doe to say to himself, "I'm going to post about go-kart racing, Kabbalah and where I go on vacation," and then to create Circles of people he knows are interested in those varying subjects -- so that the go-kart fanatics aren't necessarily subjected to the Kabbalah posts. And maybe the vacation posts are public. What if you run across him, don't care about his vacations, and don't know he's a fellow go-kart fanatic posting a wealth of great stuff? Or maybe you know (through the grapevine or because he's famous in go-kart circles) that he is posting about go karts. As it stands, you have to not only know that but ask him to add you to his Circle so you can see. Maybe he's broadcasting the vacation posts specifically so he can gain a following in the travel world. How do the go-kart people who are following him opt out of seeing all the public travel posts? Like I said, the list of complexities here goes on. And on. Many have suggested the idea of public circles ("Squares") that one could explicitly see on a profile and opt into. Tags and other tools would also be helpful, but there's the challenge of keeping the feature set small enough to not scare away new users.

3) Are Circles for following or sharing?

Despite the title of my previous post on this subject, Circles are in fact mandatory -- assuming you care to see what anyone else is posting.

One good reason providers offer users an all-public or all-private service is that it's simple to build a user interface and experience around. Once you try to mix it up, as G+ is doing, things get almost impossibly convoluted and hard to convey. I'm thrilled Google's tackling it, but the one conceptual issue I have with the Circles concept is that it conflates the notions of following and sharing. And given that G+ is allowing for nuance in the private/public realm, that conflation becomes evident in a way it isn't with more simplistic services. Google is attempting to telegraph the fact that we're meant to use Circles for both purposes by pre-naming one Circle "Following." I.e., put people in here whose stuff you want to see, but think of it as a Circle you won't necessarily ever share with. In other words, it's probably not people you know and expect to follow you back. And that's all well and good. But what about the flip side? For instance, I might put my grandma's sister Sally in my Family circle, because I'm willing to share my family event photos with her, along with the rest of my family. It doesn't necessarily mean I want to follow her posts, but that's the automatic result. (Assuming she posts publicly, or to a Circle she has me in. The need for endless caveats in writing this reinforces how complicated it is.) So I have to choose between making two circles for the family photo recipients -- one with the people I only want to share to, and another for those I want to follow as well -- or only putting my follow-worthy relatives in my Family circle and adding others' names to individual shared posts on a case-by-case basis.

In the realm of things a lot of people (pundits especially) seem not to have noticed is that you can filter your stream on a Circle-by-Circle basis. Click the name of any Circle in the list on the left side of your stream, and the stream will be reduced to only those posts. That starts to change the way you think about how you group people as you add them -- according not only to who you want to share with and who you want to follow, but how you might want to narrow the stream when you're tight on time or trying not to miss something important to you. If you're +Rakesh Agrawal worrying about +Robert Scoble drowning out your close friends, for example, put him and other prolific people in a Busy circle and check in on it separately from your other Circles.

It's a lot to factor into one's approach to the product.

And yes, the very first piece of feedback I sent the G+ team was that we should be able to turn off just one Circle, or have any combination turned on at a time, rather than having to look at one Circle at a time. I'm sure I'm far from alone in making that request.


Here's Part One if you missed it:

Dear world: Google+'s Circles are not mandatory

I've been fascinated by the responses to G+ so far, and in particular to the Circles concept. It's a seemingly simple idea that becomes more and more complicated the more you think about it.* But what stands out in the collective response is the number of people who seem to almost resent what they feel is a requirement to sort their contacts into groups and then share things accordingly. Circles is the most distinctive aspect of the service so far, conceptually and visually, so it's natural that it's gotten a ton of attention. But it's surprising how many people who've taken the time to write about it have totally missed these compelling fundamentals:

A) You can put people in Circles who aren't even on Google+.

B) You can share with people selectively without using Circles to do it.

For the past several years, I've been staunchly Team Twitter. On Twitter, what I post is public. Look at what I post if you like; I'll look at what you post if I like. Facebook, on the other hand, is a walled garden -- one where everyone must mutually agree that they are "friends," and then have access to each other accordingly. That was the original deal-breaker for me. (There've been countless others in the meantime.) What G+ has done in this regard is pretty genius. First off, Public is an option for any post you make. Don't care who sees what you're sharing? Great! Make every post public. It's like Twitter with inline images and no character cap.

But the beauty of Circles -- flawed though it may currently be -- is that it's infinitely flexible. G+ is the first service (that I know of) where I can post something and share it with the public and/or the people I'm following and/or people who aren't even here -- it's up to me, on a post-by-post basis. Few of my closest friends are here yet, for example, but I can still put them in my Friends circle as email addresses. If I post a photo and share it to my Friends circle, those people simply get it in their email. I only need to perform one act for everyone to receive it. (And maybe those G+-branded emails will result in their eventually joining.)

Likewise, Circles aren't the only option when setting sharing on a post. Maybe you're a person who mostly posts publicly but also has a Family circle for personal stuff. Then along comes something you specifically want to share with just a handful of contacts. You don't need to create another Circle for them, as some have suggested. You can enter a list of individuals in the share field and that's who'll see that post. I've found myself re-sharing many G+ posts to just one or two people I knew would be interested.

So here are some ideas for using Circles:

1) We'll call this the Twitter technique: Put anyone you want to follow in the Following circle, then make all of your own posts public. Done.

2) The Facebook technique: Put everyone in your Friends circle and share everything with them; no public posts or Circle management necessary.

3) Do either of the above, but keep an additional Circle or two -- maybe an "Inner Circle" for private family/friends stuff and a "Coworkers I Like" for office gossip -- for those rarer times when you do want to limit access to a recurring subset of people.

4) Be as OCD as you want, and create a Circle for every group, subject or mood.

5) Do any of the above, but also limit occasional posts as warranted by sharing with targeted individuals, regardless of your Circles setup.

It would, of course, be nice if Google let you set a default for sharing that you could then adjust only when needed, rather than having to specify who gets access with every single post. But I trust they're working on that! (Or maybe it exists and I've missed it. If so, please tell me in comments.)


* This will be the first of two posts from me on the implications and usage of Circles. Part two to come ...
Wait while more posts are being loaded