The Talk Show

285: ‘Fahrenheit Truthers’ With Ben Thompson


00:00:00   You ever have that thing, I sent you that link

00:00:02   to the Tom Hanks story, or the Tom Hanks movie

00:00:05   being on Apple TV Plus, and about three minutes

00:00:08   after I sent it to you, my computer sounded

00:00:10   like a freaking jet engine was taking off.

00:00:12   It's so annoying.

00:00:13   You have these web pages that, it's always,

00:00:15   and it's like whack-a-mole.

00:00:16   Like most web pages are fine, and then when it comes along,

00:00:19   your computer just blows up.

00:00:20   - It's not even browser specific.

00:00:24   It's, I got my Safari, we could talk about it,

00:00:27   but I mean, you know, I'm a Safari diehard.

00:00:29   I really like Safari, I prefer it for a number of reasons.

00:00:34   But even in that regard, and even running

00:00:37   like the content blocker, which I've sort of

00:00:42   switched between, which I think blocks

00:00:44   a lot of the most obnoxious ads,

00:00:45   and I kind of like to keep mine.

00:00:47   I don't want to block all ads, I'm not like a diehard on it.

00:00:50   I'd be a hypocrite if I were in some ways.

00:00:52   But even with that, every once in a while,

00:00:55   my fans are roaring, and I look,

00:00:58   and I can tell it Safari from activity monitor,

00:01:01   but activity monitor won't tell you which tab in Safari.

00:01:05   - Yep.

00:01:06   - And I can just, and I have Safari set

00:01:08   so that if I quit and relaunch,

00:01:11   it opens all the tabs I already had open.

00:01:13   And I can quit and relaunch,

00:01:15   and it'll go from 100% CPU usage to whatever normal is,

00:01:20   even with dozens and dozens of tabs open.

00:01:22   And there's no way to tell what the hell it was that did it.

00:01:25   - Sometimes it's pretty clear, though.

00:01:27   That article, that page was definitely the culprit.

00:01:31   - What was it, Deadline Hollywood, I think?

00:01:34   - Yeah, something like that.

00:01:35   - Yeah, so sometimes you can just kind of take a look

00:01:38   at a page and just sort of get a sense of this.

00:01:42   This is not gonna be good for my browser.

00:01:44   Did you see that there's so much news.

00:01:47   We were talking about it on, what's the other show called?

00:01:50   - Dithering. - Dithering, that's it.

00:01:53   We were talking about it on Dithering,

00:01:54   that we've been inundated, bombarded with news,

00:01:58   to the point where I don't even remember

00:01:59   the name of the other show.

00:02:00   But one of the other bits of news this week

00:02:04   was that the Chrome team announced

00:02:06   that they're gonna start process reaping obnoxious ad tech.

00:02:11   And it's an interesting dilemma for them.

00:02:18   - Right, they're gonna process reap their competitors

00:02:21   is basically another way to put it.

00:02:23   - Yeah, because basically it's like,

00:02:24   and they've made some definitions

00:02:27   and I think that by anybody's reasonable perspective,

00:02:31   it's, you know, they're erring on the side

00:02:38   of reaping too few ads.

00:02:40   I think that there are ads that would go within

00:02:43   their limits for how much, I think they're talking about

00:02:46   like CPU usage and overall download.

00:02:49   There are apps that fit within their limits

00:02:52   that I think it's like, well, why in the world

00:02:54   would you need it, would a single ad need, you know,

00:02:56   three megabytes before it even starts like playing video

00:02:59   or something like that, like that's a lot.

00:03:02   You know, in the process, CPU stuff.

00:03:05   But basically, the cynical take is, hmm,

00:03:07   which ads qualify the ones that aren't served by Google?

00:03:10   - Right.

00:03:13   Well, I mean, it's, I mean, yeah, it's like,

00:03:16   it's one of those things where in theoretical world,

00:03:19   It's extremely problematic in real life world

00:03:23   where I have this very big computer

00:03:27   that should have very capable

00:03:30   and takes off like a jet engine

00:03:31   because I loaded a webpage.

00:03:33   It's definitely necessary.

00:03:34   So it's kind of goes, kind of stuck in the middle there.

00:03:39   - They're calling them resource heavy ads.

00:03:41   I don't know if I quote, I'm looking at my own posts here.

00:03:45   I guess I didn't quote their limits.

00:03:46   But anyway, I hope Safari and WebKit get involved in this.

00:03:51   I would love to see one of the changes to WebKit on the Mac

00:03:54   be some kind of way to more accurately pinpoint

00:03:59   obnoxious web pages so that you could see it.

00:04:02   And I also feel that WebKit should be more aggressive

00:04:05   about severely limiting the resource consumption

00:04:10   of background tabs.

00:04:12   If it's not the frontmost tab in the frontmost window,

00:04:16   it really should not just should be by by it should be enforced that it could only use

00:04:23   a minimal amount of CPU in the background.

00:04:25   Yeah, it's interesting because that also gets in sort of this fuzzy space where in

00:04:31   real world application, yes, that's definitely necessary because you have to go hunting for

00:04:34   a tab and I think you and I are both sort of tab hoarders. I actually only have 44 right

00:04:42   now which is shockingly low but it's 44 because I just had to find the growth tab that was

00:04:49   spitting up my computer again. That's what prompted this discussion. So I just killed

00:04:53   a whole bunch of them. It was definitely well over 100 before. So on one hand, yes, it's

00:04:58   necessary. On the other hand, it gets back into the whole like, well, that's kind of

00:05:02   like what iOS does. iOS is very strict on sort of background processes and I don't

00:05:07   know the specifics of Safari on iOS but I would imagine it's the same thing, that

00:05:10   that background tabs in Safari and iOS are basically dead,

00:05:15   I would guess.

00:05:15   - Yeah.

00:05:16   - But that gets into the whole, like,

00:05:18   well that's great for iOS,

00:05:20   but that's all the stuff I don't want on the Mac.

00:05:22   I want full background processing.

00:05:24   I want to be able to do all this sorts of stuff.

00:05:26   So if it was an option, I think that would be better.

00:05:28   Like, and honestly, that's the solution, I think,

00:05:31   for a lot of these tensions,

00:05:33   is there needs to be more options

00:05:35   and less sort of this way or the highway,

00:05:37   on the Mac specifically.

00:05:39   'Cause you gotta, you know it's the old,

00:05:42   I recite this article every time I come on the podcast.

00:05:44   You're old, the Mac lets the iOS be what it is

00:05:47   because the Mac can do everything, right?

00:05:48   And you start walking on the Mac, it's like,

00:05:50   well, what's the release valve?

00:05:53   What's the pressure valve here?

00:05:54   - That was the worst, that was the worst paraphrasing

00:05:56   of that you've ever done.

00:05:58   And you have brought it up every time.

00:06:00   And I usually have the worst memory,

00:06:03   but because it was a good line that I wrote a long time ago,

00:06:06   I have it more or less, I forget if I called it iOS or not,

00:06:08   but I think my paraphrasing of the phrase was,

00:06:12   it would be the heaviness of the Mac

00:06:14   is what allows the iPhone to remain light,

00:06:18   but maybe it was iOS to remain light.

00:06:20   I forget, I might have even written it

00:06:22   when the iPad wasn't even out yet.

00:06:25   I think it was probably more like 2012 or so.

00:06:27   But yeah, I still think that that holds true,

00:06:30   and I still think that that's an interesting,

00:06:33   it certainly, I think, is true inside Apple

00:06:35   in terms of the whole ongoing debate of,

00:06:39   it's the iPad that's in dispute, right?

00:06:44   Like nobody's really arguing that the iPhone

00:06:48   needs to do more stuff that the Mac does

00:06:51   or that the Mac needs to be more like the iPhone, right?

00:06:55   It's the iPad in the middle that is sort of,

00:06:57   hey, this is better than that, this is good for work,

00:07:00   you can't do work, all these debates,

00:07:02   it's all about the iPad.

00:07:04   - I don't know, I don't really care about the iPad.

00:07:09   Just to make sure, I mean, I care to a degree,

00:07:12   but just make sure the Mac can keep doing everything

00:07:16   that it can do already.

00:07:17   - Right, but it is still true,

00:07:18   even though it's not in dispute about the iPhone,

00:07:20   the heaviness of the Mac,

00:07:22   and like one of the things that's heavy on the Mac

00:07:24   is that it has this whole Unix layer

00:07:27   where you can just run old, you know,

00:07:29   now I say old, but I realized, you know,

00:07:32   I'm sure, 100% sure, that there are dozens of people

00:07:36   listening to me and you talk right now in May 2020

00:07:40   on this show who today edited shell scripts on their Mac.

00:07:45   So I say old only in terms of the fact

00:07:49   that writing Unix-style shell scripts

00:07:51   is a long-standing thing,

00:07:54   not that it's outdated or irrelevant,

00:07:56   but it's a big part of the build script phase of Xcode

00:08:01   phase of Xcode where you can do custom things and you when you build and run your app in Xcode,

00:08:06   it can call out to a shell script that might do something custom to your organization.

00:08:10   It's just the whole idea, like one of the very heavy things is what I'm getting at that the Mac

00:08:19   does to allow iOS to remain light is if you want to write an iOS app, you do it on a Mac. So,

00:08:25   the iPhone doesn't have to worry about things like, well, how in the world are we going to

00:08:29   to let developers write iPhone apps on the iPhone.

00:08:32   They don't even have to worry about it

00:08:34   because they just say you have to use a Mac to do it.

00:08:37   - This is a good example why, on one hand,

00:08:41   me being on the talk show is a useful sort of guide

00:08:46   to dithering, on the other hand, it's also a terrible guide

00:08:49   'cause we are now eight minutes and 30 seconds in

00:08:52   or nine minutes in and are not even remotely close

00:08:55   to getting to whatever point we may have gotten to.

00:08:57   We've already got on a Mac, iPad, shell script digression.

00:09:00   - That wasn't even part of the news I'm talking about.

00:09:02   So let's move on.

00:09:03   (laughing)

00:09:04   - Well, no, it's funny because we've been doing

00:09:07   a little bit of a gig on Dithering,

00:09:09   where people are like alternate titles for the show,

00:09:11   and one of the alternate titles was a brief digression.

00:09:15   And it's funny because we've actually gotten very good

00:09:17   at making them brief digressions,

00:09:19   whereas the subtitle for the talk show

00:09:21   is an extended digression.

00:09:23   - We have. (laughing)

00:09:26   we could talk about it, but I try,

00:09:27   when I do digress while we're doing dithering,

00:09:29   I try to, in the back of my head,

00:09:31   and I know that I've gone over

00:09:33   because I actually can't hold my breath that long,

00:09:35   but I think to myself, see if you can do it in one breath.

00:09:38   - Yep.

00:09:39   - Because then it might actually be somewhat short.

00:09:42   Here, let me just interrupt right now,

00:09:45   and then we'll start, we'll pretend like we're starting

00:09:47   an episode of dithering, but let me just start right now,

00:09:49   early on, with the first thank you to a sponsor,

00:09:53   it's our good friends at Linode.

00:09:55   I used to call them Linode,

00:09:56   'cause that's what it looks like to me, L-I-N-O-D-E,

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00:10:04   and they host Linux, which is pronounced Lin.

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00:10:16   But you won't pronounce it wrong

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00:11:15   And here's one that I know, I started mentioning this

00:11:18   on their sponsorships here a while ago,

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00:11:24   in the parental age bracket that I am,

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00:11:31   What a great idea.

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00:12:52   There you go, that's 15 minutes right there.

00:12:57   - So we record, we've been recording using Zencastr,

00:13:00   like a web app instead of the traditional Skype.

00:13:03   - I wanted to mention this, because that's the sort of thing

00:13:06   that you can't really do on an iPad.

00:13:10   - Maybe you can, I don't know if you can or not,

00:13:15   But the point is, is during your ad reads, I didn't have a nice little, because it's

00:13:20   all self-contained, it's both the way we're communicating and it's the recording, and

00:13:25   there's a nice little mute button on there that I can click.

00:13:28   But as here, because we're using Skype to talk to each other, and then I'm recording

00:13:32   directly into Audio Hijack, I would either, I have to use the hardware mute switch, which

00:13:37   I also have.

00:13:38   But it's a, it was striking that actually I kind of missed my little, my little button

00:13:43   in my web app that seems flaky as I'll get out, but it seems to be mostly working.

00:13:48   Zencastr is an interesting thing. I even love the way they spell it. It's zen, c-a-s-t-r,

00:13:56   and that whole just take a vowel thing out. I don't know what happened to that fad. That fad

00:14:01   went away. I thought it was pretty clever as a fad because it seemed like an interesting way to get a

00:14:08   pronounceable word that gave you a brand but also gave you something that wasn't in the dictionary,

00:14:13   so it would be more easily searchable and copyrightable and trademarkable, I guess is

00:14:21   the better term, not copyright.

00:14:24   It works really well with R, too, and that E-R, sort of like, it's like something that

00:14:28   does an action, is a great sort of general thing to get a name for something.

00:14:32   Yeah, I don't know if Flickr was first, probably not first, but if Flickr is the one that,

00:14:37   in terms of like, you know, being like 15 years ago, but maybe more, just seemed, is

00:14:42   the one that really seemed to make it a thing.

00:14:45   - Yeah, 16 years. (laughs)

00:14:50   - Pretty close, pretty close.

00:14:52   Boy, that feels like a long time ago.

00:14:53   - What feels longer ago, Flickr being founded

00:14:57   or Microsoft's Build keynote yesterday?

00:14:59   - It all blurs together.

00:15:02   It really does.

00:15:03   Yesterday's news feels like it was months ago.

00:15:06   I honestly-- - Or the NBA

00:15:09   canceling its season.

00:15:10   it just all blurs together.

00:15:13   It's so weird.

00:15:14   I was just talking to my wife today.

00:15:17   And again, I know a lot of people are experiencing this

00:15:20   and this sort of blurring together

00:15:23   of what should be fresh news

00:15:26   and what is like three-month-old news.

00:15:28   But we were just talking about the president

00:15:32   of the United States says he's taking hydroxychloroquine.

00:15:35   And I spoke about it as though it was like two weeks ago.

00:15:39   And she was like, "That was two days ago."

00:15:40   I was like, "Whoa."

00:15:41   (laughs)

00:15:43   Really?

00:15:44   I thought that was a huge issue,

00:15:45   because it is a huge deal, it's all over everything.

00:15:47   And I was like, "But it's gone now."

00:15:50   And she goes, "Well, it is two days old."

00:15:52   - Yeah, I mean, time was already kind of getting,

00:15:56   this has been happening on the internet for a long time,

00:15:58   where time has been compressing, right?

00:16:00   And you've seen this in Apple's embargo times or dates.

00:16:04   They've experimented different times of day.

00:16:08   Do you want to hit the morning news cycle?

00:16:10   Do you want to hit the evening news cycle?

00:16:12   Because it's like you get one or the other,

00:16:15   because once a half day is gone,

00:16:17   like the world has moved on.

00:16:18   So this compression has been happening.

00:16:20   But now during the pandemic,

00:16:24   that compression is combined with the complete lack

00:16:27   of exterior markers of time, right?

00:16:30   So there's like, what's the weekend?

00:16:32   What's the workday?

00:16:33   It kind of is all flowing together.

00:16:35   And so I think it just,

00:16:36   it's making it even more sort of disconcerting

00:16:39   in knowing what's going on.

00:16:40   Like I just got a note, you know,

00:16:41   oh I need to make a mention in my daily update today

00:16:44   that there's gonna be no daily update on Monday

00:16:45   'cause it's Memorial Day.

00:16:47   It's like Memorial Day, what?

00:16:49   Like how is it that it doesn't even seem possible

00:16:53   that it's Memorial Day?

00:16:54   - You know, we were talking about that,

00:16:56   my wife and I were talking about that,

00:16:57   and I do think it is the case, I think,

00:17:01   it's one of those holidays where I don't know

00:17:03   the exact algorithm for how you figure out

00:17:06   what day of the year is Memorial Day.

00:17:10   But this year, it's May 25th.

00:17:12   And I think, just looking at the calendar,

00:17:16   'cause that's Monday, that's this coming Monday,

00:17:19   the next Monday is June 1st.

00:17:22   So I think that it's literally of the seven days

00:17:25   of May that could be Memorial Day,

00:17:29   that May 25th is the earliest possible one.

00:17:32   And I just feel like of all years for that to happen,

00:17:35   this is the worst because it just,

00:17:37   it just seems the most discombobulating.

00:17:40   It just seems like we just got done making jokes

00:17:43   about April being over in a snap of the finger.

00:17:46   It's like how in the world are we talking about,

00:17:49   what are we doing for Memorial Day?

00:17:52   - Right, it's like the 27th or the 28th,

00:17:54   like oh yeah, we have a holiday at the end of May, don't we?

00:17:56   But now it's like today is May 21st.

00:17:58   It's like that hasn't even, it didn't even,

00:18:01   actually know it's funny because what this morning I look at my desk like my

00:18:05   desk needs a cleaning I need to like put stuff we know just kind of accumulates

00:18:09   over time and and and I always like to do these cleanings on holidays because

00:18:14   you know kids are in school you know I'm fortunate in that regard but the kids

00:18:18   are in school I have time I don't need to write something so this is a day to

00:18:22   go through and like you know really really get stuff cleaned up I'm like oh

00:18:25   yeah I should do that Memorial Day I was a few I didn't I didn't think that it

00:18:28   it was next week.

00:18:30   In my head, it was like two or three weeks away.

00:18:32   I just need to make it through the next two or three weeks

00:18:33   and I can get this whole mess cleaned up.

00:18:35   But boom, it's actually this Monday, who knew?

00:18:38   - It's also, it's just a conflation of a bunch of factors.

00:18:43   I don't even know, what's the average daily temperature

00:18:48   these days in Taipei?

00:18:51   - Oh, it's toasty.

00:18:52   Oh shoot, I'm gonna say Celsius.

00:18:55   I'm gonna get you all upset.

00:18:57   It's actually relatively cool this week.

00:18:58   It's in the 80s, low 80s this week,

00:19:01   or maybe 70s to 80s, but very soon it will be in the 90s.

00:19:04   But no, I'm looking at today's high is 27,

00:19:07   which is about 80 degrees Celsius.

00:19:09   - It's been a very cold May in the US,

00:19:15   at least parts of the US that I follow,

00:19:17   and certainly where I live,

00:19:19   or at least everywhere I've been this month.

00:19:22   - Which is where you live.

00:19:24   - Which is where I live.

00:19:26   But I think that--

00:19:27   - In my extensive travel up and down the block.

00:19:30   - I think that that makes it,

00:19:31   it really makes it even more ridiculous

00:19:33   that it's Memorial Day in five days

00:19:37   because it's like I've only worn shorts on like two days.

00:19:40   And I'm, you know, I'm not like an aggressive

00:19:43   get the shorts out while it's still cold,

00:19:45   but you know, I'm on the leading edge

00:19:49   of switching from jeans to shorts.

00:19:52   And I've only worn shorts like two days.

00:19:54   Although I'm wearing shorts today,

00:19:55   even though it was only 60 degrees,

00:19:58   you'll never guess why.

00:20:00   - You were moving charcoal?

00:20:01   - Oh, I bet. (laughs)

00:20:04   My belt broke.

00:20:05   And none of my jeans really stay up without a belt.

00:20:10   I don't think I buy the wrong size jeans.

00:20:15   I just, I don't really,

00:20:17   it runs on my dad's side of the family.

00:20:20   We don't really have much in the way of hips.

00:20:22   So, you know, pants just tend to slide right down.

00:20:25   So I've always been a belt wearer,

00:20:27   but now I don't, you know, my belt's half broken.

00:20:29   It's sort of like, and so I just put shorts on

00:20:32   instead of making do with a broken belt.

00:20:34   - Have you ever considered a shift to suspenders?

00:20:37   - With my jeans?

00:20:38   No, I have not.

00:20:40   But see, here's the thing.

00:20:41   It's a broken belt, and this is the thing.

00:20:43   I only own one belt, and it's lasted me for years.

00:20:47   I don't remember the last time I had to replace it,

00:20:49   And I am clearly in dad clothes territory

00:20:54   where I, obviously, a lot of my shirts and jeans and et cetera

00:21:00   are a lot older than I probably would guess that they are.

00:21:04   I don't remember when I bought this belt.

00:21:05   It served me well.

00:21:07   But what I would do if it weren't quarantine

00:21:11   is I would have just gone out yesterday

00:21:14   and just gone from store to store

00:21:17   in Center City, Philadelphia,

00:21:18   until I found an acceptable belt to my eyes,

00:21:21   and then I'd have a belt.

00:21:23   And it would have been probably,

00:21:25   you know, you can't predict,

00:21:26   'cause who knows, maybe the first store

00:21:27   I would have popped into,

00:21:28   maybe they wouldn't have had a belt,

00:21:30   or maybe they wouldn't have had one,

00:21:32   you know, in my size.

00:21:33   Could happen.

00:21:34   But I would guess within 90 minutes,

00:21:37   I could leave my house,

00:21:39   and then I would be in possession of a new belt.

00:21:41   But now, in quarantine time,

00:21:43   you have to order it,

00:21:44   and, you know, it takes a long time.

00:21:47   Now I don't have a belt. - See, it's amazing.

00:21:48   It's amazing allegory for the entire system.

00:21:51   You were utilizing just-in-time apparel purchases

00:21:56   where no need for you to carry inventory.

00:21:59   You have what you need.

00:22:01   If it breaks, you can tap right into the supply chain

00:22:05   and it's there.

00:22:06   But now it turns out you had no slack in the system,

00:22:11   as it were, and you're in trouble.

00:22:14   - So I've got shorts on and my legs are cold.

00:22:16   (laughing)

00:22:18   So we can actually let this go,

00:22:19   speaking of a brief digression.

00:22:21   So you grew up in Wisconsin.

00:22:24   When did you move to Asia?

00:22:28   How old were you?

00:22:29   - I was 23, in 2003.

00:22:33   So I have a--

00:22:34   - How long did it take you to get used in your head

00:22:37   to Celsius as the, 'cause everybody,

00:22:42   I mean, any long-time listeners know,

00:22:44   this is a hoppy horse of mine.

00:22:46   Yeah, I like, I'm actually on board with the Fahrenheit is more human legible and usable,

00:22:53   so I actually agree with you. I'm not going to give you a fight on it. But I do use Celsius here

00:22:58   just because everyone else uses Celsius. So, if you're, usually if you're talking about the

00:23:02   weather, you're talking about the weather with people here. I don't know, it didn't take too

00:23:07   long. The thing that always stuck in my head is that 28 degrees in Celsius is 82 degrees in

00:23:12   in Fahrenheit, and then it's like 1.9 degrees around that. And given that it's generally

00:23:18   warm here, you can—that was enough of a "I could get close enough in my head"

00:23:23   until over time you just kind of get used to it and you know how something feels.

00:23:27   But it's funny because a couple years ago I moved up to the sort of more traditional

00:23:32   foreigner neighborhood in Taiwan. My kids go to the American school here and it's

00:23:38   be closer to that. And, you know, it's funny, the folks up here, or especially the foreigners,

00:23:43   are also—I'm friends with several Fahrenheit diehards. So, I've been stuck in this weird

00:23:49   middle ground where I fully adapted to Celsius. I went native, as it were. And now I'm being

00:23:56   faced with Fahrenheit truthers on a regular day-to-day basis, and it's a little disorienting.

00:24:01   But you're, you know, because of your—it's like being bilingual. It's very similar,

00:24:06   but you can hear either one and you kind of have a good idea. Like if somebody says, "Oh

00:24:14   my God, it's 61 degrees," and you know that it's Memorial Day, you realize that's

00:24:21   pretty chilly for Fahrenheit for Memorial Day weekend, 61 degrees.

00:24:26   That's right, and I think this is maybe the case with Pinnacle is also like when other

00:24:30   people say it, I'm fine to absorb it, but it's when they want me to produce it where

00:24:35   and I'm like locked into one way of thinking, right? So I'm thinking about it or I look

00:24:39   it up my phone and I go, "Oh, that's the temperature is like, oh, how's it feel today?"

00:24:43   And I'm like, you know, or what's the temperature? And then I want to help them and translate

00:24:48   and that's when it gets trickier. But if they say, "Oh, yeah, it's going to be

00:24:50   the 70s." Then yeah, I still have the sort of latent knowledge of what I usually go back

00:24:55   to the U.S. every year, so I'm used to switching back and forth. But yeah, it's interesting.

00:25:00   I've never thought about the particulars of switching back and forth between temperature

00:25:04   systems, but it does happen. I don't think I would ever be able to get used to it. I guess

00:25:09   it's probably a lot of all the other problems I might have moving to another country, especially

00:25:15   if it spoke a different language. I'd probably adjust sooner to the Celsius, but I never—I don't

00:25:23   I don't know, it doesn't make any sense to me.

00:25:24   I've told this story before, but it's still my favorite.

00:25:27   And I'm not a radical on the issue,

00:25:30   I just staunchly believe that Fahrenheit

00:25:33   is a better scale for weather,

00:25:37   because it's based on the human condition,

00:25:39   not who gives a crap what the boiling point of water is.

00:25:42   It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life,

00:25:44   that that's 100-- - Well, the other problem

00:25:45   is Celsius is not precise enough, right?

00:25:47   So in the car, it adjusts it by .5,

00:25:52   because a single cell, it's too much for a car.

00:25:55   So yeah, it's a, for it was Fahrenheit,

00:25:57   it's more finely grained in a positive way.

00:26:01   - Right, well, we were talking about this, this was,

00:26:03   and as this, as we learned more about the COVID-19,

00:26:08   we realized that fever is still a very common symptom,

00:26:11   but it is an absolute, there's plenty of people

00:26:14   who wind up terribly ill who never have a fever,

00:26:17   so it doesn't really prove anything.

00:26:20   But in the early days, they were like,

00:26:23   it was a lot of make sure you don't have a fever.

00:26:27   And even now, I think you say that

00:26:31   you guys go out to eat, you get a temperature check.

00:26:34   And I know that that's a worldwide thing at airports

00:26:37   as the airports prepare for the return

00:26:39   to some semblance of normalcy with travel,

00:26:42   that passengers will be given temperature checks.

00:26:45   Anybody has a raging fever, let's get 'em out of the queue.

00:26:50   But I don't understand how you do it here.

00:26:54   You get two degrees high, hey, you might have a fever.

00:26:58   You know, in Celsius, it's like a tenth of a degree off

00:27:02   and you got a fever?

00:27:03   I mean, it's crazy.

00:27:05   - It is funny, 'cause that's one I've had a harder time,

00:27:08   but it's weird because I think because I paid

00:27:12   much more attention to fever temperatures

00:27:14   once I had kids than before,

00:27:16   and so it's super locked into my head,

00:27:18   Celsius numbers that are relevant for fevers. And I actually have a hard time with Fahrenheit,

00:27:23   where something like, oh, it was like 103 temperature. I'm like, what does that mean?

00:27:26   Is that bad? It sounds pretty bad.

00:27:26   Oh, that's really bad. That's like go get it.

00:27:28   Or 101, really.

00:27:29   Yeah, that's like go pour ice into the tub and, you know, I mean, you gotta, you know,

00:27:33   you're in big trouble. 100, no, it's nice 'cause 100, 100 means you probably have a fever.

00:27:38   Right, so, but like 100, yeah, 100 is, so 100 is 38.3 degrees Celsius.

00:27:44   Oh, that's-

00:27:45   But in Celsius, it's 37. So 37 is 98.6 Fahrenheit. Well, I mean, 98, what is it? 98.4?

00:27:53   What is the Fahrenheit normal?

00:27:54   Well, see, that's the thing. I just linked to this. For over 100 years, it was considered 98.6.

00:28:00   And 98.6 was considered normal. And now they're saying, experts are saying,

00:28:05   the average healthy human temperature is actually lower than 98.6. But they don't tell you what it

00:28:11   is. They're not saying it's 98.2. They're just like, "Oh, it's not 98.6." And the reason we've

00:28:17   said 98.6 for 100 years was that there was some guy like in the 1890s who like went around and

00:28:24   did the hard work of taking the temperature like 5,000 people and figured out the average is 98.6.

00:28:29   But the consensus now is that everybody back then was actually sick all the time because—

00:28:34   Ben de la Torre

00:28:35   Right. But this is an example where the Celsius one is easier. 37 is normal and 38 is a fever.

00:28:39   Like, you don't have to get—there's no decimal points necessary. So maybe just by sort of,

00:28:44   by luck, in happenstance, it happens to be round numbers. But, yeah.

00:28:49   Yeah, but 100 sounds dangerous, you know what I mean? That's the thing. See, that's the thing

00:28:53   that I love about Fahrenheit and arguing with people about it is that the beauty of the metric

00:28:58   system is this idea that, you know, it's based on, you know, that hundreds and thousands and

00:29:04   and powers of 10 are useful scales, and it makes all the math work out easier. And it's

00:29:13   crazy. And I'm trying to shift. I'm doing a lot more on Daring Fireball with weights

00:29:19   using—with length, I'm a little bit less consistent. But certainly with weight, I appreciate

00:29:26   grams versus ounces, because the ounces to pounds thing is just—

00:29:30   It's insanity.

00:29:31   It's insanity.

00:29:32   It's just…

00:29:33   Well, no, but inches to feet are, too.

00:29:35   Like anything that's not…

00:29:36   Yeah.

00:29:37   I mean, but that's the thing is, the temperature…

00:29:39   Celsius is a total bullshit metric, right?

00:29:42   If you want to be… if you want to say you're quote-unquote "scientific," you should

00:29:45   be using Kelvin, because that actually has a root in reality, which is at zero, nothing's

00:29:51   moving.

00:29:52   No, but I'm saying Celsius is a totally arbitrary…

00:29:54   Right, right, right.

00:29:55   I'm with you.

00:29:56   Right.

00:29:57   Right.

00:29:58   So, I'm with you.

00:29:59   for humans, actually the most human-friendly set of measurements is basically metric for

00:30:05   everything and Fahrenheit for temperature. So I'm there with you.

00:30:08   Somebody—I was on a Twitter fight with somebody, and it's actually one of the best and funnest

00:30:13   things to argue about on Twitter because there are people who feel very strongly on both

00:30:18   sides. There are some diehard Celsius people, and there's me who's very staunchly Fahrenheit,

00:30:24   but yet not so much so that if I were to travel to another country that I would insist on,

00:30:28   you know, the hotel concierge telling me the temperature of Fahrenheit. You know, when in Rome

00:30:33   do as the Romans. But it never gets ugly. It is a very fun dispute that's, you know, famous last

00:30:40   words. God, somebody's probably going to get furious at me now, but it's very fun. But somebody

00:30:45   suggested, and I have to, you know, it's too late now, we can't even pick between these two, but if

00:30:49   you could go back and pick the ideal scale, you'd keep zero at Celsius zero, which is where water

00:30:56   freezes and keep 100 at Fahrenheit's 100. So Fahrenheit's 100 would still be 100 and

00:31:07   zero would be what we now call 32 degrees Fahrenheit because freezing--

00:31:10   No, I don't like that because the problem is negative numbers are weird, right? Like,

00:31:14   I like it if you get to negative numbers-- Yeah, you'd be negative all the time, right?

00:31:17   Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whereas, I'm from Wisconsin where, you know, where I like Fahrenheit. I

00:31:21   think actually it's on the bottom of the scale. It's in the bottom and the top where it makes

00:31:25   the most sense, the middle gets fuzzy.

00:31:26   Like if you're, in 90s it's really hot,

00:31:29   and the single digits is really cold,

00:31:32   and if it's a negative digits, it's like, you know,

00:31:34   (laughs)

00:31:35   like, it's, or if it's over 100 or less than zero,

00:31:38   then it's like extreme, like it's potentially dangerous.

00:31:39   - It's dangerous, it's dangerous, you could die, yeah.

00:31:42   Like when you're watching a NFL football game

00:31:44   and they tell you that the Lambo is, you know,

00:31:46   negative 17 or something like that,

00:31:48   it's like, forget about it, you know what I mean?

00:31:49   Like, I don't even, I can't even understand

00:31:51   how they're doing this.

00:31:53   My favorite, here's my favorite story, I gotta tell this.

00:31:55   I know I've told it before,

00:31:56   but I don't think I've told it in years.

00:31:58   But, oh man, at some point,

00:32:02   10, 15 years ago, the Intercontinental San Francisco went up

00:32:08   and that's the hotel right next to Moscone.

00:32:10   Nice hotel, I've stayed there numerous times over the years,

00:32:14   always enjoyed it.

00:32:15   For whatever reason, when it first went up,

00:32:18   it had the most unbelievable hotel rates.

00:32:22   it didn't make any sense.

00:32:24   Like just booking through their site

00:32:26   was relatively inexpensive

00:32:27   compared to just downtown San Francisco.

00:32:29   Although, you know, this is talking like 2008,

00:32:31   2009, 2010 maybe.

00:32:34   Right now hotels, the average hotel room in San Francisco

00:32:36   pre-pandemic was like $5,000 a night or something.

00:32:39   The old days when they were reasonable.

00:32:44   But then you could go to like those bargain hunting sites,

00:32:46   you know, like Hotwire or something like that.

00:32:49   And they wouldn't tell you, you'd be like,

00:32:50   Well, I want to go to Moscone and they'd say here's some offers and they'd say this place is within 0.5

00:32:55   Miles of where you want to go, but then you could backwards engineer which one was which by like their amenities

00:33:01   well

00:33:01   this one says they have an indoor pool and a

00:33:04   Workout center and the only one that's within half a mile of this that has those two amenities is the inner continental

00:33:10   You know, you didn't have to do that work yourself

00:33:12   There were like forums you could go to and then they tell you you know

00:33:15   So then you can we there were a bunch of us a bunch of pals and we booked like a hotel for the week of

00:33:20   WWDC at the Intercontinental, which is like a four and a half star hotel. We got it for like, I don't know,

00:33:24   it was like $150 a night. It was ridiculous. And anybody who's gone to WWDC since they moved to San Jose is like, you know,

00:33:32   like laughing at this because you stay at like a one star hotel in San Jose and it's $500 a night.

00:33:39   And you're still in San Jose. Yeah, and you're still in San Jose. So anyway, it wasn't the first time

00:33:45   I don't think I was there, but maybe it was. Maybe it was the very first time I was at the Intercontinental

00:33:50   San Francisco. Very nice.

00:33:53   I check in, I get up to my room, and I go in, and it probably was the first time.

00:33:59   And one thing I always do when I get to a hotel is I check the temperature on

00:34:03   the thermostat because I like it nice and cool when I sleep at night.

00:34:06   And I go over, and it was in Celsius. And I thought, "Oh, I get I'm at the Intercontinental.

00:34:12   it's, you know, got an international flair,

00:34:16   they're gonna do it in Celsius.

00:34:17   And I thought, well, that's, you know, good enough.

00:34:19   And I thought, well, I'll give it a down.

00:34:21   I gave it like one down click, you know,

00:34:22   move it down a degree.

00:34:23   And I was like, hell, in Celsius,

00:34:24   I probably just moved it down, you know,

00:34:26   five degrees in real temperatures.

00:34:29   Go to dinner, go out with friends, have a couple drinks,

00:34:33   come back, you know, get a good night's sleep.

00:34:36   I wake up in the middle of the night and I got this sweat,

00:34:39   like you just wouldn't believe.

00:34:40   I mean, like, I'm in like a horror movie.

00:34:42   I mean, it's like, and I'm like, did I eat something bad?

00:34:44   What's going on?

00:34:45   I feel terrible.

00:34:46   And I gotta get some water, I drink, I get up,

00:34:51   and I'm like, I'm just hot.

00:34:52   I was like, oh my God, this is our first night.

00:34:54   I came out here.

00:34:55   I'm supposed to be here all week.

00:34:56   I don't know if it was Macworld or WWDC or what,

00:34:58   but I really thought that I was sick.

00:35:00   I thought best case I got food poisoning,

00:35:02   worst case I'm coming down with something, I got a fever.

00:35:06   And then I think, well, let me check the temperature.

00:35:07   And I thought, oh, it's Celsius.

00:35:09   I figured I'd like googled or used my phone or something to figure it out.

00:35:14   Well, son of a bitch, whatever it was in Celsius was like 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

00:35:21   And the heat was on in a room.

00:35:22   I mean, so like some son of a bitch.

00:35:25   No, no, what happened was the system was off and then you hit the button and that turned

00:35:31   it on, but you set it to 29, which would be 84 degrees, and then it kicked on the heat.

00:35:37   It was definitely in the 20s.

00:35:38   I don't remember what the number was, but it was in the 20s,

00:35:40   and I thought, well, that sounds pretty cool.

00:35:43   And I let it go.

00:35:45   No, but I came in and I hit down arrow.

00:35:48   So I should have only been able to move it down.

00:35:50   I think some son of a bitch,

00:35:52   like the way that like a prankster at a restaurant

00:35:55   might unscrew the top of a salt shaker,

00:35:58   and then you go to get the salt,

00:35:59   but because they unscrewed it,

00:36:01   now you dump the whole container of salt on your meal.

00:36:06   I personally never did that one.

00:36:08   I was a teenager, I mean, I don't see any humor

00:36:10   in that sort of prank at all.

00:36:13   I think some prankster cranked the heat up on the room

00:36:16   and set it to Celsius, 'cause then I went back

00:36:20   to the Intercontinental many times over the years,

00:36:22   never once, and I never got fooled by that again,

00:36:25   but it was never even in Celsius again.

00:36:27   So anyway, that may or may not have hardened my stance

00:36:33   on Fahrenheit versus Celsius.

00:36:34   (laughing)

00:36:35   - The root, the root of the issue.

00:36:37   (laughing)

00:36:38   Oh, this is such a leisurely conversation.

00:36:40   It's seriously kind of jarring.

00:36:41   (laughing)

00:36:42   - All right, well, let's dig in.

00:36:45   'Cause the one thing I know we wanna talk about

00:36:49   is we wanna talk about podcasts

00:36:50   'cause we have a new podcast

00:36:51   and we wanna talk about that.

00:36:53   But literally, who knows?

00:36:55   There might have been more news today even,

00:36:57   but as of yesterday,

00:36:58   there was big, big news in the podcast world.

00:37:01   And I don't think it's an exaggeration

00:37:04   because by anybody's metrics, you know,

00:37:07   Joe Rogan's show is the second most popular podcast

00:37:10   in the world and it's--

00:37:11   - It bounces back and forth between one and two.

00:37:13   So I think it's safe to say it's the most popular podcast

00:37:16   because he also has a massive YouTube presence

00:37:18   where it's like sort of simulcast.

00:37:20   So I think I would, I'd feel comfortable calling him

00:37:22   the biggest podcaster in the world.

00:37:23   - And the one that's currently ahead of him

00:37:26   is called Call Me Daddy, I think.

00:37:29   - Right, which is a big, going,

00:37:32   and the reason it's above him

00:37:33   is because there's a big controversy around it,

00:37:34   which is actually super duper interesting.

00:37:36   I was just, I was just, but no,

00:37:39   Rogan is usually number one.

00:37:41   That's just number one right now because of the controversy.

00:37:42   But although that's also a huge podcast,

00:37:44   usually in the top 20 or something like that.

00:37:46   - Right.

00:37:47   And anyway, so the big deal yesterday was that Joe Rogan,

00:37:51   perhaps the, arguably the most popular podcaster

00:37:55   on the planet, announced a deal with Spotify

00:37:59   to move his show, not just to Spotify,

00:38:01   but to move it there exclusively by the end of the year.

00:38:05   Meaning at some point in the next few months,

00:38:08   the show will move to Spotify,

00:38:10   but you can, you could still listen to it

00:38:14   wherever you're currently listening to it,

00:38:16   you know, using Overcast or Apple Podcasts or Castro

00:38:20   or any, I mean, I don't know how many podcast apps

00:38:23   there are, I mean, there's dozens and dozens of,

00:38:25   all of them, you know, to some degree, popular,

00:38:29   which is sort of the point of podcasting being an open,

00:38:33   an open medium, they'll still work,

00:38:36   but by the end of the year,

00:38:37   you're either using Spotify to listen to Joe Rogan

00:38:40   or you're not listening to Joe Rogan.

00:38:42   - That's right.

00:38:45   Yeah, and so this is different than what they've done

00:38:48   with acquiring The Ringer or acquiring Gimlet Media.

00:38:51   Those, both Gimlet and The Ringer have launched podcasts

00:38:55   that are Spotify exclusives,

00:38:57   But the big podcast that sort of already existed

00:39:00   on those services, you know, like the Bill Simmons podcast,

00:39:03   which I know we both listen to,

00:39:05   is still available sort of broadly.

00:39:07   I do think it does raise the question

00:39:09   how long that's going to last,

00:39:11   because the whole point of doing this exclusive is,

00:39:15   I mean, there's so many angles to this,

00:39:18   but my strong point of view is that Spotify

00:39:21   is looking to build sort of a advertising service

00:39:27   around podcasts that's about streaming

00:39:30   and dynamically giving you ads that are tailored to you,

00:39:33   as opposed to sort of your ads, the Linode ad,

00:39:36   everyone gets it.

00:39:38   There's some podcasts that do,

00:39:40   they insert ads on download that are based on IP,

00:39:42   but giving you an ad based on your IP address

00:39:45   is the barest possible sort of customization.

00:39:49   It doesn't know anything about you and your interests,

00:39:51   et cetera, et cetera, like a Facebook ad, for example.

00:39:53   And so Facebook, but for Spotify to do this

00:39:56   and to not sort of be paying out of the nose for every podcaster, they need to basically

00:40:02   show they can monetize podcasts better than you can on your own. But that means they need

00:40:06   to pull over more users under their platform. And so the play here is they have, you know,

00:40:12   20% share of the market or something along those lines. And can they, most of Spotify's

00:40:17   growth has been new users, right? Apple podcast hasn't necessarily lost listeners. Overhead

00:40:23   hasn't lost people to Spotify, is Spotify has brought new people into podcasting, which,

00:40:28   by the way, I think is worth noting because they are to date, and generally speaking,

00:40:34   have been a net contributor to the overall ecosystem. But now they're trying to not

00:40:38   just get new listeners, but to yank a bunch of listeners from the other podcast players.

00:40:43   Yeah, and I think it's worth, and it's not an original observation, but it's so

00:40:49   interesting that I think it's worth noting is that podcasts are the one area of the web that ad tech hasn't

00:40:57   Ruined and we you know, it's funny

00:40:59   I wasn't really planning it and a lot of that as often happens with this show

00:41:03   But it ties in to our opening where we were talking about ads wrecking a browser tab

00:41:08   It it really is the case that you know, like I think you just mentioned the punch the monkey ad right?

00:41:17   which "Famous" is sort of like the first banner ad that people remember from like the late 90s.

00:41:22   And people were annoyed by it because banner ads seemed dumb. It was like, "Punch the monkey and

00:41:29   you might win a prize." This is, I mean, if you're too young or your memory is too bad and you don't

00:41:33   remember it, there were these ads that were at the top of web pages that like hotwired.

00:41:37   It was literally "Punch the monkey."

00:41:39   Right. And...

00:41:41   Like, honestly, we're not obfuscating anything. That's what the ad was.

00:41:45   Right. And so the gimmick was it was a horizontal, like, think of like a little ruler going across

00:41:51   the top of the page, like maybe an inch high and four inches across. And there was a little

00:41:56   anime, a cartoon monkey who animated from one side to the other. And the idea was you'd click,

00:42:02   if you could, you could punch him, you'd, you know, your cursor would turn into a boxing glove.

00:42:07   And if you click right on the monkey's face, you'd, you might win a prize. And it was so

00:42:13   funny because as a web developer I was like I don't think that's possible and in like the late

00:42:17   90s I'd still think it actually wasn't you know certainly not without flash or something like that

00:42:22   it wasn't really possible with just javascript and animated gifs certainly the html didn't make

00:42:29   anything programmatic possible and then you'd like view source and look at it it was just an animated

00:42:34   gif and it was like you didn't have to actually punch the monkey you just had to click the ad

00:42:39   And it's like, "Oh, duh, that's the whole point, make you click the ad."

00:42:43   Because it didn't seem very hard. Very famous ad. And we all thought, "Oh, boy, ads on the web stink."

00:42:48   Little did we know that they would make our fans turn on eventually.

00:42:53   Well, so this is very interesting, though, because I actually have an example of this ad on an

00:43:00   article I wrote last year about Spotify and their sort of goals in podcasting. And the text of the

00:43:06   the ad is punch the monkey and win a free iPod. And the thing was, but no, they actually

00:43:11   weren't lies. You really could get free iPods and you like, you had to like sign up for

00:43:16   a few, like you would go to these pages and it would have lists of all these things you

00:43:20   had to do. You had to apply for several credit cards. You had to apply for a Netflix account.

00:43:24   This is an under appreciated and unknown thing about Netflix's growth. Netflix was all over

00:43:29   these affiliate marketing schemes. Like that's how they juiced a lot of their early growth,

00:43:33   particularly back in the DVD days.

00:43:35   There was like subscription video courses,

00:43:37   or you sign up, you download sort of stuff.

00:43:39   All these sorts of stuff.

00:43:41   And all these products had huge lifetime values.

00:43:45   Think about Netflix, right?

00:43:46   The idea for Netflix is you're paying them

00:43:48   X amount a month, basically forever.

00:43:50   And if they can get you signed up and into their system,

00:43:54   it's worth a lot.

00:43:56   It's worth so much that it actually became viable

00:43:59   to give people free iPods if they were willing

00:44:02   to jump through all these hoops,

00:44:03   because some number of those people would stick around to the extent that would more

00:44:07   than pay for that sort of thing.

00:44:09   And so, what's funny is that's actually what podcast advertising kind of is today,

00:44:15   right?

00:44:16   You sign up, you put in a code or you use a special URL or something along those lines,

00:44:21   and that's kind of a pain in the rear end because you have to figure out, "Oh, did

00:44:25   the host read the ad correctly?

00:44:27   We have to have tracking.

00:44:28   We have to see how many people signed up.

00:44:29   We have to compare that to our baseline," et cetera, et cetera.

00:44:32   But it's worth it for like Linode, you mentioned in your ad a $5 a month plan, right?

00:44:37   Sounds super cheap.

00:44:38   Well, $5 a month for a year is $60 a month.

00:44:41   You put a little website up there that you feel like you should maintain forever, suddenly

00:44:45   ten years later you've paid Linode $600 and that's worth a lot.

00:44:49   That's worth the hassle of going through to sign up.

00:44:51   Or Squarespace comes with a free domain name.

00:44:55   Well guess what?

00:44:56   Once you have a domain name, you feel attached to that, you feel like you have to keep paying

00:44:59   for it and Squarespace ends up harvesting money from you for a very, very, very long

00:45:04   time.

00:45:05   The problem though…

00:45:06   Well, you're really selling these spots on today's show, Ben.

00:45:09   Sorry.

00:45:10   Is Squarespace coming out?

00:45:12   Yeah, of course they are.

00:45:15   I mean, I've…

00:45:18   Sorry, it's your answer.

00:45:21   No, it's all right.

00:45:22   You know what?

00:45:23   Everybody knows.

00:45:24   I think listeners of this show know enough to multiply whatever monthly price is by 12

00:45:27   to get a yearly and…

00:45:28   Oh, I thought I know you're making a good point. You're making I own like 40 domain names. I

00:45:34   And it's very annoying because my domain registrar wis it's odd like the main page

00:45:40   It's a terrible like these people need help in their marketing schemes because it shows you your annual spend

00:45:46   And it's very disturbing every time I walk in I spend like

00:45:51   Over a thousand dollars every year to maintain all these domain names that I might or might not use in the future

00:45:56   It's terrible, but that's why it's a great business.

00:46:01   And that's why they advertise on,

00:46:04   they go to the hassle of advertising on podcasts,

00:46:07   'cause advertising on podcasts is difficult.

00:46:09   Whereas advertising, and so this is the same day on the web,

00:46:12   the problem though is there aren't that many companies

00:46:15   that have business models that make sense for this, right?

00:46:18   So you had, again, credit cards, Netflix accounts, sure,

00:46:20   made sense for the early web, but then you had a,

00:46:24   lots of other companies that ought to advertise or you would think want to advertise but never did

00:46:30   because it was too it didn't make sense and so there you know Mary Meeker used to make those

00:46:34   charts every year about you know in one of the charts that she would always have was usage

00:46:38   versus monetization or like us media usage to add spending ratios and what happened again and again

00:46:44   and again is the internet would say well the internet is has all this time spent but the

00:46:50   internet share of advertising is super small and everyone can figure out like oh maybe just the

00:46:55   internet is never going to work for advertising what happened was was no one was doing the right

00:46:59   kind of advertising and and so because they're doing these sorts of things and and once it was

00:47:05   figured out that you could do targeted customized advertising boom that window closed very very very

00:47:10   quickly um sorry that was that was a that was a monologue no but it's good though it's it's

00:47:17   So on point.

00:47:18   Well, that's the thing with podcasts, though.

00:47:21   Spotify sees this window.

00:47:23   They see there's all this time spent on podcasting.

00:47:26   The level of monetization is very small,

00:47:29   relative to the time spent.

00:47:31   So there's an opportunity to close that window,

00:47:34   just like Facebook and Google close the window on the web.

00:47:38   But as a user, the thing that is so striking

00:47:45   is that podcasts have been around now for quite a while.

00:47:50   It's funny, I don't know if you saw it,

00:47:52   but there's a Slack you and I are both on,

00:47:54   and I dug up, the question came up as to where the calling,

00:47:59   our friend of the show, Craig Hockenberry,

00:48:01   talking about his giant, fleshy palms

00:48:03   and his humongous hands

00:48:05   and how he would attack somebody in a fight.

00:48:07   And everybody knew vaguely that it came up at some point

00:48:12   on the original run of the talk show

00:48:13   I did with Dan Benjamin, but when exactly nobody knew. And I figured out the easiest way to figure

00:48:19   out when I was. I asked David_Smith, who has both an encyclopedic memory and has programmatically

00:48:28   generated transcripts of a bunch of shows, and we figured it out. It was an episode from—it

00:48:35   was almost exactly around this time of year. It was late March or early—mid-March 2008.

00:48:40   So, you know, I was podcasting 12 years ago. And it was funny because we were talking about

00:48:45   Dan and I at that episode. We didn't even have sponsors back then. We thought about it. We tried

00:48:50   to get it, but it was like so foreign 12 years ago that there would be sponsors on a podcast that we

00:48:55   didn't have sponsors on the podcast. And we were joking that the Icon Factory should sponsor the

00:49:00   show to promote Twitterrific for iPhone, which was brand new at the time because 2008 was when

00:49:07   and the App Store opened up.

00:49:09   I think in March it was coming.

00:49:12   Yeah, I think that Apple had announced the SDK

00:49:14   and it would be coming in a couple months.

00:49:16   So in some ways that seems like a long time ago.

00:49:21   In some ways, it seems like forever ago.

00:49:25   And in some ways it feels like,

00:49:26   well, but podcasting is still podcasting

00:49:28   and it's just like the idea that you can monetize it

00:49:31   through sponsorships just sort of came up.

00:49:32   And whether they're big shows or smaller shows,

00:49:36   they're more or less the same,

00:49:37   and nothing's been wrecked, right?

00:49:40   That's the thing, is that it doesn't feel like,

00:49:44   and the web is so hostile as a reader sometimes.

00:49:50   Somebody says, "Read this article,"

00:49:54   and you go to read the article,

00:49:55   and a thing pops up literally covering the article

00:49:59   that says, "Do you wanna subscribe to our newsletter,

00:50:01   or do you wanna turn off,

00:50:03   please consider turning off your ad blocker,

00:50:05   and you have to click this and click that

00:50:07   just to read the thing that you got.

00:50:08   And however much annoyed people were

00:50:11   by print advertising ever,

00:50:13   they never put ads over the article

00:50:15   because it wasn't even possible to put an ad,

00:50:17   how could you put an ad over the article in print?

00:50:20   It couldn't happen.

00:50:21   And it certainly wouldn't pop up

00:50:23   while you were 100 words into the article,

00:50:26   which is what some things do now.

00:50:28   You start scrolling and then they pop up the stupid thing.

00:50:32   - Yeah, it's terrible.

00:50:32   There's nothing like that in podcasting.

00:50:35   I mean, maybe I say nothing,

00:50:36   and I'm sure there's people who are working on it,

00:50:38   and maybe you can find it in certain corners,

00:50:40   but most of the, using podcast apps like Apple Podcasts

00:50:45   and Overcast and Castro and all the popular ones,

00:50:49   and listening to popular open podcasts

00:50:52   where you just subscribe to an RSS feed

00:50:54   and you can just type the name of the show

00:50:55   and the podcast client gets it

00:50:58   by searching the iTunes directory,

00:50:59   which Apple has very generously made open to anybody to use,

00:51:03   and then you get it, and you type Joe Rogan,

00:51:06   and there's the Joe Rogan show,

00:51:07   and then you hit play, and you just start listening.

00:51:10   And there might be sponsorships,

00:51:12   but they're not the equivalent of web pop-ups

00:51:16   that keep you from reading it, you know?

00:51:19   - Yeah, but here's something that is maybe

00:51:21   a defense of Spotify and what they're trying to do with this.

00:51:28   You're talking about ads in web pages and browsers.

00:51:30   And those ads sort of arise out of desperation,

00:51:33   to an extent, where everyone's competing.

00:51:36   The whole problem with the internet,

00:51:38   as far from a business proposition goes,

00:51:40   is that you're competing with every other web page

00:51:42   on the internet at all times, right?

00:51:44   You don't have any sort of geographic advantage

00:51:47   or some sort of, 'cause you can access a server in the US

00:51:50   or access a server in Europe or in Asia,

00:51:53   just as easy for all intents and purposes as any other one.

00:51:56   and that's great if you're small like me and you want to like I have as much

00:51:59   reach as the New York Times. Why? Because we're both on the internet so we

00:52:04   actually have identical reach right but that makes it very very hard to monetize

00:52:08   because advertisers could go anywhere and the whole thing with ad tech is that

00:52:12   it you know it follows you around the internet and you know with all the

00:52:16   pluses and minuses that that that that entails probably mostly minuses but on

00:52:21   On the other hand, advertising on Facebook and advertising on Instagram doesn't have

00:52:27   that experience.

00:52:28   There's no performance penalty to ads on Facebook and Instagram.

00:52:31   They're highly, highly optimized to make sure they load well and quickly and don't interfere

00:52:35   with your session.

00:52:36   There's often like the amount of stuff I buy on Instagram is kind of ridiculous.

00:52:40   There's always like cool little things.

00:52:42   It's like, "Oh, I got a pencil case for my daughter the other day," because you

00:52:45   like what would be in the art and all this sort of stuff.

00:52:47   It is a very clever design.

00:52:48   I'm like, "Oh, that's kind of cool."

00:52:50   And why? Because it's sort of built in as a first-class citizen in a way that fits the

00:52:58   format, right? It fits the, if it's in the feed, it's similar to the content around it.

00:53:03   And that is what Spotify is trying to do. They're trying to build a system that's sort

00:53:09   of fully integrated. Because the thing with Spotify, like, you know, why is, Spotify doesn't

00:53:14   download MP3s. Why do you have to go to Spotify as a podcaster and sign up? Because they

00:53:19   ingest your MP3 and into their streaming infrastructure and everything is streamed.

00:53:24   Well, everything is streamed, then inserting ads that are streamed and dynamic becomes a much

00:53:30   more approachable problem than trying to stick it dynamically into an MP3 or something.

00:53:34   So right now, the ugliest advertising in podcasting are these dynamically inserted

00:53:39   ads on download. They don't fit the podcast at all. It's awkward. There's this weird kind of

00:53:44   pseudo-targeting based on your IP address, but that's actually the worst. The podcast

00:53:51   we most listen to, it's all host-read and it feels very, you know, like, people like

00:53:56   it because it feels friendly, etc., etc. Yeah, you can skip through it, but if you listen

00:53:59   to it, it's not the worst thing in the world. And then, on the other hand, you can envision

00:54:03   a Spotify world where things are much smoother and just tied together in a much more cogent

00:54:08   way, but there is this messy middle world that is actually the better analogy, I think,

00:54:14   to advertising on the web.

00:54:16   Well, anyway, Joe Rogan is—

00:54:19   Just one more point on this. No, because I think it's really interesting, because I've

00:54:24   been very oppositional to Spotify, but the reason I'm oppositional to Spotify is because

00:54:29   they don't support openness at all. So, for example, Dithering, our new podcast, is

00:54:34   open, it's not free, you have to pay to get a feed, but that feed can go into any podcast

00:54:40   app. You can add to Apple Podcasts, you can add to Overcast, you can add to Pocket Casts,

00:54:44   you can add to iTunes, you could put the feed in your browser and look at the feed and see

00:54:50   exactly what the enclosures are, where the MP3s come from, etc.

00:54:54   Obviously, it's like email, which I have experience with. I sell email and now I sell

00:55:00   sort of RSS feeds. It's the same sort of concept, but it's not free because you have

00:55:04   to get your own customized one. Spotify, the Joe Rogan podcast, is going to be free, but

00:55:09   there's no mechanism to put in an arbitrary RSS feed, which means that Spotify is not

00:55:15   just building the system. They're also shutting off every other possible means to sort of

00:55:20   monetize and build a podcast. That's what bothers me as a publisher, even though as

00:55:26   As an analyst, I appreciate what they're doing.

00:55:28   I think there's a big opportunity here.

00:55:30   I think it's smart by them.

00:55:31   As a podcaster, I actually think there's potential here.

00:55:35   There's potential for Spotify to build a Facebook, the positive parts of Facebook, a pleasant

00:55:43   experience that monetizes way better than what we have currently.

00:55:49   - Well, but then I look at the way that,

00:55:52   podcasting is the exception to that regard, right?

00:55:57   Like stuff that you see as you scroll

00:56:00   has been dominated by Facebook

00:56:02   and Instagram is part of Facebook.

00:56:04   And the entirety of Instagram's monetization strategy

00:56:08   occurred post-acquisition, right?

00:56:11   I don't think Instagram had any kind of ads at all

00:56:14   before Facebook acquired them.

00:56:16   - Yeah, that was the reason why Facebook

00:56:18   got regulatory approval.

00:56:19   because it wasn't perceived as being competitive

00:56:23   because they weren't monetizing,

00:56:25   which is kind of amazing in retrospect.

00:56:28   - Really, really?

00:56:29   - No, this is a firm example of not understanding

00:56:31   the internet, Instagram was clearly a social network,

00:56:35   it's very visual, how else on earth

00:56:38   would they ever monetize?

00:56:39   Of course it's gonna be advertising.

00:56:40   - Then there's other ways they could have done it,

00:56:44   and like you said, they worked out a way to do native ads

00:56:48   that certainly haven't kept people

00:56:52   from using Instagram in the aggregate.

00:56:54   But there's other ways they could have done it.

00:56:59   But the fact that they could do it at all

00:57:02   was sort of really ignorant to pretend like,

00:57:05   well, but their revenue is zero,

00:57:07   so they're just losing money, so there's no problem.

00:57:11   But I look at video,

00:57:15   And there's just no equivalent to,

00:57:20   there never really was an equivalent

00:57:23   to podcasting for video, right?

00:57:26   Like it's just a very strange difference

00:57:30   because, okay, video is by size,

00:57:35   like a video file is a lot bigger than an audio file.

00:57:39   But we've reached the point

00:57:40   where people have internet access now

00:57:42   where I guess hosting still would be a concern

00:57:46   if you were just gonna host video on your own server,

00:57:50   your bandwidth would still be a concern.

00:57:52   But it's one of those areas where hosting my own website

00:57:56   just isn't a thing that I don't think about it anymore.

00:57:59   Like even Daring Fireball, which doesn't have many images,

00:58:04   has almost no video in the history of the site,

00:58:07   relative to most sites, very, very low bandwidth.

00:58:11   In the earlier years of Daring Fireball,

00:58:16   as it grew in popularity,

00:58:19   the amount of bandwidth I was using a month

00:58:22   was something I had to keep an eye on.

00:58:24   And slowly but surely over time,

00:58:27   I had to up my hosting plans and move to higher level plans.

00:58:32   And it was never, in terms of business costs,

00:58:36   a significant factor.

00:58:38   my accountant was always just stunned

00:58:41   at the level of my hosting costs to the revenue.

00:58:46   He was like, "This is an unbelievable business."

00:58:48   'Cause my accountant isn't coming from the world of internet.

00:58:52   He's coming from the real world.

00:58:55   But bandwidth was a concern just 15, 20 years ago

00:59:01   for a site like Daring Fireball.

00:59:02   So obviously, video's bigger than that.

00:59:04   But it's not that different from audio in my mind,

00:59:09   but yet the way that the two media ecosystems

00:59:11   on the internet have evolved couldn't be more opposite,

00:59:14   right, where we're at this point now,

00:59:16   and in 2020, we're only beginning to talk about Spotify

00:59:20   as a company that might be building

00:59:23   a monster walled garden of exclusive content.

00:59:28   I mean, and I say audio,

00:59:32   and I'm talking about spoken word audio,

00:59:34   'cause obviously music is something

00:59:36   that's entirely different.

00:59:38   And I guess it's not a surprise that somebody like Spotify

00:59:42   is evolving into the world of spoken world stuff

00:59:44   coming from music where that's how they built up

00:59:47   the massive hundreds, literally hundreds of millions

00:59:50   of users, whereas video never had that.

00:59:52   There was never really a popular open video world,

00:59:56   and there's stuff for professional quote unquote

01:00:01   TV shows, TV-style shows and movies like Netflix,

01:00:05   and Apple TV Plus now and HBO and others, Hulu, et cetera.

01:00:10   And of course, YouTube, right?

01:00:14   YouTube for, which is the closer equivalent to podcasting

01:00:19   in terms of supporting independence, right?

01:00:22   Like people in our sphere, I mean,

01:00:25   somebody like Rene, Richie, who's always on the show,

01:00:27   is now, that's his, now that he left iMore,

01:00:30   primary gig is his YouTube channel. That goes through YouTube and that is so different from

01:00:40   the mindset of being an independent media producer from podcasting. And I was reading

01:00:46   today, you know, you and I started talking about Joe Rogan in this movie yesterday. And

01:00:52   I know that he had a big YouTube presence too. You mentioned it just a bit ago that

01:00:57   this is, you know, it's a factor in the, you know, the success of his show. But I also read today

01:01:04   that he's had an enormous amount of problems with YouTube, quote-unquote, "demonetizing" him,

01:01:09   et cetera, over the years, I guess based on arguments over the content of the show?

01:01:15   - Yeah, 'cause he, like, he's, one of the things about his show is he will basically interview

01:01:20   anyone and everyone it like he's sort of you know all the way on the extreme of the you know I might

01:01:28   disagree with you but like I'm gonna let give you a right to talk and that goes on his show so like

01:01:32   he's had I think like Alex Jones on his on his podcast before so just to take like an extreme

01:01:37   example of somebody who's clearly controversial whatever you think of Alex Jones that's right

01:01:42   that's right so so this is very yeah so that's an issue for him and one of the reasons that pushed

01:01:48   him away from YouTube because I think he's been talking about that a lot. But there's

01:01:52   actually a few really interesting points in what you just talked about. You mentioned

01:01:56   the, well, yeah, it's different bandwidth, but I think there's a certain sort of like,

01:02:02   there's a tech mindset, which I think we would both share, which at the end of the

01:02:06   day, it's all ones and zeros, right? Text and audio and video, it's all just going

01:02:12   over the same pipes as it were in the same format, right? And the truth though is I actually

01:02:18   think that the cost of bandwidth has fundamentally shaped the fact that text and audio and video

01:02:26   are totally different. I actually think that is all that matters.

01:02:30   Because it just wasn't, you know, you think about, go back to when Napster sort of blew

01:02:33   up in, you know, 1999, I believe it was, or 1998, 1999, and it was on the edge of sort

01:02:41   of possible, if you were on a dial-up, which most people were, it would take like an hour

01:02:46   to download a song. We were on the university broadband network, so it was amazing. But

01:02:50   even then compared to today, it still took forever. But there was no way... There were

01:02:54   some people that were sharing video even at that time via... You'd have these crazy,

01:02:59   sketchy sites. You'd do FTP logins to other people's computers across the internet. It

01:03:04   was insane.

01:03:05   And you were downloading a movie. It would come across as 50 different files that were

01:03:13   that were split up and numbered

01:03:15   and then you'd have software on your computer

01:03:17   to put 'em all back together.

01:03:20   But it was because the downloads were so unreliable

01:03:23   and so slow that you couldn't possibly risk

01:03:26   having one file of the whole thing

01:03:28   because you might get 90% of the way there.

01:03:31   - You get 90% through, yep.

01:03:32   - And somebody would pick up the phone.

01:03:35   - And not just that, but you would download it

01:03:37   for like a week and then you would play it

01:03:38   and it was like postage stamp size.

01:03:40   - Yeah.

01:03:41   So, like, the size of video is so astronomically larger that I think that's why it never became

01:03:50   sort of user, you know, peer-to-peer sort of thing.

01:03:53   It's always been centralized services.

01:03:55   Yes, you can host your own video, but you have, like, in today it's actually more viable

01:04:00   because of widespread CDNs and things on those lines, but it's already too late because YouTube

01:04:04   is dominant.

01:04:05   You're just going to use YouTube.

01:04:06   Or, you know, so professionally speaking, Napster, or not Napster, Netflix is sort of,

01:04:11   you know, was early to this and established a very dominant position.

01:04:16   Whereas Audio Files, because they were small enough, they sort of, you started out with

01:04:24   a peer-to-peer thing and with everyone having a bunch of MP3s.

01:04:27   And so Spotify came in in a very different position in the market because instead of

01:04:32   competing against nothing like YouTube was or Netflix was, it was competing against piracy.

01:04:38   So that shaped how the service was created and formed. So that's number one, that's different.

01:04:45   But then number two with podcasts in particular, Apple launched the podcast Support in 2005 or

01:04:52   something like that. I mean, the name podcast didn't even exist until 2004. I think Dave

01:04:58   Dave Wien and I produced something along the lines

01:05:00   of late 90s, but you'll say mid-2000s, somewhere around then.

01:05:02   What's interesting is that's the same time

01:05:04   that YouTube started.

01:05:04   YouTube was in 2006, I think.

01:05:07   And the difference though is YouTube grew up around YouTube

01:05:12   and podcasts grew up around Apple and iTunes.

01:05:15   And the reason why I think nothing has happened in podcasts

01:05:18   until the last couple of years is because Apple

01:05:22   was the only obvious candidate to do something about it.

01:05:25   they just continuously chose not to do anything. And so that left it in sort of a state of stasis

01:05:32   where if Apple had cared to lift a finger, they could have completely shaped and owned

01:05:38   and dominated the entire market. But by virtue of doing nothing, nothing happened and also no

01:05:44   one else could do anything. And this whole Joe Rubin thing fits into this because it's an attempt

01:05:49   by Spotify to basically wrest control of the system away from Apple because without a centralized

01:05:56   player, it's never going to evolve beyond what it is. And Spotify is not that centralized player now,

01:06:03   and they're trying to become it. All right, let's take a break. We can pick this back up and thank

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01:09:29   around Central City, Philadelphia, with a bunch of boarded-up shops trying to find coffee.

01:09:32   Dave

01:09:32   - No, you couldn't find coffee right now if you tried.

01:09:35   Joanna Stern was on the show a couple weeks ago.

01:09:37   She said that her neighborhood place

01:09:39   is serving takeout coffee.

01:09:41   So I'm sure there's places in Philly you could get it.

01:09:43   None of my favorite places are open.

01:09:45   I hope they're all doing okay.

01:09:46   I don't know, I mean, I hope all the people,

01:09:48   the regular baristas I know are doing well.

01:09:51   I worry about 'em.

01:09:52   It's been a long time, but yeah.

01:09:55   Yeah, yes, please, I mean, again, they are a sponsor.

01:09:57   I mean, they're sponsoring the show,

01:09:59   but it is absolutely a fantastic subscription service

01:10:02   and a terrific product to have a subscription for.

01:10:04   - And a great match for a podcast,

01:10:08   because people like you, they care about your opinion,

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01:10:21   for a very, very, very long time.

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01:10:23   - And 100%, it's all based on their confidence, seriously.

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01:10:41   (water pouring)

01:10:42   That's me pouring the remainder

01:10:45   of my nighttime pot of coffee here.

01:10:47   It's 1130 at night in Philadelphia.

01:10:50   I'm drinking coffee.

01:10:51   (laughing)

01:10:53   - This is how we end up with dithering

01:10:55   because usually in the morning,

01:10:58   it's the evening West Coast time, and so I'm busy talking to people, etc., etc.

01:11:02   And then it gets into sort of the noontime here, early afternoon, and everyone's sort

01:11:07   of dropping off, going to bed, just being quiet, I'm trying to do work.

01:11:12   But not you!

01:11:13   You're always still awake.

01:11:17   I want to talk about dithering in the third segment of the show, but it is funny because

01:11:21   last week we recorded 10, 10 o'clock Eastern.

01:11:25   It actually works out beautifully.

01:11:27   We're 12 hours apart.

01:11:29   I forget, that's not true 365 days a year.

01:11:32   There's a part of the year--

01:11:33   - Yeah, there's no daylight savings time here.

01:11:35   So then it becomes 13 hours.

01:11:38   - That, you know what, we could talk

01:11:39   about daylight savings time.

01:11:41   If we haven't angered everybody with Fahrenheit Celsius,

01:11:43   I could get on this.

01:11:45   I love no daylight.

01:11:47   No, you guys are always daylight savings.

01:11:49   Isn't that the case?

01:11:50   - No, we're never daylight savings.

01:11:51   - Oh, never. - So I hate it.

01:11:52   It's bad. - Oh, that's terrible.

01:11:53   - Because it, yeah, it gets dark too early.

01:11:55   Like, who wants it to get dark early?

01:11:57   These people that rage against daylight savings time

01:11:59   are out of their minds.

01:12:00   They're just complaining to complain.

01:12:02   They haven't thought about anything.

01:12:04   - Yeah, and you know, every time I rail about,

01:12:06   I'm with you, I mean, I'm a night owl too,

01:12:08   but you know, I mean, there are times

01:12:10   I have to get up early.

01:12:11   I know sometimes you have like a 6 a.m. flight

01:12:13   or 5.30 flight or something, you gotta get up,

01:12:15   get to the airport.

01:12:16   Who cares if it's dark?

01:12:17   It's early in the morning.

01:12:19   - You feel miserable anyway.

01:12:20   It's like you're appreciating the light.

01:12:24   So anyway, Joe Rogan, Howard Stern is the,

01:12:29   we thought about talking about it on Dithering,

01:12:31   we're like, no, let's save it,

01:12:32   let's save it for the talk show.

01:12:34   Joe, Howard Stern does not identify as a podcaster,

01:12:38   and if anything, if you listen to him,

01:12:42   he'll rail against the fact that he thinks podcasters

01:12:45   are a bunch of hacks and they don't,

01:12:48   he's sort of anti-podcast.

01:12:51   But, you know, semantics of what exactly is a podcaster or not, Howard Stern is effectively

01:12:59   the proto-podcaster.

01:13:00   Yep, no, that's exactly it.

01:13:03   I've always made this point about Bill Simmons, who Bill Simmons never wrote a blog, and he's,

01:13:09   I've complained about bloggers, but he was the first blogger in spirit, right?

01:13:14   Because it was the tone and the way in which, like, the whole, like, fan perspective, and

01:13:19   I'm going to put my allegiances out there and, you know, going to write about it seemingly

01:13:23   inane stuff, but what people actually care about instead of this sort of like traditional

01:13:27   calmness voice from nowhere sort of approach.

01:13:30   It was the tone of a blogger, even though he was kind of before blogging became a thing,

01:13:36   it led the way to blogging.

01:13:38   Once this sort of infrastructure got there, and I've always thought of Stern in a similar

01:13:42   way, right?

01:13:43   There's something about his show that feels podcast-y, even though it absolutely came

01:13:50   up on the radio, but there were no podcasts then.

01:13:52   There wasn't even an option.

01:13:53   And now folks that come along later, like Joe Rogan, feels like in the same kind of

01:13:57   line, right?

01:13:58   You know, kind of a little off the wall, an interviewer.

01:14:01   You know, I'm not a close listener to either, so I'm by no means an expert on this.

01:14:06   But similar in spirit, even if the format is different.

01:14:11   - With Bill Simmons, our first time,

01:14:12   I know he wasn't born at ESPN,

01:14:15   but I certainly became aware of him

01:14:17   when he was writing at ESPN, I guess in the late '90s?

01:14:21   - Yeah, I think it was 1999 or something,

01:14:23   'cause he had like an AOL channel.

01:14:26   That's all he saw.

01:14:27   - See, I wouldn't have known that 'cause I never had AOL.

01:14:29   But he can say he wasn't a blogger.

01:14:32   I know exactly what you mean though,

01:14:33   because his writing felt right at home

01:14:37   in a web browser window.

01:14:39   - That's right.

01:14:40   whether you wanna say it was a blog or not,

01:14:41   it certainly was native to the web

01:14:44   and he was liberal with his links

01:14:47   and wrote with a way where it wasn't just, you know,

01:14:50   like, and you could see it here

01:14:53   and the word here is a length to it.

01:14:54   - There's no editing for length.

01:14:55   - Yeah, and there was no editing for length

01:14:57   and you could go sprawling, but he would, you know,

01:15:00   to me, a native hypertext added a dimension to writing

01:15:05   that was literally impossible before.

01:15:08   you can be a terrific web writer and not embrace it, but it's like, I'm almost like—like,

01:15:15   one way of putting it is that you can do it as a sort of form of sarcasm, where you could make

01:15:19   a certain word, a link, and the thing that it links to, if you followed the link, would make

01:15:24   you realize that, oh, that's sarcasm. But you wouldn't realize it was sarcasm if you didn't

01:15:29   follow the link because, you know. You know what I mean?

01:15:33   I mean, that's exactly, I think that's really profound actually. It added a new dimension

01:15:39   to writing. That, and this idea of it was not possible on print. It was only possible

01:15:45   on the web. And then the mechanisms became blogs, but the style was web writing. I think

01:15:51   that's exactly what it is. And I think this makes me quick for the Stern thing too, because

01:15:55   the best sort of Howard Stern shows are timeless, right? There's an aspect where you can listen

01:16:00   to it live, or you can listen to it later, or you can listen to it a few years down the road,

01:16:06   and it still can be funny, it still can be informative, it can still be all these sorts

01:16:10   of things, and that is—like podcasting, that's a big part of podcasting. It's not a live show.

01:16:16   It's a time-shifted show that shifts with you, and so that kind of quits what I was trying to

01:16:21   go at with that sort of essence sort of idea. I think that's exactly right.

01:16:25   And the nature of the Stern show,

01:16:30   if you just listen to it,

01:16:31   it certainly sounds a lot like a podcast.

01:16:34   I mean, he's a super professional broadcaster.

01:16:37   I mean, and he's also born gifted

01:16:40   with a truly fantastic voice.

01:16:44   I mean, it's just an unbelievably terrific voice.

01:16:49   And it's sort of like the equivalent

01:16:51   of having just a beautiful typography

01:16:54   in a written thing.

01:16:55   But the advantage of writing is that, you know,

01:17:00   you can pick somebody else's font.

01:17:02   I'm stuck with my voice, you know.

01:17:05   And that's part of his anti-podcaster shtick

01:17:11   is that he's, you know, he thinks that people just,

01:17:15   you know, plug in a USB microphone and start blathering

01:17:18   and they don't know what they're doing.

01:17:19   And they didn't go through the process that he did.

01:17:24   did where he literally started as like a traditional disc jockey back when being a disc jockey actually

01:17:30   involved discs that you jockeyed about as you played records on a radio and learn to work a

01:17:37   control board and actually understands how an FM radio station actually broadcasts its signal

01:17:44   because you had to do it and I think you know to have the job you had to be like certified

01:17:49   you know, and have like a license from the FCC, I think. And going through all of that today's

01:17:56   world, it doesn't even make any sense, you know what I mean? It's—you can't expect everybody who

01:18:00   has an audio show, whether they call it a podcast or not, to, you know, learn the chops of being,

01:18:06   you know, a disc jockey on FM radio at 1979 or something like that when it was, you know,

01:18:12   literally they were making hit TV shows about how cool it was to be a disc jockey on FM radio.

01:18:18   I remember back when I was in college, and I worked for this newspaper, and I thought

01:18:24   it was great fun particularly to be a columnist.

01:18:26   And so I'm like, "I want to be a columnist.

01:18:27   I want to be a columnist for the New York Times."

01:18:30   And so I went to the New York Times and looked at everybody's bios, and most of them were

01:18:33   like journalists for like 20, 30 years before they finally got the perch on the opinion

01:18:38   page, right?

01:18:39   And I'm like, "I don't want to be a journalist.

01:18:41   I want to be a columnist.

01:18:42   I don't want to put in, you know, 'Go cover high school track meets or city council

01:18:48   meetings and work your way up the chain, etc., etc. But that's the way it was done. What

01:18:53   I did, I looked at, there's William Safire, who was a speech writer for Nixon, and I'm

01:19:00   like, "That sounds like a much more interesting path. I'm going to go work in politics and

01:19:04   then transition over to be a columnist." I realized that working in politics is actually

01:19:08   absolutely miserable, even worse than being a journalist. Pretty good any sort of beliefs

01:19:13   ideals. But it turned out, because of the internet, I was able to become a columnist

01:19:18   just in a sort of like doing it directly. And I can imagine for a traditional newspaper

01:19:24   person that put in years and years and worked their way up, and then I'm coming in with

01:19:29   my, you know, my WordPress blog and like challenging them for attention and opinion, it has to

01:19:36   be a little irritating.

01:19:37   - Yeah, I can imagine that.

01:19:39   I mean, for those who don't remember,

01:19:41   I was a huge, I'm not surprised to hear,

01:19:43   I don't think we've ever talked about Sapphire before,

01:19:45   but no surprise that I was an enormous Sapphire fan.

01:19:49   And definitely came upon what I wanted to do the same way.

01:19:53   But Sapphire, everybody who does know him,

01:19:56   knows him for two columns that he wrote

01:19:58   for the New York Times over the years.

01:19:59   Primarily, he was one of the full-time op-ed columnists.

01:20:04   know like the space now occupied by Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd and uh

01:20:10   I think Ross Douthat is is the yeah like the conservative

01:20:14   heir because he was they always have someone on the right uh

01:20:19   right I mean I don't want to name them all but the Tom Friedman

01:20:22   is like the resident jackass

01:20:26   uh actually they have a couple because they got David Brooks and Brooks is sort

01:20:30   of they never really fully replaced Sapphire because Sapphire's thing was that he was the

01:20:35   conservative on the liberal op-ed page of the liberal New York Times where at least the liberal

01:20:42   editorial page and op-ed page you know were were always politically liberal even notwithstanding any

01:20:51   sort of dispute or argument over whether the news coverage is as a political slam which is neither

01:20:57   here nor there, but Sapphire was the conservative and, you know, his bona fides as a Nixon speech

01:21:04   writer pretty much certified that. I mean, that's, that's, you know, pretty credible. He's never

01:21:10   really been fully replaced, but the other thing that Sapphire had was the "On Language" column

01:21:14   in the Sunday magazine, and so as a political junkie who still to this day loves reading

01:21:21   perspectives I don't agree with, although it's harder and harder to find reasoned ones,

01:21:27   But Sapphire was one who I always enjoyed. I disagreed with him more often than not, but,

01:21:32   you know, overall, especially in my younger, you know, in my 20s and even late teens,

01:21:38   my politics were, by the standards of US political discourse, centrist. You know, I wasn't really—you

01:21:48   could ask me, you know, here's the top 10 issues of the day, and I wouldn't really fall as somebody

01:21:53   you would say, "Well, that guy's a diehard liberal," whereas now it's bifurcated.

01:21:58   Right, because the Environmental Protection Agency, I think, came in under Nixon,

01:22:02   just to give a perspective of how different things were to be on the right or the left way back then.

01:22:08   So the entire existence of the Environmental Protection Agency came in under Nixon.

01:22:13   The idea that conservatives would be into conservation was something that was repeated

01:22:21   often it was actually taken as like this goes hand in hand that we're conservatives politically

01:22:28   because we are hesitant to make changes fast and you know this these forests have been here for a

01:22:36   very long time long before we were here we should keep them and say you know keep them the way they

01:22:40   are you know like that that was considered hand in hand with conservatism um the other one that's so

01:22:48   it—people just wouldn't believe it. It was that Nixon came within like a whisker

01:22:52   of passing nationalized healthcare. Like—

01:22:55   David: Well, I mean, he issued price controls, too. I mean, which is the—yeah, it was a

01:23:01   different era.

01:23:02   Dave: And maybe, you know, I think maybe—I don't know how apocryphal it is, but I think

01:23:07   as a nutshell synopsis without really going into a longer-than-a-breath digression on

01:23:12   this, the basic gist of the Nixon nationalized healthcare proposal was that it pretty much

01:23:17   got stymied by Ted Kennedy, of all people, on Kennedy's thinking being, "I don't

01:23:24   want Nixon to be the one to pass it.

01:23:26   I want to be president in '76 or maybe 1980, and I'll be the one to pass it."

01:23:31   And so, Ted Kennedy, as the liberal stalwart in the Senate, sort of put the brakes on Nixon

01:23:37   passing what would now be considered extraordinarily left-wing healthcare in the United States.

01:23:45   But anyway, that's where Sapphire came from.

01:23:47   I was exactly like you and thought, "Boy, that's the sort of writing I feel like I want to do,

01:23:53   I feel like I could do." It is somehow—the form, tone, nature of it just is so appealing to me,

01:24:03   and I don't want to do any sort of working my way up the ladder to get there.

01:24:09   [Laughter]

01:24:12   And in some ways—

01:24:13   John: It sounds terrible when you put it that way, but yes, it's totally true.

01:24:16   - All right, so imagine that you really,

01:24:18   your mind, you're a young person

01:24:20   and you're drawn to the military

01:24:23   and you think to yourself,

01:24:25   boy, what I would like to be is a general.

01:24:27   That seems like, that just is what I wanna do.

01:24:32   That seems like a fulfilling life.

01:24:36   I think I'd be good at it.

01:24:37   I think it's important work.

01:24:39   I would like to sign up and become a general.

01:24:41   Well, you know, it doesn't really even make any sense

01:24:44   it would work that way. Whereas it didn't make sense to me that to become like an op-ed columnist

01:24:51   or a business page columnist or a tech, you know, personal technology columnist, that you

01:24:56   should be expected to work your way up the ladder by starting as like a city hall reporter,

01:25:01   reporting on like, you know, the city council meeting where they're talking about whether to

01:25:06   change the street cleaning days from Tuesday and Thursday to Wednesday and Friday. You know,

01:25:13   like, "This doesn't seem like it doesn't make any sense for what I want to do that

01:25:18   I should start that way," whereas working your way up the ladder in the military, it,

01:25:22   you know, to name one example, it feels like it does.

01:25:25   Ben: And I think that's been proven out, because once it became possible to take an

01:25:31   alternate path, it turns out that path works very, very well. Like, there's no, you know,

01:25:38   And it's one of the things that is pretty neat about the Internet, and the fact that,

01:25:44   you know, like all our archives are out there, you can go back and read everything I've

01:25:48   written, you know, a few thousand pieces over the last six, seven years, and to believe

01:25:55   or do what I write about now, well, you can look back and see what I wrote before, and

01:26:01   you can correct things.

01:26:02   That's another great thing about writing the Internet, we've talked about, you know,

01:26:05   If you get something wrong, you get to go back and change it, and then you can write

01:26:08   a new post saying, "I got this wrong.

01:26:10   This is why I got it wrong," etc., etc.

01:26:12   And so there's a certain credibility-enhancing factor there that's sort of built in if

01:26:16   you are willing to sort of embrace it in a way that, you know, you put a column out there

01:26:20   on a newspaper that is printed and it's set.

01:26:24   It is what it is.

01:26:25   And in that world—sorry, I'm just kind of thinking all out here—in that world where

01:26:29   you printed a paper and there was so much permanence attached, maybe it did make more

01:26:34   sense to have a long path because you had to really make sure you had the right person

01:26:39   in that role.

01:26:40   They had to be vetted.

01:26:41   They had to be experienced because the cost of mistakes was way higher, whereas the cost

01:26:46   of mistakes on the internet are much lower, sort of for better or worse.

01:26:50   Well, and I think the other factor that always—I think there's part of that.

01:26:53   Part of that, it was justified, and I think part of it was that there was just so few

01:26:59   space for it, right?

01:27:00   Because there was—

01:27:01   That's right.

01:27:02   Yeah.

01:27:03   page in the newspaper.

01:27:05   You know, that's, this was like something that like,

01:27:09   it was like a light bulb in my head in college,

01:27:13   like same as you, like going through the student newspaper

01:27:15   was I thought the op-ed page was for opinion and editorial,

01:27:19   but op-ed stands for opposite the editorial,

01:27:22   where the, I mean, maybe it stands for both,

01:27:25   maybe it's one of those things, you know,

01:27:27   that has multiple origins.

01:27:29   But the idea is that it's just tradition

01:27:33   And if you buy the print New York Times or the Washington Post, it still works this way

01:27:38   where you go, you look in the index and it says here's where the editorial page is,

01:27:44   and you go turn to page 16.

01:27:48   The newspaper's editorial, which isn't traditionally, isn't bylined.

01:27:53   It's written by the editorial board and is sort of the opinion voice of the newspaper

01:27:58   itself is on the left-hand page, and there's letters to the editor and maybe a political

01:28:05   cartoon on that page.

01:28:07   And then on the right-hand page is where the op-ed columns are, usually one or two from

01:28:14   the staff, op-ed writers and columnists, and then the submissions from freelancers and

01:28:21   statesmen and whoever else might submit was on that page.

01:28:28   there's just one page in the newspaper, so it's super competitive. And I think there were a lot

01:28:32   of people who had that feeling like, "Well, that's what I want to do. I want to be the,

01:28:35   you know, I'd like to be the op-ed columnist or, and one of them." It was so competitive that I

01:28:41   think it just made sense that within the newspaper, there were so many people who wanted the job

01:28:47   that when a spot opened, that of course it went to one of them first, whether they were the best

01:28:53   for the job or not. Yeah, that's right. And it was someone deciding, right? The op-ed editor,

01:29:00   whoever was in charge, decided who got on that page. And I think what makes the thing about the

01:29:05   internet that is great from our perspective and maybe very threatening from a sort of newspaper

01:29:10   perspective is no one decides. Anyone can go out there and can set up a page and can succeed or

01:29:19   fail based on the traffic they get on where they can charge money.

01:29:24   This is the great thing about being open.

01:29:25   This is the worry about Spotify.

01:29:28   It's the worry about having someone in the center deciding what can be on or not.

01:29:32   It's the problem with YouTube that Rogan ran into.

01:29:36   YouTube can decide if you're on there or not, whereas in the open web, when it comes

01:29:42   to web pages or in podcasting, open podcasting, no one can decide.

01:29:46   I got a question where, you know,

01:29:48   so dithering is not on Spotify.

01:29:50   - Right.

01:29:51   - Because you can't put in an arbitrary RSS feed.

01:29:53   So I was like, well, if Spotify add the capability

01:29:55   for RSS feeds, would you let dithering go on Spotify?

01:29:57   I'm like, I wouldn't have a choice.

01:29:59   That's the whole point of being open, right?

01:30:01   - Right.

01:30:02   - So, they're like, oh, exponents not on there.

01:30:04   What do you, exponents?

01:30:05   They're like, it wouldn't be up to me.

01:30:07   If they let arbitrary RSS feeds go on there,

01:30:09   anyone could put that on there,

01:30:11   and I couldn't control that,

01:30:12   and that's exactly how I want it to be.

01:30:14   - Right, and again, to make two analogies

01:30:19   where the way it works makes a lot more sense

01:30:22   to people who maybe don't think about it deeply.

01:30:24   It's like imagine somebody comes out

01:30:26   with a new email client,

01:30:28   and it's just new client software,

01:30:31   and you can use this client and get your email

01:30:34   on your phone or wherever you're using it.

01:30:37   Will Hecri's daily updates still show up?

01:30:39   Well, yeah, of course, it's just an email client.

01:30:42   Your email address didn't change.

01:30:43   just going to show all the email that shows up in your inbox.

01:30:46   Or when somebody comes out with a new browser and, you know, however much we've ossified

01:30:52   in the number of browser engines, the number of browsers continues to be a little bit more

01:30:58   fluid as, you know, Microsoft has switched to Chromium and there's a new browser, relatively

01:31:04   new browser called Brave that a lot of people use.

01:31:08   Brave comes out and it's a new browser

01:31:11   built on the Chromium engine.

01:31:13   I don't sign terms and conditions and agree to something

01:31:18   so that daringfireball.net renders

01:31:20   and you can read it in Brave

01:31:23   and that your bookmarks import over.

01:31:26   And if you like to have Daring Fireball

01:31:29   in your favorites bar and click it in the morning

01:31:31   to see what's new, I may not even know

01:31:34   that there's a new browser out.

01:31:36   It just happens, right?

01:31:37   And so the same thing, like if Spotify allowed you

01:31:40   to just add, you know, there's a plus button,

01:31:43   and then you could paste an RSS feed in there,

01:31:46   dithering would just show up.

01:31:47   - Yep, that's exactly right.

01:31:50   The challenge I think for Spotify,

01:31:51   I think there's two issues.

01:31:53   One is they wanna control everything.

01:31:55   I think there might just be a technical issue though,

01:31:57   because the Spotify streams everything, right?

01:31:59   And so the problem with the RSS thing is

01:32:01   it's pulling in an MP3, and they don't probably even have,

01:32:04   like the, you know, do they even have the data model

01:32:07   Spotify app to house an MP3. How is that going to work? I mean, but honestly, if they supported

01:32:15   this, I seem like the most extreme anti-Spotify thing, but my opposition is I'm actually fine

01:32:25   with them trying to figure out this new model for podcasting, as long as you preserve the openness

01:32:31   for other models to be figured out as well. And the great thing about going direct, you know,

01:32:37   the solution to these aggregators, these people that try to collect all the users and monetize

01:32:43   them more effectively because they're all centralized, consider the customized ads,

01:32:47   et cetera, et cetera. The solution is to go direct to customers. And how do you go direct

01:32:52   to customers? You ask them to pay you. And that's kind of what we're doing. And it works with

01:32:57   Facebook, right? I pay to check your links on Facebook and if you want to get the paid

01:33:02   stuff you can pay me directly. Facebook's not involved at all. There's broader issues

01:33:08   about Facebook and Google and journalism in the long term, but you are still able, the

01:33:13   New York Times for example, can build a thriving business by connecting directly with consumers

01:33:19   who pay them directly and Google and Facebook can't touch that at all. Spotify is not

01:33:23   allowing that. That's what's frustrating.

01:33:26   I think it's, I don't know, before we move on, I think it's worth circling back to Howard Stern

01:33:32   as the proto-podcaster. And part of it is fundamentally about the content of the show,

01:33:38   which is that if you just have a recording of the show and you listen to it, it sounds a lot like

01:33:44   what people would think of as a podcast today. Strong personalities, Howard Stern is co-host,

01:33:51   or however you want to describe Robin Quiver's role on the show.

01:33:55   The other regulars who are on the show,

01:34:01   the way that the show flows,

01:34:03   it's just, you know, it's all personality-based,

01:34:06   and it's not, you know, like, well, it's exactly an hour long,

01:34:09   and there's 20 minutes in, there's a break,

01:34:11   and then 20 more minutes in, there's a break.

01:34:13   You know, it goes with the flow, and it's longer, you know.

01:34:17   That's podcast-like.

01:34:21   But then in the modern era, what's so interesting

01:34:24   is how he forged this independent,

01:34:28   and again, he's on Sirius XM,

01:34:30   but his independence is remarkable, historically speaking.

01:34:35   He was on FM radio, regular old-fashioned radio

01:34:41   over public airwaves, and you'd tune in on FM,

01:34:44   and it was syndicated around the country.

01:34:47   But basically, you therefore had to listen

01:34:49   when he was on, right?

01:34:50   That's how FM radio worked.

01:34:52   And technically, I guess somebody could tape it

01:34:54   and circulate tapes, but there was no other way.

01:34:58   There was no way to time shift

01:34:59   for most people who weren't nerds.

01:35:01   And he had a massive, massive audience

01:35:07   and was making a lot of money,

01:35:09   but was also fighting the FCC on a regular basis

01:35:13   because being on FM radio meant you had to adhere

01:35:17   to FCC regulations on things like curse words

01:35:20   and content of the show.

01:35:23   And his show is, I don't know what other adjectives he used,

01:35:28   but to use one, it was raunchy, or remains raunchy,

01:35:31   where there might be actors from porno movies

01:35:36   or something like that who were the guests

01:35:38   of the show of the day talking about subject matter

01:35:41   that would violate FCC regulations

01:35:43   for what you can say on FM radio.

01:35:45   And literally millions of dollars of fines.

01:35:47   And what he did is he took his ball,

01:35:52   went home and went to satellite radio,

01:35:55   which people thought was crazy.

01:35:58   Because satellite radio was this small niche

01:36:01   and people had to pay for it.

01:36:03   And when he did it in 2004,

01:36:06   the degree that people had to jump through hoops

01:36:09   compared to everybody could get FM radio

01:36:11   on just about anything that played audio,

01:36:13   your car, your Walkman, like even your tape players

01:36:18   used to always have built-in radio receivers.

01:36:20   You couldn't, you know, even if all you really wanted to do

01:36:22   was play cassette tapes on a Walkman,

01:36:26   it also had AM and FM radio reception,

01:36:28   because why not, right?

01:36:30   Whereas Sirius XM, where I guess Sirius and XM

01:36:34   used to be two companies and he went to Sirius,

01:36:36   but you had to have dedicated hardware

01:36:38   to get their proprietary satellite signal.

01:36:42   You had to subscribe to their service,

01:36:44   which costs money every month.

01:36:46   And even if you were a serious subscriber,

01:36:49   you didn't get the Howard Stern Show automatically

01:36:52   with your paid subscription to a proprietary service

01:36:55   that you had proprietary hardware for.

01:36:57   You also had to pay an additional subscription monthly

01:37:00   to get the Stern Show.

01:37:02   And people did it.

01:37:03   - Yeah, well, you know it worked

01:37:05   'cause he signed a new contract five years later

01:37:07   for like another $100 million or $90 million for five years,

01:37:12   which included like fewer shows per week,

01:37:14   so he lightened his burden.

01:37:16   So clearly it was successful from a serious perspective.

01:37:19   And you put that in the context here,

01:37:22   all you have to do with Spotify is just switch to an app

01:37:25   you probably already have on your phone.

01:37:28   - Right, right.

01:37:29   So it's a lot, you know, right.

01:37:31   If the Joe Rogan show only, if the only people who go,

01:37:36   Like, you know, there's, how many people listen to a show

01:37:40   is hard to estimate.

01:37:41   You can kind of get a good gauge of how many times

01:37:43   a show is downloaded through regular traditional

01:37:46   download statistics from a web server.

01:37:49   How that translates into actual listeners

01:37:53   is sort of impossible to say.

01:37:55   It's the same, you know, gauging the audience

01:37:57   is always pretty difficult, right?

01:37:59   You can measure how many subscribers you have,

01:38:01   but how many people read the subscription, I don't know.

01:38:04   How many people listen to a show that's been downloaded?

01:38:08   How many people download it three times because they have three different podcast apps that

01:38:12   automatically download it, but they only listen to it in one?

01:38:15   You know, it's not one to one.

01:38:18   But you know, you can kind of get a rough number.

01:38:23   What was interesting, actually this as an aside, one thing that I realized while sort

01:38:28   of writing about this stuff is it's hard to measure market share of podcast players

01:38:34   in part because your typical podcast player plugged into the open ecosystem

01:38:39   downloads podcasts all the time. You can set it to stream only, but most people, they just

01:38:42   download the podcast, and so when they hit play, it's already downloaded and they can play the MP3.

01:38:47   Whereas Spotify, because everything is streamed, what Spotify does to accommodate the world,

01:38:53   like, because downloads is sort of like the defined accepted measure in the podcast world,

01:38:57   So Spotify, when you hit play, will tag, or sort of like tap the original MP3 so it registers

01:39:06   a download, but then Spotify is just streaming it.

01:39:09   But the implication is Spotify, a Spotify download, is if you go to your analytics page

01:39:15   for your podcast and there will be a Spotify category, a Spotify download is actually a

01:39:20   listen because they only do that tagging when you actually click play on the podcast, which

01:39:26   which means that Spotify is always under-counted

01:39:29   because they don't have the bonus of downloading

01:39:33   a bunch, like downloading podcasts

01:39:34   that you never actually listen to.

01:39:36   And so it's kind of tricky actually to figure out

01:39:39   how much market share do they have

01:39:40   because their downloads actually equal listens

01:39:44   in a way they don't for anyone else.

01:39:45   - And they have an incredible installed base already.

01:39:50   I mean, that's the point we're getting to

01:39:51   is it's not like an upstart like Luminary

01:39:54   where Luminary is this new, I guess it's a year old now,

01:39:58   that only does podcasts and is only proprietary

01:40:02   and requires you to download the new thing.

01:40:04   I get the whole point I'm trying to make here

01:40:05   is that if the only people who move

01:40:08   from Joe Rogan's current podcast that's open

01:40:11   to his new one that's Spotify exclusive

01:40:13   are people who already, as of today, May 20th, 2020,

01:40:18   already have Spotify on their phone, it could work, right?

01:40:23   because there's like 280 some million

01:40:26   Spotify users out there.

01:40:27   - Yep, yep.

01:40:28   - They don't need new Spotify users

01:40:31   to make the Joe Rogan deal work.

01:40:34   Presumably Spotify probably has a good idea

01:40:37   that there's some number of tens of thousands,

01:40:40   hundreds of thousands, perhaps, Joe Rogan listeners

01:40:43   who are huge Joe Rogan fans who don't have Spotify

01:40:46   or don't subscribe or something like that,

01:40:48   who will, and he'll have months to go

01:40:50   in the rest of this year to remind people

01:40:53   on a regular basis, multiple times a week,

01:40:55   is like three, four times a week,

01:40:59   I think like four times a week,

01:41:00   to say, hey, we're moving to Spotify,

01:41:04   get the Spotify app, it'll be part of the show, I'm sure,

01:41:07   I mean, it wouldn't make sense not to,

01:41:09   but they don't really have to get a new app,

01:41:13   most of them, right?

01:41:15   - That's exactly right, and whereas the other thing

01:41:17   with the luminary thing is, to think about,

01:41:20   is Luminary wants to charge a subscription fee upfront.

01:41:24   So not only do you have to download a new app,

01:41:26   you also have to pay.

01:41:27   Whereas, this is where it's important to remember,

01:41:29   Spotify does have a subscription layer.

01:41:31   Of course, and they say that some people

01:41:34   that listen to podcasts convert

01:41:36   and it's been good for that part of the business.

01:41:38   But this is really, really all about advertising.

01:41:41   And there was a little thing that Spotify did

01:41:44   on the last earnings call, which was they shifted

01:41:46   how they accounted for content costs,

01:41:49   they bought the ringer, they bought the gimlet, so they're getting all these costs for producing

01:41:53   content. They used to split the cost proportionally between their subscription business and their

01:41:59   advertising business because both sides listened to it. What they did was they went back and

01:42:04   they said, "Actually, all these costs go on the advertising side of the business."

01:42:08   Why do you do that? Because the point of accruing those costs is to build the advertising business

01:42:15   and that's just a more honest representation of your numbers.

01:42:18   And I think it really speaks to the fact that this makes sense.

01:42:23   And so to go back to the Rogan thing, so he's switching over.

01:42:26   Spotify is paying him this money because they want to build the advertising business.

01:42:29   Whereas if say Luminary signed Joe Rogan and say it was successful in the way that Sirius

01:42:34   was successful for Howard Stern, right?

01:42:36   And suddenly Luminary is a super popular podcast.

01:42:38   Well, what Joe Rogan could do is go to Luminary and say, "You need to pay me more because

01:42:44   I'm the one driving all this money in a very sort of direct way.

01:42:47   And if you don't pay me more, I'll just go independent. Whereas, uh,

01:42:51   whereas on Spotify,

01:42:52   Spotify is building an advertising engine that Joe Rogan or any single podcast

01:42:56   or couldn't because the scale of an advertising business is so much greater than

01:43:00   any one person. Whereas subscription is much more of a sort of one to one thing.

01:43:03   And that scale mismatch is why it's a win-win for Spotify and Rogan to work

01:43:08   together. Whereas Rogan and Luminary would immediately be negotiating over who

01:43:12   gets the biggest share of the subscription, and Rogan would take the most.

01:43:17   Whereas, if you go to Stern, so Stern was subscribers, but you had to have satellites

01:43:21   in the air, right?

01:43:22   You had to have, like, devices, and Stern couldn't do that on his own.

01:43:26   So he needed Sirius.

01:43:29   Sirius had some sort of leverage in the relationship in a way that Luminary, because it's all

01:43:34   just bits on the internet, had no—even if Luminary succeeded, even if they got tons

01:43:39   subscribers, what would happen is they would never ever make any money because the most popular

01:43:44   podcasters that drove the subscriptions would renegotiate to take all the money. And so it was

01:43:49   just kind of a doomed model from the beginning because they weren't doing anything that any

01:43:54   podcaster couldn't have done on their own. Right. And that's the question that comes up,

01:44:00   is Joe Rogan better off now or will he be better off when he moves to Spotify than he was already

01:44:07   with what's inarguably the super popular podcast

01:44:12   and already making tons of money,

01:44:14   and it's not that hard, and you don't really need,

01:44:16   there's not really a lot of overhead.

01:44:18   You don't need, to your point,

01:44:20   you don't need satellites in the air.

01:44:22   You don't need your own custom,

01:44:24   you don't even need your own custom app, right?

01:44:26   Which isn't that much to ask, it's not that much to build,

01:44:30   but in fact, in the open podcast world,

01:44:32   it's actually contrary to,

01:44:36   It's a bad idea and probably slows adoption if you build your own app.

01:44:41   It's better. All you need is an RSS feed, which really is, technically speaking, trivial to publish.

01:44:47   That's right. That's right. You know, it's very interesting to think about because, I mean,

01:44:52   he's so he's also making less than Stern did, right? Because Stern was making

01:44:56   certain or what was certain making 20 million a year? Was it $100 million a year?

01:45:00   I think it's no, I think 20 million. So yeah, there's like five year deals for $90 million

01:45:05   or a five-year deal for $90 million. Yeah, whereas the Rogan thing I think could be up

01:45:10   to $100 million. So maybe it's actually roughly comparable. I heard it's for like three years

01:45:14   or something and there's a signing bonus and increasing amount each year, but then there's

01:45:19   like performance incentive. So I guess it's actually fairly comparable, but it's fairly

01:45:24   comparable sort of 15 years on. So there's some degree to which it's less. But I think

01:45:29   I think it's a win-win for, I mean,

01:45:32   there's a degree, if you're very big,

01:45:37   advertising is always gonna be, has the most upside

01:45:40   as far as sort of monetization goes.

01:45:42   Like subscriptions are great,

01:45:43   obviously I've built my whole career on subscriptions,

01:45:46   but you are by definition limiting your audience

01:45:49   because people have to pay money

01:45:51   to sort of get into your universe.

01:45:53   And there's always, and you can't spread as well,

01:45:56   it's hard to get viral, you know,

01:45:57   people are always hitting paywalls. Implied in a subscription is making it more difficult

01:46:03   for people in some respects.

01:46:05   Well, I've got to interrupt. Live correction here. I'm getting a feed here from the control

01:46:11   room. Nope, we were wrong. I talked myself down. Stern's current deal from 2015 is

01:46:16   a five-year deal for $90 million per year.

01:46:19   Okay, that's what I thought. That's what I thought. Yeah, so Rogan is making a lot

01:46:22   less because he's making an average of I think it's around 30 million once you once you sort of

01:46:29   sketch it all out that's that's whisper I don't know if it's actually true or not

01:46:34   it passes the sniff test though to me in terms of how popular

01:46:40   does just the sniff test of how popular does Joe Rogan seem to me in popular culture compared to

01:46:48   Howard Stern and yeah it seems to me like a 2020 deal in a new compared to

01:46:56   2015 where there's a lot more money in the market and a player like Spotify who

01:47:01   wasn't in the market in 2015 I mean Spotify was around but they weren't

01:47:05   throwing around 100 million dollar deals for podcast type hosts it just you know

01:47:12   and I just think like you know in terms of Howard Stern's enormous pop cultural

01:47:17   presence. He was, for a couple of years, he was on the America's Got Talent show. I don't know if you

01:47:23   ever watched it. It's not the type of show I watch. It's like one of those, you know, it's a talent

01:47:28   contest with celebrity judges. There's a bunch of them. But they got Howard Stern to do it for two

01:47:34   or three years. And I watched because of that. I've never watched before. And since he left,

01:47:40   I haven't watched again. But I watched when he was on. And it wasn't even that great. And he wasn't

01:47:46   really is Howard Sterny. It was sort of a dour—you know, it was appropriate for a

01:47:50   primetime NBC show, but it still made for much better television than, in my opinion,

01:47:55   than it was without him. If Joe Rogan became the host of America's—or one of the judges on

01:48:01   America's Got Talent, I think it would be news. I think it would bring in people, but it wouldn't

01:48:05   be the sensation that Howard Stern was. So, Rogan—

01:48:08   Well, that's part of the internet. Oh, sorry, go ahead.

01:48:11   Well, Rogan at 30 million compared to Stern at 90 in a five-year-old deal that's about to expire

01:48:17   feels, you know, passes the sniff test. Well, and this is the advantage that Howard

01:48:23   Stern had, right? He might gripe about, "I came up through the control board and, you know,

01:48:29   it worked my way up," et cetera, et cetera. But if you were able to sort of get in the door—because

01:48:34   the problem was there was a door, right? There was a gatekeeper. And if you were able to get in,

01:48:37   if you were able to be William Safire, you were able to be whatever it might be,

01:48:40   Then you had very little competition

01:48:42   and so you had situations where Howard Stern could be on every radio station all over the entire country and

01:48:48   People had nothing else to listen to so they listened to the radio right and we thought you see us like TV shows

01:48:53   You know we talk about Seinfeld back in the day. You know

01:48:55   How could the entire country be watching one show well cuz there weren't that many shows to watch

01:49:01   So there was it was very beneficial

01:49:05   For you if you could get through the door and if you could get on top the payback was way greater back then

01:49:12   Whereas today sure Joe Rogan's the most popular podcaster. Yeah, he has millions of downloads

01:49:17   But he's competing against hundreds not hundreds thousands or if not millions of other

01:49:23   Podcasts and other uses for their time. I listen to podcasts all the time

01:49:26   I don't listen to Rogan at all whereas to imagine if I watch TV all the time

01:49:31   but I've never seen Seinfeld. Like, it's unimaginable back then in a way it is very

01:49:36   much imaginable today. Well, and Seinfeld is an interesting stake in the ground, too,

01:49:39   because Seinfeld's finale aired, I forget what year, but—

01:49:44   '98.

01:49:45   I was gonna say—

01:49:45   Your graduate from high school.

01:49:46   I could—yeah, I could get it within a year or two, because I knew it was within the two

01:49:50   years of graduating from college, because I remember where I lived, and I was only there

01:49:54   for one year. So yeah, '98 sounds right. And that's pre-DVR revolution. And I'm sure

01:50:00   there's somebody out there and probably people who listen to my show or among them who you could

01:50:04   like build your own DVR at the time but like TiVo was relatively new in 2000 because I remember

01:50:12   when I first saw TiVo. Yeah it came it was introduced in 1999 so you're exactly right.

01:50:16   Uh and I remember seeing TiVo the first time was at uh it was just mind-blowing. Well yeah I remember

01:50:22   it was I went to work at Barebone Software, the makers of BB Edit, and

01:50:27   Amy and I weren't married yet, but she moved with me and we went up and Rich Siegel,

01:50:34   co-founder of Barebone Software, had us over to his house for dinner. It was delightful,

01:50:39   and it was, I don't know who they were playing and what level it was, but it was in the autumn

01:50:45   and the Yankees were in the playoffs, and he knew I was a baseball fan. Rich himself is a

01:50:51   He's a baseball fan, but he likes some other team.

01:50:54   Not the Yankees, I forget the name of them.

01:50:56   But anyway, the Yankees were on TV, but we had dinner,

01:51:00   and Rich had TiVo, and so we didn't have to eat dinner

01:51:05   while watching baseball.

01:51:07   He, we just paused it.

01:51:08   And there was no lag at all,

01:51:13   and we could fast forward these commercials,

01:51:16   and it wasn't like, oh, when you're fast forwarding,

01:51:18   you just kind of have to guess how long,

01:51:20   and oh, too far, nope, you could just watch 'em stream by

01:51:23   and then right, boom, there we are.

01:51:25   I mean, we left and it was the perfect device

01:51:31   to sell both me and Amy on,

01:51:33   just this intersection of technology

01:51:37   and my God, this is wonderful.

01:51:39   We just literally, the next morning,

01:51:41   went to Best Buy or wherever you went in 2000

01:51:45   to buy TiVo's and we bought a TiVo,

01:51:47   literally the next morning, 'cause we couldn't even wait.

01:51:50   It wasn't even something, it was like me buying the belt, you know?

01:51:52   It was like, there is no way, if they were still open at night, you know, like we, you

01:51:57   know, probably didn't leave his house until the baseball game was over at probably like

01:52:00   11, 11.30 or something like that.

01:52:02   If you could still, if you could like, if Best Buy had 24 hours, we would have stopped

01:52:06   at Best Buy on the way home.

01:52:07   It was that kind of moment.

01:52:09   So I remember that Seinfeld was before that.

01:52:11   So everybody, not only did everybody watch because there wasn't that much on TV, but

01:52:16   everybody watched Thursday at nine o'clock on NBC.

01:52:18   Yeah, it's the only time to watch it. It's amazing. This evolution of technology point

01:52:23   is really interesting though, because you started out with TV broadcasts and then TiVo

01:52:27   made it so you could time shift, right? That was the phrase that was used. But I was thinking

01:52:33   about this when you were talking about FM, how FM radios used to be built into everything,

01:52:36   into your Walkman, into your stereo, whatever it might be. And do you remember when the

01:52:42   iPhone first came out and the radio association was lobbying for Apple to include an FM radio

01:52:46   into the phone?

01:52:47   Yeah.

01:52:48   Yeah.

01:52:49   And what's funny is what used to be ubiquitous is now very hard to access, right?

01:52:56   Broadcast – whereas streaming – and so podcasts are actually easier to access in

01:53:01   aggregate because your phone's with you everywhere, you always have an internet connection,

01:53:05   and you can always just go and get a new podcast.

01:53:08   Whereas for FM radio, which is what used to be thought of as ubiquitous, you have to go

01:53:12   find a dedicated device that you might not have with you.

01:53:15   And the same thing with TV, where streaming was thought to be something exotic.

01:53:19   Actually, it's way more accessible and easy to get to, and it's broadcasting that requires

01:53:25   the specialized equipment and hard to get to.

01:53:27   And just, it's funny how this shifts, this shift over time in what's easy and what's

01:53:34   hard.

01:53:35   Yeah.

01:53:36   No, that's very true.

01:53:37   right now that on like, you know, 93.3 WMMR,

01:53:42   Philadelphia's, you know, FM rock station forever,

01:53:47   that something fascinating was happening right now

01:53:49   on 93.3 WMMR, the only way I could think to listen to it

01:53:54   would be to go to my car.

01:53:57   Like I honestly can't think of an FM radio,

01:54:02   and I guess you could probably, I've never done it,

01:54:04   I'm presuming you could go to a website

01:54:06   and listen to their radio station, but the only other way, other than turning my car on to tune

01:54:11   into the FM radio station that I can think of right now that I could listen to it in my house

01:54:17   would be to like maybe hope you could get it over the internet, which is ridiculous, right?

01:54:22   It's not even getting it over FM radio. It would be going to their website and assuming they have

01:54:28   some sort of stream. I remember, actually, I didn't realize events happened. It was the early '90s.

01:54:33   I must have been in junior high school or high school, I can't remember, but there was a DJ in

01:54:40   Madison called Johnny Danger, I think it was, and he locked himself in the studio and played "I'm

01:54:48   Too Sexy" by Fred for hours. He just kept playing it again and again and again. And it was one of

01:54:58   those moments, actually, you mentioned, where everyone's like, "You have to go to your radio

01:55:01   because this DJ lost his mind, is playing "I'm Too Sexy" again and again and again.

01:55:06   And he's locked himself in the only room that has the controls to turn it off.

01:55:11   That's right, so they couldn't do anything about it. It was this big scandal. But it was

01:55:17   possible—like, we didn't think it was difficult. Yeah, maybe we went to a car, maybe we had a walkman,

01:55:20   whatever it might be, whereas today, that would have happened. You're like, "Wow, that's crazy!"

01:55:24   And you're like, "I'll wait for someone to post a clip to Twitter." And I can see it then on there.

01:55:29   All right, let me take a final break here and tell you it's spoiled spoiler

01:55:37   Squarespace. Thanks, Ben. But hey, guess what? The reason Squarespace, it was hard

01:55:46   to guess as the sponsor of the show, they keep coming back because it actually is

01:55:50   the truth that people who listen to the show keep signing up for Squarespace

01:55:55   service. As they should. You should have your own website. You should have your

01:55:58   own URL. I'm actually more than happy to endorse just the concept in general. You should

01:56:04   have your own site with your own URL. You should not be on Medium or whatever these

01:56:09   other sites of the day are. Own your space on the internet.

01:56:13   And that's a great place to do it. And I always say, if you actually know how to use

01:56:19   View Source, which isn't that hard, but go and look. And an awful lot of the websites

01:56:24   You use from places like local restaurants and stuff like that that look totally great totally branded

01:56:30   Totally distinct to the brand of the restaurant or small business or personal website that you might be visiting

01:56:37   Turns out they're built on squarespace because squarespace lets you build a website that you not don't just own

01:56:43   The domain and don't just control yourself and have the platform but from a visual perspective you own the brand

01:56:50   And you can start with one of their great templates

01:56:53   Uh and tweak it from there. You could build it from scratch if you know how to do that with css and design and stuff like

01:57:00   that

01:57:00   um

01:57:01   And it's just a great platform for that and it gives you control and you can really do anything on a squarespace site everything from uh,

01:57:08   A blog to host a podcast which we've been talking about

01:57:12   To have a store where you sell stuff and they handle all the commerce and all the stuff like that

01:57:17   Really is great. I know it just seems like everybody is out there if you're not the sort of person

01:57:23   who's gonna use your quarantine time

01:57:25   to learn how to bake sourdough bread,

01:57:27   and maybe you're a little bit more

01:57:29   in the ones and zeros side of how to use your idle time.

01:57:32   And one of the ideas is to build a website

01:57:34   or change an old website to something new and modern.

01:57:37   Starting at Squarespace and spending maybe even

01:57:40   just an hour, two hours with the free trial

01:57:44   that lasts a whole month before you decide you wanna pay,

01:57:49   it's a great place to start.

01:57:50   Then when you do pay, just remember the code,

01:57:52   Talk show you get 10% off your first purchase. So here's where you go Squarespace.com slash talk show

01:57:58   They'll know you came from here

01:57:59   They know you came from the show and then when you do pay when your free trials over same code

01:58:04   Talk-show gets you 10% off and you could pay for a whole year at it upfront save 10% That's like getting

01:58:10   over a month free

01:58:13   Squarespace.com slash talk show my thanks to them for their continued support of the show

01:58:18   All right, let's

01:58:22   talk about dithering

01:58:24   Which is the new podcast you and I I'm guessing most of the people listening to this have already

01:58:30   Seen me mention it on during fireball somehow. I think you know, I've done a fair amount of promotion for it, but

01:58:36   Like this like the end of our promotional tour like yes

01:58:40   You came on the daily update then you wrote a post then I wrote a post and now I'm here on the talk show

01:58:45   So people we this is our this is our last chance to make it to make our case

01:58:50   But it's you know, if you don't know if you're you know

01:58:55   Only only follow me by listening to the show. It is a new podcast

01:58:58   Ben and I have co-started

01:59:01   We've been recording since March, but we only unveiled it at the beginning of this month publicly

01:59:06   three times a week

01:59:09   15 minutes

01:59:11   per show

01:59:12   Not a minute less not a minute more. So a little different format than the talk show to say the least

01:59:19   It's amazing the 15 minutes thing like we I don't remember who or how we came up with it

01:59:25   We came with a name at the end of the very last episode remember that but the first episode

01:59:30   Yeah, the first episode right the first recorded episode so but I don't know how we got 15 minutes

01:59:35   But man it is it's like the more we do it the more I'm excited about it

01:59:41   The like it's in here like we get on we start recording as like are you recording it? Oh, yeah, I'm recording

01:59:47   let's talk about unique shell scripts for a while.

01:59:49   Whereas it's a very sort of leisurely,

01:59:52   let's talk about it, the talk show's great for,

01:59:54   you know, it can be, it's more like a talk show

01:59:57   in some respects, it's just right there in the name.

01:59:59   Whereas when you feel that clock ticking,

02:00:02   we're both looking at a timer,

02:00:04   and we know exactly how much is in there.

02:00:05   It's such a different feeling and a different energy.

02:00:08   It's like, this sounds ridiculous,

02:00:12   'cause I'm talking about my own product

02:00:14   that I want people to buy, but it's honestly,

02:00:15   it's really fun. Well, and part of the stuff that we didn't know, I mean, we've been

02:00:22   noodling on the idea for months, maybe even longer. I mean, and speaking of—I mean,

02:00:28   and basically it started—and I'll give full credit to you that you latched onto the

02:00:33   idea at least a year ago, maybe you've probably been thinking about it longer, that podcasts

02:00:39   are ripe for subscription-based monetization. And that's the other thing with dithering

02:00:45   and it's very different from this show,

02:00:47   is in addition to a very regular schedule,

02:00:49   we come out Monday morning, Wednesday morning,

02:00:51   Friday morning, Eastern time in the US,

02:00:55   three times a week,

02:00:56   every episode is literally 15 minutes on the button.

02:01:00   I believe every single time,

02:01:01   if you look in your podcast player

02:01:03   and it shows you like minutes and seconds,

02:01:05   it's 15 colon zero zero.

02:01:07   Like it's not 1457, it's not 1503, 15 zero zero.

02:01:12   - $15,000, which is different.

02:01:17   (laughing)

02:01:19   - Different than the talk show.

02:01:20   - But you had this idea, but the other thing is that

02:01:23   it's subscription-based, and it's $5 a month, or $50 a year.

02:01:28   We've built this on top of the same membership system

02:01:35   that is behind Stratechery, your subscription-based

02:01:40   email newsletter.

02:01:42   It's funny 'cause this is something

02:01:44   that I didn't think about

02:01:45   'til I started writing about dithering,

02:01:47   is that you've been a guest on this show

02:01:49   many times over the years.

02:01:50   You and I have become good friends.

02:01:52   Now we're colleagues.

02:01:54   But I've always been able to describe Stratechery

02:01:56   as primarily a subscription newsletter.

02:01:59   But now it almost feels like that's not quite right.

02:02:01   And not in a way that's bad,

02:02:03   but part of the evolution of this platform

02:02:06   is that now Stratechery is also,

02:02:08   you can enjoy it as a podcast on a daily basis,

02:02:11   the same content.

02:02:13   - Yep, yep.

02:02:14   Yeah, 'cause the version one was I wanted to have it

02:02:18   so you could listen to the,

02:02:20   like there's the Shrekery podcast now you can subscribe to,

02:02:22   but it's not a different price or a different subscription

02:02:25   than the newsletter.

02:02:26   It's literally the same subscription.

02:02:28   And the point is you can either read it

02:02:30   or you can listen to it.

02:02:32   'Cause it was funny, I think it'd be great for commutes,

02:02:37   which is I got a lot of requests about this, right?

02:02:39   Whereas a 2,000 word email is a lot,

02:02:42   whereas a 10 to 15 minute podcast is great

02:02:46   and super easy to consume and fits in,

02:02:48   you know, in my commute and all those sorts of things.

02:02:51   The commute and it not working out,

02:02:54   but it really resonated, I think.

02:02:56   I still have, the majority of people still read for sure,

02:02:59   but the number of people that do the podcast

02:03:02   is actually much higher than I expected.

02:03:05   And there's some aspect of podcasting,

02:03:09   the great thing about email,

02:03:11   what I figured out with Checkaroo

02:03:12   is people already check their email every day.

02:03:14   And so that was a great opportunity to put something there

02:03:18   and you don't even have to download a new app

02:03:20   or change the way your habits or anything, right?

02:03:22   But at the same time, when you're checking email,

02:03:24   you're often very busy.

02:03:25   And so you, oh, I have to read this big thing.

02:03:29   People gotta hear about building up

02:03:30   but things on those lines.

02:03:31   Whereas because podcasts, you listen,

02:03:33   you can do other stuff.

02:03:34   You can drive a car, you can be in a subway, you can wash dishes.

02:03:37   And it made it an even more attractive place to be because you already check it and also

02:03:44   there's more times to listen to it.

02:03:47   And so that was the daily update, like, well, if you do this, what if it was just a podcast?

02:03:51   Right.

02:03:52   And, you know, we've spoken about the benefits of email and the openness of email and the

02:03:58   way that, you know, people can look forward to it.

02:04:01   But again, like you said, you don't know the context of it.

02:04:03   Like one Monday I might get Stratechery

02:04:06   and the next, the emails around it

02:04:08   aren't really that interesting

02:04:10   and I just click it and enjoy it and scroll and read.

02:04:13   But you don't know, you as the publisher don't know if,

02:04:17   for some subscribers, the very next email

02:04:20   is an email from a colleague that says,

02:04:22   urgent server isn't responding, right?

02:04:25   And it's like, guess what?

02:04:26   They're gonna go right past Stratechery and go to that.

02:04:29   Not that they won't come back, right?

02:04:30   It's like that's not,

02:04:31   everybody knows that's not how email works.

02:04:33   you can go back to it, but you don't know the context of how they're going to receive

02:04:37   it, whereas a podcast you kind of do. Like, there might be other episodes of other shows,

02:04:42   but you're not going to get an email from a colleague saying there's an urgent fire

02:04:46   in the office that needs to be put out, you know, right next to, "Hey, here's a new

02:04:53   stratechery."

02:04:54   uh...

02:04:55   stratechery

02:04:56   right

02:04:58   with the other thing that i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i

02:04:58   The other thing that I've actually always thought people looked at me as, "Oh, I monetize

02:05:02   my writing."

02:05:03   I wrote a piece a while ago when Grantland first shut down.

02:05:07   It was called Grantland, the Future of Publishing.

02:05:10   And I wrote what actually ended up being basically the Ringer Business Model, which is this idea

02:05:14   of don't get stuck on sort of one medium because if you think about it, podcasts are

02:05:19   very good for monetization, but they're not very good at being viral, not very good

02:05:23   at spreading, right?

02:05:24   Whereas text is very good at spreading and you can send, oh, forward an email to your

02:05:28   friend or put a link on Twitter saying this is really great, post a screenshot, and so

02:05:33   it spreads very well.

02:05:34   So it actually makes sense to use text to build an audience and then use podcasts to

02:05:40   monetize them.

02:05:41   And it's funny because I believe that was the right approach, but I was actually doing

02:05:45   the opposite where I had a free podcast via James Allworth, which, you know, continues,

02:05:51   And that would help me sort of—I got my audience mostly through trajectory-free posts,

02:05:56   but then sort of got them to know me better, etc., through a podcast.

02:05:59   Oh, and then I'll monetize through additional text.

02:06:02   But that was more a limitation of tools.

02:06:05   There weren't any tools to do this sort of podcast monetization.

02:06:10   And so I really wanted to build this for a very, very long time.

02:06:13   And I actually started building something a year ago, but it was going to be an app.

02:06:16   And I quickly realized, no, an app is not the right,

02:06:19   you don't wanna take someone,

02:06:21   force them to go somewhere else.

02:06:22   You don't wanna be luminary for all intents and purposes.

02:06:25   And so it made more, so I stopped it,

02:06:28   and then oh, this idea of having this super easy way

02:06:32   to add the feed into your podcast app,

02:06:34   that's just like the daily update.

02:06:36   People already check email,

02:06:38   they already check their podcast apps.

02:06:39   That's a much, that's the way to do it.

02:06:41   That is what makes much more sense.

02:06:43   - And one of the things that certainly sold me on it

02:06:46   is as you built it and I could see it at Stratechery

02:06:50   and I know how easy it was to sign up just for Stratechery,

02:06:53   one of the selling points for me,

02:06:58   I mean primarily it is do I think you and I

02:07:00   could do a good show together?

02:07:02   And of course, if I thought the answer was no,

02:07:05   we wouldn't have been doing the show.

02:07:06   I thought yes, this seems like a good pair.

02:07:09   Me and Ben could do this.

02:07:11   I would listen, right?

02:07:13   For me is always the thing.

02:07:15   Everything I do, everything I write at Daring Fireball,

02:07:18   this show, Now Dithering,

02:07:20   these are shows that I would listen to

02:07:22   if there were two of me.

02:07:23   If there's one of me who's doing it

02:07:25   and another one out there doing something else

02:07:27   who's looking for podcasts to listen to,

02:07:29   I would like the talk show.

02:07:30   I would love Dithering.

02:07:31   I would definitely read Daring Fireball every day.

02:07:35   That's my audience, you know, is somebody like me.

02:07:39   And anybody who's similar enough that they also enjoy it,

02:07:41   that's great, and I'm glad there's so many of them,

02:07:43   but I have a, you know, that's my target.

02:07:47   But then at a technical level,

02:07:49   am I willing to do something that's not,

02:07:52   you know, that requires a subscription?

02:07:54   A big part of it is to me,

02:07:56   how much friction is there to sign up?

02:07:59   And it's not just are you willing to pay or not.

02:08:01   That's obviously fundamental to the idea,

02:08:04   and I have no hesitation for that,

02:08:06   you know, in the same way that like when I worked

02:08:08   on the Vesper app with Brent Simmons and Dave Whiskus,

02:08:13   Would I be willing to make an app

02:08:14   that you have to pay $5 to use?

02:08:16   Well, of course, yeah.

02:08:17   I think that's a fair deal.

02:08:18   We make the app, you pay $5, you get it.

02:08:21   Am I willing to make a podcast you pay $5 a month for?

02:08:24   Sure, definitely.

02:08:25   That feels like a very fair deal for what we're doing.

02:08:28   But the experience has to be good, right?

02:08:31   And it's like every time I see a tweet

02:08:32   or get an email from somebody who says,

02:08:34   "Hey, I signed up for Dithering.

02:08:35   "Easiest signup process I've ever done,"

02:08:38   it is like music to my ears.

02:08:41   It's funny because I'm with you. I really believe in, I see nothing wrong. I actually

02:08:47   know I've done nothing wrong. I absolutely endorse getting people to pay because it's

02:08:51   a direct relationship with your customers. That's a much healthier place than having

02:08:55   Google or Facebook sitting in the middle. So I'm super in favor of it. But at the

02:08:59   end of the day, you're asking people to pay, right? So you should make everything

02:09:03   else about the process as easy as possible. And so with Sir Techery, it's like, "Well,

02:09:09   Am I going to have like DRM'd emails or something?

02:09:11   No, because these people are paying you money.

02:09:13   You want to make it super easy

02:09:14   and they might forward to people and that's okay.

02:09:16   Like that's just the price you pay

02:09:18   because you want to make it super easy.

02:09:20   And what's funny is I actually think that,

02:09:23   I would say us, but it's mostly my mistake

02:09:25   to make probably a mistake with dithering at first,

02:09:27   which is like, okay, we made it really easy to add a feed,

02:09:31   but even that's too much friction.

02:09:33   I want you to just be able to click a button

02:09:35   and boom, you get the podcast.

02:09:36   So we had this ability where if you already had the Shatakiri feed, it would suddenly

02:09:41   start having the Dithering Podcast as well.

02:09:44   And so it almost crossed the line of being too frictionless, because then it got confusing.

02:09:50   And what we realized is we had a standard and we wanted podcast players to support it,

02:09:55   to split it out.

02:09:56   But that's actually, as you've learned with Markdown, getting the world a standard

02:10:00   sounds like it's just a recipe for a headache.

02:10:03   So we kind of unwound that, but it was driven

02:10:06   by the exact same idea, which is this needs

02:10:08   to be as easy and frictionless as possible.

02:10:10   - And yeah, and the other thing too is we are fully aware

02:10:14   that one of the things we're competing with

02:10:16   are podcasts that don't have a subscription, right?

02:10:19   Where you click a link for the RSS feed

02:10:21   and it opens in your podcast player and you're there.

02:10:24   Or you're in your podcast player and there's a search field

02:10:27   and you type the talk show and hit return

02:10:30   and there it is and you can click it.

02:10:33   You know, we're not, inherently something subscription-based

02:10:38   is going to involve a few more steps, right?

02:10:40   The minimum, you have to give us your name,

02:10:42   your email address, and pick a password.

02:10:47   - Credit card number. - And a credit card number.

02:10:48   - Yeah, yeah, or Apple Pay, but yes.

02:10:50   - But you know, we're not doing stuff like,

02:10:52   oh, what industry do you work in,

02:10:55   and what are your interests, and what are your hobbies,

02:10:58   and this and that, and the other thing, and all,

02:11:00   You know, it really is low friction.

02:11:03   People are verifying it.

02:11:04   And then the other thing we should talk about

02:11:07   is part of the reaction to dithering

02:11:09   is that we don't have free episodes to listen to.

02:11:12   There is no free trial.

02:11:14   And we thought about these things

02:11:17   very, very significantly in the run-up to it,

02:11:21   and we launched without it.

02:11:23   For now, we don't have it.

02:11:24   One of the ideas is, well,

02:11:26   you can listen to me and you together on this show,

02:11:29   And obviously the format's very different

02:11:31   in terms of the length,

02:11:33   but you can get a sense of the camaraderie we have together.

02:11:38   We list the episodes on the dithering.fm website

02:11:41   so you can see each show, what we are talking about,

02:11:44   what the, you know, just that, you know,

02:11:47   'cause that's one of the things people say is,

02:11:48   well, what's the show about?

02:11:49   You know, because the show, the website is minimal enough

02:11:52   and really just sort of describes the periodicity.

02:11:55   But you can, you know,

02:11:58   Part of it is I think people saying what's it about

02:12:00   or being a little cute, and part of it is--

02:12:04   - What else are we gonna talk about?

02:12:05   - Right.

02:12:06   Well, though, people do wanna know

02:12:07   if we're talking about sports.

02:12:09   - That's right, which the answer is no,

02:12:11   but that's mostly because sports don't exist right now.

02:12:14   Just to be full disclosure.

02:12:16   - Right, right now, it's like we might look back

02:12:18   on this episode of, and say, well,

02:12:22   it got off to a good launch,

02:12:24   the subscriber numbers are good,

02:12:26   The reaction from people is, "Hey, I really like this.

02:12:28   "I love the format.

02:12:29   "I'm really enjoying it."

02:12:30   It's really, really overwhelmingly positive

02:12:34   in a way that is very satisfying.

02:12:36   - We passed the 6,000 during recording,

02:12:38   by the way, I just checked.

02:12:39   - Well, I think we literally were at 5,990,

02:12:42   and no exaggeration, 5,999 before.

02:12:46   - We started recording, yep.

02:12:48   - No, it's very gratifying, it's successful,

02:12:51   the feedback is good, but it's very possible

02:12:53   that if there's one thing we're overlooking

02:12:55   is that as the quarantine and the pandemic starts

02:12:59   to dissipate and sports comes back,

02:13:01   we might just derail the whole thing.

02:13:04   - We're gonna ruin it.

02:13:05   - And we're gonna look back and say,

02:13:07   "Oh, the show was going great when there were no sports."

02:13:10   - And then we started talking about sports.

02:13:12   - All of a sudden, and I was even mentioning,

02:13:15   one of the things I've mentioned is that,

02:13:17   look, it's five bucks a month to start

02:13:19   and you can go monthly for five bucks.

02:13:21   It gets you access to all of the shows we've already done,

02:13:24   which I think is over 25 already,

02:13:26   and you can listen to those.

02:13:29   And if you don't like it,

02:13:30   it's like you're two clicks away from unsubscribing

02:13:34   and you're only out five bucks and that's it.

02:13:36   And it doesn't seem like anybody's doing it,

02:13:39   and who knows, maybe once the NBA starts,

02:13:41   (laughs)

02:13:43   and baseball starts up, it's all of a sudden,

02:13:45   instead of watching the subscriber number go up,

02:13:48   it's gonna start going down.

02:13:50   But I don't think it's gonna happen.

02:13:51   - Well, the other thing about this,

02:13:53   I mean, we're also limited technically right now.

02:13:55   So we actually do have it that,

02:13:57   'cause it's funny, when you do something new,

02:14:00   you run into all these assumptions that other people made

02:14:04   that are unexpected, right?

02:14:05   So like podcasts, one of the things that we,

02:14:08   if you look at our page, we had different show art

02:14:10   in different months, in March and April and May.

02:14:13   And if you actually go back and you play our podcast

02:14:16   in those months, you have that show art come up

02:14:18   from the MP3, but none of the podcast apps

02:14:20   actually list the right show art

02:14:22   because they just assume a show always has the same art, right?

02:14:26   And there's all sorts of cases where you run into this.

02:14:30   You know, one of these is the membership software just never really thought about there being multiple free plans

02:14:35   because it was a subscription product.

02:14:37   And so there's actually not really a means to do the free thing right now.

02:14:42   But that's also what's been so fun about building this is I sort of paraphrase that Alan Kay's statement,

02:14:48   you know, anyone that's serious about software needs to build their own hardware.

02:14:51   In this case, it's like, anyone serious about publishing needs to build their own

02:14:54   software.

02:14:55   It's like kind of moving in a different direction in the stack.

02:14:57   But to explore the different things that you can do and are possible.

02:15:02   And so I think it'll be fun.

02:15:04   We can see this evolve, I think, potentially over time as well.

02:15:07   I mean, there's still some cool features.

02:15:09   Like, if your credit card expires, you will get a podcast telling you your credit card's

02:15:14   expired, right?

02:15:15   Which makes sense because you're not checking the website.

02:15:16   You're not checking email.

02:15:17   It's a podcast.

02:15:18   Why would you expect anywhere else?

02:15:20   So how can we meet you where you are?

02:15:23   And it's really fun and invigorating to sort of think through that opportunity, that

02:15:29   experience and how you can really make it as easy and make people feel like they're

02:15:35   getting what they're paying for, right?

02:15:36   Part of that is making it a great experience.

02:15:39   Part of it is being super consistent, right?

02:15:41   You're getting 45 minutes a week, in three 15-minute episodes.

02:15:44   It's like, it might be a three-hour podcast, it might be a 30-minute—no, it is what it

02:15:48   is. And I don't know, it's been very invigorating for me, definitely.

02:15:52   Pete: Yeah, and that's, you know, it's a sort of cleverness that I don't think anybody's

02:15:56   experienced yet because I think it's still so fresh. We're only 20 days in since announcing,

02:16:02   and so, or maybe even less than that, so nobody's credit card's expired yet. So they haven't,

02:16:08   nobody's gotten the podcast episode that will pop into their feed reader and say, "Hey,

02:16:13   your dithering, you know, credit card has expired, you know, go to the dithering to renew or whatever.

02:16:20   - No, link in your show notes, yeah.

02:16:22   - Right, link in your show notes. You can just do it right there in your podcast app.

02:16:24   I've told you this, it's a funny story, is back in the day, and one of the reasons it's such an

02:16:29   interesting thing is I, without going into depth about it, because we talked about it on

02:16:34   Stratechery last week, I'll put a link in the show notes, people can sign up and listen to that for

02:16:40   free. But you know, in the history of Daring Fireball, I had custom RSS feeds for people

02:16:47   who paid an annual membership fee, and you got full content RSS feeds for Daring Fireball,

02:16:53   and people who didn't pay got just the top level excerpt of the article, and you had to go to my

02:17:00   website to read it. And I, everybody, it was sort of similar where everybody got their own personal

02:17:05   URL. It was like, you know, daring fireball.net slash feeds slash and then like a unique token.

02:17:12   And I built in a thing that said that if you know if their year membership was up and it was time to

02:17:18   renew, they got a custom item and it would address them by name. And it would say like, you know,

02:17:23   Ben Thompson, you know, your membership to during fireball has expired. And I thought, boy, that's

02:17:29   clever. Won't that be neat? And people who may know because I thought, you know, my idea was,

02:17:34   "Hey, you don't have to ever go to my website again.

02:17:36   "Maybe you love your feed reader so much.

02:17:39   "Once you have the feed,

02:17:40   "you'll just stay in the feed reader.

02:17:41   "Well, here's how I'll let you know

02:17:43   "that your membership has expired

02:17:45   "with a custom thing just for you."

02:17:47   Well, the thing I didn't anticipate was that people,

02:17:51   let's say somebody signed up,

02:17:52   and for 11 months of daily reading of "Daring Fireball,"

02:17:57   everything that showed up in that feed

02:17:58   was something I had posted

02:18:00   to the tens of thousands of people reading "Daring Fireball."

02:18:03   And then all of a sudden one day their name is in what looks to be the headline mentioning

02:18:09   that they had let their membership expire.

02:18:11   And they thought it was on the public site.

02:18:13   Yeah!

02:18:14   That I was shaming them in front of the entire Derek Fireball audience for having let their

02:18:20   membership expire.

02:18:22   And I got a couple of emails like that.

02:18:23   And they were always very nice and they weren't like outraged because they of course it took

02:18:27   them seconds to realize what was going on, but they did have like a momentary, you know,

02:18:33   flock. Yeah, and so I rewrote the message. I forget what I did exactly, but I did something

02:18:38   to try to clarify it, you know, like put something in brackets in front, like the way that I flagged

02:18:43   like a sponsorship message or something to make it clear that it was just for them because I hadn't

02:18:49   anticipated it. And I thought— No, it's a good call. I feel like I should go back and do that now

02:18:53   for our podcast because that's probably going to happen to someone. They're like, "Wait, is this

02:18:56   in the whole feed? Right, and like the handful of people who wrote to me about it always said the

02:19:00   same thing, which is that, you know, once you think about it, it would, you know, I subscribe

02:19:05   to your site, I'm a member because I know you and I trust you and, you know, it seemed very out of

02:19:10   character for you to do this, but still it was quite a shock to see my name in the headline field.

02:19:18   That's amazing. Your membership has expired. You're a cheapskate.

02:19:23   - Yeah, it would.

02:19:24   (laughing)

02:19:26   I mean, it's fun though, because if everyone,

02:19:29   everyone has a custom arts S feed.

02:19:31   It doesn't, they don't need to all be the same.

02:19:34   There's so much potential here.

02:19:36   It's like-- - But you know what though?

02:19:38   You know what people are gonna ask for?

02:19:40   They're gonna ask for a checkbox for sports.

02:19:42   - Yeah, well, it's funny, I do wanna build that for the,

02:19:45   'cause Anshakri, I've been doing just the daily updates

02:19:48   where I read them, but I've been doing more

02:19:49   and more interviews, 'cause it's like, well,

02:19:51   I used to do interviews occasionally,

02:19:53   but you transcribe the whole thing.

02:19:54   It's hard, reading an interview transcription

02:19:56   can be very difficult.

02:19:57   Whereas once I had the podcast,

02:19:58   well, they could go listen to the podcast,

02:20:00   so it made me want to do more of them.

02:20:02   But then now I have people that are like,

02:20:04   "Oh, I actually want the podcast only for the interviews."

02:20:07   But so that's actually something we're gonna build.

02:20:08   Like, it's not done yet,

02:20:10   but you'll be able to click a checkbox

02:20:12   and say, "I want this, want that."

02:20:13   I don't think you'll get that for dithering.

02:20:15   I'm just gonna put a stake in the ground right now.

02:20:17   But yes, we will continue our descriptive,

02:20:22   descriptive uh maybe we can do chapters i i'm okay with chapters um but oh one thing you

02:20:27   other said about people might just be in their feed reader and never visit the site that's i

02:20:32   think that that is like the core like dithering like dithering is like the realization of that

02:20:35   vision right dithering is not a website dithering is something that lives in your podcast player we

02:20:42   don't have any expectation you come back to see us come back and visit us it's all in that mp3 player

02:20:47   and you can there's a link there if you want to manage your subscription but but even then it's

02:20:51   and it's like coming from the MP3 itself,

02:20:54   and really leaning into this idea that it's like a,

02:20:58   it's not centralized at all,

02:21:00   it's fully sort of like distributed,

02:21:02   it's a distributed product in the way

02:21:04   that sort of the openness makes possible.

02:21:06   - Yeah, it just is native to podcasts

02:21:09   and your podcast app in a way that is, to me, very pure.

02:21:14   It is very pure to the medium of podcasting.

02:21:17   Anyway, my suggestion,

02:21:20   I thank all of you who do listen to this show,

02:21:22   but I think that if you enjoy me and Ben together,

02:21:25   you have a very high likelihood

02:21:26   that you would also enjoy dithering.

02:21:28   I definitely encourage you to sign up,

02:21:31   and I'll just emphasize,

02:21:32   it's only five bucks a month to start,

02:21:34   see if you like it,

02:21:35   and it's super easy to cancel if you don't,

02:21:37   and you know, I think you'll like it.

02:21:42   - Yeah, and A, you had us up for a refund

02:21:45   if you really hate it.

02:21:45   (laughing)

02:21:47   The other thing is my big concern starting this was, okay,

02:21:51   I mean, how many times a year

02:21:52   do you think you're on the talk show traditionally?

02:21:54   Probably three, two or three?

02:21:56   - Yeah, I'd say one or two.

02:21:57   When someone did a count, I realized I'd been actually

02:22:01   one of the most frequent guests, but I guess,

02:22:05   but then I realized I'd been doing

02:22:06   Sir Techery for seven years.

02:22:08   It's amazing how fast time flies.

02:22:10   - But a concern was, well, wait,

02:22:13   if I do a show 45 minutes a week with Ben,

02:22:17   I ever gonna have anything to talk about on the talk show?" Or vice versa, if he comes on the talk

02:22:22   show and he's on for two hours, are we gonna run out of stuff to talk about for Dithering? And I

02:22:28   feel like, I feel like so far so good. I feel like, all right, we talked about the show itself and

02:22:33   the Rogan thing and whatever. I still have a long list of stuff to talk about on Dithering

02:22:37   tomorrow night. - Oh, a huge list. Because we actually, we started to do the Rogan thing on

02:22:42   on Dithering Yesterday. And it's like, wait, we could talk about podcasting in general and

02:22:46   Joe Rogan and the Howard Stern angle for hours. This should obviously be a talk show episode.

02:22:53   So yeah, it's actually worked out. Yeah, I mean, we'll see how it goes, but we're a couple months

02:23:00   in. And the great thing too is, I thought about the same angle from Chit Chakra, right? Is it

02:23:07   going to be too much overlap, etc., etc. It turns out because like Shrekari, it can be very dense,

02:23:14   right? It's like every sentence, ideally it's 2000 words long, but almost every sentence is

02:23:19   like progressing a logical argument and like very like constantly, right? And so people give me this

02:23:26   feedback like, "Oh, I feel like I have to be in a certain state of mind or certain place to like

02:23:29   consume it." And I'm like, "That's fine. That's the product that I do." That's totally different

02:23:34   than dithering. Dithering is like, it's all about the back and forth, it's conversation.

02:23:38   Yes, I still get geeky and analytical, but it's balanced by you telling stories about changing

02:23:42   your kids' diapers. So it ends up working out very well.

02:23:45   All right, my thanks to our sponsors this week. Linode.

02:23:51   That was a hint at what to expect.

02:23:52   Yes, please, coffee, which I just finished. I probably didn't need to drink the whole pot. And

02:23:59   our good friends at Squarespace.

02:24:02   And you can catch me and Ben at dithering at dithering.fm.

02:24:06   And Ben, as always, continues to do his,

02:24:09   apply his trade at stratechery.com.