Thoughts about Writing

How to Write a Book in Three Easy Steps
Just a thought from 6 November 2006 about , .

My book, Design for Community, has just gone out of print. It lives on as a download, but it's just not the same. As we like to say at 8020, there's just something special about those dead trees.

After I finished writing the book, back in 2001, I wrote a little story about what it was like. It was published online in a couple places, both of which are dead and gone now. (No wonder I feel like the last man standing all the time.)

So on the occasion of my book's passing from one medium to another, I'm reprinting this little How To here. If you've ever considered writing a book, I hope it helps you in your long, masochistic journey.

Continue reading “How to Write a Book in Three Easy Steps” »

In ALA: Where am I?
Just a thought from 8 August 2006 about , , .

Whoops, I did it again. I let a long-simmering annoyance with some quirk of current web design spill over into a rant that the kind folks at awesome web design rag A List Apart, enablers that they are, were kind enough to publish. Some will call it obvious, but if it was so obvious, it wouldn't be such a frequent problem.



Do What You Suck At
Just a thought from 16 June 2006 about , , .

In Merlin's latest 43 Folders podcast, The Perfect Apostrophe, he tells the story of the book he almost wrote. You should go listen to it - Merlin's a stitch, as always.

For the uninitiated, 43 Folders is a "Getting Things Done" blog about how to be more organized in business and life. When he and a colleague were invited to write a book about personal productivity, it was like a dream come true for Merlin. I'll let him tell you the story about what happened next, but suffice to say, the book never happened. The productivity expert procrastinated himself out of his own book.

"The fact is, I don't do this stuff because I'm good at it," says Merlin of his obsession with productivity. "I do this stuff because I'm really, really shitty at it."

Continue reading “Do What You Suck At” »

What Would Google Do?
Just a thought from 15 May 2006 about , , , .

Google and I, we're old friends. I've written about them here and there for years. Google, as a web innovator, has done just about everything right.

But as a designer, I'm tired of hearing clients and associates ask, "What would Google do?" as if every move they make is pure gold. When it comes to visual/exerience design, Google does just about everything wrong, starting with their user-hostile homepage.

So I wrote a little something for the new web design magazine, Vitamin. It's intended to be opinionated, so it's okay if you have a different opinion. That's the thing about old friends - you're allowed to squabble every once in a while.

think google

Calling All Designers: Learn to Write!
Just a thought from 9 May 2006 about , , .

I recently had the good fortune to work with a client who asked me to, in addition to doing my usual experience design / visual design thing, also write much of the text that appeared on the site. And it made me realize that I've often done this for clients - it just wasn't an official part of the process. It was more like, "well, somebody had to write it, and I knew what it needed to say, so I just kinda did it."

Having a client actually encourage me to use my words in addition to my pixels renewed my appreciation for the role writing has in designing good experiences online. Words are how we think, communicate, and create experiences every day. A designer without words is like a car without an interior: nice to look at, but I'd hate to have to drive it.

So I wrote an article for venerable web magazine A List Apart on this topic. If you, or someone you know, designs experiences for a living, give it a read and let me know what you think.

ala write

Bookends in Words Magazine
Just a thought from 5 December 2004 about , , , .

words4 I'm thrilled to have contributed an updated version of my protest story, Bookends, to the 4th issue of Words! Words! Words! Magazine, which is all about protest. The issue also features writing by Savannah Schroll, David Barringer, Kathy Fish, Steve Himmer, Ryan Kennebeck and Sean Ferrell, photography by Beth Stegall, and drawings by "drew" of toothpastefordinner.com.

It's a great book and at $5 it's a freaking steal. So if you're looking for a great gift for the old hippie or young lit snob in your family, this is it.

Putting the "purpose" in repurpose
Just a thought from 27 September 2004 about , .

My story of faith and doubt, Wrestling with an Angel, which originally appeared in Fray, has been republished this week in JewsWeek, a fine web magazine for the hip young Jew. Check it out!

And for anyone who missed the end of the story, yes, we were married, and every day I'm grateful.

Speaking of Heather, she's been doing fabulous stuff over on her site lately. If you haven't visited in a while, you're in for a treat.

Also, my dog is cuter than yours.

California Dreamin
Just a thought from 24 September 2004 about .

my caliMy California, the book I contributed an essay to, is not only a good read - it's also a good cause. All proceeds from the book are to be donated to the California Arts Council. And last night, the book's backers gave the council their first check for $10,000. The money will go toward writing programs for children statewide. It feels so good to have contributed to something like this. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, buy one today!

Just a thought from 18 August 2004 about , , .

Wired News: It's Just the 'internet' Now
"Effective with this sentence, Wired News will no longer capitalize the 'I' in internet. At the same time, Web becomes web and Net becomes net."

Say it with me now: Duh. When I was working at HotWired in 1997, and we published the Wired Style book, everyone who actually coded pages for a living already knew that it was internet, not Internet. And web, not Web. Tell me, do you capitalize radio, newspaper, or television?

As long as we're fixing long-standing idiocies, can we all just agree that its email (not, shudder, e-mail)? And drop that dotcom from the name, people, your name is Amazon, not Amazon.com. That's your URL.

Also: You visit a website, you don't log on to one (unless, yaknow, you have to for some reason). And let's all stop saying the following phrases: viral marketing, value add, and monetize.


This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about Writing, including:

How to Write a Book in Three Easy Steps
6 November 2006

In ALA: Where am I?
8 August 2006

Do What You Suck At
16 June 2006

What Would Google Do?
15 May 2006

Calling All Designers: Learn to Write!
9 May 2006

Bookends in Words Magazine
5 December 2004

Putting the "purpose" in repurpose
27 September 2004

California Dreamin
24 September 2004

18 August 2004

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The Fine Print

Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »

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