Here is what I wrote for New Yorker in 2016

2016, for me, will go down as a year of writing like the old days — back when I used to work for Red Herring and Business 2.0. The opportunity to write for the New Yorker has allowed me to think deep and hard about a lot of issues, and frame them for a different audience all together. The dozen pieces from this year (and an additional one from the last day of 2015) are satisfying. In case you missed any of these, here is a quick rewind.

Holiday from Social Internet

I am officially on a holiday break and that means tuning out the Internet, picking up some good books and essentially feeding the mind. I am not into holiday celebrations or popping champagne on the New Year’s Eve. Instead, for me this is a time for quiet contemplation. And as part of this effort, I have decided to get off the Social Internet for the near foreseeable future. 

  • My life isn’t that interesting that I need to broadcast every minute of it. Perhaps restricting myself to the blog is the right way to balance what’s important and what’s not. Occasional updates on life, plus a lot of links of what I find worth reading will follow, starting today.
  • Instead of Instagram (which I have shutdown for a few weeks including making it private), I will post photos in full size on my photo blog, Om.blog. It will be good for story telling as well.
  • Hopefully, the focus away from social will allow me to write more often and not be distracted by the stuff that doesn’t really matter. 

When Denzel speaks the truth about media

Why is it that outsiders understand the news and media business better than insiders? Because they don’t have blinders on. And that’s why when a reporter asked Hollywood star Denzel Washington to comment on fake news, he got straight to the heart of the matter:

If you don’t read the newspaper you are uniformed. If you do read it, you are misinformed.

What is the long-term effect of too much information? One of the effects is the need to be first, not be true anymore.

Your responsibility is to tell the truth and not be first. We live in a society where it is who’s first, who cares, get it out.  We don’t who it hurts. We don’t care who it destroys. Just say it, sell it.

Watch the video!

Anything but….

Last night I had dinner with Michael Arrington (founder of TechCrunch) at my new favorite spot in San Francisco (Babuji SF) and we caught each other up with our lives, personal and professional. And as is the case we ended up discussing the current environment in Silicon Valley, the political environment and the rancor in the air and a whole lot of other things. As I got home, one thing that stuck with me was what Michael said, Silicon Valley media doesn’t write about tech anymore — it is all about anything but tech. Culture, politics, sociological impact of technology industry and other such issues — that is the conversation. 

This reminds me of the “spectacle of technology” piece I wrote about last year. Whether it is the stage-managed meetings between technology leaders and the president elect, conferences that are essentially an opportunity to read off from a pr-checklist, to even twitter-rants, everything is managed for consumption to create a dopamine rush. The market doesn’t reward the discussion of technology – but instead it savors the innuendo, the rise and the fall of companies, that themselves were launched in a hot air balloon of publicity, to fill the unquenchable hunger of the web monster, which needs the equivalent of Chicken McNuggets of information hits. This is the new reality and I have made peace with it. 
Like Mike, I have no desire to ever go back. There is no point trying to play the same game we used to again. It is why I find the current opportunity to write for the New Yorker appealing. It is a chance to write about technology, the business of technology and yes, the cultural impact of Silicon Valley in a more considered manner. I am enjoying that process. 

By the way if you want to know what I am reading these days, I will share my top ten information sources in a separate post very soon! 

December 15, 2016, San Francisco 

Again, iPhone is the default camera

Chase Jarvis, a photographer and Internet personality once commented that the best camera is the one that is on you. He is right. When I was in Iceland recently, I spent way more time taking photos with my new iPhone 7 Plus camera, learning to put the new telephoto lens and portrait mode to good use. In comparison, use of my Fuji xPro 2 was down drastically, though I continued to make photos with my Leica Monochrome. I am deeply satisfied by those photos — see some examples on my photo blog — and have found a new appreciation for the iPhone camera’s capabilities.

topflickrcameras2016I am not alone in putting Apple’s smartphone cameras to good use. According to Flickr data, during 2016, “smartphones accounted for 48% of the photos uploaded to Flickr, up from 39% last year. DSLR was 25%, down from 31% in 2015, and point and shoot was 21%, down from 25% in 2015.” More affirmation for my thesis that iPhone is slowly killing the standalone camera.

Last night, when dining with my friend Bijan Sabet, we talked about the iPhone 7 Plus capabilities, and wondered about the future, the impact computational photography becomes more powerful and capable. As we move forward, I suspect my standalone cameras will become specialist machines – my Leica Monochrome might be ideal for my art-focused photographic efforts, while a Mirrorless/DSLR might be used for long exposure efforts.

We are already seeing cameras evolve and become hyper specialized — Snapchat’s Spectacles, GoPro Cameras and Drone-mounted cameras for aerial work. I suspect by the time 2020 rolls around the point and shoot share of overall photography just might be down to single digits.

December 7, 2016, San Francisco