The irony of Allbirds socks

Before you read, disclosure: I despise Allbirds. They are tasteless and are a perfect allegory for the technology sector’s idea of aesthetics. I can’t for the love of god figure out why folks wear these abominations, the equivalent of shapeless sweatpants in the form of shoes. So now that you know where I stand let’s talk about the Allbirds socks,

In 2014, New Zealand-based Allbirds launched a Kickstarter for its sneakers made out of wool. The called them “Wool Runners.” And their first selling point was “A World First: woolen running shoes specifically designed for sockless wear.” In other words, their main reason to exist. Ironically, the same sockless sneaker company is selling socks. What that tells me is that sneaker sales might be plateauing and the company needs to make new revenue from higher-margin products like socks.

There are better, cheaper options that Allbirds socks. Muji makes great socks for about a third of the price. I highly recommend Mujis. You want to go high end, then buy Falke. But if you are an Allbirds fan, well, I can’t save you from yourself.

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10,000 Steps in a New York Summer

The first thing you notice is how less crowded the streets are in the city. Of course, the old synapses kick in, reminding you that everyone who can has left town until the cooler temperatures return. For someone accustomed to living in San Francisco’s cardigan-only temperature band of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity and the heat are a left-right punch. But after a few minutes, I recover my senses, and I am back in familiar emotional and mental territory: New York City, where I spent enough long summers, working every day toward an idea of success.

Back in my (current) hometown, I saunter. Here, like a pitcher who suddenly finds a reserve of energy in the middle of the season, my pace picks up. I smell the summer as I move. You know the smell of New York: a heady blend of stench from the gutters, cigarette smoke, and sidewalk stalls selling everything from hotdogs to kebabs. It’s the strong smell of hustle.

And apparently, the Mayor has declared Le Labo Santal 33 the official fragrance of the season. Every girl walking on the street leaves a whiff of it behind. All the beautiful ladies (and they are all lovely) are lost in their own worlds, listening to their AirPods, which seem to be more commonplace now than white sneakers were a few seasons ago. It is no surprise that Apple’s earnings from wearables and accessories are going through the roof.

I walk around in Noho, Soho, Chinatown, Tribeca, and all the way to the Battery Park City. I am not tired, but my short sleeved shirt is clinging to my body. I need a cold shower, but I have to finish my 10,000 steps. It is a promise I have made to myself.

New York is so familiar and yet so different. I walk across Wall Street, which is shaded by shadows that never end, making it a tad cooler than the rest of the area. I used to work around the corner, and I still remember the thrill of walking down this mythical, magical street, which is now more an ideology than a real field of financial dreams. I enjoy trying to remember the past, reminding myself how it all started and how long (or short) the journey has been. I walk down to the East River, and then make my way back towards Noho. A cold shower awaits. I’ve clocked 11,500 steps. I feel virtuous.

In fact, my adventure is only beginning. Later today, I plan to spend time with one of the newest members of the True Family. Their youthful enthusiasm is infectious. And then off to dinner with some friends in a new French place in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Mercifully, only one of them works in technology, while the rest are in music, entertainment, and fashion. This is going to be a great conversation. What else would you expect in this city?

Freshly dressed and ready for more, I head back out.

A Circle of Words: emails to blogs to newsletters

Dave Winer, the godfather of blogging, and in my mind, the singular most influential thinker on all things Internet, media and mediums, shared a link to a Wired post about DaveNet, which in 1995 was a forum  which involved Dave writing an essay and emailing it to others and then creating conversations within those who read his stuff. That eventually led to blogs which transformed the media landscape. And now we are back to doing email newsletters.

Coincidentally my blog started as an email newsletter too — Dotcomwala — but eventually transformed into a blog. It is the same wine; bottles keep changing. In the end, what matters is words, thoughts, and continuity. Mainstream media folks, unfortunately, follow the hype, not a desire to write. In a weird twist of fate, the story was authored by Todd Lapin, with whom I worked at Business 2.0.

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