A new day for our country

In a few hours the United States of America will have a new President.

Trump leaves office disgraced with the lowest approval rating in history — the majority of this country understands who serves as President matters. Record turnout, record voters, and our democracy endures.

There are serious, daunting challenges ahead for this country to be sure. But on day 1, we have the most talented, & diverse cabinet to serve and Biden will issue seventeen executive orders to get us on the right path.

I am optimistic, I am hopeful and I am inspired.

The Big Island

After a great deal of thought and planning (and testing) we made a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Our last trip to the Big Island was over 20 years ago and this island (and the world) was quite a bit different. It was also a time before we had children. This time we spent about a month in a small rental house on the west side of the island and spent our days exploring, hiking, playing board games and reading. We all fell in love with the Big Island. It’s so peaceful, the people are incredibly kind and the food was delicious. I’m completely addicted to loco moco and Kona coffee.

It was a very special trip and I am happy we were able to spend it together as a family.

I brought along two cameras, a medium format Hasselblad (square images) and a 35mm Leica M6. And many rolls of Kodak film.

Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol

The Washington Post’s Editorial Page this morning offers a clearly worded rebuke of the violence and lays the blame where it belongs.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S refusal to accept his election defeat and his relentless incitement of his supporters led Wednesday to the unthinkable: an assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob that overwhelmed police and drove Congress from its chambers as it was debating the counting of electoral votes. Responsibility for this act of sedition lies squarely with the president, who has shown that his continued tenure in office poses a grave threat to U.S. democracy. He should be removed.

Worth reading the entire piece.

Three books

Three books I’ve enjoyed immensely of late.

On Bowie by Rob Sheffield. If you are a fellow David Bowie fan, I highly recommend this delightful short book from one talented Bowie fan to another. I loved the heartfelt insight and the Sheffield’s writing style. It’s also filled with little known (to me) details about David Jones (Bowie) life.

In the Gold Dust Rush by Jason Lee. This is a collection of black and white photographs made by Jason Lee during a 14 years stretch of traveling the American Southwest. The photographs were all made with black and white film (medium format and 35mm). It has instantly become one of my favorite photo books for sure.

I’m currently in the middle of A Promised Land by Barack Obama. If you are an admirer of the last great American President it’s a fascinating inside account of his life growing up and his experience leading up to and serving as President. I just got to the part where he won his first term. I still have goosebumps. Yes, we can is forever etched in my mind.

Goodbye 2020

What a year.

A brutal year on so many levels. For all of us. Some lost loved ones. Others lost their work or their economic stability. Others fought battles with mental health, stress and depression.

On a personal note and to keep it real I have had my own struggles on and off the cushion. I recently contacted a therapist we are scheduled to connect in early January. In the past I have worked with a coach with great success but a good friend recently suggested that a licensed therapist might be particularly useful for me at this time. I am grateful for my meditation practice.

And while my life continues to be a work in progress, I am so grateful for many things that happened this year. Top of the list is the time with my wife and children. We have never spent this much time together, just the five of us. There have been moments where someone got on someone’s nerves or said the wrong thing during a vulnerable moment. But on the whole it has been a most wonderful silver lining to a crazy year. We have become closer through it all.

I am hopeful for 2021. I am optimistic about science and this vaccine. I am optimistic a new government and new leaders will make a positive impact. I am hopeful that so many of our collective and individual lessons learned this year will inform the future for all of us. For each of us.

And most of all I’m so looking forward to hugging my friends, family and loved ones in the new year. Because, good lord, we could all use more hugs.

Some thoughts on FTC suing Facebook

A great deal of important and interesting things happened in the technology space in 2020. Certainly yesterdays FTC decision to sue Facebook and seek the breakup of Instagram and WhatsApp is on that list. Maybe top of that list in some ways.

My friend Fred Wilson has an interesting take on how to deal with tech monopolies. He argues for “opening up” instead of “breaking up”. Its a very insightful post for sure.

I really like this approach a lot. In cases where platforms opened up, good things happen for the platform owner and the customer. So many examples, but notably the iOS App store, AppleTV App store and of course our beloved Internet.

Closed platforms and devices just seem to whither or at the very least never seem to get more interesting.

I have written about regulating tech leaders in the past (here and here). And I feel similarly today. There is just too many creative people building great things to assume yesterdays leaders will always stay dominant.

In the consumer space, consider Discord, Tik Tok, Snapchat and even those apps left for the dead like Hangout are roaring back to life. Facebook and Google tried their best to clone these products and yet to no avail. And every week I see new consumer startups with new ideas for new experiences.

While Amazon is has grown massively, Shopify, Etsy, Wayfair and others have built very powerful and important ecommerce companies.

In enterprise, we have massive new entrants like Zoom, Slack, Snowflake as well as countless others while Microsoft and Google try to use their market power to no avail.

I have no idea if the government will be able to win their case against Facebook or Google. It’s not a straight forward legal case by any means. But as someone who has eternal optimism in david vs goliath, I am not counting on it for the innovation in front of us.