(or: Hollywood still hates you)

As if you needed another indicator, this new deal between Warner Bros. and Netflix highlights how completely out of touch Hollywood is.

Another clutch quote:

Under the companies’ previous agreement, users could add discs to their queues even before they went on sale. Warner executives apparently believed that policy made it easier for consumers to wait, confident that the discs would arrive eventually.

Being able to put them in my Netflix queue, long before the DVD was available, was the best way that I could ensure that I would remember the movie. I would eventually see it, and Hollywood would get paid something.

There is logic here, it’s simply faulty. In a previous world of limited choice I could probably count the number of movies I heard and cared about in any given year on one or two hands. Now, just in movies alone, I am overwhelmed with what I hear about and what I have access to.

Consider only new releases: I know for a fact that I’ll never get to the movie theater to see all of the movies that look interesting. Being able to put them in my Netflix queue, long before the DVD was available, was the best way that I could ensure that I would remember the movie. I would eventually see it, and Hollywood would get paid something. If I can’t do that, I’m much more likely to simply forget the movie ever existed, not count down the days until I can buy it. I think there was a time that tactic could’ve worked. I simply don’t think it does anymore.

(via Apple Outsider)

Flat Tax

I don’t understand at all why it has taken so long to get to this point. A flat tax seems so painfully obvious as the best way to manage income tax. The only thing I can think is that, for the most part, the people who benefit most from the current tax system are the ones in charge of managing said system. Surprise, surprise.

I hope Fred’s right. I too would be excited to see a true simplification of the tax system.


We get what others lobby for…

Interesting take by Mat Honan. I can’t say I disagree.

I think the main feeling I have walking away from today is shame.

Today was interesting. I don’t usually find myself caught up in the sorts of protest-type “movements” that we saw today, but this one got me. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Whether Mat is 100% correct or not, I think the main feeling I have walking away from today is shame. Shame that it got to this point. As a country, how do we continue to put people in power who are so ready to listen to special interest groups? Is it simply because sometimes our special interests get listened to and we feel like we got a win?

The very existence of SOPA/PIPA (and the lobbying efforts that birthed them) underscore a deeper problem in our current political system. It’s deeper than money in politics, corporate lobbies, or congressmen who don’t understand the internet. I think we’re facing the result of making politics a lifelong-career of the privileged and attention-seeking. How different would Washington be if everyone knew they only had—at the most—a few years to do the work they were elected to do?

The Tax War

This opinion piece in The Economist has one of of the more balanced takes on the US (and Western World’s) current tax and income redistribution adventure. It asks a lot of the same questions that I’ve wondered myself.

I’m not a tax expert by any means, but it seems that our efforts shouldn’t be focused on how to get only the rich to pay more taxes directly, but on simplifying and streamlining the existing tax code: the result automatically being that everyone pays a more “fair” share of tax related to the revenue they bring in. I guess that just doesn’t have the same political punchiness in the pulpit for either side.

We gave you the Internet…

…and no, there’s no time machine.

Nat Torkington, in response to the president’s request of ideas and help from the tech community to stop and prevent piracy.

I don’t like piracy. I wouldn’t want my work stolen and I certainly don’t like seeing the work of friends stolen. But what the president is asking for doesn’t exist. I think future generations will look back on the invention of the Internet and—if it’s mentioned at all—see a footnote about how it made it hard for some industries to continue operating under their pre-Internet status quo. That is, unless we screw this up. Then the footnote will talk about the Internet Dark Ages where we allowed government and lobbyists to try to turn back the clock. I bet there was proposed legislation that required cars to artificially restrained to the speed of a horse too.

(via @timbray)


We’re training young designers to get noticed, rather than to excel at their craft

So very true. I’d counter this, though, with the unfortunate observation that, as an industry, we reward this behavior.

Dribbble, while one of my favorite sites on the Internet, is most-often a popularity contest that is getting a lot of designers who make very pretty (but very untested) things a lot of attention. No problem, except for the confusing message it sends to these young designers.

Design blogs like The Dieline (and perhaps, even this very blog) are beautiful, but a lot of the work tends to be student work, that has never met mettle or gone through the ringer of a client that’s not entirely sold on the design.

…you’re young and inexperienced; now do things to get attention.

I’m not trying to pass judgement on these types of online establishments, I just think that we’re communicating a double-message to young designers: you’re young and inexperienced; now do things to get attention. Because of this, we’re cultivating a crop of designers who play this game really, really well, but may be completely lost or out-of-sorts when it comes to actual client work.

Uncomfortable Question

Are people simply buying and consuming less traditional media?

Tim O’Reilly nails it. This is the entertainment industry’s most uncomfortable question:

Is the problem piracy, or are people simply buying less?

It’s anecdotal, but among my peers and myself, I know it to be true that we are buying less. Streaming media services, crappier movies, more expensive ticket prices, and significantly more entertainment alternatives might just mean that people are buying less:

While people have access to more traditional types of entertainment media they also have exponential access to alternatives.

  • Music: I buy a decent amount of music, but most of my friends simply use Pandora, Spotify or Rdio in place of purchasing or listening to terrestrial radio. Napster is a thing of the past and I don’t hear many peers talk about stealing music. So they’re either procuring it legally through services that are significantly cheaper than purchasing albums, or they’re putting their time and money elsewhere.
  • News: I don’t know anyone my age who subscribes to physical newspapers, and online, publishers like the New York Times have made it clear that they’re clueless when it comes to worthwhile online paid subscriptions.
  • Movies: I also don’t know anyone that buys DVDs anymore and Hollywood seems to be in a contest to see how much lower they can set the bar with each movie release while adding expensive gimmicks like 3D. Maybe I’m just bullshitting myself, but I feel like I’d see more movies if they were cheaper and I didn’t have to wear stupid glasses.

I’d suspect that the double-edged sword of the internet has meant that while people have access to more traditional types of entertainment media they also have exponential access to more alternative types of entertainment, games, news, writing, media, etc. that Hollywood can’t even find on its radar screen, let alone make money off of.

(via Daring Fireball)


I’m with Ingrid: I see a growing movement of people who value craft and quality over price and immediate availability or convenience. That’s not to say that we all have to work as individuals or build small things, though. I believe it’s a harder challenge to scale good craftsmanship, but companies like Apple show us it’s possible.

It’s partly my personality, but I take a lot of solace in approaching my work with a craft method—as a craftsperson. It’s a perspective that allows me to take a deep breath and take on work with a balance of meticulous detail and function. A good craftsperson pursues quality and aesthetic, but also know when to pay attention to value and how something works.

New Shiny!

Back when I was riding and (poorly) racing bikes, my riding buddies and I always had one or two acquaintances that were the gear-heads: willing to buy any latest hot-new-shiny that the industry had thrown at us. We knew what they didn’t. Shaving a couple grams of weight off your bike does no good if you didn’t get out and ride it every day. We all loved bike tech, but usually these guys at the extremes were outliers. Unfortunately, in the tech industry, I think the number of folks distracted by the latest shiny tech is greater than the ones focused on just getting work done.

(via @chadfowler)


“I’m just the Creative”

The heritage of the word “Creative” (with a capital ‘C’) is in advertising and I’ve certainly seen peers use it as a scapegoat: “I don’t know if that strategy will work, I’m just the Creative”—too bad. I think there’s a lot of opportunity in helping people understand that it’s your creativity that will help solve the entire problem, not just make things look pretty.

People who call themselves “Creatives” have already relegated themselves to the sidelines.