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Turning Streams into Queues

Something that continues to frustrate me when using mobile apps is the disconnect between discovery and consumption.

First let me explain my process. I’m not sure if this is similar to how others work when browsing content streams, but as I scroll through a feed I’m looking for useful articles, lessons, videos, etc.. that I will want to revisit later. Typically out of all the things I come across maybe 5% are something I want to go deeper on. Essentially I’m turning the stream into a queue.

Note, this is all when I’m actively looking for stuff. On the flipside there is content which arrives via channels such as Chrome, Hangouts, Spotify and PocketCasts.  Again, I want to be picky about only paying attention to what’s important and get the rest out of the way as quickly as possible.

Screenshot_2015-02-23-14-22-22What I almost always end up doing is emailing myself links using Android’s built-in sharing feature.  This creates a couple of issues.

1. It’s time consuming to click share, start typing my own email address, click the address, click send. Every time I do this my thoughts are “man this feels like a broken process”.

2. My inbox is sacred ground with a processing and priority system of it’s own. Dumping more things into that queue creates for a sub-optimal workflow there as well.

It feels like there must be a better way to queue content. I’m not really  looking for full blown “read it later” products like Instapaper or Pocket. Every time I’ve tried to use those it’s turned into a dumping ground for long form articles that I never return to. What I’m picturing is something more like a lightweight async task queue for my brain.

Tell me your thoughts. Any tips/tricks you have for handling situations like this?



Shots on Goal

Yesterday Kevin Rose announced he was stepping down from his role at Google Ventures to work full time on his new startup North Technologies. The company was founded in September of last year, but just recently closed a $5 million round.

North is similar to Rose’s last startup Milk. The strategy is to rapidly build a bunch of different apps and look for something to get traction.

The logic of the model is similar angel investing.  Make lots of small & diversified bets then double down on the companies which start to figure things out.

North is one company though, and when you look at why startups fail one of the most common reasons cited is a lack of focus. The phrase often used is “we pivoted too early”. Rose acknowledges this,

“The last thing I want to do is splinter myself too thin to where I can’t focus on any one thing,” he said. “Really what we need is time, and as many shots on goal as possible.”

This quote reminded me of an interview Kevin Rose did with Ev Williams on Foundation. In it Ev talks about how he gets frustrated when a startup is working on a big idea and when things get challenging they pivot to something easier. In the conversation he says:

“Any big idea is going to take a while to get there.  There are going to be a dark periods. You have to be willing to be in some murky territory while going in that direction”

So which is it? Do you take a rapid fire approach to finding an opportunity and then go deep? Or do you identify an existing problem with lots of messy unknowns and start hacking away at the layers?

Both approaches have their merits. I think a lot depends on the motivations of the founders. It’s a wide spectrum, just don’t get stuck somewhere in the middle.

Five Links

How I Learned to Stop Giving Advice – spot on post about helping early stage start-ups by telling them stories about your own experiences starting a company.  Stories about where things went wrong are just as important as where things succeeded.  From the author. “It is that founder’s job to take what I can relate about my experiences and determine if it applies to what they are doing. They know their product, vision, and domain more than I ever will.”

AWS Tips I Wish I’d Known Before I started – a solid collection of tips for all pieces of the AWS stack. Love this line – “If you have to SSH into your servers, then your automation has failed.”

Why the Most Important Part of Your App has the Messiest Code – truth. 

Do Not End the Week With Nothing – This is a must read for developers. It’s lengthy but very much worth the time.  

Fake Your Backend – A simple way to create a dummy endpoints for your front-end or app developers. With it you can quickly mock up JSON endpoints. I can see this being very handy.

© 2009 - 2020 Ross Bates