I Miss Pebble →

Eric Migicovsky on Why Pebble failed:

Looking back with hindsight, I should not have aggressively grown the company without a stronger plan. We should have just stuck to what we knew best and continued to build quirky, fun smartwatches for hackers.

There is a lot to take way from this article, so I will keep it brief, but it’s rare to see a founder admit the mistakes made and especially so publicly. I love Pebble, it was the first smartwatch I truly used and was the first and only time I helped found something on Kickstarter (RIP my red founders edition).

Despite its relative success between nerds, you’d be hard pushed to find an average person who knows what a Pebble watch was, and this is part of the failure.

Around this time Apple came out with the Apple Watch and we thought the smartwatch market was about to explode. So in a quest for big sales growth, we figured our 2015 strategy would need to shift focus to a broader market, away from our core early adopter market positioning.

It’s reasonable to expect boom time once Apple got involve, however instead of appealing to the crowd they had already made they tried to appeal to more people. Instead of remaining true to their hacker nature, they pumped money into features and tried to become mainstream. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I wonder if, at a time that even the Apple Watch didn’t know what it was, Pebble could have carved out a place in the heart of users that wanted something hackable.

However, we can but dream. I am not certain that Pebble would still be alive today. They would have undoubtably been swallowed up by a bigger company, but it would have been great to see what they could have achieved with another few years under their belt. As great as seeking investors can be for boosting a business, the constant need to see return and strive to be a success is dangerous.

We Need A More Social Web →

Om Malik on Why do you have to share:

“Their whole algorithmic model is based on engagement – and lots of it. The model is not concerned about the consequences. The more inflammatory the content, the more engagement it drives. The greater the engagement, the more viral the content becomes. And the wheel turns, and turns, and turns.”

There are too many part of this post that I wanted to quote, so much so that the post I wanted to share was in trouble of becoming a repetition. The main point is why do we share so much stuff to websites no longer interested in the social web it was founded on.

You can point to areas in all service that try and fulfil the promise at the start but ultimately they all sell out to make advertising money. The humna interaction ahs been boiled down and warn away to a point where only the most horrible remains.

Who Knows What Is True →

Steven Lee Myers, Paul Mozur and Jeff Kao writing in Bots and Fake Accounts Push China’s Vision of Winter Olympic Wonderland:

While China’s control of what its domestic viewers and readers consume is well established, the country has spread its own version of the Games beyond its borders, with an arsenal of digital tools that are giving China’s narrative arguably greater reach and more subtlety than ever before.

When dealing with world events now one of the things you have to navigate is truthfulness. The article above is surrounding the reach of Chinas government and its ability to sway a narrative, but this could be about any government or private company.

The ability to dictate the way you want things to appear seems to be getting easier. You can lead people already in certain belief structures down any path you choose. It doesn’t matter if it is a tech review, voting strategy or as we are seeing now a war being waged. What some would refer to as PR spin, or to give it the correct term propaganda, is rife everywhere.

Thankfully we also live in a time where information is at our finger tips and the fast flowing, free publishing nature of the internet usually comes out on top. The issue is when some people can’t, or won’t, fact check the stories they read.

Is Web3 Just To Make Money? →

Jordan Pearson writing in Bored Apes, BuzzFeed and the Battle for the Future of the Internet:

What is manifesting is not a world where middlemen are deprived of their share and data brokers are cut out of the action due to clever, privacy-protecting protocols, but rather a new online world in which seemingly anything can be financialized thanks to blockchain technology, which creates a digital infrastructure in which “every product is simultaneously an investment opportunity,” as Bloomberg’s Matt Levine has put it.

This sums up the biggest reason I can't get behind all the talk around blockchain and web3. Every single application that is outlined (none of which work in practice) is to sell you something. Investment into any blockchain is purely for monetary gain, and there is nothing wrong with that, but there needs to be a major use case outside this.

I do admit, we need cryptocurrency adoption, perhaps for no other good reason than to allow people to send money to whomever they like without governments and companies getting involved. Yet, I haven’t seen anything serious behind web3 apart from monetising everything.

You can scream and shout about decentralisation and freedom all you like, but the amount of grifting going on — and the excuses that are made that this is something that just happens — puts it in the same league as the dark web.

Agorithums and Safe Spaces Make Things Worse →

The Tim Ferriss Show 477 with Yuval Noah Harari:

the way that we will get so used to having these computers and robots that are very attuned to how we feel that we might become even more irritated with the humans who don't feel who don't react, who don't understand how we feel it don't reacting in the right way.

For the longest time I have been trying to figure out why people don’t seem to be able to take up opposing views but still communicate well. Discourse seems to break down far to quickly into name calling and there is a complete intolerance to other sides of arguments. TO put things simply we don’t know how to argue correctly any more.

I’ll say it before and I will keep saying it, the most important conversations in my life, those that have taught me the most are with people that don’t think the same way as me.

And then part of the problem is that so many people like everybody, often self centered. So I don't get what my husband is feeling because I'm too focused on my own, my own feelings. One of the reasons that computers could be better than humans in this is that they don't have feelings.

Unfortunately tech creates safe spaces to limit integration with apposing view points as little as possible. The mighty algorithm creates a feed where everyone reacts the way you do to everything. Limiting your understanding of other points of view. Becoming used to social friendships built on the back of shared interests and dedicate less and less time to those that don't behave as we think you should behave. There is no time for people that we have to make an effort to understand.

But there is no problem with this because it makes us feel great inside, we rate ourself higher because the AI understands us better and gives us the things we need. Keeps us happy, but destroys real community with it.

Your Attention Is Yours →

Dan Counsell writing in I Will Not Buy Another iPhone:

Doing whatever they can to get my attention. The trouble is, I'm a sucker.

Whilst I get it. The natural response is to blame someone else for the things that are wrong. The alternative, as Nir Eyal highlights in Indistractable, is to feel shame in your weakness of not being able to resist temptation. The reality is that many of us are welcome aware of the manipulation going on, so are more than able to resist.

Marketing is not “too good”, you are not a “sucker”, and are more than able to take back your attention that has been stolen. Yet you must shoulder some of the blame to begin to do so, as bad as the internet is, it’s your fault too.

Google Search Ruined The Web →

Nick Heer writing in Trust in Google Search Is Dying:

Big publications are all trying to do their own take on the Wirecutter for home goods, and results for software are mostly marketing disguised as informative articles. Perhaps declining trust in Google’s results may be better attributed to an overall decline in the quality of what is on the web. Websites are increasingly optimized for revenue generation on their own terms, so marketers desperate to get on the first page of Google results have broken it as a search engine.

Search results now are absolute trash so it’s no wonder trust in results is failing. You have to dig through ads and SEO inflated adverts in disguise to find anything useful.

As thankful as we should be that good search exists, algorithms have made almost everything bow to the Google overlords and you can blame them. If you don’t rank you don’t matter. You don’t need to be the most trustworthy, or even present things correctly. Just just have to know how to game the search.

Platforms Are Not Treated The Same →

Coverage from Steriogum on Neil Young pulling his music from Spotify :

In a open letter to his management and record label, which has since been taken down, Neil Young has asked that his music be promptly removed from Spotify, citing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on the platform. “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” he wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”

If we are to constantly blame social media platforms for the miss information posted to their site (and we should). Then it only stands to reason that scrutiny should fall on everyone else too.

Where are the false information flags on podcasts, or even songs? Joe Rogan gets held to account more than anyone else because he’s so popular, and controversial. However his reach could be so damaging. There is only so many times you can hold your hands up and say “well I’m a dummy what do I know” before it wears thin.

Not Everything Has To Be Sold. →

Charlie Warzel talking about Wordle in Galaxy Brain:

Wordle’s success has scrambled the brains of people in tech who have a reflexive desire to monetize things that are popular.

What if I just want to do a thing because I like doing it. Not everything has to be sold, marketed and developed to a stage where i hate it. I just want a past time that I enjoy doing and sometimes it even costs me money! Take writing for example every platform now wants me to market it, sell it and build a brand when that is not what I want to do at all.

the fact that the game is immensely popular suggests to me that maybe, just maybe, there’s a quorum of people who are tired of things that feel extractive

Subscription fatigue is one thing but you can tell when things are trying to get things from you to fund it. Data, attention, or just setting you up for the payment hit later on. It feels exploitive and you can small it in the air from the start.