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Histoire naturelle des cétacées, 1804

I find enterprise software fascinating because it operates the entire economy and yet it frequently neglects every single principle of quality that software people may espouse. Slack is/has been the anti-enterprise enterprise tool — a real product, using web technologies, with emojis. So it’s fun to think through this acquisition. I have absolutely no inside knowledge. Press release via Business Wire.

Salesforce Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Slack

Okay here we go! God I love a good acquisition press release. Salesforce actually has good PR that likes to sell, fittingly. Your typical tech giant’s PR is absolutely unreadable. Let’s see what we get. …


I wrote a piece on here the other day in which “2000 me” had a conversation with “2020 me” about the state of the web. It was fun to write, because I love making easy jokes at the expense of the tech industry. But as I went about my days I kept asking myself: What would that conversation look like if it were more serious? So…here. I kept “2000 me”’s questions the same. Even though 1/100th as many people will read this one, I wanted to get it down.

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Linotype operator, 1947

2000 me: Wow you still work on the web, that’s amazing. It must be so easy to publish really interesting web pages.


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Comic Insects, 1872

2000 me: Wow you still work on the web, that’s amazing. It must be so easy to publish really interesting web pages.

2020 me: Uhhhhh. [Very long pause.] Look, you can pay a low monthly fee and listen to any album anyone ever made.

’00: That must create some amazing opportunities for musicians!

’20: Well.

’00: There also must be some really good music discussion forums.

’20: Huh.

’00: Are there like a million new HTML tags?

’20: It’s complicated.

’00: I bet! Are we up to like XHTML 9 with two-way links? God I bet blogs are amazing now. …


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What to Draw and How to Draw It

I know the title seems evocative but it’s literal. I have a lot of dumb ideas for stories I’ll never finish. I’d rather just write them down, hit publish, and go looking for some new stories instead of keeping these rattling in my head.

For example: Two kids get decoder rings for Christmas. One kid moves away. Never writes again, they fall out of touch. Lots of sadness, etc. Later the codes start appearing all over the place, as out-of-order addresses, things like that. The unvanished kid (now in their 30s) thinks they’re losing it. Shrink says, you’ve got unprocessed thoughts from childhood. The codes start revealing places to go, things to see, thoughts to think. Eventually it becomes clear that the kid who left was the one running the simulation; they miss their toy/pet. “I had a bet you could figure it out.” …


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Thanks, Wikipedia!

Apparently we are due for a national period of healing and a period of cooling off. Every time I hear things like that, I immediately think of this video:

A normal reaction upon seeing that is to ask, What in God’s name did I just watch? The answer depends on how you see the world.

From a geological point of view you just visited Goblin Valley State Park in Utah, where 165-million-year-old jutting rocks have eroded over eons to form mushroom-like formations called “hoodoos” or “goblins.”

From an ecological point of view an invasive mammal has just knocked over one of the hoodoos while vocalizing “Wiggle It” by French Montana. …


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Eventually, the current chaos will subside. What will the tech industry look like over the next four years? What should we expect?

These aren’t predictions as much as possibilities. The point here is not to magically assert the future, but rather to think about places where pressure is building up, and where things might change as a result. Also, after a year of mounting bad news, it’s very therapeutic to imagine some good news. Here are some things I’ll be watching.

The Big Changes

Regulation: There’ll be more

This one is obvious: There are going to be many more congressional hearings about social media, app store guidelines, platform lock-in, and the like. Policymakers will draft new regulations around transparency and labeling media sources. Maybe protecting consumer privacy sounds good, but much of this policy will simultaneously peck away at user privacy in the interests of law enforcement. …


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Postlight employees in an absolutely unstaged photo just casually playing our game without any prompting from management

Postlight is a company that builds digital platforms and products, and like every firm we like to market ourselves and tell the world how great we are. We gave our marketing a mission, though: It should always help people build their careers.

Humans can only handle so many PowerPoints, so we decided to do something different: We made a card game called “SHIP IT!”—a game of product management.

It’s a simple card game for three to five players, designed to help people talk through the various things that happen when you’re making software. You shuffle the deck and draw cards. Cards can be drivers, blockers, or actions. Your goal is to ship three phases of your project. …


It’s nice to see two acronyms make friends

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Illustration by Stephen Carlson

At Postlight we build software for lots of different industries (custom search engines, financial APIs, a birding app for the Audubon society, things like that). This means we hear lots of different people complain about software. That’s my favorite part of the job, because, when you listen to people complain enough, you can extrapolate out what’s actually going on out there in the global software-powered economy.

“We are trying to connect our content to our funnel.”

Here’s what I’ve been hearing:

  • “At least before July the whole focus is getting our actual customers to attend the big conference, but you’d have no idea from the website.”
  • “We swore a solemn oath that we’d never pass around spreadsheets with emails in them. But we’re always passing around spreadsheets with emails in them.” …


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The media paid close attention to #blacklivesmatter, and media accounts used the hashtag in rough proportion to how often it appeared in the larger twittersphere.

At the end of last year Alejandro de Onís, the Director of Digital Strategy and Design at Knight Foundation, reached out to Postlight and asked if we’d like to create a website that showcased the findings of a forthcoming report.

Knight Foundation is a well-established not-for-profit that supports journalism, the arts, and communities — and that continues to serve as a major source of support for the digital news industry. …


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Stages of Man’s Life from the Cradle to the Grave

Every week or so someone I know on social media, but not in my daily life, updates their avatar, and suddenly they’re three or four years older than they were the day before. Some of these people I’ve known for 20 years, and it’s happened several times. Sometimes there’s obvious cropping of the picture; a chin once prominently displayed is surprisingly hidden by the above-the-head shot. The hair is gray, or suspiciously lustrous.

Normally, the way my brain works, I’d simply see those avatars change and think about how the Internet constantly brings us closer to death, then leave it at that. But oddly I truly enjoy witnessing the process of avatar aging. There’s always the tiny moment of shock as you see a proto-jowl where before there was smooth skin. Whoa! But I haven’t seen them in years! That’s what happens. The dyed orange hair is brown, or the bushy natural do is replaced by a shiny bald head; the former Adonis has a salt-and-pepper beard and a toddler on his knee. Former bassists may still be wearing overalls but it’s less to be adorable and more about gardening. …

About

Paul Ford

CEO, https://postlight.com, a digital product studio in NYC. Also writer, Medium advisor, programmer. Any port in a storm, especially ports 80 and 443.

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