June 1, 2020

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.

Snippet: Caught On Camera, Police Explode in Rage and Violence Across the US ☍

T.C. Sottek for The Verge:

Over the past 72 hours, people across the US have captured what may be the most comprehensive live picture of police brutality ever. Any one of the videos we’ve seen could have sparked a national discussion, with people picking apart their elements, searching for context to argue about, and digging through the pasts of everyone involved. But it’s not just one act of violence. It’s everywhere.

It’s frustrating how simple the conversation should be. People are protesting police brutality. Instead, a number of police departments are responding with…wait for it…police brutality. (Yes, I know I’m paraphrasing John Gruber, but I’ve also verbally said it multiple times today while watching the news.)

May 22, 2020

Snippet: The End of Podcasting’s Innocence ☍

M.G. Siegler:

Joe Rogan has just signed a deal to take his talents to Spotify. Most notably, he’s doing so exclusively, which is a massive deal as he’s one of the, if not the, most popular podcast host right now. This is only surprising in that it’s Joe Rogan who has famously eschewed putting his podcast on Spotify to date. But the type of deal shouldn’t be a big surprise. It was inevitable.

And while my title implies a negative tilt, it’s more to denote a watershed moment for the podcasting industry. If it feels like there have been a lot of those over the past couple of years it’s because there have been. And in the past year or so, they’ve predominantly been driven by Spotify.

Just as Pandora, Stitcher, Spotify, Apple Music, and others have largely replaced music-radio, podcasts are about to grow up and replace talk-radio. Think of all the traditional, syndicated shows that currently chop up pieces and throw them on a podcast feed after air (sports-talk is big for this), but instead, the podcast feed will eventually become the primary product.

Snippet: Spotify Podcasts Are Podcasts ☍

Matt Birchler:

But at least Spielberg’s distinction at least calls Netflix films “TV movies” and doesn’t deny that they are in fact “movies”. The same can not be said for how the tech corner of the internet reacts to podcasts that are distributed via Spotify, Stitcher Premium, or any other proprietary platform. The attitiude from some is that “podcast” is reserved for audio shows that re distributed via RSS feeds that can be used in any app.

Making the defining characteristic of an art form the minutia of its technical distribution feels…off to me.

If I release a movie in theaters through a major studio, it’s a movie. If I release it on Netflix, it’s a movie. If I release it on TV, it’s a movie. If I release it on Vimeo or YouTube, it’s a movie.

If I release a book through a publisher in all book stores around the world, it’s a book. If I self-publish on Amazon, it’s a book too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this argument over the last few days and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know how I feel. The geek in me thinks that these audio programs on a proprietary format shouldn’t be called podcasts since they aren’t compatible with any open podcast player. On the other hand, Birchler’s argument is one I’ve also come to since language changes. We’re in a time when that’s become even more obvious, due to big Hollywood blockbusters being released directly to our TVs and most of my favorite TV shows being watchable on my phone from wherever.

Because of that, I can only say that a show like Joe Rogan’s that moves to a closed, exclusive platform is different (can’t even play it on an old iPod), but sure acts, looks, and feels like a podcast.

May 15, 2020

Snippet: GIPHY to Join Facebook as Part of the Instagram Team ☍

GIPHY on Medium:

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that GIPHY has been acquired by Facebook and is joining the team at Instagram. Instagram has revolutionized self-expression. More than 1 billion people use Instagram to communicate how they’re feeling and what they’re passionate about — we can’t wait to help those people become even more animated! We’ve had a lot of fun teaming up with Instagram over the years; GIPHY’s Stickers were the perfect fit for layering on Instagram Stories, while our GIF search allowed everyone to capture that perfect emotion in Instagram’s DMs. Based on the success of those collaborations (and many others) we know that there are exciting times ahead of us.

The price tag is reportedly $400 million and the acquisition makes sense, as GIPHY complements Facebook’s other properties nicely. While I’m really happy for the people at GIPHY whose hard work has led to a mega-acquisition, I can’t help but be a little sad that something fun has been gobbled up by the Facebook empire.