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  • May 6, 2014

On some days I feel like I’m in awash in awe­some online tools… I’ll dis­cover one, and then it’ll lead me to another, and then another. Before I know it, I’ve signed up for twelve cool ser­vices that promise to make me more pro­duc­tive, cre­ative, orga­nized, inspired.1

I finally signed up for a kippt account today. Good tim­ing.

The Next Chapter:

This marks the end of the jour­ney for us at Kippt. Although our ser­vice has been loved by many, we never achieved the growth and the scale that would allow a sus­tain­able future for Kippt. Building per­sonal knowl­edge online con­tin­ues to be a unsolved prob­lem. While we are switch­ing direc­tions, we hope that Kippt and Inc have con­tributed to the future of online col­lab­o­ra­tion and knowl­edge shar­ing.

Read the rest

  1. To clar­ify, by “awe­some,” I mean: clever, time-saving, fun-to-use, use­ful, inno­v­a­tive. (back to foot­note in text)

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  • May 1, 2014

I have no idea if he’s right about Silvercar. But as some­one who used to have all kinds of élite sta­tus with all kinds of travel com­pa­nies, I can tes­tify to the big­ger truths he’s get­ting at.

The Future of Luxury: Avoiding People:

When Silvercar sells you car rental that “doesn’t suck,” they’re really sell­ing you car rental that doesn’t involve ordi­nary peo­ple, that end arounds the inef­fi­cien­cies of large-scale prac­tice by buy­ing out of it. The truth is, Hertz doesn’t suck. Avis doesn’t suck. Sure, things about them suck, like the usu­ri­ous fuel charges they impose if you return a car with­out refill­ing its tank… It’s not car rental that sucks, but deal­ing with the every­man, being in his pres­ence, even know­ing he exists…

This isn’t a busi­ness meant for the pub­lic any­way. It’s a tech startup ulti­mately des­tined to ser­vice the beau monde élite pro­duced by enter­tain­ment, by energy, by finance, by other tech star­tups. A lux­ury car only gets to be a lux­ury if not every­body gets one…

My dri­ver pulls up to the Delta ter­mi­nal, curb­side, directly in front of the Medallion pri­or­ity check-in (I nod as he asks, “You have pri­or­ity with Delta, right?”). I check in for my flight—my upgrade had cleared—and head to the Delta SkyClub to cash in on unearned elit­ism. As I sit in the quiet of the lounge sip­ping my com­pli­men­tary latte, I try to remind myself how good I have it. How can I even tell this story, full of priv­i­lege and for­tune? Few will empathize with me and my priv­i­leged upper middle-class lifestyle perks, nor should they.

Read the rest

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  • April 28, 2014

The Overprotected Kid:

It’s hard to absorb how much child­hood norms have shifted in just one gen­er­a­tion. Actions that would have been con­sid­ered para­noid in the ’70s—walking third-graders to school, for­bid­ding your kid to play ball in the street, going down the slide with your child in your lap—are now rou­tine. In fact, they are the mark­ers of good, respon­si­ble par­ent­ing. One very thor­ough study of “children’s inde­pen­dent mobil­ity,” con­ducted in urban, sub­ur­ban, and rural neigh­bor­hoods in the U.K., shows that in 1971, 80 per­cent of third-graders walked to school alone. By 1990, that mea­sure had dropped to 9 per­cent, and now it’s even lower. When you ask par­ents why they are more pro­tec­tive than their par­ents were, they might answer that the world is more dan­ger­ous than it was when they were grow­ing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think. For exam­ple, par­ents now rou­tinely tell their chil­dren never to talk to strangers, even though all avail­able evi­dence sug­gests that chil­dren have about the same (very slim) chance of being abducted by a stranger as they did a gen­er­a­tion ago. Maybe the real ques­tion is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our chil­dren lost—and gained—as we’ve suc­cumbed to them?

Read the rest

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  • April 27, 2014

My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation:

As I watched my class strug­gle, I came to real­ize that con­ver­sa­tional com­pe­tence might be the single-most over­looked skill we fail to teach stu­dents. Kids spend hours each day engag­ing with ideas and one another through screens—but rarely do they have an oppor­tu­nity to truly hone their inter­per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills. Admittedly, teenage awk­ward­ness and nerves play a role in dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions. But stu­dents’ reliance on screens for com­mu­ni­ca­tion is detracting—and distracting—from their engage­ment in real-time talk.

Read the rest

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  • April 26, 2014

gefilte fish

Gefilte Fish in America:

Born in Europe out of reli­gious oblig­a­tion, poverty, and inge­nu­ity, gefilte fish sur­vived in America due to bot­tling tech­nol­ogy, inno­v­a­tive adver­tis­ing, and an American Jewish desire to expe­ri­ence faith through the large intes­tine.

For the strange and awe­some story of gefile fish’s rise to power, read the whole story

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  • April 26, 2014


Portraits In Faith: Parker Palmer:

When you are lost in the dark you still have a self that you can use to try to nav­i­gate and nego­ti­ate and grope your way towards some light. But when you become the dark, you don’t have any­thing to work with. And all sem­blance of reli­gious faith or a feel­ing of God’s pres­ence just dis­ap­pears. What I don’t under­stand is how some peo­ple are able to come through depres­sion and find them­selves more alive and more whole on the other side. I don’t under­stand the mys­tery of tenac­ity or what­ever you want to call it that allows some peo­ple to go through that pro­found expe­ri­ence and find them­selves back in the light with a bet­ter life than the one they had before.

Read the rest

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  • April 26, 2014

The inter­net is fucked:

We’re really, really fuck­ing this up.

But we can fix it, I swear. We just have to start telling each other the truth. Not the dou­ble­s­peak bull­shit of reg­u­la­tors and lob­by­ists, but the actual truth. Once we have the truth, we have the power — the power to demand bet­ter not only from our gov­ern­ment, but from the com­pa­nies that serve us as well. “This is a polit­i­cal fight,” says Craig Aaron, pres­i­dent of the advo­cacy group Free Press. “When the inter­net speaks with a uni­fied voice politi­cians rip their hair out.”

We can do it. Let’s start.


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  • April 24, 2014

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams’ cast will have a Father’s Day reunion for film’s 25th anniver­sary:

Details were announced Monday for a Father’s Day week­end (June 13–15) cast reunion and cel­e­bra­tion of the film that will include star Kevin Costner and other cast mem­bers, as well as base­ball play­ers Bret Saberhagen, Glendon Rusch and Ryan Dempster. Bob Costas will emcee and Matt Lauer of NBC’s “Today” show, who will lead a Q & A with the film’s cast. This will, of course, take place in Dyersville, Iowa, where “Field of Dreams” was filmed.

Read the rest

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  • April 16, 2014

Vin Scully & Jon Miller introduce Dodgers, Giants lineups on Jackie Robinson Day:

Before the Dodgers game with the Giants, as part of the Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies at AT&T Park, both teams' lineups were introduced on the field.

But what made it special was that Vin Scully and Jon Miller did the announcing, and much like the NCAA Final Four used to do their introductions, each announcer alternated teams each player.


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  • April 12, 2014

The Empathy Vacuum:

Exposed to the entire spec­trum of human enthu­si­asms, it’s basi­cally impos­si­ble not to judge. Our empa­thy over­loads and gives up and we sit, star­ing at the screen aghast, that some­body, some­where might actu­ally believe that what they’re doing is OK, is accept­able, is even appro­pri­ate.

Read more

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  • April 11, 2014

A lot of peo­ple make a lot of assump­tions about ADHD, and most peo­ple assume that they know what it is (and how it oper­ates) by observ­ing peo­ple who have it. But seen through the eyes of some­one with­out it, the behav­ior of some­one with ADHD doesn’t tell you much. That’s because all the impor­tant stuff is hap­pen­ing in their brain.

Though it’s on a site that seems to be mostly filled with stu­pid click-magnet garbage, I liked this arti­cle, intended to explain what it’s like to have ADHD to some­one who doesn’t under­stand it. An excerpt:

We rely heav­ily on rou­tine, and 90% of the time get by on autopi­lot. You can’t get dis­tracted from a suf­fi­ciently ingrained habit, no mat­ter what use­less crap is going on inside your head… unless some­one goes and actu­ally dis­rupts your rou­tine. I’ve actu­ally been dis­tracted out of tak­ing my lunch to work, on sev­eral occa­sions, by my wife remind­ing me to take my lunch to work. What the? Who? Oh, yeah, will do. Where was I? um… brief­case! Got it. Now keys.. okay, see you honey!

[Hat tip.]

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  • April 10, 2014

Angry about the ‘How I Met Your Mother’ finale? You shouldn’t be

After nine sea­sons, like other view­ers, I felt that the pro­tag­o­nist who had expe­ri­enced so much hard­ship in his life deserved bet­ter. Yet a part of me also appre­ci­ated that what I got to see for really the first time on a tele­vi­sion pro­gram was a glimpse of what actual life hap­pi­ness is like. Some TV pro­grams geared toward younger peo­ple today demon­strate hap­pi­ness as the per­fect happy end­ing: the scream­ing bride gets her per­fect wed­ding cake or the per­fect wed­ding dress, or priv­i­leged elites find a way to solve their first world prob­lems. But this was a dif­fer­ent kind of finale that reminded us that while life is imper­fect, all of us must still find a way to find hap­pi­ness.

Read the rest

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  • April 9, 2014

To Advance Education, We Must First Reimagine Society:

As Abbott sees it, the need for reflection has never been greater. Spurred by technological advances, “civilization is on the cusp of a metamorphosis,” he says, that will lead either to societal collapse and chaos, or to a resurgence of liberty, community, and ethics. Either way, schools are stuck in the past: The emphasis has been on feeding children static information and rewarding them for doing only what they’re told, instead of helping them develop the transferable, higher-order skills they need to become life-long learners and thrive in an uncertain future.

Read more

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  • January 10, 2014

Google’s deci­sion to acti­vate (and turn on by default) a “fea­ture” that allows any­one to send you email via Google Plus has sparked some con­tro­versy.

The prob­lem with the free email ser­vices most of us use is that vir­tu­ally all of them are offered pro­vided by com­pa­nies whose main inter­ests aren’t email. In other words, Google, Microsoft, and Apple all offer “free” email in order to get you into their ecosys­tems. Gmail exists so Google can sell your eye­balls to adver­tis­ers. Like all of Apple’s soft­ware, iCloud exists so Apple can con­trol every aspect of an iOS or Mac user’s expe­ri­ence.1 Hotmail and Outlook​.com (and what­ever other crap Microsoft is doing these days) exist so that Microsoft can keep more peo­ple reliant on Office and Windows (and what­ever other crap Microsoft is doing these days).

And that’s the thing: Their goal isn’t to cre­ate awe­some email that meets users’ needs. Sure, inso­far as cre­at­ing awe­some email helps get more peo­ple into their ecosys­tem, then I sup­pose cre­at­ing an awe­some email sys­tem is part of what they do. But don’t ever for­get that they have a big­ger goal in mind. When it comes right down to it, Google is obsessed with get­ting peo­ple into Google+, and they don’t even blink when pri­or­i­tiz­ing their needs (inte­gra­tion with their social net­work) over most users’ (the abil­ity to receive mes­sages only from those who’ve received my email address from me).2

As long as we use email that’s pro­vided by some­one who sees email as a means to achiev­ing their own (non-email related) goals, then this is going to keep hap­pen­ing.

We can bitch and com­plain all we want, but here’s the thing: As long as we use email that’s pro­vided by some­one who sees email as a means to achiev­ing their own (non-email related) goals, then this is going to keep hap­pen­ing. That’s the cost of “free” email.

I want a ser­vice that pro­vides email that’s clean, ele­gant, and easy-to-use. I want it to be pri­vate, secure, and safe. I want it to be standards-based, by which I mean I want it to work well with my exist­ing devices and sys­tems as well as with the ones that I don’t have or that don’t exist yet. And I want as much con­trol as pos­si­ble. I want con­trol over my pri­vacy set­tings, over the inter­face, over the imple­men­ta­tion of new fea­tures, over… every­thing.

And for that, I’d gladly pay a few bucks a month. Or even ten.

  1. Steve Jobs once said, “I’ve always wanted to own and con­trol the pri­mary tech­nol­ogy in every­thing we do.” Over the years, Apple loos­ened up a lit­tle as Jobs and Co. real­ized that they could gain more by giv­ing users a lit­tle bit more con­trol. But it’s pretty clear that the brain trust in Cupertino is still pretty com­mit­ted to the idea that the only way you can guar­an­tee users a prod­uct that “just works” is to main­tain as much con­trol as pos­si­ble over every aspect of both hard­ware and soft­ware (includ­ing cloud-based soft­ware and ser­vices). And since con­sumers seem to like prod­ucts that “just work” (Lord knows I do), Apple makes a lot of money as a result of this for­mula. (back to foot­note in text)

  2. Marco Arment says it best:

    Google’s lead­er­ship, threat­ened by the atten­tion and adver­tis­ing rel­e­vance of Facebook, is bet­ting the com­pany on Google+ at all costs.

    Google+ adop­tion and usage is not meet­ing their expec­ta­tions. Facebook con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate. It’s not work­ing. They’re des­per­ate.

    Google will con­tinue to sell out and poten­tially ruin its other prop­er­ties to juice Google+ usage. These efforts haven’t worked very well: they juice the num­bers just enough that Google will keep doing this, yet will keep need­ing to do more.

    I don’t like Google+ very much, and I have no inter­est in being dragged into using it. Gmail belongs to Google, and if Google wants to build Gmail and Google+ into each other, then that’s Google’s pre­rog­a­tive. And find­ing a new email provider is my pre­rog­a­tive. And hon­estly: As long as Google’s behav­ior doesn’t have a notice­able effect on how many peo­ple use Gmail (and/or how much they use it), then they have no rea­son to stop. (back to foot­note in text)