Welcome to 2013! If you’re like me, you don’t have too much planned for the day. So here are some goodies built up in tabs & bookmarks since sometime in mid-2012. Since words and links sans pictures are boring, I include pictures, mostly of snow, from our Christmas excursion to Saskatchewan.
I’ve mostly avoided things that everyone already linked to, and I hope that one or two tickle your mental palate. Hint: The best links are in the last section.
The Technosphere · Now that I’m not doing Android full-time, I don’t even have to think about telephone companies, and that’s nice. Nilay Patel explains why, in Five years after the iPhone, carriers are the biggest threat to innovation. Sound-bite: “Carriers rarely want what's best for their customers.”
One of the central debates in my profession is about curation: Who gets to decide what people using computers can do? I thought the best experience-based narratives on the subject included Paul Kafasis’ 7,073 Users Can Be Wrong and Matt Gemmell’s Releasing Outside the App Store.
OK, everyone already linked to this, but Scott Hanselman’s Everything's broken and nobody's upset is a must-read, at least once a year, for anyone who builds technology.
Biz · The whole you-are-the-customer-or-you-are-the-product meme is starting to get a little tired, because life is in fact a little more complicated than that. Here is some actual subtle nuanced thinking about it all, from Ken Arneson: MLB’s Customer Alignment Problem.
While we’re using pro sports as a whiteboard for serious thinking about the economy, let’s take up something really serious, and I quote: “a bigger fight, one that is representative of a war beneath the surface of the modern economy — the war between capital and talent.” I can’t think of anything bigger. Go read Roger L. Martin’s Talent Shows.
Dealbreaker is a really good source for finance-biz muckraking. One of my favorite offerings this year was Everybody’s Jumping On The Insider Trading Bandwagon, which sure taught me a few things about everyday skullduggery.
I don’t hate to say “I told you so”; I’ve been arguing since 2007 that the pursuit, by business, of the place in the world with the lowest available wages, was starting to be over. A popular piece that you may have missed is Charles Fishman, in the Atlantic: The Insourcing Boom. I told you so.
And here’s another heartwarming business story, from my hometown: Frances Bula’s Business, newly alive to the benefits of a good transit system, lobbies for a more rational approach to paying for it. Here in Vancouver, the migration away from the car toward public transit is not subtle, it’s in your face all the time.
Legalities · One of the big stories of the year was the Oracle-Google litigation. I was deposed, and might have been been called as a witness in the penalty phase if there’d been one. I can’t really comment, but our lawyers did, in The Oracle v. Google aftermath. Kent and Renny talk about the costs of patent litigation, and I can give a little flavor on that. When I was deposed, it was for a mere two hours. In the room were a Google inside lawyer, an outside lawyer working for us, an outside lawyer working for Oracle who had a couple of support people, a court reporter, and a video-recording guy with a big fancy camera. We were gossiping after it was all over, and someone told me, about the Oracle lawyer, that she was a partner in a New York firm who’d flown in, and who typically charged $600/hour. We’re talking real money here. And I can’t say a single other word about software patents without using language inappropriate for a sunny New Year’s day.
Safety · Late in the year, I made this web site private by default, by turning on HTTPS. One of the inputs that influenced me most strongly in doing this was Adam Langley’s Living with HTTPS, which I recommend (to geeks only) reading end-to-end.
Politics (US) · Boy, was there ever a lot of it this year. Most of the Big Important pieces have been over-linked, probably, so here are a few that I thought said things outside of the main stream of discourse.
David Frum’s Why “You Didn't Build That” Stings the Successful discusses That Which Must Not Be Said on the right wing: that those who’ve succeeded in life, as measured in dollars, owe a whole lot to great big gobs of dumb stinking luck. I know it’s certainly true for myself.
Then, after the election, the Romney defeat provoked, I thought, some unusually good writing. For example, Billmon’s elegant and razor-edged Mourning in America.
Everyone has already linked to the Atlantic magazine’s rundown on the excellence of Obama’s Internet campaign infrastructure. In fact so did the National Review, approximately the white-hot center of U.S. ultraconservative thought. I was genuinely tickled by their take, with a hilarious (and revealing) note as to the real reason why the GOP will never be able to equal the Obama effort. Hint: It involves a picture of Harper Reed.
Politics (non-US) · I know there are too many Bad Things Happening in the World to pay attention to all of them, but I really think the Chinese brutalization of Tibet deserves more. Check out Stephen McDonell’s Rare footage shows extreme measures of Tibetan protesters. This is ABC News, an Aussie TV network, and two warnings are required: First, the video starts automatically, and second, the footage is soul-scarring.
Whether you want to or not, it’s almost impossible to not pay attention to the ongoing Middle-East tragedy. Here are a few insightful and thus depressing takes. Ostensibly about the Romney campaign, but not really, is Mitt Romney on Israel: Kicking the can, from The Economist blogs. Not fun, but awfully insightful. Then Elisheva Goldberg, in Ha’aretz, has a horrifying survey of the allies Bibi Netanyahu has gathered about him to contest (and probably win) the upcoming Israeli election: Likud: The Party of Annexation. Brace yourself.
Photography · Shutterfinger is one of my favorite photoblogs: check out A Taste of Luxury, about what it feels like to carry around, and shoot with, a really big expensive high-end camera.
One habit that’s pretty well confined to fairly serious photo-geeks is the use of prime (i.e. non-zoom) lenses. But Dan Mitchell, a very fine photographer, isn’t convinced, in Photographic Myths and Platitudes — Primes Make You a Better Photographer.
Life Online · We’re still making it up as we go along. Here’s an important question, asked by Derek Powazek: What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?. The sound bite is the title.
One of our problems is the proliferation of lies, and how hard it is to kill them. For example, read David Kaiser’s I Didn’t Write That.
Unclassifiable but Good · The Online Photographer is a photoblog, but Get It Done While You Can is about when and how hard to work; is anything more important?
Steve Guttenberg reports from the audio-quality front lines in Is music too loud?; if you care about music you should really read this.
James May of Top Gear on fun cars; oh yeah.
For a guaranteed smile, drop by the Early Blues site, any time.
Garth Turner writes a funny, hard-edged blog on the dysfunctions of Canadian real estate; I can’t recommend it enough for those of us north of 49°. But I think everyone might want to read Spirit; it’s not gentle but it’ll warm your heart.