Discoveries Made on an Aimlessly Whimsical Walk of the Web

Last night, while catching up on some old articles in my RSS feeds, I read a quote by Buzz Anderson:

The programmer, who needs clarity, who must talk all day to a machine that demands declarations, hunkers down into a low-grade annoyance. It is here that the stereotype of the programmer, sitting in a dim room, growling from behind Coke cans, has its origins. The disorder of the desk, the floor; the yellow Post-it notes everywhere; the whiteboards covered with scrawl: all this is the outward manifestation of the messiness of human thought. The messiness cannot go into the program; it piles up around the programmer.

This is a quote from Ellen Ullman’s Close to the Machine, which was highlighted by Martin McClellan on a service I’d never before heard of called Readmill.

Readmill is kind of like Goodreads, except it looks much nicer, more modern and has an emphasis on sharing passages from the books you’re reading with your friends:

Readmill is a curious community of readers, highlighting and sharing the books they love.

We believe reading should be an open and easily shareable experience. We built Readmill to help fix the somewhat broken world of ebooks, and create the best reading experience imaginable. Readmill launched in December 2011 with a small dedicated team from all over Europe. We are based in Berlin.

From the book’s Readmill page, I stumbled upon Nicole Jones’s profile (“nicoleslaw” is such a great username) and then discovered her website, “Swell Content” where she writes about writing, content strategy, and making the world a better place.

From there, I discovered Born Hungry Magazine, a yummy-looking cooking and eating website which she founded and contributes to. It describes itself as:

an online magazine about why we cook and the curiosity that drives us. With every feature and recipe, we want to celebrate and encourage home cooks.

We believe everyone can make a delicious meal (or cocktail, as you do). We’re a bunch of inquisitives: roasting, pickling, tasting, and sharing. And we want to publish things in our slow, quiet way to inspire you to do the same.

She also posted, around the time I started writing this article, a link to her page on The Pastry Box Project, a website which shares daily thoughts from a roster of thirty writers, one per day for a whole year:

Each year, The Pastry Box Project gathers 30 people who are each influential in their field and asks them to share thoughts regarding what they do. Those thoughts are then be published every day throughout the year at a rate of one per day, starting January 1st and ending December 31st. 2013’s topic is “Shaping The Web”.

It’s pretty neat, and here’s a more pensive description of the Project’s origins straight from the author, Alex Duloz:

The night following Ethan’s email coincided with a Madmen marathon. This show, probably one of the most subtle and well written ever aired to this day, often got me thinking about how interesting it would be to have direct access to the thoughts of 1960s ad executives, about their jobs, and what they were doing. Those people were simply defining a large portion of what their day and age was becoming (whether for good or bad, or worse) and I wanted to know if they were fully aware of the extent to which they were helping to shape the daily experience of millions of people, and, if so, how they felt about it. I had read some memoirs and some interviews, but those weren’t the raw material I was looking for, the right-now-in-the-heat kind of thinking.

Later, before falling asleep, thoughts of new projects, Madmen, and browsers being resized (I had spent a fair amount of the day testing the site) all mixed together.

And the Pastry Box Project took shape. Almost discreetly.

I realized I could gather the material I dreamed of while watching Madmen. I simply had to ask people to share their thoughts about their work, the industries they’re developing in, and themselves.

Sometimes I get the feeling like I’m missing the vast majority of the interesting content on the Web, and then I have days like today where that thought is confirmed. Here’s to discovery.

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