Wednesday, 11 December 2019
Jack Dorsey drops a bombshell:
Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open
source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and
decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter
to ultimately be a client of this standard.
Twitter was so open early on that many saw its potential to be a
decentralized internet standard, like SMTP (email protocol). For a
variety of reasons, all reasonable at the time, we took a
different path and increasingly centralized Twitter. But a lot’s
changed over the years…
First, we’re facing entirely new challenges centralized solutions
are struggling to meet. For instance, centralized enforcement of
global policy to address abuse and misleading information is
unlikely to scale over the long-term without placing far too much
burden on people.
The whole thing could (and perhaps is likely to) fizzle out, but if successful, decentralizing Twitter-like social media should be a huge win for the world. But why create something new? There’s a whiff of boil-the-ocean in Dorsey’s description of the plan — “blockchain” is the new second step in the South Park “(1) Steal underpants, (2) …, (3) Profit!” to my mind).
I advocate something different, Twitter already has the bugs and
scaling issues solved for a global notification network. Let’s add
a few APIs and create a new universe. It’ll happen a lot faster
with much better results imho. […]
It’s time for a proprietary approach, one that is open to
cloning. That can work because there’s a single decision-making
entity. If their goal really is to create a standard they can do
it, much the way we created standards for content syndication when
our product dominated.
What’s the downside to letting the Twitter API as it stands be
v1.0? Let third parties implement it, clients could connect to any
compatible service, communication between services would evolve as
needs evolve, you end up with something designed naturally (see
HTML5 vs XHTML).
The HTML5 vs. XHTML analogy is exactly what triggers my spidey sense with Bluesky. XHTML was a boil-the-ocean plan to create a new version of HTML, its creators’ ideal for how HTML should be used — a prescriptive spec. HTML5 took the approach of standardizing how HTML already was being used — a descriptive spec. We all use HTML5 today. ★
Monday, 9 December 2019
Charity L. Scott, reporting for The Wall Street Journal, “Online Luggage Startup Away Says CEO Is Stepping Down”:
Away, an online seller of luggage that investors valued at $1.4
billion earlier this year, said Chief Executive Steph Korey is
Ms. Korey will become executive chairman of the New York
City-based startup. Stuart Haselden, who is departing as chief
operating officer at Lululemon Athletica Inc., will succeed her as
CEO, according to the company. Away co-founder Jen Rubio will
remain president and chief brand officer.
The news comes after an article in the Verge last week
criticized Ms. Korey’s management style as harsh, citing several
former employees unhappy with the work environment. Ms. Korey
apologized in a statement on Twitter last week, saying she has
worked with an executive coach to “improve as a leader.”
Away said the CEO search has been under way since this spring, and
Mr. Haselden will take over Jan. 13. Lululemon announced his
[Disclosure: Away has sponsored 21 episodes of my podcast, The Talk Show, in the last three years, and they are on the schedule for an upcoming episode. The following is what I’d write if they never had and never would sponsor my show or website.]
It surely is not spin that Away’s board — led by Rubio, Korey’s fellow co-founder — had been searching to replace Korey for months. You can’t hire the COO of Lululemon in three days in light of a PR crisis.
So I think it’s pretty clear that The Verge inadvertently got played. They got
fed the story and ran with it in a way that pinned all of the company’s purported cultural problems on Korey. All six quoted sources were anonymous former employees (and, coincidentally or not, women). There was a lot about that Verge story that struck me as weird. Why shouldn’t the CEO be furious that the company somehow sent customers suitcases that had been used in a beach photo shoot and were covered with sand and other debris?1 But one of the strangest things was that while it was ostensibly a story about the company, the actual story felt almost entirely like a hit on Korey, personally. No other executive’s Slack messages were quoted as evidence of the perceived cultural problems.2
So now the narrative is not “Away fires woman CEO and co-founder, replaces her with a man”. Instead, the narrative is “Away fires CEO who created ‘toxic culture’, brings in fresh leadership” — a narrative that wouldn’t be possible without The Verge’s story last Thursday. It also seems clear that Korey had no idea this was coming — her statement on Twitter responding to The Verge report sure doesn’t sound like the words of a woman who realizes her company board was on the cusp of replacing her after a months-long executive search.
It’s entirely possible that Korey really was responsible for a “toxic work culture”, and the truthful narrative really is “Away fires CEO who created ‘toxic culture’, brings in fresh leadership”. I’m just pointing out it beggars belief that it’s pure coincidence this story leaked to The Verge just before Away was set to fire Korey, such that when the company made the announcement the controversy was still fresh in everyone’s minds.
Update: Let me clarify my theory here. I doubt the Away board “planted” this story at The Verge. I’ve struck out the word “fed” in the phrase “got fed the story” above to make that clear, but I’m leaving it as struck-out text in fairness. I think The Verge’s sources for the story are actual disgruntled ex-Away employees, who really did believe that they should have been allowed to use their work-supplied Slack for inappropriate-for-work communication and who really do believe that calling it “unacceptable” when customers were shipped dented, dirty suitcases is “toxic”.
But if you take the perspective of a cutthroat startup board — and these are some mean people — it’s not outlandish to think these former employees could have been simply nudged to go to the press with their Steph Korey grievances, via a route untraceable back to the Away board. I doubt that. But I don’t rule it out. (One of the companies funding three of Away’s four rounds is Global Founders Capital, led by Oliver Samwer, who once closed an email to a company he invested in with “I am the most aggressive guy on internet [sic] on the planet. I will die to win and i [sic] expect the same from you!” Sounds to me like a guy who would maybe play some dirty pool.)
The Verge’s story was reported over weeks or months. (Months, I hear.) During their reporting they contacted Away for comment and response. Now-former CEO Steph Korey was even quoted in the story. What I think happened is that once Jen Rubio and the board — who were already plotting Korey’s ouster — became aware of the story, and the all-in-on-outrage-culture/startups-are-toxic angle it was taking, they simply let it happen without pushing back whatsoever. No vast conspiracy necessary — just let it happen. The most conspicuous thing between the publication of The Verge’s original story on Thursday and Monday night’s announcement that Korey had been replaced is that neither the company nor Rubio offered a single word of support for Korey. Not even something milquetoast or anodyne. Not a fucking word. She was hung out to dry.
The only response was Korey’s own statement, issued from her personal Twitter account, and again, it did not sound at all like the words of a CEO who knew she was “stepping down” or who had, as now claimed, personally been involved in the search for her successor. What they sound like are the words of a CEO who thought the company and its board had her back and had no idea they’d been plotting to oust her for months. ★
WSJ: ‘Elizabeth Warren Made About $2 Million for Legal Work Over Three Decades’ ★
Am I reading this headline wrong? My take is that the emphasis is on “Elizabeth Warren Made $2 Million” — which to my ears implies an angle of “See, she’s made a lot of money too”. But $2 million really isn’t that much money. And in the world of corporate law, it seems only a pittance. Let’s round “three decades” to 30 years — that’s only $67,000 a year. If the WSJ ran a story on the 40-year career of, say, a public school teacher who averaged, say, $50,000 in salary over that span, I highly doubt they’d start with a headline like “Public School Teacher Earned $2 Million Over Four Decades”.
“Elizabeth Warren Averaged $67,000 Per Year in Legal Work Over Three Decades” gives the exact same story a very different slant.
Update: Holy hell The Washington Post is even worse than the Journal, running its story under the headline “Sen. Elizabeth Warren Earned Nearly $2 Million Consulting for Corporations and Financial Firms, Records Show” — with no timeline whatsoever for the period over which she earned the money, which clearly leads the reader to assume it was over a brief period of time before she became a senator. This framing is genuinely outrageous.
This whole thing where the news media is trying to gin up controversy over what is not a lot of money recalls Dr. Evil’s “One million dollars” blackmail threat. Except Dr. Evil was just a character in a silly comedy and Elizabeth Warren is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination whom her opponents are trying to stick with the tag that she’s a hypocrite. 2016’s endless “but her emails” bullshit proves that when the straight news media plays along with these narratives, they stick, with disastrous results.
The Information: ‘Apple’s Ad-Targeting Crackdown Shakes Up Ad Market’ ★
Tom Dotan, writing for the subscriber-only The Information:
Two years ago, Apple launched an aggressive battle against ads
that track users across the web. Today executives in the online
publishing and advertising industries say that effort has been
stunningly effective — posing a problem for advertisers looking
to reach affluent consumers.
Since Apple introduced what it calls its Intelligent Tracking
Prevention feature in September 2017, and with subsequent updates
last year, advertisers have largely lost the ability to target
people on Safari based on their browsing habits with cookies, the
most commonly used technology for tracking. One result: The cost
of reaching Safari users has fallen over 60% in the past two
years, according to data from ad tech firm Rubicon Project.
Meanwhile ad prices on Google’s Chrome browser have risen
That reflects the fact that advertisers pay more money for ads
that can be targeted at people with specific demographics and
interests. “The allure of a Safari user in an auction has
plummeted,” said Rubicon Project CEO Michael Barrett. “There’s no
easy ability to ID a user.”
So: Intelligent Tracking Prevention is working.
The Grouch ★
Indirectly, Caroll Spinney’s Oscar the Grouch played an obscure footnote role in Macintosh history, starring in Eric Shapiro’s unsanctioned, utterly-useless-yet-utterly-delightful The Grouch system extension for classic Mac OS. If anything, The Grouch was anti-productivity software, because it made emptying the Trash take longer, but we loved it nonetheless. Obviously, our affection for Spinney’s Oscar was at the heart of that. There was an entire genre of just-for-fun gag extensions for the old Mac OS, and to my mind, The Grouch was the king of them.
Caroll Spinney, Puppeteer Who Gave Life to Big Bird of ‘Sesame Street’, Dies at 85 ★
Emily Langer, writing for The Washington Post:
Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who gave life to Big Bird, the
towering yellow avian of TV’s “Sesame Street” who accompanied
generations of youngsters in the arduous, yet wondrous, work of
growing up, died Dec. 8 at his home in Connecticut. He was 85 and
died hours before “Sesame Street” received Kennedy Center Honors
for achievement in the arts. […]
Mr. Spinney, who said he had been teased in childhood for his
fascination with what his tormentors mocked as “dolls,” met Henson
at a puppetry convention and first donned Big Bird’s 4,000
canary-yellow feathers for the show’s opening season. In thousands
of episodes over nearly a half-century, he gave voice and motion
to Big Bird and to Oscar the Grouch, the shaggy green trash
can-dweller who showed children that they needed not always be
happy and that it was okay to like things others didn’t — trash,
for instance. […]
Spinney’s characters were a huge part of my childhood — and my son’s. That’s an amazing testament to Sesame Street’s timelessness and durability.
Nike Swoosh to Appear on the Front of Every MLB Uniform in 2020 ★
Craig Calcaterra, writing for NBC Sports:
We knew as of last January that this was coming — and the
new uniform designs teams like the Padres, Brewers and Rangers
have released in the past few weeks have shown it — but today the
images were all released: all 30 teams will wear jerseys with the
Nike Swoosh prominently placed on the front starting in the 2020
They aren’t all that bothersome on most uniform styles,
particularly the newer and busier ones. But to my eyes the Swoosh
is a desecration of the more classic, cleaner uniforms like the
Yankees, Dodgers, and Tigers as shown above. Yeah, that’s some
traditionalism on my part talking — OK, a LOT of traditionalism
on my part talking — but it does, objectively, throw off the
balance that some of the better uniform designs have long had.
I’m of course most partial to the Yankees, but I’d say the swoosh is even more objectionably prominent on the Dodger and Tiger jerseys, because they’re so utterly plain. The Yankee pinstripes disguise it to some degree.
On the good news front, the old-is-new uniforms for the Brewers and Padres are both excellent. The Brewers have too many alternates — the pinstriped home alternates feel off-brand, and the alternate cap is just dumb-looking — but both of these uniforms are spot-on for the teams, both of which had gone way off track in recent decades. Kudos to the Padres for sticking with just one cap.
Beijing Orders State Offices to Replace Foreign PCs and Software ★
Yuan Yang and Nian Liu, reporting for The Financial Times from Beijing:
Beijing has ordered all government offices and public institutions
to remove foreign computer equipment and software within three
years, in a potential blow to the likes of HP, Dell and Microsoft.
The directive is the first publicly known instruction with
specific targets given to Chinese buyers to switch to domestic
technology vendors, and echoes efforts by the Trump administration
to curb the use of Chinese technology in the US and its allies.
I can’t decide if this is part of the Trump-initiated US-China trade war, or if this is just China being China and part of an initiative that would’ve happened regardless of who the current U.S. president was.
Also, I doubt Chinese government offices buy many Macs, but what about iPhones? This could be a bit of a blow to Apple as well.
My thanks to SignEasy for sponsoring this week at DF. With over 6 million downloads and users in 180 countries, SignEasy is the gold standard for signing and sending documents from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. It is a simple and easy-to-use, yet powerful tool that will help you be more productive, save time and money, and run your business more efficiently.
The latest version of SignEasy was built specifically for iOS 13 and iPadOS, including many compatible features like Dark Mode, built-in document scanning, and multi-window support. SignEasy’s blend of simplicity and power caught the attention of Apple who recently named it one of its certified mobility partners.
Ultra Wideband Technology: Apple’s Explanation for Why Newer iPhones Appear to Collect Location Data, Even When Location Services Are Disabled ★
Zack Whittaker, reporting for TechCrunch:
“Ultra wideband technology is an industry standard technology and
is subject to international regulatory requirements that require
it to be turned off in certain locations,” an Apple spokesperson
told TechCrunch. “iOS uses Location Services to help determine if
an iPhone is in these prohibited locations in order to disable
ultra wideband and comply with regulations.”
“The management of ultra wideband compliance and its use of
location data is done entirely on the device and Apple is not
collecting user location data,” the spokesperson said.
That seems to back up what experts have discerned so far. Will
Strafach, chief executive at Guardian Firewall and iOS security
expert, said in a tweet that his analysis showed there was
“no evidence” that any location data is sent to a remote server.
Nick Heer, writing at Pixel Envy:
This makes complete sense to me and appears to be nothing more
than a mistake in not providing a toggle specifically for UWB. It
seems that a risk of marketing a company as uniquely
privacy-friendly is that any slip-up is magnified a
hundredfold and treated as evidence that every tech company is
basically the same.
It is totally fair to hold Apple to a higher standard on privacy than other companies. But Heer is exactly right: when they do make a mistake, it’s going to be magnified. The mistake here wasn’t that location data was leaked — including to Apple’s own servers, apparently. The mistake was not making it clear in Settings that UWB requires location data for regulatory compliance. Most people don’t even know what UWB is at this point.
It reminds me of the controversy over battery throttling two years ago. iOS was trying to work in the user’s interest, to make a device with an older battery as useful as it could be. But it wasn’t explained or exposed as an option in Settings, and people jumped to the conclusion that it was a nefarious scheme to get people to buy new iPhones.
And let’s not forget that Settings is already a big app, even with Apple’s generally conservative approach to adding new preferences.
‘The Smartest Guys in the Clubhouse’ ★
David Roth, writing at The New Republic:
It is not evidence of anything in particular, let alone anything
sinister, that a World Series champion would hit better than a
team that finished in third place. Players improve, and lineups
change, and both of those things happened here. But it’s no more
surprising to learn, given the dramatic shift in the numbers, that
it later turned out that the Astros were cheating: videotaping the
opposing catchers’ pitch signals and then using a trash can near
the team dugout to pound out, semaphore-style, a message to the
hitter about the pitch about to arrive. Given the combination of
reverence and fear with which the rest of the sport regarded
Luhnow and his McKinsey-fied team of weaponized quants — which
was unforgivably dickish but undeniably ahead of the curve,
already deftly working angles and analyzing data that other teams
couldn’t even see yet — the overt oafishness of the Astros’ 2017
cheating scheme came as no small shock.
I haven’t written about the Astros’ cheating scheme — a story that was broken last month by Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic — but this piece by Roth is a good place to start. The striking thing is, as Roth so aptly phrases it, the “overt oafishness” of it. There’s a brazenness to it. You could hear their signals on the TV telecasts. We just don’t look for corruption right out in the open. We expect corruption and cheating to be concealed and hidden.
This Astros story is just sports. But it’s hard not to note the obvious parallels to the Trump administration’s corruption. The president literally asked Russia for help hacking his opponent’s email. Right on stage. We joke about having made Jimmy Carter sell his family peanut farm in Georgia but Trump owns a hotel right down the street from the White House.
My thanks to 1Password for sponsoring this week at Daring Fireball. 1Password is a powerful password manager trusted by the world’s leading companies.
1Password keeps your business safe online by securing passwords and other important information. Fill passwords and credit card details with a single click — they sync automatically between your devices and can be shared immediately with select colleagues. Once 1Password is part of your employees’ workflow, good security habits become second nature.
1Password Business gives you the power to create security policies, reduce threats, and monitor your team’s access. When everyone uses 1Password, your risk goes down and productivity goes up.
It’s a great app and a great service that you can trust with your most valuable information.
MacOS Catalina Boot Volume Layout ★
Howard Oakley, writing at The Eclectic Light Company:
When you upgrade to macOS 10.15 Catalina, your boot volume will
effectively be split into two. Assuming it’s the standard internal
storage, your existing boot volume will be renamed to Macintosh
HD — Data, and a new read-only system volume created and given
the name Macintosh HD. However, when your Mac starts up in
Catalina, you won’t see the Data volume, as it’s hidden inside the
System volume, in what Apple refers to as a Volume Group.
Although new to macOS, this scheme is already in use in iOS, and
specifies the read-only system volume as having the role
APFS_VOL_ROLE_SYSTEM, and the writeable user volume has the role
APFS_VOL_ROLE_DATA. In that, the volume with the System role is
normally mounted at the root /, and that containing both user and
mutable system data is then mounted in /System/Volumes and
accessed from there using several firmlinks.
Nice explanation of a complex change in 10.15 Catalina.
For the most part, in the Mac UI (like the Finder), it all just works. You open /Applications and you’ll see all your applications. But when you poke around in Terminal you have to know what’s going on or it won’t make sense.
ls in /Applications will show only the contents of the writeable Applications folder;
ls in /System/Applications will show you only the system applications on the read-only boot volume.
Gurman: Apple Has Changed Development Process for iOS 14 in Wake of iOS 13’s Buggy Launch ★
Nice scoop from Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:*
Software chief Craig Federighi and lieutenants including Stacey
Lysik announced the changes at a recent internal “kickoff” meeting
with the company’s software developers. The new approach calls for
Apple’s development teams to ensure that test versions, known as
“daily builds,” of future software updates disable unfinished or
buggy features by default. Testers will then have the option to
selectively enable those features, via a new internal process and
settings menu dubbed Flags, allowing them to isolate the impact of
each individual addition on the system. […]
The new development process will help early internal iOS versions
to be more usable, or “livable,” in Apple parlance. Prior to iOS
14’s development, some teams would add features every day that
weren’t fully tested, while other teams would contribute changes
weekly. “Daily builds were like a recipe with lots of cooks adding
ingredients,” a person with knowledge of the process said.
* Bloomberg, of course, is the publication that published “The Big Hack” in October 2018 — a sensational story alleging that data centers of Apple, Amazon, and dozens of other companies were compromised by China’s intelligence services. The story presented no confirmable evidence at all, was vehemently denied by all companies involved, has not been confirmed by a single other publication (despite much effort to do so), and has been largely discredited by one of Bloomberg’s own sources. By all appearances “The Big Hack” was complete bullshit. Yet Bloomberg has issued no correction or retraction, and seemingly hopes we’ll all just forget about it. I say we do not just forget about it. Bloomberg’s institutional credibility is severely damaged, and everything they publish should be treated with skepticism until they retract the story or provide evidence that it was true.
Tesla Cybertruck ★
I don’t love the look of it, but I don’t hate it, either. And the more I look at it the more it grows on me. It has a DeLorean vibe that goes beyond the stainless steel frame. But mainly I’m just delighted that Tesla has finally unveiled a car that doesn’t look like a regular car. The Cybertruck is different. That’s exciting.
Unfortunate demo failure with the glass, but Musk recovered well. If handled well, demo failures are endearing.
Thursday, 21 November 2019
Donald Trump, tweeting a re-election video shot during his tour of Apple’s Mac Pro assembly plant today:
Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing [sic] plant in Texas
that will bring high paying jobs back to America. Today Nancy
Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American
I’ve been on board with Cook’s stance on engaging Trump. Participating in Trump’s technology council does not imply support for Trump. Engaging Trump personally, in private phone calls and dinners, does not imply support. But appearing alongside Trump at an Apple facility in a staged photo-op is implicit support for Trump and his re-election.
This wasn’t a promotion for the Mac Pro or its assembly plant. It was a promotion for Trump. This video makes it look like Trump’s trade policies have been good for Apple and that Tim Cook supports Trump. Both of those things are false. Even Trump’s predictable claim that this is a new facility is false — Apple, in what at the time was a high-profile shift, has been manufacturing Mac Pros at the same facility since 2013. Apple isn’t bringing Mac Pro assembly back to the U.S. because of Trump’s trade policies; Apple is keeping Mac Pro production here solely because Trump granted Apple an exemption to his tariffs — tariffs that he himself clearly does not understand.
But Cook went into this knowing that this is how Trump would play it — a big pile of nonsensical horseshit all the way down.
This is how Apple chose to unveil the packaging for the Mac Pro — in a poorly-shot overexposed propaganda video by the White House, scored with bombastic music that sounds like it came from an SNL parody of a Michael Bay film. Think about how it feels to work on that team at Apple.
Jack Nicas, in an acerbic news analysis piece at The New York Times:
On Wednesday, Mr. Trump called Mr. Cook a “very special person”
because of his ability to create jobs. He turned to Mr. Cook and
said, “What would you say about our economy compared to
Mr. Cook replied, “I think we have the strongest economy in
“Strongest in the world,” Mr. Trump said.
The president then took questions on the impeachment inquiry and
launched into a tirade against “the fake press.” Mr. Cook stood
“Mr. Cook stood silently nearby.”
A low moment in Apple’s proud history, and a sadly iconic moment for Tim Cook. I hope avoiding those tariffs is worth it. ★
Trump to Visit Apple’s Mac Pro Plant in Austin Tomorrow ★
The White House confirmed on Sunday that President Trump will tour Apple’s manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.
This ought to be good.
Android Camera Bug Allowed Attackers to Access Camera and Microphone Surreptitiously, Without Permission ★
After a detailed analysis of the Google Camera app, our team found
that by manipulating specific actions and intents, an attacker can
control the app to take photos and/or record videos through a
rogue application that has no permissions to do so. Additionally,
we found that certain attack scenarios enable malicious actors to
circumvent various storage permission policies, giving them access
to stored videos and photos, as well as GPS metadata embedded in
photos, to locate the user by taking a photo or video and parsing
the proper EXIF data. This same technique also applied to
Samsung’s Camera app.
In doing so, our researchers determined a way to enable a rogue
application to force the camera apps to take photos and record
video, even if the phone is locked or the screen is turned off.
Our researchers could do the same even when a user was is in the
middle of a voice call.
Fixed in software updates from Google and Samsung before Checkmarx published this report, but it’s impossible to say if it had been exploited previously. An exploit like this would have been of keen interest to government spook agencies looking for ways to target individuals.
Also, as Dan Goodin reports for Ars Technica, Google has no idea how many Android phones out there remain completely vulnerable to this exploit.
Dolby Cinema Exclusive Poster for ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ ★
Now this is how you design a movie poster. Yeah, yeah, yeah — there need to be posters featuring the stars of the movie, too. But as a simple teaser, this poster is magnificent, with a style paying perfect homage to Ralph McQuarrie’s intricate concept art for the original trilogy. This poster works as well in 2019 as it would have in 1977. Bravo.
(Via Matthew Panzarino — the replies to his tweet have links to higher-resolution versions.)
The Talk Show: ‘Maximally Thin’ ★
Very special guest Casey Johnston joins the show to talk about the butterfly MacBook keyboard saga and the just-released 16-inch MacBook Pro, with its all new scissor-switch keyboard design.
Brought to you by:
- Eero: Wi-Fi done right. Enter code thetalkshow at checkout to get your eero delivered with free overnight shipping.
- Squarespace: Make your next move. Use code talkshow for 10% off your first order.
- Fracture: Your photos printed in vivid color directly on glass. Get 10% off your first order, and order your holiday gifts early.
Energy Startup Backed by Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough ★
Matt Egan, reporting for CNN Business:
Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on
Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial
intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight
that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. […]
The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated
solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to
make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other
words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy
carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by
the clean energy revolution. […] Cement, for example, accounts
for 7% of global CO2 emissions, according to the International
Sounds like a fantastic breakthrough.
‘Meth: We’re On It’ ★
South Dakota’s new meth awareness campaign was all over Twitter last night and all over the news this morning because of its attention-demanding slogan: “Meth: We’re On It”. My knee-jerk reaction was the same as many others who see this as an outrageously egregious mistake: How could they have missed the double entendre in this slogan?
But give it a second thought. Of course they knew. The whole point is the double entendre, and the attention they knew it would draw. Just look at the domain name they chose. They are in no way using humor to belittle South Dakotans addicted to methamphetamine — they are using humor to burst through the apathy around the issue. A campaign with the same budget and an anodyne slogan like “Just Say No” or “We’re Here to Help” would have gotten zero attention inside South Dakota, let alone nationwide. But here we are, one day after the campaign launched, and South Dakota’s meth problem is at the top of the news nationwide. That’s not good advertising; that’s great advertising.
Erika Hall nails it:
“I lost me to meth.” made everyone laugh and look away.
“Meth. We’re on it.” is a fantastic double entendre that gets
everyone to laugh and look again.
Starting with a self-aware joke is so much better than all of the
sanctimonious anti-drug campaigns that end up as jokes.
Humorless dullards complaining about the half-million-dollar budget being a complete waste of money are missing the point. Not only is this not a waste of money, it might be the most bang for the buck for any state-sponsored ad campaign in history.
Another tell: the graphic design of the campaign is stellar. Good typography, great logo, great photography.