Podcast Thing

A couple weeks ago, I launched Podcast Thing, a new project with my friend Veronica Corzo-Duchardt.

Podcast Thing is a tool to help people find new podcasts to listen to, after we saw our friends on Twitter asking each other for podcast recommendations over and over.

As it turns out, recommending podcasts is incredibly tricky. We wanted to strike a balance between being comprehensive (linking to all kinds of weird and independent podcasts that don’t normally make these kinds of best-of lists) and curatorial (we didn’t want to give people so many recommendations that the list became useless).

We turned to sites that we admire for having solved this problem, The Setup and The Wirecutter, and stole the best parts of each. From the Wirecutter, we stole the idea of short editorial recommendations (and explanations for those recommendations) by me and Veronica. From The Setup, we stole the idea of unedited micro-interviews with a diverse group of interesting people people. We’ll periodically update the site so that recommendations reflect what interviewees are talking about and listening to.

The site is live, here are a few of my favorite interviews:

What do you think?

32

Visiting Wikimedia to hang out Brandon Harris and some of the amazing hackers who make Wikipedia work.

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As part moving in to the new office, I decided to finally list my business on Google Maps so when people search for “Maxistentialism,” it pops up.

Unfortunately, when you try to register your business on Google, they require you to put in a phone number, and I didn’t want to do that for the following reasons:

This left me with only one option: I had to build my own robot that I could send forth to battle telemarketing robots when they called.

To build my own robot, I bought a number on Twilio ($1/mo), which I listed with Google. Now when that number gets called, my robot recites a twenty minute passage from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities before allowing you to leave a message, which it then transcribes and emails to me.

The number is (312) 756-0182 - give it a call.

Here’s how to make your own phonebot:

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The email app Mailbox is probably the most exciting technology thing of the week, half a million people are waiting in an imaginary line to use it.

Their demo video is really cool, and MG Siegler (in my opinion one of the smartest and least abrasive people who writes about technology things) has been calling it “game changing" for some time.

There’s been a lot of bellyaching and general Twitter rabble-rousing about the wait list to use the app (which I hate to contribute to, although apparently not enough to miss that softball) but I actually have some more fundamental concerns:

  • Mailbox is a free download and there’s no way to pay for it, meaning the company has not set itself up to always act in its users’ best interest
  • Mailbox has a major dependency on third party platform (Gmail) that it has no influence over

I’m still very excited for Mailbox. Email is one of the biggest problems in my life - Paul Graham said that an attempt to fix email would be “frighteningly ambitious" - and Mailbox is a fresh approach. The design I’ve seen so far is fantastic, and despite my tweets above I actually think they’re handing the rollout in a smart way; nothing gets people more excited than waiting for something.

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“This iPhone 5 review unit is the single nicest object in my possession. I own things that cost and remain worth more (e.g. my car). But I own nothing this nice.”

5

This is Janken, a Rock, Paper, Scissors robot that will beat you 100% of the time. It uses a high-speed vision system to surpass the abilities human beings.

Automaton:

It only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and just a few more for it to make the shape that beats you, but it all happens so fast that it’s more or less impossible to tell that the robot is waiting until you commit yourself before it makes its move, allowing it to win 100% of the time.

Machine vision is almost here, and it will change everything. I hope we get a version of the future that looks more like Star Trek than like this, but I guess that depends on us more than the robots.

P.S. Open this video in a new tab, and then watch the video above.

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The Mitt Romney iPhone app misspells the word “America.”

(via Siracusa)

P.S. It’s in 320×480. I wonder if was developed overseas.

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Holy crap I’m on The Setup talking about what kind of tech I use.

The Setup is one of my favorite internet places, and I’m both honored and confused to be part of it. Other interviews include John GruberMandy BrownAndy HertzfeldHarper ReedJason KottkeErik SpiekermannWilliam Gibson (!)Horace DediuJoshua AllenFrank ChimeroMG SieglerShaun InmanJessica HischeMarco ArmentNeven MrganJohn SiracusaPaul GrahamJonathan CoultonGabe Newell, and Adam Lisagor.

9

Your company sucks at social media

This is probably my favorite thing that’s ever been written about “social media strategy.”

@fart:

First of all, stop hiring marketing “professionals” to spout constant bit.ly links to barely-coupons and silly Facebook Like or retweet-based promotions, especially if you’re just selling dryer sheets and toilet paper and shit. Nobody actually “likes” everyday things like that, and the fact that in some office building somewhere a board of directors gets presented with facts like, “Over 65,000 people ‘Liked’ our butthole-cleaning product this quarter,” should make everyone involved feel a little bit bad about taking a paycheck. You have done nothing meaningful and you’re wasting your life. If someone is having sex with you, they should stop.

Stop hiring the most miserable customer service drones to be your company’s spokespeople.Avoid giving the mic to people who are obviously sick of dealing with the very people they’re trying to interact with. If your timeline is actively and constantly just apologizing to people for your terrible product, that doesn’t show that you “care” or whatever, it just shows that everyone thinks your product is terrible, and more importantly, that in your ever-blackening heart you know it’s terrible.

Stop caring about essentially made-up KPIs and terrible metrics that measure nothing but how well your brand games a system that nobody else on earth cares about. The amount of followers, likes, and retweets your brand gets is practically meaningless. Nobody’s surfing Facebook to see which major appliance manufacturer has the most likes before selecting a microwave, and No-Fucking-Body is going to go pick your brand of toilet bowl cleaner over anyone else’s because you ‘engaged the community’ by asking if everybody was scrubbing the can for their March Madness party. That’s bullshit, and you are a hack. Measure success by whether people are interacting with you or talking about your company in meaningful ways, such as by Real Feedback (the kind you didn’t force into the funnel).

Stop hiring dimwitted people who only sound qualified because they had the words “Social Media” on their resume. In fact, shred any resume or CV immediately where those words appear. Some dingus having a habit of Instagramming their lunch and/or liveblogging their daily ride on the Caltrain does not make them good at anything, despite the fact that they may think so. Never ever let any applicant use the word “virality” in front of your face. Running a video game guild does not qualify as experience for anything but running a video game guild. Just as having a DeviantArt page doesn’t make you an artist, having your own Twitter account does not make you a viable human being in any respect.

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“[Facebook has changed] the verb ‘to like’ from a state of mind to an action that you perform with your computer mouse, from a feeling to an assertion of consumer choice. And liking, in general, is commercial culture’s substitute for loving. The striking thing about all consumer products - and none more so than electronic devices and applications — is that they’re designed to be immensely likable. This is, in fact, the definition of a consumer product, in contrast to the product that is simply itself and whose makers aren’t fixated on your liking it. (I’m thinking here of jet engines, laboratory equipment, serious art and literature.) But if you consider this in human terms, and you imagine a person defined by a desperation to be liked, what do you see? You see a person without integrity, without a center. In more pathological cases, you see a narcissist - a person who can’t tolerate the tarnishing of his or her self-image that not being liked represents, and who therefore either withdraws from human contact or goes to extreme, integrity-sacrificing lengths to be likable.”

55

“When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Our denuded networked selves don’t look more free, they just look more owned.”

17

CNN:

At $500 billion, Apple is worth more than Poland

Business Insider:

Ugh, No, Apple Is Not Worth More Than Poland

Remind me why we pay attention to CNN?

14

“[Google+] makes it really easy to sort people into the holes, which is good, because this lets you divide people into clusters and lie to each group in different ways, which makes it easier to preserve the fictions that make up our polite racist society.”

28

New York Times:

When Barack Obama joined Silicon Valley’s top luminaries for dinner in California last February, each guest was asked to come with a question for the president.

But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States?

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

[…]

One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

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