woman in red shirt reading book

John Scalzi, a veteran blogger, reminded us that even as we deal with the demise of the social media web, we should make a special effort to link to other bloggers and their work. So, today’s reading list constitutes all the good stuff I have read on other blogs.

The Buy and Hold Mindset — Fred Wilson, a very successful venture capital investor, has a great post about investing. He compares real estate investing and investing in big(ger) technology stocks. It is a worthy read — I read it twice to understand what Fred was saying: you must constantly think about the long term, regardless of what you invest in. 

Machines of loving understanding — Pete Warden, one of my favorite engineers/thinkers and an expert on connected devices, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, notes that “the recent advances in machine learning is that they’re starting to give computers the ability to understand us in a much deeper and more natural way.” And that means we need to think about how it all fits into a human fabric. 

Changing times: Silicon Valley veteran, entrepreneur, and now an investor, Elad Gill, is quite bearish about the prospects of private tech in 2023. This is a very sobering read. “If 2022 is the hangover after the party where you are still a little drunk but have a headache, 2023 may end up more akin to accidentally driving your car into a tree,” he writes. 

Fred Jacobs, who has spent his life in the radio industry, thinks Alexa is having a midlife crisis, and Amazon has lost an opportunity here. 

A simple mental model for understanding satellite imagery. I am a Joe Morrison fan, and this article shows why. 

What are the similarities between conman Sam Bankman-Friend and the Swedish Match King? 

November 29, 2022. San Francsico

I returned from a quick trip to London on the day of Thanksgiving, thus missing the bonhomie of the weekend. While I did miss the slices of pie, it was good to spend the time watching The Silence of Water on PBS Masterpiece (via Amazon Prime.) The Italian crime show is beautiful in location, cinematography, and acting. And despite having to follow the subtitles, it is worth binging. 

The show was an excellent way to stay away from the incessant come-hither siren call of Black Friday — a disease that has also spread to the United Kingdom. I used the opportunity to stock up on memory cards, but that’s all. For the rest of America — despite economic doldrums, it seems to be the season of shop till you drop. I call this the consumerism curse.

The long weekend was also a good time to reflect and read. 

What I am reading

Amazon was losing $10 billion a year on its Alexa business. Google, too needs to learn how to make its voice-interface business profitable. And Apple’s Siri is not going anywhere as, well. So what is the future of voice interfaces in this era of economic frugality

Talking about Apple is becoming an ad company. On its blog, Proton, the privacy company, breaks down how Apple’s tracking works. I, for one, am disgusted by this direction taken by Apple. (Related: The golden noose around Apple’s neck.)

If you are struggling with the whole FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried’s shenanigans, here is a very easy-to-understand explainer of how the whole con worked. Alex Tabarrok has done a good job, and worth a read. 

On the other end of the spectrum is a breakdown of the disaster that was FTX by an accomplished finance professor who digs into the intricacies of the con.(https://www.coindesk.com/)

Ken Kocienda, a former Apple user experience guru, breaks down the design and user experience challenges of Elon Musk’s proposed changes to Twitter’s verification systems. The whole piece is worth reading

Given all the obsession with Twitter, we must remember that the new generation of Internet natives doesn’t care much about the platform or its peer Facebook. For them, it is all about YouTube and TikTok

The A to Z of climate change by Elizabeth Kolbert is the most sobering piece I have read this weekend, and it is an important reminder of the existential threat we are facing as a collective. 

November 27, 2022. San Francisco

The sorry state of the web

Christian Heilmann is an astute observer of the web and its evolution, so I pay attention. I have followed his blog for many years. I found myself nodding my head when reading this piece. The whole piece is worth a read. (link below).

The web we have these days is in a sorry state. On the one hand we have the “social web” firmly in the hand of marketeers, bots and political propaganda. On top of that drowning in memes, reposts and funny things you already read in newsgroups in 1998. On the other hand we have the publisher web after 25 years still not being able to embrace the concept that you can’t control the distribution of your content once it is online. On the social web, knowledge is smothered by agenda and on the publisher web by ads and paywalls and contracts. Ever tried to look up some news from 12 years ago? Back in library days you were able to do that. On news portals, most articles are deleted after a year, and on newspaper web sites you hardly ever get access to the archives – even with a subscription

Read article on Christian Heilmann

What do sensors know?

person driving car during night time
Photo by Gabe Pierce on Unsplash

China’s new rule: if your car uses sensors to map the environment, you must apply for government permit (link). Car sensors are now so good and ubiquitous they’re viewed as security threats. ‘The statement is a clarification of China‘s surveying and mapping law and reflects regulators’ efforts to prevent highly-detailed visual data collected by smart cars falling into the hands of hostile foreign actors.’ Related: A new sign shows that Tesla cars cannot enter government agencies and state-owned enterprises in China (Trucks VC)

Chinese decisions on car sensors are a testimonial that, as a nation, they genuinely know the capabilities of sensors and connected sensors as data and intelligence sources! As the saying goes, it takes a thief to know another

Did you notice: That we have not heard a peep from Elon Musk about why Chinese regulators haven’t approved  Tesla’s FSD for use on local roads? That man is always yapping about US politicians, loudly and crassly — because, you know, democracy and shit! 

September 22, 2022. San Francisco