Casey Newton very publicly left his job at The Verge for building his own brand on Substack. However, he continues to work with The Verge in some capacity, and they just published his piece on problems at Medium.com. As most have come to expect, Medium is doing yet another pivot in their strategy and is letting go a large chunk of their editorial staff, admitting that their rapid ramp up of publications had been too aggressive.
On the Mozilla Security blog, the Firefox team details their new implementation of cross-site browsing protection by keeping cookies from each site you visit in their own, separate containers. Firefox has had the ability to use different containers with separate cookies explicitly for some time with their “Containers” feature (I love to use this for testing with different identities on the same site).
In 1995, a young, optimistic technologist found himself frustrated by the dire prognostications of a splenetic Luddite. The technologist, Kevin Kelly, a cofounder of Wired magazine, went to interview the Luddite, Kirkpatrick Sale, at his apartment. The interview was a pretext for Kelly to challenge Sale to a bet about the future of a society influenced by the rapid gains in computing technology. Kelly had a strong belief that society would benefit tremendously from advances in computing.
Medium recently changed their mobile reading experience. It’s still in beta, and you have to toggle a preference in settings to turn it on, so you won’t see it by default. They have been signaling its coming for a few months, though. The
tag line they’ve been using is that it makes Medium “more relational.”
On the Friday night that started a holiday weekend, I found myself helping to troubleshoot an application outage that had come up about unexpectedly. It was an interesting start to the weekend and I am thankful for the technical acumen of my coworkers (near and far) for helping us to get through the crisis. Afterward, it was slightly past my normal bedtime, but having been keyed up by the night’s events, I felt there were miles to go before sleep.
I find myself in the most unusual position of agreeing with Attorney General William Barr. Barr believes that major tech companies are making serious compromises in order to get access to the Chinese labor and consumer market.
"The Chinese Communist Party thinks in terms of decades and centuries, while we tend to focus on the next quarterly earnings report,” Barr said. “America’s big tech companies have also allowed themselves to become pawns of Chinese influence.”
In the article, one of the tech companies named, Apple, declined to comment. How could they offer any explanation? They are at the mercy of China for the products that are made almost entirely in that country.
The Micro.blog platform has been growing lately, and part of the growth has been through plugins and new apps. Plugins are a welcome additions to the base M.b. hosted blogging experience. They do simple but helpful things, like adding open graph and Twitter cards for rich previews of content on various platforms, site search and footnote popups. Plugins feel like a big step in the maturity of the platform and allow those with the technical savvy to extend the features of the service.
Marius Masalar has some thoughts about blogging and link posts. Masalar sees a lot of value in them and the role they play in the makeup of the IndieWeb. At their best, link posts are a way for independent bloggers to engage with and continue a conversation started by one of their fellows.
We use them to boost each other up, offer constructive criticism, point out other views, or amplify a message we believe in.
In his latest newsletter, Chris Bowler spends a bit of time on the Roam note taking service that is currently in beta. His reference for Roam was Drew Coffman. I love Drew, and he attaches to new ideas with the zeal of an ancient Athenian. Roam bares more resemblance to a wiki than anything else, but its proponents insist it’s a completely new way of thinking about note taking. The service is thick with enthusiastic documentation on how to use it for different purposes, adapting it to GTD, increasing your speed and productivity with a plethora of keyboard shortcuts, etc.
It’s surprising to see that the “iLamp” version of the iMac, which hasn’t been sold for 15 years, continues to appear in new places. This version of the iMac stands out in the line of products as being the most unusual. It is the only iMac to feature most of the guts in the stand, instead of behind the display.
Outer Peace, by Toro Y Moi (2019) I was in my second round of college when these models were starting to be phased out.
Andy Nicolaides from The Dent has a post about continuing to care about things that may seem inconsequential during these times of isolation and illness. He emphasizes that it’s okay to look forward. If any of you reading this have been thinking there’s no point in starting that new podcast you’ve had on your mind for a while, or writing a blog post about how much you like that one episode of Star Trek, or whatever, I ask you to reconsider.
Photo by Portuguese Gravity on Unsplash Inspired by Austin Kleon, Omar created a one page zine, about living through quarantine in China during the Coronavirus outbreak. He has also been blogging regular updates about what the isolation has been like. The quarantine not only excludes contact with others, but for families, it tests your internal dynamics.
To answer the question of what people would do if stuck inside all day, Arsh Raziuddin from the Atlantic posits this:
A few months ago, Consequence of Sound reported on Disney passing on the chance to buy Twitter because, in the words of Disney chief Bob Iger, “the nastiness is extraordinary.” Gladiatrix fight photo by Hans Splinter from flickr. Once upon a time, way back in 2017, there was a little website called Twitter that caught the eyes of the monolith Disney. The idea at the time was for Disney to acquire Twitter to help modernize its distribution, The New York Times reports.
Once upon a time, way back in 2017, there was a little website called Twitter that caught the eyes of the monolith Disney. The idea at the time was for Disney to acquire Twitter to help modernize its distribution, The New York Times reports. When Iger saw the downsides of Twitter firsthand, though, he realized the deal couldn’t possibly be worth it. He began feeling intense dread and knew he had to reject the deal.
Whether the overall nastiness started with Gamergate or the Trump presidential campaign, by 2017, it had hit critical mass. Around the same time as the revelation about the Disney purchase, Tim Challies wrote about “becoming a Kwitter.”
At the top of the list is the simple reality that I may have the wrong disposition for Twitter. The man just doesn’t fit the medium. Over the past few years I’ve awakened to the reality that in many ways I am a weak person. I am weak physically, constitutionally, and in some ways emotionally. Especially, I’ve learned that I am easily fatigued, drained, or discouraged when involved in unnecessary conflict or even when witnessing it. If my unsanctified disposition is toward cowardice and running away, I believe my sanctified disposition is toward peace and peacemaking. Yet Twitter is a medium that seems to generate conflict and to thrive upon it. I find it a discouraging and intimidating place to be. I derive negligible pleasure from it. It adds nothing necessary to my life and very little that’s truly beneficial.
I can relate to the admission of being weak in some ways and though I’m not usually conflict averse IRL, I see online conflict as mostly unproductive. Rarely do hostile exchanges result in changed minds or reconciliation. On a platform like Twitter, it can also feel like conflict can be unexpected and especially intrusive.
I was caught off guard by this aspect of the platform one Sunday a couple of years ago when I quoted something that I had read in a popular newsletter and liked and with which I identified. I tweeted the quote with attribution. I did find the quote on a Twitter but I couldn’t use the retweet or quote features because the original tweet had some additional comments that didn’t really add context. So I used the good old copy and paste and throw some quotes around the copied text method. I then added “(x Twitter handle) has said:.” Pretty simple, right?
Patrick Rhone writes about why he used Amazon for affiliate links and why he no longer does so. He now favors a site called Indiebound, which serves to federate a group of independent bookstores and positions itself as the conscientious consumer alternative to Amazon.
In the post, Rhone quotes Dan J on the danger of using the ubiquitous e-commerce site for book recommendations.
The problem with linking to Amazon as a “safe default” is the same as the problem with just publishing your book on Amazon and calling it a day: it entrenches Amazon as The One True Place Where Books Are, and, while convenient, that’s not good… it’s not good for society to have one big private corporation responsible for distributing such a huge proportion of the collective written work of the human race.
The Mandolorian Unofficial Wallpaper From Deviantart, a beautifully subtle Mandalorian wallpaper in an assortment of colors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0.
Baby Yoda forever!
Image via Bruce Timothy Mans Music is easier than ever to discover. Surely this is a triumph and yet, it makes me kind of sad when I think about how one doesn’t have to search out and find music in traditional ways anymore. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone may still be relevant, but you don’t need the encyclopedic knowledge of a music critic to tell you what you might like these days.
Manuel Riess (@hutaffe) recently wrote a bit about returning from Apple Music to Spotify. His dissatisfaction centers around music discovery, hearing new material from artists that the system already should know he likes, and the New Music playlist.
I have had some of the same frustrations. The New Music playlist, which is updated every Friday, used to be something to which I looked forward, at the end of the week. Lately, though, it almost seems like artists (or labels) have been paying to have their music featured on the lists of listeners.
Next week, Instagram is set to begin hiding like counts on posts in the US, according to this TechCrunch piece. The move is expected to hurt influencers on the platform, as initial tests in other countries showed that likes on posts went down when the counts were not displayed. The influencer economy is supposed to be a big part of what drives the platform. The speculation is that anything that hurts those influencers and their ability to use Instagram to build their businesses too badly will be rolled back.
Pleased to see the announcement from Jack Dorsey that Twitter will cease serving political ads on its platform. This could have been done via a blog post instead of a tweetstorm, but I guess they want to drink their own champaign.
It has never been a better time to quit Facebook, after the company recently revealed a policy that formalized the ability of politicians to lie in ads on the platform. Techcrunch writer Josh Costine called the move a disgorgement of responsibility. The web publication has another piece by Costine, calling on Facebook, and other tech companies, to ban political ads altogether. The ban would hold until they can come up with a coherent policy that doesn’t erode democratic freedoms by inundating the populace with misinformation.
In a break from my normal habit of avoiding hot takes and only sticking to what is room temperature or below, I wanted to write a bit about the uproar of the week. Specifically, the NBA, that proud bastion of social justice rebellion in recent times, ceding their moral high ground for the irresistible attraction of oodles of Chinese yuan.
Part of the name of this weblog has to do with my intention of capturing ideas being echoed around the blogosphere and there have been many people weighing in on this subject on their blogs.
In Light Phone 2: the high hopes of the low-tech phone, Michael Zelenko writes about how hope for the minimalist phones like the Light Phone and the Punkt phone should probably be tempered by limited target customers.
There may not be a mass market for minimalist phones — they’re expensive, they’re superfluous, they’re extra — but there could be niche markets for the Light Phone: well-to-do campers, weekend warriors, the hyper-wired looking for relief.