⏰ 176 days to the year 2020.

hi & welcome to sam’s brain drain, a weekly collection of thumb-stopping things to tap, read, & watch.

estimated reading time: 5m, 46s.

🥳 morning!

i need to start writing these at a time other than on sunday, at midnight.

that being said - i hope you have a brilliant start to the week.

can you believe that it’s been 3 weeks of brain draining already? again, thank you oh so very much for the feedback thus far.

this week: the fall of democracy, the 10-year-old girl that climbed el capitan & lessons on trying to build a billion dollar company.


📄 a note on the year 2020.

we’re now just 176 days away from entering into a new decade.

the 2020s.

i sometimes like to think about what it would have been like to live in a different era. i also wonder what people will think, a century from now, casting their gaze back to the early 2000s - the period now referred to by some as the noughties or aughties. will the internet as we know it right now still exist? will humans have access to everything that was written during this time? will we even still be around?

or will the internet have become too vast, too sprawling, so that what was once written will be also be lost, like ice in children’s hands.

we do know, however, that we are analogously mirroring the 1930s - where society was transforming from an agrarian to an industrial economy. this same economic transformation is now happening once again, from an industrial to a knowledge economy.

knowledge is an intangible public good. it is privately produced and it is replacing land and machines as the primary factors of production prevailing in the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

paul mason wrote in 2016, however, of some darker parallels with the 1930s:

as daunting events come thick and fast amid increasing public racism and xenophobia, the similarities with the buildup to the second world war are real.

the worst thing about the present – and millions of people feel it – is the momentum towards catharsis. it is impossible to imagine everything dying back to a boring stasis.

i’m reading the revolt of the public by former cia analyst martin gurri to help gain a better understanding of our present situation.

i highly recommend it - it seems quite prescient, in fact - reflecting on the impact of the internet & technology on our current political & global climate. its hypothesis supposes that intellectual authority is, in fact, an artefact of information scarcity. 

sixty years ago, einstein spoke with the voice of god. thirty years ago, walter cronkite every day told us “the way it is,” and the new york times delivered to our doorsteps “all the news that’s fit to print.”

what happens when the mediators lose their legitimacy - when the shared stories that hold us together are depleted of their binding force? that’s easy to answer. look around: we happen. the mirror in which we used to find ourselves faithfully reflected in the world has shattered. the great narratives are fracturing into shards. deprived of a legitimate authority to interpret events and settle factual disputes, we fly apart from each other - or rather, we flee into our own heads, into a subjectivised existence. we assume ornate and exotic identities, and bear them in the manner of those enormous wigs once worn at versailles


👇 temptingly tappable:

📰 ‘inkl’:

what’s this?
inkl
 is a news app that delivers the most important stories, from the most trusted publishers, in a beautiful ad-free experience, all with one single subscription. they’ve essentially created a ‘spotify for news’ model that aggregates content from publishers.

what’s the cost?
€0.10 per-article or unlimited access to articles for a monthly €10 subscription.

who’s behind this?
gautam mishra, former director of strategy, data and research at fairfax where he launched and ran online subscriptions for the sydney morning herald.

this marketplace model for journalism is an interesting one, & so far i’m really enjoying the fact that i can avoid multiple content paywalls. they create a lot of frustration when i’m just trying to read an article. i’m happy to pay for journalism, as long as the experience is an effortless one. we’re so accustomed to the netflix and spotify models of content-consumption, that anything less feels archaic.

👉 download the ios app 👈

👉 download the android app 👈

🏠 ‘soffa sans’:

what’s this?
a genius marketing campaign from ikea, the ubiquitous swedish furniture brand. ikea released ‘the world’s comfiest font’ to drum up hype for their new custom couch creation tool last week, encouraging twitter users to create some spectacularly awful creations.

the drum noted that the font actually features 1434 products & it would cost €118,610 if made in real-life. i take mild issue with the fact that this is not strictly a sans serif font, but i’ll let it slide. ikea didn’t put a limit on the size or price of the sofas people could create with the tool which led to some magnificent sims-like creations:


🧠 stories that matter:

🧗‍♀️ the 10-year-old girl who conquered el capitan:

the family had been vaguely aware that she was among the youngest climbers, but beforehand, mike had cautioned against focusing on setting any records. “don’t even look it up,” he told his companions. “we don’t want that to be our motivation.”

with her success behind her, selah has wise words for anyone facing a difficult climb of their own – real or metaphorical. “if you have a big goal, it’s really hard to attack it all at once. you have to do it piece by piece. take that big goal and make it into a bunch of small goals.”

and though the heights may be dizzying, remember: “you look up a lot more than you look down.

continue reading.

📱 the iphone is a breakthrough handheld computer:

twelve years ago, last weekend, the first iphone went on sale. it was a truly seminal new product, a rare game-changer. read one of the initial reviews:

we have been testing the iphone for two weeks, in multiple usage scenarios, in cities across the country. our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iphone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions.

continue reading.

💰 my failure to build a billion-dollar company:

sahil lavingia attempts to compress 8 years at gumroad into a single article. includes failing to raise money, laying off 75% of the company, & building back up & becoming profitable.

i thought gumroad would become a billion-dollar company, with hundreds of employees. it would ipo, & i would work on it until i died. something like that.

needless to say, that didn’t happen.

now, it may look like i am in an enviable position, running a profitable, growing, low-maintenance software business serving adoring customers. but for years, i considered myself a failure. at my lowest point, i had to lay off 75 percent of my company, including many of my best friends. i had failed.

it took me years to realise i was misguided from the outset. i no longer feel shame in the path i took to get to where i am today — but for a long time, i did. this is my journey, from the beginning.

continue reading.


🤪 tweets that made me chuckle:


that’s all for this week. i hope you keep me accountable to keep this interesting. 😌 see you next monday!


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