This week, Tim O’Reilly provided much-needed perspective in his essay “The End of Silicon Valley As We Know It.” If you can overlook the clickbait title, this essay is among the most valuable things you can read to understand our present and think about our future. While there has been much hoopla about folks leaving Silicon Valley, new distributed work philosophies, and other daily headlines, these are primarily distractions from a deeper, more profound change afoot in what we call Silicon Valley.

The Algorithmic Accountability Index: Ellery Roberts Biddle and Jie Zhang have created an accountability index for the algorithmic economy. They looked for companies’ answers to some fundamental questions about algorithms: How do you build and train them? What do they do? What standards guide these processes? An essential piece. 

How the race for autonomous cars started: We might be on the brink of the future where we all zoom around in self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles. It is easy to forget that, 16 years ago, autonomous driving was a chaotic dream. In his new book, Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car, Alex Davies chronicles what brought us to this moment. Wired magazine recently ran an excerpt, and you should check it out.

Did Tech prevent the World from a bigger meltdown?: While we have read many articles about technology becoming a dominant force in our lives during the pandemic, this article in Foreign Policy asks (and answers) the question from a different angle. I liked the nuanced argument, and that is why I recommend it for your weekend reading.

The cassette tape creator is dead: In time, what was a disruptive technology becomes a part of our life that we don’t even notice. One hundred billion units later, cassette tape is one of those technologies. It kicked off the ability to personalize the curation of music. You can draw a straight line between those tapes and Spotify playlists. Lou Ottens, the engineer who created the cassette tape, died recently. Ottens also helped create the compact disc, which ultimately killed the cassette tape. His obituary is a reminder that only very few are fortunate enough to create technology that touches everyone’s lives.

Best of the 2010s: Some of my favorite pieces from the last ten years

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 … Continue reading Best of the 2010s: Some of my favorite pieces from the last ten years

Chris Michel & Our Need for Constant Reinvention

Last night, the Long Now folks hosted a talk with my dear friend Chris Michel, a photographer who has immense empathy and appreciation for nature. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that he has been the single most positive influence on my photography. He is my visual sensei. And while I had seen many of his photos over the years, I was moved by his visual diaries from the edge of the planet — whether it was the poles, north, and south, or the edge of our atmosphere.  Continue reading “Chris Michel & Our Need for Constant Reinvention”