At the end of 2009, I launched a personal blog. It was hosted on ommalik.com, then omis.me, and eventually finding home at this final domain, Om.co. It has been my homestead on the web for almost a decade and has survived the vagaries of the modern Internet. Social networks may have taken some of the shine off the blogs, but they are still part of my thinking process. Thank you all for stopping by. Before the decade comes to a close, I would like to take a moment and share some of my favorite pieces from the last ten years.
Not all of them are long essays. Some of them are just brief wishes for better things. In 2010, we were on the cusp of the New Now. And the realtime Internet was in need of an off switch. I think Apple figured this one out and gave us the Do Not Disturb feature — and so did Google. Of course, most companies never really learn from the past. Chasing Netflix, for example, is a popular way to ensure a big bonus, though, in the end, you are likely to end up being shown the door. Apart from Disney and Amazon, I don’t expect anyone else to catch up with Netflix. The rest of them will be doing what they did earlier — making deals.
Anyway, here are my top posts from the 2010s:
- 2010: Groupon is not a tech company. Why was it valued like one?
- 2010: Internet’s next killer app: Work. (I need to do an update on this one.)
- 2011: Steve Jobs and the sound of silence
- 2011: Now starring you, in a movie about you.
- 2013: The inevitability of the Internet.
- 2013: Uber, Data Darwinism, and the future of work.
- 2013: Coffee and empathy, why data without soul is meaningless.
- 2013: PGP Inventor Phil Zimmerman on the surveillance society.
- 2014: On the visual web, a photo is worth more than 1000 words.
- 2014: With big data comes big responsibility.
- 2014: 40 Kilometers
- 2015: A conversation with Brunello Cucinelli on the dignity of work.
- 2015: Should, Must, and Apple’s Little Details.
- 2015: iPhone is killing the standalone camera. (Update #1, #2)
- 2017: Steve Jobs’s legacy and the iPhoneX
- 2018: The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change.
- 2019: The golden age of half-truths.
- 2019: Fake news and the failure of media
- 2019: The consumerism curse.
- 2019: The cost of lies.
- 2019: What’s wrong with the gig economy
I also wrote columns for the New Yorker and Fast Company over the past decade. Here is a link to my pieces on NewYorker.com. If I had to pick out one, then this one about the “winner takes all” culture that has become the norm in Silicon Valley would be my pick. You can find the archive of my FastCompany pieces here. My most memorable clips from this lot include pieces on the New Victorian Age, assistive AI, and how today’s tech giants are the masters of their own destiny.
I find that my favorite posts and columns are as relevant today as they were when they were published. For instance, the challenges of Groupon are repeating themselves in companies like WeWork. And despite what people might say, they will surface again in other companies that are challenged by the realities of actual humans. Uber still doesn’t treat its workers correctly. The future of work is increasingly fractionalized. We continue to live in a photo-driven surveillance society. Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and Huawei are — like Apple — becoming masters of their own destinies. AI is still not as intelligent as it is assistive. And we have indeed created a New Victorian Age, including all the crap that comes with it.
The start of a new decade is an opportunity to start afresh and devote my energies to writing — not just my daily blog posts, which are short-form ruminations about the present, but also these pieces that become a personal marker to track the passing of time and how it is shaping technology.
I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future. We have been rewarded by technology, but we have also been punished by the fallacies of humans. Every one of the seven deadly sins have been amplified and exaggerated. Science and technology hold the answers to all our problems, but we humans must figure out how to make it all work for everyone. Progress can only begin when we devote less energy to outrage about technology and focus more on deliberation about what change should look like in the future. I intend to play my part in it. So should you.