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.

President-elect Joe Biden!

The day after Trump was sworn into office, our family joined hundreds of thousands of other protestors at the Women’s March in Washington DC on January 21, 2017. According to Wikipedia, it was the largest single day protest in American History.

It was inspiring to participate in such a huge diverse gathering of people standing shoulder to shoulder in unity. And since that day, we have witnessed something so powerful. We have seen community organizers, donors, activists, and every day citizens stand up and stand tall creating a massive Blue Wave in the 2018 mid terms and carrying this energy and commitment to the Presidential 2020 election.

This week has been so intense to say the least. I don’t have the words to fully capture what I’m feeling. I cried when Biden was declared the President-elect yesterday morning. I watched as a proud American when Vice President-elect Harris and President-elect Biden’s gave their heartfelt speeches in Delaware last night. I am super confident that a Biden/Harris administration will help build our country back morally, ethically, economically and compassionately.

Last night I slept more than I did the prior 4 days combined. And today, I am just happy.

Our first RV trip

We have always wanted to rent a RV. Daydreams of getting an Airstream and exploring the southwest or perhaps the Pacific northwest. One of those things on the wanderlust to do list. But we never did it.

So a few weeks ago, we rented a RV. It wasn’t as cool as an Airstream. While new-ish, it looked like it was straight out of the 70s. But getting a RV rental isn’t easy as many of them are taken this time of year and that is especially true during this pandemic. Our original plan was to drive north into Vermont. But the campgrounds in Vermont discouraged visitors from Massachusetts given the Covid cases spiking in our county.

Instead we found a campground in the Berkshire Mountains. We loaded our clothes, supplies, food, coffee(!) and camera gear and headed west. Driving a RV is quite different than our electric sedan. The RV is massive, it’s loud and drives like a boat. But it’s super fun. A feeling of indepence. We had everyting we needed in our little house on wheels.

The fall colors in the Berkshires were fantastic and so was the crisp morning air that greeted us each day. And it was fun to get away and just enjoy time together hiking during the day and relaxing each evening in our camper. We missed having our daughters with us on this trip but they are in college now. I can totally picture my son getting a RV with his friends when he’s older.

I am grateful for our getaway. I’m now even more excited for a future trip to the southwest :)

(Color photographs made with a Hasselblad 503cw and Kodak Portra film. Black and white photographs made with a Leica M-A and Kodak Tri-X film. Developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in California).