filtered: weeks of dec 22 & 29 2014
It’s the end of the year, and I’ve had this draft I’ve been slowly adding to over the last couple of weeks, in between meals with family, meals with friends, Christmas pageants, Christmas gifts, birthday parties, a long drive to the desert, hikes through the rocks, football games, time with the Kindle, and, most importantly, time with the munchkins. Here’s my favorite view from the end of the year…
Resolutions for this year are the same as the ones for last year, and the year before that.
- Read 50 books
- Run 500 miles
- Cook 50 dinners
- Write 50 blog posts
I didn’t hit those goals in 2014; I read 35 books, ran about 250 miles, published about 20 things here on Medium. I definitely cooked 50 dinners for my family, though. Here’s to 2015!
Jessica Lessin, on tech’s year of contemplative thinking:
In some ways, this soul-searching ratcheted up expectations for the deals and products that could be unleashed when companies finally show their cards. But the contemplative mood doesn’t feel likely to change. It feels more like the new normal as tech companies enter a perpetual cycle of questioning what business they want to be in: hardware, software, services, ads, shopping, entertainment, autos, enterprise or all of the above.
I’d vote for all of the above.
Deb Chachra, in her excellent email newsletter Metafoundry, while reflecting on how everything she’s learned about geography is wrong, imagines a globe that would do a better job of explaining the world:
Having GPS and mapping in my pocket makes me want to understand the geography of the whole planet better. For a while now, I’ve been waiting for the desk globe of my dreams: one with a surface that is all display and that has a network connection, so it can show different aspects of our planet in their proper relationship to one another, changing on demand. Political boundaries that would never go out of date, but also topography, geography, even real-time information like planes in flight. There are versions of this that use projectors, and a large-scale display version in a science museum in Tokyo, but the beach ball-sized personal version I’m envisioning really needs a conformal LED display (one that is either flexible or that can be manufactured to be arbitrarily curved, not flat) and the technology isn’t quite there yet.
A theory of email newsletters, in three points. Email newsletters are enjoying a bit of a renaissance, and I’ve been thinking about why this is the case:
- They work because we live in our inbox. Newsletters work because they’re delivered to the app that is on our phones, our tablets, our laptops: email. This delivers an interesting side benefit of dayparting: because we’re always in our inbox, newsletters like The Skimm can build an audience in the morning, and Dave Pell can own the afternoon. (By contrast, blogs I feel are suffering because they’re currently lacking a natural distribution channel: Reader’s dead, Twitter is overwhelming, Facebook algorithms ‘em to /dev/null.)
- They work because the mental model is simple. Sign up, get things sent to you. Don’t want it anymore? Unsubscribe. And in the meantime, you are in control: want to get alerted as soon as it hits your inbox? Fine. Want to filter it and read it later? Want to forward it to a friend? Fine. Want to reply and deliver vitriol to the sender? Fine.
- They work because publishers have just a few simple metrics that they can optimize for: subscriber growth/churn, open rate, clickthrough rate. Problem: most reporting tools are still too “campaign” focused (as opposed to longitudinal relationship focused), but given enough time your audience will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
I’m pretty sure there’s a whole genre of blogging useless crap in catalogs. But The Concourse’s post The Scientology Christmas Catalog is Totally Insane is pretty good. Pretty pretty good. Pretty good.
For $5,000, this piece of shit oughta make you a decent cappuccino, operate your home thermostat remotely, and finely dice vegetables. But instead, all you get is a lie detector that doesn’t work. It doesn’t even have WiFi. Now how am I supposed to upload all of Cousin Jenny’s thought crimes to the cloud? WHAT A RIP.
Brandon Boyer’s list of the 20 games you shouldn’t miss in 2014. I don’t play a ton of games, but Desert Golfing looks like it’s pretty much perfect. I know that because the first Google search result for desert golfing is this piece from Kotaku: F*** You Desert Golfing, aka The Worst Best Game in the World.