Automattic is happy to announce that we’ve added Plinky.com to our family of services.
Each weekday, Plinky provides a prompt — like a question or a challenge — and you type in an answer. To keep it interesting, prompts are a mixed bag of fun commands (“Write a haiku about the last meal you ate”) to more thoughtful questions (“What is your favorite summer memory?”)
For more information on Plinky and how to use it on your WordPress blog, see: Overcome Writer’s Block With Plinky.
For the last few months, Thing Labs (formerly Plinky, Inc.) has been focused on development of Brizzly, and we couldn’t be happier with how things are going. As such, we’ve been able to spend very little time on our first product, Plinky. We’ve made the difficult decision to stop publishing new prompts altogether.
The last new prompt was published today, Tues., April 6. We’re not yet shutting down the site, so you can still answer any of the 400+ prompts we’ve published to date, or read other Plinky users’ answers.
Whether you’ve answered all of our prompts, just one, or simply checked out other people’s answers, we want to thank you for visiting and supporting Plinky. We put a lot of work into it, and we think it’s a great site. At the same time, we feel we have much more to offer with Brizzly than we ever could have with Plinky.
If you haven’t already checked out Brizzly, our social media reader that works with Twitter and Facebook, please visit and create an account today at http://brizzly.com/signup. Also check out the Brizzly Guide, our user-edited resource for learning about current trends and news.
Boy, we’ve got a lot of news to share. First things first:
We’ve got a new name
While Plinky is still the name of our beloved content-encouragement site, we’ve decided to change the name of the company to Thing Labs.
We’ve got a new VP of technology
Chris Wetherell has joined us as our vice president of technology. Chris worked with Jason on Google Reader and Blogger, and adds talent, leadership and a surprising amount of singing to Thing Labs.
While we liked our surroundings in our original Lafayette, Calif. office, we like our new ones in San Francisco’s beautiful Mint Plaza even more. There’s a Blue Bottle Coffee, great restaurants, orange chairs and a whole lot more. Our office itself is much more suitable for coding, writing, discussing, creating, blasting Lil’ Wayne, and all of the other things required to make great software.
We’re working on new things
Don’t worry – Plinky the product will continue to live on, providing inspiration for you to write and share content with the world. But we’ve been bitten by more than one creative bug lately, and we’re building some fun new things that we’ll be able to share with you soonish.
We’re delighted to be featured in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. Columnist Rob Walker, author of the book “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are,” spoke with Jason recently and wrote up a nice piece explaining the goal and appeal of Plinky.
The only thing…technology cannot do is solve this problem: What if you don’t really have anything to express?
Ah, but technology can solve that problem for you. Plinky.com, which officially went online in January, exists specifically to offer what it calls prompts, meant to inspire interesting thoughts to share with the world.
If you’re new to the site, welcome, and be sure to page through our prompts to answer some of the fun ones Rob mentioned (and many more). You can also follow @plinky and @plinkyprompts on Twitter.
The first time I heard of Josh. A Cagan was his brilliant “Letter From Hollywood” he wrote for The Morning News during the Hollywood writers’ strike of 2007. I forgot about Josh until he joined Twitter and started dropping hilarious one-liners and eventually headline-inspired punchlines. When he opened up “Punchline Friday” as a user contest, I thought I’d participate and offered up my own entry. I won that first contest, possibly due to a lack of other entrants. Josh followed up to get my address so he could send my prize. I thought the whole thing was a joke, but sent him my address anyway.
The next week, I got a delivery addressed from “American Science & Surplus.” I opened the package (a reused McDonald’s coffee cup box) to find a box full of a random assortment of bizarre consumer goods and toys including glow-in-the-dark temporary snake and lizard tattoos, a jumbo key holder (shaped like a key, naturally), a fanny pack, and a 9-piece wood turkey decoration set. Surprise! I knew right then and there that I’d made a very special new Internet friend.
When we launched Plinky, Josh joined and started writing some of the best answers we’d seen. So it’s our pleasure to present the week of Cagan from today through Sunday, during which you’ll be delighted, challenged, repulsed, and more by Josh’s fantastic prompts. Enjoy.
Since we launched in January, we’ve received a few compliments on one of our rotating taglines: “Hey, didn’t you use to have a blog?” This particular tagline came from a comment someone made to Jason at a cocktail party a few months before we launched.
Since then, though, there’s been considerable debate about the grammar of the sentence. When we first posted it, I thought the correct form was, “Hey, didn’t you used to have a blog?” After a reader of Maggie’s blog posted a comment enlightening me, however, I have seen the light: the correct form is “use.” According to The American Heritage Book of English Usage:
“We use the verb use in its past tense with an infinitive to indicate a past condition or habitual practice: We used to live in that house…When do occurs with this form of use in negative statements and in questions, the situation is reversed, and use to (not used to) is correct: You did not use to play on that team. Didn’t she use to work for your company?”
Several people have written to us to tell us that the current version is wrong, sharing my earlier confusion over this somewhat tricky rule in this very perplexing language. However, rest assured that this is not an oversight and we stand behind “use to.”
Also, we need to get outside more often.