The Company You Keep

I am as shocked as anyone to find Joi Ito, the head of the MIT Media Lab, swept up in the scandal around Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous and criminal web of exploitation. Ito met Epstein in 2013 — about five years after Epstein became a convicted sex offender — and apparently, despite his record and reputation, decided to do business with him. As the extent of this affiliation has become public, Ito has issued a statement. He has apologized to MIT and the world at large.

Frankly, it’s all a bit puzzling. My path has crossed with Ito over the years as part of the technology landscape. Knowing him, this news has been unsettling, to say the least, and certainly unexpected. How could Ito willfully ignore Epstein’s documented past (not to mention the allegations that swirled around him) and not only bring him into the MIT circle but have him invest in startups Ito was backing?

This clearly didn’t sit well with Ethan Zuckerman, the much-admired head of Center for Civic Media at MIT. He took to his blog to announce that he was leaving his position.

A letter from Om

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Summer’s over so let’s WeWork

I am not much for summer vacation, but occasionally I do like to take a couple of days to tune out my work life. All the travel and meetings of my trip made it difficult for me to sit down and write a coherent piece for this week’s newsletter. So rather than begin this week’s newsletter with the usual essay, I will just offer up the following observation.

Why Pen + Paper are good for you

Even though I love technology and incessantly download productivity apps, I still am a paper-and-pen guy. I love the feel of fine artisanal Japanese paper notebooks and extra-fine nibs of my Sailor fountain pen. I draft my weekly newsletter in the note book. I use it to make my to-do lists, and I write all sorts of random things I learn during the day. Of course, I make notes of my meetings in my notebook — which sits with one or more fountain pens, along with my glasses and a Kindle, in my Dsptch Musette.

My paper and pen obsession has many upsides, as a recent article in Fast Company outlines:

A letter from Om

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The Must-Have Lens for your Leica SL

You might have heard that Leica has a new lens called the Leica APO-Summicron-SL 1: 2/50 ASPH. For a few weeks now, I have had the opportunity to use a pre-release version of the lens on my SL. I’ll cut right to the chase and tell you that I’m very happy with the results.

Before I dive into the details, let me be very clear: I don’t shoot anything but landscapes, mostly long exposures. About two-thirds of my photos are shot with my camera on a tripod. I am painfully slow, and I treat my digital cameras as if I am using a film camera. Where most people use techniques like multiple exposures and are more adventures, my style is very staid.

Attempting to capture a few dozen photos in 24 hours is adventurous for me. Even getting two to five images on a given day is a great personal achievement. In other words, don’t look to me to give you feedback on the lens from the perspective of a travel photographer, a portrait photographer, or a casual photographer. So, don’t think of this as a review. I am simply sharing my experience.