In a pre://d.o.mai.n world, like our own, “Dreams Are Born From Experience”

With his sci-fi thriller pre://do.mai.n, author Christopher Godsoe isn’t interested in painting a dystopian vision for the future — society as we know it can be ugly enough. That is, until you’re prepared to fight for it.

pre://d.o.mai.n • By Christoper Godsoe • 395pp • Released December 2nd, 2013 

Note: This is my first in a series of three posts covering the launch of pre://do.mai.n, available online today. Up next: a wide-ranging, in-depth interview with Chris on the book and the story behind his writing process.

Over nearly 400 pages, pre://do.mai.n is a conflicted, sometimes cynical, but nevertheless fun and fast-paced story that artfully jousts with the shared optimism and skepticism we have for our near future.

predomain_coverWhen the book opens, we learn that a cure for cancer exists, suggesting one of our collective great hopes; we quickly learn it’s only available to the wealthy, nodding to the ever-present debate about income inequality in a country where unemployment remains frustratingly high and even our fix for a costly healthcare system is broken.

It gets more complicated from there: In the near future of pre://do.mai.n our smartphones can display alternate realities, our eyes can record and receive information, and self-driving cars have arrived, though all manner of advancements are endlessly exploited in equal turns by both criminals and corporations, each one fighting to use the tools for what they deem as justified causes, each one willing to ignore or event accept the destructive consequences of their own selfish quests.

In the middle of it all is Miles Torvalds, a 21-year-old Maine resident and technophile whose mother is dying from the now-curable “big C”. Because Miles and his parents are roughly middle class — the book does a subtle job of showing the real middle class, not the mansion-owning, BMW-driving middle class of TV sitcoms — they’re unable to afford the cure, leaving the increasingly cynical Miles with a choice: Should he use an expensive and powerful gift from his cousin (and best friend) to try and save his Mom, and by extension his broken family? Can he bend the technology — and the people and organizations that control it — to his simple goal — through pure determination.

These are heavy themes, though to its credit, pre://do.mai.n doesn’t make the answers easy or quick, and nobody’s a convenient “roll your eyes” hero in the process. That said, it’s also a fun ride, with shots of black and crude humor throughout. There’s even true love and friendship, in a surprising amount of forms — between fathers and sons, cousins; even cyborgs and things beyond human are human enough to feel.

In his first full-length novel, Godsoe skillfully paints a picture of near-future technologies, while drawing from hot topics in today’s news to challenge his characters to overcome adversity, relax their own strangleholds on the past, question their current reality, and maybe, just maybe, find a cure without losing themselves in the process. Through all the cynicism over the corruption and ignorance of government and technology, it’s a pretty optimistic future if our human — and even our non-human — selves can reflect, regret, revise, and still dream.

I had a chance to interview Chris to coincide with the launch of pre://do.mai.n in bookstores and online today. I broke my interview up into two parts: Part 1 covers the book and is online today; Part 2 covers Chris’ experiences writing the book and appears here on Wednesday.

New: Zoom Shots focuses in on makers, their work, and their process

zoom-shots-booksWhen my friend, author Chris Godsoe, offered up review copies of his new book pre://d.o.mai.n (available on and today!), I jumped at the chance to get an advance peek at the book and support an author.


Christopher Godsoe, author of the new sci-fi thriller pre://d.o.mai.n

At the same time, I figured it might be a good chance to tweak my always-in-progress site, so with the launch of Chris’ book today, I’m happy to announce a new feature on my site: Zoom Shots, an occasional, ongoing series taking an in-depth look at both makers (writers, designers, filmmakers, musicians, web developers, etc.), as well as the product of their craft. I’ll be doing long-form interviews, reviews, and other content designed to give artists and their work a close, and occasionally skeptical, look.

First up is Christopher Godsoe, author of the new sci-fi thriller pre://d.o.mai.n: Check out my review of the book, and part one of my interview with Chris. Coming Wednesday, part 2 of my interview covers Chris’ experiences writing the book and his thoughts on what’s next for publishing in an age of Kindles and tablets.

Zoom Shots are intentionally long reads, and they look great on mobile, so grab a seat and let me know what you think! And if you know of somebody would would make a great subject, send them my way!


misc_workerLast Friday was a bittersweet day for me, as I walked out of RainStorm world headquarters for the final time after 8 years of working/playing there. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s a group of people that does great work with some willing clients. For my part, I often didn’t log my time under anything besides “Misc.” (see the helpful post it note attached by my former co-worker Evan), but I did learn a lot from my co-workers and the projects we undertook, and I had a great time in the process. Some highlights include building a network of adult education websites for Maine, designing and evolving systems for sales and project management, and the many, many shenanigans (like this) that were had over the years.

The happy news is that I’ve now joined 10up as a Senior Web Strategist, helping the team of 40+ designers, engineers and project managers build some crazy awesome websites and applications on WordPress, the world’s best publishing platform. A week into my time at 10up, and I’m already learning from many of the great people here. I’m looking forward to continuing to create and promote ideas on the web, taking the best memories along with me, and making more ahead.

Apple’s software problems are worse than flat vs. glossy

Leading up to the expected release of iOS7, there’s been much speculation online about whether or not Apple will adopt a more “flat” design aesthetic for its aging mobile operating system. The company’s skeumorphic, or natural, designs have come under fire from fans and foes alike, who charge it’s overkill now that users are aware of how to use touch interfaces and competitors are rolling out fresher designs.

Screenshot of i0S icons

It will be interesting to see how iOS7 addresses these challenges (if it does), but I think Apple has a bigger problem on its hands: The company’s mobile software apps themselves are stagnant– not only in design, but more importantly, in functionality and interoperability.

Take a look at the image: It’s a screenshot of my iPhone’s final screen, which contains only two folders: The “Newstand” folder which sits perpetually empty, but Apple won’t let me delete, and then an entire folder titled “Unused”.

Why would I need a folder labeled “Unused”, if I can simply delete apps I no longer want or need? It’s because I can’t delete them – all of the apps (eight total) in my “Unused” folder are there because they’re stock apps provided by Apple as part of i0S6. Forget the fact that it’s spammy to force me to keep apps I don’t want – the real problem is why those apps sit unused in the first place. Quite simply, it’s because they’re outdone by better, faster, and/or more integrated apps provided by third-parties- many of them Apple’s competitors.

  • If I want the weather, I use Yahoo or’s fantastic apps, which are both much better in terms of the data they provide and the design they wrap it in.
  • My default iOS calendar is replaced by Sunrise, a largely unknown startup that has nevertheless succeeded in producing a much more useful and integrated calendar than Apple has been able to in the six years since iOS debuted.
  • For Maps, I use Google’s outstanding Google Maps app, which is (subjectively) nicer, but more importantly, significantly more accurate and data-rich.
  • Finally, there’s the browser- arguably the second or third-most-important app on a smartphone after the Twitter or texting apps. Here, Apple’s stock Safari browser app is beaten by Google Chrome, which despite being slower than Safari, still gets the call for me based on having full integration with my bookmarks and browser history on my desktop version of Chrome. Typing URLs is one of the biggest pains on a phone, and Chrome makes that problem virtually non-existent by syncing my history across devices.
  • The list goes on: That list doesn’t even address Compass, Notepad, and Voice Memos, which I’ve used two or three times ever. While Passbook may become interesting in the future, right now it’s a an app that serves no purpose due to its limited options. It’s sad that I can’t just remove it until it becomes interesting to me.

So what can Apple do to ensure that its mobile OS stays the world’s most popular – or at least most-loved?

  • Allow non-standard apps to be set as defaults. This is the #1 must-have feature of any next version of iOS.
  • Allow non-standard apps to be deleted, or at least hidden in some meaningful way. This move would give Apple more insight into how users feel about their native apps; it also provides a clear interface
  • Improve and modernize not just the UI of their OS, but the functionality of the apps as well.

These long-overdue changes don’t signal the “Android-ification” of Apple’s mobile OS- rather, they show that the company slowly losing its lead to Samsung, Google, and whoever’s next should make some obvious enhancements that will make users far happier than any aesthetic trend.

The ending of The Great Gatsby (audio recording)

I never read The Great Gatsby in school, so with the movie coming out, I decided now would be a good time to catch up. I’m glad I did, because I absolutely loved the book – it’s an instant classic for me thanks to the poetry of Fitzgerald’s prose.

Before I returned the book to the library, I recorded a brief snippet of the absolutely fantastic, beautiful, and heartbreaking ending. If you haven’t read the book, I recommend you read it first – if you have, it’s almost definitely worth reading again. In the meantime, here’s the ending:

10 years of blogging at

Today marks 10 years since the first blog post on this site. I’ve owned the domain name for about 2 years prior to that – lists October 2001 as the first recorded date– but used it mostly as a testing ground until 2003.

When I started this site, it was built on my own homemade content management system, which ran until 2005, when I finally switched over to WordPress. Over 500+ posts, here are a few of my favorites:

In 2003, I recommended people check out ESPN’s up and coming sportswriter Bill Simmons. In 2004, I announced the launch of my book. In 2006, I covered a Maine-centric blogging/media scandal; in 2007, I declared Twitter to be a “fad”. Later in 2007, I got press credentials for a presidential debate.

I’ve covered my home state of Maine’s media and politics, followed the evolution of blogging, and made a lot of lists! Finally, here’s a category that collects my favorite writing over the last 10 years.

Thank you for visting my site these past ten years – I hope you’ll stay tuned for the next 10!


The new news cycle

If you saw an interesting story on network or cable news yesterday…

…It was on Facebook yesterday;

…It was on Twitter a few days ago;

…But it was on Reddit at least a week ago.

Trying out a public revision process

"revision/procrastination" by Flickr user wenday

“revision/procrastination” by Flickr user wenday

With the launch of this latest version of my site (roughly my fifth iteration since 2006), I’m experimenting with two new features I’d love to see on other blogs: a changelog and a roadmap.

Yes, it might seem strange to have these two software and/or enterprise-oriented features on a tiny personal site, but why not? If a changelog can show users the progress of software, why not a website? And the same with a roadmap: It might not matter what’s ahead for this particular blog, but what if bigger sites like ESPN or published public roadmaps, giving visitors a peek into their plans and their processes?

As a developer, and as a reader, I’d love to see more of these types of transparent peeks into the past and future of websites – both large and small.

Update: Nice! The Verge publishes a Version History.

Why the gdgt+AOL union is a rallying cry for the WordPress community

In my latest article on WP Daily, I talk about why the recent acquisition of tech site gdgt by AOL’s tech publishing arm might be bad news for WordPress in the enterprise:

I’m suggesting that old, tired, and unfair “WordPress is for traditionally-formatted blogs” trope may still be a factor when online media properties choose their technology platforms.

If that misconception is a factor when enterprises choose platforms, it can be particularly troubling as media companies (such as AOL, Vox, and Buzzfeed before them) choose and promote in-house platforms.

If it’s true – that WordPress is passed over, at least in part, because of the outdated and incorrect notion that it’s too generic and not customizable enough for enterprise – what can we do as developers?

Read the whole thing, and share your take in the comments! Thank you to WP Daily for publishing the article – check them out for all kinds of great news and commentary on WordPress.