Snapchat and Growth Hacking

I first signed up for Snapchat years ago, but after being completely befuddled by its user interface, I deleted it pretty quickly. I’ve been hearing so much about it lately that I decided to reinstall it and play around.

Overall, it’s been fun talking with friends and checking it out. It’s still inscrutable, but it’s fun.

The notification experience is absolutely unbearable though. If you’re unfamiliar with Snapchat, this is what happens when someone is sending you a message:

snapchat typing notification

This is some majorly user-hostile stuff. I’m guessing it’s in the name of Growth Hacking or some other nonsense, but wow, this is gross. Because I’m a total pedant about notifications, I immediately went on a deep dive figuring out how to configure this nuisance away. Nope. Not possible. There are plenty of “tutorials” online – all of which instruct you how to turn off notifications completely. For a social app… whose primary focus is Direct Message style communication… right…

This is just gross. As the underdog and the platform always being copied, I want to root for Snapchat, but this has to go.

The Green New Deal Has a Branding Problem

Nope, this branding problem has nothing to do with waging war against lobbyists, pseudoscience, or the “Estbalishment” – it’s grammar. Grammar is the great equalizer. It has an equal harshness for all of us, regardless of what you believe in. There’s beauty in that.

Every time I read any reference to the Green New Deal, it sets my teeth on edge a little. I get why it’s called the “Green New Deal”, but we all agree it should be called the “New Green Deal”, right?

My mind immediately flashes back to this old post by Kottke. I don’t know how we all know those rules inherently, but we sure do. Not following these unspoken rules makes you sound like a crazy person.

“Hey buddy, check out my Blue New Mug!” Nope. Nope. Nope.

Email’s Walled Garden

Online publishing seems to be in kind of a weird phase these days. With the death of Google Reader many years ago (gone too soon!), the self-publishing and RSS ecosystem seems to have left the mainstream consciousness. For years, I’ve been watching my favorite authors lament its disappearance and their subsequent battle to stay engaged with their readership.

While it seems like RSS is having a bit of a moment again, we’ve all seen the proliferation of email newsletters recently. I’m not against it, and I actually subscribe to a good handful of them myself, but I worry about what it’s doing to the open web.

I know, more hand-wringing over the “open web”. But my post from earlier today is a great example of where it hurts. I really wanted to link to that article by Shawn, but that writing has no home on the internet. Instead, it lives somewhere in a top secret Active Campaign CMS. I don’t feel great about that.

Folks, if you’re going to start a newsletter, I’m all for it. Just cross-post it.

NaNoWriMo (my way)

I was reading the most recent newsletter from Shawn Blanc about posting every day during November and it inspired me to do the same. This is a total wimp-out version of NaNoWriMo but let’s be honest – I’m not writing a novel. Not in November 2019. Not ever.

But! But, I’ll be publishing something here every day. Sometimes, I can’t get enough of writing, and sometimes I feel like I don’t have much to say, but there’s nothing like the feeling of having written. More of that please.

So with that, let’s kick this month of writing off.

P.S. I may not actually post every day. The goal is to post 30 times in November. Life getting in the way and all that.

Keep Your Eyes Open

This photo is undoubtedly one of the coolest, most impactful photos I’ve ever taken. I love it. I took it when I was in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany last week. I’d never been to Europe before and it was really cool to get a firsthand view of the juxtaposition of modern life going on in and around these practically ancient towns. Pretty wild.

Anyway, that photo isn’t my favorite from the trip. My favorite actually came when I turned around and faced away from this incredible, historic cathedral.

What’s the significance in that? I’m not really sure. But I feel like there’s a lesson in that. It’s something I want to spend some time thinking about.

What Are Toes For?

The other day, my daughter (8) asked me why people have toes. I explained to her that

“Toes help you balance. You wouldn’t be able to walk well without them.”

I didn’t Google it, but that’s always what I’d heard.

Is that right? Who even decides that as a parent, you get to instill a whole bunch of ideas in your kids that might not even be right? Anyway, I digress.

She says back to me:

“that’s true, if you didn’t have toes, it would be really hard to do a pirouette”

Something about that struck me. If doing a pirouette is the first thing that comes to mind for her, we must be doing something right…

Tim Ferriss vs. Dr. Peter Attia

I was recently listening to an incredible episode of the Tim Ferris show and stopped dead in my tracks when Tim said this:

In fact, I would say for the vast majority of my adolescence and certainly throughout high school and college, I somehow came to the conclusion that I was just not designed to be happy. That evolution did not optimize for happiness, and I just did not have the code for happy and that was okay. That I would be an instrument of competition, I would learn to be good at various things that were valued at colleges and then by the business world and so on, and that it was not worth trying to be happy, or to not just love myself, but really have a high opinion of myself.

In fact, that was self-indulgent and that I would just focus on being the best competitor possible, and hopefully turning that into something that was not only of value to me to that I was rewarded for, but that would help other people, and that perhaps I would find some joy in the joy of other people, but that was the extent of it.

Man, that’s almost too real.

Your Two-Tap Mental Health Assessment

I was recently sending a message on my phone and couldn’t find an emoji I expected to be in my “frequently used” list. There were a bunch of really snarky little characters in there and it made me wonder how closely that list tracks with how I was feeling mentally and emotionally.

Does your list resemble what you want to be putting out into the world? Does it align with what you think you’re putting out into the world?

Take a minute to check it out and reflect on that. For accountability’s sake, here’s mine:

The Shutdown Drags On

This NYT article about federal workers scrambling to make ends meet is full of disgusting anecdotes. There are several things you could pull-quote, but here’s one for instance:

Across the country, idled federal workers and contractors are taking up last-resort jobs with ride-hailing services and delivery apps. They are flooding school districts with applications to become substitute teachers. They are taking babysitting gigs, working shifts at local gyms and auditioning for yoga-instructor slots.

Babysitting? Seriously? These are real people, with educations, families to support, and bills to pay. It’s unthinkable that these people would be caught in this kind of political tug-of-war.

After a recent insurance change at work, I’ve had to self-pay for a number of small medical bills and even that is stressful. What these people are going through isn’t a theoretical exercise. They’re going to work every day and not being paid for it. How does anyone see this as a reasonable scenario? It’s an embarrassment on a national level, and those who are complicit in it deserve to be voted out of office.