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  • feedwordpress 15:44:05 on 2019/06/04 Permalink  

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019? 

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    Being trusted is a huge advantage for any company that can pull it off. But is it even possible for people to trust a tech company right now?

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?

    Union Square Ventures is one of the best-known and most respected venture capital firms in the world. Every year, they get together all of the CEOs of all the companies they've invested in to talk about Big Ideas. And this year, they shared one of the ideas they're focusing on most: Trust.

    The whole presentation is worth reading over, as I think it outlines the business argument for the importance of trustworthy companies extremely well. In short, being trusted provides enormous value to a company. It protects against competition, increases customer loyalty, helps improve recruiting and retention, and has many other less visible benefits. Trust is a massive strategic advantage. You want your company to be trusted.

    Of course, this is a slide deck from a company that makes tons of money investing in giant tech startups, so it's entirely grounded in that perspective. For example, take this slide, talking about how companies break their core promises:

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?
    Breaking the Core Promise is the biggest risk

    I'd of course take issue with, for example, the Uber line item here. The core promise of Uber depends deeply on the community you're in. Maybe for wealthy white tech insiders in San Francisco, Uber's core promise is about convenience. But for black passengers, Uber's core promise is reliability, in contrast to trying to hail cabs whose drivers can't be trusted to stop, or transit systems that don't serve every neighborhood equally. For South Asian drivers, the core promise Uber made was control over making a living, in contrast to being dependent on extractive medallion programs or coercive fleet owners.

    What's not obvious is that trust relies on social signaling, so even though Susan Fowler, who became the voice of Uber's workers speaking up against hostile working conditions, is a white woman, her unjust treatment provided a valuable and credible way of judging the trustworthiness of the organization even for people who were seeking a different core promise from the company. Uber profiting off of the protests against Trump's travel ban catalyzed the #DeleteUber movement, and though it was centered on protecting Muslim travelers, it again provided useful signal of trustworthiness to people in other communities.

    This is because trust is based in an ethical context, and on values. People do not simply evaluate companies based on the economic value they provide, they decide to trust companies based on a moral framework.

    And in this moment, when the biggest, most visible tech companies have betrayed so many people so completely, almost no company can earn trust. This is especially true because so few tech leaders are willing to speak to the core social issues that have undermined trust — concerns like pervasive surveillance, abuse of privacy, economic inequality, systemic racial discrimination, persistent harassment and abuse on platforms and in the workplace, and complicity in systems of violence and persecution. Compared to those challenges, conventional worries like system downtime or app performance shrink into relative irrelevance.

    So why even bother?

    If the situation is so dire, why am I even bothering to share this view on the value of trust? Well, the simple answer is that I'm the CEO of a tech company. And I'm trying my damnedest to make sure Glitch is a company that can be trusted — by its employees, by its industry, by its community, and by the world. Honestly, it's hard as hell these days because most of tech isn't even aligned to trustworthiness as a goal, and even those who still believe in that ideal have (understandably!) become so cynical and jaded that they've either preemptively given up on trying, or mock efforts to be trustworthy as hopelessly naive.

    I don't know if it means I'm stubborn, or still just overly optimistic, but we do keep trying.

    When people join Glitch, I generally give them a short presentation explaining what we're trying to do and how we run our company, and I went back and looked at one of the slides that shows up early in the presentation.

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?
    Trust is our most precious and fragile asset.

    Usually at this point in the conversation, I explain to the person who's new to the company that right now, people like us and trust us. Right now, they do. I then mention that every other company I've ever been at, and really, nearly every company I've ever seen, screws this up. They break the trust of the people who were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. And most of the time, it's for no reason at all. (Sometimes, it's just so the company can make money. Which is shitty, but at least makes sense, as compared to betraying trust simply through incompetence.)

    What's interesting is, once I was reflecting on trust, I realized that a lot of the things that I talk to our team about are about building trust, maintaining trust, being worthy of trust.

    For example, we recently had the whole team in at our headquarters in NYC, and I looked over a few of the presentations that we did to talk about goals and vision and strategy, and some of these slides jumped out at me.

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?
    We differentiate Glitch by telling a story that is true and meaningful.

    This message jumped out at me, not because it's particularly unique, but because of the emphasis we put on making sure our story is true. So many companies just say things, without regard to whether they're real, and it always bends my brain to realize that they don't even seem to care about the validity or veracity of their messages.

    The part about being meaningful also seemed important, because trust has to be about things that matter — it's easy to trust a company about minor things that aren't very important. It's a lot tougher when it comes to issues that are vitally important.

    The inside and outside have to match

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?
    We must consistently be on the inside what we hope to inspire on the outside.
    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?

    These next few slides came from a conversation about how we should run our company, and centered on the ugly reality that most companies talk about ideas to the outside world that have no bearing on the actual practices within their organizations.

    The extraordinary thing here is that companies don't seem to realize that it's impossible to trust anyone if you know they don't practice what they preach. Even if a company is secretive enough (or obscure enough) that outsiders don't know whether its internal processes are aligned with its public statements, its employees know, and they can sense whether they work at a trustworthy organization or not. If the employees know, then almost certainly its partners know, and if partners know, then any hypocrisy or disconnect is rotting away at their credibility every day, whether it's acknowledged or not.

    Closing the gap

    Can You Trust A Company In 2019?
    There must be zero gap between our stated values and our lived values.

    Originally, this slide came from a presentation that was focused on company culture, but it speaks to the moral grounding that underpins being a trusted company. These days, pretty much every company knows the "right" thing to say to the world. And almost none of the major tech companies follow through on those words into changing how they operate.

    This is an especially acute concern for a company like ours, both because we're a tiny company competing with giants, and also because we have a company handbook (see below) where our values are publicly stated for anyone to read and share and remix for their own use.

    The truth is, almost every person of conscience has grave concerns and deep worries about the effect that tech companies are having on civil society and culture overall. They're right to. Add to that the well-justified skepticism and critique about the extractive and abusive practices of most industries, and even a lot of the most well-intentioned companies basically just give up and decide it's not worth trying to fight a battle that (seemingly) can't be won.

    But I've seen some signs that this is still a fight worth engaging, that being worthy of people's trust is still possible. Inside Glitch, our colleagues take a lot of pride in being part of an organization that's still idealistic in this way. In our community, users and partners feel good about getting to work with a company that doesn't leave them feeling dirtied or used by the interaction. And in our industry, people seem delighted by the reminder that there was an optimistic, idealistic view of the future that attracted so many of us to technology in the first place.

    Even despite all the failures, and all the failings, and the countless, heartless betrayals of trust, we're still going to try. Yes, there are great business reasons to do it, and we're seeing the benefits of those business opportunities. But most importantly, there's a satisfaction in proving that a group of people can collectively put in so much care and investment in the old-fashioned idea of simply being worthy of people's trust.

  • feedwordpress 03:53:08 on 2019/05/23 Permalink  

    Putting the Soul in Console 

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    Putting the Soul in Console

    Playdate, the upcoming indie handheld gaming console from venerable software publisher Panic, is really important. But if you don't know the history of where the little company behind this little device comes from, it might be hard to understand why this isn't just another random gadget like you might see on a crowdfunding site.

    An Indie Scene

    About 20 years ago, there was a bit of a reckoning about what the web was going to be. The dot com era of startups were in full bloom (the crash didn't come until 2000, with 9/11 cementing the collapse of the first web bubble) but those of us who loved the internet could sense some of the joy and creativity seeping out of it as the money men took over.

    A little less obvious was the reckoning going on amongst "software people". We were still making programs then, or software — applications wouldn't get shortened to "apps" until the iPhone took off almost a decade later. But there was a culture that almost saw making software as a craft. And a number of new web-savvy companies sprung up at the forefront of that movement, all of them decidedly not interested in just riding the dot com wave that was about to crash. I was a fan of them all, watching from afar as they seemed to set the standards for what was "cool" in tech — and all of them did it from outside of Silicon Valley.

    Basically, in tech there was something akin to an independent music scene that one might see in a mid-sized town. Except it was geographically dispersed rather than being in one city, and it was about creating technology instead of creating songs.

    In Chicago, there was 37 Signals. Brash, bold, opinionated, and trendsetting in design, the company evolved over time into today's Basecamp, still one of the most popular project management tools. (And they spun out lots of interesting tech and tools along the way.) In New York City, we had Fog Creek Software. It, too, had opinionated and charismatic leaders talking pointedly about The Right Way to make software, and it changed immensely over the years, spinning out efforts like Trello and Stack Overflow, before finally evolving into Glitch, where I work now.

    And then, in Portland, there was Panic. They began with the venerable and utilitarian FTP app, Transmit, but released a wide variety of tools for developers, before transforming themselves in recent years into a broader, more ambitious software publisher that put out mainstream hits like Firewatch. But where these other standard-bearer companies were brash and in-your-face, Panic was always a little, well... goofy. Friendly, to be sure. And smart as hell. But there was a sense of exploration and fun and play to everything Panic did.

    And today, we got to see one of the most exciting announcements in the two-decade history of the company: Playdate. You can read up on all the details elsewhere, but suffice to say, this little game machine looks like one of the most fun and joyful new efforts that any company has done recently, and that a tiny indie software company in Oregon has the ambition to even attempt such a thing makes it only more endearing.

    Perhaps the best way of explaining why Panic is so important to so many of us is to watch Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser's wonderful, heartfelt talk at the XOXO Festival back in 2013. (It even teases the existence of Firewatch, long before it became a smash hit!)

    Cabel Sasser, Panic

    Cabel's closing exhortation to "don't waste this, keep everyone guessing, and make me proud" hit me hard in the room at that moment, and stuck with me to this day. Because Panic has done exactly that.

    Date of Arrival

    I'd been given a hint a while ago that something like this was coming, but the final execution is even more delightful than I'd imagined it might be. (That crank!) More importantly, it's captured the imagination of so many, and seems like the kind of thing that could inspire a new generation of creative people to think, "Hey, maybe good tech is something we can make ourselves." I've seen it happen on Glitch, and now I see it happening around Playdate after just a few hours.

    That idea, that maybe things like our gaming devices or the websites we visit should be created by people we know and like, instead of giant faceless companies, seems more essential than ever. We would never settle for replacing all of our made-with-love, locally-grown, mom's recipe home cooking with factory-farmed fast food, even if sometimes convenience demands we consume the latter. And we shouldn't compromise any less on making sure that some of the time we spend playing games with each other, and delighting in the promise of technology, comes from people who've been diligently working for years to make well-sourced, organically grown, made-with-love technology.

    I don't know if Playdate will succeed in the market. I don't know what kind of risk it represents for Panic as a company. But I know that people see this cute little device, and are reminded that they used to get excited when they saw cool new technology, instead of wondering how it would warp their reality, or steal their information. Here's hoping for a return to tech that's fun, that's thoughtful, and that's created with a little bit of soul.

    Putting the Soul in Console

  • feedwordpress 04:55:26 on 2019/01/21 Permalink  

    I Should Have Written a JOMO Book. 

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    I Should Have Written a JOMO Book.

    About seven years ago, inspired by Caterina Fake's seminal essay about fear of missing out, I wrote a bit about the Joy of Missing Out, and for a little while, JOMO became a thing.

    It showed up in those "100 trends to watch this year" roundups that come out at the start of every new year, percolated through think pieces over the next year or two, and eventually ended up a staple of the lifestyle influencers who talk about wellness. I think a few of them even wrote books about it, though they leaned a little more toward the script-font-and-mason-jar side of things, where I'm not very credible.

    For me, the most delightful outcome was Jenna Wortham's 2012 essay in the New York Times, talking about FOMO and JOMO, but also mentioning my son and his proclivity for dancing; given that his birth was what had prompted me to reflect on JOMO in the first place, it seemed eminently appropriate.

    I don't actively keep track of "JOMO", but even a quick glance shows it's a concept that is, if anything, even more popular now than when the conversation first started. At the start of a new year, the Financial Times writes that you should "allow yourself to embrace 'Jomo'. In the middle of the year, the New York Times writes about the "summer of missing out". Anytime's a good time for missing out!


    Presently, the social web is abuzz with people revisiting the ill-fated Fyre Festival. Two different documentaries have come out offering a perspective on the magnificent scams that surrounded the festival, and conversation focuses on that grift as well as the various ethical compromises and lapses of the documentary filmmakers.

    But I'm struck by how one primary reason a fiasco like Fyre Festival could happen, or indeed how many of the worst aspects of influencer culture can happen, is because of the very real emotional effect of the Fear of Missing Out. It's especially true because FOMO is a designed, intentional result of using most modern social media apps.

    It's been largely overlooked that FOMO was coined by Caterina Fake, a cofounder of Flickr — one of the very first people who ever helped create a large-scale social network for photo sharing. Her comments on FOMO came less than 6 months after Instagram launched. Though of course both services seemed superficially similar because they were social networks built around photos, Instagram's social design was almost always with the opposite intent of Flickr's social goals. It was almost as if Instagram was designed to optimize for FOMO. But check out what Caterina said in 2011:

    Many people have studied the game mechanics that keep people collecting things (points, trophies, check-ins, mayorships, kudos). Others have  studied how the neurochemistry that keeps us checking Facebook every  five minutes is similar to the neurochemistry fueling addiction. Social  media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on.  You’re home alone, but watching your friends status updates tell of a  great party happening somewhere. You are aware of more parties than ever  before. [S]ocial software both creates and cures FOMO.

    [There's a quaint habit that some of us old-timers still have where we call the technology behind social networks "social software".]

    In Joy

    Years have passed, and now FOMO (and to a lesser extent, JOMO) are just part of culture. I was walking through the Union Square subway stop not too long ago, and saw this Spotify ad, huge and unmissable.

    And the broader principles of intentionality around consumption are an even bigger phenomenon. Marie Kondo is quickly graduating from being the author of a book that became a phenomenon into being a full-fledged global media tycoon. It's only a matter of time until she has a deal with a retailer to sell branded Konmari boxes for you to store your things in. (Maybe one of them will be a lead box that you can put your phone in so you don't look at it?) But interestingly, the fundamental framing of her entire approach to improving your life is to start with what brings you joy. That make a hell of a lot of sense.

    The stakes are so much higher now then back when we just worried that social media would make us feel bad about missing a party. Yes, that's still a cause of stress, but far worse is social media enabling grifters to profiteer off of innocent people's credulity. How can we fret about missing our friends when the emotional manipulation of social apps has warped every institution in our entire culture?

    Ultimately, though, this began as a conversation centered around joy. Isn't that a rare, and special, and fragile thing? How often do we talk about joy, let alone actively pursuing it or protecting it? I think pursuing joy, protecting peaceful moments, seeing our friends' happiness as a cause for celebration and not envy, and engaging with our lives on our own terms are quietly radical acts.

    It is a brave and meaningful thing to talk earnestly about joy at a time when so many aspire to, and delight in, destroying it.

    But yeah, obviously, I should have written a book about JOMO and become the "guru of JOMO". I'd probably be able to have my own private island with a music festival by now.

  • feedwordpress 15:29:05 on 2019/01/03 Permalink  

    After the Rhythm Nation 

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    After the Rhythm Nation

    With Janet Jackson's (woefully belated) acceptance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it's well past time for a broader reckoning with her place in popular culture, and especially the way she's challenged narratives in pop music. To me, her evolution, and unique place in culture, can be summed up with just one verse.

    There's a brief, melancholy moment on Janet's 2015 album Unbreakable that shocked me when I first heard it, and has haunted me ever since for its accuracy and prescience. It comes in "Shoulda Known Better", a dance song that's a standout on Unbreakable, with fairly conventional pop production paired with a very unusual structure that alternates between a pulsing, even euphoric chorus and subdued, nearly heartbroken verses. It's not the loud-soft that every Pixies-referencing rock band trots out, but rather a striking grafting of two completely different moods into a single pop song. The overall sentiment of the song is conveyed by the jarring juxtaposition of cataloguing social ills (the kind that Janet has been discussing since Rhythm Nation) against an insistence that directly reckoning with such injustices can still help to fix them.

    What Janet said made me rethink how pop music talks about narratives of race, and how it deploys hope and optimism or falls back to resignation or despair.

    I had this great epiphany
    And rhythm nation was the dream
    I guess next time I'll know better

    Janet's Unbreakable album has been unfairly overlooked, perhaps because she couldn't do a full-on promotional push at the time of its launch as she was going through a complicated pregnancy and a lot of change in her personal life. But as an album, it stands tall amongst the other formidable standouts in her catalog, and is perhaps her best complete album since 1998's Velvet Rope. "Shoulda Known Better" shows exactly why it's her strongest release in years.

    A Vision of Blindness

    The pop music tradition, especially the global superstar tier of pop music where Janet resides, has had a fairly consistent narrative for a few decades now. Just as the rhythms and arrangements of contemporary pop music can often find its roots in the funk and disco of the 70s, the lyrical grounding of most "issue oriented" pop music was defined in the simple, sometimes reductive, utopianism of the 60s.

    Motown struggled famously with reacting to the political moment it found itself in toward the late 60s and early 70s, with Berry Gordy fighting against Marvin Gaye's cultural commentary in What's Going On, only begrudgingly agreeing to release the now-classic record. But despite the success of Gaye's efforts (and even more pointed songs like some of Stevie Wonder's work later in the 70s), the template for much of pop music was set: talking about racial problems in America was still supposed to finish with a call for color-blind idealism. And it's important to remember that Motown wasn't some abstract representation of excellence in black music to the Jackson family; Motown was the mentors who came around the house as the Jackson kids were growing up. Especially for Janet, as the youngest of the family and the one most rooted in California instead of Indiana or Detroit, the example set by someone like Diana Ross would have been omnipresent.

    This expectation of pop music's conversation about race persisted for decades. By the end of the 80s, Janet was pushing forward the boundaries of pop music with Rhythm Nation 1814, with many of its songs explicitly articulating a vision of color-blindness. Even its title track, an all-time classic, opens with a spoken incantation:

    We are a nation with no geographic boundaries
    Bound together through our beliefs
    We are like-minded individuals
    Sharing a common vision
    Pushing toward a world rid of color lines

    Within two years after the release of Rhythm Nation, Michael Jackson would release his single "Black or White", whose chorus repeatedly insists that it doesn't matter if you're black or white. The same year, Prince would release his album Diamonds and Pearls, whose bridge enthusiastically promises, "u will be colorblind". The biggest stars of the MTV era had weighed in, and they had found consensus in their lyrics.

    Telling the Truth

    But lets's fast-forward to just over a decade after the peak of the MTV era. Janet had been sidelined by the predator Les Moonves for her Super Bowl performance. Prince had abandoned his name, written "slave" on his face, returned to his name, and re-emerged outside the conventional record label system. Michael Jackson had gone to war against his record label, calling his label head "the devil". None of their work would ever blindly champion ignorance of race again; all of them would reckon directly with the fact that even their extraordinary talent and success didn't shield them from the structural injustices of the industry they had mastered.

    But it took Janet explicitly revisiting her past work to really drive this home. Unlike almost any other major pop artist, Janet revisited her signature song, in a world of #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, and declared her past vision obsolete. In its place was an updated, more complicated vision.

    Janet's vision of a post-Rhythm nation isn't a pessimistic one, though. Instead, it's a hard-earned lesson, an unpopular but necessary truth that takes courage to share. We can't solve problems that we can't talk about, and Janet had the wisdom to tell the truth of the problem, even if it meant challenging one of her best-known narratives.

    Still, the first time I heard those lyrics in "Shoulda Known Better", it hit me like a gut punch. Part of it was the difference between hearing an idealistic message as a teen and hearing a tough, painful lesson as an adult. But more fundamentally, it was about recognizing the shortcomings and dangers of the colorblindness that we'd all been taught when I was young. Great art is supposed to challenge us, but it takes a truly great artist to give us permission to let go of our past. And Janet pushed us there.

    I stil love the song "Rhythm Nation"; I always will. But I believe in Janet today. And just as with her Hall of Fame induction, the music industry may always lag behind, but it can never deny Janet's vision.

  • feedwordpress 07:47:55 on 2018/11/28 Permalink  

    Every Single Video Prince Ever Made 

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    Every Single Video Prince Ever Made

    Prince was an astoundingly prolific artist, releasing nearly 40 albums under his own name(s), and thousands of songs for himself and others. His concerts were legendary, spellbinding from arenas to intimate clubs, flooring audiences around the world.

    But videos? Prince was a lot more ambivalent about videos. He made dozens of them, some great, some... well, some were barely more than home videos he threw together with his friends or bandmates around Paisley Park.

    It's in his videos, though that we see Prince's relationship with his music as a commercial artist. A few times, Prince really told a story or expanded on the narrative of a song using a video. In his performance-oriented videos, he was often mesmerizing, capturing much of what made Prince the best live pop musician of his era.

    And importantly, it is in his videos that we see Prince exploring the edges of his identity and public persona. There are hints and clues of what Prince wanted to do next at almost every phase of his career. Frustratingly, though most of Prince's videos, including some of his very best, remained obscure, getting almost no airplay back when there were music video channels, or being distributed through one-off VHS video collections, CD-ROMs or uneven and short-lived video streams on Prince's websites. As a result, it's been almost impossible to evaluate Prince's videos as a whole body of work.

    Until now. With the Prince estate's release of his entire video collection, in high resolution, some easily accessible for the first time ever, we get a different glimpse at Prince. While Prince's recorded albums seldom featured his absurd humor, his videos often gave free reign to Prince's sillier side. While many of his songs were solo productions where Prince (as his album credits so often proclaimed) produced, arranged, composed and performed the entire song, in his videos, he would often cast his bandmates, friends and proteges in roles where they would mime his work and represent facets of Prince himself. We even get to see Prince directing (or ghost-directing) a number of works, as he grew in ability and confidence as a director over the course of his career.

    Now, the truth is, most of Prince's videos just aren't that great. Especially when considered in comparison to the sheer mind-boggling breadth of Prince's genius, or the groundbreaking video innovation of his pop contemporaries like Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Madonna, the fact that Prince has fewer truly extraordinary music videos is a stark contrast. But as with all things Prince, when he was doing his best, there was absolutely nobody better.

    Here, then, is a look at all of Prince's music videos, in chronological order. Most of these writeups began as an ongoing Twitter thread that I've been updating as the estate released new videos (Questlove said it was worthy of his NYU class!) but here I've updated and expanded all the information on each video.



    I Wanna Be Your Lover

    Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad



    Dirty Mind






    Little Red Corvette



    Let's Pretend We're Married


    When Doves Cry

    (You can check out the short edit, too, but why would you want to?!)

    Let's Go Crazy

    Purple Rain

    Amazingly, this one is not online!

    I Would Die 4 U

    Baby I'm A Star


    Take Me With U

    4 The Tears In Your Eyes

    Raspberry Beret

    Paisley Park





    Girls & Boys



    Sign O' The Times

    U Got The Look

    I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man


    Alphabet St.

    Glam Slam

    I Wish U Heaven




    (There's a short version of the Partyman video, too.)



    Thieves In The Temple

    (The much more common short version of the video is available, of course.)

    New Power Generation

    The Question Of U


    Gett Off

    Gett Off (Houstyle)

    Violet The Organ Grinder

    Gangster Glam


    (This is one of those videos that has a short edit, omitting all the introductory drama.)

    Diamonds And Pearls


    Money Don't Matter 2 Night (Spike Lee version)

    Money Don't Matter 2 Night (performance version)


    Willing And Able

    Call The Law

    Live 4 Love

    Sexy M.F.

    My Name Is Prince

    Love 2 The 9's

    The Morning Papers

    The Max

    Blue Light

    Sweet Baby

    Damn U




    Hmm! I wonder why this one isn't online yet.

    Pink Cashmere

    Nothing Compares 2 U

    Though there is a video of the live version of the song released in 1993, the estate hasn't yet released the footage.



    The Most Beautiful Girl In The World


    Love Sign



    Purple Medley

    Eye Hate U


    Rock 'N Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis)


    Dinner With Delores

    The Same December

    I Like It There

    Betcha By Golly Wow!


    Somebody's Somebody

    The Holy River

    Face Down


    The Greatest Romance Ever Sold


    One Song

    Hot With U (Nasty Girl Remix)


    U Make My Sun Shine

    When Eye Lay My Hands On U

    The Daisy Chain



    Call My Name

    Cinnamon Girl


    Te Amo Corazon

    Black Sweat



    The Song Of The Heart


    (There's a totally different version that's a Verizon ad, too.)

    Chelsea Rodgers


    Somewhere Here On Earth

    The One U Wanna C


    Crimson and Clover

    Chocolate Box


    Rock And Roll Love Affair



    Breakfast Can Wait




    Nothing Compares 2 U

    Mary Don't You Weep

  • feedwordpress 06:17:53 on 2018/11/11 Permalink  

    A Murmuration of Starlings 

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    A Murmuration of Starlings

    That's all.

  • feedwordpress 03:56:02 on 2018/10/04 Permalink  

    We’re (still) not being alarmist enough about climate change 

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    We’re (still) not being alarmist enough about climate change

    What if we had another 9/11, and nothing happened?

    Living in New York City, the one fantasy sport that everybody plays is real estate; we all like to imagine what it would be like to be able to afford to buy a place. And sometime over the last year or two, I realized that, even if I won the lottery and could afford to buy a home in my preferred neighborhood (the Lower East Side), I probably wouldn’t get one in most of the places I'd want to live. Because I think over the 30-year term of that mortgage, our neighborhood will be significantly destabilized by climate change.

    It was a bit of a shock for me to come to this realization, because the logic is extremely straightforward, but I hadn’t really considered the implications at that visceral level. I hadn't yet let the science change my daydreaming about an HGTV future. And as I’ve talked about that reality to more and more people in my circle of friends, a curious pattern has emerged. They’ve all found the rationale around the impacts of climate change unimpeachable, but nearly all are very reluctant to embrace the conclusion that this logic inevitably yields.

    In our neighborhood, it’s easy to see the impacts of increasingly-powerful storms. We were hit hard by Sandy, with power outages for days or weeks, and severe disruptions for months. I still see buildings with the high-water mark outlined on them, and I still remember which places stayed open to serve people in those incredibly dark nights when we didn't even have street lights to show the way. Any day now, they’ll be shutting down the most essential subway line in our neighborhood for massive tunnel repairs that are expected to take years to complete. This is all still recovery from a storm that most of the country has already forgotten about, that the popular memory remembers as "not as bad as they thought it was going to be".

    But if you talk to transit advocates or city council members or the state officials responsible for funding such repairs (and I do), many of them predicate their argument for repairing our subway tunnel on the idea that we’ll be “fixing the problem”. We've got to fix a subway tunnel, right? It’s okay to amortize the cost of repairs to this tunnel over years or decades because then we’ll be in good shape, right?

    I don’t think so.

    We’re still acting like today, and the recent past, is an aberration, and the future will involve things "returning to normal". all making assumptions about when New York City will be hit again by another Sandy-scale storm. Most infrastructure investments are still being made with an assumed “storm of the century” mindset, where it’ll be decades until we confront this kind of disruption again. But it's far more likely, given that the rate of climate change is accelerating, that we’ll see such disruption again within a few years. The big storms we confront in the coming decades won’t always be on the scale of Sandy, but they will hit with far more energy and impact and frequency.

    And when they do, not only will not be ready, we’ll be nowhere near prepared for the rebuilding and reinvestment that it will take to recover. We'll have spent our time and resources on investments that treat extreme climate disruption as the exception, instead of the norm.


    We're Bad At This

    Much has been written in recent years about how human societies are bad at catching on to creeping threats, as opposed to acute dangers. Western societies in particular seem vulnerable to this, and America at this particular moment seems oriented toward willfully ignoring any long-term trends or obvious threats, in favor of conjuring up imagined dangers. There’s a long strain of anti-intellectualism and short-term profiteering that has led to this point, but the years of effort in undermining science and introducing doubt into the existence of scientific consensus have produced an awful, if inevitable, outcome. Many of our political leaders in power seem shockingly comfortable with encouraging a death cult amongst their followers; this began with normalizing violence but easily evolves into an environment where existential threats are treated as exciting opportunities for a rapturous reckoning, rather than a threat to everyone.

    In the past, we at least were able to treat galvanizing moments of obvious threats as a catalyst for change. For example, we reacted in the extreme to the shock and tragedy of 9/11. Unfortunately, our thoughtless reacion has delivered Bin Laden an almost total victory by embracing nearly every costly, self-defeating tactic possible. But even in losing the war on terror we certainly demonstrated that we were able to use the death of thousands as a motivation to make huge, costly, sweeping changes in society. It’s even possible to imagine what might have happened if we’d responded to the shock of 9/11 with an urgent effort to make positive changes instead of destructive ones.

    This time, though, we had a catastrophe with a far higher death toll, and far higher economic toll, then 9/11, and the regime in power decided to act as if nothing had happened. Puerto Rico's awful fate under Maria was rendered even more horrific by a political response that began with indifference and then degenerated into overt denial. We can almost imagine Trump staring at the smouldering piles of rubble where the Twin Towers had stood, and not merely crowing about how his buildings had moved up in the list of tallest skyscrapers, but actively denying that anyone had died in the World Trade Center at all. Now imagine the rest of us, knowing there was going to be another 9/11 every few years, imagining that it wasn't going to just be us who gets targeted next.

    Beyond Despair

    I know it doesn't sound like it, but I'm an optimist. The reason I love technology and popular culture so much is because I never stop being inspired by what humans create. But I try to be pretty good at seeing where society is heading, and judging where our tastes and trends will take us over time. Usually, that just requires looking at patterns of the past, and learning from that history. This time, I don't think that works.

    There isn't going to be a last-minute reprieve on climate that lets us keep living in the world we used to have.

    Today's political environment demands that scientists still talk about the steps it takes to limit global temperate increase to 1.5° C. That is not going to happen. I don't even think we're going to limit the increase to 2°C within my lifetime. I believe the millions of climate-chased refugees around the world today will be joined by tens of millions more tomorrow . I believe the increasing frequency of sectarian or regional violence instigated by climate-driven disruption of access to water or food will result in more large-scale conflicts. I think governments, even in wealthier or recently stable regions, will be destabilized by the stresses climate disruption places on infrastructure for food, water, transportation, immigration and trade.

    But I do also think some large-scale changes in behavior wil happen faster than we've ever seen in human history. Solar power will gain efficiency and drop in cost at a rate that mimics the progress in smartphones over the last decade. While it'll still be an expensive and resource-intensive effort to create all these solar cells, they'll be able to beat fossil fuels in every regard — including cost — much sooner than people expect, and with far greater impact than we might predict. I'm not quite as bullish on the path for invention and innovation around removing carbon from the environment, but I wouldn't entirely bet against it, either.

    The undermining of the United States' political credibility in the world, and the weakening of its cultural domination over the world, will also yield some benefits in mitigating climate disruption as fewer cultures seek American-style consumption as part of their lifestyles. Not craving giant cars and meat-filled meals will be good for the world, and we're already seeing that shift happen within the United States as well.

    All this could add up to enough to have a huge positive impact in just a few decades. That will, sadly, not be enough to save the millions of lives that we'll see lost to climate disruption in the next half-century. But it's possible that millions of people may still be living in Manhattan in 50 years. I'd put the odds at a little less than 50/50.

    Higher Ground

    I don't know how this plays out. Not a day goes by that I don't grieve for the horrible tragedies my son is going to have to watch unfold during his lifetime because of our collective shortsightedness and failure to act. The reckoning now is whether what's left after all that chaos still resembles the society we have today (yes, even with all its grave and awful injustices) or if the jolt of these changes is too extreme. It's possible that things become so unpredictable and contentious due to climate change that we never find a new political or cultural stability during his lifetime.

    It's hard to believe these things and still have hope, even knowing that our privilege and access and good fortune and talents isolate us from the worst that will come. As a New Yorker who lived here at that time, I still use 9/11 as a reference because it really did change my whole life and my whole perspective. But as the climate evolves, there's a 9/11 every week.

    This year, it's wildfires and hurricanes and typhoons and floods and every single one is a record breaker — until next year. I don't know how to say it to make people understand, this isn't about "this year". This is the rest of our lives. I don't even think it makes sense to talk about preventing climate disruption now. The question is how we move on to preparing for it, for building resiliency into all the institutions and infrastructures that will need to evolve, and how we care for those who are most vulnerable as we keep moving down the path we've chosen.

    Honestly, that thought doesn't depress me (though I understand why for so many, it will). It's simply the work in front of us, the task we have to do. I don't feel hopeless because there's no point to feeling hopeless. We simply have to build a world that keeps working while the one that we have today starts to disappear.

  • feedwordpress 18:13:03 on 2018/09/13 Permalink  

    The price of relevance is fluency 

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    The price of relevance is fluency

    “You can’t say anything anymore! You can’t even make jokes!”

    There’s a constant complaint from people in positions of power, mostly men, who keep making the ridiculous assertion that they’re not able to speak in public. What they actually mean is they no longer understand the basis of the criticisms they face. And it’s a phenomenon we see from so many people who have a public platform, whether they’re CEOs or comedians or other cultural figures.

    Some of this is a familiar issue: the powerful think that ordinary people have no right to criticize them. There’s nothing new there, and certainly a lot of the dismissive reactions are simply these people thinking that they’re better than their critics, and so don’t have to listen to the pushback. But even those who think they should still be at least pretending to take feedback from the public are mystified by what they’re hearing.

    But there is something new that's also helping cause all this fuss: the rate of change in culture is increasing.

    For some kinds of people, we valorize the breaking of social conventions. In business, it’s called “disruption”, in arts or culture they’ll be called “bad boys” or other similarly ridiculous names for rewarding transgression. Eventually, these rule breakers (who, of course, seldom break the rules of systemic racism or sexism or other structural injustices) find themselves in a position where they have a public voice. They’re onstage, or quoted in the media, and they love the fact that they’re being heard. They bask in the unalloyed adulation of the masses.

    Until recently. All of a sudden, the same things they’ve always said, or something said in private that suddenly becomes public, get a vociferous negative response unlike anything they've ever encountered. Usually, that blowback happens on social media, and these powerful legacy leaders tend to blame the issue on some ineffable negative essence of social networks. They rant about things like "the twitter mob". But that's not the issue at all.

    There Is No "Twitter Mob"

    You see, there is no "Twitter mob", there's only people. And people shape culture, and culture evolves. But in the past, the powerful could keep themselves isolated from the way culture evolves, if they wanted to. Janet Jackson didn't even know what Hot Cheetos are!

    And so, these political leaders and CEOs and comedians and famous-for-being-famous people blather on like they always have, but only now they're faced with the criticisms they've inspired. The criticisms were always there, but the connection of social media to mass media has made them visible.

    Worse, that visibility of critique means that powerful people now have to do work that they didn't want to do. They can't stand it.

    Suddenly, even the most powerful people in society are forced to be fluent in the concerns of those with little power, if they want to hold on to the cultural relevance that thrust them into power in the first place. Being a comedian means having to say things that an audience finds funny; if an audience doesn't find old, hackneyed, abusive jokes funny anymore, then that comedian has to do more work. And what we find is, the comedians with the most privilege resent having to keep working for a living. Wasn't it good enough that they wrote that joke that some people found somewhat funny, some years ago? Why should they have to learn about current culture just to get paid to do comedy?

    Similarly, CEOs keep fussing about how it's hard to not offend people these days. (Being a CEO myself, this one ends up on my radar a lot.) Now, every person in marketing knows they have to try to stay culturally relevant, and certainly every ordinary worker knows they constantly have to be learning new skills and developing professionally. But if a CEO has been in his seat long enough, he'll often get deeply resentful of being told that he has to learn new ways of being respectful to the people who were systematically obstructed from reaching his awareness in the past.

    We can't even count all the stupid ways this plays out, but there are common tropes. The go-to examples of resistance to cultural evolution are always the legacy power-holders resisting the very identity of the communities they excluded. You'll hear awful shit like, "I don't know whether to call them Black or African American, or what?" or terrible "jokes" about how people choose the pronouns that they prefer to be identified with. Now, these powerful folks don't want to be held accountable for disrespecting people with different identities, and the powerful certainly don't want to be mocked for their illiteracy in contemporary culture, but they damn sure want to make certain that you know they're not interested in indulging modern norms for showing respect to others.

    It's not that hard

    Here's the thing, though: It's not that hard. It's not difficult at all to ask people how they want to be identified. It's not tricky to listen to what people are saying about their concerns and their issues, and to try to understand what that means about how culture is evolving. It's not hard at all to be humble about unfamiliar aspects of society and ask for information in respectful ways, then take those responses into consideration going forward.

    And in fact, that's the simple price of continued cultural relevance. If someone wants to maintain power in culture, all that's required is a sincere and honest engagement with those who are granting that power through their attention and support. All it takes is a little bit of curiousity and some basic human decency, and any of us who are blessed with the good fortune to have a platform will get to keep it, and hopefully to use it to make things a little better for others.

    But those in power who have a loud public voice and refuse to adjust and evolve their messages for the modern world will only face increasing resistance, and even actual accountability sometimes — perhaps even in teh form of losing their platforms. And good riddance.

  • feedwordpress 19:29:22 on 2018/09/11 Permalink  

    Seventeen is (Almost) Just Another Day 

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    Seventeen is (Almost) Just Another Day

    For the first decade after the attacks, I basically didn’t go anywhere near that part of downtown. A business meeting would take me a few blocks away, and I’d feel that tightness in my chest, that presence, and I’d just keep moving.

    But this morning, I’ll walk out of the (newly-opened!) A train access at the Oculus as part of my commute, as I’ve done dozens of times before. Somehow, improbably, its all become routine.

    To be clear, I do still deliberately steer away from the reflecting pools and the memorials. And I give an even wider berth to the tourists drawn to them. (“Which way is 9/11?”) But somehow this place is something more than its ghosts now, and I’m able to be a transit nerd who appreciates a beautiful, if absurd, train station, or to be a person who appreciates a farmer’s market, even as it sprawls just steps away from where I remember seeing that still-smoldering pile of rubble.


    People don’t even really ask, “Where were you that day?” anymore. For all of the ironic “Never Forget”s, the whole moment has largely faded into history, even as the whole world really was reshaped. There’s a mall there now, a temple to the “go back to shopping” doctrine introduced in those first days of chaos and grief. In the current moment, it’s clearer than ever that those murderous attackers succeeded far beyond their wildest dreams, achieving forms of destruction and destabilization that they probably never even dreamed of.

    But there’s something ordinary, too. If this has become the New Normal, the most unlikely part may be that it’s still a kind of normal.

    I spent so many years thinking “I can’t go there” that it caught me completely off guard to realize that going there is now routine. Maybe the most charitable way to look at it is resiliency, or that I’m seeing things through the eyes of my child who’s never known any reality but the present one.

    In Past Years

    Each year I write about the attacks on this anniversary, to reflect both on that day and where I'm at right now. I also deeply appreciate the conversation that ensues with those who check in with me every year.

    Last year, Sixteen is Letting Go Again

    So, like ten years ago, I’m letting go. Trying not to project my feelings onto this anniversary, just quietly remembering that morning and how it felt. My son asked me a couple of months ago, “I heard there was another World Trade Center before this one?” and I had to find a version of the story that I could share with him. In this telling, losing those towers was unimaginably sad and showed that there are incredibly hurtful people in the world, but there are still so many good people, and they can make wonderful things together.

    Two years ago, Fifteen is the Past:

    I don’t dismiss or deny that so much has gone so wrong in the response and the reaction that our culture has had since the attacks, but I will not forget or diminish the pure openheartedness I witnessed that day. And I will not let the cynicism or paranoia of others draw me in to join them.
    What I’ve realized, simply, is that 9/11 is in the past now.

    Three years ago, Fourteen is Remembering:

    For the first time, I clearly felt like I had put the attacks firmly in the past. They have loosened their grip on me. I don’t avoid going downtown, or take circuitous routes to avoid seeing where the towers once stood. I can even imagine deliberately visiting the area to see the new train station.

    In 2014, Thirteen is Understanding:

    There’s no part of that day that one should ever have to explain to a child, but I realized for the first time this year that, when the time comes, I’ll be ready. Enough time has passed that I could recite the facts, without simply dissolving into a puddle of my own unresolved questions. I look back at past years, at my own observances of this anniversary, and see how I veered from crushingly sad to fiercely angry to tentatively optimistic, and in each of those moments I was living in one part of what I felt. Maybe I’m ready to see this thing in a bigger picture, or at least from a perspective outside of just myself.

    From 2013, Twelve is Trying:

    I thought in 2001 that some beautiful things could come out of that worst of days, and sure enough, that optimism has often been rewarded. There are boundless examples of kindness and generosity in the worst of circumstances that justify the hope I had for people’s basic decency back then, even if initially my hope was based only on faith and not fact.
    But there is also fatigue. The inevitable fading of outrage and emotional devastation into an overworked rhetorical reference point leaves me exhausted. The decay of a brief, profound moment of unity and reflection into a cheap device to be used to prop up arguments about the ordinary, the everyday and the mundane makes me weary. I’m tired from the effort to protect the fragile memory of something horrific and hopeful that taught me about people at their very best and at their very, very worst.

    In 2012, Eleven is What We Make:

    These are the gifts our children, or all children, give us every day in a million different ways. But they’re also the gifts we give ourselves when we make something meaningful and beautiful. The new World Trade Center buildings are beautiful, in a way that the old ones never were, and in a way that’ll make our fretting over their exorbitant cost seem short-sighted in the decades to come. More importantly, they exist. We made them, together. We raised them in the past eleven years just as surely as we’ve raised our children, with squabbles and mistakes and false starts and slow, inexorable progress toward something beautiful.

    In 2011 for the 10th anniversary, Ten is Love and Everything After:

    I don’t have any profound insights or political commentary to offer that others haven’t already articulated first and better. All that I have is my experience of knowing what it mean to be in New York City then. And from that experience, the biggest lesson I have taken is that I have the obligation to be a kinder man, a more thoughtful man, and someone who lives with as much passion and sincerity as possible. Those are the lessons that I’ll tell my son some day in the distant future, and they’re the ones I want to remember now.

    In 2010, Nine is New New York:

    [T]his is, in many ways, a golden era in the entire history of New York City.
    Over the four hundred years it’s taken for this city to evolve into its current form, there’s never been a better time to walk down the street. Crime is low, without us having sacrificed our personality or passion to get there. We’ve invested in making our sidewalks more walkable, our streets more accommodating of the bikes and buses and taxis that convey us around our town. There’s never been a more vibrant scene in the arts, music or fashion here. And in less than half a decade, the public park where I got married went from a place where I often felt uncomfortable at noontime to one that I wanted to bring together my closest friends and family on the best day of my life. We still struggle with radical inequality, but more people interact with people from broadly different social classes and cultures every day in New York than any other place in America, and possibly than in any other city in the world.
    And all of this happened, by choice, in the years since the attacks.

    In 2009, Eight Is Starting Over:

    [T]his year, I am much more at peace. It may be that, finally, we’ve been called on by our leadership to mark this day by being of service to our communities, our country, and our fellow humans. I’ve been trying of late to do exactly that. And I’ve had a bit of a realization about how my own life was changed by that day.
    Speaking to my mother last week, I offhandedly mentioned how almost all of my friends and acquaintances, my entire career and my accomplishments, my ambitions and hopes have all been born since September 11, 2001. If you’ll pardon the geeky reference, it’s as if my life was rebooted that day and in the short period afterwards. While I have a handful of lifelong friends with whom I’ve stayed in touch, most of the people I’m closest to are those who were with me on the day of the attacks or shortly thereafter, and the goals I have for myself are those which I formed in the next days and weeks. i don’t think it’s coincidence that I was introduced to my wife while the wreckage at the site of the towers was still smoldering, or that I resolved to have my life’s work amount to something meaningful while my beloved city was still papered with signs mourning the missing.

    In 2008, Seven Is Angry:

    Finally getting angry myself, I realize that nobody has more right to claim authority over the legacy of the attacks than the people of New York. And yet, I don’t see survivors of the attacks downtown claiming the exclusive right to represent the noble ambition of Never Forgetting. I’m not saying that people never mention the attacks here in New York, but there’s a genuine awareness that, if you use the attacks as justification for your position, the person you’re addressing may well have lost more than you that day. As I write this, I know that parked out front is the car of a woman who works in my neighborhood. Her car has a simple but striking memorial on it, listing her mother’s name, date of birth, and the date 9/11/2001.

    In 2007, Six Is Letting Go:

    On the afternoon of September 11th, 2001, and especially on September 12th, I wasn’t only sad. I was also hopeful. I wanted to believe that we wouldn’t just Never Forget that we would also Always Remember. People were already insisting that we’d put aside our differences and come together, and maybe the part that I’m most bittersweet and wistful about was that I really believed it. I’d turned 26 years old just a few days before the attacks, and I realize in retrospect that maybe that moment, as I eased from my mid-twenties to my late twenties, was the last time I’d be unabashedly optimistic about something, even amidst all the sorrow.

    In 2006, After Five Years, Failure:

    [O]ne of the strongest feelings I came away with on the day of the attacks was a feeling of some kind of hope. Being in New York that day really showed me the best that people can be. As much as it’s become cliché now, there’s simply no other way to describe a display that profound. It was truly a case of people showing their very best nature.
    We seem to have let the hope of that day go, though.

    In 2005, Four Years:

    I saw people who hated New York City, or at least didn’t care very much about it, trying to act as if they were extremely invested in recovering from the attacks, or opining about the causes or effects of the attacks. And to me, my memory of the attacks and, especially, the days afterward had nothing to do with the geopolitics of the situation. They were about a real human tragedy, and about the people who were there and affected, and about everything but placing blame and pointing fingers. It felt thoughtless for everyone to offer their response in a framework that didn’t honor the people who were actually going through the event.

    In 2004, Thinking Of You:

    I don’t know if it’s distance, or just the passing of time, but I notice how muted the sorrow is. There’s a passivity, a lack of passion to the observances. I knew it would come, in the same way that a friend told me quite presciently that day back in 2001 that “this is all going to be political debates someday” and, well, someday’s already here.

    In 2003, Two Years:

    I spent a lot of time, too much time, resenting people who were visiting our city, and especially the site of the attacks, these past two years. I’ve been so protective, I didn’t want them to come and get their picture taken like it was Cinderella’s Castle or something. I’m trying really hard not to be so angry about that these days. I found that being angry kept me from doing the productive and important things that really mattered, and kept me from living a life that I know I’m lucky to have.

    In 2002, I wrote On Being An American:

    [I]n those first weeks, I thought a lot about what it is to be American. That a lot of people outside of New York City might not even recognize their own country if they came to visit. The America that was attacked a year ago was an America where people are as likely to have been born outside the borders of the U.S. as not. Where most of the residents speak another language in addition to English. Where the soundtrack is, yes, jazz and blues and rock and roll, but also hip hop and salsa and merengue. New York has always been where the first fine threads of new cultures work their way into the fabric of America, and the city the bore the brunt of those attacks last September reflected that ideal to its fullest.

    In 2001, Thank You:

    I am physically fine, as are all my family members and immediate friends. I’ve been watching the footage all morning, I can’t believe I watched the World Trade Center collapse…
    I’ve been sitting here this whole morning, choking back tears… this is just too much, too big. I can see the smoke and ash from the street here. I have friends of friends who work there, I was just there myself the day before yesterday. I can’t process this all. I don’t want to.

  • feedwordpress 14:11:02 on 2018/08/03 Permalink
    Tags: , iphone,   

    A Much Faster Way to Charge your iPhone 

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    A Much Faster Way to Charge your iPhone

    Forgive me, for I am about to commit gadget blogging. I've been using an iPhone X since they came out, and almost from the start my battery has charged between two and three time the default speed of most people's phones. All you need is one new cable to do it.

    The short version: The iPhone X (and iPhone 8) supports a fast-charging mode. If you spend a little bit of money on a higher-wattage charger, you can fill up your battery much faster, especially when it's really low.

    Here's what the results look like with the fast-charging setup that I've got now, starting from a phone that was down to only 2% battery charge:

    Time (minutes) 0 4 20 75 90 120
    Charge 2% 10% 37% 83% 91% 97%


    It's a strange way of pinching pennies on a phone that costs a thousand dollars, but Apple still includes their chintzy little square phone charger with every iPhone sold. It's barely changed over the last decade, and puts out a paltry 5 watts. On the plus side, it is small and doesn't block adjacent outlets, which I suppose is nice for people who are short on space.

    But here's the terrible part: If the regular 5W charger is the only charger you use with an iPhone X, and your battery is running really low, plugging in for half an hour will only add about 20% to your battery. You'll still be in Low Power Mode after half an hour! That is no good.

    As always with Apple, the solution is to spend money. It's more money than you want to spend, but enough that we'll all just suck it up and pay. Yay, Apple!


    I've ended up with a solution that is, admittedly, overkill. Through an absurd series of events, I ended up with an extra of Apple's most expensive charger: The 87 Watt USB-C Power Adapter. This is the most powerful laptop charger Apple sells, using its latest USB-C connector. Only the top-of-the-line 15" MacBook Pro even comes with this kind of power supply; the rest of the MacBooks make do with 61 Watts or less — the regular MacBook only comes with a 29 Watt charger! But each of these chargers uses USB-C, the new universal cable that's both enticingly simple and infuriatingly prone to unpredictable incompatibilties around power and data capabilities. The bottom line is, you don't need the ridiculously high-powered Macbook charger because any of the Apple USB-C chargers can do the job. If you don't have any of these USB-C chargers, I've heard good things about Anker's 30W power plug.

    Once you've got one of these power bricks, or an extra USB-C port on your MacBook or iMac, it's time for the key step: grab Apple's USB-C to Lightning cable, which is frustratingly overpriced at twenty bucks, but worth it. (Amazingly, this represents a 25% price drop for this particular cable over last year's prices.)

    That's it. Plug in your pricey new USB-C to Lightning cable, and you'll be topping up your iPhone battery much faster. Of course, it matters most if your charge level gets really low — if you're already at 95%, none of these products will make much of a difference for getting to 100%.

    I've also used a number of the popular wireless charging (Qi) devices that the iPhone X and iPhone 8 support, and while they certainly work, they're really slow. I much prefer the speed of having my battery fill faster to the convenience of not having to plug in a cable, unless I'm at a public/shared charge point like at a coffee shop or airport.

    The rumors are that Apple is going to include the USB-C to Lightning cable along with the next generation of iPhones, and they certainly should. The default experience for people buying a top-of-the-line phone ought to be the fastest charging experience possible.

    A Much Faster Way to Charge your iPhone

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