A few months ago, I referenced the first of these weekly emails, Airspace #1, to introduce the essay in Monoculture #360. Both describes something true at a surface level: everything looks the same because our global culture can make it so; our culture tends to choose global and mono because it can. What's more interesting, and on the original "technopoly" focus of this weekly missive, is the mechanism by which the Airspace or Monoculture has emerged. How does airspace and monoculture happen?
Here you’ll find an archive of Nathanael’s weekly email. In it, he features an essay and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity.
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We're at the stage of our home addition where the final invoice is about to be sent and it's about to wipe out our extra funds. Right at the time when I thought our usual spending was under enough control to build back up those funds, our van's shock absorbers gave out. It wasn't a giant setback financially, although it certainly is a noticeable expense. Was it preventable? I think it may've been: our city's streets are riddled with years-old potholes; the state highway up to the ski hill has been patched in a few places with gravel, which the snowplows regularly scrape away; when you drive on I-93 to New Hampshire, you can tell where state line is precisely: the road has two additional lanes and is perfectly smooth in the Granite State, while in the Bay State its narrower lanes are rough with grooves and holes and decrepitude. We pay the commonwealth twenty-seven cents per gallon of gas; we pay the feds eighteen: neither can keep the roads paved.
This week, I had a few conversations about the real use cases for AI. We're about 15 months into the hype cycle. It went from early adopters to tech journalists to wide usage almost a year ago. In the year since then, seemingly every company, although more properly every software company, including mine, put AI into their teams or toolings or talking points. That's worked more or less well: doubtless the Microsoft inbox assistant helps people read and write more useless stuff into Outlook; if you want likely wrong but there text, a bot can give it to you; if you'd like a generic but never seen before stock image, it's a prompt away. But the actually compelling use case, one where a novel problem is solved or a problem is solved in a much better way, remains a bit elusive.
I've been out of politics as a job for about seven years. When I pivoted to software, my consumption of political media went from work-related or at least adjacent back to where it might've been best all along: for 'pleasure.' Between quitting most social media and dialing back what I needed to follow for work, my intake of news and politics dropped significantly. This gave me a little bit of perspective–enough to realize that the authors I read directly predicted my opinions.
When I worked in advertising, our design brief had three initial options for the overall style. They were traditional, modern, or other. 95% of the project briefs ticked the modern box. This was surprising: our firm did creative work for southern small business owners and southern politicians. They were, almost to a person, the old boys club members you'd expect. They were so conservative that I'm not sure they believed Pepsi to be an acceptable soft drink. It was only Coca-Cola and our clients were Coke classic incarnate. Yet, they asked for their designs to be modern.
Eventually, everyone buries their parents. Some of us have already had to bear that burden; it's coming for the rest of us. Whether your parents die tragically before their time or at a ripe old age, it's a lonely, sobering journey.
I spend a lot of time reading articles online. In 2016, I decided to do something productive with all of that reading. Inspired by my brother’s Sunday Evening Post, I began a weekly roundup of things worth the time to read.
About News + Marketing + Tech + Leadership
Everyone Is Getting Hilariously Rich and You’re Not
This morning, I reviewed the last year's worth of posts on my site. Most of the posts were these weekly emails; I also published a few longer form articles. A year ago yesterday I published a retrospective: a requiem for Revue.
More than a hundred and fifty people read the weekly email “Nathanael’s Reading,” which he’s sent every Friday since 2016. Nathanael includes original thoughts and curated reading on technology + marketing + simplicity. Subscribe by entering your email here