Economics and Thanos

After seeing Avengers Endgame yesterday my wife and were discussing how the earth loosing half its population would affect the state of world markets and also the fundamental shift it would cause in the social fabric in society. We both love Planet Money so it was an interesting conversation and its something I hope the story at team at Marvel tries to approach (that is the real genius behind sci-fi is that you can look at the world thru a different lense and make your audience think). I was therefore super pleased to see that the team behind Marketplace approached the movie from that angle and I really enjoyed their article. I highly recommend anyone interested in armchair economics to give it a read.

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Apple Services

AppAt the end of last week one of my favorite Apple tech writers/fans David Sparks wrote about Apple Music in response to the recent news that from the Wallstreet Journal that Apple Music surpassed the Spotify in user count in the US. He and his family subscribe to the Apple Music Family plan and get value from the streaming library and playlists sharing. I was wary about Apple’s move into services and as Apple Music is the companies first stand alone service product (I am putting iCloud in a companion product category) to see that the it is gaining market share is a good trend for the company.

Services are clearly important to Apple given the recent announcements around Apples news and video services and I suspect it will become an even larger focus in the future. As smartphones become more commoditized the company is going to look for other revenue streams (as it should) Though as with the news above and also the more recent service news I constantly wonder whether the adoption rate is due more to the fact that the services come by default on an iPhone rather than the service itself.

Apple’s traditional strength has no been services. They have excelled at hardware though their past service offerings (Mobile Me, Ping, iCloud 1.0) faltered. Other companies like Google or Microsoft had more experience with services though I would argue that iCloud now is a rock solid service that I use every day without incident. The question remains whether Apple will create services aimed at drawing (or keeping users) on their platforms like how they manage iMessage or if they are authoring services writ-large across multiple platforms (Apple does make an Apple Music android app though Apple News+, Apple Video and Apple Arcade all seems aimed at Apple devices only. Given Apple’s penchant for wanting to own the whole vertical (like how in manufacturing they are building their own chips) I definitely think that Apple Music is more of an exception than the rule in terms of cross-platform availability.

Death and Blogging

I have been ruminating over this post for months. Back in August Patrick Rothfuss wrote a blog post about the nature of blogging, and then I read another post shortly after author John Scalzi on how he is reflecting on his blog’s future, which got me thinking about blogging as an art form. I came of in the age when blogging emerged as the heir apparent to the personal journal so it is interesting to see how the internet has shifted to more social sharing and away from “the blog”.

Blogging tools have flattened the distribution model for putting out content so that anyone (i.e. me) can put out content and thus we’ve drastically increased the noise in the blogging sphere, which causes internet users to have more options than ever before in terms of content. This variety has lead to blogging’s success though has also weakened the discipline in someways.

Scalzi writes about trying to understand where blogs belong in the greater zeitgesit:

This is a fact that among other things is causing me both practical and existential reflection on what this place is, and what it means to me, and what is the best way to keep doing it moving forward, particularly in an age where “blogs” are not the center of online gravity that they used to be.

I have always loved Scalzi’s sharp prose and “online gravity” is well stated. I think as blogging has become more “noisy” users are looking for another signal for value, which has heralded social media’s rise. We started looking to people we know (in real life and online) as barometers for content value. (Though that is changing as social media influencers like entertainers, athletes, artists or others with fame leverage their popularity to advertise for brand or products and/or services. If someone is being paid for endorsing a product or service how should that be weighted in relation to someone’s unpaid opinion.)

Meanwhile in a galaxy not so far away, Rothfus writes about how blogging has lost the joy:

I still think of stories that it would be fun to tell…. but the thought of putting them up here? It wearies me. I feel so tired all the time lately. And it’s not just that I’m too busy, underslept, and behind on everything. It’s not just that the world is very heavy on me lately, and I’ve been having trouble finding joy.

The question remains that if prominent/longtime bloggers like Scalzi and Rothfuss has become uninspired and/or wonder about the vitality in the blog ecosystem where does that leave the rest of the us. This particular blog (unordinarytales.com) has been iterated over the years as a review website, newsletter, or even a social media feed on several disparate platforms (Blogger,Tumblr, and Instagram) with Medium being the latest iteration. Blogging for the rest of us provides a way for our thoughts to live beyond ourselves for our families and communities. Much like how humans dream to work out problems and refine their thoughts blogs too provide a way for the writer mull over their ideas and build consensus. Blogging may not be a joyful experience though being joyful doesn’t necessarily provide value. Like how email went from being a joy to a foundational information tool so too has blogging gone thru the same metamorphosis. Blogging provides an institutional record for the individual and for others who could interested in the writer’s life. The internet and blogging can preserve our ideas in perpetuity.

*Scalzi and Rothfuss have been blogging for years (Scalzi’s blog Whatever has been around since the late 1990s and Rothfuss has been blogging since 2007.)