It is Thursday, 5 May 2022 in Portland, Oregon, which for those of you in or near my timezone means it is nearly Friday, which again means if you work a conventional Western work shift, that it is again nearly the weekend.
Watching: Everything Everywhere All At Once, which, goddamn. As I left the theatre the first mostly non-emotional reaction I was able to express (still while incurring all the overhead of processing all those feelings) to my wife was: I’ve got a hunch the Daniels (or at least one of them) grew up with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because its spirit and fingerprints were all over the film. I distanced myself by saying I was probably projecting, but my gut was pretty much screaming about it.
And goddamn it, I was right, Hitchhiker’s was an influence on Everything Everywhere All at Once because goddamn that silly science fiction with a heart that tries to say a real thing about being human with other human. For once I’m not jealous that someone made something beautiful and Adams-esque because I’ve wanted to make something Adams-esque for such a long time, for once I’m beside myself with admiration and inspired, because it wasn’t homage, it was its own thing and the influence showed through in such a transcendental manner.
It’s the first film I’ve seen in a theatre since COVID. I don’t regret it.
On single-track repeat: Magic Hour by Parallax, my weird genre of liking sync/trailer music.
You might recognize this one from the Disney+ hype trailer from August 2019, three months before the service launched. The ad was, I felt, an incredibly well-executed combination of script, editing, expression of Disney Brand Values and triggering of nostalgia and emotion to the extent that I’m super interested in who wrote/produced/directed it. And, you know, It’s got That Bit With Captain America. Not ashamed to admit goosebumps.
I wrote about eukaryotes[^eukaryotes] at the beginning of this week, the analogy of seeing software or apps as eukayrote cells, specifically the feature of those cells of including organelles of specialized functions.
I’m still thinking about this and the different layers it represents:
We know in abstract that “software” these days (and I’ll distinguish “software” from “apps” a bit further down, probably) is built on a gazillion open source packages. This has become abundantly clear through dependency supply-chain attacks, where software incorporates/imports other software, like… an organelle. Say you’re a web app and you use a popular NPM package and you include it without verification, then, well, bad things can happen.
But we knew that, right? Now that I’m thinking of eukayrotes as an analogy to apps – discrete, user-facing, applications like, say, Instagram. Or TikTok. Or whatever. And I’m going to keep down this analogy path because it’s interesting and stimulating and my brain will reach out over to phenotypes. In my thinking-about-products space in my head, I’ll correlate phenotypes to the regular user observable traits of a particular bit of software incorporated into another bit of software. Regular phenotypes are, if you remember your secondary school biology, the correlation between the colour of your hair and a particular DNA sequence/gene.
So, I’m thinking about the concept of the phenotype of stories, or the phenotype of multi-user ephemeral live-streaming audio with a few hosts:many listeners model, or the phenotype of a single emoji reaction to a unit of content, like a string(s) of text. And then the correlation of the underlying software/libraries/functionality that contribute to that phenotype.
Here’s the open source notices for TikTok. It is predictably quite long. As abstractions get… bigger and bigger? More higher-level? More abstract? then it feels like one direction, in a no-code kind of way, is “express the phenotype of stories into Visual Studio Code to make it a more fit competitor by incorporating the organelles for stories”.
I thought it was interesting. A counter, of course, is that this is simply another way of the dream of reusable software, or the xkcd comic about Python. That said, I’ve generally found that sideways analogies and comparisons often bring about something unexpected and a new direction to explore. At least, that’s why some of you tell me, and who am I to tell you that you’re liars?
I was mildly interested in this Forza Horizon 5 Microsoft Azure Marketing White Paper on Forza’s online services architecture. I feel you don’t normally get to see much of this past GDC talks and that there’s still a stupendous lack of cross-pollination from videogames and not-videogames.
The great thing about this newsletter is that I know some of you work on videogame online services architecture because I have wonderful conversations with you about it and learn about it :)
In the regular “here’s some more stuff about Apple” segment, Tony Fadell has a new book2. Fast Company has an excerpt of Fadell’s book, the bit that caught my attention was an anecdote about Jobs’ storytelling/persuasion technique Fadell called “the virus of doubt” which, I guess, is negging your product experience? Another way of thinking about it is being laser focussed on getting the listener to be open to what-might-be instead of only being able to imagine faster horses. The other thing that caught me from the excerpt was the way Fadell talks about the reception to Jobs’ presentations: that they felt like conversations and unrehearsed. Because, of course, they were conversations at that point. They were the culmination or point-in-time evolution of conversations he’d been having for years. And look, obviously nobody is a presenter in the way Jobs was, he’s the culmination and product of his unique experience. My experience though is that the best talks/presentations I’ve given, whether in tiny meetings to keynotes, have been ones where I’ve been saying what I’m about to say for a long, long time and I’ve been able to hold it. I’m not presenting, it’s a conversation. Which, apparently, is what some of you like about this newsletter.
I’ve learned from Mike Monteiro that you have to value your work and worth. You have to be comfortable with it.
So I’m introducing three new tiers to support this newsletter, and I’m calling them Work Levels, which is the nicer, invoice-appropriate way of saying “Boss Is Paying”.
I’m listening to all the people who tell me how much this newsletter helps with their work, how much they share it with their colleagues, and how they keep coming back to it after years and years. And you know what: I’m going to believe you and I think if this newsletter is helping you at work, then these new Work Levels are a steal :)
My target is to sell five of each of these tiers by the end of the month.
If you’re on the fence, or if you think you can expense one of these but need something a bit extra, let me know.
Okay, that’s it for Thursday. Only two more episodes before I hit 50, which if you’re old enough that’s halfway to syndication!
How are you doing? I always appreciate replies and always, in the end, reply. Even (especially), when they’re just “hi”.