Monday, July 10, 2017

EP 034 Jon Taplin on Internet Monopolies and Creative Culture

Jonathan Taplin is Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California. he was a Professor at the USC Annenberg School from 2003-2016. Taplin's areas of specialization are in international communication management and the field of digital media entertainment. Taplin began his entertainment career in 1969 as Tour Manager for Bob Dylan and The Band. In 1973 he produced Martin Scorsese's first feature film, Mean Streets, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival. Between 1974 and 1996, Taplin produced 26 hours of television documentaries (including The Prize and Cadillac Desert for PBS) and 12 feature films including The Last Waltz, Until The End of the World, Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscar and Golden Globe awards and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival five times. (via

Today, Jon talks about his new book, Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy. It tells the story of how the Internet took a wrong turn from its early days as a source for innovation and wealth for individual creators and entrepreneurs, becoming a highly centralized set of monopolies and oligopolies that suck $50 billion a year in income away from content creators. This has hollowed out whole industries, leaving both producers and consumers less well off both economically and artistically. We discuss some of the history of the Net that led to this point, and some of the possible remedies for the problems we face.

Enjoy this episode, and want me to keep making more?
Subscribe, rate and review it on iTunes.

Want to hear more like it?
Pair with Kevin Kelly's interview. Kevin has a much more positive view of technological change now and in the future.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Little Buddha

In Jamgon Kongtrul's encyclopedic work The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge/The Treasury of Knowledge, the first book deals with Buddhist cosmology, in very epic scope and tone. In the middle of this is the mention of a universe next door to ours called Angustha (Thumb-Sized), "here beings live no more than ten years and are in height no taller than a thumb. They are presided over by the Buddha Delight In Stars (Jyotirama), whose height is one cubit and seven fingers".

In contrast, our universe is called Endurance, because everyone here has to put up with so much.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

EP 033 Shava Nerad Returns to Talk Politics

Public Service Announcement: This week, the Senate released their version of the AHCA, which would cause 25 million people to lose their health insurance. Access to individual health insurance markets enables entrepreneurs, among others, to take the risk of leaving full time jobs with large corporations to build companies of their own. Without full funding for Medicaid, the cost of delivering healthcare to everyone rises. Please contact your Senators and representatives to tell them your position on this important issue.

Today on the podcast, Shava Nerad returns to talk about the ins and outs of political activism in the 21st century, how to make an impact as a technologically savvy organizer, and what you need to learn to be an effective citizen. Previously, Shava visited us to talk about her career as the founding Executive Director of the Tor Project and privacy activist.

Download from iTunes

Enjoy this episode, and want me to keep making more?
Subscribe, rate and review it on iTunes.

Want to hear more like it?
Pair with Shava Nerad's first interview here, where she talks about a career in tech and activism.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Links for Later 6-14-17

  1. Using topology to describe "11 dimensional structures" in the brain. Not as exciting as it sounds--they are not physical dimensions, but mathematical ones.
  2. Library porn I: touring the libraries of Italy.
  3. Library porn II: Thibaud Poirier's photographs of empty libraries
  4. Mass shooting occurs at GOP baseball practice. Majority Whip Steve Scalise shot.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bruno Borges

A 24 year old Brazilian man named Bruno Borges disappeared on March 27th, leaving behind a room covered in elaborate art and containing a life-sized statue of Giordano Bruno and fourteen numbered notebooks. The name Bruno Borges is a little on the nose, as my friend Ted Hand puts it, since it's a combination of Giordano Bruno, whose statue appears in the room, and Jorge Luis Borges, author of numerous labyrinths and literary games. The whole thing feels like a Borges story, anyway.

Bruno Borges story on reddit.
Daily Mail article on Borges.
El Globo's story on Borges.

An update on the Bruno Borges disappearance, connecting it to Cicada #3301, can be found here.

I have no idea what to make of it all. It's awfully neat handwriting for someone who's experiencing mental problems, which suggests that it's an art project or part of the Cicada scavenger hunt.

Update: It may all have been part of a book marketing scheme.
It seems that the season of the "Boy from Acre" case, Bruno Borges, mysteriously disappeared on March 27, is coming to an end. The Civil Police made two operations at the home of two friends of Bruno and found, among other things, two contracts signed giving friends part of the income from the sale of the 14 books he left in his room, along with scrawled walls and the statue of 2 meters. Bruno's cousin, Eduardo Borges, could also be involved in the case.

One of Bruno's friends, Marcelo Ferreira, was arrested, reports the G1 , for omitting information about the case, which would constitute false testimony. In the house of another friend, Mario Gaiote, the bed and the rack of Bruno's room were found, set aside for the setting of the scene found after his disappearance. Both Marcelo and Mario had signed contracts at home to distribute the proceeds of the sale of the books, drawn up in a notary's office on the very day Bruno disappeared.

"On the day Bruno left, he went to the notary's office and recorded the contract. So, for us, it is very conclusive that it was not a disappearance whatsoever, it was in fact a conscious plan of remoteness, and the contract shows that there is a deadline for disclosure of these books, deadline for publication, percentage allocation for those who helped him, in the case , These three people who helped him right away. For us, this is very clear, "said Alcino Júnior, the delegate of the case, to the G1 .

Update 6/11/17: More from the police investigation here.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

EP 032 Frederick Schilling

Frederick Schilling loves chocolate. He is the founder of Dagoba Chocolate, AMMA Chocolate and Big Tree Farms. He's made a career out of launching products that are not only delicious and luxurious, but also environmentally and socially responsible. When he founded Dagoba, he launched the organic chocolate category. When he founded Big Tree Farms and AMMA Chocolate, he changed the lives of farmers on two continents.

Today, we talk about:
  • How he got interested in chocolate while a religion major at Ohio Wesleyan University.
  • His first big breaks in product development, distribution, suppliers and media.
  • Why cash and people are the scarce resources needed by any founder.
  • Visionary experiences with the chocolate goddess. (The plants have an agenda, as Michael Pollan and Gordon White like to say.)
  • Terroir of chocolate. Subtypes of cacao plants. 
  • Impact of witch's broom disease on the chocolate industry in Brazil. (see also the phylloxera pandemic that hit the wine industry)
  • Breeds of cacao trees: Criollo, Forestro, Trinitario.
  • How cacao spread with colonization.
  • Coconut nectar/coconut sugar.
  • How coconut sugar improves the lives of coconut farmers.
  • Fair trade and organic designations as an essential business advantage.