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Track Changes

Technology and culture, hosted by the people of Postlight.
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Feb 20, 2018

Do you need a security camera for your front-door? Do you need programmable lighting? Are smart homes really innovative? Paul and Rich talk about the pros and cons of connected homes, the security of our information, and the impossibility of competing with giant platforms like Google and Amazon.

Smart Homes, Foolish People: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about connected homes. We talk discuss the pros and cons of distributed networks, the fear of sharing data with giant platform companies, and ask if smart-tech is eating away at our creativity. Paul also predicts that one of Zuckerberg’s 2018 goals will clam-digging!


5:15 — Rich: “All of this stuff is so you have to do less. I used to love that sense of achievement when I had a 486 computer and when I finally got it to print in colour, because I bought a colour printer that took 20 minutes to print a colour page and it only worked right because I got the latest drivers that were crashing before, but finally it was working right. That felt so good. We’re eating away at the skills needed to do some incredibly complex things.”

7:57 — Paul: “This is the fundamental flaw of everything though right? Which is that your home is increasingly becoming a set of distributed network processes and the way the cable companies and the routers are set up it’s very difficult to gain access to those from outside of your home”

11:44 — Paul: “What’s happening is you’re seeing the same thing that always happens, which is that enormous consolidated players are starting to get their platforms together. They’ll get into a partnership. Like Amazon, I’m sure, is talking to Netgear right now.

13:30 — Paul:“The big platforms, because of their ability to form relationships with other big platforms, always tend to win.”

14:17— Paul: “In ten, 15 years from now this will be built in like HVAC.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Feb 13, 2018

Are we living in a post-file world? Has our cultural understanding of “notes” changed? Paul and Rich talk to Chris O’Neill about innovation, acquiring talent,and the importance of focusing your team. 

The Ups and Downs of Focusing: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk to Chris O’Neill, CEO of Evernote to discuss the company’s shift in focus. We talk about acquiring talent as an established company, digital hoarding and how to compete with a pen and paper. Paul also compares NYC to a hatchet, and California to a widdled stick!

 

 

4:30 — Chris: “[We] came from a place of wanting to be innovative and I think we spread ourselves fairly thin as a company. So part of the first step for me, was to spend time with our users and spend time with the founder of the company and really reflect on what is our purpose in the world? And how do we rally solely around that?”

7:09 — Paul: “You’re not the new hotness, you’re ten years old, you’re Evernote, everyone’s heard about you, they’re 23 years old so they’ve known you to exist since they were 13. How do you convince talent to come work for you?”

13:18 —Chris: “WordPerfect and Microsoft Office were only like 30 years ago, 40 years ago. And all the metaphors were physical things: desktop, file, folders, and there’s a very good reason for that: Microsoft needed to have a metaphor that people understood. Now the problem is we’re stuck in that metaphor. You use Google Docs. Like a Doc is an eight and a half by 11. That little picture I scribble on the pad of paper, a whiteboard, an audio note, a business card — is that a file? I don’t know. I don’t think so. We’re in a post-file world.”

17:36— Chris: “People are going to find things that work, whether that’s pen and paper or Evernote, or whatever, people are gonna find what works for them. So why don’t you actually empower and enable them? That’s a mega trend I think you’ll see in the workplace . . . things are going to be user chosen but then companies will enable them.”

16:45— Rich: “Let’s talk about Information bankruptcy. I have a friend. I once took a look at her computer for a moment and she had about 77 tabs open. They didn’t look like tabs anymore…It is digital hoarding to some extent. It is that feeling that if I just put it away somewhere then I put it in my brain.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS

Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Feb 6, 2018
 

What does Chief Compliance Officer really mean? What do you actually do? Paul and Rich sit down to talk about job titles, ruining our LinkedIn profiles, and the value of clarity.

What does Grandpa do?: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about terribly unclear LinkedIn profiles. We chat about the evolution of titles like Evangelist or Entrepreneur In Residence, and how to capture someone’s attention in three seconds. Rich complains about contracts and Paul makes a compelling defense for white chocolate.


0:38 — Rich: “There’s the ceremonial title which is ‘Co-founder’, which speaks nothing to skill or vocation.”

2:11— Paul: “Boss [as a title] is a great. You never see that on a business card.”

7:05— Paul: “The X at Y is a really good formulation if you’re trying to break through and let people know what you’re about. ‘Self-employed’ is tricky. It should be Self-employed Something at first. You know? Self-employed Writer, Self-employed Designer.”

9:47 — Rich: “I think this is a good piece of advice, generally: LinkedIn flies under people’s noses… You’re always on a list with about 200 other people… so if somebody’s giving you the three seconds, you gotta really nail your headline.”

23:55 —Rich: “ If you keep going back to Clause 6A1, you will destroy the relationship. You will destroy it. The thing exists in the first place for mutual benefit. I get money from you, you stay in my apartment, right? If I go back to Clause 6A1, because you didn’t take the garbage out and put it in the front, therefore I’m gonna ask you for an extra 50 dollars, right? Cuz it’s in the contract. You just destroyed actually something far more durable than the actual contract.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Jan 30, 2018

How can a side-project become a multimillion dollar venture? How has San Quentin become a technology incubator? How can we work to curb America’s prison problem? Paul and Rich talk to Chris Redlitz about Venture Capital and his newest nonprofit, The Last Mile.

Invest in the Pivot: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with VC, Chris Redlitz to talk about his newest venture, The Last Mile (TLM). What started as a mission to instill hope in prisoners has become a technology incubator and coding school. We talk about access to information, the stigma around hiring criminals, and the tangible steps we can take to curb mass incarceration and reduce the recidivism rate in America. Rich also reveals his subconscious love of tight polyester pants!


3:52 —Chris: “We’ve seen some of the best companies come out of pivots or side projects.”

9:34 — Chris: “Kenyatta Leal who was in our first [round of the program], he’s on our board of directors, he was serving a life sentence when I met him as a result of the three strikes reform. He was released, now he’s on his four year anniversary and he works for a technology company here in San Francisco. Someone like that has just become a beacon of hope for those inside.”

11:56 — Chris: “The first thing that we recognized was that many of [the students] just lacked hope. They lived in a box and they thought in a box…And so our first premise was to instill hope and confidence, so that they could dream big.”

12:58 — Chris: “It’s come a long way from this idea of just instilling hope. Now we are teaching practical skills and we have guys getting out, getting hired as software engineers. We just had three guys hired within the last month in the Valley as Javascript coders.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Jan 23, 2018

Are we experiencing bitcoin’s tulip-mania moment? Do we need to care about the iPhone X? Is Russia our biggest threat? Paul and Rich talk about the top three letdowns of last year, and make predeictions for what’s coming down the pike.

A Bad Technology Year: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk scrutinize 2017. We talk about being letdown by iPhone X, relate the bitcoin economy to tulipmania, and question how we will deal with cyberwarfare in the future. We also make goals for the year ahead —  Paul wants to go to more museums; Rich wants a good omelet!


5:01 — Rich: “I think if you trace money back to its roots it’s goods and services, right? … So, I don’t understand where the dotted line goes from Bitcoin. It seems to go back to Bitcoin.”

5:40 — Paul: “we live in an economy that favours bubbles…It takes an entire aluminum smelting plant in China to process one transaction on wish.com with Bitcoin… At what point do you look at this and go, ‘Maybe this isn’t sustainable.’”

6:05— Paul: “The Silicon Valley ethos around technology, if you talk to venture capital people they are very, very focused not necessarily on making amazing, awesome products. That’s a big part of what they do but what they really wanna do is make the marketplace. Google is a great search engine. Truly great. Probably the best in the world. However, where it really is, is a marketplace for ad distribution.”

11:19 — Rich: “If you can maintain scarcity that’s where value lies.”

13:26 — Rich: “This is a big deal, right? Because what we saw is that platforms can be consolidated to the point on the internet that they have massive, direct cultural power. And then you can feed that with complete garbage information that satisfies the users.”

17:17 —Paul: “We’re two Mr. Digital Guys and we went to war without knowing it. And we just got the crap kicked out of us….the Russians were like, “Well, what can we do?”… “We can’t use nuclear weapons. That’s really bad. Let’s avoid that, at least so far.” ... “But boy, you know, with one relatively cheap cable modem line we can destabilize a giant global democracy”.

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Jan 16, 2018

For decades, the Library of Congress seemed to err on the side of keeping information on lockdown, but Kate and Abbey have changed that. We talk about digitizing archives, creating cultural memory, and rethinking what a library really is.

Jan 9, 2018

What does product management really mean? How can you effectively couple design and engineering to bring a product to life? Paul and Rich talk about the difficulty in defining the discipline of product management, the three red-flags you should avoid on a resume, and how to demonstrate value under an ambiguous title.

You report to the product: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about hiring product managers who do more than the hand-off. We delve into the intersection of design and engineering, why product management is so difficult to define, and the value of curiosity. We also share our top three ways to destroy your resume! 

Jan 2, 2018

How can you pitch your product without boring an investor? How have audio platforms won the competition for user attention? Paul and Rich talk to Matt Hartman about product development, chatbots and the importance of creating products that establish a sense of connection.

Competiting with the Infinite Scroll: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with Matt Hartman, Partner and Director of Seed Funding at betaworks to talk about creating products that stick. We delve into the future of chatbots, why audio is an exciting space to invest in, and how to not bore an investor with your pitch. We also challenge Rich to start the new year with daily positive affirmations!

Dec 26, 2017

Check your shoes. Are you standing in shit already?: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade make the case that net neutrality was never enough. Of course, congress’ vote to to repeal net neutrality protections will have huge impacts on innovation, product development and the way we think about equality. We delve into the ways that we can we compete with the giants, the disruptive tech that’s created in protest, and we compete for the title of Most Cynical (Spoiler: Rich wins).

Dec 19, 2017

Have we moved too far away from the mainframe? Do engineers need more empathy? Does technology have a woman problem? Paul and Gina talk to Ellen Ullman to find out how the past 20 years of tech are shaping the next 20.

Dec 12, 2017

Words matter, writing matters and that mission is alive and well at Medium. Paul and Rich talk to Head of Product, Michael Sippey to find out more about making money in publishing, the importance of good content and his three-step approach to product management.

Dec 5, 2017

Are we building the dystopian future we’re afraid of?: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk about Amazon, Facebook and other big-tech companies that have changed our basic human interactions. We delve into the commoditization of our feelings, valuing efficiency over communication, and the despair that comes from seeing a death announcement on social media (especially when it’s bumped up against a recipe for a chocolate soufflé). 

Nov 28, 2017

For decades, startups have tried to unseat the mighty spreadsheet, with no success. Does Airtable, a database for the web, have what it takes? And what did it take to make Airtable? Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk to Airtable co-found Andrew Ofstad to find out.

Nov 21, 2017

Is Facebook a monopoly? This week Paul and Rich tackle the 2-billion-user elephant in the room and go back and forth on two big questions: whether Facebook violates antitrust laws and should be broken up, and how the platform (or its regulators) can solve its rampant fake news problem. Topics covered include what “breaking up” Facebook would even look like, how the platform might verify news sources, separating news from satire, and the general public’s ambivalence about privacy and security.  

Nov 14, 2017

From the front lines of the podcast boom: this week Paul and Rich talk to Matt Lieber, co-founder of Gimlet Media, one of the most successful podcast studios in the industry. Topics covered include the company’s origin (and the podcast that chronicled its founding), how Gimlet recruits and trains its editors, the trajectory of the medium, why you shouldn’t play favorites amongst your employees, and how Matt has been re-cast as a sleazy door-to-door salesman in an upcoming ABC comedy produced, directed by, and starring Zach Braff.

Nov 7, 2017

Is there a way to fix LinkedIn? This week Paul and Rich return one of their favorite hate-topics: LinkedIn is, in Paul’s words, “a remarkable affront to everything that we care about and believe in.” They discuss “human spam,” various UX gripes with the platform, Paul’s methods for “killing the virus” to eliminate certain types of social connectors, resumes, and various suggestions for improving the product—including a $100 offer to anyone who can build a Chrome extension to implement their ideas.

Oct 31, 2017

From TV writing to scriptwriting software: this week Paul and Rich talk to Rob Dubbin, former writer and producer for The Colbert Report and The Late Show and current CEO of Scripto. They discuss Scripto’s creation and the special workflow challenges coordinating a late-night show, animal welfare, transitioning from writing to tech, Bluetooth, Google Wave, and more.

Oct 24, 2017

How do you pull the plug on a product people love? This week Paul and Rich talk about good and bad ways to shut a digital product, from giving people a path to export their data (good) to writing a blog post entitled “Our Incredible Journey” (bad) (very, very bad). Topics discussed include AOL Instant Messenger (RIP), communities around software, Rich’s experiences shutting Readability, and Paul’s experience pinpointing the fundamental ethos of the web: “Why wasn’t I consulted?”

Oct 17, 2017

Building a community for developers: this week Paul and Gina talk to Jenn Schiffer, community engineer at Fog Creek’s Glitch, a platform for developers to write, share, and remix code that is, in Jenn’s words, helping to “lower the barriers for developers to build great things.” Topics discussed include development frameworks, how coding is taught, cultures of harassment online and in the tech world, and the (sort of mindblowing!) way a bloomin’ onion is made.

Oct 10, 2017

New technologies vs buzzwords: this week Paul and Rich discuss the challenge of sifting through trends in the technology world—and how they help clients separate what they need from what they think they need. Topics discussed include SOAP, machine learning, Paul’s love of the words “matrix” and “vector,” React, blockchain, the iPhone X “notch,” and, most importantly, paddleboarding.

Oct 3, 2017

Building digital tools for active citizenship: this week Paul and Rich talk to Glenn Brown, the chief digital officer at the Obama Foundation. The conversation works through each major stop in his career, from Harvard Law (including the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society) to Creative Commons to Google and YouTube to Twitter to his current role. Topics covered include the mission of the Obama Foundation, copyright and fair use, what “product counsel” does at a place like Google, the power of livestreaming, and Rich’s fantasy vision of a Miami courtroom.

Sep 26, 2017

“The bad times, as a manager, are easier than the good times”: this week Paul and Rich discuss a “good problem to have”—managing growth as demand for your work grows. They talk about their personal experiences at Postlight before offering up a series of tips for managing growth, including not taking on too much while still not compromising on the approach and philosophy that got you there.

Sep 19, 2017

New horizons in digital media: this week Paul and Rich talk to Anna Holmes, the founder of Jezebel and current SVP of Editorial at First Look Media, where she recently launched the visual storytelling site Topic.com. They discuss her early magazine career, the rise of online media, comment sections vs social media conversations, and what it's like to run a more reflective site in a world of reactive takes.

Sep 12, 2017

How does Postlight tackle security challenges? This week Paul and Rich begin the episode with takeaways from the Apple iPhone announcement (which they had not yet heard at the time of recording) before diving into a wide-ranging discussion on digital security, from personal worries to the Equifax breach to the steps they take as a company to ensure clients’ data safety. They then tell the story of the first $20 Postlight ever made—a tale about infidelity, large datasets, AshleyMadison.com, and a trio of guys who were definitely up to no good.

Sep 5, 2017

The challenges of product management at scale: this week Paul and Rich talk to Oren Mor, a head of product at Goldman Sachs and a former product manager at Google. They discuss his entry into the industry, making the technology behind Microsoft’s Kinect, his pivot to finance, and his return to tech at Google, where he spent years shipping ad products. They then go deep into the online advertising world, including ethical concerns around ad placements and the new taxonomies that’s creating on the web.

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