After seeing early rumors, I was skeptical of the AirPods Pro. I have always had discomfort problems with silicone tips. The vacuum seal they create and the pressure on my ear canals causes my ears to hurt after as little as 15 minutes. What’s more, I’m on the skinny end of the bell curve when it comes to fit for the non-Pro AirPods. Not only do they not cause any discomfort, they never fall out.
That being said, the early reviews on the AirPods Pro have given me reason to think that they may avoid the problems that have kept me away from similar offerings in the past.
Check out MKBHD’s impressions video for more.
As a follow up to my recent post about technology and screen time, here’s a new study from Oxford that suggests that the affects of screen time are more nuanced than previously thought:
The possible influence of digital screen engagement is likely smaller and more nuanced than we might expect.
Two recent studies, one focused on British adolescents and another with young American children, indicate that the relations between digital screen engagement and psychosocial outcomes are nonlinear. The idea that parabolic function links digital engagement to mental well-being, dubbed the “Goldilocks hypothesis,” has received some empirical support. Briefly, moderate levels of digital screen time (1−2 hours a day) may be associated with slightly higher levels of key outcomes compared to engagement at either lower or higher levels. Although this hypothesis makes intuitive sense, as many apps and digital technologies are useful for informing and connecting young people, results have not uniformly supported it. Where research has identified parabolic trends, the average correlates of positive or negative digital engagement found in this previous research are very small, accounting for less than 1% of variability in child outcomes.
In other words, although many of these relations are statistically significant, more than 99% of variability in psychosocial outcomes is unrelated to digital engagement. This pattern of results highlights a disconnect between the statistically significant relations identified in the literature and relations that could be understood as relevant to caregivers, policymakers, or health professionals. This gap undermines effective evidence-based mental health policymaking for children in the digital age.
Obviously your phone is not cancer. But It’s kind of starting to seem that way based on how people talk about the alleged affects of “screen time” and other buzzwordy pseudo afflictions. Whether it’s shortening attention spans, killing democracy, or literal devil horns, smart phones—and tech more generally—seem to be taking a lot of blame these days (the fact that AARP is the group pushing the “shortening attention spans” narrative is almost too good to be true). The level of concern, though, seems to be getting overwrought to me.
Obviously we should be concerned about the ways new technologies affect us but the current level of concern in some corners is bordering on conspiratorial. For example, I have heard a lot of people talking recently about how tech companies are “using psychology” to “make people addicted” to their products. Does anyone really believe that auto-play video or endlessly scrolling timelines are what make people read Twitter? If so, why don’t more people read the dictionary?
No amount of psychological trickery can make people do things they don’t want to do. If there is a problem here it’s on the demand side, not the supply side.
There have always been those who think new technologies are the end of the world (sometimes literally). When books were becoming common, many people were concerned that it would lessen people’s memory. Maybe they did, but would you trade libraries for a longer memory? I’m not convinced that trade would be worth it.
Revolutionary new technologies in communication have often been attended by social upheaval. The printing press enabled the mass production of the tracts that split the Catholic Church (which was far more disruptive than this week’s Twitter controversy). But who today would wish that Big Print™ had been broken up in 1516?
As with everything else, there are trade-offs with technology. Would you trade access to virtually all of the world’s knowledge or the ability to connect with friends and family half a world away for marginally better social skills or a slightly longer attention span? I wouldn’t.
And really, if so many people were as cripplingly addicted to their phones as the popular narrative would have you believe, don’t you think you would know more of them? We’ve all heard this story: “I was in a restaurant the other day and all these families were just looking down at their phones…” Why is it that the stories are always about other tables and not our own?
To be clear, I am not Pollyannaish about technology. I believe there are things about new technologies that we should be concerned by. For example, I think the way in which many tech companies are in the business of selling ads against our personal data without compensation raises some very serious property rights issues. But I think we go too far in treating technology–whether smart phones or social media–as though they are broadly responsible for whatever ill society has been diagnosed with this week.
Ultimately, I just think we should be a little more circumspect about the malicious role technology plays in the story we tell ourselves about ourselves.
This might be one of my favorite Apple commercials. It’s a shame they never ran with it.
iPhone 4S Ad featuring John Krazanski, created 2012 but never released to the public. Many other unreleased ads in the Archive 😏 pic.twitter.com/BuRA8Mmrcf
— Sam Henri Gold (@samhenrigold) October 14, 2019
It’s that time of year. The time when everybody makes a whole big thing out of one number changing on the calendar. By my count, the number 8 has been replaced by the number 9 thirty-six times this year. But we’re all supposed to act like the thirty-seventh time is some big deal. Once you’ve seen the new millennium, its hard to get excited about 2019.
Nevertheless, I am given to understand that year-end-best-of posts are like catnip to you people so I would be falling down on my job as a Semi-Professional Blogger™if didn’t crank one out for the driveling masses. Here goes…
*note: I will not be limiting myself to things released in 2018. For me, it is enough if I have consumed the thing in 2018.
This year, I set a goal to read 26 books. Then I hit that goal. So I increased it to 35. Then I hit it again. After repeating the aforementioned cycle a few more times, I landed at my current goal of 52 books (see all the books I have read this year). Here are some of the highlights:
There have been a lot more disappointments in the film industry than hits this year, at least for me. A Star is Born was 2/3 of a good movie. Avengers: Infinity War was solid, but not exceptional. Black Panther was great, but everyone already knows that. So here are the best movies I saw this year that didn’t get enough buzz:
Something, something Golden-Age-of-Televison®:
There are a lot of apps out there. It’s kind of a big deal. I regularly make app recommendations to people, here are some of my favorite apps I started using in the last year:
This is America, dammit. And in America we love
There you have it. Go buy some stuff. It will make you happy for at least a few minutes.
If you know me very well, you know that I am a devotee of the podcasting medium. This isn’t surprising considering I grew up on talk radio. And yet, most people would consider maintaining 67 podcast subscriptions a warning sign of clinical insanity. In all, I probably listen to 30+ hours of podcasts per week.
As a result of my
obsession interest, I am often asked what podcasts I listen to and what I recommend. So I decided to put together a list that I can share. Each podcast is listed with a short description and a few of my favorite episodes. At first, I was going to list all of my podcasts but that was taking an eternity. So I am going to break it down by genre starting with history.
Hands down my favorite history podcast! With episode run times that regularly exceed 3 hours, its closer to series of audiobooks than a podcast.
Addendum is based on the premise of Hardcore History but focuses on shorter, one off topics.
Tides is a narrative history podcast that focuses on the broad trends in world history that formed the modern world.
Our Fake History tries to disentangle fact from fiction in some of the most mythologized events in history.
Similar to Tides of History (they’re published by the same Podcast Network, American History Tellers is a narrative history of America.
Presidential is a series on the Presidents of the United States. Although the show is now complete, I am working through the archive.
It’s hard to decide whether to categorize this show as history or technology. But I decided on history. This interview show features creators, developers, and other players from the early days of the internet.
This evening, I embark on a grand adventure. A journey to rival that of Odysseus himself. An epoch with the potential to define a generation. Legends of this sojourn will echo through the ages. Tales will grace the lips of a thousand troubadours in an endless soliloquy.
Or I am going to put some liquid in a receptacle and wait a long damn time.
Either way, it’s gonna be f**king awesome… fine, it will be at least marginally interesting. The point is, I’m excited and I will be documenting the process on this here blog.
It is now that I realize I have neglected to share even the most basic details of this tantalizing enterprise. As you may know, I recently returned from a trip to 10 day trip to Israel. I returned with two significant additions to my worldly possessions: a tattoo and a bottle of Israeli New Make Single Malt. New Make, in case you’re not familiar, is un-aged whiskey.
When I arrived home and set about to sampling the whiskey, I was less than impressed. It was, in a word, regrettable. So, what is a man to do when his whiskey is less than he had hoped? Age it, obviously.