Recorded on November 5th, 2013

When asked why he stopped making Calvin and Hobbes:

You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic.

You’ve got to give it to someone who knows when it’s time to stop and has the courage to actually do it.

Defending Marketing Against Fundamentalism

Recorded on November 4th, 2013

As usual, some good thinking from Martin Weigel:

So until we have identified the specific circumstances and needs of a business, marketing is  — like Schrodinger’s cat — an ampersand.  It is is everything it can be:

Realtime and fixed

Personalized and mass

Always on and scheduled

Cheap and expensive

Mobile and tethered

Utility and ‘image’

In beta and the final product

About small ideas and big ideas

Interactive and one-way

etc.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of right or wrong, especially in an environment that is slow to change. But his point is valid. The problem justifies the means.

When will Facebook be overrun by the dead?

Recorded on November 1st, 2013

Adage ran a story today (that I happened to see while deleting their unopened email) about teens leaving Facebook but Facebook still having more teens than anyone else.

Marketing and agency people get nervous about things like this because Facebook is an easy way to put impressive looking numbers on charts alongside words like engagement, social, and digital. Facebook is the beard of the marketing world. Companies that are incredibly traditional in thinking can fool their board members and stock holders into thinking they’re with it and engaging with millennials.

Anyways, I thought the Adage story contrasted nicely with a post that Kottke linked to that tries to work out the point at which Facebook has more profiles for the dead than the living.

Based on the site’s growth rate, and the age breakdown of their users over time,[2] there are probably 10 to 20 million people who created Facebook profiles who have since died.

These people are, at the moment, spread out pretty evenly across the age spectrum. Young people have a much lower death rate than people in their sixties or seventies, but they make up a substantial share of the dead on Facebook simply because there have been so many of them using it.

It’s nice to know that we’ll all end up on the winning team.

Cognitive Dissonance and Video Games

Recorded on October 31st, 2013

Jamie Madigan on whether he would’ve liked Dead Space 3 more if he paid full price for a new copy rather than buying used:

Now, I had really liked the first two Dead Space games, but after just a few hours of tromping through another space station fighting more necromorphs, I felt completely bored. I didn’t like it. I stopped playing.

This made me think about the subjects in Festinger’s experiment, and whether or not I might be feeling the lack of cognitive dissonance. Or more to the point, if I had paid $60 for Dead Space 3, would I have convinced myself that I was enjoying it, rather than face the fact that I had decided to spend all that money on a full priced game? Even worse, would I have gone online to told people who didn’t like the game that they were wrong and that all their arguments were invalid?

Probably. A little, at least. Research on cognitive dissonance theory and consumer choice exploded4 in the 1970s and researchers found that shoppers were generally willing to change their attitudes towards purchases in order to confirm their belief that they were worth the price –and vice versa. Researchers have also found that cognitive dissonance after purchases (a.k.a., “buyer’s remorse”) can be reduced by getting directly involved with the purchasing decision (as opposed to just following the advice of marketing material or salespeople) and taking more time to make the decision can reduce cognitive dissonance. Probably because shoppers can more easily convince themselves that they were well informed and not duped.

The answer is yes. You get what you pay for.

Turns. Out.

Intergalactic travel is much stranger than sci-fi.

Recorded on October 30th, 2013

Stewart Brand:

Standard-physics travel will require extremely long voyages, much longer than a human lifetime. Schwartz suggested four options. 1) Generational ships—whole mini-societies commit to voyages that only their descendents will complete. 2) Sleep ships—like in the movie “Avatar,” travelers go into hibernation. 3) Relativistic ships—a near the speed of light, time compresses, so that travelers may experience only 10 years while 100 years pass back on Earth. 4) Download ships—”Suppose we learn how to copy human consciousness into some machine-like device. Such ‘iPersons’ would be able to control an avatar that could function in environments inhospitable to biological humans. They would not be limited to Earthlike planets.

Thus his four starship scenarios… 1) “Stuck in the Mud”—we can’t or won’t muster the ability to travel far. 2) “God’s Galaxy”—the faithful deploy their discipline to mount interstellar missions to carry the Word to the stars; they could handle generational ships. 3) “Escape from a Dying Planet”—to get lots of people to new worlds and new hope would probably require sleep ships. 4) “Trillionaires in Space” —the future likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson will have the means and desire to push the envelope all the way, employing relativistic and download ships or even faster-than-light travel.

It sounds like the most likely scenarios involve people believing in something larger. God, or the end of the world, or a trillionaire’s belief in his or her own ego. This is all assuming we don’t ruin everything here before we can get away…which seems like the most likely scenario to me. But maybe I need to stop reading about peak oil.

Soldiers Feel Loss, Anger When Their Robots Die

Recorded on October 28th, 2013

There were a few articles about soldiers becoming emotionally attached to their battlefield robots a couple weeks ago. It’s stuck with me because IT’S SO WEIRD, and it might be something we all have to deal with at home. My wife already gives me grief about how often I have my nose stuck in the screen of my phone.

These soldiers take care of the robots that do a great deal of their dirty work, such as bomb disposal. They learn the robots’ quirks, what the robot can and cannot do. They train with the robots every day. Then, one day, something goes awry and the robot is blown to pieces, creating a sense of anger and sadness that soldiers have trouble deciphering.

They couldn’t quite verbalize the reason behind their sadness, but Carpenter believes it stems from the loss of something familiar, a semi-autonomous object with which they spent every day for quite some time.

Carpenter is concerned that further emotional attachment to robots could affect a soldier’s decision-making skills. Petman and BigDog, robots designed by Boston Dynamics, may one day be used on battlefields. (The bots look like a human and a dog, respectively.)

After watching videos of Petman and BigDog, I’m already feeling a bit sentimental.

The Siren Call of Dropbox Blogging Services

Recorded on October 13th, 2013

Gary tweeted about a new blogging service called Droplets the other day, noting that it would fuel my obsession with blog platform switching.

Luckily, it was easy to brush off once I saw the bit about self-hosting.

Also, I don’t have a blog platform switching obsession.I have my 6 month chip.

But his tweet did trigger something in my brain, because I’ve spent most of tonight looking at Dropbox integrated blogging platforms. Things like Scriptogr.am, Markbox and Skrivr.

They work by turning markdown formatted text files in Dropbox into blog posts … they don’t do much else. But the ability to just write a text file and stick it in a folder with any images I’d like to use sounds perfect for how I’m doing most of my writing these days: markdown formatted in text editors like Byword, Drafts and Editorial. I’m not using a ton of other features with my blog anyways.

I’m not ready to leave Squarespace, because it’s 90% awesome and I feel like they’ve got something in the works that’ll make publishing a little bit better. But I might start playing around with one or two of those other services on the side.

Now Broadcasting Via $22 Standing Desk

Recorded on October 8th, 2013

I’ve been on the standing desk bandwagon for awhile now, but was having a hard time making it happen at the office.

Then I found instructions for building a standing desk on a regular desk for $22 of Ikea parts:

Building a standing desk on a regular desk

When you’re working in a coworking space (we’re in General Assembly in New York) or in a regular office, the friction to go from sitting to standing is usually high:

The cheapest adjustable standing desks are around $800 (geekdesk) You already have an existing desk in your workspace Your boss would rather you die in your chair than live on your feet Marco Arment while working at Tumblr built his standing desk from stacking cans of soda stacking cans. Ryan and I did it with parts from Ikea for $22 (+ tax)

So, what’s the recipe?

Lack side table - $7.99 Viktor Shelf - $5.99 Ekby Valter bracket $4.00 x 2 Screws from home: free. Total cost: $21.98

As a note, the Lack side table is now an appalling $9.99, so make sure you’re setting aside the full $24. Go here for the full instructions.

Here’s mine:

OSHA has only been closed for 2 days…

Recorded on October 3rd, 2013

We’ve descended into savagery.

Tell us something that will save us from ourselves.

Recorded on September 29th, 2013

Alan Watts and his advice, or lack thereof, on writing:

Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.