Brian Lam on what technology means for happiness

Informationally, we are becoming lard-asses. In the pageview and ratings driven media economy, too much of the content these days is designed to be just like junk food to quickly boost quantifiable viewership. If you make content that is the intellectual equivalent of gummy bears, your site will appear to grow quickly. Advertisers reward size, and growing fast is expected in most places I’ve seen.

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I think we–and information workers like programmers, designers and writers especially–are capable right now of living a fantastic life that marries the wild vitality that Thoreau experienced at Walden with the better parts of civilized living. This is a life that Ted, if he were still in his cabin, could be envious of–if we could only muster the discipline to get away from the noise.

Brian Lam — Happiness Takes (A Little) Magic

Today’s two WordPress.com VIP launches: PandoDaily and Grist

Today, MLK day even, two new sites launched on WordPress.com VIP that I’m personally pretty excited about.

PandoDaily

PandoDaily is a brand new tech site started by Sarah Lacy, former senior editor at TechCrunch. From her announcement post:

We have one goal here at PandoDaily: To be the site-of-record for that startup root-system and everything that springs up from it, cycle-after-cycle. That sounds simple but it’ll be incredibly hard to pull off. It’s not something we accomplish on day one or even day 300. It’s something we accomplish by waking up every single day and writing the best stuff we can, and continually adding like-minded staffers who have the passion, drive and talent to do the same.

So… this sounds like a newer, better, and fresher TechCrunch starting from scratch. And she’s recruited Michael ArringtonMG SieglerPaul Carr and Farhad Manjoo as regular contributors. Props to Sara Cannon for pulling off the design.

Grist

Grist, a non-profit environmental news publication, is near and dear to my heart. It’s why I’m on the technology side of publishing instead of photographing in the third world. In summer 2007, I worked an awesome web production internship where, in exchange for a bit of copy and pasting into the CMS, I had the freedom to explore publishing on the web and to start developing my skills. That was back in the days of Bricolage; Grist has since been on ExpressionEngine. Props to Matt Perry and Nathan Letsinger for making the switch happen (and to the Otto and Nacin show for their support).

Want to help publishers kick ass with WordPress? Come join my team — we’re hiring.

Aside

The Local-Global Flip, Or, “The Lanier Effect”. Absolutely fascinating interview. Two technologies on the cusp of going mainstream: self-driving cars and (dis)assembling robots. Also, technological efficiencies tend to have a positive benefit to the already wealthy (you save more money) but a negative benefit to the already middle-class or poor (you don’t have any money to begin with). What do we do when machines can do it better?

Quote

But all of these proprietary networks that want to own and hold in your content are reversing much of the web’s progress in some other areas, such as the durability and quality of online identity.

If you care about your online presence, you must own it.

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Sadly, most people don’t care about giving control of their online identity to current or future advertising companies.

But there will always be the open web for the geeks, the misfits, the eccentrics, the control freaks, and any other term we can think of to proudly express our healthy skepticism of giving up too much control over what really should be ours.

Marco Arment — Own your identity. Amen.

Why Google won’t ever get social

Recently, Google changed their accounts infrastructure so that Google Apps accounts behave more like normal Google accounts. You’d think this would be a good thing, but it’s had a very negative unintended consequence.

Previously, you could associate multiple email addresses, including Google Apps email addresses, with a single Google Profile. This has been extremely useful, especially for using a product like Google Groups.

Their recent infrastructure change reversed all of this. Specifically, I use danielbachhuber@gmail.com to log into my Google services, but use d@danielbachhuber.com and other email addresses with my Google Groups. Because the Google Apps email addresses can no longer be associated with my primary Gmail account, I can no longer participant in the myriad of Google Groups I’m a part of. Furthermore, I have no idea where else this problem is going to manifest itself.

Google won’t ever get social because they’ve just fundamentally broken the concept of one login for multiple identities and contexts. As strongly as I am against it, this is what Twitter and Facebook are doing right.