The blurring line between UGC and branded content

“Gen Z kids have never known a world where their private browsing data wasn’t commodified. They’ve grown up surrounded by brands tweeting memes, partnering with influencers, and angling to profit off their attention. That’s probably why they’re no less likely to share content if it was produced by a corporation, or if it has a promotional or advertisement bent. The line between UGC and branded content has gotten blurry.

The Latest Insights on Gen Z (Contently)

When marketers talk about UGC and working with micro-influencers, are we talking about the online equivalent of street teams? From the Wikipedia entry:

“The now ubiquitous “street team” model was originally developed by urban record labels […] labels found it affordable and highly effective bridge to their target audience that did not require the traditional outlets found in print, radio, television mediums and elusive large scale record distribution deals.”

Rally a bunch of fans together and give them an incentive to promote a product they already like or use. It’s like a refer-a-friend program with kickbacks.

Of course Gen Z is going to be all over that. Heck, I’d be all over that if I was a teen looking to make some money on the side.

The value of local biz websites for SEO

“Far from it being the case that websites have become obsolete, they are the firmest bedrock for maintaining free local SERP visibility amidst an increasing scarcity of opportunities.”

Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More than Ever in 2019 (Moz)

Small businesses need websites. The website is a single “source of truth” that they control. Everything else they do online — Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business — should point back to it.

I’m biased of course — I work at GoDaddy, we sell a website builder, and we sell WordPress hosting — but I was an advocate of getting local businesses online long before I joined GoDaddy. It’s why got into web development as a career.

Let’s make simplicity the default

Eminently usable designs and architectures result when simplicity is the default. It’s why unadorned HTML works. It beautifully solves the problem of presenting documents to the screen that we don’t even consider all the careful thought that went into the user agent stylesheets that provide its utterly boring presentation. We can take a lesson from this, especially during a time when more websites are consumed as web apps, and make them more resilient by adhering to semantics and native web technologies. As it stands, we’re serving heaps of burgers on silver platters of JavaScript with a generous helping of layout framework sauce not everyone can choke down.”

Make it Boring (Jeremy Wagner)

My dev chops are getting rusty. It’s time for a refresher.

Rather than dropping headfirst into new frameworks or build tools — as I’ve tried before, many times, with limited success — I’m rethinking my approach:

Start with the basics. Clean markup. Plain ol’ HTML. Figure out the semantic structure, then add from there. Bolt on new pieces as needed, only if needed.

Millennials and Gen Z were born on the wrong side

” Britons who came of age in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008 will, in many cases, be worse off than their parents. Born on the wrong side of skyrocketing property values, 30-year-olds are only half as likely to own homes as baby boomers were at the same age. A third are expected to rent for their whole lives.”

The Making of a Young U.K. Socialist (New York Times)

I recognize and am grateful for how lucky we are to be millennial home owners. I grew up in basement apartments and the notion of buying a house felt like a lofty dream well beyond my reach.

But that’s still the reality for most people our age. Aside from us lucky outliers, the system failed our peers.

Those who came before us — not all, but broadly, as a generation — climbed a ladder to higher ground, and knocked the ladder over once they reached the top.

Procrastinating through research

“In my experience writing books, it isn’t just a “resistance” thing or a “perfectionist” thing or a fear thing, it’s more about research and wondering if you’ve done enough of it. Research becomes your way of procrastinating, because, let’s face it, research is just more fun than writing. (Me, personally, I became a professional writer so I could be a professional reader.)”

Start before you think you’re ready (Austin Kleon)

I feel this. So hard.

My reading queue on Pocket is a mile long. Nevermind the stack of books in my office, the endlessness of my “Read This” tasks in Todoist, or the lists of URLs in Notion pages that, at some point, I need to review and consolidate into notes for future projects and professional development.

Sigh. There just never seems to be enough time.

Chickpeas are so hot right now

“Chickpeas are inexpensive and broadly available, and the global cuisines they commonly appear in are ones that de-emphasize meat in ways that Americans are starting to see as more valuable.”

In the Future, Everything Will Be Made of Chickpeas (The Atlantic)

Can confirm: chickpeas are awesome.

Hummus? Falafels? Buddha bowls? Yes to all of it.

+ Chickpeas were a must-have item in my cupboard, along with frozen mixed vegetables and Uncle Ben’s Fast & Fancy, while I was a broke freelancer.

+ Chickpeas are a staple in vegan recipes, from savoury dishes to sweet desserts. Reducing your meat consumption doesn’t mean giving up flavourful meals. Check out Minimalist Baker for some inspiration.

Gutenberg is more complex because it does more

“I won’t argue that Gutenberg isn’t more complex than the classic editor when viewed at the macro level. It is! But that’s because it can do so much more. It’s the first step in setting up for the long term goal of the project, which will simplify overall site creation and management.”

The Gutenberg Complexity Fallacy (William Earnhardt)

This post is a year old — almost to the day! It feels particularly timely given the State of the Word presentation at WordCamp US this past week.

Matt Mullenweg ran his presentation from a Gutenberg-powered WordPress plugin. He demoed clever Gutenberg implementations for newsrooms and an inline block directory to help with block discovery.

TL;DR = Blocks are the future of WordPress, and I’m all for it.

My blog uses the new block editor. Every new site I create uses the block editor or, if I’m feeling particularly frisky, the Gutenberg plugin.

Fun fact: they’re different! The editor is in core, the Gutenberg plugin is the latest-and-greatest. Features are tested in the plugin before they get added to core.

I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for blocks. The WordPress plugin repo is quickly filling up with new block collections. We’ve gone all-in on blocks at GoDaddy, too.

Rich Tabor (creator of CoBlocks) joined the team earlier this year, and we’re releasing a new WordPress theme crafted specifically for the block editor.

…now we just need more blocks to build with!

Facebook isn’t a community

There’s no such thing as a 2.2BN+ “community” — as the company prefers to refer to its globe-spanning user-base. So quite how the massive diversity of Facebook users can be meaningfully represented by the views of a last resort case review body with as few as 11 members has not yet been made clear.”

Meet Facebook’s latest fake (TechCrunch)

Facebook talks about community but they outsource moderation. In turn, there’s no room for nuance or subjectivity in their content policies, but that’s exactly how a community governs itself.

Facebook — sorry, FACEBOOK — isn’t a community. It’s a database marketing platform. It’s a behemoth repository of personal information with a handful of apps running on top of it to gather more information for the database.

Are FB’s apps useful? Absolutely. But the app users aren’t customers and they sure aren’t a community. FACEBOOK’s advertisers are their customers and, arguably, more of a “community” than the users.

Legible markup and an open web

“Illegibility comes from complexity without clarity. I believe that the legibility of the source is one of the most important properties of the web. It’s the main thing that keeps the door open to independent, unmediated contributions to the network. If you can write markup, you don’t need Medium or Twitter or Instagram (though they’re nice to have). And the best way to help someone write markup is to make sure they can read markup.”

Everything Easy is Hard Again (Frank Chimero)

With the growing popularity of jamstack it feels like we’re returning to legible markup. Old web applets and iFrame widgets make way for pure Javascript APIs.

You’re busy because you have no choice

“If I don’t have time to read a subway ad, it’s not because I’m such an ambitious go-getter. It’s because I’m overworked. It’s because housing costs require a greater percentage of income than they did for previous generations. There’s a difference between busy by choice and busy because you have no choice.”

WORK CRY AGE DIE (TVO)