The Web Is a Customer Service Medium

This is an excellent article from 2011 that I recently rediscovered while thinking about the current state of the web and social media.

The article’s thesis is that a helpful lens for understanding media is thinking in terms of questions answered.

Here’s one question: “I’m bored, and I want to get out of the house and have an experience, possibly involving elves or bombs. Where do I go?”

The answer: You could go to a movie.

The web answers the fundamental question “Why wasn’t I consulted?”. This fundamental question leads to the realization that the web is a customer service medium first and foremost.

Sure the high-minded way of saying this is that social media is about “connecting people” but really it’s about satisfying the need for people to be consulted.

YMMV on whether this understanding makes things seem better or worse.

September 22, 2018

What Caused the Dinosaur Extinction?

There is a debate in the scientific community about how the last extinction event went down. The standard answer since the late 80s has been suddenly via asteroid, but there is a growing theory that it was a more gradual event caused primarily by volcanoes in India erupting over hundreds of thousands of years.

The article goes into the acrimonious feud between the various proponents of the respective theories.

This was a fun read for me because I had just assumed the consensus was pretty set. Interesting view of the scientific method working its magic (even if the participants are behaving less than ideally).

August 26, 2018

Responsible disclosure in the era of cryptocurrencies

Crazy story about trying to responsibly disclose a bug in Bitcoin Cash that might have erased billions in value.

The traditional technology world has had years to get security and disclosure figured out (and still does it badly all the time). The cryptocurrency world is being forced to mature in an incredibly short amount of time. I’m frankly surprised more catastrophes like this haven’t happened yet.

August 12, 2018

Read a neat paper recently called Dissolving the Fermi Paradox that points out we’ve been doing the math wrong. The basic idea is that given the uncertainty to the parameters in Drake-like equations (e.g. number of habitable planets) we should actually be calculating distributions rather than averages. When you do this it turns out to not be terribly unlikely we are alone.

One of those things that seems obvious in hindsight but surprising that no one wrote this down before.

August 11, 2018

I’m beginning to suspect Elon Musk is deliberately trolling us.

Adding games to his car? An obviously bad idea guaranteed to get a rise out of people.

Unironically praising BioShock, a game that (ostensibly) critiques men like Musk? Setting up an easy and obvious dunk is a classic troll move.

August 5, 2018

Hugo is a surprisingly good static-site generator. Just switched my site over to it from a mostly hand-rolled solution (previously Jekyll) and it handles all the customization I threw at it.

August 5, 2018

This is the obligatory “Hello, World” for my new attempt at microblogging on my own domain.

July 29, 2018