It’s Monday, October 24, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. Our air quality is good at an AQI of 21, and the rain has come.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has a new Prime Minister-somewhat-elect in Rishi Sunak, who most likely has an Eve Online account1.
Listening: yes, yes. I too am listening to Taylor’s new album.
Watching: the first two episodes of The Peripheral, admittedly somewhat on in the background while also playing Vampire Survivors. I had forgotten about Lev! (There is a thing at the moment about hour-long dramas being… a lot of effort. 30s are totally fine.)
Things That Caught My Attention is a free newsletter, and if you like it and find it useful, please consider becoming a paid supporter, at pay-what-you want.
On with the show!
Short bits today, I think.
Via 512 Pixels2, The Guardian’s excerpt of Bono’s memoir3 includes an excerpt about That Moment Every Single iTunes Music Library Inexplicably On Purpose Gained A Copy Of U2’s New Album, where Bono admits that it was his idea to just push straight past getting their music to people who liked it to “people who might not have had a remote interest in our music” and (flippantly?) disregarding the answer to the question “what was the worst that could happen?” Well, he thought it would be “like junk mail”. Nope, worse than that:
On 9 September 2014, we didn’t just put our bottle of milk at the door but in every fridge in every house in town. In some cases we poured it on to the good people’s cornflakes. And some people like to pour their own milk. And others are lactose intolerant.
Caught my attention because: even junk mail, or egregious junk mail, is while not the worst thing that could happen, it is incredibly disrespectful and was one of the rare mass-moments that we got to see how people treat and regard their personal devices, and I say this as a warning to anyone who wants to pre-load content or, you know, increase advertising services income. Yes, there’s a difference between putting something in a user-curated [sic] library (i.e. your personal music collection) that’s an egregious invasion of agency and autonomy, versus yet another push notification, but, you know. Death by a thousand APN calls and all that.
I like checking in on Flowingdata, a blog about… data visualization? Every so often I get to see something that I file away for potentially using somewhere else. This time it’s WordStreams, a combination of streamgraphs and word clouds. Now you can make your own wordstreams through a Github-hosted service4.
Caught my attention because: trends over time, but also words! By using wordclouds! What’s not to like?
There’s a medium article that’s been doing the rounds about how a Ukranian IT professional joined the Ukranian military as an officer and has agiled-all-the-war-things5, which I am trying very, very hard not to call wargile.
I predict a best-selling business/airport book out of this, which is not really the best nor appropriate thing to expect given the horrific conditions in Ukraine and the laundry list of war crimes being perpetrated by Russia.
In any event, caught my attention for the following in war, everything is agile observations from Yarmak:
I mean, yes, it’s agile. I guess if that makes you allergic (recent joke going around one Twitter community: Q: what’s an alternative to SAFe? A: Knowing how to make software), then ignore the agile stuff and see if there’s anything underlying that can be abstracted out. I mean, you know there is. Perhaps more “remember this as an example to use with people for whom it will make sense”.
Caught my attention because it’s an in-depth reflection of what changed with the mass consumer digital audio, in particular random-access digital audio, in contrast to Digital Compact Cassette. Some call-outs:
The fact CDs can be programmed, and tracks easily skipped, is perhaps their most significant feature when it comes to their legacy. They loosened up the album as a fixed document. You could more seamlessly put one track on constant repeat, skip the interludes you didn’t like, or imagine a hypothetical ‘better order’ for your favourite album.
They prefigured many of the key features we’d associate with mp3 players, iPods and, most recently, streaming. CDs introduced randomization and customization to a physical format, and that bled through into later music technologies. It presented a possibility to mess with sequence which artists and labels embraced and explored.
So: the blowing up of constraints allowed a different kind of creativity, and yet I’m also reminded that creativity breeds constraints. Which is a bit of a trite thought for 9am in the morning, but I’m not quite ready or caffeinated enough to put it better.
Rather, at this stage in the development of digital technology, many  constraints are more of an active considered decision, rather than a physical constraint.
Okay, that’s it for today. Back to taking around 20 minutes, and 1,200ish words in that time.
How are you doing? How was your weekend?
“At heart, Sunak is a nerd: he enjoys video games, spreadsheets and Star Wars, confessing to attending midnight screenings of the films.” This man absolutely has an Eve Online account and somebody must find it., James Palmer, Twitter, 24 October, 2022 ↩
Bono, on ‘Songs of Innocence’ Being Given to All iTunes Customers, Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels, 22 October, 2022 ↩
Bono on the birth of U2, that iTunes album and Live Aid: ‘There’s only one thing I can see when I watch it: the mullet’, Bono, The Guardian, 22 October, 2022 ↩
From agile coach to the military officer: breaking stereotypes about leadership in the army, Dmytro Yarmak, Medium, 23 September, 2022 ↩