tech & coffee

Does a Toddler Need an NFT?

Article from NY Times (soft paywall):

Does your toddler need an NFT? Zigazoo says yes. The app’s mission is to “empower kids to shape the very landscape and infrastructure of NFTs and Web3,” to help them “express themselves through art and practice essential financial literacy skills” and to allow them to grow into “tomorrow’s digital citizens.”

No. Fuck. This.

Paper App 10 Year Reflections

𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐘 created a lovely ode to Paper app in this Twitter thread.

Paper app icon—We leaned on what we felt was most unique about the app—it's expressive ink and book-like navigation.

Paper has long been one of my favorite iPad apps. I use it. My children use it. I’ve created things there that have blown my mind at being able to create so easily. The app icon is a thing of beauty.

Thanks for sharing these reflections with the world, Andy.

Severance’s Office Dance Party

Roxana Hadadi writing at Vulture:

The morning was devoted to the dance number, which Tillman estimates took about 10 takes. “Many years in theater definitely prepared me to be able to dance and be open, because I needed to get information from them and that information was in their dance,” he says. The MDR space, which is Gagné’s favorite set inside Lumon for its contrasting tones and geometric lines, comes alive in shades of purple, blue, and pink as Tillman winds across the floor, doing a ʼ60s-style Mod dance with Helly, soldier-marching with Mark, and getting down with Irv. (Among the takes that didn’t make the final cut were “the Bump with Mark and a little Snake with John Turturro,” Tillman says.)

Easily my favorite scene in the show’s spectacular first season.

Simply amazing to watch.

Fascinating project. I could see this becoming the norm, especially with the cost of lumber skyrocketing.

In the city of Eindhoven (The Netherlands) five 3D-printed concrete houses will be built. The project is the world’s first commercial housing project based on 3D-concrete printing. The houses will all be occupied, they will meet all modern comfort requirements, and they will be purchased and let out by a real estate company.

Confessions of a brain surgeon

An amazing interview with neurosurgeon Henry Marsh on Big Ideas with Paul Barclay.

Hearing this episode made Marsh’s book Do No Harm a no-brainer purchase for me. I wonder what part of my brain makes an intentionally cringe-worthy pun unavoidable.


Derek Sivers writing on his site:

That lack of interruption is a great ingredient for flow.

Every business wants you get you addicted to their infinite updates, pings, chats, messages, and news. But if what you want out of life is to create, then those things are the first to go.

While the post is from 2016, the need to disconnect for the reasons Derek outlines are more attractive than ever.

What Is This Thing Called Design?

Khoi Vinh posted this on his blog in 2018. It is an even more cogent primer today than it was then.

Sometimes you need to explain what design is to people who don’t understand it, but need to.

This group of people is growing exponentially.

The end result is no longer just a “good looking” or “user friendly” interface; the goal is now to create a satisfying if not delightful overall experience for users.

The design process for so many things, especially digital interfaces, has become as much about how it works as how it “looks”. One may be a designer by title or trade, but make no mistake, it has evolved to being an engineer of the user’s experience with the product.

The eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life

Oliver Burkeman distills brilliantly in his final “This column will change your life” submission at The Guardian. The entire article is a must read, but these are the high points for me:

The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower.

My grandfather never stated in terms of “pain”. Always in terms of “discomfort”.

The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it.

It’s freeing to grasp that no amount of fretting will ever alter this truth. It’s still useful to make plans. But do that with the awareness that a plan is only ever a present-moment statement of intent, not a lasso thrown around the future to bring it under control.

Go with the flow...

When stumped by a life choice, choose “enlargement” over happiness.

Finding things to make you temporarily happy is easy. Growth is hard, but utlimately the most rewarding to achieve.

My tagline on social profiles has been “I father. I write. I drink coffee.” for as long as I can remember. For almost as long, I've only consistently done two of those things.

Instagram was different. It wasn't Facebook, which I deleted many years ago and never looked back. It was visual and immersive and you could find photos and collections that inspired you. You could curate an amazing group of accounts to follow on almost any creative topic. Typography, architecture, Air Jordans, interior design, graphic design, and, of course, coffee porn. It has served me well for all of those things. It has also been a great way to consume hilarious content from several comedians I follow.

All that to say, Instagram has been, and continues to be, a positive experience for me to use. Even after they started implementing features and modes that were obviously to mimic features in other platforms I don't use and don't care to use. Stories is Snapchat. Reels is TikTok. The list is sure to go on.

Even after they were purchased by Facebook. Even after the original leadership took issue with the direction Facebook was forcing and left the company. Even after they added “from Facebook” throughout the UI of the app. Here I am, a pleased user of a free platform I get joy from using...knowingly being the product. My data being Instagram’s digital asset. Facebook’s asset. Being targeted by their scary good ad algorithm. Justifying that the inspiration and the creators that post it somehow negates the concerning practices of the parent company and its executive leadership.

Twitter is a bit different. It's mostly my place to follow podcasters and internet pundits I feel have something worthwhile to say or promote. Little chunks of text, often with a link out to more, that don't take much of my attention for any significant amount of time. Occasionally a platform where I post a quick thought on something about tech or a funny take on life. Informative, but without the joy or engagement that Instagram fosters.

Reddit is pure information junkie territory. If there is a topic that interests someone, chances are other people are interacting with one another about it via a subreddit. I'd steered clear of Reddit for a long time because I worried the value wouldn't outweigh the distraction. That wasn't the case once I started using it. If anything, it saved me time searching for things across online forums and sites. It's a useful platform when you curate the subreddits you subscribe to carefully and aggressively. I wouldn't necessarily classify what I get out of it as “joy”, but learning something new or solving a problem usually brings positive emotions to my brain.

So here I am... not believing my use of “social media” is anything concerning with relation to my focus or attention. Not being consumed by it, or letting it dictate my emotions on any topic of relevance in my life. Not having written a blog post in a very long time. Not having finished a novel or a long-form piece of written prose outside of an email newsletter or in-depth investigative journalist piece. Inspired and motivated, but without the time I need to execute.

My life is a bit more hectic than most. I have a large family and a long work commute (pre-pandemic). Of course, it will take time to get my ideas out into something well-written and consumable. Of course, the list of interesting books I feel inclined to read will continue to grow. Of course, none of this makes sense when I step back and take inventory of what content consumes my time. So, I'm taking a break. I'm going to see what the rest of this insane year of 2020 can bring with a few seemingly simple changes (considering the year so far, this is peanuts).

Here's my to-do list:

  • Remove Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit apps from my phone and tablet. I'm not going full “tinfoil hat”, so if someone sends me a post they think I'd especially enjoy via text or if I see a link to one in a newsletter I keep around, it will load in the browser just fine. I'm not canceling/closing my accounts at this point; just creating a barrier.
  • Setup shortcuts/automation to post about the content I've created to the social profiles I maintain for that purpose. Set these up using methods that don't require the app to be installed on the devices mentioned above.
  • Setup shortcuts/newsletters for an aggressively curated highlight reel from these sources. Limit consumption of this highlight reel to 20 minutes per week.
  • Link to this post in the profile of my social accounts. Not because I anticipate anyone will care (I have a small number of “followers” anyway), but if they do, this experiment may interest them.
  • Write posts. Read books. Evaluate how that's gone in a few months. Don't consider this me quitting social media. Consider it me heading out for a coffee... or a pack of cigarettes.

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