This is a fun article aimed at aspiring visual artists but I think there's good advice here for anyone who makes things. I especially appreciated Embed thought in material and Learn the Difference Between Subject Matter and Content.
This post resonated on many levels, especially: "Today you have to choke your way through the money-making miasma to find the joy." I agree that a separate search engine would be nice but automatically differentiating indie content from sponsored content seems like an impossible task. Maybe more human curation of the web is the answer. (Said by a human who likes to curate the web.)
What's the german word for simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating and your fingers are crossed for both not destroying the atmosphere and maybe helping it and how much damage could it possibly do but also a lot?
The folks who produce Cool Tools have a side hustle (?) newsletter called Recomendo. Each week they send six recommendations of cool stuff. Most of the time it's a product or tool (like Cool Tools) but sometimes it's a tech tip or an article. It's always great. And they recently packaged up 500 of their recommendations into a book: Recomendo: 500 brief reviews of cool stuff. Now we have an answer to the age-old question: who will recommend the recommenders? This guy.
I hesitate to share any "war on Christmas" garbage—even to refute it—but I think this article is a nice summary of why centralized global social networks aren't the best platform to use for joking with your friends. Every context shift weaponizes the jokes in a different way; whether it's for ad view money or political outrage or most likely both. We have other ways to share jokes! [via waxy links]
If you like to take the mystery out of things by putting them into a historical context have I got a book for you. The Battle for Christmas is not about the phrase "war on Christmas" and all of the BS that conjures. This book is about how Christmas evolved from a rowdy public festival into the more family-focused holiday people practice today. Nissenbaum also explores the origins of Christmas trees, Santa, and gift-giving. He supports his arguments with detailed historic documents and reading it feels like visting a familiar but alternate universe. I like to revisit this book every year around this time as my family cuts down a tree, hauls it inside, and puts shiny things on it.
For a lighter take on the history behind Christmas traditions check out Mark Forsyth's A Christmas Cornucopia. I'm a big fan of Forsyth's books about language (especially The Elements of Eloquence) and he brings his same humor and love of language to this topic.
Justin Kosslyn is addressing global security concerns at Google and here he argues that friction can be a positive force in technology. We tend to think of friction as something that should be removed from every aspect of our lives. (e.g. If we could only do our banking transactions faster than we could spend more time doing what we want.) Kosslyn argues, "It’s time to bring friction back. Friction buys time, and time reduces systemic risk. A disease cannot become an epidemic if patients are cured more quickly than the illness spreads." Ezra Klein at Vox ties this idea to the success of podcasting in The case for slowing everything down a bit: "I believe that one reason podcasts have exploded is that they carry so much friction: They’re long and messy, they often take weeks or months to produce, they’re hard to clip and share and skim — and as a result, they’re calmer, more human, more judicious, less crazy-making." Meanwhile, Farhad Manjoo signs off of his NYT technology column with a similar sentiment in How to Survive the Next Era of Tech (Slow Down and Be Mindful): "Adopt late. Slow down."
YouTube is ending its video annotations feature and Andy has rounded up a collection of some of the most innovative uses. It's a great reminder that people are endlessly inventive with any tools they have available to them. Even though most annotations are an annoying distraction, people did interesting things with them and we lose some of our history when companies remove content. Check them out within the next couple weeks—then they'll be gone.