At Home Among the Stacks – CityLab

At Home Among the Stacks – CityLab

There’s a certain way of moving through a used bookstore. Walk in, nod to the owner. Have no expectations about what you might find. Don’t ask: where’s the fiction? Where’s the poetry? You’ll find it. Go slowly. Pull out the spines that interest you. Read the back covers. Search through the bottom shelves, the stacks on the floor (especially the stacks on the floor). Read the fliers on the wall; read everything. But most importantly, just look.


Moving that often, I’d get presumptuous; I would think I had a city figured out after just days or weeks of being there, only to break down when I’d miss a turnoff biking home at night, lost without brightly lit landmarks.

But inside a bookstore, I always knew where I was. They absorb the cities around them: fliers advertise local bands’ performances and events with hometown authors passing through on tour. But at the same time, from place to place, they are overwhelmingly, comfortingly, the same. The smell: woody, maybe a little damp. The stacks: cramped, overflowing onto the floor, religiously alphabetized if not proudly haphazard.


Seeking out bookstores was my attempt to translate a pattern from my past onto my new city. And it’s true that each time I walk into a bookstore in Brooklyn, I’m comforted: I feel like I’ve arrived somewhere I understand. But it’s not an act of regression. By searching for these pockets of familiarity in an unfamiliar city, I’ve brought the whole borough closer to me, and every day it feels more like home.

a16z Podcast: Finally a Tablet that Replaces Your Laptop by a16z

When the iPad first came out in 2010 there was chatter that went in two directions:

1. It’s just a big iPhone
2. I’ll never carry a laptop again

Both were wrong. The big iPhone comment was quickly dispelled as people (and their kids) fell under the consumption thrall of iPads. But iPads never could meet the needs of most laptop users –- until now.

Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky offer their reasons why the iPad Pro hits the mark as a machine for all kinds of things, and why it may have shoved their own laptops aside for almost everything.

The end of a mobile wave — Benedict Evans

The end of a mobile wave — Benedict Evans

The mobile phone industry has had two waves – first voice and SMS and then the smartphone.  The voice wave has taken it from zero to 5 billion people on earth with a mobile phone, and now close to 2 billion mobile phones are sold every year.

In parallel, starting 9 years ago, the smartphone wave converted a larger and larger percentage of those phone sales to smartphones.

All of this is now reaching an end – the wave is almost over.

On one level this is just classic saturation – no industry can grow forever. But what happens next?

At the level of the consumer internet, it’s been clear for some time that Apple and Google won the platform war and that the important questions have moved up the stack – how far can Google and Facebook capture attention and intent, what other interaction models will emerge, how far Android and iOS can shape interaction and consumer behaviour, and so on.

For the hardware companies themselves, though (and that includes Apple), when you’re selling to everyone on earth (something the tech industry has never really done before), what do you do next? TV, once thought of as the next phase after PCs, turned to be an accessory to smartphones, and so are watches and (to some extent) even tablets. VR and AR are some time away with unclear market size, though I think AR could in principle be the next ecosystem after the smartphone.

This is all rather like the PC clone market of the 1980s – hundreds of undifferentiated companies fighting it out to sell commodity computers built with commodity components running a commodity operating system (though those companies mainly made the PCs themselves, where many phone brands do not). That world in due course led to companies like Dell – people who embraced the volume, low-margin commodity model and found an angle of their own. We’re starting to see equivalent model-creation now.

robertogreco — This is how I read

robertogreco — This is how I read

James Bridle tells us to “Stop Lying About What You Do” and in doing so, he describes how I read.

I don’t read like I used to—although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I rarely finish books. I’ve always had a habit of abandoning novels 50-100 pages before the end. I don’t know why, I’ve always done that. I think I’m doing it more and I don’t mind because I think my critical senses have improved and by eradicating book guilt I’ve reached a point where I am happy to cast things aside. I read 5, 10 books at once. I read them on paper and electronically as the mood takes me.

I read with continuous partial attention and I don’t care that I am frequently interrupting my own reading. I despise the discourse that says we are all shallow, that we are all flighty, distracted, not paying attention. I am paying attention, but I am paying attention to everything, and even if my knowledge is fragmented and hard to synthesise it is wider, and it plays in a vaster sphere, than any knowledge that has gone before.

About a year later, he repeats:

I read books, but I don’t finish them. Let’s stop pretending. My reading and the wobbly tower of ideas built alongside and atop it is not a street, a line, it’s a topology, a crystal growing in space, layering the insides of the seizure and projecting into it. It is counterproductive to suggest otherwise.

There is nothing more to add.