Archives for May 2017

May 19, 2017 - No Comments!

‘Spotify Expands Its AI Arsenal for Better Music Recommendations’

Engadget has a brief article on Spotify's purchase of Niland:

Spotify's editorial selection and music discovery process are hard to beat (ahem, Google Play Music) and it might get a little better with the company's latest acquisition. The music streaming service has just picked up Niland, a Paris-based machine learning startup that focuses on music search and recommendations. "The team from Niland will join our New York office and help Spotify continue innovating and improving our recommendation and personalization technologies resulting in more music discovery, which benefits both fans and artists," a press release says.

As someone who's moved from Apple Music to Spotify soley because of Discover Weekly, it's good to see the company doubling down on recommendations. It seems inevitable that every platform which provides its user with media of any sort will find themselves gravitating towards 'discovery' as time goes on. We're at a point (and have been at a point for a long time) that there's simply so much out there, we could find a new favorite song or film or show at any moment. 

The fact that my Apple Music recommendations were so terrible—and that similar recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu suffer the same lack of clarity—is a problem, and one that will certainly be solved eventually. Until then, I'll be on whatever service helps me find new things I love the most.

May 17, 2017 - No Comments!

100 Million Books

I have a new homepage, and it’s 100 Million Books.

This simple project shows you a new book, and a quote from the book, each time you open up a new tab. The project prides itself in having no 'algorithms' and no barriers in terms of genre of perspective.

Here's why they've created it, in their words:

It might help open minds by promoting a diverse array of ideas. It might help people realize the sheer breadth of smart ideas, emotional stories, and insightful perspectives out there they don’t know. It might help them acknowledge that there are millions more they won’t ever know. These people may end up getting inspired by an idea that no friend (or robot) would ever tell them about. Perhaps at some point in this process, humanity may find some more humility.

This is a good project, and I've already added half a dozen books to my reading list because of it.

May 16, 2017 - No Comments!

‘What’s Happening With Me’ – Biz Stone

Biz Stone, who just sold Jelly to Pinterest, posted a Medium blog announcing his return to Twitter. As a longtime Twitter user, it's easy to feel pessimistic about the decisions they're making; yet this makes me strangely hopeful that they're focusing in on steering the ship in the right direction.

Here's Biz on what his role entails:

My top focus will be to guide the company culture, that energy, that feeling. This is where Jack, and Twitter’s inestimable CMO, Leslie Berland, feel I can have the most powerful impact. It’s important that everyone understands the whole story of Twitter and each of our roles in that story. I’ll shape the experience internally so it’s also felt outside the company.

I think we can all agree that the 'internal experience' of Twitter needs restructuring. From the outside, it seems as if they've been deep in the midst of an identity crisis. Are they a streaming platform? A news site? They seem to understand that their place is to share 'what's happening', but both the how and even the what have been unclear.

I'll be looking for external signs of change in the comings months.

May 16, 2017 - No Comments!

‘Apple’s New Campus: an Exclusive Look Inside the Mothership’

You will certainly see this Wired profile of Apple's campus linked all over the web today, and I suggest you read it. Not only is it the first real look at the campus I've seen, but it's also full of some beautiful human details.

My favorite is a reflection from Norman Foster, one of the chief architects on the project:

Apple Park may be an architectural tour de force, but Foster has grasped its essential truth: At heart it is the realization of a dying man’s wish to eternally shape the workplace of the company he founded. Yes, Apple insists that by working in a place where artificial hills are dotted with pines transplanted from Christmas tree farms in the Mojave Desert, its employees will make better products. But didn’t Apple create its marvelous Apple II in a bedroom and its ground­breaking Macintosh in a low-slung office park building? The employees who work at the new campus are leaving behind the buildings that provided sufficient inspiration to invent the iPhone.

It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same man who pushed employees to produce those signature products. In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his values. The phrase that keeps coming up in talks with key Apple figures is “Steve’s gift.” Behind that concept is the idea that in the last months of his life, Jobs expended significant energy to create a workplace that would benefit Apple’s workers for perhaps the next century. “This was a hundred-year decision,” Cook says. “And Steve spent the last couple of years of his life pouring himself in here at times when he clearly felt very poorly.

Indeed, it could be said that one of the reasons that Apple's products have been so successful over the years is because they have all felt like "Steve's gifts" to the world. The iPhone and the iPad and the various models of Macs have all felt like a single person's expression of computing, given to the world not as presents, not products.

The fact that the company is still working hard on these creations should put worried Apple fans at ease. This is an organization dedicated to tireless work in the name of ideals, with or without Steve Jobs at the helm.