I love reading about how other people work. It’s a great way of finding new tools, new sites, new people to follow. Workspaces is a good example of this. Uses This is a great example of this. And along comes embedded, a newsletter about being Very Online. It’s got a great recurring feature called “My Internet” all about how famous internet-people use the internet, asking everyone the same questions like “what podcasts do you listen to” and “what are you willing to pay for online”, and it’s always really revealing and helpful.
As I’ve said before, Nicky Case has a genuine gift for being able to explain technical things really well. In this case, they’re explaining RSS, the glue that holds the internet together. The only thing I’d add to what they say here is that you don’t need a subscription service to start enjoying RSS! Modern apps like Reeder and NetNewsWire allow you to scrape feeds from your own computer!
I sometimes half-joke that I really hate the Dad in Bluey because he’s always so fuckin perfect and he makes me feel like a bad parent but the truth is that I’ve learned a lot about being a better parent from watching Bluey. The fact that it’s a genuinely delightful show is just a happy bonus.
What I’m talking about here is “straight TikTok,” the side of the app that can be described as “pretty people filming themselves being pretty.” On straight TikTok, you can be an okay dancer with an expressive face, and one year later, you get a beauty brand, a publicist-concocted friendship with a Kardashian, and the starring role in the gender-swapped Netflix adaptation of She’s All That.
TikTok has been one of the highlights of 2020 for me and one of the things that kept me from Twitter-doomscrolling myself into an early grave. But this is a fairly spot-on evaluation – it’s interesting to see who bubbles to the top on that stupid clock app and I wonder how much of this is an algorithm thing and how much of this is just the mediocrity of aggregated opinions.
Amazon Kindle owners can now set the lockscreen image to the cover of the book they’re reading. The long overdue Display Cover feature, first spotted by Engadget, was previously only available after jailbreaking your device (and a popular motivator to do so). Amazon says that it works with “most books, magazines, comics, and Manga.”
I’m not sure what the hold-up was – some kind of competitor’s patent or just laziness or whatever – but as someone who has been waiting for this feature for over 10 years now, I’d just like to say: fuckin FINALLY.
I’ve been reading a lot more books over the last couple of months. Physical books, I mean. I think this is partly A) coming out of baby/pandemic brain-fog and B) I’d forgotten how lovely it is to hold a physical book. Every time you see your book, every time you open it, every time you turn a page with it, you increase your connection to it. A well-beaten book is a well-loved book that’s been with you for a while.
Opening the Kindle and seeing a generic screen saver gives you absolutely nothing. It’s not cementing my relationship to the form or the content. This isn’t helped by the fact that the Kindle turns on immediately drops you where you left off with no indication of whether you’re near the end of the book or just getting started. Like getting dropped in an unfamiliar place with no map. You just have to keep going forward and eventually you’ll reach somewhere. It’s a handy feature, for sure, but my dumb lizard-brain gets something from the physicality of being able to feel where I am in a book. The Kindle’s attempt to address this – putting the % completed in the corner just fills me with anxiety. Kind of like the inverse of watching a phone battery percentage trickling down, why amn’t I making progress in this goddamn book?!
Spotify completely changed my connection to music (I could probably tell you the name of every song on every album I’ve physically owned – these days I couldn’t even describe the cover of albums I love that I’ve only listened to on Spotify), the Kindle changed my connection to the books I read. It’s not unusual for me to finish a book and not be able to tell you the name of the author. Hopefully for the sake of my already-overflowing bookshelves, this will draw me back to the Kindle as a device for reading again and my physical to-read pile (here’s a photo from last month – yikes) won’t grow any more.
Trent Reznor, answering the question of what art he’s turned to during the lockdown:
I’ve stumbled into the world of YouTube tutorials for various bits of musical gear. I’ve really found some comfort in curling up with a nice long video of someone demonstrating an obscure guitar pedal or synth at length. I’m usually watching and forgetting all information simultaneously but it feels like some kind of accomplishment.