Anyone who is familiar with George’s Packers writing in the New Yorker will be accustomed to his narrative style of non-fiction. His new book, The Unwinding, is the pinnacle of his work to date. A journey across America (1978-2012) told through stories of its people. Rust belt workers, farmers, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, politicos, homeowners caught in the middle of foreclosure hell; all provide fascinating insight into drug addiction, wealth, the decline of US industry, celebrity, politics, race and more.
It’s the best thing I’ve read about modern America in a very long time and I encourage you to do the same.
I am tired, I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
Definitely one of my favourite people alive today.
The next big social network will come from nowhere. Or at least that’s what most commentators will have you believe. Another Instagram that captures everyone’s imagination and becomes a runaway success. For me the next big social network already exists, it just needs to reframe itself to the public a little.
By those who don’t us it Foursquare is quickly derided as a way for people to show their friends the cool (and expensive) places they like to hang out, and I’d admit that on the surface that assessment isn’t far off.
"Oh look, X has just checked into Y Michelin starred restaurant again. Good for them"
However that misses a much deeper socially significant way that Foursquare fits into my life, and that’s as a diary. Given any date back to the start of 2009 I can quickly scan back through the places I’ve visited and remember the gigs I’ve been to, the nights out I’ve had, the meals I’ve eaten, often punctuated with the other people I’ve checked in with, the comments we left and the photos we took. Like many people, the places I go in my spare time are hugely defining in my social life and that makes Foursquare uniquely positioned to tell this story to my friends and family.
The problem is it doesn’t do this. In fact Foursquare profiles are a real disappointment. When’re are the oversized photos, tips and comments? All that is available is a list of checkins in chronological order with no way to search or filter the data in a meaningful way.
"What was a doing this time last year / month / week?
"What was that great restaurant I went to in Istanbul last year?"
These are the types of questions Foursquare could help you unlock in a way that no other social network can.
Foursquare is already one of the best tools out there for exploration. On every trip I’ve had this year it’s been my go-to source for recommendations. But it could offer so much more in the way of profiling, a kind of digital memory for places, which in my opinion could make it a rival for even the biggest of the social networks.
The answer to the title of the post is often “Sonos + Spotify.” The Spotify piece of this is all well and good - although I use Rdio - and in some circumstances the Sonos part is too, for your TV. But if like me you have an amp, a CD player and hand built speakers, you’ll want to make sure you’re making the most out of them too.
I’ve gone through a few iterations of the same solution. Essentially connecting some receiver plugged directly into my amp that can connect to another device to control Rdio. My first port of call was an Airport Express which at £79 was the most expensive of the options, it’s also white which in my opinion is an odd choice for unit in a stack as they are typically black. These things can be forgiven if it actually worked and I’m afraid to say it was temperamental at best. It would constantly lose connection to the wireless network and when playing music would constantly skip - like the 21st century version of warped vinyl. I tired boosting the signal but it seems to be a widely acknowledged problem with some setups. On to solution two.
Solution two involves a cheaper tablet device that acts as the receiver and using Rdio on another device to control it. The system works well, but you’re forced to boot up Rdio on the tablet when you want to use it which makes it a little less “wireless” and you can’t really escape the feeling that it’s a waste of all that computing power.
Which leaves leads me to where I am now. The receiver is a black Logitech device that uses Bluetooth rather than WiFi. If you live in a central London flat you’ll be lucky to have 1000 sq. feet of floor space so the range isn’t really an issue. What’s more, because it uses a different frequency there are none of the bandwidth issues that come when someone else is gaming, streaming a movie or updating to iOS7.
It’s a great solution, and at £25 for the receiver it’s also one of the most cost effective I’ve found; and as you can tell from the length of this post. I’ve spent a long time looking.
There is a secular trend going on, in which launching a start-up is a more common thing to do. It used to be there were two things you could do after college: go to grad school or get a job. Soon, I think there will be three things: go to grad school, get a job, or start your own company. I suspect this will be one of these economic transformations on the scale of the industrial revolution.