Matt Gemmell

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An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

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Who to read in 2014

writing 4 min read

I’d been thinking of writing this brief piece even before I saw Hilton Lipschitz’s note of thanks to writers, which I appreciate very much.

I’d like to share three short lists with you: my five favourite big-name bloggers you’re probably already reading, five more that I’d also highly recommend you read in 2014, and my own five favourite articles I’ve written this year.

I’d love to see others share their own versions of these lists too.

The following two lists are sorted alphabetically by last name. First, the big-name bloggers you should absolutely be reading, and probably already are. I trim my own set of blog-feed subscriptions mercilessly (I only have thirty or so), and these five writers are consistently worthy of inclusion.

  • Marco Arment (Twitter: @marcoarment). Marco writes no more than he needs to, on any topic he cares about. He’s not afraid of breaking out either a graph or a heartfelt anecdote as the situation requires. Whilst others no doubt most value his technical and entrepreneurial insight, I read him because there’s a very strong sense of the human being behind the words.

  • Shawn Blanc (Twitter: @shawnblanc). Shawn’s work reads like he writes for a living, and that’s not a coincidence. Sometimes you’ll get two paragraphs and sometimes you’ll get fifty, but each one is always contemplative, positive, and sharp. He’s also the quintessential commentator, and his gentlemanly response pieces are a great way to discover other writers.

  • Ben Brooks (App.Net: @benbrooks). I’ve been reading Ben for years, having initially been attracted by our apparently shared dress sense. I agree with about 80% of what he says (be it on tech, politics, or anything else), and am charmed by the utterly unabashed delivery of the remainder. He will not waste your time, but if he does, your complaints will go swiftly to the round file. He’s the J. Jonah Jameson of the tech industry, and I mean that with great affection.

  • Jim Dalrymple (Twitter: @jdalrymple). It’s fair to say that Jim is one of the cornerstones of Apple-focused tech journalism, and I’m pleased to count him as a personal friend. The Loop is like a curated scrapbook of his interests, thoughts and feelings - a tumblr before the word existed - and is refreshingly uncensored. His infectious personality has a way of making his passions into yours.

  • John Gruber (Twitter: @gruber). A lot has been said about John, and it’s all true. However much or little your opinions align with his, two things can’t be argued: he legitimised full-time online independent writing, and when he expresses an opinion, it’s meticulously conceived and crafted. I don’t give a damn about baseball, but I’ll wade through it willingly to continue reading his thoughts.

I’d also highly recommend the following five writers who should definitely be in your reading list. Like the well-known names above, their work is characterised by passion for certain topics, but not to the exclusion of outside interests. They all have an economy of style, a unique voice, and clarity of thought that push me to improve my own writing.

Again, they’re sorted alphabetically by last name.

  • Matt Drance (Twitter: @drance). The thing I like most about former Apple evangelist (and man of a hundred parody Twitter accounts) Matt Drance is that he has an innate grasp of consumer sensibilities, and how the tech industry either hits or (more often) misses the mark. I started reading him in hope of insights due to his time at Apple, but what I was found was the humane ethos and clarity of thought that probably lead to him being there in the first place.

  • Guy English (Twitter: @gte). Terse. Literate. Political. Intermittent (by his own admission), but always brutally convincing. Guy’s big-picture views are opinion-forming, and sometimes make me feel like I’m only pretending to be a grown-up.

  • Bardi Golriz (Twitter: @mtrostyle). Bardi is the Lukas Mathis (mentioned next) of Windows, offering interface and user-experience criticism and insight in a clear, immaculately-presented way. I don’t use the platforms he talks about, but he’s taught me enough about them to give me a sense of the design zeitgeist regardless.

  • Lukas Mathis (Twitter: @LKM). Lukas is an empathic communicator whose field happens to be software design and technology. His insights are deep but accessibly presented, and his goal is consistently to convince rather than to lecture. Each of his lengthy pieces serves as a white-paper on the topic.

  • Patrick Rhone (Twitter: @patrickrhone). Patrick is a thinker, a minimalist, and a calm voice who puts the human factor at the centre of his writing - as it should be. He also maintains Minimal Mac, but his personal blog is my favourite: it’s affirmative, wistful, well written and above all, honest.

Finally, I’d like to share what I feel is some of the best writing I’ve done here on the blog this year. I’ve published only 39 articles in 2013, excluding this one, but I feel it’s been by far my best year of writing yet. I’ve found my tone, and I think I’ve improved technically too - and this is the first year I’m willing to say so.

I think each article below stands as a strong example of my current writing, and has some measure of truth, insight and emotional resonance. They’re by no means my most popular articles in terms of sharing or page-views, but I’m proud of each of them. I list them in approximate order of my own preference.

  • Nets: Our nostalgia traps us.

  • Wishes: It’s easy to disdain wishes until you have something to wish for.

  • Staying Afraid: Reading (and writing) horror fiction controls the fears we already have.

  • Tail Wagging: Condemnation of skeuomorphic design misses the underlying problem.

  • Legacy: I’m tormented by thoughts of what I’ll leave behind.

If you’re interested in exploring more of my past work, I recently put together a list of my own all-time favourite articles I’ve written, and I plan to periodically update it.

I’m very much looking forward to making 2014 my year of the written word. Writing is my first love, closely followed by reading the work of writers I admire. It’s enormously satisfying to be part of a community that’s so well served in that regard.

To the writers I’ve mentioned, to the many others I read regularly, and to all those I discover each week, thank you so much for the words.

But most of all, dear reader, thank you for reading mine.