Fargo: Minimalist Browser-Based Outliner


I’ve just started using Fargo, a new browser-based outliner from Small Picture. This little tool is platform-independent and works within any modern browser (i.e. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE10). It’s an HTML5 app written with JavaScript. Files are stored in Dropbox in an open format (OPML).

Why use this instead of one of the myriad of other outliner tools on the market? It’s simple to use. You don’t need to install proprietary software. It’s available anywhere you happen to need it. You don’t need to worry about ‘lock-in.’ There’s no need to export your files, ever. It’s free. It works well. I like it.

Hyperlapse: Creating Assets

Have you seen Google Street View Hyperlapse? It’s the latest project from the minds at Teehan+Lax. To be more precise, it’s from the Teehan+Lax Labs, an offshoot within this top-tier creative/design agency where people explore new ways to use technology to communicate.
If you want to see how Hyperlapse works, the source code is available on GitHub. Teehan+Lax is a company that really likes to share. They share source code, tools,  ideas, design strategies, business philosophy. They follow this principle: ‘create more value than you capture.’  That’s a powerful idea championed by open source crusader and tech book publisher Tim O’Reilly. It’s an idea that you’ll find embodied on many of the best sites on the web.

When I was playing with Hyperspace yesterday, I was reminded of a 2010 post (that I happened to read only a few weeks ago) by Robert Niles, former editor of USC Annenberg’s Online Journalism Review. It’s an article about the need for journalists to think in terms of creating assets instead of stories. Here’s the crux of it:

To me, that’s the word [“assets”] that should replace “stories” in your vocabulary as a journalist. Too many of the journalists I’ve seen try to make the transition to running their own blogs and websites remain mired in the “story” mindset, endlessly creating newspaper-style “stories” or even brief-length snippets for their blogs. But they fail to create assets of enduring value that ultimately provide the income that they need to remain viable businesses online.

This is as true for online publishing as it is for any other online content. Assets that have enduring value keep people coming back. But I’d add that creating a good story, or narrative, to support your assets is just as important. Teehan+Lax is a great example of how this is done. Read their ‘behind-the-scene’ story about how they designed Medium to see what I mean.

Odds and Ends

Here’s a (very) random list of a few posts and pages from around the web that have recently piqued my interest. 

  • Reeder is now free (for the Mac and iPad). For now. A good idea from the developer to build up a larger user base in preparation for the post-Google Reader era. Although I’ve recently switched to Feedly, I’m a long-time user of Reeder on iPad and iPhone. Just downloaded it for the desktop and it is, as expected, excellent. My vote is still out on which news reader I’ll end up using in the long run, but I’m digging Feedly for now.  
  • Demystifying the Lumber Yard. Shopping a lumber yard can be a daunting experience. Here’s an excellent video from the Renaissance Woodworker to get you started, which also includes a list of further resources. By the way, did you know it’s National Woodworking Month? Not to be confused with ‘Get Woodworking Week,’ which was Feb. 3-9. 
  • Famo.us. I just read that this smooth and zippy HTML5/JavaScript platform is going to be made free for developers. The demo is impressive. So fast.
  • Have you ever seen an atom? Worth watching this short video.
  • Quantum Entanglement Experiment. How fast is ‘spooky action at a distance?’ At least four orders of magnitude faster than light, according to new research. Fun read, if you like this kind of stuff.
  • Coffitivity. Recorded sounds of a noisy coffee house (‘coffitivity’), which you can mix in with your preferred music in the name of boosting productivity. Really? That’s the last thing I want to hear when I’m working in my home office. I’m odd, I guess, in that I prefer complete silence.
  • Tenkara. I’ve only recently learned about the traditional Japanese method of fly fishing, called Tenkara. Very minimalist, as one might expect. It really does look like a great way to fish a small stream.