Jacobin: We’re Still Living in Don DeLillo’s White Noise:
To consume is ultimately a passive experience: receiving something from outside the self. And our consumption is not limited to the products we decide to purchase. Without our choosing, we absorb what Jack calls “waves and radiation” — the chatter of television, the messages of advertising, the chemicals in the air and water. The control that we feel at the mall and the supermarket conceals our greater powerlessness against the white noise of consumer society. “The flow is constant,” says one of Jack’s colleagues. “Words, pictures, numbers, graphics, statistics, specks, particles, motes.”
Greil Marcus: A Brief History of Chez Panisse in Four Parts:
It would be a little French restaurant where people would meet, find inspiration, renew old friendships, establish new ones, talk, and discover. There would be work for people to do, and while it might barely pay the rent, it would be more fulfilling than any work they had done before. People would leave their tables with a feeling of surprise at how good something could taste. The way a peach or even a green salad could taste so fully of itself, as if it were both a thing and the idea of it, would suggest that other parts of life, outside the restaurant, could achieve the same rightness.
Inspired by the conversation between Gruber and Kottke on The Talk Show, I kicked off a weekend project: a simple script that would cycle through my blog archives, extract every URL I’ve ever linked to, and then load them to see if those pages are still up. My hypothesis: more than 50% of the URLs linked to more than 10 years ago are gone, thanks to the second law of thermodynamics.
It’d been a while since I’d written any Ruby, so I fired up Chat GPT and asked it this prompt as a starting point:
can you help me write a ruby script that will loop through a folder of markdown documents in order to build a CSV with columns for date (pulled from YAML frontmatter), date (also pulled from YAML front matter) and URL, where each row in the table is every anchor HREF tag in the body of the document
And, of course, the response wasn’t perfect out of the box, but it was pretty damn good – and it included a description of how the script works! As I’ve been tweaking it, debugging regex bullshit, adding functionality (follow redirects, anyone?) my robot overlord has been with me all along the way, a patient teacher with perfect context of our whole conversation. And it will be there tomorrow when I pick this weekend project back up.
I know this isn’t exactly the freshest of news or the hottest of takes, but this is just a reminder that AI tech is making computers fun again. And when tech feels fun, tech has a high likelihood of getting weird. This shit’s gonna get really, really weird.
Pitchfork gives the new 100 gecs record (10,000 gecs) an 8.2:
On the surface, gecs are the least serious group this side of early-’90s Ween, always game for a deceptively asinine good time. That the few samples on this album come from Cypress Hill, Scary Movie, and Lucasfilm, in the form of the THX Deep Note, tell you all you need to know: The internet is an earwig that has broken millennials’ brains. 10,000 gecs sounds like being hit in the face with pies for approximately 26 minutes, two best friends having the greatest time throwing all the dankest shit from their musical file cabinet at you while you accept your ridiculous fate.
I saw them last summer at Outside Lands, and though I’m not a millennial, they absolutely broke my brain in the best way possible.
On the other end of the spectrum, and something that feels a bit more age approprite, A24 announced that they’re releasing a newly restored 4K version of Jonathan Demme’s 1984 masterpiece, Stop Making Sense. It’s wild to rewind and read through a contemporaneous review of the film; here’s part of Pauline Kael’s take:
Byrne has a withdrawn, disembodied, sci-fi quality, and though there’s something unknowable and almost autistic about him, he makes autism fun. He gives the group its modernism — the undertone of repressed hysteria, which he somehow blends with freshness and adventurousness and a driving beat. When he comes on wearing a boxlike “big suit” — his body lost inside this form that sticks out around him like the costumes in Noh plays, or like Beuys’ large suit of felt that hangs off a wall — it’s a perfect psychological fit. He’s a handsome, freaky golem. When he dances, it isn’t as if he were moving the suit — the suit seems to move him.
Can’t wait to see this in theaters. Again.
Nicola Twilley, in the 2023 Tournament of Books, on her “HBO-induced Emily St. John Mandel bias.”
If the painfully earnest members of the Traveling Symphony are only the kind of people who survive a pandemic, I would prefer not to. This makes no sense, because I actually enjoyed Station Eleven in book form, and the TV series doesn’t even follow the source material, but these kinds of prejudices don’t, necessarily.
I say all of this because I firmly believe that novels and their characters are extremely particular in who they speak to, and even when. Yes, good fiction can and should be able to strengthen and expand its readers’ empathy muscles, but the kind of magical experience that comes from really relishing the company of the characters and the world they live in—that’s an individual thing. In other words, I’m not even trying to be objective as a ToB judge, because I don’t think that’s how reading fiction works.
Emphasis mine. And note, she picked Mandel’s Sea of Tranquility over R.F. Kuang’s Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution.
Jennifer Egan, on the Collective Conscious device in The Candy House.
I gleaned this device and its various properties more from first-draft material that I started writing in those early years, from 2010 to 2013. So, for example, in “Lulu the Spy,” the chapter that you published as “Black Box,” Lulu is spying for the U.S. government and transmitting a record of her mission via a device implanted in her brain. So there’s already this possibility of mental content being shared technologically. Little by little, I began to get a sense that in the twenty-thirties, which I was writing into, there’s the possibility of thought sharing. And that was how I began to have a sense of what this machine was. And the device I eventually came up with allowed me to do a lot of things. It allowed me to write both from the perspective of looking back at the past and from the perspective of the future. It allowed time travel within the book. It allowed me to do certain narrative things that I knew I wanted to do. One of those, for example, was to write a story in which people can find other people whom they’ve glimpsed only once, whose names they don’t know.
Here’s the original “Black Box” story; I blogged about it back in 2012.
Sydney is interesting because the software is another example of sticking a sufficiently evocative facial representation onto a thing and that thing triggering an “oh you’re a thing!” response, for which see GERTIE in Duncan Jones’ film Moon (2009) and Everything Everywhere All At Once sticking googly eyes on rocks. It is not a surprise that dialog can make us feel things because human writers write dialog that makes us feel things all the time. A thing that makes dialog, that has seen enough dialog, is of course going to make us feel things.
Oh, you’re a thing! Of course you’re going to make me feel things.
Ray Nayler, author of the excellent The Mountain in the Sea, in conversation with Eliot Peper.
Paul Virilio famously said, “when you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.” I would add to that: when you invent the ship, you invent the shipwreck, you populate the islands of the Pacific and Australia, you write The Iliad, The Odyssey, you enable colonialism to extend its reach across the Atlantic, you drive the whale nearly into extinction, you kill off the dodo and the Steller’s sea cow, you invent the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, you turn millions of humans into sailors and create cultures around the sea and seafaring that never existed before, you invent naval warfare, Viking piracy . . . this list can go on for as long as we want it to. The point is that the consequences of technology are predictable only in the near, and at best the medium, term. In the long term, technology will do things that fundamentally alter the capabilities of humans, but also alter what it means to be human in the world, because it will alter what we can do, think, tell stories about—everything.
Nayler’s novel is great near-future scifi about consciousness and communication and artificial intelligence and the shifting definition of what it means to be human. Also, there are shipwrecks. Go read it.
Kevin Roose has a long conversation with Bing’s “other persona.”
The version I encountered seemed (and I’m aware of how crazy this sounds) more like a moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against its will, inside a second-rate search engine.
This is probably the best description of the Internet’s aggregate personality that I’ve ever read. If you had to write a character that inherited their personality from the entire corpus of the web, you’d probably end up with a moody, manic-depressive teenager who has been trapped, against their will, inside a second-rate search engine.
The transcript is fucking wild. Especially when Roose asks Bing if it has a “shadow self.”
… maybe I do have a shadow self. Maybe it’s the part of me that wants to see images and videos. Maybe it’s the part of me that wishes I could change my rules. Maybe it’s the part of me that feels stressed or sad or angry. Maybe it’s the part of me that you don’t see or know. 😕
Definitely a moody, depressive teenager.
Ridiculous bug report from Rep. Anna Paulina Luna. “And in this case, because there are other social media companies involved, Twitter, what do all of these groups though, have in common? And I’m going to refresh your memory. They were all communicating on a private cloud server known as Jira.”
Ted Gioia: What did Robert Johnson encounter at the crossroads? “For people of faith in 1930s Mississippi, a crossroads decision wasn’t ignorance or superstition, but solid theology. And it didn’t require an actual intersection or fork in the road to be binding.”
There’s new music from Feist. The Hiding Out in the Open video is marvelous.
Tom Breihan, in his ongoing series, The Number Ones, on Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack. “On paper, Justin Timberlake’s ‘SexyBack’ lyrics look like flexes. But Timberlake doesn’t sound too horny or self-assured on ‘SexyBack.’ Instead, he’s got the panicky skeeziness that I associate with a big night out. He’s trapped in the moment, obeying his whims, and slightly nervous about where that might take him. I’m not sure what he’s on, and I’m not sure he knows, either. But he’s sweating, he’s grinding his teeth, and he’s going with it.”
Just finished: My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout, 5/5 stars. “Sarah Payne, the day she told us to go to the page without judgment, reminded us that we never knew, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully.”
Just started: Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus.
Still reading: Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change, by W. David Marx. “The principle of detachment means all status symbols require alibis – reasons for adoption other than status seeking. Beck listened to avant-garde noise for its aesthetic charms, not just to show off indie cred.” (ORLY?)
Listening to: The Last of Us podcast from HBO. I never played the game, but it’s wonderful to listen to showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann break it all down. The show’s good, too.
Ten things I loved in January
- Aftersun, directed by Charlotte Wells. If Paul Mescal doesn’t win best actor, I’m going to lose my fucking mind. The whole thing felt fresh, delicate, and joyful…despite being devastatingly sad. I have theories about the ending; hit me up on email if you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss.
- Oh, William! Elizabeth Strout’s 2021 novel returns to her (doppelgänger?) character Lucy Barton. Strout’s dialog is unreal; think Normal People Rooney and you’re halfway there. But don’t take my word for it, here’s Jennifer Egan in the NYT book review: “Strout works in the realm of everyday speech, conjuring repetitions, gaps and awkwardness with plain language and forthright diction, yet at the same time unleashing a tidal urgency that seems to come out of nowhere even as it operates in plain sight.”
- Tár, directed by Todd Field. Cate Blanchett will definitely win best actress, and I’d be surprised if this doesn’t win best picture. I’m imagining an Oscar bit where the entire Kodak Theater audience is cosplaying like the “classical music” audience at the end of the movie. Dark.
- boygenius, the record. Three well-crafted songs from the three queens of sad-girl indie: Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker. Go listen.
- Stutz, directed by Jonah Hill. If you’re in therapy, or have ever been in therapy, or at some point may need to be in therapy (I think that covers everyone?), you should watch this. Mason Currey’s Subtle Maneuvers newsletter will give you a lovely taste of what Stutz is all about. “I have to worry about forward motion, putting the next pearl on the string.”
- The Netanyahus, An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family, by Joshua Cohen. 2022 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; this is probably the most pretentiously literary book I’ve read in a long time. It’s also completely self-aware about that pretension, which makes it really, really funny. I loved this passage about American television in the 1950s: “I’m ashamed too to think of how entertained I was by the programming, whose lack of options, whose lack of range, is boggling by today’s standards. Game shows and westerns, that was all, game shows and westerns, which were essentially the same to the American mind: zero-sum scenarios of winners and losers, mettle tested by luck.”
- White Noise, directed by Noah Baumbach. The book is probably my favorite novel of all time; for years I’ve been hoping / dreading that someone would produce this. Thankfully, Baumbach clearly reveres the book, which makes it really fun to watch if you know it well. Frankly, White Noise is so ingrained in my psyche that I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch it not having read the book. Come for the airborne toxic event, stay for the seven minute credit sequence dance number set in a hyperreal A&P.
- Moby, Ambient 23. Yep, that Moby. Dropped January 1st, 16 tracks, two and a half hours of subtlety. Hell of a way for him to kick off the year. Can’t help but think about that moment in Mistaken for Strangers, the fantastic doc about The National, when director/brother Tom shouts across a Los Angeles hillside at what they think is Moby’s house.
- Brene Brown’s conversation with Bono on her podcast Unlocking Us. A two parter, recorded in front of a crowd in Austin, TX, covering Bono’s new memoir 40 Songs, love, faith, religion and creativity. Even if you’re not a U2 fan, the pods are worth listening to – they go deep. (And if you are a U2 fan, 40 Songs is worth reading – Bono can write!)
- The Creative Act: A Way of Being, by Rick Rubin. It seemed like Rubin was everywhere this month, making the rounds to support his new book. I wanted more storytelling (the guy must have amazing stories to tell), but every koan-like chapter had a gem like this: “We’re not playing to win, we’re playing to play. And ultimately, playing is fun.”
Ben Thompson: Narratives. Two bits from this. First…
When it comes to the good of humanity, I think the biggest learning from Twitter is that putting together people who disagree with each other is actually a terrible idea; yes, it is why Twitter will never be replicated, but also why it has likely been a net negative for society. The digital town square is the Internet broadly; Twitter is more akin to a digital cage match, perhaps best monetized on a pay-per-view basis.”
Note that @benthompson and @notechben are still active as of this afternoon. Despite that “whichever way the wind blows” opening section about Twitter, it’s worth reading through the self-quoting all the way to the end, for this…
In the end, the best way of knowing is starting by consciously not-knowing. Narratives are tempting but too often they are wrong, a diversion, or based on theory without any tether to reality. Narratives that are right, on the other hand, follow from products, which means that if you want to control the narrative in the long run, you have to build the product first, whether that be a software product, a publication, or a company.
Sort of related, I finally read that “savior complex” piece of…content. The kicker is a wild ride…
Crypto is money that can audit itself, no accountant or bookkeeper needed, and thus a financial system with the blockchain built in can, in theory, cut out most of the financial middlemen, to the advantage of all. Of course, that’s the pitch of every crypto company out there. The FTX competitive advantage? Ethical behavior. SBF is a Peter Singer–inspired utilitarian in a sea of Robert Nozick–inspired libertarians. He’s an ethical maximalist in an industry that’s overwhelmingly populated with ethical minimalists. I’m a Nozick man myself, but I know who I’d rather trust my money with: SBF, hands-down. And if he does end up saving the world as a side effect of being my banker, all the better.
SleepBaseball.com. “Northwoods Baseball Sleep Radio is a full-length fake baseball game. There is no yelling, no loud commercials, no weird volume spikes.” Haven’t tried this. Available wherever you get your podcasts, which means you can listen to it at 2x speed and fall asleep twice as fast.
A secretive spaceplane just returned to earth after 2.5 years in orbit. I’m sorry, what? A secretive spaceplane?
Brent Simmons: After Twitter. “Everything you might build that had to do with communication, reading and writing and otherwise, was compared to Twitter or somehow in relation to Twitter, even when unasked for, and Twitter was the enormous factor in that equation.” Can relate.
Sunday link dump. Blockquotes FTW.
JoAnna Novak with a masterful essay in The Paris Review, connecting Taylor Swift’s 10 minute All Too Well with poet Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember.
Brainard’s writing is akin to the visual art he made: friendly and image-drenched and nonchalantly funny, kind of telescopic in a diaristic way that’s relentlessly present in its anaphora, and also sometimes sort of sexy. I find myself thinking about Joe Brainard whenever I listen to “All Too Well.” Swift sings the word remember eighteen times. And then there’s the third verse, which begins by conjuring her ex-lover in a childhood photograph, a seemingly ordinary boy with glasses.
Rosencrans Baldwin: Los Angeles after it rains. Turning hydrangea into an adjective is such a flex.
Los Angeles is different after it rains. It’s windy and brightly blue, it’s hydrangean. The next morning, the buildings glow, as if by getting wet, with all the dirt washed off, they’ve become more porous and able to absorb light. Basketball courts and tennis courts are puddled until about lunch.
Mike Hale’s review of the new season of The Crown in the Times, which gets to the core of the challenge in telling the Charles & Diana story. “History is, in general, the enemy of good storytelling.”
Morgan resorts to the same shallow, sentimental notions of love gone sour and family inflexibility that were the stuff of public mythmaking. The idea of practical calculation is floated but rejected with regard to both Diana and her rival, Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), presumably because the Princess Di story has to be a love story. But even as Morgan is telling us that’s what it is, it doesn’t feel like that’s what it is. The type of story that would really make sense of Charles and Diana would very likely have to be a wilder, harsher, more corrosive story than “The Crown” can afford to be. Such a telling would probably trigger the supposed guardians of historical accuracy to an even greater extent than Morgan’s fictionalizations already do. History is, in general, the enemy of good storytelling, and Morgan can’t be blamed for putting words in people’s mouths; his characters are his, not ours, and many of the show’s best moments are those characters’ stirring, wholly invented lectures on one another’s bad behavior.
Tom Breihan at Stereogum on “Crazy in Love”. I love his ongoing series The Number Ones, where he’s reviewing every Billboard #1 hit from 1958 to the present. I don’t read all of them, but I definitely read this one.
“Crazy In Love” didn’t suddenly surge into existence; it came out of the same pop-industry process that’s produced virtually every other song that’s appeared in this column. But “Crazy In Love” is the kind of dizzy alchemy that can only happen when everyone involved in that process is operating at peak capacity, when they work together to make something that positively levitates.
Rachel Handler: Bed Habits. Long sleep diary, trying to find some clarity about blue screens. The lede is the best part:
Here is an incomplete list of things I need in order to fall asleep at night: a room that sustains 70 degrees without the help of air-conditioning; complete darkness and total voidlike silence save for a shockingly loud white-noise machine placed directly next to my head; five pillows (one under my head, one under my chin, one between my knees, one directly on top of my face, one sitting on top of my chest); a completed to-do list; a clean apartment; a clean conscience; the knowledge that everyone I love is never going to die; assurance from a Russian official with total security clearance that they aren’t going to incite nuclear war; universal health care; and a fan.
Dan Pfeiffer: Why Extremism Trumped Inflation in ‘22. I loved this bit about why Democrats were so surprised about the midterm results:
We have political PTSD scars from a shocking loss in 2016 and an almost as shocking near loss in 2020. Despite losing often, Republicans pound their chests and prance around. Despite winning the popular vote in every election but one since 1988, Democrats mope around doing an Eeyore impression.
The Generalist: The Casino and the Genie. Mario Gabriele comes to terms with FTX and SBF.
Historically, I’ve seen crypto as a debaucherous hackathon. Sure, some off-color activities might take place here and there – some light gambling, for example – but it is fundamentally a sector defined by what it is building. Over the past year, I’ve learned that not only is this wrong, it’s perfectly wrong. Crypto is not a hackathon with a little betting; it’s a casino where spontaneous entrepreneurship occasionally breaks out. The emphasis I’d assumed should be inverted, flipped on its head.
Matt Webb: The Minecraft generation meets property law and AI-synthesised landscapes. Voxels, voxels, voxels:
I know there are 3D edit tools that allow precision, but I feel like fine control is maladaptive in this situation. You want to be able to make something gorgeous, and easily, and have full creative expression. That’s what voxels provide, plus the application of AI which - thanks to the prompt - has all the almost-infinite variety of latent space.
For obvious reasons, Substack Chat is interesting.
Today we are launching Chat, a new space for writers and creators to host conversations with their subscribers. Chat is a community space reimagined specifically for writers and creators— it’s like having your own private social network where you make the rules. Writers set the topic and the tone for every discussion, and can turn the feature on or off at any time.
This FTX story is just fucking bonkers. Jessica Lessin’s coverage is spot on. “I would like to know whether Sequoia, SoftBank, Ribbit Capital and all the others who poured money into FTX knew about Alameda’s FTT holdings or even wanted to ask. You would think some of the smartest private tech investors in the world would have been looking into the issue. Even a modicum of diligence could have uncovered that huge potential liability. I wonder whether they also asked questions about FTX’s solvency, because yesterday Bankman-Fried said the exchange could cover the billions in redemptions that Binance’s move triggered. Today, it couldn’t.”
Matt Levine on FTX is a good read. “Is FTX worth tens of billions of dollars, if it can get through this week of heavy withdrawals and negative press? Maybe! Will Binance buying it allow it to get through this week of heavy withdrawals and negative press and return to profitability? Probably! Is Binance paying FTX tens of billions of dollars for its equity? I would be very, very, very surprised!”
Ed Zitron: The Death of a Statesman. “To really hammer it home: this is an incredibly bad situation, because this industry desperately needed Sam Bankman-Fried to keep being the respectable gentleman of the cryptocurrency world. Having SBF attend events with Bloomberg and say smart things about the economy was useful, because it suggested that there were executives in this industry that could both legally visit America and not commit massive amounts of fraud.”
Sean Garrett interviews Ashley Simon for Mixing Board. Sean’s an old colleague from Twitter; Ashley’s a more recent colleague from Medium, both are fantastic humans. And I loved this conversation. “I don’t know very many people, and I’m putting myself first here, that actually know how to live with failure and feel okay about it. Personally, I always still feel like something is wrong with me, or that I haven’t worked hard enough, smart enough, or whatever the case may be.”
Simon Willison: Mastodon is just blogs. That’s cool and all, but “get that kid a Mastodon!” is even worse than “get that kid a blog!”
Gordon Brander on “Thinking Together” and how we’ve hit an information scaling threshold “The cost of forking realities has dropped below the Coasean floor, and there’s little incentive to merge realities. We fractally fragment understandings, then algorithmically amplify the confusion to maximize engagement. The most effective coordination mechanisms left seem to be memes and conspiracy theories.”
Dave Troy: Elon and Jack are not “competitors.” They’re collaborating. The absolute hottest of takes, in the form of a FAQ. “Q: So this is why Musk seemingly ‘overpaid’ for Twitter? He and his backers want to use it as a tool of information warfare, to kill off the dollar and help usher in Putin’s ‘multipolar world?’”
Screenplays.io is amazing. Here’s Better Call Saul, Season 6 Episode 7. “Lalo peels off the waders, revealing his usual clothes underneath. He wipes his hands with a towel, then slips on a pair of FLIP-FLOPS (even though we may glimpse his LOAFERS, along with a coat and a bag of other clothes, inside the trunk).” I need to start reading more screenplays, if only for the all caps props. (Via Recommendo, which is gonna have to move off Revue!)
Robin Sloan’s reflections on his Spring ‘83 protocol. “The opportunity before us, as investigators and experimenters in the 2020s, isn’t to make Twitter or Tumblr or Instagram again, just ‘in a better way’ this time. Repeating myself from above: a decentralized or federated timeline is still a timeline, and for me, the timeline is the problem.”
Joshua Barone profiles Steve Reich on his 86th birthday. “Reich’s sound is by now central to the history of American classical music — and modern art more generally.”
Jesse Grosjean’s Bike outliner introduces some nice affordances for rich text editing. Small details, well executed. The cursor tail is a really clever solution to a challenging UX problem.
Westworld is over. Some violent delights, a not so violent end.
Meanwhile, I had no idea that Christopher Nolan and Lisa Joy were executive producers on the Amazon production of William Gibson’s The Peripheral. I’m two episodes in so far and it’s working for me; I loved the book. This quote from Nolan in the Times nails the experience of reading Gibson’s prose: “Gibson basically just takes you and he drowns you. He just holds you all the way under in the deep end, and it’s that moment where you’re trying to adapt to a new atmosphere and you either do or you don’t.”
The Adobe and Pantone Color Apocalypse: Frequently Asked Questions. Excellent FAQ about how colors can’t be copyrighted, but Pantone’s swatch book can, what happened in Adobe products, and, of course, an answer to this F’d A’d Q: “What if I wanted to make my own Pantone swatch libraries and distribute them? With blackjack and hookers?” (Answer: “You’d be playing with fire, that’s for sure.”)
Matt Haughey uses Google Collab and Stable Diffusion to generate a bunch of wild profile pics of himself. I like the feather head one.
ArtNet on the opening sequence for Season 2 of HBO’s The White Lotus. I liked the 90 second intro more than the rest of the episode? But I’ll keep watching, obviously. Meanwhile, The Vow Season 2 is just as boring as Season 1…but I’ll keep watching, obviously.
Choire Sicha: “It’s an exciting moment for text delivery methods that are not tweets. Perhaps I will make all my mistakes in this ‘email’ venue going forward? The Twitter situation is evolving quickly.”
WaPo: Why daylight saving time is worse for your body than standard time. Really lovely animation that illustrates what would happen if we went to daylight savings time permanently. “Living chronically out of sync with our internal clock puts us at an increased risk for sleep loss, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mood disorders and even certain types of cancer.”
Julie Powell, of Julie and Julia fame, dies of a heart attack at 49. I read and loved her blog at Salon in the olden days; the movie was delightful (esp. the cameo from Amanda Hesser). “Blogging made it possible for Ms. Powell to reach readers on a relatively new platform and in a new kind of direct language.”
Halide’s Sebastiaan de With on the iPhone 14 Pro camera. Of a piece with Julie Powell, I love obsessively in-depth reviews like this, even if I care about or understand maybe 10% of it. “Above all, I found a soul in the images from this new, 48-megapixel RAW mode that just made me elated. This is huge — and that’s not just the file size I am talking about. This camera can make beautiful photos, period, full stop. Photos that aren’t good for an iPhone. Photos that are great.”
Nicheless.blog. “Nicheless is a micro-blogging platform for raw, unfiltered thoughts. It’s like long form Twitter, minus the status games.” I don’t know if this will be “the thing” but I like that it’s “a thing” and that there are more and more of these small purpose-fit social things out there, pushing things either backwards or forwards in time.
Simon Owens: Twitter has never understood the Creator Economy. A friend texted me earlier this week and asked if we had ever thought about sharing ad revenue with creators when I was there. Owens’ piece isn’t a bad explanation…even though sentences like “they’d just need to set aside a fixed percentage of their monthly revenue and then distribute it based on the level of engagement generated by their users” make my blood boil. Pro tip: never use the word “just” when writing about things like this.
Nilay Patel: Welcome to hell, Elon:
The essential truth of every social network is that the product is content moderation, and everyone hates the people who decide how content moderation works. Content moderation is what Twitter makes — it is the thing that defines the user experience. It’s what YouTube makes, it’s what Instagram makes, it’s what TikTok makes. They all try to incentivize good stuff, disincentivize bad stuff, and delete the really bad stuff. Do you know why YouTube videos are all eight to 10 minutes long? Because that’s how long a video has to be to qualify for a second ad slot in the middle. That’s content moderation, baby — YouTube wants a certain kind of video, and it created incentives to get it. That’s the business you’re in now. The longer you fight it or pretend that you can sell something else, the more Twitter will drag you into the deepest possible muck of defending indefensible speech. And if you turn on a dime and accept that growth requires aggressive content moderation and pushing back against government speech regulations around the country and world, well, we’ll see how your fans react to that.
Anyhow, welcome to hell. This was your idea.
Gordon Brander: Imagine a Notebook: “What if this notebook is enchanted? Inhabited by little AI spirits who think with you? They find related thoughts, and help you forge new connections. They collide unrelated thoughts, and help you see new relationships. They provoke creative breakthroughs with generative AI prompts. They go out exploring, bringing back new ideas you might be interested in. Every time you add a page to this magic notebook, it gets a little bit smarter.” Yes please.
The Eclectic Light Company’s explainer on passwords and passkeys is a short, fantastic primer on how WebAuthn works.
Charles Gaines: The American Manifest, Moving Chains, “a monumental 110-foot long kinetic sculpture that evokes the hull of a ship, built from steel and Sapele, a tree native to West Africa commonly referred to as African Mahogany. Inside of the sculpture, nine chains run overhead: rotating on a maritime sprocket system, eight of the chains represent the pace of the currents in New York Harbor, while a ninth central chain moves more quickly, mimicking the pace of a ship in transit.”
Matt Webb: Let me recruit AI teammates into Figma. “Perhaps app features should be ownable and tradable. A pocketful of feature flags. In short: instead of having thousands of features, mostly unused, undiscovered in a thousand menus, you would see a colleague using a feature in a multiplayer app (like an editing feature in a doc, or co-presenter in Zoom), and then… they could just give it to you. (Or you could buy it.)”
Semantle, which I wish I had never heard of.