Like similar entries, I have spent a lot of time this year on planes and will spend more time before the year is over and so I’ve read things from my growing Instapaper library that are marked “to blog” and here we are finally linking to them. You all know I’m not a breaking-news lover but instead I like reading long-form stories recapping an event that happened months or years ago. I’m linking to them because they’re worth a read, not because they’re particularly relevant today:

Thank you, Guido via Dropbox’ Blog announcing Guido van Rossum’s retirement. Great piece but it was this that I highlighted for later recollection:

But as the company grew, new engineers who joined couldn’t understand the code. Clever code is usually short and cryptic, written by and for the individual who came up with it, but is hard for anyone else to understand—and nearly impossible to maintain. Guido called this “cowboy coding culture”. He recognized its value in our early stages of trying to implement things quickly, but knew it wouldn’t be sustainable over time, so he decided to speak up in his own quiet way.

I have since adopted Cowboy Coding as my favorite phrase when talking to Early Careers talent about prototyping and how it works early on when you’re trying to prove a concept but doesn’t hold up well when billions of people are relying on a product built with cowboy code.

Larry and Sergey: a valediction by Nicholas Carr. My favorite part because I think this statement is poetry and explains eloquently the culture shift Internet has done to us for better or for worse:

That kind of happiness requires a combination of idealism and confidence that isn’t possible anymore. When, in 1965, an interviewer from Cahiers du Cinema pointed out to Jean-Luc Godard that “there is a good deal of blood” in his movie Pierrot le Fou, Godard replied, “Not blood, red.” What the cinema did to blood, the internet has done to happiness. It turned it into an image that is repeated endlessly on screens but no longer refers to anything real.

Twitter’s future could look a lot like its past by Casey Newton in December of 2019 and this relevant bit about Dorsey’s Blue Sky initiative:

This five-person team, to be known as Blue Sky, will be charged with the project — effectively turning Twitter the platform into Twitter the protocol. In such a world, Twitter would be to tweets as Outlook is to email: one client for reading and writing messages among many.

I expected, like Dorsey, this initiative would be dead but their Twitter account is posting updates as of April and they have this site to show for it – https://blueskyweb.xyz and a Twitter Thread explaining where the project is 2.5 years after Dorsey created it as a Twitter employee project. https://twitter.com/bluesky/status/1518707597532024832 

The Sabbatical Experiment by David Sparks (2020)

  • I have been working too hard. I need to get better at building in some more fun time during the usual workweek.
  • My “urgent and material” test for client work needs to continue into my daily routine, even on weeks where I am not slowing down. Too often, I put myself in a pickle by overpromising turnaround times on work that is neither urgent nor material.
  • Hyper-scheduling works. As soon as I removed the blocks from my calendar, my production went straight to hell. That was by design last week, but if I did it every week, I would not be able to pay for my shoes anymore.

Why Are Conservatives Obsessed with Pedophilia Right Now? By David M Schell (2020) who posted a follow up in April of 2022 that links here and he added, “This article from Religion Dispatches, I believe, offers a much more compelling explanation for the current (and very weird) wave of right-wingers referring to anyone who acknowledges that same-sex couples exist as a “groomer.”

How Apple Is Organized for Innovation featured in HBR is just a really good read and even though published in December of 2020, is worth a re-read from time to time.

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow by MG Sielger in November of 2020. As MG’s career progressives and one day he retires, I hope someone will find this quote as one of his best about the business of investing in people versus ideas:

“Talking to entrepreneurs, I find it best to acknowledge that you’re perhaps on a journey together and you have no idea how it’s going to play out. So much of it is luck, but even more of it is timing. Hard work is a prerequisite, of course. But mainly to ensure that your company is in the right position to capitalize on the luck of timing, should it come.”

Nobody says hi in San Francisco by Noah Smith in 2020 adding this on to the long list of blog posts I’ve read about how San Francisco was great before “I moved there” 

Pellet Ice is the Good Ice – New Yorker and I agree. It’s my favorite thing about going to the southern states is finding an ultra sweet sweet tea with pellet ice in it.

Can Matt Mullenweg save the internet? By David Pierce in December of 2021. I think this is a story we need to tell. Matt stands pretty unique among open source builders who created remote first companies that are wildly profitable and successful and companies who are set to withstand all of the ups and downs of tech. Matt is one of the good ones.

On Photo Sharing via InitialCharge.net

As an experiment, I started sharing photos with individual people, privately, over iMessage. I wouldn’t send them a whole collection of photos, just one at a time here and there. And what I found is that when you send an individual person a photo privately, you actually spark a conversation. You end up relating the photo to something that you did when you were a child or reminiscing about when you and the other person traveled to that location years ago

I’m the first to admit, I really don’t have many people I think are friends and I’m not really social with any of my family. Sending a photo to my dad requires opening Voice.google.com, clicking the photo icon, uploading a photo from my desktop I exported from Photos for Mac and then sending it over. That’s how I share images with family but since I rarely ever do it, that’s not really an issue. I am lazy so I tell people if they want to see where I’ve been or what I’m doing, just go look at my Flickr page. That’s good enough but for people who do have friends and family, iMessage is the best place to do it but that shows that maybe there is a better way ,no not another messaging app but something more passive. Shared iCloud Libraries is a start but what if we could make that even more dynamic. No hashtags (thanks to machine learning and location sharing), no selecting photos and uploading them and adding filters. Just think Polaroid with your closest friends. Just a thought.

That broken tech/content culture cycle by Anil Dash in early 2022, this 24 part series on how you destroy the internet was fun to read. Anil nailed it. You think of Facebook when you read this but it can be applied to any content company.

iPhone 13 Pro: The Edge of Intelligent Photography by Sebastian de With took 6 months to publish after iPhones 13 arrived but it was well worth the wait.

The Google Incentive Mismatch: Problems with Promotion-Oriented Cultures by Zach Lloyd published in May. I’ve been thinking a lot more lately about the talent crunch in tech and how we reward contributions. This was an eye-opening piece.I probably wouldn’t do well at Google. 

Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech by Mike Masonic for Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute (quite a mouthful). This August of 2019 article is one I’ve read twice. I love it. I want to print it off and stick it on my wall and read every day. It’s the kind of article that has re-shaped how I think about what we create and what I do next with my time. We need to build protocols.