"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Making a Break For It

Looking at the feed here it's a bit of a shambles, innit? Most of my long-form energy has been spent at work, and residual creative output, which is (happily) reduced since family-time comes first, has been mostly done on my phone in off hours.

But now Twitter threads are broken. I used to scratch my writing itch that way, but ever since the functionality regressed such that threading tweets basically spams everyone's feed I feel like I need to stop doing those.

Might this actually be the thing that gets me back to blogging? Stranger things have happened.

The idea of writing under your own masthead is hardly new. POSSE: Publish Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. That's the Open Web Way. But it's way too complex for most people to do, as evidenced by the fact that I — a trained professional with a personal stake in the fortunes of said Open Web — haven't been doing it myself.

There's an element of hypocrisy here, sure, but also logistical practicality. Social media provides a really comfortable form-factor for posting from your phone, which is where I have time/opportunity to do it these days. Plus the instant feedback dopamine hack is real. That's why it's eclipsed broadcast media as the mass medium of our era.

Things are changing though, devolving. Now that we're almost all entirely online and well past the point where there's a centrally dominant network, there could be a swing back to the open as sites inevitably rise and fall. Lots of trend-lines pointing in that direction, which is (mostly) a professional concern for me since I'm in the business of helping organizations get results out of their owned web presence, but maybe there's something personal in it too.

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Feelin' the Bern, Silicon Valley Style

I'm back with my first blog post in years to make what I hope is a novel case for supporting Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic Primary. The "Silicon Valley" or "Startup" take. I've got a lot of thoughts, but I don't see a ton of people expressing the techie/entrepreneur rationale for supporting Sen. Sanders, so that's the case I'm gonna make.

Support the Startup Economy

TL;DR - no policy would create more startups in the next ten years than establishing universal health care and eliminating student debt.

The economy around startups isn't what it should be. I'm from this world, and I honestly believe in the upsides of innovation and creativity that come from entrepreneurialism. But in spite of all cool things that have been built, all the new millionaires and billionaires, and the increasingly prominent role tech plays in our culture, the startup ecosystem is unhealthy.

The data tells us that fewer new businesses are forming in the US than prior to the great recession. While VC funds hover around all-time highs, those eye-popping numbers are driven more by big pools of finance going into late-stage deals vs forming new companies. There are still plenty of great exits, but a lot of that is just mergers and acquisitions into existing Big Tech behemoths. In other words, the action is more scale and consolidation than creativity and innovation.

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2016 Reminds Me of 2004

What a gutpunch. It's shades of 2004 (more on that later), but also worse for so many reasons.

Complex systems don't fail due to a single cause. They're always running in some sort of degraded mode — there is no perfect union — and catastrophic failures have multiple vectors, often cascading. Assigning blame after the fact can easily turn into an exercise in emotional release, the desire to identify a specific "root cause." Even in hindsight, this is more often storytelling and internal politics than anything else.

Still, without retrospectives, we cannot hope to improve.

I don't think it's productive to try and blame voters, or even non-voters. Where does that really lead in a democracy? This kind of thinking is always tempting, and carries a bitter tautological truth that a democracy delivers the government people "deserve," but it must also be rejected out of hand. It is a poisonous form of fatalistic elitism, a surrender. No.

I also don't really think it's right to blame Lena Dunham, Martin Sheen, or any other celebrity figurehead, even if you think their participation was counterproductive. They're amateurs, and maybe they're annoying or insufferable or distracting, but voting is the least we can do, and they were trying.

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Falling Behind

I'm falling behind. I think maybe this is a common feeling in the age of popular social media, the sense that your friends and followers are having weightier and more meaningful experiences than you are. Maybe it's my own strain of garden variety FOMO. Or maybe it's that I haven't written a blog post in close of five months. Or both. Some combination of unexpressed thoughts — I have no mouth yet I must scream — and humility at seeing what everyone else is up to these days. People I know and love are getting married, laying in firewood, having family reunions, running for congress, wearing outrageously classy outfits, playing in symphonies, and more.

It's trite to list up all these things, but part of my sense of frisson is that a "like" button doesn't do nearly enough to express how happy I am at these events. It's not FOMO in the sense of keeping up with the Joneses, but in the sense that I really wish I could time-hop between all these difference scenes and contribute something, or at least applaud. It makes me feel sad and weirdly guilty for having my own little private (lovely awesome) weekend getaway, and not being able to share in all this other goodness that's going on.

But again, this is hardly a unique sensation. Actually, feels a lot like this blog post I wrote five years ago about how I felt I was losing my edge, but just a little more mature. Well-aged you might say:

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