I'm in the home-stretch of adding a personal journaling feature to Kinopio. But Kinopio isn't a journaling app, and it'll always lack the advanced features of a dedicated journaling app. At the same time, Kinopio's spatial card connecting interface is way more expressive than any other digital journal.
My initial motivation for building journaling was seeing people already recording their day in Kinopio, and also wanting to provide more explicit reasons to use Kinopio everyday. You might not always have hard problems and new ideas to think and plan your way through, but daily journaling is a pretty enriching routine to get into. I also think I can make it pretty fun.
The other big experimental motivation is to attract different kinds of people. People that aren't explicitly looking for "tools for thought", mind-maps, or roam-like serious things – but instead are more passionate about the aspirational worlds of diary-ing, scrapbooking, and bullet journals.
I have two theories:
1) Building a product that appeals to diverse people/genders/interests/ages is healthier for the design/product/business long-term.
2) If you have fun using a tool for one thing, you'll bend over backwards to find other excuses to use it. To paraphrase a popular quote "if your favorite tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". Kinopio is designed to be a pretty good hammer.
This month I experimented with promoting Kinopio by actively reaching out to newsletter writers, bloggers, youtubers, and podcasters whose work I like, and who've been interested in creative software or thinking tools. The recipients ranged from newer individuals to big established influencers. The plan was that I'd tell them about Kinopio, they'd check it out and if they liked it, would share it with their audience.
I spent days writing individual emails to about 30 people, but I didn't get a single response back.
There's a couple ways to interpret this:
But regardless, I think the only take away is to not do direct outreach anymore, it's proven to be a waste of time.
The best results I've got so far were with people finding it themselves and telling others about it – as unknowable as that process is. Also posting on hackernews myself was surprisingly successful.
(I'm still interested in doing podcasts though, it's a fun medium that I have experience both hosting and being on. But the ineffectiveness of reaching out to people directly, dissuades me from reaching out.)
So there's that failure, but on the other hand, it means more time to do what I like: building new features, improvements, and drawing more frames.
It's about time for me to form a legal company. My plan right now is to make an nyc LLC, probably using https://www.zenbusiness.com . Anyone have any advice or feelings about forming an LLC?
I looked into Stripe Atlas, but it's really expensive and seems v tailored to silicon VC style companies. Also I don't like how they open a business bank account for you, I want to make my own biz account at my current bank (TD).
There's like additional factors for me to consider like not being a USA citizen, but being Canadian (a country w a tax treaty with USA), and charing users in USD, I think it'd still be an advantage to have an american company. Having ownership of a american company also opens me up for a much less annoying to get business visa (E type).
Based on some rough research at https://kinopio.club/-bizness-incorporation-naonms93q6fJNE7N0vwJI
I need[ed] some gif vs mp4 advice:
So I have this interface which searches the giphy api and draws the matches (usually about 10-20). The api gives me options to display either an mp4 video or regular gif. The mp4 files range from 10% smaller to 80% smaller (:O) than the gifs.
Conventional wisdom would say use the mp4s ... but it's not so clear cut:
When the browser loads a bunch of videos at once there's a noticeable delay before the first video starts rendering. The UI isn't blocked, but it's 500ms of awk.
On a broadband connection at least, the gifs load and start rendering immediately, it feels a lot more snappy. The only reference I could find to this is a 4 year old SO page https://stackoverflow.com/questions/34227678/embedding-many-small-movies-in-page-gif-vs-mp4-vs-webm-vs saying gifs are faster but mp4s might get better.
From a bit of research, giphy.com which renders a bunch of moving vids uses gifs. Twitter.com renders gifs as vids. Basically I haven't found a real status quo for this.
In this context, would you use mp4s or gifs?
UPDATE: After discussing this with some friends, I decided to go with gifs. My heart/eyes (gifs) won over my brain (mp4 filesizes)
Today I launched Kinopio on ProductHunt. I thought it was a big deal so I spent 2-3 days on getting it just right. Based everything on the instructions in their blog post.
When it released I also tweeted about it and a bunch of people graciously took the time to upvote it and comment. I'm super grateful for that.
However, PH hid the post which meant no one else could see it with no indication. This, as I discovered, is par for the course.
TIL: PH isn't a meritocracy based on upvotes. Apparently, posts have to be approved to be shown. But how, why, and when a post is allowed is deliberately kept secret (2015 source, looks like they haven't gotten more transparent since then).
The only thing worse than gatekeepers, is secret gatekeepers. In the shadows is where quid pro quo, privileged silicon valley in-groups, and payola lurk. It's not a good feeling to learn that yet again some of us aren't running the same race as everyone else.
We're asked to trust these things that don't trust us back.
(I might expand on all this in a blog post if there's interest)
The next round of kinopio updates are gonna be a bit more delayed than I'd like, my visa is expiring soon so I've got to move back to Toronto, Canada.
On some bright-side I'll have a cleaner sense on what effect (if any) my last blog post had on kinopio usage. Either way, I'm pretty happy with how that post turned out actually – https://pketh.org/how-kinopio-is-made.html) .
Bureaucracy and borders remain a lifelong thorn in my side, but in the 6~ years I've been here I've met some cool ppl here, a few friends-for-life (even if it's gonna have to be over videochat for a while), some new mentors, some people I thought were mentors and turned out to be disappointments (although you can learn just as much from that), and possibly-most-importantly found my voice talking to a global audience. Thank you all. We'll see each other again someday I'm sure.
In truth I'm looking forward to living in Toronto again for the vibe, but also because little things like not feeling invited to live in a place silently weighs upon ones soul.
(Also if you live in Toronto reach out, I'd love to hear from you and cuz I don't know what neighborhood I should live in yet)
after an afternoon of trapping, and killing, and disposing of mice, and scrubbing.. so much scrubbing. I had really enlightening chat about marketing with Fred (https://twitter.com/f), formerly the 1st employee of techCrunch.
I think there were a lot of gems that we recorded, which he'll probably release later. But the thing I'm really lingering on is that Kinopio is for visual thinkers. It's obvious in a way, it's such a visual tool, but I was struggling with how to explain the tool and who that description should speak to.
Functionally, Kinopio is designed to be used horizontally. You can use it for planning a vacation or planning your next developer sprint. I didn't want to narrow it's focus to just developers, or designers, or whatever.
But "Visual Thinkers" really works, and it distinguishes Kinopio from other 'tools for thought' like Roam which are pitched a bit more cerebrally.
I've been working on fixes and small features recently, especially stuff that improves the new user experience. Things like making sure invite flows and errors are clear and actionable.
All this is in prep for more dedicated marketing efforts aimed at widening the user base. This is super awk timing though, with the election and all the ugh around that, will people:
hmm, what do you think?
Totally contradicting my last diary entry, I'm now in the final review/QA steps of another big-ish feature: navigating by tags.
In my defense, I thought it'd just be a 2 day job that I prototyped on whim last weekend. But you know the estimate vibes, the first 70% was easy – and that last 30% took double the time. In my other defense, it's kind of neat, how the feature totally re-contextualizes how you think about tags.
You can now pin your spaces by favoriting them. Sometimes self love is the best love.
A little secret: You can zoom in/out of your spaces using your browser's own zoom controls:
Cmd or Control +/-
(And of course on mobile, you can pinch to zoom)
It's now easier to use templates to make new spaces ノ*:･
And to help Kinopio become a sustainable business the free card limit is now 100 cards