The Rush To Publish

“academics: yes, let’s meet in 7 months and 6 days, at 2:08 PM ¶ journalists: hi can you comment for this article, it’s due in 47 seconds. also i’ve left you seven voicemails” – @eveewing, a sociologist of education and a writer from Chicago.

  • I know Dr. Ewing is not referring to startup media in particular, but the last-minute nature of most press interactions is especially pronounced in the end of the media pool I currently occupy.
  • The prisoners’ dilemma between startup/venture PR and the press results in stressed-out reporters and dissatisfied founders, who wish that writers would do more than just crib quotes from press releases.
  • This last-minute rush to coverage would be entirely ameliorated by just seeding embargoed information with decent, ethical reporters ahead of time. The problem is, there’s so much incentive to break embargo and publish first, so PR reaches out on short notice. This is a huge, huge problem in startup finance reporting. I wouldn’t reach out at the last second, requesting comment, if information wasn’t disbursed at the last minute.
  • In this context, I totally understand why founders and their PR representatives would want to focus their attention on more asynchronous forms of media, like podcasts or long-form profile-type coverage. I wouldn’t reach out to news reporters either.
  • Also, when I have my journalism hat on, founders either want to exploit me for access to an audience, or fear me because I have insider information. (I don’t disclose sources or methods.) It’s not a healthy relationship for anyone involved. For the record, this is one of the primary reasons I don’t really like journalism as a profession.
  • It’s, like, the better I get at my day job the less relatable I become to the folks I feel most comfortable around. I suppose venture investors with prior founding experience have similar feelings about the founders they interact with. But y’all are already accredited, just sayin’.
  • This doesn’t even get me to the problems with breaking news using open data sources like SEC filings. At the point a filing drops into the public domain, we’re in a Hobbesian state of nature. But that’s probably a note for a later day.

Indie Software I Pay For

“What’s tech/software/app that is (a) run by indie devs/small co and (b) that you feel great paying for? ¶ two of mine: ¶ @BearNotesApp @OvercastFM” – @hunterwalk

I guarantee I’m forgetting some stuff. This might be updated in the future.

Web & iOS

  • Innologica: Inoreader. RSS for power-users. This is how I consume everything from email newsletters and blogs to giant feeds of SEC filings.

iOS

  • Overcast: Podcasts.
  • GoodNotes: Digital notebook that pairs well with Apple Pencil.
  • CARROT: Weather, mostly for the sassy bot as a shell for DarkSky

MacOS

  • Omnigroup: OmniOutliner
  • Smile Software: TextExpander
  • Devon Technologies: DEVONagent (web browser with very deep search and topic network visualization I use for research), DEVONthink (Like locally-hosted Evernote, but terrifyingly more flexible. I use this for researching big projects and managing different knowledge bases.)

Apple: Cross-platform

  • Information Architects: iA Writer, IMO the best minimalist Markdown editor experience (with lots of great keyboard shortcuts), but it has some bugs with syncs and versioning
  • Agile Turtle: Drafts 5, the MacOS beta of which was so compelling that I upgraded to Mojave from Sierra just to try it.
  • Omnigroup: OmniFocus Pro (yes, OmniOutliner is also available on iOS but I don’t use it there)
  • Tapbots: Tweetbot, for twitter list tracking

In Regards To Sweatpants

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” – Karl Lagerfeld, RIP

Nods while wearing a recently-purchased pair of grey sweatpants. I bought a black pair too. They were cut and sewn in Canada and I spent $95 apiece.

  • In before everyone says it’s my privilege, as a remote knowledge worker, to wear egregiously pricey sweatpants basically any time I choose. I know.
  • An earlier version of me posted the Karl Lagerfeld quote on Facebook or similar back in the day. I was only partially wrong then.
  • But here’s the deal: as with denim, every incremental $25 spent on sweatpants delivers a product with materially better, er, material and fit-and-finish.
  • Unlike denim, the quality of sweatpants levels off at a lower price point.
    Before veering off into pure fashion and status signaling, the best-quality sweatpants money can buy are probably at or around the $100-125 price range, whereas the best denim I’ve ever bought was somewhere in the $275 range, which in all practical terms is the upper limit on denim when quality and construction are the only parameters.
  • I’m of the “spend all of the money once or twice” school of consumerism, and I believe in repairing high-quality clothes. So, my bet is that the $200 I spent on two pairs of sweatpants once is gonna deliver a better value, over time, than the dozen (or more) pairs of cheaper sweats people might buy over the same period of use.

Note: Wednesday Was Brutal For The Media Business

Contained here are notes and musings, not a formal statement of my position on any matter in particular.

On January 23, 2019, the following headlines crossed the wire:

(Note: I don’t think the publications listed above broke their respective stories; I just selected their headlines off the top of a search query.)

It’s weird for me. Although I nominally perform the role of someone “in media” (as a reporter and data analyst for our news team and other news organizations on-demand) I identify first as an employee “in tech.”

After all, I’m employed by a technology company, and prior to becoming a professional writer I co-founded a tech startup that didn’t really go anywhere. These days, separate and apart from my day job, as a volunteer I help organize startup pitch events for a large open source software foundation.

Apart from my colleagues on my small team, I don’t spend a lot of time interacting with other folks in the news business. My closest friends are in finance and/or software engineering, or started their own businesses.

In other words, there are a lot of countervailing forces against me self-identifying as someone “in media,” even though, in practice, that’s the functional and ecological niche I occupy.

I don’t know how this reflects on me, but apart from feeling bad that people from the publications mentioned above are losing their jobs, I don’t know what to say about the broader narrative of media’s decline.

The tech-aligned entrepreneur in me sees an opportunity for smaller newsrooms and something resembling old-school blogs and newsletters run by one or two folks. I don’t know if more dyed-in-the-wool media folks feel the same way.

Links: September 5, 2018

Links: September 4, 2018

April 18, 2017

Cook, Steven A. “RIP Turkey, 1921 – 2017.” Foreign Policy, April 16, 2017. https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/04/16/rip-turkey-1921-2017/.
Fitzpatrick, Brad. “Thoughts on the Social Graph.” Personal Site. BradFitz.com, August 17, 2007. http://bradfitz.com/social-graph-problem/.
Honan, Mat, and Alex Kantrowitz. “Here’s What Mark Zuckerberg Told Us About The Wild Things Facebook’s New Camera Will Do.” BuzzFeed, April 18, 2017. https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/mark-zuckerbergs-next-big-bet-making-the-real-world-an.
Kantrowitz, Alex. “Meet The Man Who Makes Facebook’s Machines Think.” BuzzFeed, April 17, 2017. https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexkantrowitz/meet-the-man-who-makes-facebooks-machines-think.
Knight, Will. “There’s a Big Problem with AI: Even Its Creators Can’t Explain How It Works.” MIT Technology Review, April 11, 2017. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604087/the-dark-secret-at-the-heart-of-ai/.
Ortiz-Ospina, Esteban, and Max Roser. “Trust.” Our World In Data, 2016. https://ourworldindata.org/trust.
Shaw, Mike. “From OpEx back to CapEx.” HPE, April 17, 2017. https://insights.hpe.com/articles/from-capex-to-opex-and-back-1704.html.

Refs: April 14, 2017

Ethan Kurzweil, “An inside Look at Bessemer Venture Partners’ Investment Process for Twilio,” TechCrunch, April 11, 2017, http://social.techcrunch.com/2017/04/11/an-inside-look-at-bessemer-venture-partners-investment-process-for-twilio/.

Jeff Bezos, “Exhibit 99.1,” Shareholder Letter, (April 13, 2017), https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312517120198/d373368dex991.htm.

Yinmeng Zhang, “How to Measure User Retention and Track Improvement,” Apptimize, July 28, 2016, https://apptimize.com/blog/2016/07/measure-user-retention-track-improvement/.

josephg, “Josephg’s Comment on ‘How We Built r/Place,’” Comment, Hacker News, (April 14, 2017), https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14112085.

Bruce Booth, “Of Abundance And Scarcity In Venture Capital,” LifeSciVC, March 13, 2017, https://lifescivc.com/2017/03/abundance-scarcity-venture-capital/.

Ty Magnin, “The 4 Customer Retention Metrics You Need to Measure Now,” Appcues Blog, accessed April 15, 2017, https://www.appcues.com/blog/the-4-customer-retention-metrics-you-need-to-measure-now/.

Colin Dickey, “The Elements of Bureaucratic Style,” Longreads, April 12, 2017, https://longreads.com/2017/04/12/the-elements-of-bureaucratic-style/.

Eric Newcomer, “Uber, Lifting Financial Veil, Says Sales Growth Outpaces Losses,” Financial News, Bloomberg.com, (April 14, 2017), https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-14/embattled-uber-reports-strong-sales-growth-as-losses-continue.

Alex Wilhelm and Katie Roof, “Uber Shares Growing Financials to Distract from Negative Publicity,” TechCrunch, April 14, 2017, http://social.techcrunch.com/2017/04/14/uber-shares-growing-financials-to-distract-from-negative-publicity/.

Refs: April 13, 2017

American Bar Association, ed., Fund Director’s Guidebook, 4th edition (Chicago, Illinois: ABA, Business Law Section, 2015).

Kurt J. Berney, Mitchell S. Presser, and David H. Wasserman, eds., Private Equity & Venture Capital Investing: Legal, Financial & Strategic Techniques for Successful Investing, Corporate Law and Practice Course Handbook Series, no. B-1276 (New York, N.Y: Practising Law Institute, 2001).

Danah Boyd, “Toward Accountability: Data, Fairness, Algorithms, Consequences,” Data & Society: Points, April 12, 2017, https://points.datasociety.net/toward-accountability-6096e38878f0.

Justin J. Camp, Venture Capital Due Diligence: A Guide to Making Smart Investment Choices and Increasing Your Portfolio Returns, Wiley Finance Series (New York: Wiley, 2002).

John Henry, “Mastodon Is Dead in the Water,” Hacker Noon, April 5, 2017, https://hackernoon.com/mastodon-is-dead-in-the-water-888c10e8abb1.

Ilya Pestov, “How PCs Were Advertised in the 1990s,” freeCodeCamp, February 11, 2017, https://medium.freecodecamp.com/how-pcs-were-advertised-in-the-1990s-cdaee59f2555.

M. G. Siegler, “The Squid,” 500ish Words, March 27, 2017, https://500ish.com/the-squid-218be9939cdf.

Andy Sparks, “All the Venture Capital & Fundraising Bloggers You Should Be Following,” Medium, January 25, 2017, https://medium.com/startup-grind/all-the-venture-capital-fundraising-bloggers-you-should-be-following-6ea9817039c4.

Rick Turoczy, “An Open Source Guide for Building the Startup Accelerator of Your Dreams,” Medium, April 4, 2017, https://medium.com/portland-incubator-experiment/an-open-source-guide-for-building-the-startup-accelerator-of-your-dreams-8ff931d8c3a.

Alex Wilmerding, Term Sheets & Valuations: An inside Look at the Intricacies of Term Sheets & Valuations (Bedford, MA: Aspatore Books, 2001).

“How We Built r/Place,” Upvoted, April 13, 2017, https://redditblog.com/2017/04/13/how-we-built-rplace/.

April 12, 2017

Stef Aupers, “‘Trust No One’: Modernization, Paranoia and Conspiracy Culture,” European Journal of Communication 27, no. 1 (March 1, 2012): 22–34, doi:10.1177/0267323111433566.

Josh Constine, “Facebook Messenger Hits 1.2 Billion Monthly Users, up from 1B in July,” TechCrunch, accessed April 12, 2017, http://social.techcrunch.com/2017/04/12/messenger/.

Dan Motzenbecker, “Fast Drawing for Everyone,” Google, April 11, 2017, https://www.blog.google/topics/machine-learning/fast-drawing-everyone/.

Mike Preuss, “Financial Modeling for Startups,” OpenView Labs, April 11, 2017, https://visible.vc/blog/financial-modeling-for-startups/.

Robert Safian and Robert Safian, “Mark Zuckerberg On Fake News, Free Speech, And What Drives Facebook,” Fast Company, April 11, 2017, https://www.fastcompany.com/40397297/mark-zuckerberg-on-fake-news-free-speech-and-what-drives-facebook.

Strange Parts, How I Made My Own iPhone – in China, accessed April 12, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leFuF-zoVzA&feature=youtu.be.

Daniel Tomlinson, “It’s Not the Gig Economy, Stupid.,” openDemocracy, April 11, 2017, https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/daniel-tomlinson/it-s-not-gig-economy-stupid.

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Despair of Learning That Experience No Longer Matters,” The New Yorker, April 10, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/news/benjamin-wallace-wells/the-despair-of-learning-that-experience-no-longer-matters.