Louis C.K. Responds To Five Dollar Gate

Louis CK

Louis C.K. released a new show on his website last week, he charged five bucks for it, the internet reacted rationally and didn’t get mad at all about this. He’s posted a blog explaining this decision.

Now, I’m not complaining about this at all. I’m just telling you the facts. I charged five dollars because I need to recoup some of the cost in order for us to stay in production.

Also, it’s interesting. The value of any set amount of money is mercurial (I’m showing off because i just learned that word. It means it changes and shifts a lot). Some people say “Five dollars is a cup of coffee”. Some people say “Hey! Five dollars?? What the fuck!” Some people say “What are you guys talking about?” Some people say “Nothing. don’t enter a conversation in the middle”.

Anyway, I’m leaving the first episode at 5 dollars. I’m lowering the next episode to 2 dollars and the rest will be 3 dollars after that. I hope you feel that’s fair. If you don’t, please tell everyone in the world.

Behind Spotify’s “Discovery Weekly” Playlists

Nikhil Sonnad, writing for Quartz, looks at the technology behind Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” playlists.

“We now have more technology than ever before to ensure that if you’re the smallest, strangest musician in the world, doing something that only 20 people in the world will dig, we can now find those 20 people and connect the dots between the artist and listeners,” Matthew Ogle, who oversees the service at Spotify, told me recently. “Discovery Weekly is just a really compelling new way to do that at a scale that’s never been done before.”

Although I am a professed album lover, I think these playlists are the best thing Spotify has been doing recently. It’s the kind of personalization that is only going to get better, and the trick of finding someone that next band they love is going to put me out of business.

The Website Obesity Crisis

Maciej Cegłowski has posted up a transcript and slides from a talk he gave last year at the Web Directions conference. It looks at the “Website Obesity Crisis” and lays out an argument against the growing trend in giant, and I mean giant, homepages.

Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn’t about any of those. It’s about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I’ll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I’m not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

A number of websites have become almost unusable. The cruft, trackers, and garbage is packed on top of social dialog pop-ups, sinful scroll-jacking javascript, and page sizes that are bigger than mp3 files we used to share.

Uber’s New Icon and Logo

Armin Vit, writing for Brand New (not the band, sorry), looks at the new Uber logo and app icon:

The new one fixes the usability of the logo by going bolder and tighter. On that aspect alone, the logo evolution is a success. Beyond that, there is nothing else nice to say about it but also nothing negative. Okay, well, maybe a couple of things: the inner curves on the bottom halves of the “B”, “E”, and “R” are very awkward and the elliptical (because they are far from rounded) corners are also strange and give the sensation that the letters have been stretched. Overall though, it’s fine. It could be a lot worse, it could be a lot better.

I mostly agree — the wordmark is better, the app icon is shit.

Is SoundCloud Worth More Than Spotify?

Soundcloud

Alex Moazed, writing for TechCrunch, on why SoundCloud may be more valuable than Spotify in the long run:

SoundCloud has a platform business model where its content is created by its network of users, not acquired through licensing deals. For SoundCloud, the more audio producers that join the network, the more listeners will want to join. This increase in users, in turn, incentivizes more creatives to post their music or podcasts on SoundCloud, and the network effects continue to build from there.

In contrast, Spotify is primarily a reseller of music inventory owned by record labels and publishers. It’s simply a distributor for the latest releases, sort of like a Walmart for music streaming. Most of the songs on Spotify you could find on Apple Music, Pandora or another streaming service. As a result, Spotify lacks the network effects that SoundCloud enjoys.

But what if Spotify, or Apple Music (or Facebook, or YouTube), adds in the features that SoundCloud currently provides? Does SoundCloud have a monetization strategy that can scale or do they risk being a just a feature in someone else’s business?

20 Years of ‘Infinite Jest’

The Harry Ransom Center has shared some of its archive online to mark the 20 year anniversary of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest:

Wallace began seriously writing Infinite Jest in 1991. The publication of the book took years of hard work not only from Wallace but from his agent Bonnie Nadell, his editor Michael Pietsch, and others who read and supported the book’s development in one way or another. Evidence of this hard work can be found throughout David Foster Wallace’s archive and in other related collections at the Harry Ransom Center.

The State of Wireless Headphones

Geoffrey Fowler, writing for The Wall Street Journal, looks at the current state of truly wireless headphones:

Earin and Bragi have accomplished leaps of technology to make earbuds truly wireless. The problem is our heads. It’s not just that they’re hard; they’re full of water, which stops wireless signals dead.

Earin’s solution uses familiar tech. Made by a Swedish startup, it connects its left bud to your phone via Bluetooth. That bud then uses special antennas to bounce a second Bluetooth connection off walls and other surfaces to the right earbud to complete the stereo pair.

By all accounts they’re still not quite there yet. This is one of my dreams of earbud listening, but not until it feels like a clear win am I ready to pony up the cash.

Adding Chapters to Podcasts

John Voorhees, writing for MacStories, looks at the new Mac utility Chapters, which allows you to easily add chapter marks into podcasts:

Historically, adding chapter markers to a podcast has been more trouble than it is worth for many podcasters. The ‘hassle factor’ is a legitimate concern. Producing a podcast can be a lot of work even without chapter markers, but that is beginning to change with the introduction of tools like Chapters, a new Mac utility from Thomas Pritchard that makes adding chapter markers a breeze.

I used this app to add chapters to the latest episode of Encore and was impressed at how easy and dead simple it was to use.

Building a Better Egg McMuffin

Food

J. Kenji López-Alt, writing for Serious Eats, on how to make a great homemade Egg McMuffin:

These days, the Egg McMuffin is more than a sandwich; it’s a cultural icon.

But, for all its recognition and all that it gets right, it’s an inherently flawed product. One that, with a little time and effort, can be improved upon at home. Here’s how I make mine. Hopefully, we’ll learn some lessons that can be applied to all breakfast sandwiches, not just Egg McMuffin clones.