When I was on Twitter one of my favorite follows was Alexis Madrigal, who writes about tech and society. He’s writing for the Atlantic now and I was catching up on his posts. You can click on this link to scroll through all his writings. I found his take on Uber insightful:
More important, however, VCs liked the service themselves. In 2016, Hayes recalled his first encounter with Uber: “What I saw was a product that I would use all the time, even though I never use black cars. My friends didn’t use black cars, but this was a product they were going to use all the time,” he said. He and his firm would rely on their instinct instead of putting a number on the company’s value the standard way—by looking at the market Uber was targeting and figuring out how much market share it could win.
Even investor and media super-villain Peter Thiel has made fun of Silicon Valley power players’ tendency to invest in what they themselves like. “VCs often have a blind spot for things,” he said in 2014. “They overvalue things they use. They undervalue things they don’t use. Uber is overvalued because investors like riding in Town Cars.” (Thiel, for his part, invested in Uber’s rival, Lyft.)
And SV power players really, really don’t like public transit. That’s why they spend so much time and money and marketing effort on moving individuals around, rather than groups of people. Eeuuww, traveling with “random strangers,” who would want to do that?
Tablets, which were supposed to be the new, better, laptop, continue to level off and/or decline in terms of consumer sales (they’re still very popular in a range of business and professional settings). I’m a little bit surprised by this, because tablets are excellent for consumption, which is what most people use electronic items for. But it turns out that giant phones are even better:
So, what happened?
Well, big smartphones for one thing. There are dozens of smartphones now touting displays of 6 inches and bigger. These include market leaders like Apple’s 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max, Google’s 5.3-inch Pixel 3 XL and Samsung’s 6.4-inch Galaxy S10 Plus. With smartphones this big, who needs tablets?
And when people do want to work, they want the full screen/keyboard/OS combination. This makes sense to me; most people don’t have the luxury of having multiple electronics, and so you will either go with just a phone (if you can’t afford a computer, you will get a phone that does as much as possible to overlap functions), or a phone and laptop. Apple is finally making iOS more functional for work requirements, but it’s taken a long time.
When I was deep in the #onebag internet rabbithole, I came across this amazing post by a woman who traveled for three weeks across the USA with one shoulder bag. I am in awe. I could never do this, but I used some of her techniques, especially the multi-use fabric and layering tips:
Nothing I packed went unused, and as mentioned in the beginning of this article, I didn’t feel like I needed anything else to have a good trip- including a laptop! When the weather was cold (like when it was in the 40s F in Chicago and windy), I layered all my merino items together and covered my ears with my Buff. When the weather was warm (like in Portland when it got up to the 80s F unexpectedly), I wore my light tunic with the Anatomie pants and Tieks.
The key is layers for any minimalist packing list to work. For mine, having several layers of merino was essential. Without being able to layer my light pieces of merino together for a warmer concoction, I would have been caught out in chilly Chicago. If not packing all the merino, a fleece jacket, or something more sufficient, would have been needed.
I would still need a jacket in windy and 40sF Chicago, I think. But an ultralight down jacket from Uniqlo is warm, inexpensive and extremely packable. I took my ultralight vest to Wales because it scrunched down to about the size of a regulation softball.