• How this $40 pencil nearly went extinct

    This video from Wall Street Journal is a fantastic short doc about the history of the Blackwing 602 pencil and how it nearly went extinct.

    I absolutely love docs like this. It’s short, informative, niche, and well edited. Sign me up for any and all other documentaries like this out there.

  • A New Addition

    I’m elated to share that my daughter, Sloane, was born 13 days ago. She’s a happy and healthy girl born 3 weeks early. She has beautiful blue eyes, a fierce set of lungs, and loves being a night owl.

    As a new parent there’s lots of learning being had, sleep being lost, and mistakes being made. But that’s parenting, at least that’s what I’ve been told by everyone who has shared their experiences.

    It’s been incredibly emotionally and physically draining these past couple of weeks but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • The Future of Podcasting is Independent

    The Future of Podcasting is Independent

    I have been thinking a lot about the podcasting industry lately. The main thread is how even though there were massive layoffs in the podcasting industry, ad revenue and listenership continues to grow. It seems the podcasting industry is set to have the same fate as the newspaper and television industries, which had to “do more with less.”

    Just last year, Spotify laid off large portions of its staff, including the podcasting department, on three separate occasions. Other companies that laid off staff include Pushkin Industries, which let go 30% of its staff, WNYC, which also laid off staff in the podcasting division, and podcasting and radio powerhouse NPR did the same.

    Now, the podcasting industry isn’t totally destitute. Just this past month, Joe Rogan signed a new multi-year deal totaling $250 million with Spotify, and the comedy podcast SmartLess with hosts Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Shawn Hayes signed a $100 million deal with SiriusXM.

    Here’s the kicker: neither of these huge signings are platform exclusive. Spotify is no longer walling their podcasting garden. Instead, they have had a change of heart and are opening up their podcasts to any player you want. That said, there are podcasts that come out on their respective app first and then it is available to the rest of the public after a period of time. Still, it is a win for podcasting and a win for RSS.

    Amanda Silberling wrote something for TechCrunch about the decision for these companies to minimize workers to maximize value; and it has stuck with me for some time.

    This “maximum growth” mindset has poisoned venture-backed digital media companies like Buzzfeed, which descended from a shining star to an IPO embarrassment. The “middle class” of podcasters can’t rely on Spotify, and other media workers can’t rely on failing media conglomerates like G/O Media and Vice anymore. Over the last few years, worker-owned media outlets like Defector, Aftermath and 404 Media have begun cropping up, often founded and staffed by journalists who had been repeatedly laid off from mismanaged media companies. Now the podcasting industry is facing the same reckoning as Spotify’s losses prove that growth can’t take priority over sustainability. Already, podcast studio Maximum Fun has adopted a worker-ownership co-op model, and as podcasters continue to lose trust in big corporations like Spotify, we’ll see this trend continue.

    For me, this is where I have been spending most of my focus lately. The independent podcasts that don’t have millions of dollars behind them. These are also the major majority of podcasts on the internet. The podcasting ocean has several big whales, but swimming amongst them are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of minnows.

    Silberling already mentioned Maximum Fun, but another worker-owned podcast that’s on my radar is Never Post, “a podcast about and for the internet.”

    Mike Rugnetta, the host of Never Post, said it best in their trailer episode.

    I love the internet as a place, a piece of technology and also, conceptually as a set of protocols that … link stuff. That connect things; massive numbers of things in surprising, illuminating, confounding, and yes occasionally ENRAGING ways. The human experience is vast and so I guess of course it is vast also … online.

    I wanted to make a show about all of this; I have for a long time: a show not just about the internet specifically, but for the internet – demonstrating and sharing a love of it through its complexity, and all the ways it puts vastly different things in close proximity. Taking that idea, and making it a piece of media – that does the very thing it is about.

    This is where I hope the future of podcasting goes, something that is more sustainable, independent, and passionate. I know this can easily be read as me dunking on major podcasting studios and platforms for being big spenders, but I understand their side of things. If you want lots of revenue it is better to manage a few big whales than thousands of minnows. Still, I hope the minnows win out as everyone continues to cast their own net in the podcasting seas.

  • Never Post Episode 0: Independent Media Roundtable

    Never Post Episode 0: Independent Media Roundtable

    To kick things off, we had a roundtable conversation with a trio of makers and thinkers, all of whom are creating independent media. They are Gita Jackson (Aftermath), Alex Sujong Laughlin (Defector Media), and Rusty Foster (Today in Tabs).

    We wanted to talk with Gita, Alex and Rusty about the current state of media, and why each of them has decided to strike out beyond the big, legacy media organizations and create something new.

    Never Post is a brand new podcast but their first episode as well as their official first episode has made it part of the conversation for one of my favorite active podcasts.

    Hearing these guests, as well as host Mike Rugnetta, share their experiences in navigating today’s internet to make something that is sustainable and also respectful for their audience provides a window into something I hope to do here with Clicked.

  • I love the idea behind Project Tapestry by The Icon Factory.

    With Project Tapestry, we’ll create a universal, chronological timeline for iOS for any data that’s publicly available on the Internet. A service-independent overview of your social media and information landscape. Point the app toward your services and feeds, then scroll through everything all in one place to keep up-to-date and to see where you want to dive deeper. When you find something that you want to engage with or reply to, Tapestry will let you automatically open that post in the app of your choice and reply to it there. Tapestry isn’t meant to replace your favorite Mastodon app or RSS reader, but rather to complement them and help you figure out where you want to focus your attention.

  • Micro.blog Adds Threads and Twitter Cross-Posting

    Manton Reece:

    Today we’ve added a brand new option for manual cross-posting from Micro.blog to other services, including Threads. This new option is great for services that don’t yet have an open API, so Micro.blog can’t automatically post to them, or for when you want to edit and preview your posts before sending them elsewhere.

    This brings support for Threads for the first time. When choosing Threads, Micro.blog will reformat your blog post as plain text, truncate it if necessary, and copy the text over to Threads where you can finish sending the post. You will need to be signed into Threads in your web browser, or in the Threads app on mobile.

    Twitter X is also now back in a more limited form with this new cross-posting option. We still can’t automatically post to Twitter X because of their API changes.

    This feature doesn’t work exactly like Micro.blog’s existing, automatic cross-posting, so be sure to check out the help page for the details. In future updates, I expect that the two different ways of cross-posting will look more similar.

    I love the simplicity of this workflow and have long wanted to have Micro.blog offer Threads support in some capacity while we wait for full fediverse integration.

  • More Birchtree

    Matt Birchler:

    More Birchtree is a way to get more Birchtree writing, ad-free browsing, and the fuzzy feeling of supporting indie writing. Member posts will be more personal pieces, as well as more raw feelings about the tech news of the day before I’m ready to share with a wider audience. I’ll also have little sections shouting out other creators I love, apps I’m loving, and more.

    I’d like to do more (ha) with it down the road, but I’m not going to commit to anything else now until I know I can keep up with what I’ve said already.

    If you like my work, a large part of that is indirectly because of Matt Birchler. He’s been a guiding light for me and what I want to do with my work, writing, and website.

    He has been writing on the internet, for free, for 14 years. Not only does he have one of the best eyes for design, he also has an authentic voice that hasn’t deviated. While I am excited for the extra bit of content he will be making for subscribers, I am just happy to support someone’s work I cherish online.

    I think he more than deserves my $5 a month. You can subscribe too if you feel the same and can afford the added subscription.

  • CNN Plans to be Everywhere Your Phone is

    CNN Plans to be Everywhere Your Phone is

    Alex Cranz writing for The Verge:

    a memo from CNN CEO Mark Thompson outlines some of the early plans to try to save CNN from cable — and grow its presence on the phone.

    As noted by The Wall Street Journal, which has seen the memo, the first step will be combining CNN’s myriad news-gathering groups into one team. CNN, in its current structure, has a TV-focused operation, a streaming one, and a digital one. They communicate, but they’re separate organizations with separate leaders and goals. Thompson will combine them and then create a new organization focused on finding new ways to grow CNN’s audience.

    Beyond a major restructuring of CNN, Thompson is also working on the problem of how to get people to use CNN on their phones. “For many people today, the smartphone is a more important device for consuming news than the TV,” he wrote in the memo. “Their news prime time is in the morning, not the evening.”

    Thompson and CNN don’t yet have a solution for getting people to go to CNN on mobile devices. “I don’t think anyone’s yet cracked the code on how that translates, truly translates to a great news experience,” he wrote.

    I don’t doubt Mark Thompson is the man who could potentially save CNN, after all he did become a trend-setter when he was at The New York Times directing the creation of some of the best apps any media publication has offered both past and present.

    That being said, I think getting CNN to everyone is only half of the problem. the other half, the much more difficult half, is getting people excited about consuming CNN.

    I can’t remember the last time I watched CNN willingly. It has always been at an airport, doctor’s office, or at a hotel lobby. The programming at CNN, like all 24-hour news channels, is soul-sucking and numbing with regular consumption. I don’t care how many places I can get my CNN news, it is still the same annoyingly hostile and sensational news it has always been.

  • Substack suffers the consequences of their actions

    Substack suffers the consequences of their actions

    After a hellish month for Substack many writers on its platform have decided it is time to set up their newsletters and writings elsewhere. If you aren’t familiar with what happened, you can find out more on a timeline I made.

    A large number of Substack writers, including Ryan Broderick (Garbage Day), Molly White (Citations Needed), Rusty Foster (Today in Tabs), and now Casey Newton (Platformer) have left Substack over this. While all of these writers have written their own pieces on why they are leaving (as have I), I want to share some points from Casey Newton as they particularly resonated with me.

    I didn’t want to leave Substack without first getting my own sense of the problem. I reached out to journalists and experts in hate speech and asked them to share their own lists of Substack publications that, in their view, advanced extremist ideologies. With my colleagues Zoë Schiffer and Lindsey Choo, I reviewed them all and attempted to categorize them by size, ideology, and other characteristics.

    In the end, we found seven that conveyed explicit support for 1930s German Nazis and called for violence against Jews, among other groups. Substack removed one before we sent it to them. The others we sent to the company in a spirit of inquiry: will you remove these clear-cut examples of pro-Nazi speech? The answer to that question was essential to helping us understand whether we could stay.

    It was not, however, a comprehensive review of hate speech on the platform. And to my profound disappointment, before the company even acted on what we sent them, Substack shared the scope of our findings with another, friendlier publication on the platform, along with the information that these publications collectively had few subscribers and were not making money. (It later apologized to me for doing this.)

    The point of this leak, I believe, was to make the entire discussion about hate speech on Nazis on Substack appear to be laughably small: a mountain made out of a molehill by bedwetting liberals.

    I just want to say again that to me, this was never about the fate of a few publications: it was about whether Substack would publicly commit to proactively removing pro-Nazi material. Up to the moment I published on Tuesday, I believed that the company planned to do this. But I no longer do.

    [U]ntil Substack makes it clear that it will take proactive steps to remove hate speech and extremism, the current size of the problem isn’t relevant. The company’s edgelord branding ensures that the fringes will continue to arrive and set up shop, and its infrastructure creates the possibility that those publications will grow quickly. That’s what matters.

    The frequently asked questions towards the bottom of the article is also great.

    Substack is yet to respond to these publications leaving the platform, and I am not sure they will in all honesty. I do think this mass exodus of writers, myself included, just might force Substack to realize they are not just infastructure and make changes. They can either remove the social aspect
    of things, or they can moderate content with no-brainer rules and regulations.

    Still, I believe that this whole saga for Substack will forever be a black eye for them and their reputation. Substack deserves the consequences they are receiving.

  • Mona Chalabi on Longform

    This Longform episode with data journalist Mona Chalabi, who has written for The GuardianThe New York Times, and won a Pulitzer for her work, was so good I listened to it twice in one day.

    In the podcast she speaks about the ongoing Israel and Palestine war and her feelings on it and the bad reporting that is happening on publications with good reporters.

    Mona also spoke a lot about the disparity between white journalists and non-white journalists and pulled no punches when it came to pointing out the hypocrisy in news media today when it comes to overly scrutinizing non-white journalists when white journalists can get away with so much more without so much as a second glance.

    Max (host): Do you think that you’re going to find a place in journalism where you feel like you belong?

    Mona: I’m reading the editorial pieces right now from different organizations, right? Different newspapers, different press outlets. I find it astonishing that our independence and our, like, neutrality is called into question when we sign a letter in support of Palestinian human rights. But you can write an editorial that is about Israel’s right to defend itself and you’re still good to be editor in chief somewhere, right? Those editorials make it very, very clear for me that not only do your standards of journalism fall down when it comes to Israel and Palestine because you’re not representing the facts correctly, but also this is an institution that doesn’t really value Arab life in the same way that it values white life.

    I want to say that there is a demand on so many people who are marginalized and who are working in newsrooms to be absolutely meticulous in our transparency of our experiences and how we got to here. And I actually think that the same thing should be demanded on the part of a lot of white journalists. There are so few Arab journalists, let alone Palestinian journalists, working for North American news organizations, UK news organizations, Western news organizations, period. And this is something I’ll say now that I would have never dared to say before in a place like the New York Times.

    I would wager, I wish I could find data on this, I would wager there are fewer Arab journalists than there are journalists who have done birthright. And this is part of my question about protest right? Why is it that for you to sign a letter saying you support Palestinian human rights means you are no longer a credible journalist? Your neutrality is under question. But if you have gone on an all expenses paid trip to Israel by the Israeli government with the stated intention of fostering better relations, better sympathy for the state of Israel, your objectivity is not under question.

    Max: What I hear you saying is there are [unequal] levels of transparency.

    Mona: Yes. And that there are ways of equalizing it. I think that’s exactly right. In some ways, I don’t even resent the scrutiny that I’m being held to. In some ways, what I resent about it is that other people aren’t being held to the same standards.

    And actually, if my white colleagues were held to the same standards, I think the whole industry gets better. So no, I don’t really see a natural place for myself anywhere right now. I really don’t.