Some thoughts on the Blog Post Bribe Scandal

The Outline, an often forgotten but exciting web publication, exposed a widespread practice at publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Huffington Post and Forbes, wherein freelance writers were taking payments in exchange for favorable coverage. It doesn’t surprise me — when publications pay as little as $25 per post; the freelancers are going to be wide open for exploitation by marketers. But the problem is much larger and insidious and goes beyond these payola like tricks. The whole ecosystem of information is highly compromised, thanks to a need for cheap page views, fast.

The sad part is that tomorrow or the week after, we will move on. It will soon be forgotten, and the digital marketers will be back in the swing of things. We will never ask the question — why is this happening. So, to understand the why, let me share a story from recent history. Continue reading "Some thoughts on the Blog Post Bribe Scandal"

Towers in the Mist

TowerintheMist

Fog is my weakness, and every time there is low fog, I am out and about with my camera. I like the muted sounds, the shroud of grey and the silence that comes with fog. I loved this image of how SalesForce tower is emerging out of the mist as a defining feature of San Francisco’s landscape and the Pyramid building is fading into the background. Both these buildings have been polarising in their impact on San Francisco’s skyline.

San Francisco, November 25, 2016. 

Photo 02/30: Leica SL with Canon 50mm lens f8, 1/500th of a second, ISO 100.

Fake news is here to stay…

I tweeted this earlier, So Forbes published a story based on a fake police report. Amazon vehemently denied the Adage report. The original stories spread like wildfire because it was what the narrative masses wanted to read. The apologies, corrections, and errors never get the same amplification and as a result, the incorrect information stays in our mind.

In there is the real dilemma of Fake News & why the virus isn’t going away, thanks to our modern swift distribution platforms. I still think Snapchat can play a role here as it is one network built on identity and real engagement.

Too bad, they focus so much on content and don’t appreciate their own platform’s power.

In conversation w Outlier co-founder Abe Burmeister

And we are back on Pi.co, with my latest conversation with Abe Burmeister, co-founder, and CEO of New York-based technical/daily clothing brand, Outlier. During our hour-long conversation we touched on a variety of topics, from technical clothing, changing reality of fashion, impact of climate change on fashion and materials, bootstrapping his business and more importantly, why he does what he does. If you are a keen follower of technical clothing and interested in small businesses that eschew venture capital and figure out trends before others, then this is a conversation worth your time.

If you would like to skip reading, then here is the podcast version. 

Why I make photos

Marc Champagne (great name) founder of the Kyo app, emailed a few months ago and wanted to chat with me for a podcast. He wanted to know more about my approach to photography. I don’t quite have an approach, except as I told him “I find photography a way of capturing what I’m feeling and sharing it with others.” During the conversation with Marc, I mused about my approach to life…“Are you living your life by a set of rules and regulations set by society?” And perhaps now you know why I am not so keen on going on with Facebook and other social networks that start to influence how I do things.

Why I make photos

Marc Champagne (great name) founder of the Kyo app, emailed a few months ago and wanted to chat with me for a podcast. He wanted to know more about my approach to photography. I don’t quite have an approach, except as I told him “I find photography a way of capturing what I’m feeling and sharing it with others.” During the conversation with Marc, I mused about my approach to life…“Are you living your life by a set of rules and regulations set by society?” And perhaps now you know why I am not so keen on going on with Facebook and other social networks that start to influence how I do things.

Nostalgia

…..it tells only half-truths. And thus the full truth isn’t as fragrant as my wistful reminiscence. Most of those skyscrapers are abandoned. The cornfields are subsumed by cookie-cutter suburbia. And the house that raised me is boarded up after decades of disrepair. Nostalgia is a rose-colored rearview. Not only does it falsely represent the past, keeping us clinging to a two-dimensional version of life that didn’t actually exist, it dampens the present and clouds the future.

Photo: Helsinki 2017. Made with Fuji x100F and converted to B&W using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 

7 Things to read this weekend

Traveling is great fun, but it does throw off my reading schedule, which makes it difficult to recommend stories for you to read over the weekend. Well, that is the excuse I am using this week, and trying to make up for my tardiness by recommending what I think are really great stories worth reading this weekend.

Still living in a Notification hell

It doesn’t matter what app it is — they are all trying to get me to turn on notifications, again and again, so that I can come back to their service. Facebook and Instagram are the most aggressive, but not the only ones who are overtly aggressive. Outlook on iPad thinks I need notifications. I don’t.   For some odd reason “apps” think that every “like,” “message” or “comment” is of life-changing importance and thus needs to be viewed instantly. I mean, if I wanted notifications, I would have turned them on. Like I do for iMessage and Telegram. Those are important and have a time-value attached to them. When there isn’t value, I don’t turn them on. And that is why I find persistent nudging to turn on dumb notifications annoying. I have long said that notifications are the atomic unit of interactions on mobile and are becoming vital Continue reading "Still living in a Notification hell"

Tech needs Emotional Intelligence

I was recording a podcast with Matthew Panzarino, editor of TechCrunch yesterday and the conversation turned to current state of Silicon Valley, and the point I made was that as an industry we have been focused on a limited set of metrics – growth and intelligence, for example. Sure, like any intellectually intensive industry needs high level of IQ, but as we become more embedded and enmeshed in mainstream socio-economic and cultural fabric, technology industry needs to have an equal and perhaps more focus on values and emotional impact of what we create. Technology is a lot more pervasive and embedded into our lives. It is not something that just impacts that operations of a company, an industry or a small subset of population. The digitization’s influence is far-reaching. I have written about need for empathy and understanding. But in reality we need to start within our own industry Continue reading "Tech needs Emotional Intelligence"

7 Things to read this weekend

It has been a while. I have been traveling and enjoying life off the screen. But as I get back into the swing of things – reading more and writing often, I am reviving my “7 things to read this weekend” emails, though it is difficult for me to promise to turn this into a weekly affair. Enjoy your weekend and if you have time, check out these wonderful works. They are worth reading.

7 Things to read this weekend

It has been a while. I have been traveling and enjoying life off the screen. But as I get back into the swing of things – reading more and writing often, I am reviving my “7 things to read this weekend” emails, though it is difficult for me to promise to turn this into a weekly affair. Enjoy your weekend and if you have time, check out these wonderful works. They are worth reading.

Practice, don’t preach 


After a hectic few weeks of travel, this morning I finally got a chance to get back into the routine of reading and replying to emails, tuning into the ether to get the latest updates on technology news, and most importantly, opening my writing app to jot down a few thoughts. And before I could get too far, I saw the story in The Information about an investor who was using his position of privilege to cross the line and harass female founders. 
The story, after a few hours actually roared into the social consciousness, becoming a much tweeted topic, though initially amongst female founders and investors. A few hours later predictably, we started to see comments, hot takes and the ensuing talk of diversity emerge from the VC community. There was even a Decency Pledge created. Many signed up – and while it seems like a great idea Continue reading "Practice, don’t preach "

Happiness

“Happiness isn’t hiding somewhere in some fantasy land” – Pharrell Williams’ creative director, Mimi Valdez Photo: Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. f13 1/90s, f=63mm, Leica SL & Leica Vario 24-90 SL lens

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in going nowhere

Pico Iyer is a philosopher who looks at the world from the lens of a travel writer. His books have a certain poetic quality to them. And I have been inspired by his work to travel to distant places. His latest book is not about going somewhere. Instead it is about the journey within. The Art of Stillness is one of his shortest books — you can read it in less than an hour. It is ironic that I read this on a plane, going somewhere. The book is simple, devoid of pretense or pretentious prose. It makes you aware of the virtues of being still, going nowhere. Starting a few minutes a day, we can take this journey within. It is a way healthier addiction than that Xanax. Or as Pico Iyer says
In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going Continue reading "The Art of Stillness: Adventures in going nowhere"

Reentry 

Things have been silent around here! I went on a n expedition to the Arctic North, accompanied by my trusted Leica SL. I took off the watch, deleted all apps from my phone, turned off the network and got off the grid. All I wanted was ice, snow and the Arctic cold — to cleanse my mind of the ugliness that has enveloped the modern society and instead focus on the gifts of the heavens. It was a meditative  experiences I am re-entering life, and you will hear a lot about the experience, places and things. Looking forward to sharing it with you. May 31, 2017, San Francisco  Photo by Chris Michel. 

Coffee, Camera, Conversation…

Sometimes I get together with fellow camera nerds, drink coffee and we talk about photography, life and Instagram, which by the way has 700 million users! Photos (top) by Chris Michel & (below) by Felix!