#john gruber

A new note-taking app from Dave Wiskus, Brent Simmons, and John Gruber. It’s extremely simple — which is its greatest strength. I take a lot of notes on the go, but I’ve long been frustrated by how long it takes to open and use many of the current note-taking apps. Sometimes I’m already on to my next idea. Vesper is nothing if not fast.

I also appreciate the name.

For more, see Federico Viticci’s extensive review and interview with Gruber.

John Gruber absolutely eviscerates this article by Tim Wu of The New Yorker.  

Wu made the all-too-common mistake of reaching a conclusion first and then trying to contort facts to make his thesis work. It does not. In any way. The “open” vs. “closed” nonsense Wu is trying to sell falls almost immediately with the very existence of Linux and well, even the history of Apple itself — Gruber:

Even more telling, and more damning to Wu’s use of this as a case study, is that soon after Windows 95, Apple radically opened up the Mac OS, in a use of the word “open” that Wu expressly states is what he means by the term: they licensed the OS to other PC makers to produce Mac clones. This was the most open decision — in Wu’s sense of the word open — in the entire history of Apple Computer Inc.

And it nearly bankrupted the company.

That’s about 700 words in, the next 3,000 words simply ad insult to injury and should embarrass The New Yorker.

Gruber even gives Wu what should have been the correct thesis for this story:

Companies run by geniuses should generally do better than those which are not. That sounds about right.

Further, good products tend to trump not-as-good products — “open” vs. “closed” has very little to do with that. Shocking, I know.

John Gruber argues against Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion (itself derived from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography) that Jobs was more of a “tweaker” than a true inventor. 

I’d still argue that Gladwell’s thoughts on this are interesting and worth thinking about. But Gruber is right to note that the issue is anything but black and white. 

If you think about it, has anyone in the past 50 years been a true inventor by Gladwell’s stringent definition? I know the answer is “yes”, but it’s hard to think of people.

One name that comes to mind is Dean Kamen with the Segway. But you could argue that was just a “tweaking” of the scooter, I suppose. Plus, despite the initial hype, that device has changed the world far less than a dozen other things Jobs did. 

What about the portable digital music player itself, which Gruber agrees is probably the closest thing to a “tweak” product that Jobs did?

If Wikipedia is to be believed, a British scientist named Kane Kramer invented it in 1979 with a device called the IXI.(Incidentally, Apple ended up hiring Kramer as a consultant and used him in an iPod patent legal case decades later.) But couldn’t you argue that such a product is really just a “tweak” of existing portable music players? 

The first actual portable MP3 player was made by a company called Audio Highway in 1996. But couldn’t you just argue that it was just a “tweak” of the portable CD player, which itself was just a tweak of the cassette-based Walkman? They’re all the same basic idea, it’s the format for the music that changed. 

And aren’t all of those just “tweaks” of any home audio playback equipment? Most work the same way, it’s just the portability that’s different. 

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I’d fully support Joe Stump as CEO of Yahoo and all the moves he intends to make — even though I’m not sure Yahoo could afford Twitter or Square in its current weakened state, let alone both

Meanwhile, John Gruber, in linking to Stump’s post has a couple of questions. First, “How did Instagram eat Flickr’s lunch, for example?”

Here’s how (and why). 

Second, “What exactly has Carol Bartz even tried do while CEO of Yahoo?”

Her goal, as far as I can tell, has only been to improve Yahoo’s bottom line to bolster the company with Wall Street and make them a more attractive acquisition target. She’s not doing that by building new products or pushing new initiatives, she’s doing that the easier way: by slashing and burning. 

She seems to think she’s trimming the fat — and to some extent she is — but at the same time, she’s been trimming Yahoo’s soul as well. 

Everyone is now pissed off and calling for Bartz’s head because her strategy hasn’t paid off — at all. Wall Street still doesn’t love Yahoo, and it doesn’t look like any would-be acquirers do either. And consumers don’t love Yahoo because it seems like they haven’t done anything worth talking about in years. And they haven’t.

It’s hard to build great new products when someone has a knife in your side.