The long and ultimately disappointing wait for Inbox

Mailbox Waiting List

When Inbox was first announced I got excited and jumped at the chance to try it out. So did 500,000 other people apparently, because that is how many people were lined up in front of me waiting to use the product when I first downloaded it and fired it up.
After several weeks of patiently waiting, and by “patiently waiting” I mean I opened up Mailbox at least 2 or 3 times a day to inspect my place in line, I finally got the green light and gained access.
All that waiting though served only to raise my expectations around “a whole new inbox.” So when I finally first tried Inbox, I was disappointed. But not because it failed to meet my expectations, but because it didn’t exceed them.
You see, email doesn’t need a new or slicker way to categorize and filter incoming messages. That is a relatively solved problem, or at least everyone who uses email has ultimately adopted a systemology for processing email that works for them — even if their personal system is imperfect and ultimately leaves them perpetually with 1453 unread messages.
What I want is a *smarter* email client. Not a prettier one. I want an email client that:
* Makes mailing list management easier.
* Helps me to unsubscribe to unwanted email.
* Consolidates and organizes social channel notifications.
* Finds and recognizes events that should be on my calendar.
* Processes, saves and makes searchable all of my receipts and order confirmations.
As well as handling all of the other email I get on a daily basis that generally falls to the bottom of my priority list, but takes up my time or attention nonetheless. Screenshot

What I want to some extent is the email equivalent of [](, a calendaring app that uses natural language processing to enhance my calendar in delightful and surprising ways… like somehow figuring out where my meeting is going to be when I never told it, or making available to me a complete profile of the person I am meeting with even though all I said in my event was, “Lunch with Jack.” In these and other ways my calendar is useful again, beyond simply regurgitating back to me a list of upcoming events I entered into it. It is responsive. It is intelligent.
I keep waiting for a new email client to surprise me, but they don’t. Email doesn’t have a UI problem, nor does it have a methodology problem per-se. Email clients have failed in that they haven’t done anything innovative with the most important part of email: the data. While the rest of the web has embraced things like [microformats](, feeds, browser extensions like [Greasemonkey](, and a plethora of other tools that do interesting things with data, all we seem to be able to do with email is hot link phone numbers and URLs.
I think we can do better than that.

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I’ll do it if you do it

A [great post from Mike Montiero]( about fear, going out on a limb and publishing his first book.
> But now, with my 13 year old boy in front of me, I had to admit that I was afraid. Afraid of failing. Of walking up there with my fly down. Of being discovered as a fraud. But, in that moment, with that 13 year old in front of me, I became more afraid of something else. Of failing him. Of passing my fear along to the person who needed me to be someone better.
By all means people, get his book: *Design is a Job*.


Fuck Pancreatic Cancer

I couldn’t help but notice the comment thread on the latest [rumored photo of Steve Jobs]( The jury is in: fuck pancreatic cancer for being the random, ruthless, painful killer that it is.
Choice quotes:
> Pancreatic cancer seems cruel even by cancer’s standards.
> AMEN! Fuck pancreatic cancer to the hell it came from.
> Cosigned: Fuck cancer, but fuck pancreatic cancer especially much.

Facebook and Twitter Replacing Blogging?

A recent report by Forbes made the claim that [Facebook and Twitter are replacing blogging](, citing a Technorati’s recently released [“State of the Blogosphere” report](
Danny Brown [attempts to debunk this conclusion]( stating that Twitter and Facebook effectively *can’t* replace blogging because they are 3rd party applications, and that people are drawn to blogging for the control it offers:
> Twitter and Facebook are third-party sites, and as such you’re governed by their Terms and Conditions. If they want to change how their service is provided (and they often do), you’re screwed. You have to abide by their rules and how they want you to use the platform.
> Twitter, while undoubtedly one of my favourite platforms, is still limited by its character count. Yes, you can be focused and make sure every tweet counts, but you still need multiple messages to carry a conversation; make a point; correct facts; and more.
Your blog is your property (at least self-hosted blogs are). You can post whatever you want, in whatever way you want, and not be restricted by length.
> Until the micro-blogging platforms offer that kind of control and ownership, then blogging will continue to be the only way to share your message the way you want it to be shared. Facebook and Twitter replacing blogging? Not for this blogger. You?
Its good to see someone step up to the plate to say Forbes analysis is wrong, because it is, but so to is Danny Brown’s. Both assume that Twitter, Facebook and blogging are all different flavors of the same thing. In fact, the term “micro-blogging” as it applies to Twitter, and I suppose Facebook, does a disservice to both Twitter and blogging because it says that the only thing that differentiates them is a character limit.
The difference between the two however is far more fundamental. Blogging is a form of *publishing* (in the more old-world-media sense of the word), and while one could think of Twitter as a form of publishing limited to 140 characters, Twitter is better described as a form of *messaging*. In this way Twitter does not compete with blogging directly. In fact the idea that someone is out there choosing one over the other is kinda of absurd because it would lead to a world that looked like this:

Twitter vs Bloggers (Wrong)

When in reality the world looks more like this:

Twitter vs Bloggers (Correct)

Twitter and Facebook are an evolution of instant messaging, and even email. It is how people are increasingly choosing to connect with other individuals and groups. As such it makes sense that it is growing at a pace that far exceeds that of blogging because as a medium it is far more accessible, and comes with zero obligation to participate.

Greetings from Disneyland

This past week Harper and Daisy had their first trip to Disneyland. Before we left we (and by “we” I mean Arin) consulted with numerous parents about their experiences with taking their toddler to Disneyland. The advice that resonated with us the strongest was the need to press on with your kids and help them to see past the first ride they see — this following a story told to us by friends whose daughter only wanted to ride the Dumbo ride because she was literally unable to fathom that there could be something, *anything* else in the park that could be as much fun.
So with that fresh on our minds we led Harper by the hand through security and towards the main entrance to Disneyland. Harper was immediately transfixed and broke into a run. But not towards the hill of flowers carefully sculpted into the shape of Mickey Mouse, or the train, or the Castle, Matterhorn or Space Mountain seen far off in the distance. Instead he ran to something, that for him, was far more compelling: letters.

Harper with each letter in C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A

Yes, as it turns out we probably didn’t need to buy tickets to Disneyland at all. We could just have easily have taken him to Disney Plaza to play on the letters at the entrance to California Adventure Land, which I am certain he could have played on all day long if we let him. Live and learn. Live and learn.
Slideshow after the jump.

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A sad departure from Six Apart and looking to the future

Getting Fired CartoonThree weeks ago my wonderful and fruitful tenure at [Six Apart]( came to an unexpected and abrupt end when the company [laid me and 8% of my friends coworkers off]( In the wake of my dismissal I tried to understand why such a dedicated and passionate employee with so many accomplishments, with such a deep knowledge of each of their many products and who, as a former coworker told me, was “part of the DNA of the company” could be cut loose.
Layoff Tweet
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that it is just too easy to be bitter, and that the truth is that I have so much more to be proud of and thankful for having worked there: such as playing an important role in the invention of [OpenID](, helping to drive one of the most [successful launches in Six Apart’s history]( and spear heading the effort to [open source Movable Type]( In fact, it is my having worked there that may very well be what saves me in the end. Following what [few initial slightly ambiguous tweets]( I did make regarding my change in status, I was inundated with email not only from friends, but also and more surprisingly from readers and followers of my blog that I didn’t even know I had.
The influx of inquiries, offers of freelance work, job referrals and simple words of encouragement made me conscious for the first time of the *extent* of the network I was building just by doing and sharing with people what I love and do best: creating. And I can’t help but think that the knowledge, experience and connections made while at Six Apart had a little something to do with the amazing network of friends, followers and supporters I now know I have.
So, now I begin to look forward, past the upset and disappointment of having been laid off from a company I love and admire, and towards a future I may otherwise have never been able to imagine for myself. What that future is however has not fully taken shape, as there is surprisingly a great deal of opportunity out there.
I would be curious what friends and followers of this blog think I should do? Should I venture off on my own? Try to make something of [Test Run]( Become a premiere Movable Type consultant? Join a new and innovative company? Or, considering the economic climate, play it safe and join something more established? Let me know what you think:
What should I do next?
( surveys)
As I am in the process of deciding what is next for me, I am also looking for contract work that will allow me to make this decision in my own time. I already have some exciting projects lined up and that I am working on, but I am looking for more. So if you, or someone you know needs help, there are few who know more about [Movable Type]( Drop me a line and let me know what you need help with, be it Movable Type, PHP, Perl, TypePad, blogging, or Product Management.

Introducing Blog It, Powered by TypePad

Major props to David Recordon, Bryan Tighe and Jamison Weiser on the release of Blog It Powered by TypePad.

Blog It is special to me because it manifests a core value and principal we all share at Six Apart: to make blogging better for everyone. It shows a desire to reach out to bloggers everywhere, regardless of your preferred blogging tool, and help make your blogging experience better.

By the way, if the idea of working on cool projects like this one, or if the idea of having 1 day a week to hack on anything you like, or if the idea of helping to shape the very fabric of the Internet like OpenID, Atom and OAuth is exciting to you, or if you share with us the genuine desire to make blogging better for everyone – Six Apart is hiring!