Context for Quantity in Online Reading

In 2014 I wrote about the problem of ‘quantity perception’ that many online reading interfaces present. Here’s an excerpt:

Many formats (or interfaces) through which online copy is delivered make judging the amount of content difficult. Simply put, indicators of quantity (or length) are vague and inconsistent. In many cases, the scroll bar is our most commonly available point of reference…

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Quick Takes: Reinventing the Mail Business with Lawn Care

The United States Postal Service is one of the largest civilian employers in the country2, but has been plagued with financial struggles, making news headlines several times over in the last decade. In 2010, for example, the organization posted a mind-blowing 8.5 billion dollar loss3. I remember the debate over ending Saturday service only a few years ago.

The causes of these problems (and their solutions) are large and complex, but the decline in usage of traditional ‘snail mail’ (due to digital communication) and the logistical transport efficiencies achieved at the demand of massive retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart have no-doubt shaken the foundations of historical postal services.

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1. You can read about the top 10 employers of civilians in the USA, including the USPS, on USA Today’s website.2. You can read more about the USPS’s 2010 losses on the ABC News website.

Dictionary.app Typeface Fix

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It’s the little things.

I recently posted about OS X’s typeface in Dictionary.app.4 In short, all text was displaying as the same bold font, creating no hierarchy to help the reader parse content visually.

Before writing the post, I did my homework and discovered I wasn’t alone. Other people were experiencing the same issue. Here’s a screenshot from Nathan Spainhour’s computer:

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1. You can read my original post about Dictionary.app’s typeface here.

The Other Side of the World

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The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word worldview as follows:

A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

The other morning I opened the Maps application on my laptop to search for an address. The initial view that loads in the application defaults to a zoomed-in, city-level perspective of your current location. For some reason—perhaps I accidentally entered a zoom-adjusting key combination—the view was different that morning. Maps loaded a planetary view of the entire earth. Even though the image was manufactured digitally, I found the perspective breathtaking. I imagined what days were like for people far to the west and far to the east. Some of them were sleeping soundly, others were approaching the end of the day. For several moments, I felt very small.

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Rustin Impsum: True Detective Filler Text

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I recently ran across a project called Rustin Ipsum, which was built by an Iron Yard student in Washington, D.C. Scott Ross, the creator, explains his motivation5 (warning: if you haven’t seen True Detective, this won’t be as fun.):

There are plenty of Lorem Ipsum generators out there, but I couldn’t find any channeling that contemporary spirit of post-modern despair so perfectly captured in True Detective.

There was only one obvious course: build my own Rust Cohle Lorem Ipsum generator.

For a weekend project after two weeks of class, the result is very impressive6 Enjoy some auto-generated filler text:

World needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door. Sip Lone Star. This place is like somebody’s memory of a town, and the memory is fading. It’s like there was never anything here but jungle. Drag on Camel.

Great work, Scott. I’ll be using this often.


1. Read Scott’s blog post about building a True Detective text-filler generator on Medium.2. Head over to Rustin Ipsum and give it a try.

Why I Unsubscribed from Your Email List

I recently I wrote about unsubscribing from a good friend’s email list and how “I’m too busy” is a cop-out excuse8. That kick-started a post about how I consume the internet9. I thought it would be interesting to publish the full email I sent to my friend when I responded.

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1. You can read my post about being “too busy” here.2. You can read my post about how I consume the internet here.

Learning a City: Walking Streets and Talking to Locals

Years ago I had the chance to travel in China with a long-time family friend. This gentleman is much older than me (30+ years) and has traveled the world extensively.

The best way to get to know a place is to walk the streets.

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