Ben Thompson’s weekly article, “The Reality of Missing Out,” showcases again why I think he’s one of the best strategy and technology writers out there:
The issue for LinkedIn is that a company’s stock price is not a scorecard rather it is the market’s estimate of a company’s future earnings, and the ratio to which the stock price varies from current earnings is the degree to which investors expect said earnings to grow. In the case of LinkedIn, the company’s relatively mature core business serving recruiters continues to do well; that’s why the company beat estimates. That market, though, has a natural limit, which means growth must be found elsewhere, and LinkedIn hoped that elsewhere would be in advertising. The lower-than-expected estimates and shuttering of Lead Accelerator, LinkedIn’s off-site advertising program (which follows on the heels of LinkedIn’s previous decision to end display advertising), suggested that said growth may not materialize.
Spin interviewed The 1975 about their new album. Not only do I think this is one of the most fascinating bands in music right now, it’s kinda crazy to say this isn’t that hyperbolic:
Certainly, no boy band in history (except, y’know, the Beatles) has ever released an album like the one the 1975 will drop on February 26. I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it — more on that title later — is a 17-track, 74-minute behemoth that veers wildly between ‘80s faux-funk, ambient house, gospel-tinged R&B, Autre ne Veut-like fever-pop, and acoustic balladry. It’s impossible to form a credible opinion on it after only one listen, because the album you think you’re listening to shapeshifts unrecognizably about a half-dozen times over the course of an hour and a quarter.
Ezra Klein, writing for Vox, on the pure horror of Trump’s candidacy:
Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he’s a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he’s also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it’s hard to know if he even realizes he’s lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.
We can’t fuck this up America.
Ben Rosen interviewed his kid sister about Snapchat for Buzzfeed:
I’m mesmerized. What’s even the point of sending snaps to each other if you don’t look at them? Am I crazy? That seems so unnecessary. Still, this is adult-brain talking. If I wanted to be one of the teens, I needed to just accept it and press on.
That moment when you know you’re old and things are happening you don’t get? Yeah. That’s right now with my five whole views on my “story.” Look at me, the NARP.
Seth Godin with my favorite thing I’ve read today:
This is the thinking that, “First class isn’t better because of the seats, it’s better because it’s not coach.” (Several airlines have tried to launch all-first-class seating, and all of them have stumbled.)
There are two challenges here. The first is that in a connection economy, the idea that others need to be in coach for you to be in first doesn’t scale very well. When we share an idea or an experience, we both have it, it doesn’t diminish the value, it increases it.
Lucy Kellaway, writing for the Financial Times, responds to an advertiser threatening the publication. I’ve had that happen before — I wish my response was this good.
You say the FT management should think about “unacceptable biases” and its relationship with its advertisers. My piece was not biased and I fear you misunderstand our business model. It is my editors’ steadfast refusal to consider the impact of stories on advertisers that makes us the decent newspaper we are. It is why I want to go on working here. It is why the FT goes on paying me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.