“Healthy Skepticism”

Healthy Skepticism – My Critique of HealthKit as Both iOS Dev and Registered Nurse:

…interoperability is technically challenging no matter who attempts it. Apple clearly has the capacity to tackle the technical issues if it really wanted to. The central problem for interoperability is one of motivation. Who has the power to compel all the hospitals and EHR vendors in the US to open up read/write access to their medical records?

In my estimation, there are only two entities capable of doing so. The first and obvious one is the government. If Meaningful Use ever mandates one-hundred-percent interoperability, then the industry would have no choice but to comply.

The second entity would be a for-profit company that offers healthcare providers a mutually-benefical partnership. This company would compel hospitals to allow them access, but with a carrot instead of a stick. If there was a way that hospitals could benefit from partnering with an open EHR framework, then they might happily allow their siloed data to flow freely between competing institutions.

All the smartest engineers are figuring out how to get you to click on like buttons and advertising, but sounds like they could be heavily used elsewhere for the good of society.

“The Real Reason For The Fourty-Hour Work Week”

Be wary of pieces that use words like “we” to indicate “all of us” – are they speaking for you?

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.

The point being made in these articles is almost always something like “we’ve automated almost everything, why can’t we all spend the day at the beach?”

Maybe some people get something out of being productive.

Corrupt Personalization

What is a “like” these days? This and more about the commercialization of private content on Facebook.

With algorithmic culture, computers and algorithms are allowing a new level of real-time personalization and content selection on an individual basis that just wasn’t possible before. But rather than use these tools to serve our authentic interests, we have built a system that often serves a commercial interest that is often at odds with our interests – that’s corrupt personalization.

Between stuff like this and the latest thing about the Facebook psychology experiment I read more and more about people1 considering closing their Facebook accounts.

But never do.

  1. Ok – nerdy people who care about this stuff. If you look through your News Feed right now you probably won’t see any mention of either of these articles. 

Victimization Nation

Anyone else hear that story about the little girl at KFC who was asked to leave because her scars scared customers?

As if on cue, as soon as the story broke, donations poured in from the gullible, to the tune of $135,000, thanks to a Facebook and Go Fund Me page, in addition to gifts and offers of free surgeries. KFC, facing a public relations nightmare, pledged to donate $30,000 to Victoria.

Surprise, surprise: It seems to be a hoax.

Well, at least people felt good about themselves for believing they were doing something altruistic.1

  1. Although, if you then post that you did something out of the good of your heart on Facebook I don’t know if that counts for altruism. 

Your True Self

Too Big To Be Craft Beer?

I get the idea that although Sam Adams only owns 1% of the beer market it’s falling out of favor with the beer snobs because everybody knows it exists.

The hypocrisy of Free-Market Politicians

On Tesla Motors and New Jersey:

But the law doesn’t protect consumers. It protects the existing market—that is, of gas-powered cars and the franchises that sell them—by eliminating competition. In defending it, Christie joins other conservative politicians who promote free markets while using regulation to protect industries close to home.

For North Country libraries, e-books are expensive but worthwhile

Price-wise, the difference is substantial. E-books range from about $40 to $100 for the North Country libraries (hardly a Kindle “daily deal” price!), while a physical copy could be about $20. So the price is higher, but so is circulation: Bolton said while every year circulation of physical copies has gone up 2 or 3 percent, the circulation of the e-books has gone up 20 percent every year since it was established in 2011.

I’ve often though that library ebook programs are designed by publishers to make you just buy the ebook version. I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but for the time it takes me to read a book, and for the small lending times libraries are required to give you, and long waiting lists for popular ebooks, I’ll just end up buying the book.

Abuse of Power

Soundcloud doesn’t play well with others

The creators of Soundflake, a third-party Soundcloud app, write about the demise of their Soundcloud app at the hands of Soundcloud.

I’m starting to wonder how SoundCloud defines “best interest”? We wanted their service to be simple, beautiful and easy to use, we did everything to be in compliance with their TOS and we were willing to give it away for free— if that isn’t in the “best interest” for SoundCloud and their users, then I don’t know just what the fuck “best interest” means.

The only thing good out of this is that there’s hope that Soundcloud has a better player coming out.

Soundcloud has the richest community of music fans and music creators, but I’ve never been a fan of the web and iOS apps. You can’t listen to anything offline. You can’t huffduff anything from Soundcloud without downloading it and hosting it yourself. You can’t get an RSS feed out of it.

That’s really my main problem with Soundcloud. I have to constantly check their site and apps for anything new. The model for the past 10 years from RSS readers and podcasts has been that new content comes to YOU, not the other way around. It feels like Soundcloud has been trying to reverse that in order to get people going to their site – which is strange if true, because they make money by selling services to publishers, not listeners.

Soundcloud is making this big push to overtake podcasting, but that means changing the definition of podcasting from “you automatically get audio when there’s something new” to “go to our site and live on our site and listen to stuff with our players that aren’t as good as even Apple’s podcast app that everyone seems to hate.”

To their credit, publishers love Soundcloud for its ease of use. They upload an audio file and the hard part is done. Soundcloud even tracks unique downloads for them across web and RSS downloads, if they’ve set it up.1 But in its current state, Soundcloud isn’t for podcasting. It’s for making audio widgets that everybody can use.2

The ironic thing is Soundcloud COULD be the dominant platform for audio on the web. They have an advantage over Libsyn with the widgets and audio tracking, but publishers also need listeners. Widgets work ok for audio that’s 3 minutes long. But for an hour-long podcast? I don’t think it’s the right model.

  1. One of my friends claims he’s submitted a request to Soundcloud to get in on the experimental podcasting features that Soundcloud has been running for a few years. He says he didn’t hear anything back. If you search the internet a bit the advice is “try again.” 

  2. I’m of the belief that, despite all the advances in web technology, web browsers are still crappy media players. They don’t accept feedback from media keys. They don’t save your playback position. They don’t have (good) keyboard shortcuts. 

“We are the same, you and I”


“Shenmue and the rise of lonelycore games”

I remember how much I looked forward to this game. Now, about 15 years later, I avoid open-world games.

In Mad Men this past season, an IBM 360 arrives at the office. Computers, it is promised, will revolutionize the way business is done and the way we live our lives. The ad agency is sold this line: “The IBM 360 can count more stars in a day than any man can count in a lifetime.”

Don Draper, everyone’s favorite womanizing philosopher and deadbeat dad, elicits this flowery sentiment: “What man laid on his back and thought of a number?” Well, everyone in Shenmue’s Kanagawa Prefecture: Suzuki says the rain and snow in the game were algorithmically generated.

All this thought went into weather patterns, but not into gameplay elements that led to about an hour walking around town asking people if they knew where you could find some sailors.

Also, Don Draper is a deadbeat dad?

“…there is no ‘music business’. There’s music organized crime.”

David Masciotra profiles Live From Daryl’s House, Daryl Hall’s internet music show.

“I got a very cold reception from all the networks I pitched,” Hall said. “One told me the show was too smart for TV, and another wanted to turn it into a contest like American Idol. They said, ‘the show has to have an ending.’ It’s moron thinking. So, the show could have only started on the Internet, in its truth-telling, honest way, and Palladia was the first to say, ‘We like the show just how it is. Don’t change a thing. It’s been very successful for them and me.”

I bet that won’t work in 30 years. Hall & Oates was all over the radio back in the ’80s. Whether you hate or love them, you know their songs. Today’s listenership is highly segmented. We don’t have a Hall & Oates anymore.

Understanding Facebook’s Lost Generation Of Teens

It’s not cool…but they have accounts. Seems like teens treat Facebook the way I treat LinkedIn.

“Here’s Why Lana Del Rey Is So Controversial”

The only people I’ve heard say that they hate Lana Del Rey are also teenage girls.

Creating a stage persona is one of the oldest tricks in Hollywood, and it’s been done by some of the biggest pop stars. The name change in itself is also not uncommon. Rita Hayworth was born Margarita Carmen Cansino; Kid Cudi changed his name from Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi. Hell, one of the most iconically “authentic” artists, Bob Dylan, was born Robert Zimmerman. Authenticity itself is a construct of the music industry.

Remember when Rivers Cuomo was in that metal band?


Also when Trent Reznor was in that new wave group.

You just try a bunch of things and find what works.