Episode Two Hundred: Stock; Two Thoughts

by danhon

0.0 Sitrep

7:54pm on Monday, 2 March 2015 and back in Portland, Oregon after having driven down from Vancouver, BC today, and episode 200. Another milestone!

1.0 Stock

I have to admit, it took me a bit longer than I wanted to hit episode two hundred. I hit my first hundred[1] newsletters on June 11, 2014 after having started on January 23. There are a whole bunch of things that I wanted to have done: for starters, my long-term archives are up on newsletter.danhon.com[2], which requires me pretty much manually copy-and-pasting from Tinyletter archives into WordPress and then adding tags, setting the date and publishing. There is, of course, a better way of doing this – I just haven’t had the time to get around to doing it yet, nor am I quite happy with, say, getting myself a TaskRabbit or setting up an MTurk “process” to do it for me. You know, like a person, or an intern. Whoever heard of newsletters having interns, anyway?

All this is to say that my long-term archive is _thirty-seven_ episodes behind now, which means that it’s more difficult than usual for me to do a usual roundup (ie: the clip show) of the bits that I’ve most liked since episode one hundred. But I’ll try anyway. Here are some of my favourite bits so far from episodes one hundred, to one hundred and ninety-nine:

Those are some of them. There’s a collection of 2014 sections that I did that I want to collect, mainly because it felt like at times it was easy to get a bit jaded (ie: do that Louis CK thing about how “everything is amazing” which is of course difficult because things are more complicated than that and things can entirely justifiably be amazing, mundane *and* shit at the same time), so an attempt to describe the world in the terms of: look, there’s some seriously weird and wonderful stuff going on right now. That is, those pockets of future? They continue to out-break.

2.0 Two Thoughts

Just two more thoughts for tonight.

(1) I feel like Jonathon Libov’s brief survey of conversational interfaces makes interesting reading[1], and on the basis of which I’ve started playing around with Lark, the pseudo coach-buddy-thing-that-reads Healthkit data and then tells you about it. Lark is like a really dumb text adventure, or like a sort of Flappy-Birdish text adventure: you don’t so much as have a conversation as have multiple choices (and frequently, only one choice), but the end result *feels* like a conversation, mainly because it’s presented as such *and* the writing is good enough to support it. At least from my point of view. It feels like there will be some space – if not a huge one – for people who can help computers talk and write microcopy on the order of, well, lots because if interfaces like Lark catch on (and there are the suggestions that Messaging is the Next Big Thing), then there’s a lot of copy that’s going to need getting written.

(2) Charlie Stross’ latest on politics *and* capitalism *and* democracy in the early 21st century[2] was notable for including the observation in footnotes that capital can move more freely than labour can: so capital moves. In other words, it’s not that those dirty foreigners over there are coming here and taking our jobs, it’s more that our dirty money in our pension and retirement funds is a) stopping paying for our jobs, b) going on a bit of a holiday, c) employing a bunch of dirty foreigners and d) paying them to make cheap consumer electronics for us so we can pretend that our standard of living is going up. Which feels, I don’t know. There is a thing here.

(3) I lied about there being just two thoughts, I saw this one on the way down. Neven Mrgan’s latest Tumblr post on not-perfect-but-trying software[3] feels like another weak signal: software that doesn’t try to be super smart and always correct, but software that tries to be good enough and that fails gracefully. The example he gives, I feel, is perfect: software being more able to tell you: well, I think it’s option (a). But if it’s not, it could be (b) or (c) and just getting out of your way, rather than the traditonal (a) or quit in some useless modal dialog that makes you want to hurl your computer out of the window and scream at Miles Dyson for inventing the neural net processor.

[1] Futures of text | Whoops by Jonathan Libov
[2] A different cluetrain – Charlie’s Diary
[3] Try – Neven Mrgan’s tumbl

8:26pm. Back to work tomorrow. Big kisses, send notes, love you all.