Newsletter No.3 — Sep 17, 2017

Sentiers No.3

Heads up: For a couple of reasons related to early writing methods, the first forty-five issues archived here are “pre last review” and haven’t been fully re-reviewed yet. Please forgive typos and miscellaneous mistakes if you see them! They are also less structured than more recent issues and thus haven’t been split into multiple notes. (Yet?)

Completely unrelated slice of life: back in 2009 when we spent a few months in Berlin, I was impressed and jealous about how many people were flying in and out of the city, “I’m off to Portugal for five days,” “we’re going to London for the weekend,” “I’m in town for a conference.” etc. etc. Unrelated to each other, over the next ten days or so, I have friends from Paris, San Francisco, DC, Berlin and Geneva in town at various times.

For the last couple of weeks I have been falling in love with Bear, “a beautiful, flexible writing app for crafting notes and prose.” Like so many apps these days it suffers from the plague of being on a subscription model instead of just selling the app but at least the price is reasonable.

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After years of fascinating us with its voyages around Saturn, Cassini was “end of lifed” this past week, diving into the gas giant. Have a look at 100 Images From Cassini’s Mission to Saturn and this megathread of images by Jesse Rogerson.

Magazines & Books
The Small Media Company Making Independent Publishing A Threat Again
Loved this story about a young online publication generating revenu through subscriptions and not ads. I’m looking forward to watching their next steps since living and working from one apartment and not paying yourselves (founders) salaries is… unsustainable.

Ragebait pays. It drives traffic. It also insulates ideas from discussion, and flattens our lives into hashtags and campaigns. Perfectly arranged for data analysis, but terrible for capturing how we actually feel and experience the world. In reality, our lives are complex and difficult. So many of us are in fact marginalized by the culture we’re producing.

+ I haven’t read the whole thing yet but if you're interested in books, magazines, business models and financing, The Anatomy Of A Kickstarter by Jan Chipchase is bound to be an important read. (Medium members only though.)

Decentralized Social Networks Sound Great. Too Bad They’ll Never Work

The platforms that host and inform our networked public sphere are unelected, unaccountable, and often impossible to audit or oversee.

Software is a Long Con (Quinn Norton)

Like pollution and habitat destruction, security is an externality. And really, it’s not just security, it’s whether the damn things work at all.

The fantastic Deb Chachra was subbing for Spencer Wright on The Prepared and resurfaced the excellent term “systemic sublime” originally coined in Every cup of coffee is a spectacle of logistics by Tim Carmody. Good wording to frame some of our current world.

This on Technology, complexity, anxiety, catastrophe by Jon Evans feels a bit too close to home.

Tesla flips a switch to increase the range of some cars in Florida to help people evacuate great, but that also means normally they are selling the same hardware at different prices, throttling the battery through software.

Car Futures
Why Paris will be the first post-car metropolis
A look at the plans for transport in Paris over the coming years, including how they will be using the Olympics as an opportunity for some important changes. This bit especially drew my attention:

But that’s largely because Paris was built pre-car, and never had the space for the 20th-century technology. Now, as private cars start fading out, pre-car cities will come into their own. Paris, capital of the 19th century, could be the capital of the 21st.

The world’s largest car market just announced an imminent end to gas and diesel cars
That’s China they are talking about. Only the latest in a string of big announcement about phasing out gas and diesel: Netherlands and Norway 2025, India 2030, Scotland 2032, France and Britain 2040. Regardless of how those targets change or are pushed backs, there’s a definite trend at work here.

That’s why we can’t have nice things
We’ve know for a while about the great trash patch in the middle of the Pacific, largely made up of plastic but it’s everywhere, including in sea salt and in tap water. Bon appétit.

And, by the way, did you know about The great nutrient collapse?

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.”

Conspiracies, Corruption and Climate

The bottom line is that we are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea — the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world. And this willful ignorance is deeply frightening. Indeed, it may end up destroying civilization.

I was kind of bored by these topics but some links anyway: Equifax sucks, Facebook sold ads to the Russians and Apple launched some stuff, including the Steve Jobs Theater but, you know, Stores Are Not Town Squares.