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I Deleted Facebook Last Year. Here’s What Changed

Brian X. Chen:

The social network’s long-stated mission has been to connect people so that we can live in a more open world. But after being off Facebook since October, I found that I did not feel less connected and that my social life didn’t suffer, even though I was no longer seeing status updates and pictures on my News Feed.

Over the 14 years that I used Facebook, I accrued about 500 friends. Most were former classmates whom I had lost touch with.

In my real life, I have about 20 friends I talk to on a regular basis. So when I finally deleted Facebook, the fallout was underwhelming.

Those same friends kept in touch over iMessage, Signal or email. We still get dinner or go to the movies together. I can think of one friend who exclusively used Facebook Messenger to communicate — we email now and talk less than we used to, but when we meet in person we are as close as we always were. And I can’t remember the last time I attended an event that I was invited to via Facebook, so I never had a case of FOMO.

I’m glad to see this type of article begin to surface. I still have a Facebook account reluctantly in order to the developer tools I need for my job, but that’s it. If I didn’t need it, I’d delete it today. I wish I could delete it today.

I’ve never understood the idea that we have to keep up with everyone we’ve ever encountered in life on social media. Moving on from past connections and acquaintances is normal and healthy.

David Heinemeier Hansson sums up my feelings exactly in a post he wrote last year:

I’m not the same person I was in high school. Not the same person I was at university. Not the same person I was with friends at age 15 as I was with a different group of friends at 21. I’m still not the same person with friends in programming as I am with friends in racing or with family or old mates from Denmark.

What allowed me to change and prosper was the freedom to grow apart and lose touch with people. It’s hard to change yourself if you’re stuck in the same social orbit. There’s a gravitational force that pulls you into repeating the same circular pattern over and over again. Breaking out of that takes tremendous force.

Related:

Inside Garageband, the Little App Ruling the Sound of Modern Music

Amy X. Wang for Rolling Stone:

In the first media visit Apple has ever allowed to its under-the-radar Music Apps studio, the team of engineers showed Rolling Stone how the creation process for Garageband’s two types of sounds – synthetic and “real” – can span weeks or sometimes months per instrument, with new hurdles at every turn. Synthesized sounds (i.e. the type of obviously artificial notes often heard in EDM) are made from code and tweaked by code; “real” sounds have to be recorded in a drop-dead-silent studio setting, dozens of times, then pieced together like patchwork to form single perfect notes, one by one.

Some instruments are extra excruciating. In the digital reproduction of an American upright bass, a player in the studio plucks a string, holds his breath for seven seconds to ensure there’s no extra noise on the recording whatsoever as the note shivers into the air (engineers have custom-coded an app to time the duration precisely), and repeats the endeavor at different finger positions, volumes and pressures, day in and day out. After wheeling each of the cavalcade of instruments out of the studio, the team pores over the hundreds of recordings to pick out the best. When adding a suite of East Asian instruments in a recent product update, the engineers consulted with designers across the world to pick out the specific color of wood and font of a poem that would make a Chinese guzheng appear the most authentic. Engineers also constantly browse music-making forums for complaints, suggestions and thoughts on what to tweak next.

It’s truly amazing that Apple spends so much time and effort on a free app.

Oh God, It’s Raining Newsletters

Craig Mod, with an excellent piece about email newsletters:

Newsletters and newsletter startups these days are like mushrooms in an open field after a good spring rain. I don’t know a single writer who isn’t newslettering or newsletter-curious, and for many, the newsletter is where they’re doing their finest public work.

His new newsletter is called Ridgeline and it’s wonderful. 

Publishers Chafe at Apple’s Terms for Subscription News Service

Benjamin Mullin, Lukas I. Alpert and Tripp Mickle, for The Wall Street Journal:

In its pitch to some news organizations, the Cupertino, Calif., company has said it would keep about half of the subscription revenue from the service, the people said. The service, described by industry executives as a “Netflix for news,” would allow users to read an unlimited amount of content from participating publishers for a monthly fee. It is expected to launch later this year as a paid tier of the Apple News app, the people said.

The rest of the revenue would go into a pool that would be divided among publishers according to the amount of time users spend engaged with their articles, the people said. Representatives from Apple have told publishers that the subscription service could be priced at about $10 a month, similar to Apple’s streaming music service, but the final price could change, some of the people said.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately working in and around the publishing industry. As a whole the industry’s concerns are almost always tied to declining revenue, legacy high-costs, and therefore reduced or non-existent profits. I find it difficult to believe that any publisher is willing to take a 50% cut on revenue. Apple would need to deliver a massive upswing in subscribers for this to even be a conversation.

The Meaning of Tony Romo, Super Bowl Psychic

Frank Bruni, with a nice piece about Tony Romo ahead of tonight’s Super Bowl:

Romo, 38, previously spent more than a decade as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He was great but he wasn’t great, and with him as its leader, the team never went all the way. In a twist that’s testament to second acts in American lives, he’s doing something as a star for CBS that he never did as a star for the Cowboys: going to the Super Bowl. I suppose that’s fitting, because he’s more than great in his current gig. He’s peerless. And he’s a sensation.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: The Rolling Stone Interview

Speaking of Jack Dorsey, it looks like he is making the PR rounds this week. He’s also featured in a nice piece at Rolling Stone.

I liked this bit where he responds to Seth Rogen’s concern that racists were being verified on Twitter:

That was heartbreaking. I DM’d him, and we got on the phone together. He said to me, “I’m surprised at myself for not hanging up…But I think you have the right intent. But you all are terrible communicators.” I agree, we have been bad at communication, we haven’t been as forthright as we need to, we certainly haven’t been as transparent. We do care deeply. But we need to do it in scalable ways. This work doesn’t happen overnight.

Bill Simmons interviews Jack Dorsey

I really enjoyed this interview with Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, by Bill Simmons. Twitter is still a fascinating company to me despite its problems. Bill Simmons pulls no punches asking tough questions about harassment, Twitter’s role in politics, Trump, and controversial features like editing tweets.

There’s also a nice trip down memory lane with discussion of Twitter’s early days and how it came to be. (I remember vividly using the text message version of Twitter at SXSW in 2007. A simpler time.)

Slack’s New Brand

Slack:

Today we’re launching a new logo, as we start to refresh our look in general. We loved our old logo, and look, and know many felt the same. And yet, here we are to explain why we decided to evolve it.

The design work was done by Pentagram.

Change is hard, and I’ve been so used to seeing the familiar Slack icon for years that this will take some getting used to. The logo itself doesn’t bother me near as much as the awful dark purple background behind it.

Related:

AtF Spark

AtF Spark is a font that allows for the combination of text and visual data to show an idea and evidence in one headline. This builds on the principle of Sparklines defined by Edward Tufte and makes them easier to use. Sparklines are currently available as plugins or javascript elements. By installing the Spark font you can use them immediately without the need for custom code.

This is lovely.

Nestlé Takes Majority Stake in Blue Bottle

Michael J. de la Merced and Oliver Strand, in the NYTimes:

Under the terms of the deal, Nestlé is acquiring 68 percent of Blue Bottle; the coffee company’s management and employees will own the rest. Neither side would disclose financial terms.

Although Blue Bottle is one of the most important players in the third-wave coffee sector, it has distinguished itself from its rivals in significant ways. It has spurned many of the hallmarks of high-end shops – barista competitions, lengthy travelogues about journeys to find the perfect small coffee farm – while emphasizing the aesthetics and experience of a well-prepared cup.

Blue Bottle has also helped drive trends within the industry, particularly in the case of cold-brew iced coffee.

The company’s approach has fueled enormous growth. Blue Bottle expects to nearly double its store count this year, to 55 outlets from 29. And it has continued to develop ready-to-drink products, as well as an online subscription business for its roasted beans.

How about with this new backing we get some stores in Texas?

Indie Blogging

Manton Reece, on last week’s A List Apart announcement:

It’s a good post, but I see his conclusion differently. The solution isn’t fewer link blogs, but more of them. By taking microblogging back from Twitter, we create a natural place for traditional blogs to grow. Indie microblogging is the gateway drug for long-form content.

To everyone reading Zeldman’s post about A List Apart and nodding your head, retweeting the link, clicking the like button… Dust off your blog and actually post about it. A better web is built one page at a time.

A List Apart

Jeffrey Zeldman:

As A List Apart approaches its 20th anniversary–a milestone in independent, web-based publishing–we’re once again reimagining the magazine. We want your feedback. And most of all, we want you.

We’re getting rid of advertisers and digging back to our roots: community-based, community-built, and determinedly non-commercial. If you want to highlight local events or innovations, expand your skills, give back, or explore any other goal or idea, we’re here to support you with networking and backing from the community.

I’ve been following A List Apart for nearly 20 years now too. Time flies. Count me in.

Think before you grow

Dan Counsell:

When you say you run your own company people always ask how many staff you have. The higher the number, the more impressed people seem to be and I can understand that. I fell into this trap myself, the trap of thinking bigger is better.

I thought to be classed as a successful company I needed to grow. I needed to get a bigger office, hire more people, and why not. The company was making enough money, so I just went with it.

Then one day I looked up and I was responsible for ten full-time employees, a whole host of freelancers, and an office big enough for 30+ people. Unchecked, a business can take on a life of its own. I didn’t plan for it to be like that, it just happened. I never stopped to think about what I really wanted.

The Curse of Culture

Ben Thompson in this week’s excellent Stratechery article:

[…] culture is not something that begets success, rather, it is a product of it. All companies start with the espoused beliefs and values of their founder(s), but until those beliefs and values are proven correct and successful they are open to debate and change. If, though, they lead to real sustained success, then those values and beliefs slip from the conscious to the unconscious, and it is this transformation that allows companies to maintain the “secret sauce” that drove their initial success even as they scale. The founder no longer needs to espouse his or her beliefs and values to the 10,000th employee; every single person already in the company will do just that, in every decision they make, big or small.

As with most such things, culture is one of a company’s most powerful assets right until it isn’t: the same underlying assumptions that permit an organization to scale massively constrain the ability of that same organization to change direction. More distressingly, culture prevents organizations from even knowing they need to do so.

Android Instant Apps

During its annual IO keynote last week, Google only really touched on one major new user-facing feature of Android: Instant Apps. The basic premise is that instead of leaving your current context to download an app that you may only use once, a piece of the app is “installed” behind-the-scenes and you can use native features right away. This is a great solution to the problem of not wanting to install native apps for single use. If done properly, it could also be huge for mobile commerce.

I’m very excited to see where this goes.

Also, XKCD nailed it.

The Maker of Things

Michael Lopp on Medium:

In the late 1800s, the Brooklyn Bridge was built with no power tools, no heavy machinery, and only a basic, evolving understanding of how to make steel. It’s not these facts, but the stories surrounding the facts that inspire me when I take a good, long stare at a suspension bridge. But first…

Archiving a Website for Ten Thousand Years

Glenn Fleishman in The Atlantic:

Hi.co, a website that allows its users to post “moments” with a photo and annotation, plans a similar trip to the distant future. The operators, Craig Mod […] and Chris Palmieri, announced today that the site will freeze service in September 2016. However, all posts present in the site’s database at that time will be microprinted onto a two-by-two-inch nickel plate. The entire site-2,000,000 words and 14,000 photos-should fit on a single disk. Several copies will be made and distributed across the globe; the Library of Congress has already been secured as a repository. The plates have a lifespan as long as 10,000 years, and they may be viewed with a 1,000-power optical microscope.

Three Years in San Francisco

Mike Davidson wrote about his recent career move to Twitter in San Francisco. I could quote the whole thing, but you should probably just go read it.

Here’s one of my favorite bits about managing vs being an individual contributor:

One of my favorite rules at Twitter – at least within Engineering, Product, and Design – is that there is no such thing as a “promotion into management”. If you want to become a manager of people, it is always a lateral move. For example, if you are a senior designer and you decide you want to manage people instead of pixels, and leadership deems you ready for it, you can become a Design Manager. That move, however, does not “level you up” in the system, nor come with a pay increase, nor put you on any sort faster career track. You’ve simply moved from concentrating directly on product problems/opportunities to concentrating on people problems/opportunities. I believe some other companies have this rule as well, but it’s really fantastic for what it encourages: people should do the type of work that is most fulfilling to them and most valuable to the company. A fantastic I.C. (Individual Contributor) is just as valuable as a fantastic manager, and the system should reward and encourage both career branches equally.

The Slack Platform Roadmap

On the Slack API Blog:

We know that being a developer is hard, and building on a platform is not a decision to be made lightly. Many platforms have burned developers and we frequently see that risk highlighted. This is our response.

This kind of transparency from a platform provider is fantastic. Refreshing compared to a few recent events.

Being tired isn’t a badge of honor

Jason Fried:

Lately, I’ve been hearing something that disturbs me. A lot of entrepreneurs onstage have been bragging about not sleeping, telling their audiences about their 16-hour days, and making it sound like hustle-at-all-costs is the way ahead. Rest be damned, they say – there’s an endless amount of work to do.

I think this message is one of the most harmful in all of business. Sustained exhaustion is not a rite of passage. It’s a mark of stupidity.

Apple: A Message to Our Customers

Tim Cook:

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.

The Rails Doctrine

Along with a much-needed re-branding of Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson published a very thorough doctrine covering the major tenets of the framework.

I love Rails and have used it almost exclusively for the past 8 years, so there is a lot I agree with here. There’s also a few things I strongly disagree with, but that’s ok. A framework doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. But, if you’re going to use a framework, you should understand why it exists.

One of my favorite points is the ability for everyone to disagree and yet still move the framework forward:

We need disagreement. We need dialects. We need diversity of thought and people. It’s in this melting pot of ideas we’ll get the best commons for all to share. Lots of people chipping in their two cents, in code or considered argument.

So while this doctrine has described an idealized form, the everyday reality is much more nuanced (and interesting). Rails is capable of supporting such a large community under one tent exactly because there are so few if any litmus tests.

The continued success of RSpec, a DSL for testing I’ve often expressed grave discontent with, is perfect proof. I can rant until I’m blue in the face of why I don’t think it’s the way to go, and it can still blossom and prosper. That point is the far more important one!

What 45.7 Million NFL TV Viewers Don’t See

Emily Kaplan in the MMQB:

After 14 years together, Buck and Aikman communicate almost entirely non-verbally. Between plays, Aikman scrolls back to plays on his monitor, sometimes zoning out of Buck’s play-by-play, or listening to Zyontz, the producer, in his ear.

Before Buck tees up Aikman, he’ll often tug at his arm to make sure he’s ready.
When Aikman speaks, he has a tendency to shift the weight from his left foot to his right foot. He clears his throat nearly a dozen times a quarter, each time pressing a “cough” button that mutes his microphone.

Buck rarely stands still, leaning against the table in front of him, nursing a cup of tea and grabbing for more Halls.

During timeouts, both men often grab their phones and text their daughters (they each have two) about schoolwork and what time they’ll land back home. “It’s incredible to me,” says Mike Pereira, the former NFL VP of Officiating and FOX rules expert, who joins them in the booth through the playoffs. “The ease in which they operate, their calmness. I would be freaking out.”

It’s incredible how much work goes into each NFL broadcast, and they make it look easy on TV.