Recent Things

Well, That Escalated Quickly

Once upon a time, in Washington… One night, in the fall of 2002, three twenty year old kids from Rhode Island were, once again, driving to band practice somewhere out in the less-tourist-friendly inner suburbs of Maryland. They were early in their junior years of college, and two of them — the annoying bass player and the goofy drummer— were visiting from far away schools. The world’s worst rhythm section had convinced each other that a semester somewhere else would be a great way to meet girls, which probably says a lot about how well that had been going for

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We Should Care About Why We Get Paid

The amoral dumpster fire that is online advertising I very briefly touched on this a few weeks ago, but to state the obvious once again — online advertising is a mess. The landscape is a rapidly changing free-for-all with multiple business interests (wireless providers, hardware makers, publishers, social media platforms) all trying to shake money out of consumers. For instance, wireless carriers want to charge you for data as if you had any idea how much data you need, and publishers want to load up 100kb web pages with 15 megabytes of animated ads and javascript trackers as if data

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What’s Wrong With the NFL

Reading about Mike Tomlin’s headset conspiracies and Ben Roethlisberger’s “unwritten rules” has highlighted what’s really sucking the life out of the NFL for me these last few years — growing anti-intellectualism. I know that sounds like a pretty obvious potential problem with a league known for massive, systemic brain injuries, but bear with me here. Because what’s really bothering me isn’t people being stupid. It’s how angry the league and many of the people in it get when someone is smart. I grew up playing a lot of backyard football, and one of the real joys of actually playing —

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

teachers I saw this piece in the Washington Post today about the trouble Indiana is having recruiting teachers. What’s the problem? According to the Post : “Pretty much the same thing as in Arizona, Kansas and other states where teachers are fleeing: a combination of under-resourced schools, the loss of job protections, unfair teacher evaluation methods, an increase in the amount of mandated standardized testing and the loss of professional autonomy.” People with their finger on the pulse of these things can debate the specifics, but my mom was an public elementary teacher for over thirty years, and one of

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All Good Things

Guess what? Last Friday was my last day at Contactually. That’s because a few weeks ago, I took a new job several blocks down the street at FiscalNote, where I’ll be heading up Product Marketing. Wait… why go? That’s a good question, especially since the last year and half at Contactually has been, on the whole, an awesome experience. I got to play a big role in helping an emerging company basically triple its revenue, and I got to do it by doing lots of things I’m good at. I had a blast working with a bunch of people I

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Hunting for Numbers

A haunting description from David Simon of analytics and “accountability” gone bad in the Baltimore police department : “How do you reward cops? Two ways: promotion and cash. That’s what rewards a cop. If you want to pay overtime pay for having police fill the jails with loitering arrests or simple drug possession or failure to yield, if you want to spend your municipal treasure rewarding that, well the cop who’s going to court 7 or 8 days a month — and court is always overtime pay — you’re going to damn near double your salary every month. On the

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The Music Business

There was a big, much-discussed announcement about Tidal the other day, a relatively expensive, Spotify-like streaming music service Jay-Z bought for about $50 million a while ago. He’s (or whoever works for him, I guess) relaunched it as an “artist-centric” service, with the idea that exclusive content will justify people (a) paying more than they would for Spotify, and (b) paying at all, which the vast majority of Spotify users do not do. Not a bad idea, just an uninteresting one “Tidal is not a solution for anything other than our inability to remove the middlemen who helped make Tidal’s

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Thanks, John

John Anderson, my friend and co-worker at Bamboo, passed away from ALS this week. I’ve thought about it a lot — hell, I’ve thought about it a lot since I found out he even had ALS — and while I struggled even talking to him about it, or talking about it with anyone at all, I know he’d want me to write something. I know that, because John always wanted me, and seemingly everyone he worked with, to write something. Something funny, something helpful… just something. He always told us he’d take care of the rest, and I hope he does

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The Ideology of Agile ("A.K.A., you kids get off my lawn")

then and now As somebody who graduated from high school at the turn of the millennium, there’s a very clear distinction between “then” and “now”. It’s so jarring, in fact, that sometimes I forget about it until I’m reminiscing with an old friend, and we suddenly realize some key element of the story like : nobody had cell phones nobody had social networking when people moved away, they were just GONE, usually forever we wrote a lot of things with our hands … or something similar. Then we laugh about how old we’ve gotten, and move on. What I’m talking

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Quality is Hard Work

From Seth Godin :  “Quality is now a given. Quality alone is not remarkable. Surprise and delight and connection are remarkable.” Cue a million exploding heads in a million engineering departments. Quality is a given? Quality is NEVER a given. Quality takes time, patience, focus, and the incredibly underrated ability to say no to other good things. Writing an “About Us” page with a parallax scrolling background where you talk about how quality is a value, and then going back to the same “nobody cares, look at the A/B testing, let’s do the one that drives revenue” approach everyone else

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