June 15, 2020

Snippet: Has Pandemic Pushed Us Into a Post-Human Future? ☍

Om Malik:

There is very little room for humanness in transactions facilitated by the network. I wonder if the real cost of convenience is sacrificing the humaneness. Instead of the banter with the neighborhood corner shop, we get stuff delivered from Amazon. Most of our goods come via e-commerce platforms. We won’t have a favorite salesperson at our favorite department store — soon there won’t be any department stores left anyway.

We are addicted to convenience, nonetheless.

Today, I was thinking about our future post-pandemic reality. A contactless future is going to become obvious. With the retail and restaurant sectors struggling and shrinking, we will start seeing the places which make us part of a society, a neighborhood, humans begin to go away. A dry cleaner here, a coffee shop there. What will remain of society? It is easy to think of the local shop as a business, but in the end, their nearness, their familiar closeness, their physical proximity gives us landmarks that create context and give us bearing for our lives. They turn a building into a home, a neighborhood into a place that builds memories. All of these little services give us texture as humans. They are also a chance for us to come together, not separated by income, but as two parties that need each other.

This particular post really hit me hard yesterday—Malik isn’t necessarily cynical, just stating the reality of today, accelerated by the pandemic. While technology has facilitated amazing things at our fingertips, it feels like many people on the other side of what we want and need are being seen as transactional robots completing a task from your button-press. Everyone craves instant gratification, but I wonder what we’re losing out on even trivial social interactions.

June 10, 2020

Snippet: “Sharing” ☍

Joe Cieplinski analyzes the privacy page in the new HBO Max iOS app. Without copying and pasting everything, this was my favorite little observation:

The [Do Not Sell My Personal Information] switch is off by default, of course. And it’s greyed out, as if the designers of this app want you to think you can’t even tap on it. iOS native switches have a white tappable/draggable handle when in the “off” state. Warner went out of their way to make the handle black.

Finally, the footnote. “This change will take effect the next time you start the HBO Max app.”

In other words, now that you’ve flicked the switch, we’re going to immediately “share” your info before you get a chance to quit the app and restart it.

June 4, 2020

Snippet: Speaking Up on Racism ☍

Tim Cook:

This is a moment when many people may want nothing more than a return to normalcy, or to a status quo that is only comfortable if we avert our gaze from injustice. As difficult as it may be to admit, that desire is itself a sign of privilege. George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a “normal” future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice.

In the words of Martin Luther King, “Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.”

June 1, 2020

Snippet: Your Silence is a Knee on My Neck ☍

Natasha Cloud for The Players’ Tribune:

That’s what’s so scary about it to me. That’s what’s so crazy about it, and so frustrating. And if I’m being honest, that’s what pisses me off. Because it’s like — those racist cops who keep killing us? There’s way too many of them, that’s for sure. But we’re going to keep on speaking out, keep on shining a light at their behavior… and eventually we’re going to get them the hell out of the paint. Relatively speaking, that one’s easy. But you know what’s not as easy?? You know what’s harder to shine a light on? The millions of people who are helping to protect those racist cops, and who are helping to insulate those in power, by staying “neutral.” That right there is what’s exhausting to me. It’s all the people who think that — in 2020!! — they can still somehow just politely opt out of this shit.

And those are the people who I wanted to write this for.

Because those are the people with the ability to really change things. And to me the first step in getting those people to change their behavior — it’s getting them to understand the meaning of their behavior. It’s getting them to see that this “both sides” wave they think they’re riding… it doesn’t exist. It never existed, of course — but especially not now. Not in this moment. Not with these deaths so fresh and so raw.

I’m writing this because I have a platform. It may not be the biggest platform in the world… but it’s bigger than a lot of people have. It’s what I’ve got. And the only thing I feel like using that platform for right now is to send a message to the so-called “neutral” people out there. It’s to tell them that we’re changing up the definitions of some of these words they’ve been hiding behind.

It’s to tell them that “seeing both sides” means having blood on their hands – and “opting out” means leaving innocent people to die.

It’s to tell them that neutrality about black lives might as well be murder.

It’s to tell them that their silence is the knee on George Floyd’s neck.

This time of year, I’m usually paying close attention to the final weeks of the NBA season and the start of the WNBA season. Obviously, due to the pandemic, both have been suspended. However, many players have been taking to social media to share their thoughts, frustrations, concerns, and it’s hard not to feel any sort of empathy and agreement along with everything else playing out—people you know of talking about it makes things more real. One of the things I can do is try to amplify those voices in my own small way.

Snippet: Pain ☍

Matt Birchler:

This past week we have seen nationwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. I’ve been largely silent on the issue both here and on social media, largely because I don’t know what to say. There is an immense amount of pain that has been growing for many generations among people who don’t look like me in this country. There is a distrust of institutions to do the right thing. There is pain as every on-video murder of a black man sees a demographic scower the web for reasons that the murder might have been justified. It pains me that I can’t remember the source, but I heard a clip from a podcast on Twitter where someone asked the question, “how many white men have you seen murdered in high definition?” As I write this Sunday morning, I struggle to think of a single name, but I can recall several names of black men from just the past couple months.

I don’t talk a lot about this stuff because I worry about saying the wrong thing. I worry about not properly vetting my sources and saying something that’s either untrue or lacks required context to understand or appreciate.

This post rings true to me, being a white guy writing about tech stuff in the Midwest. I’m trying to help where I can, support those that need it, listen, and hope for a better future.