There are some days when the view outside your window aptly reflects your state of mind. And sometimes those days turn into weeks. This week, I found myself in a foggy state of mind, all too often. The whole mess around the pandemic, the abortion ban, and the general malaise in the planet, added to my broodiness.
And as a result, I was too contemplative and unable to untangle a lot of thoughts and ideas spurned on by conversations with many smart people. I hope to finalize a few bigger pieces in the days ahead. In the interim, as always I am sharing what I am reading — and find important & interesting on the link blog They are also shared on my Twitter account.
September 5, 2021, San Francisco
Sept 3: I have been trying to track down my former boss from a while ago. There was a time one could call “directory assistance” and get a phone number. How I am trapped in a spider web of broken/outdated links. What progress we have made with technology.
Sept 3: “The hypocrisy is not lost on any of us that a bunch of people running around shouting about bodily freedom when it comes to vaccination—are the same ones who think women shouldn’t be able to decide whether or not they wish to be pregnant.” @abbygardner
Sept 3: “CEOs have political power, particularly in Texas. Maybe they shouldn’t, but they do. Right now they’re abdicating it.” @danprimack is so spot on!
Sept 2: Just coming across @seanlock video clips on @YouTube is such a mindfk and makes me sad. This genius is gone, taken too soon. RIP.
August 31: “A key to making meetings more productive for me has been providing my meeting agenda items to the other person in advance.”
August 31: So @danprimack says we are in the “age of dragons” and you are a member of the club with a minimum valuation is $12b. I wonder how many former unicorns are now “dragons” in public markets, as public markets better barometer of valuation. [Also: Someone just DM-d and said, when things don’t work, they will become drag-ons.]
August 30: It is somewhat ironic that I find myself doodling about NFTs, networked society, memes, and narratives on paper using an old-fashioned fountain pen & ink.
August 29: Starting the Sunday right: new photo book. New coffee. New (old) Coltrane on the music system. Let the day of rest begin!
E. B. White, an essayist for The New Yorker (and author of many books), once said:
"A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper."
He probably was describing me — during the last week. At the start of this month, I set myself a goal — blog 500-word pieces every day. It was an effort to become a writing fit. I hope to write for a column for a publication shortly, and I want to regain my writing skills. As you might have gathered, I didn’t hit my goals this week.
This week’s failure made me reflect on my past. When I was a professional writer (blogger, if you are pedantic), my writing was reactive, whether to some breaking news or a conversation or an interview. And on rare occasions, it would be like a finished lego set — where many bits and pieces from conversations, facts, news events, and theories would all neatly fit together. Whatever it was — being in the flow is a big part of writing steadily — one needs external input to spark internal creativity.
Another crucial difference, perhaps, is that I have different commitments on my time today than in the past. I am less singular about writing about technology (and its impact) than I used to be. While technology is still a primary lens with how I view my world (and life), I find myself spending more time on the science of technology and have found a waning interest in the business of technology. Unicorns don’t excite me. And more importantly, the world of technology has become more complex and thus needs a lot more research, understanding, and deliberation.
Since leaving the profession, I have discovered a passion for photography, and I think about it a lot. And with age, I have started to gravitate towards the “finished lego set” type of writing. And the timing of that writing has a bit of unpredictability to it. It is also an outcome of a set of random events that don’t happen as often. (Example: my essay, 40 Kilometers.)
In that sense, I am much closer to writing like Susan Sontag, who, when asked about her writing regimen, said:
I write when I have to because the pressure builds up, and I feel enough confidence that something has matured in my head and I can write it down. But once something is really underway, I don't want to do anything else.
Nevertheless, I know I have to develop a schedule to sit down and write for the remaining days of the month. Ideally, it will be first thing in the morning, long before the sun comes up and my phone starts distracting me from the words that matter. The good news is that I am an early riser.
August 7, 2021. San Francisco
TWeek That Was
Aug 2: Hey @JasonHirschhorn how about one of your special essays about @MTV and joining the middle age yesterday? (I want my MTV is now 40 years old. Ouch.)
Aug 2: It is not the customer’s fault the network is being deprecated. So @AmazonKindle has to step up & not be cheap. Replace old Kindles with the new ones. They will make up the costs in years of buying the new ebooks. The Verge
Aug 3: Tom Standage is an editor for The Economist and has a new book coming out on “the social history of the car, and why it’s the 1890s all over again.” Tom is a great writer and a wonderful book author. Every one of his books sits in my library. Victorian Internet was/is my favorite.
Aug 4: From @business newsletter today: “Zoom’s share of the video-conferencing market rose by 10% points to 76%” in Q2 from Q1. Translation: @Zoom has won the video conferencing sweepstakes
Aug 4: Here is @SpaceXStarlink by the numbers: 90k subscribers. Active in 12 countries. Half a million on the waiting list. 1700 satellites deployed. My takeaway: huge demand for rural/off-the-grid connectivity, that incumbents failed to deliver.
Aug 6: Happy 30th birthday World Wide Web (WWW). What a wonderful gift to society (despite all the naysayers) @timberners_lee
What’s so great about summer? Quite a few things, but for me, it is Fogust: the foggy month of August that we get to enjoy in San Francisco. August is the perfect staycation month for me.
First of all, I am extra cautious about the emergent strain of the virus — and see no reason to take any risks by traveling. Secondly, I’m not too fond of hot climes. While most of the northern hemisphere enjoys hot days and balmy nights, I much prefer my backyard—daytime highs of 65 degrees and nights that dip down to the low 50s.
The fog is also a chance to exercise my camera. And spend a lot of time reading — long articles, books, and of course, research papers. I hope that with the arrival of the new month, I will find my writing rhythm. Over the past two weeks, I have probably scribbled more notes in my journal than on the old blog.
Anyway, this being the weekend, I thought I would share some gems I found on the Internet to make you smile.
A short recap of my Tweek (aka my week on Twitter)
July 29: Every earnings report is a reminder that year-over-year percentage growth numbers are pretty much worthless, except they do make for pretty graphs, nice headlines & hide reality. Good thread to follow.
July 28: “Yup, he’s a great leader! He motivates us to do great work.” Who is “he?”
July 27: The most interesting thing about Apple earnings for Q3FY2021: About 1/2 of the customers who purchased a Mac or iPad in the quarter were new to the product. Mac and iPad grew 16% and 12%. The last 4 Mac quarters have been the top 4 quarters ever for Mac.
July 27: Hello Twitter friends— which Is your favorite Weather app on iOS. I currently use Dark Sky. But hoping for something different/better. (So many great replies in the thread. I am trying out the Carrot app.)
While my week has been noticeably quiet here on my internet homestead, it has been quite the opposite for me out in the real world.
I had to go to the dental surgeon to remove a couple of wisdom teeth that had become nuisances and were putting the entire neighborhood in distress. I recognize that it was a pretty minor procedure, but like any reasonable adult, I am scared shitless of visiting the dentist. I was in a state of panic for two days leading up to the event, unable to sleep and overcome with anxiety.
On the day of the procedure, it all turned out to be relatively fast and straightforward — thanks in large part to the surgeon, who kept talking to me about photography and his love of Lindorf technical cameras. Of course, now he is a Canon man. (I wonder why the world still insists that dentists prefer Leica.) He gets full marks for keeping my focus on everything but the surgery as he extracted those getting the troublemakers out.
I was back home in just two hours, but that was followed by two days of pain. I used the prescription pills twice, but given their content (Hint: rhymes with “foxy”), I decided to switch to plain vanilla Tylenol. Between the headaches and the jaw aches, not to mention being restricted to eating only soft food, it hasn’t been fun. But I am feeling better today. Almost normal. I am even looking forward to eating a proper lunch. As I eat, I will likely mull over the question that’s been needling me: does wisdom go when the wisdom teeth do? (Let me know what you think, and the funniest answer will get tweeted on my Twitter.)
One — and maybe the only — positive side effect of the surgery was that it gave me a lot of forced downtime to do a bunch of reading. I was able to get through both my Safari Reading List and my Pocket Reading Lists. I also got a chance to enjoy a handful of movies and some cricket. Given the mediocrity of the New York Yankees, cricket is proving to be a much-needed salve for my bruised baseball fandom. Due to injuries throughout the league, even my fantasy baseball teams are proving to be disappointments.
I wanted to share some gems I found on the Internet this week while laid out in bed, struggling to will away my aches and pains. These are some perfect time wasters:
Does your facemask come with a HEPA air-purifier, microphone, and a pair of headphones? If not, you should consider this.
Here is a great and simple way to introduce soundproofing to your offices and apartments. Leave it to the Swedish to use a common-sense approach to screwing around.
July 21: A team at Duke University implanted a new-generation artificial heart in a man, the first such procedure in North America. It is an implantable prosthetic that includes biological valves derived from bovine tissue & operates on an external power supply. https://buff.ly/36Rk6FK
July 20: I wonder if Freud secretly haunts the corridors of Apple’s offices: space autocorrects to SPAC.
July 19: We live in a world where you have to (proverbially) scream to get attention & credit for your efforts. It is important to own your narrative.