Moon over San Francisco. Made with iPhone 12 Pro Max

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:



Finally, here is what I said on Twitter this week: 

July 22: Washington often conflates “building more infrastructure” with “resilient infrastructure,” a risky proposition in a networked society, argues @ratulm of @intentionet, part of @trueventures community. @SenatorLujan should talk to experts like Ratul.

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. 


Jul 24, 2021, San Francisco 

“Tweek,” is an aggregation of the tweets I sent out during the week. It is a habit I picked up from Disquiet, a blog run by Marc Weidenbaum. It allows me to remember what I was thinking about during this specific time. It also allows me to correct my grammar and spelling. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, this is just the best of what I have shared with my community.) 


July 14: Well, in terms of product wishlists, my @Photoshop wish list would include a way to boost the ludicrous 2 GB file size limit. It made sense when the cameras had puny sensors. Now five curves + enhanced DNG is enough to zoom past 2 GB. And while we are at it, when will the Visual AI community develop a way to figure out the “sensor dust” problem and solve it by removing dust spots. That alone is worth $10-a-month in time saved. Upsizing of files isn’t that much of a necessity, as is “dust spot removal.”

July 14: Nothing except they are paying attention to those who are speaking to the fact that it was a terrible design decision, and they rectified fast. It is a good thing to see in a company. (My tweet was in response to a tweet from Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman’s comment about Apple tweaking the Safari look-and-feel after massive blowback from the developers.) 

July 14This is old in terms of the Internet age. It was the first tweet outside of the Twitter team. #MyTwitterAnniversary

July 13: Hey @kayvz @jack @arctictony – product suggestion: use your magic to auto label paywalled links. That alone would make Twitter highly sticky. For now, all I do is spend time clicking on links I can’t read. 

July 12: In a few years, everyone will realize that 

@jasonkilar was right to push Hollywood into the streaming release mode. Nothing better than watching new movies at home. Waiting for headsets with a fantastic viewing experience. (Read more https://buff.ly/2QLqB2khttps://buff.ly/2UHM8jQ

July 11: Scratching my head and wondering where I have read this story before — maybe a few years ago? And more scratching later: so what’s different & what will be the model! More importantly, who is the sugar daddy buying the influence here? Anyone? 


July 17, 2021, San Francisco

It was a slower week for me — between work-related emails and research, I had little time for actual writing. I barely even had time for Twitter, and even then only as a very occasional guilty pleasure. Still, I managed to write a long thread about a new Nielsen rating gimmick called “The Gauge.” I am trying to get my data together for a piece about why it’s bogus. In the meantime, here are some other tweets from the last seven days:  

  • Medical industry payments to orthopedists & neurosurgeons who operate on the spine have risen sharply, despite government accusations that some of these transactions violate federal anti-kickback laws & put patients at risk. KHN
  • A lot of hints in these product releases about Amazon’s grand ambitions to become a big hairy presence in the “network of everything.” Exciting and scary at the same time! The Tape Drive
  • I know the (Indian) men’s team is playing #WTCFinals, but for me, the batting of Shefali Verma in the #IndvsEng game in both innings is a real (fire emoji). A star of the game today, megastar tomorrow. How many more amazing talents are out there. We most definitely need Women’s IPL. @BCCIWomen #
  • With summer officially one the way, it is time for some summer crime flicks. I will start with two of my favorites – The Andersen Tapes (Sean Connery) and Rear Window (Jimmy Stewart). Tell me your picks. And get some recommendations from friends as well. (The responses from various folks on Twitter included: The Sting, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Heist, Red Rock West, Blood Simple, To Catch a Thief, Insomnia, and both versions of The Thomas Crown Affair.) More replies are still coming

While some may use Twitter with more of an agenda, for me it is simply a place to share what’s on my mind. Follow along: @om

I find myself on Disquiet, a blog run by Marc Weidenbaum, about once a week. I enjoy reading everything he wrote and shared during the preceding seven days in one sitting. And of all his regular features, the one I love best is how he aggregates the tweets he sent out during the week. When I asked him about this habit in an email, he responded: 

“I’ve found that the once-a-week habit has been useful, cyclically reflective. Often, the previous Monday feels very faraway in retrospect. Also, knowing during the week, in the back of my mind, that I will likely repurpose the Twitter material on my website makes me a little extra conscientious of what I am posting.”

Marc’s purposeful approach to Twitter results in stream of tweets with a seamless flow that reflects clear, insightfulthinking. In fact, I like the practice so much that I am going toshamelessly copy it. Below, you’ll find my first stab ataggregating (some of) my tweets from the past week. Next week, I’ll know I’m headed toward this final product, so perhaps my own flow will become smoother. If nothing else, this will allow me to easily remember what I was thinking about during aspecific time. And it gives me the chance to correct my grammar and spelling (When are we getting an edit button, Jack?).

  • Apple paid $230B to developers on App Store since its launch 13 years ago. That roughly Apple’s cut of 30% at $98.5B of the total $328B since launch. That’s about $7.5B/year. In its most recent qtr, @Apple sold $48Bn worth of iPhones. iPhone Gross Margin of 35% = $16.8B In a utopian world, Apple (Tim Cook) decide to take no cut from developers making less than $1 million a year. They can afford it.
  • I just noticed that I could use two HomePods as a pair using Apple AirPlay on my desktop. When did this happen? This is so great.
  • Safari browser redesign is a major improvement, but still quite jarring for someone like me who is used to the old-style browser. Tab clustering feature might be overrated, but then I am also not a mega-tabber like some.
  • In 2021 it is amazing to regularly experience a subpar mobile website experience made worse by pop-ups inviting you to sign-up for marketing drivel before even perusing the contents of the site. This bad design pattern is intentional as you can’t seem to find the X button.
  • This story about Kevin Durant by Sam Anderson in The New York Times Magazine is achingly poignant & masterfully written. It is not just a sports story. It is not a story about a sportsman. It is a story of a journey. The lead alone is worth reading, not to mention KD’s quotes.• Both iPadOS & MacOS Monterey are Apple’s most stable beta OS releases I have ever downloaded. Twenty-four hours later, I feel like they have always been on the iPad Pro 12.9 & M1-based MB13 Pro. So many subtle (but important) tweaks. It will make it worth upgrading in Fall 2021.

I don’t tweet about Apple this much all the time, but it makes sense that it was the focus this week — it was WWDC, after all.

June 12, 2021. San Francisco

 

I came across this opinion piece about the role of social media in the demise and subsequent rebirth of blogging, a topic not unfamiliar to readers of my blog. It credits Twitter for providing a platform that allows for interactions similar to those that distinguished early blogging communities. And at least in a superficial way, that’s not wrong, I guess. But there is a wide gulf between the impulses that drive social media and the “why” of blogging. And the author completely overlooks the latter in his eagerness to report that, after many bloggers were wiped out, some elements of the activity formerly known as blogging survived. (Fact check: classical blogging continues to flourish in all corners of the Internet.)

As I have noted a time or two, blogging and the behaviors it inspired were the genesis of many contemporary activities on the Internet. Yet, despite this, we still seem unable to fully appreciate what was at the heart of blogging — that thing that makes so many of us nostalgic for its heyday, even as we tweet until our thumbs ache. And this brings me to my long-standing quibble with the media establishment: why can’t they recognize significant changes until it is too late?

Marc Weidenbaum, a music enthusiast and founder of Disquiet.com, expertly captures the distinction between blogs and social. “Social media expects feedback (not just comments, but likes and follows),” he writes. “Blogs are you getting your ideas down; feedback is a byproduct, not a goal.” In other words, one is a performance for an audience, while the other is highly personal, though others may end up finding it interesting. Weidenbaum also admirably points out the difference between blogs and all the suddenly ubiquitous newsletters. “And newsletters = broadcasting,” he says. “Blogging is different.” 

Bingo. By the way, for this exact reason, I recently decided to rethink the whole notion of my newsletter. I realized that it is just a way to get my words, as I wrote when I announced some recent changes, “from my computer to your inbox in order to spare you the trouble of coming to my website.”

The main reason media stalwarts couldn’t understand blogging is that they couldn’t see beyond their all-too-familiar containers and distribution mechanisms. They were too entrapped in their dogmas. The author of the opinion piece that kicked off this post offers up a telling account of his own transition from blogger to an employee at a legacy media company. 

“A key lesson I learned from my new colleagues was that we couldn’t cater to our regular readers the way many classic blogs did,” he writes. “Our salaries were supported by advertising. To make the whole project financially viable, we needed a lot of readers. Practically speaking, that meant bringing in a lot of new readers.” In other words, the company couldn’t conceive of any game other than the one it was already playing

This problem persists. Rethinking news requires a complete reconsideration of media, what it means, how it gets consumed, and how it gets distributed to those who want it. Even now, the media establishment is so stuck in text that they can’t fully see the extent to which we are transitioning to a world of primarily visual media. 

For the future of media — including blogging —  look to YouTube, Snap, TikTok, and Instagram. By the way, the content on these platforms is often created and engaged with in a spirit much more analogous to that of traditional blogs than anything you’re likely to see on Twitter. A whole generation has grown up with cameras — and front-facing cameras at that. Smartphones make it so much easier to create daily logs (What else are “stories” on Snap and Instagram?). The behaviors on these platforms will define the media consumption of the future. They are already reshaping the present.

Let’s take music journalism as an example. You are unlikely to stumble upon any new music through a traditional music magazine or even on many traditional music blogs. Instead, people are finding new musical acts on TikTok. “Mainstream music journalism is largely uninterested in promoting discovery, focusing instead on blanket coverage of superstars and seemingly endless traffic-grabbing lists — which may buoy an existing reader base, but often fails to capture newer, younger music fans,” reported (ironically) Rolling Stone. “Enter the upstart music blogs of TikTok.” 

TikTok’s rise as a taste maker for music (and culture) is just the evolution of (news) media away from the written word model. Magazines, radio and late-night television shows helped with music discovery before the social era. Blogs came next, by their human curation. Individuals as taste makers and cultural deejays was a trend that became stronger with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And TikTok is the newest evolution for a generation that lives at the network speed. 

And a generation growing up on the beat of the network wants their news in TikTok-style packaging. The future of media and news is a combination of visual, virtual, augmented, and metaverse realities. It is not a matter of if, but when. I am not saying that the traditional media formats won’t have a role — but they will have to compete with a different reality. 

Back when media companies were making a mess of the blogging world, they were hamstrung by their failure to understand and appreciate the “why” of the activity they were seeking to replicate. As they slowly key into the world of visual media — and inevitably attempt to stuff it into their preexisting boxes — let’s hope they don’t make all the same mistakes again. 

June 7, 2021. San Francisco