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Any Company Using Facebook for User ID Is Foolish

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Nick Statt, reporting for The Verge:

Facebook is adding a dating layer to its main mobile app, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced today during the company’s F8 developers conference keynote in San Jose, California. The features are a long time coming for the 14-year-old social network, which has allowed users to broadcast whether they’re single or in a relationship since it first went live in February 2004.

The move will likely transform Facebook, with its more than 2.2 billion monthly active users, into a major competitor of Match Group, which owns and operates mobile dating app Tinder and popular dating platform OkCupid. Match Group’s stock plummeted by more than 17 percent as soon as the news was announced.

John Kneeland on Twitter:

Step 1: get dating apps to build themselves on your platform’s data
Step 2: cut them off from your platform’s data with no warning
Step 3: build a competitor to dating apps with the data you are now keeping to yourself

Seems kinda antitrust-ish…

It should be illegal, given Facebook’s monopoly status. But every company that has ever trusted Facebook like this should have known better all along. There was never any reason for Tinder to trust Facebook not to do this, and a bunch of reasons to suspect they would. Yet even today, when you go to sign up for Tinder, they heavily steer you toward signing up via Facebook; the option to sign up using your phone number is so faint it’s hard to read. (And who wants to share their phone number? Why not email?)

Facebook looks like the rapacious Gates-era “I think I’ll have all the mashed potatoes” Microsoft. Tinder looks like fools.

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satadru
26 days ago
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This is inevitable. What other company has the data to narrow your search for a partner to "White Nationalist Russia sympathizer pee fetishists who are willing to sell out their country to keep the colored people down", is willing to sell the ability to promote such a group to those who might be on the edge of thinking that's fine, and also has no qualms whatsoever about doing so aside from the occasional heavily choreographed Kabuki hand-wringing?
New York, NY
steingart
26 days ago
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The Grubes has clearly never used Tinder (praise jebus). I'm guessing the Facebook dating community will have very different goals
Princeton, NJ
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Philip Glass: “I expected to have a day job for the rest of my life”

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I enjoyed reading Lolade Fadulu’s interview with Philip Glass about the composer’s early life and how he made a living in NYC before being able to fully support himself with his music (which didn’t happen until he was in his early 40s). As a boy, his mother made sure he got a musical education and his job at his father’s record store exposed him to the idea that people paid money for art:

To this day, among my earliest memories was someone would give my father $5 and he’d hand them a record. So the exchange of money for art, I thought that was normal. I thought that’s what everybody did. I never thought there was anything wrong about making money.

As an adult, Glass worked odd jobs (plumber, mover, cab driver) to have the independence to work on his music:

I had an ensemble at the time. I would go out and play for three weeks. We would come back from the tour, and we usually had lost money so I had to make money immediately. I put an ad in the paper. My cousin and I ran the company, and I moved furniture for about three or four or five weeks. Then I went on tour again. Again, we lost money.

That went on for years. I thought it was going to go on for the rest of my life, actually. It never occurred to me that I would be able to make a living, really, from writing music. That happened kind of by accident.

I was interested in jobs that were part-time, where I had a lot of independence, where I could work when I wanted to. I wasn’t interested in working in an office where everything would be very regimented.

As his musical career took off, Glass continued to take his other work seriously. From a 2001 profile of Glass in The Guardian:

Throughout this period, Glass supported himself as a New York cabbie and as a plumber, occupations that often led to unusual encounters. “I had gone to install a dishwasher in a loft in SoHo,” he says. “While working, I suddenly heard a noise and looked up to find Robert Hughes, the art critic of Time magazine, staring at me in disbelief. ‘But you’re Philip Glass! What are you doing here?’ It was obvious that I was installing his dishwasher and I told him I would soon be finished. ‘But you are an artist,’ he protested. I explained that I was an artist but that I was sometimes a plumber as well and that he should go away and let me finish.”

But after Einstein on the Beach dazzled critics at the Metropolitan Opera, Glass’s days in the driver’s seat of a cab were limited:

The day after the performance, Glass was back driving his taxi: “I vividly remember the moment, shortly after the Met adventure,” he says, “when a well-dressed woman got into my cab. After noting the name of the driver, she leaned forward and said: ‘Young man, do you realise you have the same name as a very famous composer’.”

Glass is my favorite composer, but as much as I love his music, I might appreciate the way he has approached his work and career almost as much.

Tags: interviews   Lolade Fadulu   music   NYC   Philip Glass   working
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steingart
33 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
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The Ancient Walled Gardens Designed to Nurture a Single Citrus Tree

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A windswept speck of land in the Mediterranean boasts a unique innovation found nowhere else on earth: a circular garden wall that creates its own nano-climate. But this invention isn't new: It dates back over a thousand years.

The remote Italian island of Pantelleria is so far from the rest of Italy that it's actually closer to Africa. On a clear day, you can even see the coast of Tunisia from the island's lofty volcanic peak.

Pantelleria has a hypnotic beauty that entrances the few travelers who reach its shores: Ancient mule tracks wend through patchwork vineyards dotted with crumbling ruins, while passing cars are so rare that hard-working farmers wave at every one. In all directions, wherever you look, the denim-blue sea sparkles.

The main challenge faced by Pantelleria’s 7,000 inhabitants, aside from the isolation that sequesters them from the outside world, is the weather: The island is constantly battered by winds, but rarely sees any rain. The soil is dry and full of volcanic rock.

How to eke out a living in such a place? For thousands of years, different groups have done so during different periods. But at some much-debated point, Pantellerians devised an ingenious garden design now known as the giardino Pantesco: Italian for "Pantellerian garden." What makes these enclosures extraordinary is that each giardino Pantesco was built, with months of backbreaking labor, not to nourish rows of vegetables, but instead to protect a single sprout: the sapling of a lone lemon or orange tree.

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"Of all agricultural systems, no other architecture involves so much work to grow a single tree," notes Giuseppe Barbera, Professor of Arboriculture at the University of Palermo and one of the world's few experts on Pantellerian gardens.

"The enclosed tree is a citrus—usually an orange or a lemon—that otherwise couldn't grow on the island without the protecting wall," Barbera adds. "Pantelleria’s windy, arid climate and the total absence of fresh groundwater wouldn’t otherwise allow trees like these to live."

Giardini Panteschi are almost always circular, and are precisely calibrated to have walls of a specific height: tall enough to block the wind, but short enough to allow in as much sun as possible. For as long as anyone can remember, farmers have expertly employed an age-old construction technique called muro a secco. Without using any mortar, they stack basketball-sized boulders freehand to form five-foot-thick walls that curve to encircle an enclosure 30 feet in diameter. They leave a single small opening through which the builder can crawl.

"The Pantescan farmer tore the stones from the ground with his bare hands, and used them to construct garden walls," says local vintner and retired politician Calogero Mannino.

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The top of the circular wall always slopes inward, so the crevices of the volcanic rock catch morning dew and atmospheric condensation, which then drips onto the soil—even on otherwise dry days.

At the center of all this, the farmer plants just one seed in hopes of eventually growing a full-size citrus tree, which he then allows to branch outward in all directions and fill the whole space with several trunks (unlike the more familiar practice in modern citrus orchards of pruning away all side-shoots to produce a tree with a single central trunk).

The end result of all this labor is a new ecosystem within the wall's embrace, where the tree experiences temperatures measurably cooler on hot days and warmer on cold nights, an effect confirmed by ongoing studies. "The research has shown the importance of dew condensation on the garden walls, which reaches considerable quantities because of the atmospheric humidity and the porosity of the rocks that increases the surface area,” says Barbera, who is monitoring climatic data being collected at the best-preserved giardino. “This contribution of water is so important that it allows citruses to be cultivated in the total absence of irrigation."

Giardini Panteschi have been described as self-sufficient agronomic systems, because they create a nano-climate that simultaneously waters the tree, protects it from relentless wind, retains any rainwater channeled into the garden under the access door during rare rainstorms, allows in sunlight, and radiates stored solar warmth on cold nights. Once built, it "operates" without any need for further human intervention.

Pantellerians were pioneers in sustainability before there was even a word for it. They did not get stones from some far-off quarry, but instead used rocks dug from the enclosed garden area itself. As Pantelleria sits atop a dormant volcano, the terrain comprises basically nothing but fractured volcanic rock, without much topsoil. Every square inch of vineyard and farmland on the island had to be hand-cleared of countless stones; on the island, people joke and conjecture that the garden walls probably evolved as the answer to the conundrum, What do we do with all these rocks we just dug up?

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A giardino Pantesco—also known as a "jardinu" in local dialect—is only one component of a traditional Pantellerian homestead, each element of which has an immediately recognizable vernacular architecture. At the center is the dammuso, or living quarters, with massively thick walls and a distinctive domed roof. The unforgettable, undulating shape is also unique to Pantelleria, and designed to collect rainwater and channel it down to a subterranean cisterna. A hardened pathway from the dammuso downhill to the jardinu also serves as a rainwater conduit, funneling runoff under the small garden gate. Farmers thresh grain in a nearby aira (another perfectly circular area but with lower walls) and sun-dry grapes and figs in the stinnituri, a south-facing wall with angled buttresses.

All these architectural features developed to deal with the constant hot winds known as sirocco that blow in from the Sahara and the Levante winds that blow in from the Near East. These winds dominate Pantelleria's weather as many as 300 days per year.

No one knows for certain who built the first giardino Pantesco: Some attribute it to the Phoenicians, who colonized the island 3,000 years ago. Others cite the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Ottomans, or one of the many other civilizations that occupied Pantelleria over the millennia. Most often credit is given to the Arabic-speaking settlers who invaded in 700 A.D. and stayed for centuries; many of the island place names—such as Gadir and Bugeber, which belong to an ancient Arabic dialect similar to Maltese—date to this period.

"The surviving gardens were mostly built between the 18th and 19th centuries," Barbera points out, "but it is probable that they have been present on the island since ancient times."

Despite the relatively arid climate and chronic shortage of fresh water, the slopes of Pantelleria now appear surprisingly verdant. Vineyards dot the island, a situation made possible because the local grape variety, Zibibbo di Pantelleria, has evolved to survive with minimal irrigation. The centuries-old technique for keeping grape vines alive on Pantelleria—extensive pruning so that they hug the ground, behind yet more hand-built stone walls—is the only farming practice UNESCO deems "An Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity."

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About 400 giardini Panteschi survive today, in various states of disrepair. Of these, 300 are precisely circular, while others are rectangular, pentagonal, or even teardrop-shaped due to the nearby terrain.

Whatever its shape, there's something almost mystical about entering a jardinu, as if you're entering a temple to the tree itself. The space inside feels set apart from the real world outside. "One enters them bowing, the shade and the coolness immediately felt, the imposing walls giving the feeling of entering a sacred place," Barbera ruminates.

Why citrus, and not some other tree? As far back as the Middle Ages, it was known that fresh fruit, especially citrus, prevented scurvy. Giardini Panteschi may have provided the only source of vitamin C on the island.

The only giardino Pantesco officially open to the public is managed by the Fondo Ambiente Italiano in the vineyards of the Donnafugata winery near the village of Khamma. But some of the dammusi rented to vacationers have their own giardini, and any leisurely drive around the island will reveal a few of the unmistakable circular walls (but always ask permission before entering).

Famed architectural philosopher Bernard Rudofsky visited Pantelleria and became fascinated by the unique design of its gardens, marveling about them in his book The Prodigious Builders. "The Pantellerian giardino represents an unheard-of extravaganza,” he writes. “It embodies the archetype of 'paradise' (originally a Persian word meaning 'circular enclosure'), complete with the tree of sour knowledge."

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steingart
35 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
satadru
37 days ago
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New York, NY
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1 public comment
mareino
39 days ago
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"A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows."
Washington, District of Columbia
hannahdraper
38 days ago
Exactly what I was thinking.

The End Goal

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“The goal isn’t credit. The goal is change.”
– Seth Godin

When your ideas get stolen.

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steingart
60 days ago
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says the idea stealer. I think the idea is worth ~5% of the execution, but this is the stuff of Randian bad guys.
Princeton, NJ
satadru
58 days ago
Joker meme "It's not about the money, it's about sending a message."
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Om Malik on Foxconn Buying Belkin

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Om Malik:

“I can’t put my finger on why, but this acquisition seems weird to me,” writes John Gruber, describing Foxconn’s decision to buy Belkin for $866 million. It is not that weird, especially when you take into account the competitive landscape.

TL: DR version: Foxconn needs to boost margins. Belkin has a great brand but faces an increasingly competitive landscape. It is weirdly about Taiwan vs. China.

I’ve always felt Belkin kit was kind of crappy — never more so than the comparison between their Qi charging pad and Mophie’s. Mophie’s is so much better — at the same price — it’s ridiculous. The big difference is that the Belkin charging pad has a very small sweet spot — you have to place your phone on it just so. And the Belkin one has an ugly bright green LED that turns on when you’re charging, and points up. Garish on a bedside table. The Mophie one has a subtle white light that points down, not up. I’ve also become a fan of Anker’s products (and have this Qi charger on my desk). I kind of feel like Foxconn bought a loser here.

Chris Pepper also made a keen observation about why this acquisition seems weird: “Because Foxconn manufactures a lot of Belkin’s competitors’ products.”

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steingart
60 days ago
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Quoting his own quote and it’s turtles all the way down
Princeton, NJ
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Don’t Use a Nest Doorbell to Raise Your Kids

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Nest just released a new ad, and let me tell you: there are some issues with the content. So you see this teenage girl in a prom dress ring a Nest doorbell, and a teen couple walk out the front door. The two girls walk to a car, as a low robotic voice beckons the boy and proceeds to give him a fatherly speech about…

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steingart
60 days ago
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It’s a very slow news day at Gizmodo
Princeton, NJ
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