1. In the wake of PicPlz’s decision to shut down I felt it fitting to rehash a small post from founder Dalton Caldwell. This was posted more than a month ago on a Hacker News thread in response to a critical NYTimes piece which pointed fingers at Caldwell and a venture capital firm which backed the PicPlz project for ultimately failing to see the writing on the wall. At this stage, it had become abundantly clear to Caldwell and his team that PicPlz had succumbed to the explosive and viral growth of rival Instagram.

    It’s a heartening reminder of the strength of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial spirit and the hive of a passionate and inspiring creator. 

    "Anyone reading this article needs to remember to never be afraid of putting yourself out there because you are afraid of failure.

    I saw the market first, I created picplz, and I went for it. I was a huge believe in the mobile photo sharing opportunity, and I went for it with all of my heart. Clearly, picplz didn’t win, but I have ZERO shame or regret for doing my best.

    When I read articles like these, which are about myself, my company and people that I know well, I can’t help but feel vitriol aimed at me for DARING to create, launch and raise funding for picplz. I am not clear on what exactly people want, an apology for trying?

    The fact is, I saw the writing on the wall that we wouldn’t win early and pivoted out of photo sharing which I had ~90% of my series A cash still in the bank. It certainly seems like that was the right move, but all of this press makes it look like pivoting was the wrong call(?) The press I read is written in such a way that it assumed that the A16Z investment is dead and my entire company should just be written off to zero today. That is bullshit. If I started to take press like this too seriously I might as well just dissolve my company and stop coming into work.

    I say this to the hn comminity: never be afraid of failure. No one knows what will happen. All of this arm-chair quarterbacking is a waste of time. Stop reading this kind of crap and instead put your energy into doing your best work. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, but if you give yourself the opportunity to win enough times, you WILL be successful.”

     
  2. Cloudy Uncertainty

    It’s hard to decipher and piece apart this cloud that seems to constantly fog me, my innards, my perceptions of my surroundings and I guess most importantly my emotions - the sensory responses to the inevitabilities that constantly arise around me.

    'Cloudy' is perhaps the best word to describe everything about me right now; after all, clouds are subtly synonymous with constant lingering uncertainty and nervous anticipation. What are you meant to do on a cloudy day? Is it going to rain or not? Is it going to pour or drizzle? Will I, or will I not bring a coat and umbrella? If one opts for the former it is possible to become consumed by the desire for it to rain - after all, nobody wants to pack a hefty coat and umbrella for nothing. But if one opts for the latter, praying to the water gods for it not to rain will invoke a level of stress which may very well rival the burden of lugging around a coat and umbrella anyway.

    That lengthy analogy, as ridiculous as it seems suffices in describing the extent of my emotions and the activity of my infinitely whirling mind. I’m constantly asking myself questions, doubting things I should be sure of and betting my heart on things which are dangerous or trivial at best. Whichever way, the only thing I’m ever certain of is that this enveloping cloud swindles me of even narrow rays of sunlight and I find it difficult to ever call myself happy.

    Perhaps I find myself in my turbulent emotional situation because I don’t even know what happiness is. Maybe I am happy but have far over-reaching expectations of what it should be and how it should make me feel. Either way, one thing I know is that happiness is impossible to concretely define.

    It’s often difficult to find the distinction between the striking parallels of happiness and pleasure. Pleasure is easy, it’s instantaneous and defined by moments. It’s dead easy to find delight in trivial events which make no profound alterations across the course of a life. In fact, moments tend to make no profound alterations across the course of even a day. 

    Happiness differs from pleasure because it’s not a feeling per se, it’s a state of being. Happiness is not characterised by steep highs of ecstatic joy and delight which compel people to question ‘what is air?’ Happiness is merely the capability of being satisfied with things and to be adequately pleased with oneself so as not to be emotionally jolted by petty downfalls. Purely from my own personal vantage, happiness is not needing to doubt constantly my emotional well-being. 

    I do remember the time when I first began to doubt things and started to slowly cave in to my emotional insecurities. It was a little less than a year ago, maybe 10 months and there were problems in my family, issues with my own expectations and there was this girl. That final noun is capable of telling its own story, I don’t want to delve into it - heartbreak is never a fun story to tell. But if you’ve been through it you’ll know what it’s like. But if you haven’t, I can’t explain to you, prose and vocabulary can only go so far. You can only imagine. 

    At that stage though, I got a glimpse of what it was like to view the world through the goggles of cynicism and depression. It’s like peering at the world through grayscale - vibrancy loses its colour, interest is ripped of its allure and taste doesn’t work its magic on the tongue. Most devastatingly, things that used to bring joy fell to the wayside as the only thing that I ever wanted to fall on was my bed. And never wake up. I went through a lengthy phase where I lost motivation to be a great writer which pained me profoundly. I had been so confident for so long that this was a desire that would never fade, work that wasn’t painful but work that brought me joy. Yet at that time, not even writing offered adequate succour to a painful and throbbing state of mind.

    That phase went on and off for months. As soon as it looked like I was picking myself up, my life would invariably decide to churn up several emotionally taxing events such as a family fight or a small relapse of my sister’s eating disorder and drag me right back to square one. My mind was a stone around my neck which I laboured with swords, axes and firearms to detach myself from. Who was I kidding? How could I possibly use brute mental force to free myself from my own trauma when the mind was where my problem was in the first place.

    As they say, time is the panacea, and that proved correct in my case. The crazy thing is, I didn’t walk out of it the same person. Time as my medicine didn’t really cure me at all, it simply assisted in making me immune to the vagaries of my own mind. But I was still the same difficult, moody and hostile person. I still am. In fact, I think I’ve regressed in that department in the last few months.

    I’m a construction site, fenced and with a blazing yellow sign labelled ‘Work in Progress’. Pedestrians, please detour or risk hurting yourself and hurting me. Do anything except get close to me. I shouldn’t worry though, you probably wouldn’t venture anywhere remotely close to my vicinity given the sparks and debris that occupy the airspace. Only a few well-armoured friends would dare to traverse my mile radius.

    Today, I wouldn’t say I get hurt by the same things - I’m over that girl, my sister is over her eating disorder, I’m oddly so detached from my parents these days that their feuds would manifest as only a blip on my mental radar. I like to think that I have bigger things on my mind.

    But these days I get hurt by little things and lots of little things - less wood behind more arrows so to speak; a direct reversal of the common saying. I over-think arbitrary tid bits such to the point that they evolve intractably in my mind into some negative beast created to bring me eternal pain and hell. Even things that are supposedly good news on face value make these unwitting transformations in my mind.

    I attribute this solely to my losing the ability to trust and to believe. My phase of pseudo-depression turned me into a sceptical cynic. Everyone is out there to eat me, nothing is forever, nothing is genuine, nothing is certain. Even the nicest people I’m quietly suspicious of, perhaps they’re only being excessively friendly to obtain benefits and gain. Perhaps this girl doesn’t really like me but I’m just her desperate little puppet that she gets hugs from every Wednesday afternoon. Maybe I won’t even love journalism and writing any more within a years time, so why do I even bother?

    My inability to lend any aspect of my life even a small sense of certainty or trust makes me an extremely difficult person to befriend, and makes pleasurably meaningless conversations with people a tall ask for me. Lately I’ve trialled something, just to stop trying to be the sociable person I used to be and allowing room for the person I am now - a whirlwind of cataclysmic emotional destruction. I’ve distanced myself from most people, only communicating in situations that are actuated more by obligation than the desire for ‘socialising’. It’s been okay, I’m getting hurt less and am slowly beginning to relish my own company - and that of music. I should write a love story between me and my headphones. My god, they’re beautiful.

    I’ll probably look back at this in 5 years as an acutely different person and laugh. Just like I look back at that girl that started a lot of this and laugh. Just like I look back at soiling myself in class in first grade and laugh. Just like I look back at how I cried everyday in kindergarten and laugh.

    But for now, it’s step by step. Inch by inch. I’m pursuing happiness, I haven’t caught it yet.   

     
  3. Read receipts are painful either way

    Facebook not too long ago began rolling out the function of read receipts to Facebook conversations. Although it hasn’t been entirely rolled out to Facebook’s browser version - and I know that because I’m yet to see it - read receipts were brought to Facebook Messenger through an update a couple of weeks ago. Of course this same update also brought in several other neat features too, most notably of course being locations - so your conversational partner not only knows whether you’ve read their message, but also where your conversing from.

    This all builds towards Facebook’s ultimate holy grail of unparalleled transparency on the web, in fact, unparalleled transparency in practically every facet of our lives as the web weaves itself deeper and deeper into our lifestyles. The compulsory addition of read receipts to Facebook messages is a cause for concern though, not purely in the sense that you’ll now have a lot of explaining to do if you ignore someone, but because it disrupts the entire paradigm of texting and messaging entirely and tries to make it something that it’s not. Something that it can’t be for at least a while. 

    Texting and messaging has always hinged upon ambiguity, which is one reason why it’s still a popular medium despite the growth and popularity of such things as Skype, and more direct contact. It allows us to be blunt when we may be overridden with emotion, it allows us to maintain objectivity in our discourse in such a way that our voice in spoken communication can’t disguise. Texting and messaging is a wall that we can hide behind - and we take comfort in that.

    While most will view this ambiguity as a limitation, it’s actually a good thing. This may seem contradictory particularly taking into account my personal views - I’ve always adamantly maintained that the ultimate trajectory of technology going forward should be to seamlessly merge with nature; that technology shouldn’t be extradited as another world, but be an extension if not purely a merging with our current world. So really, my stance is that text messaging shouldn’t be granted the benefits of obscurity if real face to face conversation isn’t - it’s fake and only serves to highlight technology’s limitations as opposed to its merits.

    But having said that, it’s thus far impossible to import the raw authenticity of a real conversation into text - read receipts is a futile attempt to do that and only succeeds in half-assing this aim. Facebook messaging is a useful medium the way it is. From a user perspective, mandatory read receipts provides no usability advantages but only adds awkward moments. 

    The way that IM technology has worked for so many years has wired us to view it in a certain way - although we might not think we do, we see all chat and messaging clients, including Facebook as delivery services; I send you a message and I wait for you to say something back. Whether you receive my message or not, I don’t know, all I do is wait for your reply. That’s how it has always been, these IM services have simply been delivery clients and nothing else.

    Read receipts sounds like a trivial matter but it’s really not. It’s going to dramatically alter the way in which we approach conversations because it changes the nature of the medium entirely - suddenly it’s not simply a delivery service but a conversational one - it allows online conversations to act more like, well, real conversations. 

    To put it into perspective, when talking to someone face to face there’s always the immediate need to respond. It’s simply attributed to the plainly obvious fact that we know that they know that we heard them (I hope you’re not lost on me). You can’t simply stand there, absorb their words and not say a thing because that would be ignoring them - and as our elementary school teachers always told us, never ignore people, it’s rude. Read receipts extends this conversational acknowledgement into text-based messaging. Put simply, a sender will immediately know that their message has been read and will naturally expect a fairly quick reply, which puts pressure on the recipient to respond.

    Read receipts obviously aims to discourage ignoring, so we talk more, and we spend more time on Facebook and become more attached to the connections that Facebook cultivates between us and our contacts and well, from Facebook’s personal vantage I’m sure you can work it out from there.

    What read receipts fails to account for though is that a recipient’s failure to respond could be attributed to far more things than simply ignoring. If there’s an awkward silence in a face to face conversation there are usually good reasons for it, whether it be emotional responses which can’t be translated into words or other things which can’t be interpreted on face value. Read receipt’s primary deficiency is the fact that it discounts all these potential reasons to simply, ‘This person’s ignoring me’. 

    We simply can’t try to simulate the factor of acknowledgement in real face to face conversation in text based messages without too translating its associations. It’s fruitless attempting to turn texting into talking, we don’t have the technology to communicate through text and online mediums what only body language and facial expression can proclaim.

    So what we have with read receipts is a situation where there is no polite way to ignore somebody. We can’t use the excuse of ‘AFK’ anymore because we clearly were at the keyboard. It leaves a person like me, whom is generally tardy in responding to anything in somewhat of a pickle - a lot of hearts will be broken, a lot of friendships will be lost. It’s not because I’m rude, it’s just because I’m intensely lazy and that tends to override even the pleasures of conversing with people. Maybe that still counts as ignoring, but I’m sure some concessions can be made if there’s no cruel intent. If only read receipts was coupled with a way to communicate why said recipient is not responding - ‘Jeremy is just extremely lazy, and also ridiculously busy at the same time. He doesn’t hate you, please don’t take this silence personally’.

    If Facebook Messenger ever makes a debut on Windows Phone then I guess I’ll get a shot at being on the other end of the scale, the feeling of being ignored, of being ‘seen’ but not replied to. To be honest, I think I’d come to loathe read receipts, I don’t know if I can handle the emotional hostility of feeling like I’m being ignored.

     
  4. Thoughts before, during and after the urinal

    - Every trip to the bathroom, and the short walk between the bathroom entrance to the urinal and its subsequent procedures is a carefully thought-out and intricately choreographed endeavour. Like a well-rehearsed actress, for us guys, the process is natural and practically congenital; and in the occasion of the unforeseeable adversity, our actions are consistently perfunctory, being so well-versed in confronting such situations having faced them countless times before. 

    Based on some anecdotal evidence, in any given week, it is probable for one to visit a public urinal approximately seven times. Taking into account the exclusion of my toddler years this brings my lifetime urinal visits to a sum total of approximately 4000 at the very least. 4550 if we’re splitting hairs. Much like breathing, the sheer magnitude of the occurrences of urinal encounters discounts the events to merely a happening of human nature - something so unavoidable and so common that it’s simply not worth thinking about. 

    For the most part, that’s true, urinal visits are often stark routine events which make no alterations across a course of one’s life (or day). But I did think about it, intensely deeply and this is that story. -

    I excuse myself from the study table, and lift myself off the forcefully ergonomic seat. Making my way towards the grand exit of the study hall I notice the green exit sign flickering with astonishing and eye-rattling subtlety. The bathroom on the other side, beckons. My companions are in the know of the destination I am heading for - the bathroom - so I walk at a leisurely pace, portraying casual nonchalance. I am certainly not in desperate need to release my inner fluids at this stage and neither do I want my friends thinking that I am.

    Illustrating desperation in such a delicate situation as the first steps towards the bathroom is an indescribably enormous no. People start picturing you doing despicable things, and it becomes evident that for the last hour the obligatory nodding during that conversation was merely a cover-up as you diverted all your brainpower towards bottling the implacable flow flooding the downstairs area. 

    Sure, casual walking in times of sheer desperation is a lie, but it is a white lie for the benefits of social etiquette and is therefore more than acceptable. 

    I jog down the stairs and take the sharp turn towards the mens bathroom. A scraggy looking hipster with chino pants partially rolled up and green boat shoes departs through its modern wooden doors, he subtly adjust his pants giving them a sharp aligning twist.

    I think to myself, I’m about to go in there and do the exact same thing as you did - SPLENDID! Or perhaps, foot to the pedal you managed to achieve the full deal, you disposed of your faeces too. In which case, I take my hat off to you - physically sitting down on a toilet seat is no task for the faint-hearted; not to mention the approving splash that quality excrement makes as it is birthed from the anus diving into the new oceanic world below attracts attention in a situation when you least want it. 

    But the fact that you may have managed to sit down on a seat, finish your load and depart without appearing utterly traumatised paints a pleasurable picture of the toilet conditions behind that brown wooden door. It’s a comforting thought knowing that if the ideal urinal situation doesn’t present itself, then a cubicle is still fair game. 

    I push the wooden door open with an amount of force which allows it to exhibit a satisfying swing. It’s a grand entrance, to a less than grand location - though admittedly, for a public bathroom the condition is impressive. The fragrance of sweet soap overpowers the odour of stale urine and toilet water, and I look down at my feet smiling at the notion that what I’m standing on is indeed floor, not floor polished by a glistening layer of urine. 

    I place a gratuitous tick in my mental check box - this is definitely a bathroom I will want to visit more often. 

    My legs instinctively direct me to the right towards the urinal portion of the bathroom. Hmmm, classy, it houses separate container urinals, as opposed to the unhygienic and aesthetically displeasing aluminium walls. This is certainly an above average bathroom facility. But then again why wouldn’t it be? It’s housed in one of the most architecturally significant landmarks in the city of Melbourne - the State Library of Victoria. Surely its bathroom facilities would seek to do it justice.

    My eyes glance around as I engage in the most resource-intensive and crucial stage in the entire bathroom-going process - which urinal to choose; in the context of urination this is a black or white life and death decision. Obviously the fact that what I’m presented with is an assortment of container urinals eases my decision slightly - I only have to make a decision on which urinal I’m going to let it rip, as opposed to my centimetre-perfect alignment along a tin wall. 

    Ah bollocks! Both the corner ones are ‘out of order’ with A4 paper strapped across them with clear tape. It’s common knowledge to always elect corner options when confronted with them, even the two corners of my school’s tin wall urinals are stained a sickly grainy yellow from chronic overuse. Naturally, electing a corner urinal eliminates the chances of multiple penis counterparts pissing beside you. 

    This is my interpretation of the ideal situation - the corner option. The ICBE labels the ideal situation as one in which a bathroom contains only one urinal eliminating the element of choice altogether. At least in that situation you wouldn’t have to pee next to anyone. I guess choice really is as much a curse as it is a blessing.

    My contemplation continues as I wonder towards the out of order urinal to investigate its issues. *Gasp*, a man rocking the horrendous junners look untucks his polo shirt from his jeans and unleashes his fountain in one of the centre urinals! It occurs to me that the centre urinal is never out of order simply because its use is only applicable in desperate emergency situations when all urinals are taken and cubicles for whatever reasons are simply not an option. One does not simply stroll in, in junners and occupy a centre urinal with alternate opportunities and options abound!

    There are obviously situations in life when it is desirable to be the centre of attention, peeing is not one of them. I’ve endured enough awkward moments in bathrooms to justify my saying that, and I’m still only young! This man looks in his 40s, surely his awkward bathroom experiences would number in the 100s, and with his evident tendency to elect the worst possible option, I’d justly double that number.

    My mind cycles as I relive the most awkward moments in my life - taking a dump in my pants in prep after being too nervous to ask the teacher to visit the bathroom, playing sword fights at the urinal in 2nd grade and accidentally pissing on my opponent…OH, and having the teacher shower me after unloading in my pants. It occurs to me that all these stupendously awkward moments share a common characteristic - bathrooms - and that bathrooms inherently are a fertile breeding zone for awkward moments if one doesn’t play their cards right.

    Occupying a middle urinal is certainly not playing cards right. Trust me, I’ve tried centre urinals before and the resulting nervousness often makes the pissing task a mighty ask, which only exacerbates the situation. Pissing in a centre urinal with two men beside, identical stances, flies undone with unbuckled belts hanging limply is an exasperating situation which invokes a deep sense of harrowing self conciousness.

    The cool nonchalance that said two men always seem to exhibit is merely a contradictory veil over what is always a menacing and judgemental silence - albeit with the soothing monotonal splashes as exiting fluid meets the ceramic or tin wall on the other side.

    Perhaps you realise that you really don’t need to pee after already prepping the urinal stance  - “oh, you seem to be struggling, want me to lend you a hand?”

    Perhaps the turbulent pitter patter of your pee just won’t stop after you downed a super sized slurpee - “Gee, looks like someone’s keen!”

    Or perhaps - the worst situation - you’re caught in between the two and your body isn’t sure whether you need to pee or not but will divert a small portion of the yellow fluid to the disposal vehicle just to lend your bathroom encounter a purpose - I don’t even want to imagine what the two men are thinking at this stage.

    I resume from my lengthy thought coma, and peer into the out of order urinal, there’s a bundle of dusty hair just lying where the urinal cake should be. It’s a tad lengthy to be of the pubic variety, but nonetheless, genuinely off-putting. Having contemplated so heavily my position regarding urinals, it seems an unworthy downgrade in status to suddenly start peeing in it. I consider briefly a cubicle, but an act as lowly as peeing should not be deserving of locked door and cubicle treatment. Such things should be reserved for faece disposal and similarly sophisticated duties. Cubicle, you may retain your dignity.

    Placing my hair-splitting conscience aside, I take a stance at the urinal adjacent to the out of order one after careful deliberation. After all, the cubicle I’ve elected is equivalent to a corner one anyway since the out of order urinal is not an option to any potential pissers.

    Fantastic. Suddenly all the scattered pieces of my life adjoin cohesively, the puzzle pieces of my disjointed mind harmoniously match - this urinal is the one for me. A man strolls in, assesses the urinal options briefly and turns to his left, takes his stance and unzips the front of his pants. He is not standing next to me, he is not standing near me, finally, a worthy member of society clearly well-versed in the commandments of bathroom etiquette.

    My pale yellow stream flows decisively, and approvingly, yelling at me as it departs my disposal vehicle, informing me that I elected the right urinal - the perfect graveyard. Oh stop it delightful yellow fluid! I try my best.

    Upon completion, I quietly zip up, trying to attract as little attention as possible. Inside, my world is a delightful unicorn-laden utopia where horses urinate beaches. I’ve achieved my bathroom goal and exceeded my expectations on almost every facet. I feel the need to jump for joy but its questionable whether its considered acceptable to tie so many emotions to the act of peeing. In regards to bathroom etiquette if you’re not sure, then it’s probably not right. I keep my feelings to myself. 

    The sink stall beckons and I clean my hands - soap and everything. I carry my dripping hands to the electric hand dryer, hold them under for a second before the sensor activates and I indulge in the satisfying warm gust. Oh, that’s the stuff. My mind winds into contemplation mode again as I stand by the dryer. Electric hand drying is such an inefficient method, paper towels are much faster due largely to their direct application. Either way, I realise why I never dry my hands on my clothing anymore; people make odd associations after you visit the bathroom and suddenly anything even remotely moist takes on the label of urine.

    Imagine using my pants as a paper towel, my goodness I must have target problems to have missed the urinal from point blanc range. And drying my hands on my shirt? I might want to seek medical help regarding my seriously, seriously concerning issues with aim.

    I flip back into the moment, my hands are dry and exhibit a pleasurable crusty warmth. The man who exhibited exceptional urinal etiquette departs the bathroom without cleaning his hands - oh well, nobody’s perfect. I’m sure he has his reasons. 

    I follow him out of the bathroom back to society - a society that acts surprisingly cavalier towards the fact that I have just touched my genitals. 

     
  5. 18:31 16th Apr 2012

    Notes: 54

    Reblogged from tanjents

    Tags: techhilariousfunny

    image: Download

    (Source: manucornet.net)

     
  6. Dan Lyons and the case for Instagram

    There are so many pretentious people in this world who are arrogant enough to tell other people who they are; without ever meeting them, without ever seeing them, without even knowing of them. Who are arrogant enough to think they can universally define things which are subjective in nature. Take Dan Lyons for instance, a technology journalist which I do respect but is in so many ways exactly what he accuses other people of being - ‘pretentious douche tards’.

    In a post on online news blog ‘The Daily Beast’, Dan Lyons thought he would be funny and write a derogatory and distasteful rant article on Instagram, the connotations of its Android extension and of course its users.

    In a nutshell his article points towards what he sees as a class warfare between iPhone users and users of the ‘lesser’ Android phones, citing the general arrogance of iPhone users and their tendency to label themselves as the tasteful, artsy demographic of the smartphone market. He takes a swipe at the whole user base of Instagram dismissing them as nauseating wannabe hipsters spending their time at back-lane coffee shops and ‘photographing’ graffiti-filled city alleyways. He discounts the output of Instagram’s filters as ‘horrific eye manure’ and finally, he attempts to vouch for his journalistic integrity by mentioning research statistics to back up his inane Instagram hatred.

    I have absolutely no problems with Dan Lyons’ feelings towards Instagram and its photos; art invites opinions and opposition with open arms. I don’t like every piece of artwork I see, particularly when people splash paint onto a canvas without thought and instead try to piece together their intentions after its completed. Some people love it, and that’s cool too. Some people hated the stark simplicity of the original World Trade Center, I loved it, and that’s cool too. 

    What pains me is that if Dan Lyons were reading this its possible that he’d be spewing at the fact that I would even associate the word art with Instagram. He mentions explicitly that he despises the fact that these ‘talentless hipsters’ are convincing themselves that their Instagram work is ‘art’ simply because they were given the opportunity to apply interesting colour filters. 

    First off, I’ve never heard of or know of anyone who has tried to label their Instagram-enhanced photographs as ‘art’. People just don’t do that, and its just an example of sensationalist nonsense propaganda that Dan Lyons tries to pull off in his article. Sure, it’s understandable why such a perception would be a stereotype but it renders the entirety of Dan Lyons stance on the pretentious culture of Instagram users moot; it’s just simply not true. We can’t play on perceptions.

    Secondly, what is art? Dan Lyons seems to think he knows what it is, as if art has boundaries, guidelines and criteria. He implies that Instagram users try to play off their ‘photography’ as ‘art’, but he fails in acknowledging specifically and with purpose what aspect of an Instagram-processed photograph isn’t art?

    Art is essentially the sum total of making decisions, our choices add up and what we get is ‘art’. When I apply the Poprocket filter over the Walden filter in Instagram, that’s an artful decision. My photograph would look substantially different had I elected an alternate pathway. 

    I’m sure Dan Lyons wouldn’t deny the fact that photography is art, and photography is rife with decision making. We make choices on angles, on lighting, on subjects on camera settings, on moments - art is a form of expression, and Instagram is merely a new medium to do that.

    It’s really juvenile that technology journalists are even commenting on this superficial aspect of Instagram. Chris Ziegler of The Verge takes a similar side to Dan Lyons minus the arrogance, stating that a century on we’ll be wondering why the hell so many photos taken today looked like they were taken in the 60s and left out mistakenly in the sun. 

    I don’t know, I don’t know why its cool to make photos look a decade older than they really are. But if you don’t like it, at least have the class to simply acknowledge it and look away, instead of finding the arrogance to accuse 40 million people for something they’re really not and to tell the world that you think you know what art is, when you clearly don’t.

     
  7. "In this culture, I figure people have the right to name themselves; if you feel like a geek, you are one…You feel a personal connection with technology, less its mechanics than its applications and consequences…You don’t like being told what to do, authority being a force you see as not generally on your side. Life began for you when you got out of high school, which more likely than not, was a profoundly painful experience…Now, you zone out on your work. You solve problems and puzzles. You love to create things just for the kick of it…You may have power of your own now - a family, money - yet you see youself as one who never quite fits in. In many ways, geekdom is a state of mind, a sense of yourself in relation to the world that’s not easily rewritten."

    Geeks - Jon Katz

     
  8. Forget the product, remember the idea

    Google’s Project Glass unveiling has erupted an enormous spray of commentary from the tech industry. There’s an aura of excitement, but so many pundits are quick to point out the technical and practical flaws behind Google’s project and point fingers at the company for trying to create artificial hype over a product they may never build. 

    I’ve adamantly defended Google as they’ve weathered through this storm of negative PR surrounding anti-trust, privacy issues and their so far futile foray into social. Project Glass is facing similar bashing, and I’m defending Google once again, not because I have a fanboy allegiance, but because I like the idea and I’m glad they’re trying. 

    Roberto Baldwin of Wired Gadget Lab published an article on the topic with research from leading universities concluding that from a purely technical standpoint, it’s unlikely Google would be able to pull off what they’ve shown in this video. Technology doesn’t yet exist, particularly in such a wearable form factor that allows the transparent display to dynamically focus in accordance with the eye. The very transparency of the glasses display also poses brightness issues as people inevitably shift between low light and bright light environments.

    Tumblogger Joe Stracci whom is likewise not keen on the notion takes a much more superficial, and dare I say naive stance to Project Glass’s unveiling, citing three key points that I’ve paraphrased economically:

    1. Wearing these glasses will invariably be a pain in the ass (or on the face)

    2. Google doesn’t care about ‘helping you explore your world’ but wants to exploit your every action to control your life, and subsequently throw targeted ads at you

    3. Google is clueless to the dynamics of the technology industry and is therefore putting this video out there to hope to gain some feedback.

    No one is wrong here. I just think too many people are interpreting Google’s video and their motives incorrectly. It’s a project, not a product. It’s not like they’re hyping this concept so they can reach into people’s pockets with something that is no better than vaporware. I’m sure they’ve considered the technical difficulties and know that this is a tall order. But Google’s just showing us their vision - ‘this is how we see the future, do you think it’s awesome too?’

    But then again, it’s silly to seek judgement from the public on a project that likely won’t bare any fruits for at least a couple of years. People change, societies change and so will their sentiments towards technology. That’s the fundamental backbone of my gripe towards much of Joe Stracci’s arguments - yeah, it probably seems stupid today to have people with 20/20 vision wear glasses constantly and have it tickle the top of their noses; but it probably seemed stupid years ago that something so restricting as skinny jeans would end up becoming a fashion staple.

    As long as there’s sufficient value, people will adapt.

    All this reminds me of one of the most eye-opening technology articles I’ve ever read - Neal Stephenson’s 'Innovation Starvation'. He points out that today’s society collectively has a problem with executing on ambitious innovative dreams and sticking to ideas, but instead letting them slip when suddenly it seems even mildly unfeasible. 

    The reaction to Google’s Project Glass is just the perfect manifestation of this - we think we knows so much and we think we’re just so goddamn smart. We’re fickle, we’re in a bubble of omniscience and therefore, we’re way too quick to shoot down ideas that step beyond the confines of our rationality. As technology lovers, we’re meant to love technology and believe in its ability to stretch that boundary. 

    But instead, too few people believe in that motive anymore and suddenly Google’s gone all corporate on us - unveiling this video to bathe in the PR aftermath, and working on this product simply to sell better ads.

    Perhaps that’s true, but heck, Project Glass is awesome. If only people would stop teaming with their over-arching hubris and see that this is something - as tech lovers - we wanted all along. And at least there’s someone out there trying.

     
  9. Why the iPad won’t pull off an iPod

    Since its initial inception, the iPad has been the poster child for the tablet market, representing the gold standard for tablet perfection on basically every facet. The iPad’s software is unrivalled; it’s hardware, exquisite; and the marriage between the two, a couple that was always meant to be. 

    In the face of stiff competition, the iPad is still by far the dominant force in the tablet market. Apple managed to not only detonate the entire of HP’s mobile strategy, but forced RIM and Google into a fear-fuelled frenzy, making them deliver imperfect products hurriedly in the pure fear of getting into what Apple hyped as a potentially industry-changing market far too late.The result being the absolute mess that was Honeycomb, and the incomplete hodgepodge that is Playbook OS.

    Some journalists and pundits are signalling this dominance to be a repeat of the iPod situation, where more than a decade later Apple still holds the portable media player crown with a whopping 78% market share.

    But, no. That won’t be the case. The iPad isn’t going to pull off an iPod, it will follow the path of the iPhone, and Google (we won’t count out RIM either) is going to gradually devour the iPad’s market share until the two reach somewhat of a parity.

    There’s nothing scientific about the iPod’s sustained dominance in the MP3 player market, it simply boils down to two crucial points: competing manufacturers didn’t have the double edged sword that Apple possessed in both the content store and the actual hardware product; and secondly, back when the iPod (before the iPhone) was immensely relevant, the majority of Apple’s consumer had no consumer lock-in obligations. 

    The former point is fairly self-explanatory, the combined prowess of both the iPod and the iTunes store is a compelling proposition, particularly when none of Apple’s competitors could even match the hardware in the first place. And even though we like to discount iTunes for bloatware, it’s nice to have a cohesive media management and syncing platform. 

    The crux however is in the second point. In the pre-iPhone era, Android hardly existed and was completely non-existent on the consumer radar. The likes of Blackberry and Windows Mobile were the dominant smartphone forces of the day, but the general ‘App Store’ and ecosystem concepts were hardly engrained in the products. Cross-device integration was minimal, there was no consumer lock-in to keep consumers invested in the products of a particular company.

    Had Microsoft played it smarter, Zune could have kicked off, or at least been more successful than it ended up being. But since the Zune and Windows Mobile were so sparsely contended in both their product and approach, a Windows Mobile user in the market for an MP3 player wouldn’t be at any advantage picking a Microsoft Zune over an Apple iPod. 

    Since competitors weren’t in a position to play the consumer lock-in card, the iPod was a pure and simple no-brainer. 

    But the playing field is different today, not only does Google hold a large market share in the smartphone industry with its Android operating system, like Apple, there’s an ecosystem behind it — a reason for existing citizens to never move out. 

    Why would you pay for the same app twice when you only need to pay for it once? If a user has invested in Google Music, they’d be out of their mind to not extend that service onto an Android tablet. 

    Android tablets are far from perfect, and stacked against the iPad they’re simply far too inconsistent. But Google’s ecosystem is enough of a value add to many existing Android smartphone consumers to consider an Android tablet and subsequently buy Google time - enough time before they start shipping Ice Cream Sandwich on tablets in bucket-loads. ICS, like every other tablet OS is still no iPad, but it’s certainly progressed to the point that it doesn’t seem like a joke. 

    Using Honeycomb for the first time it was hard deciding whether to laugh or puke. I’m sure the team at Apple was tempted to do both.

    Google also has the trump card of versatility and choice under their belt. Having so many different devices congregated under a cohesive umbrella is a big plus for Google and consumers. One reason why the iPod never even came close to being dethroned was the fact that its competitors were so sparse, as if diluting one another into irrelevance. 

    Even though the Android manufacturers are warring against one another, collectively they are a powerful army with a level of versatility that Apple simply can’t beat, especially with one device, even two.

    Google, through the exploitation of desperate OEMs has the flexibility to penetrate the low end market with budget devices, has the flexibility to deliver niche features for niche consumers that Apple can’t and has the power to give its consumers the flexibility to change devices without ever switching ecosystems. 

    Apple’s business model can’t compete with that.

    A repeat of the iPod situation is simply an impossibility given the dynamics of the industry today. Apple won’t fail to pull off an iPhone though - losing the market share race but raking in immense profit share - the bottom line’s just as important. 

     
  10. image: Download

    joshuanguyen:

(via What’s in a Name? | The Intercom Blog)
     
  11. 18:52

    Notes: 7

    Reblogged from christenduong

    Tags: social mediafunny

    image: Download

    christenduong:

Social Media Explained a la @ThreeShipsMedia
(disclosure - I work for foursquare and I like donuts)

    christenduong:

    Social Media Explained a la @ThreeShipsMedia

    (disclosure - I work for foursquare and I like donuts)

     
  12. On James Whittaker and Google

    James Whittaker’s departure from the company he once loved continues to manifest Google’s growing reputation in the tech world: they’re simply too big and too ‘corporate’ to uphold their preach to ‘don’t be evil’ anymore. The Google of today supposedly isn’t a kid anymore, and has no use to keep the words ‘fun’ and ‘passion’ stencilled in the Google-approved dictionary.

    The recount that James makes of Google is one that has lost its foundations, ethics and its very soul in the pursuit of greed and money. Profiting from ads has become the core of Google’s narrow objectives, rather than the admirable and broad-minded pursuit of rewarding intellect. The crux of his dismay is that Google has trashed the very reason why so many engineers and entrepreneurs gravitised to Google in the first place - its acclaimed 20% time and innovation labs, and instead forcing everyone into a full blown war against Facebook — the ultimate threat.

    Google was no longer the playful little boy, but the big bad bully.

    As a passionate developer, James’s departure from Google is entirely understandable, it’s not easy being forced to do things you simply don’t care about. James cared about the product, and Google cared about the money, the most classic incompatibility in the technology industry. How do you balance the necessity to remain competitive, whilst also meeting the desires from the greatest engineers to create and innovate without the limitations of corporate-mandated objectives?

    You can’t. 

    This is why James and Google didn’t work. This is why they were forced to split. You can make the argument that yes it can indeed work, Google managed to strike that perfect balance before the brainwashed pursuit of social and Google+. Google was immensely successful, immensely profitable and the engineers bursting with ideas had space sufficient to blow their mind. It was an incredible optimum. But the dreamworld circumstances that Google lived in was impossible to sustain.

    Google had virtually no competitors of note. They had a strangle-hold on the internet ads market, and their search share wasn’t looking to budge.

    20% time and Google Labs permitted sprawled innovation, the product of passionate engineers. 

    But then Facebook came to real prominence, not simply in its remarkable number of sign ups, but the time that users spent and the level of sharing. The collective information that Facebook had of its users through constant status updates, messages, pictures and hell, constant ‘Facebook-ing’ (we’ll just leave it at that) was worth the sum total if not more than the audience that Google had for their ads. 

    In a moment of threat and potential belittling, Google simply didn’t have the resources to allow engineers time to work on their own little projects, do their own little things. Despite what anyone might be fooled into thinking, Google is a company, not a playground for engineers. Google’s social endeavours against Facebook was worthy of the unparalleled focus of the collective intellect of all its employees. 

    Shutting down Google labs didn’t mean Google had lost a grip on its innovative spirit, the company just needed to be leaner and meaner to keep ahead of the game that was clearly under threat. 

    James Whittaker states that Google took the Facebook threat personally, but why wouldn’t they? Facebook was meddling on their sacred ground, threatening the very core of their money-making. James states that subsequent to the Facebook threat, Google focussed on the ads and the money. He criticises the company for not leaving ads in the periphery to continue focusing on what really mattered - innovation, innovation, world changing ideas, creativity…

    But what use on focusing on these grand and glamorous ideals when money - the very commodity that any of these ideals stand on - may potentially dwindle, dwindle and eventually topple. 

    When Google faced the Facebook threat head on, catering to the needs of their very own existence, the fact that perhaps Google hadn’t succeeded with Google+ to the extent that they may have expected or hoped hit James like a slap of betrayal. He claims that he ‘bought into’ Google’s ambitious claims to ‘fix sharing on the web’, and when he saw no fruits to his labour aside from the paycheck, he became thoroughly upset - like he was offended that Google failed.

    James’s idea is that Google was a faker this whole time, disguising big world- changing plans to deceitfully motivate engineers to do nothing more than help make Google more ad money. What James doesn’t seem to see is that 1. there is sufficient evidence for Google to believe that sharing on the web does indeed need fixing and 2. Google needs to act to protect their bottom line. 

    For James, the bottom line and ad dollars might not mean anything; but what is 20% time, what is Google labs and what is Google’s little innovation microcosm when it doesn’t have the cash in the coffers to support it?

    Nada.

     
  13. Too funny.

     
  14. image: Download

    Mitt Romney — epic troll face or what?

    Mitt Romney — epic troll face or what?

     
  15. Un-fucking-acceptable

    That screen above is the alert that appears every single time I try to turn a page in the Kobo Books app on my Blackberry Playbook after upgrading to OS 2.0. I’ve tried reinstalling the app, restarting the Playbook, signing in and signing out of my Kobo account - all attempted, all failed. 

    I absolutely refuse to factory restore my Blackberry Playbook, I simply shouldn’t have to. A new OS, should be working flawlessly the minute that it’s shipped. In a competitive industry like this where RIM isn’t even a front-runner, anything that doesn’t meet this consumer expectation is a failure. No excuses.

    We all waited 6 months for this new OS to come out and deliver us what should have been day 1 features, and what we get is a buggy joke of an update which now allows me to add meetings, view contacts and send emails. 

    If high fives are indeed shooting across board rooms in Canada, I pray for RIM’s future. If they’re proud of what has come out of this, then surely what they have in store for us in BB10 is going to be just as ‘good’. If I were Thorsten Heins I would be physically redirecting those high fives into the faces of incompetent engineers who need to wake the hell up.

    This is not how you deliver software, this is not how you deliver software that you hyped for the good part of half a year. Obvious as a steaming horse’s diarrhoea bugs like the one’s shown above have no place in final release software, hell, it shouldn’t even be in beta software. 

    Such a glaring oversight as this makes me wonder how that 6 months was spent, because it sure wasn’t spent in rigorous product testing. And it’s hard to believe that it would take more than 6 months to develop an email client. Even if RIM’s claims of having to amend their entire infrastructure isn’t a blatant lie, that sort of timing for major updates just isn’t going to cut it in an industry where the Android ecosystem gains leaps and bounds in practically weeks and months. 

    If this update demonstrated more underlying problems than just incompetent inefficiency, then RIM better sell themselves now before they get eaten alive by competitors who are simply leaner and meaner.

    I’m not just disappointed by the outcome of the Kobo app, after all that would be a stupidly measly complaint to dedicate a whole post towards. The main source of anger/disappointment/upset/madness is the fact that aside from what was promised, RIM didn’t give me any more. Print to Go was a welcome addition (and actually really useful), but I expected more than that. And there really should’ve been.

    There should’ve been updates to the operating system all around - updates to the Adobe Reader app, a searching mechanism and a Facebook app with scrolling that doesn’t lag like a scratched DVD. And for the love of god, why can’t videos resume from where they were last left off. I mean seriously, RIM, that is ancient technology.  

    RIM never promised anything more than the email, contacts and calendar, but they should have over-delivered, having so drastically under-delivered with the original release. This update was the time for RIM to show that they still had the capability to excite with a pleasant surprise, rather than being a perfunctory clockwork machine that only does what it’s meant to.

    The good press surrounding this update is all artificial, people are just glad that the update even came. But really, RIM took far too long to deliver far too little. And that Kobo error is simply inexcusable.