Hard Reset

January 4th, 2017

Our pop culture mostly presents telepathy as a cartoony curse: The power arrives, the cascade of thoughts overwhelms the telepath, temple-grabbing and visual effects ensue. (Like other primarily mental superpowers, telepathy is a tidy figure for the hormones of adolescence that we pretend doesn’t follow us into adulthood.) In our narratives, only a few characters usually possess or gain the strength to wield their skills successfully; most dissolve under the flood.

Anyway, then some of the baby nerds raised on genre media grew up and made a giant real-life telepathy machine for all of us to plug into, and that’s been…illuminating.

Most of my internet sanity-retention tactics over the last couple years have been rooted in the assumption that the online roar of anxiety would lessen a bit, especially after the 2016 election. I did a few things to tune my experience, and they helped me stick it out. Then the worst thing happened, and now we’re facing down a whole ugly flock of existential threats, along with the usual systemic, ongoing wrongs. Terror blended with uncertainty is one of the mammal brain’s worst enemies, and the social internet—especially Twitter—is soaked in it. Read more ⇒

Ditching Twitter

September 14th, 2014

I’ve been on Twitter since the beginning of 2008. In the six and a half years since I joined, I’ve used the service enthusiastically, exuberantly, without the professional/adult restraint that many of my peers have wisely elected to maintain. Before it got big, when I lived in a little apartment with red walls in Portland, Twitter was my water cooler, my connection to freelance colleagues and a few friends in the tech world. Later on, in Brooklyn (and Queens and Manhattan and Portland again and Brooklyn again), it became a treasured part of a broader social life, encompassing work and grad school and friends from all over.

I called it my rosary, the thing I reached for when I felt anxious, after Metafilter stopped serving that purpose. As Twitter expanded and my own little slice of it grew as well, I called it my front porch and defended its quirks and downsides. But now the magic has turned, in ways that have felt irrevocable. I’m not angry at Twitter for changing, but I’ve been sad to feel that something so oddly entwined with my intellectual and emotional life is now beyond my use. Read more ⇒

Three Minutes That Might Change Your World

August 12th, 2014

Pietro Vesconti’s world map from 1321 On August 16th at midnight, applications close for the 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellowships. The Fellowships offer a chance for a handful of curious, code-friendly people to spend ten (paid!) months in a newsroom, working with journalists, designers, and technologists on all kinds of projects. We’ve collected posts from current Fellows, […]

Thinking About Mozilla

March 31st, 2014

Like many people inside and outside Mozilla, I was quite startled last week to discover that the board of the Mozilla Corporation—a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, my employer—had appointed as CEO a man whose financial support of Prop 8 had already been a major topic of conversation a few years back.

In the days since, the conversation about Eich’s appointment has been incredibly encouraging to me, both within Mozilla and in the larger tech community. I’m a new Mozilla employee, having gone full-time as OpenNews’s director of content in January, and my day-to-day work is very much focused on OpenNews, rather than the wider Mozilla world, so I didn’t know what to expect from my colleagues when this news broke. At every turn, I have been heartened by the degree of passion and care that have been apparent as colleague after colleague steps forward to express nuanced opinions, and by the commitment to equality and fairness that runs through the group like the stitches in the binding of a book. It’s less that I underestimated my colleagues before this mess arose and more that I underestimated nearly everyone’s investment in this issue.

In the conversation outside of Mozilla, I have been surprised and encouraged to see so many people get angry in service of a cause that has only gained a plurality of support in the US in the last few years. And as much as I’d rather not see a boycott of everything Mozilla does (which, it seems, most people still think of as “Firefox”) based on the actions of a single person affiliated with the organization, I am completely psyched to see this many people this angry in defense of civil rights.

So that has been incredibly good to see. But then there is the thing itself.
Read more ⇒

Hello, Hello

February 26th, 2014

Last week, the Editorially team announced that they were closing up shop and began the process of an orderly shut-down. The loss has been difficult primarily because I loved the tool and the team, and I thought they deserved to succeed. I still think that, and I’m going to be sad for a long time, and I may eventually write more about why. But today I’m going to be selfish instead, because the secondary reason I took this loss hard is that Editorially had become indispensable to my work. Losing it feels like losing a cherished and necessary robot-arm.

Editorial work—reading, drafting, revising, reviewing, line-editing, copyediting, marking up, illustrating, and publishing—is what I do for a living. It’s also a good chunk of what I do for love. And like a programmer with very specific requirements for their dev environment, I care a lot about the details of my editorial tools: how they work, what they allow, how they look, how trustworthy they seem. Read more ⇒

Filters for Humans

April 26th, 2013

In the last week, I’ve thought a lot about what I might do as a listener and a speaker on the internet to try to preserve the good while saving my head and heart from the worst of the shouting. This is a very sketchy first draft, but it’s what I’ve come up with so far. Read more ⇒

Brooklyn from Orbit

June 21st, 2012

The last six months have been dizzying, in mostly good ways: invigorating conferences, really fun projects, badass new friends and collaborators. A lot of travel, too. I’m home for awhile, though, and it’s time to take stock and make a couple of announcements. Read more ⇒

Announcing Contents magazine

August 31st, 2011

The conversation about content strategy, online publishing, and all the subfields and specializations that surround them is flourishing. Wonderfully, it’s no longer possible to keep track of the posts, comments, talks, and events that take place every week within our world. And it’s not just that we’re voluble: our community is extraordinarily generous with knowledge, help, and professional support.

After benefiting from this conversation in so many ways, we’d like to give something back. A bounded collection of ideas and connections. A place to catch up with the movement of our fledgling industry and the much older fields from which it emerged. An editorial lens. Read more ⇒

The Forecast is Awesome

December 31st, 2010

That was a hell of a year. It has been a ridiculously wonderful experience to participate in and learn from the giant, piñata-studded, slightly tipsy party that has been content strategy in 2010. (On the personal side, I’ve had a lot of wonderful conversations and read a lot of spectacular things. And rather miraculously, the members of my immediate family are ending the year alive and in good health.) Read more ⇒

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

December 13th, 2010

A few weeks ago, before the snowpocalypse, I visited the lovely people at Brain Traffic in their Minneapolis lair. A visit to Brain Traffic central is a lot like walking in on the planning session at the beginning of a heist movie, except that you don’t expect everyone to get shot in the end, and the fridge is full of cupcakes. Read more ⇒