What Drew said

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I agree with everything here, the latest weeknote from Drew Stock, an acquaintance who’s documenting his creation of Bellow, ‘a new way to call each other’. Since joining Podio I’ve struggled at times to come to terms with the overwhelming rationality of life at a tech company. Test, learn, measure, improve. Repeat. What place is there for intuition and vision in an environment where every idea has to be quickly validated?

Drew eloquently teases out the limitations inherent in the orthodoxy that permeates start-up culture:

A grad-school instructor once told me products that attempt to prioritize cultural invention over problem solving, no matter how delightful, cute, or mind-expanding, would always result in flash-in-the-pan novelties with no enduring power. Better to start from a place of real user need — at least that was the kind of ambiguity that could be managed and de-risked with best practices. I internalized this as a challenge to find (and maybe create?) examples that would tell a different story.

And, using Snapchat and its confusing UI to exemplify his argument, he makes the case for seeking out new vistas over and above the solving of problems. Inventionism over utilitarianism:

It’s funny, whenever someone points to an example of a company like this that fumbled their way into success, vocal parties will tell you to ignore whatever they did because it was a fluke. There’s no use searching for patterns between all such anomalies because whatever they did is not reproducible. Instead, you’re supposed to follow the recipe. Keep your focus narrow, your purpose clear. Make sure your hypotheses are tight, your users well-researched, and avoid noodling…

One more thing about Snapchat: to me, their contribution is as much cultural as it is utilitarian. Sure, ephemerality has become a buzzword, but it’s an important counterpoint to the permanence we assumed inherent to the internet. Not only that, but the app has introduced video as an easily capturable and manipulatable element of collage, resulting in a high-low aesthetic that celebrates authors, yet remains distinctly Snapchat. Other vistas, basically.

Above all, we oppose randomness

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Like a fractal running through human psychology, maybe we have a tendency not just to create keepsakes but to create ones with self-referential loops in them.

So I called Hofstadter to get his take. He was reserved but intrigued. I suggested that many of these passwords seem to be quiet celebrations of things we hold dear. Hofstadter concurred. His primary password, he said, was the same one he has used since 1975, when he was a visiting scholar at Stanford. It consisted of a sentimental date from his past coupled with a word problem.

“Might there be something deeper at work in these password habits and in the self-referential loops you studied?” I asked.

Some of these patterns we discover, Hofstadter said, others we create. But above all, “we oppose randomness,” he said. “Keepsake passwords are part of that.”

The Secret Life of Passwords.

Fanø

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From the summer, looking back to Esbjerg from the island of Fanø.

A few more shots here.

Everything’s been done part 5,987,563

These recent ads for Nordnet got a good reception. And for good reason, they’re honest, humble and funny, and they still convey a product message. Only trouble is, it’s all been done before: this is still one of the greatest ads ever made – a shame nobody ever saw it:

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Dive bar Christmas

Tacky fairy lights strung along liquor bottle shelves, splashes of neon diffused on begrimed wood panelling, your favourite bar stool; a vivid dream of a Christmas half imagined, half remembered.

Tech will eat itself

Scopely, a mobile-game publishing company, rewards a new hire—or anyone who can deliver one—with eleven thousand dollars wrapped in bacon, an oil portrait of himself, and a harpoon gun.

The New Yorker on tech’s talent war.

Film vs digital again again

“This is why I prefer film to digital,” Nolan said, turning to me. “It’s a physical object that you create, that you agree upon. The print that I have approved when I take it from here to New York and I put it on a different projector in New York, if it looks too blue, I know the projector has a problem with its mirror or its ball or whatever. Those kind of controls aren’t really possible in the digital realm.”

Christopher Nolan talks to The Guardian.

Edward’s midwives

We had a son last week. The little blighter and his amazing mum are doing great. These were his midwives, Marie and Matilde. They were brilliant:

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