The Talk Show

390: ‘The Blurry Edge of Acceptable’, With Nilay Patel


00:00:00   Somehow Apple Notes, which has been rock solid for me for years, is not syncing from my Mac to

00:00:06   anything else. That's why I had to disappear. And so I actually printed it out. I had a weird one the

00:00:14   other day where I realized I'm hopelessly dependent on being able to copy something from my computer

00:00:20   and paste it on my phone or copy something on my phone and paste it to my computer. And it stopped

00:00:25   working. I realized I had no idea how to do anything anymore. I've had that exact same thing,

00:00:34   the continuity feature, which also to me has gotten way more rock solid in the years since

00:00:40   they introduced it. But because it's gotten more rock solid, whenever it does break, I'm the same

00:00:46   way. I'm lost. I'm like, "Wait, how do I do this?" Yeah. And then I started doing incantations.

00:00:53   I found a terminal command on a forum from five years ago. Maybe that worked. Or maybe it was

00:00:58   just the fact that I restarted my computer. It's one or the other. But it's back. I think I need

00:01:03   like a functional human being. I think I need to restart my computer. What else was what was my

00:01:07   other reason? I had a Oh, I know what my other reason problem is. It might be good fodder for

00:01:11   the show. I took a ton of photos at Thanksgiving, and just family, nephews, nieces and nephews and

00:01:20   my parents and typical family stuff. And I took a bunch of them with a third party camera, my Rico

00:01:29   GR3, which I love and has me taking more photos like my number one tip. This is my number one tip

00:01:35   is having gone a couple years shooting almost all my personal photos with my iPhone instead of a

00:01:41   camera. The biggest change since I bought this Rico GR3, I think in March of this year, is I

00:01:49   take way more photos than I do when I use my phone, like at a family event. Like really? Yeah, it's

00:01:55   like some combination of battery anxiety with my phone and not wanting to have my phone out and

00:02:05   having just a dedicated I don't know, maybe it's just me. I don't know if it applies to other

00:02:13   people. But literally just having an actual little point and shoot camera. I take just way more. I

00:02:21   mean, like I took hundreds of photos at Thanksgiving, and I never would never ever would have

00:02:26   taken hundreds if I was only using my phone. I don't know why that is. But I feel like it's it's

00:02:31   the opposite for most people, you give them a phone, they start just firing off shots and

00:02:34   assuming that Google Photos or Apple Photos or whatever, we'll just figure it out for them.

00:02:40   It could be me. I don't know. But anyway, what happened is over the weekend, then I was like,

00:02:45   don't do that. I don't want to do the stupid thing. And just have all these hundreds of

00:02:48   photos sitting in my photo library and never go through them and share them with my family. I was

00:02:53   like, I'm going to take a couple hours Friday, Saturday, triage all these photos, get all the

00:02:58   good pics, share them with my family, blah, blah, blah. And I also had hadn't used Apple Photos

00:03:08   de duplicate feature. I don't even know when it came out. But I was like, you know what,

00:03:12   I should do this. And it found for some reason, a different assortment of duplicates on different

00:03:17   devices. Like my iPad had a couple but my Mac had a bunch of them 80 of them or something and I'm

00:03:23   like eyeballing them and they all I scrolled through the whole list. They all looked good.

00:03:28   Yes, if I hit do this, this is going to get rid of the duplicates and do good things.

00:03:36   And the other problem I had, I don't know which one caused this and which one didn't. The other

00:03:42   thing was I wanted to move a bunch of photos to an album. And it wouldn't let me move them to an

00:03:46   album. Because a bunch of them it said were unsaved. And I don't know, I didn't know what

00:03:52   that meant. What what do you mean save a photo and Apple Photos like the whole thing and photos.

00:03:57   But what it meant was they were ones from like messages that, you know what I mean? And it's

00:04:04   a weren't in your library. They weren't in my library there. Yeah. But I said, yes, save them.

00:04:09   And I think that's the main problem. I said, Yeah, sure, save them all. And then I went to my

00:04:16   recents and my recent album in Apple Photos only had three, the three most recent photos I had

00:04:25   taken. And then it was just random photos from the last 15 years in a random order. And I thought,

00:04:33   Oh, my God, something I did here. And I was using dark room, which I love, because it's sort of like

00:04:40   Lightroom. But in it uses your Apple Photos library as your library. I was like, something I did here,

00:04:46   jumbled all 50,000 of my photos into a random order. And there was nothing I could do to fix

00:04:56   it. And I was like, Oh, but what it was, was those photos I saved from messages are deemed recent,

00:05:07   because it recent doesn't go by the date on the photos, it goes by when you added them to your

00:05:13   library. And so once I scrolled, like 388 photos down into my library, boom, there's the other

00:05:21   50,000 all in chronological order. But 380 photos or so was enough that I scrolled, scrolled,

00:05:29   scrolled, scrolled, scrolled and decided my entire library was a, oh, my God, entirely out of

00:05:34   chronological order. And I was like, I'm going back to film and I'm just going to start putting

00:05:39   print photos into a book. And that's,

00:05:43   my theory is that the Apple library is untouchable, right? Because it's, that's the most photos, it's

00:05:49   all the, I mean, I, I can't say that I have a good photo management technique. I just have a very

00:05:54   strong opinion about it. So there's the Apple library, which is untouchable, just leave it

00:05:57   alone. Don't touch it. It's the most brittle of all of them. I find the Google library is everything

00:06:02   goes into it. All the, all the photos from everywhere we're going to it. And then I have

00:06:06   Lightroom, which is where all my full resolution DSLR and mirrorless photos go. And that is just

00:06:13   going to be a cost that I carry forever. Right? The thing about Lightroom, I think I saw you

00:06:18   posting with us on threads the other day. The AI denoise in Lightroom is it has re jiggered my

00:06:25   relationship with my cameras, right? Because it is so good. It is. And I'm like the world's leading

00:06:32   practitioner of what is a photo hand-wringing and I'm just like, whatever, denoise it, just have at

00:06:38   it, just invent some pixels, make it look good. My ancient D 7,500, my Nikon D 7,500, which I love,

00:06:45   which is, I want to say it's 2014. It's old. This camera is ancient. I just took it to Disney world,

00:06:51   you know, with a big, fun lens on it, but it Lightroom just remade this camera. I'm using

00:06:57   it in places that it was not usable before in ISOs that frankly, I didn't even know why they enabled

00:07:03   them on this. Like they were unusable. And now I'm just like firing away with this thing. And I

00:07:07   realized that the thing about iPhone photography is that you get so used to how much noise reduction

00:07:14   it does and how good at it it is that when your other cameras can't do it because the processing

00:07:21   isn't there, you're like, oh, this camera isn't good. When really it's, you're just used to the

00:07:26   amount of processing that's happening. And so I added Lightroom to the mix and it's like my old

00:07:32   cameras are just back in the game, old lenses, old cameras. The camera that I've outgunned,

00:07:40   I think it's time to upgrade. When my daughter was born, I bought it Sony RX100 Mark IV.

00:07:46   Yeah. And now this thing is like the screen on the back is chipped. It's like,

00:07:51   this thing has been everywhere. It's lived in my pocket for five years. And I think that one,

00:07:56   I'm past the range of its capabilities. Like I run into its limitations more than I'm happy with the

00:08:02   photos it takes. So I think that one it's time to upgrade, but my old Nikon plus Lightroom,

00:08:08   it would be hard to convince me to buy a new camera at this point, at least in that size.

00:08:13   Darrell Bock We have too much other stuff to talk about,

00:08:15   but I used and loved Lightroom for years and never really abandoned it. What I did was I packed up

00:08:24   an iMac that was on my desk when I was getting my office completely renovated and then never unpacked

00:08:32   it because I switched full time to a MacBook Pro. And so I still have Lightroom and I've got like

00:08:40   these... Jared Ranerel Lightroom Classic or Lightroom?

00:08:43   Darrell Bock Lightroom Classic. This is from before the Adobe Cloud era. And one of the things

00:08:48   that gives you peace of mind about Lightroom is at least Lightroom Classic, it organizes your photos

00:08:53   in the file system. So like worst case scenario, as long as you can read the disk that it's on,

00:09:00   and there's no version of Lightroom in the future that runs on whatever computer hardware you have,

00:09:05   you've still just got all the original images there and you lose like your Lightroom edits if

00:09:10   you haven't exported them or something like that. But that's not a bad worst case scenario where

00:09:15   your original images off the camera are all safe and sound, chronologically organized into year,

00:09:22   month, day, full folders in a library, which is awesome. But that thing about the de-noising,

00:09:27   I was like somebody else, I forget who posted it. I'll see if I can find it and put it in the

00:09:30   show notes. But somebody on threads was just more or less saying that the new AI powered de-noise in

00:09:37   Lightroom turned this and it was like, I don't know, he was shooting it like ISO 25,000 or

00:09:43   something in that range. And it was like a picture of some animal at nighttime in the dark, and it

00:09:48   turned it into this. And it's, it looks like the cover of Natural Geographic. It is like, absolutely

00:09:54   insane. It's insane. I will say I think that's a good example. And I know you're right that you are

00:10:01   sort of the leader of what is a photo philosophical debate. I would say that falls clearly on the side

00:10:09   of not, it's still a photo, right? Color grading and...

00:10:15   No, if you look at it, I have some photos from this trip to Disney. They're just in the dark,

00:10:20   where someone's hair is, it's just a mess of pixels. And your brain is, okay, there should

00:10:25   be some hair. And then Lightroom is like, here it is. And you're like, that is not contained.

00:10:30   Right. Right.

00:10:31   Right. You just have enough information in Adobe Firefly to be like, okay, here's what some fringes

00:10:38   of hair looks like. We can do it. And it's the same as the Google best take feature where it's

00:10:45   like, am I really lying? Like the hair wasn't in place, like whatever. Like the camera doesn't have

00:10:51   enough data for me to conclusively say that my hair was frizzy. But Lightroom is like, you know

00:10:57   what, let's put it there. Maybe that's on the blurry edge of acceptable. And I think most people

00:11:02   with family photographs, they don't care. But it's still kind of like, every time I hit the button,

00:11:07   and I don't even, I don't even hit that button one by one anymore. I hit, I select all in batch

00:11:13   process, all of the photos off this camera before I begin editing. And it's like the GPU in my M1 Pro

00:11:20   is pegged for an hour. And then I come back and I finish the edits. And I'm like, first of all,

00:11:25   it's like awesome to peg your GPU. It's like the most, if you're a computer nerd, you're like,

00:11:30   I'm working now, but you're not doing it. You're just like waiting. But then you come back,

00:11:35   these photos are incredible. Well, I guess my, my breaking point on that philosophical

00:11:41   devolved question, what is a photo is, is it still attempting to present to you

00:11:50   a moment of reality from the perspective of the lens of the camera at a certain moment in time?

00:12:01   And if the answer is yes, then I think you're on the, this is still a photo side of it. And yes,

00:12:10   filling in fine details like hair, like strands of hair are so small that the individual

00:12:18   pixels of noise would interfere with what they were. And therefore it has to be filled in and

00:12:25   it's literally filling some content in that the image didn't originally contain it, but it still

00:12:34   is capturing a moment of time from that perspective. Whereas the Google, what do they

00:12:40   call it? The best take, which is a cool feature. Like I wrote on daring fireball about it. Like

00:12:47   I find this feature highly questionable and I know that I would use it. Right. Yeah. And this

00:12:54   is how I feel about Lightroom. It's I think it's on the safer side of the line, but you know,

00:12:59   there was a time in the culture where Turner movies, colorizing, black classic films caused

00:13:06   a great deal of hand wringing about the sanctity of art. And we are just, just imagine trying to

00:13:13   tell a teenager, we used to worry about colorizing black and white that was gone. Right? Like we are

00:13:18   fully past it. My line is like, did this happen? If you cannot confidently say about a photograph

00:13:27   that that thing happened, we're probably a little too far and we should recalibrate. And I know a

00:13:33   lot of people are trying to recalibrate in various different ways. It does seem the best take is a

00:13:37   great example of this. I have received for many people, the argument, well, something like it

00:13:43   happened and that's good enough. And it's I think you should move that one back. Yeah.

00:13:49   And it's, it's only going to move forward from here. Right? It's like we're nowhere near

00:13:56   at the end point of these features. Xiaomi has the Xiaomi 14. Let me see it. Let me make sure

00:14:04   I'm correct. Make sure it's the 14. Yep. Okay. So the Xiaomi 14 just came out and it's a launch

00:14:13   event, which is very much like an Apple keynote. They demoed a feature in the camera where you just

00:14:17   feed it some photos and then you say, make a photo of me standing on a mountain and it just does it.

00:14:23   And that's the camera. And it's not, this is not like the science fiction hypothetical. This is

00:14:29   a thing they demoed on stage while launching the phone.

00:14:32   Well, that's it is something and it is cool, but it's not photography. Right? I mean, there's also

00:14:42   things, features like that, which I, I, I know that there were probably people, I was too young

00:14:51   and therefore too, Oh, this is nothing but cool. And I refuse to, to even read anybody's down saying

00:14:59   or downplaying of it. Like when Photoshop first became a thing, you could do all sorts of things

00:15:05   in Photoshop that previously you couldn't practically do. Right. There were ways to

00:15:10   manipulate photos in the analog film era, right? There's the famous pictures from the

00:15:16   Stalin era in the Soviet union, where they would erase people who had been erased from the, the,

00:15:22   the poet Bureau from photos, you know, and the Dodge and burn feature in Photoshop is named after

00:15:31   an actual physical technique that you would use in the dark room when you were developing film.

00:15:38   It's all cool, but it does. I don't know. I, and, and, and, and you come from you, you, you lead

00:15:46   a publication that has actual photos that your staff takes and that therefore you guys need rules

00:15:54   for what counts as a photo, right? Most publications have some sort of house rules for

00:16:00   that same way you have rules. Most places have rules about datelines. You can't claim to be

00:16:05   reporting from Israel if you're not actually on the ground in Israel.

00:16:09   Jared Yeah. There's a very internetty

00:16:11   nature to the conversation on what is a photo because people bring it up as a known as ever

00:16:18   considered the problem before when in reality, right. People have been considering the problem

00:16:22   for hundreds of years since the dawn of photography. And so big news organizations,

00:16:27   especially the big photography organizations like Getty or AFP or what have you, they have very

00:16:32   restrictive rules about editing. The best example I can give you is if you look at the New York

00:16:37   Times, New York Times basically can't do any editing. And that the house style for the New

00:16:42   York Times whenever they want to get arty is they just vignette the hell out of their photos.

00:16:46   And once you see it, you cannot unsee it. And you're like, oh, this is the only knob you have.

00:16:51   Let's go for it. Just, just turn it up like vignetting. You can go read the guidelines.

00:16:56   They're all basically the same. And then remove dust and scratches and all this other stuff.

00:17:00   But you can't actually edit the photo. Right. And you can crop, which shows you the fact that

00:17:06   they even mentioned cropping as an issue shows you just how conservative they are.

00:17:11   Right. And for some of them, you can't crop in a way that changes the image of the photo.

00:17:17   Or that is even if you're a license, if you're a licensee, so like the Verge has a Getty license,

00:17:23   and our Getty license has restrictions in it. They do not want us to use their photos in a way that

00:17:28   would convey some other meaning. Okay. Like all of that, I think is fair. But it,

00:17:32   as this stuff goes to consumers, and it's Google has best take, you can't drop. There's 200 years of

00:17:41   AFP photo licensing restrictions under the camera app of your Pixel 8. Like, that's, that's just not

00:17:49   realistic, right? You can't expect anybody to learn that stuff or even understand why that

00:17:52   stuff is being imposed. So you got to come up with something else. And I think that's the moment

00:17:57   we're in where the companies have to decide what restrictions are they're going to place on the

00:18:03   tools, the platforms that distribute the stuff like Instagram, YouTube, or decide what restrictions

00:18:08   or labels are gonna put on the stuff. And then we have to decide what is acceptable as a culture.

00:18:13   And all of that stuff is in, I wouldn't even say tension. It's like that they're not close enough

00:18:18   to each other to be in tension yet. The table's just flipped and we're all just looking at all

00:18:21   the shit in the air. And it's like, I know what the Verge is going to write about for the next 10

00:18:25   years. But like everything else is pretty unsettled. Yeah. All right, let me take a

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00:21:16   talk about maybe we should get the iPhone 15 talk out of the way. This is sort of our annual

00:21:20   tradition. It is we're very late. We're late. We're really late. It's been out for a while.

00:21:26   I'm curious. What's your takeaway? I mean, we could I don't know if we should breeze through

00:21:31   this or if we have a lot to say. I am now in a dual USB-C lightning household. So my takeaway

00:21:41   is I got to upgrade my wife and daughter to USB-C iOS devices posthaste because it is very annoying

00:21:48   right now. And I think that's probably what Apple is worried about. Yeah. But once you do it,

00:21:53   it is incredible that I just have one cable for my laptop and my iPad and my phone and my earbuds.

00:22:00   And I don't know why they resisted it for this long. Because from a user experience point of view,

00:22:05   vastly superior to having multiple cables and chargers. Like I don't I don't I understand why

00:22:12   they held off. And I understand that they felt pushed into it. And there's a bit of resistance

00:22:17   there. But it is actually like a sparse superior user experience to just have one cable for all

00:22:23   stuff. I do think in hindsight now that we've waited, I do think that the USB-C transition

00:22:29   story is both a the sort of most obvious angle for this year's iPhones. And oftentimes the most

00:22:36   obvious angle is sort of a dumb angle that I don't find interesting our audience doesn't find

00:22:41   interesting. But this year, I feel like it actually is. And it's for exactly the reasons you said,

00:22:46   like, why did it take them so long. And I know that the cynical take has always been that it

00:22:54   was about money and that the lightning port somehow made them gazinga dollars every year

00:23:02   with licensing for the made for iPhone program and selling lightning cables and stuff like that.

00:23:07   And I mean, I don't have their balance sheets. I mean, I can't prove it. But talking to people

00:23:14   at Apple off the record. That wasn't it. It's Apple almost never and you know, this Apple

00:23:22   executives almost never explain themselves, right? It's it's I always think of that scene from there

00:23:29   will be blood where Daniel Day Lewis is character says I hate to explain myself. Apple is like that.

00:23:35   If it's not in the keynote, or in the marketing materials on apple.com, they don't want to explain

00:23:41   why they did x, right? They just don't want to talk. They just it's just part of their culture.

00:23:47   But sometimes they'll say no, right? I won't say why. But they all categorically I was told

00:23:56   that the money they made from licensing, made for iPhone stuff for the lightning port, or selling

00:24:03   their own lightning cables was negligible by Apple standards. And that in the past,

00:24:09   that used to be a big deal. But it really was an iPod era thing. Like in the iPod era, it was a

00:24:17   significant amount of money and everybody still to this day. In fact, more and more like when you

00:24:23   check into a hotel and they still have a 30 pin adapter on the alarm clock. It's Oh my God, how

00:24:29   old is this alarm clock? Back then that that stuff was a big deal. That's not the reason I really

00:24:36   think it best my best theory is that they were reluctant to change because they the iPhone is so

00:24:44   popular with literally like a billion users around the world that they just didn't want to risk

00:24:50   pissing people off and that however frustrating it was for people who just wanted to go USB C for

00:24:57   everything. It's not infuriating when they didn't switch for the iPhone 12 or 13 or 14. It's just

00:25:06   frustrating. Whereas switching could risk infuriating people. And I feel like they just

00:25:12   sort of were gun shy about it. That's, yeah, I think that's it. I think that's real. I don't

00:25:20   think that's not real. Right. You don't want to piss off your customers. I think that the money

00:25:24   piece is negligible by Apple standards is still a huge amount of money. Right. So if you want to run

00:25:32   around funding, like negligible by Apple standards is enough to fund one movie on Apple TV plus,

00:25:39   right? Like they're not bad at this. And I think that like turning off any money,

00:25:45   especially when your sales are kind of sideways and it's like a weird time. I think that no,

00:25:50   Tim Cook is many things. He's excellent at making money, right? Like he's an amazing business person

00:25:57   and there's no reason that he's going to incur cost to switch to USB C while turning off the

00:26:03   revenue associated with the old port, unless he has to. And I think with the iPad, they had to,

00:26:10   in order to make the iPad a credible laptop replacement, which is where they needed it to go.

00:26:16   And you can debate whether they got there, but they needed to make that claim.

00:26:20   They had to enable faster USB speeds, faster charging and ecosystem of device, all this stuff.

00:26:27   So they did it because the product demanded it. The product for the lightning cable

00:26:33   is like it charges your phone. Maybe it connects to your car. So they didn't need it for the longest

00:26:38   time until they were made to do it. So I don't want to say it was the money. They needed all

00:26:42   the money and they're being greedy. I think it's a much more raw, instinctual business decision.

00:26:47   Why would I turn off some money for any reason? And it's like, it's hard to fault any business

00:26:54   for looking at it that way. Yeah, it does seem now here we are on the cusp of December and it

00:27:02   does seem like they switched without really pissing people off. Right. It doesn't seem

00:27:08   there's nowhere near as much consternation or, hey, this is a money grab play. There was when

00:27:16   they switched the iPhone from the 30 pin connector to lightning with the iPhone 5, I believe was the

00:27:24   first one with lightning, which even people in my family, my extended family at least thought was

00:27:30   a money grab like, oh, and it's don't you see how much better this port is? I mean, well,

00:27:35   because you don't have to buy Apple's cable with lightning. You go buy Apple's cable with USB-C.

00:27:39   You're like anywhere. Right. And there's one of these cables floating around. Right. Well,

00:27:43   and the other thing though, about the money is I really don't think made for iPhone with lightning

00:27:48   has been a moneymaker. Even I just don't think I don't even know what products it would be. What

00:27:53   products shipped with lightning ports anymore. Very, very few. Every single third party cable.

00:27:59   I yeah, but I got even I've talked to people who make from companies that sell their own

00:28:06   lightning cables. And they said like the licensing fee really was even by the standards of the

00:28:13   company selling the cables negligible. It really was just sort of a quality control

00:28:18   surcharge. I think where Apple makes money is selling their own cables in the store.

00:28:24   And they sell their own USB-C cables for $29. Right. Which are ridiculous. Right. Yeah. So

00:28:29   they still have that going on. I just think that they were a little conservative about it. But

00:28:34   I will say it with just two people in the house at the moment, because my son's in college,

00:28:39   my wife's iPhone 15 Pro, because I didn't wake up at the crack of dawn to order it for

00:28:48   didn't show up until I think early November, it was a long time. And so there was like a six week

00:28:55   period where I had an iPhone with a USB-C port and she did not and it really, we don't have that many

00:29:02   cables around the house. I mean, if it was up to me, we'd have all sorts of cables all over the

00:29:07   place. She's more in charge of where we're allowed to have permanent standing cables. And it did it

00:29:13   did interfere with it. And now now that she's got one, the one device we have left between us that

00:29:20   still is lightning is her, I guess, first gen AirPods Pro or maybe they're second, I don't even

00:29:26   know which gen they are. But because they're not brand new, they have a lightning thing on the case.

00:29:32   And it's where is she going to charge these. And so now it's my job to just sort of babysit her

00:29:38   AirPods and every once in a while, take them to my office or somewhere and charge them or do they

00:29:43   not? That's the one before the wireless charging or there were there is wireless charging, but

00:29:48   we don't have a magsafe puck. Again, I don't have permission to have a permanent magsafe

00:29:54   puck in the kitchen. Just for it because it would be there just for her AirPods because otherwise,

00:29:59   why would you use my god, I get dude, you got to get on Amazon, you got to start looking at the

00:30:03   alphabet soup brands. There's a thing out there that can hold all this stuff. Like I walk in the

00:30:08   door, I like throw my keys in the thing, I put my AirPods in the thing, it all looks nice. But it's

00:30:13   it's I couldn't even tell you the name of the company I bought this thing from. Yeah.

00:30:18   Right. That's what's it? Amazon alphabet soup. But anyway, I think that's been successful. I think

00:30:24   that the I still do I at this point, I still appreciate how much lighter the phone is than

00:30:31   the stainless steel ones that they've been selling for years. And I as someone who prefers to go

00:30:36   caseless, I know it seems so superficial. But I so much prefer the way that it feels in my hand

00:30:43   to that shiny stainless steel with not sharp corners, but sort of harsh corners.

00:30:50   The matte finish of the titanium and the rounded, chamfered edges, whatever you want to call them,

00:30:56   are so much more pleasant in hand. It's it's now just in my case to make sure you're not

00:31:01   lying to me. No, you're right. I'm a case person. I dropped this thing left and right.

00:31:05   To me, I think it's fascinating that they're marketing this thing as titanium. It is the

00:31:11   point of the marketing. Right. It is it is the first word out of all the celebrities lips when

00:31:16   they like iPhone 15 Pro titanium. And it's like, most people have in a case, what you're going to

00:31:21   notice is that it's lighter. Yeah, which is great. I agree with you. But it's interesting that you

00:31:27   and a few people who are, frankly, insane, who don't have cases, are the only people that will

00:31:33   ever actually touch the phone. Well, I think that's always I think that's, it's long been

00:31:39   fascinating to me. I did a poll on Mastodon. And my audience, of course, is out landishly unlike

00:31:45   the general population. But I did a poll, I don't know, sometime over the summer, people who follow

00:31:51   me on Mastodon, do you put your iPhone in a case? And I think I put it in the show notes, but off

00:31:56   the top of my head. My questions were, do you use an Apple branded case, a third party case or no

00:32:02   case at all? And it was like, I think roughly one third, one third, one third, which blew me away. I

00:32:10   didn't even think amongst my audience that one third of people don't use a case. Because in

00:32:15   reality, it's got to be like, I don't know, 95% of people at least keep their phones in a case.

00:32:22   But I've always thought that part of the reason why is because the phones are so nice uncased.

00:32:29   It's like, even though people like take it out of the most people, unbox their brand new iPhone,

00:32:38   look at it, appreciate how nice it looks. They care about what color they bought,

00:32:43   and then put it in a case that covers up the nice sides, covers up the back color,

00:32:50   and they never see it again, until they take it out of the case to trade it in for a new phone

00:32:55   in two or three years. Yeah, but it's the fact that they know that inside the case is this

00:33:01   beautiful pristine, shiny iPhone that makes them want to put it in a case whereas if,

00:33:07   if in some alternate universe iPhones were sort of G shock, Casio G shock style devices that are

00:33:18   sort of a rugged plasticy shell, that's what the device actually is. I don't think people would

00:33:25   care about putting them in cases they wouldn't care if they get scratched up. It's and their

00:33:29   ads for years during the stainless steel era, always way over emphasized how shiny the stainless

00:33:37   steel is. Right? I mean, yes, they were they were it was like jewelry photography, not consumer

00:33:43   electronics photography to sort of emphasize the difference between the iPhone Pro models and the

00:33:49   iPhone non pro models. Yeah, I mean, I the again, this one, I think it's really interesting that

00:33:55   we're leaning into the material and not the camera or the action button or any of the features of the

00:34:00   phone. And I think it's still a little bit of a remnant of the sort of Johnny Ive fashion era.

00:34:08   Like it still permeates Apple a little bit when they do the big mass consumer marketing. These

00:34:14   are fashion items or cultural objects, all this stuff. I mean, right next to that is they're

00:34:18   showing the Olivia Rodrigo commercials where they're shooting it right like they are emphasizing

00:34:23   the technical capabilities there. But even that is about a cultural product, right? It's not the

00:34:28   music video. It's not really about the phone. Like you wouldn't walk away from that ad. Being like,

00:34:35   I know a lot about the phone, what you know is this phone was used to make this really awesome

00:34:38   music video. And that there's much more of a cultural piece to that, which I think,

00:34:44   emphasizing the material is, it's of the same category. Right? Here's a here's a very luxury

00:34:51   item. At this point, we're we're, we are in the middle of covering gigantic trials. It seems like

00:34:57   the entire tech world is literally on trial all the time right now. And we have this window

00:35:03   because of DOJ versus Google, which is all about Apple's deal with Google to have Google as default

00:35:09   search, and then Epic versus Google, which is all about Google's contractual relationships with

00:35:14   various parties who make the phones make the apps. We have this window into how all these deals are

00:35:19   made. And you're like, Oh, the iPhone really is dominant. The world warps around this product.

00:35:24   And Apple just has to make you think it's constantly cool in the marketing.

00:35:28   Yeah, because it's not that you won't go buy a new iPhone, you won't forget about it.

00:35:33   But the brand halo of looking at how cool the thing I own is, is like important to maintain.

00:35:40   It's fascinating to watch Apple market a new phone, which is, I mean, I think it's very similar

00:35:46   to the outgoing phone minus USB-C, even the camera, like, they're right on top of each other.

00:35:50   Like the longer zoom, obviously performs a little better in low light. There's there's the

00:35:54   incremental stuff. But pound for pound, they're like very similar. And there's, in my opinion,

00:36:01   there's really no way for a 15 year old product for that not to be true. Right. And every once in

00:36:08   a while, there will be some sort of breakthrough. I mean, the best example I can possibly think of,

00:36:15   because it's almost a canonical example would be the Mac in 2020. At age, let me think here 36.

00:36:25   Yeah, 36 year old platform, moving to Apple Silicon was a holy shit, this is like years

00:36:34   of difference. If you bought like a late or in the middle of 2020, bought the last generation

00:36:42   of an Intel MacBook of any model, compared to what you would get in the end of November,

00:36:49   when Apple Silicon and the first M1 chips debuted, it was like, wow, these are, it's a chasm chasm

00:36:58   between these two products. That's very rare for an established product. And the iPhone at 15. It's

00:37:04   just you can't, you just can't reasonably expect anything like that on a regular basis, right?

00:37:11   There really isn't a practical difference between the iPhone 14 and 15. In almost any regard,

00:37:19   other than the USB C and the difference between the titanium and steel. And yeah, and for the

00:37:26   people who put them in a kit that I put it in my review. It's like the nice thing about the

00:37:30   titanium versus steel thing is even if you are in the vast majority of people who keep your phone in

00:37:35   a case all the time, you still enjoy the benefits of the weight reduction. Yeah, which is which is

00:37:40   not nothing. No, it's very meaningful. Here's the thing they could do. They could steal from

00:37:44   car world. So there are these long running car models in the world. And every now and again,

00:37:50   they're like, we're bringing it back. Here's a Mustang from the sixties again, here's a new

00:37:55   beetle. And you're like, will they ever just do the iPhone four again? Like if they put, if the

00:38:00   iPhone 16 was just the iPhone four design, but bigger for our time of bigger screens, I feel like

00:38:07   yeah, I'm definitely buying that. Zero questions asked. I would buy an iPhone four. I would buy an

00:38:13   iPhone 16 sized iPhone four. Man, that was a pretty cool design too. It was easily the best one.

00:38:20   I like the iPhone five and five s best, but for similar reasons, right and and but for

00:38:30   retro nostalgic value, I'd give I'd give it to the iPhone four four s style because it was a little

00:38:36   bit more iconic or stood out a little bit it was a little bit it was it wasn't like the iPhones that

00:38:43   came before it. And there hasn't been, there haven't been iPhones since that look even

00:38:46   introduced. I think he said it looks like a beautiful old Leica camera. Like it was introduced

00:38:51   with a bit of retro to it. But I just want to be look at other things. Yeah. Other things that run

00:38:57   for this amount of time. There's always at some point, a callback to the past is a reset. And you

00:39:03   build from there. Cars are I think are probably the best example of this. But it happens in

00:39:08   watches. It happens in fashion. It has not yet happened in technology design, which seems to be

00:39:14   ever pushing forwards towards canonical examples of what a laptop is or a phone. But you could just

00:39:22   you could totally see how you would rewind it. You could get somewhere if they put out a

00:39:26   titanium power rook g4. Like I'd buy tomorrow zero questions asked. I would buy that thing.

00:39:36   Yeah, something that really looked like the old one, but just had modern bezels around the screen

00:39:40   and stuff like that. But tomorrow, if you're listening, tomorrow. I also do think it does

00:39:48   seem like broadly across industries. Design has gotten homogenized in the last decade, or decade

00:40:00   and a half, right? Like you really it is it is extremely difficult to identify a cell phone at a

00:40:07   glance. These days. They all look like iPhones, right? I mean, they all have retful screens,

00:40:14   round corners, same dimensions. It's, it's very hard. Cars, I think, I think have never ever in

00:40:22   the entire 120 years of the auto industry have never looked more all the same. Yeah. And I don't

00:40:32   like it. And the more I see details about it, the less I like it. But I do have to give Tesla credit

00:40:38   for the Cybertruck being wholly unlike anything else that's ever been made, right? The only thing

00:40:45   I can think of that that has any DNA to would be like, well, what if the DeLorean Motor Company had

00:40:51   been a had been a success? And then they expanded to the point where instead of just making a

00:40:58   sports car, they'd made a pickup truck? Well, I guess that's what it would look like, right?

00:41:03   Yeah. And there does seem to be concern. I don't know how well it's going to sell. But it certainly

00:41:08   seems like just in the broad market of people who might buy a pickup truck or an electric truck,

00:41:15   people at least are interested in the Cybertruck. And there's certainly no mistaking which car it

00:41:21   is that when that drives by no one is going to go, Hey, what is that? Was that a Ford? No.

00:41:25   Yeah, it's true. I mean, look, most cars, cars have like a packaging problem. Phones all look

00:41:32   the same. And they work the same, because the manufacturers are desperate to get you to switch.

00:41:36   And so they they reduce the switching costs. This is something that has come out,

00:41:41   again, in these interminable trials, which are very fun to cover, by the way, there's just a

00:41:45   lot of them at once. And the Google like the DOJ one went for 11 weeks. So it's like trial overload,

00:41:50   but you learn a lot. We're learning a lot. And you learn that the you think switching costs is

00:41:57   some like esoteric tech nerd term. And in reality, all these companies are thinking about all the

00:42:03   time. They want to prevent churn, they want to acquire customers, they're like trying to get

00:42:06   market share. And so phones have collapsed. Particularly the central innovation of the iPhone

00:42:12   at the beginning, with Steve Jobs saying all these buttons, you could get them out the way,

00:42:16   let the app define the interface. So the phone like the hardware design of the phone,

00:42:22   really, we've now reached a point where it is fully taken a backseat to the software design.

00:42:28   And then the software design because they want to reduce switching costs is all just sort of

00:42:31   converging on some some iOS Android middle point, right? iOS steal some stuff from Android every

00:42:38   year and Android steal some stuff from iOS. And that's the way it goes. But there is that

00:42:42   convergence. So it is homogenous. Cars is like a is a packaging problem. Particularly as you move

00:42:49   to EVs, and you basically have a big battery and some motors at the wheels. Everyone's what shape

00:42:54   should this be? And those are the cars that are interesting, right? The new Hyundai's and new Kia's,

00:42:59   they're just like out there. Those are some of the most interestingly designed cars that there are.

00:43:04   And then the Cybertruck is like, what if it was a triangle? Why not? I am very curious about two

00:43:12   things with the Cybertruck. One is what you said, will anybody buy it? Right? There's lots of

00:43:16   reservations. We'll see how it goes. I think pickup truck owners notoriously brand loyal.

00:43:22   If there's one thing about the Cybertruck that makes them happy, they're just going to flip back.

00:43:28   If there's one thing about the Cybertruck that makes them unhappy, they're just going to flip

00:43:31   back. That's how that's going to go. And then the second thing, which I will now bring to your

00:43:36   audience, the Verticast audience knows I'm obsessed with this. I have been told that the

00:43:41   wiper is actually two wiper blades in a row. And I have been begging for, well, I guess we'll find

00:43:48   out on Thursday because the launch event's on Thursday. But I have been begging for someone to

00:43:52   just lift this thing up because they're all over the place now and just tell me if it's two wiper

00:43:56   blades in a row. I'm pretty sure they figured it out now and they're just making one gigantic

00:44:03   custom wiper. But I have definitely seen somewhere it's two wipers in a row. And I'm like, of all of

00:44:10   the design problems to resolve in the world, the windshield wiper was like high on Tesla's list

00:44:18   with this truck. I do think that even certainly even more so than your dominance atop what is

00:44:25   a photo. I think how many rubber blades are on the cyber truck wiper has got to be where you

00:44:33   absolutely undeniably are the king of social media. I mean, there's no doubt about it,

00:44:38   Neil. Every now and again, you're like, oh, this is my brand. And my brand is being obsessed with

00:44:41   this wiper because it is, I mean, one, it's hilarious. Like, it's just deeply funny. And

00:44:45   the stakes are so low, like who cares? But two, it's so emblematic of this entire vehicle and

00:44:52   Elon Musk's entire moment where he is so convinced that he's smarter than every other person in the

00:44:59   world that he had to reinvent the wiper blade. And it's, no, you didn't. You really did not.

00:45:05   You could have put two wipers in the front of your truck. Well, it would have been fine.

00:45:09   I think a better example, well, maybe not a better example, but another very similar example is the

00:45:15   goofy yoke steering wheel on some of the Tesla models, which is terrible. I'm sorry. I mean,

00:45:21   I don't, I've never driven one with it, but I've, I just know it's terrible. And I've never seen

00:45:26   anybody who really has opinions about cars who thinks that that's a good design for a steering

00:45:31   wheel, but it does look cooler. That's why Knight Rider had a yoke instead of a steering wheel,

00:45:36   right? Yeah. I mean, it definitely looks cooler. That's the only thing it has going for it,

00:45:42   but ergonomically, it is a terrible design for a steering device for a car. A wheel is what you

00:45:48   want. Then they put that there. I mean, they're not shy about this because they thought that you

00:45:53   wouldn't be driving. Right. So like, why not make it look cool? And that doesn't work well enough.

00:45:58   Right. Or maybe never will. Maybe never will. Right. I can't tell you how many emails I've

00:46:03   gotten from people. I, you probably have too, but people who've worked on the problem in my case,

00:46:08   for a company that isn't yet selling cars who, who genuinely believe, and it's not speaking for the,

00:46:16   for the company, but as a personal engineering level, don't believe full self-driving will ever

00:46:22   be a thing within our lifetimes that it's that difficult, especially given the realistic

00:46:28   constraint that they have to be introduced alongside 99% of cars being driven by humans.

00:46:36   If you could magically say, we're going to make human driven cars illegal, starting in two years,

00:46:45   and the only cars allowed on the road will be self-driving cars, then it's theoretically

00:46:51   possible. I think everybody would agree to have some sort of way that cars would communicate with

00:46:56   each other and it would all be safe and would probably work. But even then there are problems

00:47:03   that are just extremely difficult to, to solve. Yeah. But it was a weird thing for them to bank on

00:47:11   with the industrial design of the steering wheel, the goal wings on the, was it the model Y or

00:47:17   the access Falcon wing doors. Yeah. The Falcon people love them, but they break and they leak

00:47:23   and it's fun. They're terrible in a parking lot because they require space that a door that opens

00:47:28   from the side doesn't necessarily need to get in certain parking lots where, where the spots are

00:47:34   too close to each other. The wings are just a terrible design for a door. Yeah. Well,

00:47:40   they look cool. They do look cool. I mean, look, some people love their Teslas and I know people

00:47:48   who are horrified by Elon Musk and they would like to switch from a Tesla and they're like,

00:47:53   I can't, the tech in this car is too good. I know other people who are like, I can't believe I fell

00:47:58   for full self-driving. I paid $15,000 this feature and it's never going to work. Right. Remember,

00:48:03   Elon promised everybody that your Tesla would just be out there driving at night,

00:48:07   doing robotaxis for you. Yeah. Making money. People believed him. Yeah. In a way that I think

00:48:13   people are starting to get wise. We'll see how the Cybertruck event goes. They're only supposed

00:48:18   to give away 10 of them. I'm assuming they're going to be like heavily NDA. But the reality is

00:48:23   he's now competing in the fiercest part of the American car market. The one with the most brand

00:48:30   loyalty to most of them, the most opinions. Right. With a very expensive product that is

00:48:35   basically a low poly render of a real car. And we'll just, we'll just see. I think this on top

00:48:41   of the Twitter stuff, which is a disaster, I won't post there anymore. And I know a lot of my

00:48:46   journalist friends won't post there anymore. And like brands are quitting and you, you couple the

00:48:50   like, is this product that you sort of bet a chunk of the company's future on any good with also

00:48:57   people are repulsed by the CEO who is just posting openly racist memes now. Yeah. I want, well, can

00:49:04   they continue to attract talent? Right? Like, maybe this is how Apple actually does ship that car.

00:49:09   Because all the good people at Tesla are like, we just need a new place to go work. Right.

00:49:13   I wonder, I have to say as a somebody married to a woman who's not at all tech obsessed, but is

00:49:24   technically proficient, given the general population, but just didn't have strong

00:49:31   opinions about Elon Musk until the Twitter thing happened. She'd heard of him. And she,

00:49:35   I think she had a vague idea that he was sort of a jackass, or like an attention whore, but really

00:49:42   didn't have strong opinions. There is 0% chance that I could convince my wife for us to get a

00:49:47   Tesla. There's no way I might as well ask her to buy a car with swastikas painted on it at this

00:49:52   point. Oh, but he gets, you know, it's really the best driving car. It's like, there's no way she's,

00:49:58   I mean, to her, that's practically that's on the spectrum of what the Tesla brand stands for at

00:50:03   this point. And so they could be giving them away. And I couldn't get her to take one.

00:50:07   Yeah, I have friends who are like, I need to get rid of mine. It's the whole spectrum.

00:50:11   And sometimes like the product is just good enough that it wins over the brand. But that

00:50:15   is not forever. Right. By the way, one thing I'll point out a totally different car related subject.

00:50:21   It's November 28th when we're recording this. Apple has what 32 days, 33 days to ship carplay,

00:50:30   the full carplay that they announced the WWDC last year, this year. It's never going to happen.

00:50:34   It's never, I've talked to so many car CEOs on decoder. I've talked to people who make other car

00:50:41   entertainment systems. I asked them this question, would you ever hand over your car to Apple in this

00:50:46   way? And it's just deafening silence. Right? I learned a lot about this. And you you'll remember

00:50:52   this because actually, I think you are the one of the first people to reach out to me with some

00:50:56   corrections where there was a story a couple months ago where Porsche came out with a new

00:51:03   second sort of like a screen in front of the passenger seat in some of their cars. Yeah. And

00:51:10   I mistakenly thought it might be and they were like, it wasn't like, hey, we're shipping this.

00:51:15   It was like Porsche pre announcing. This is coming. And so I thought, oh, because it's coming

00:51:21   like next year, early next year. This must be the first and I knew that that the whole Porsche group

00:51:28   has been pretty pro carplay, right? The whole Volkswagen company or whatever, I guess. Who is

00:51:35   it? Is it Volkswagen or Porsche who really owns it? I guess it's Porsche who owns the whole group,

00:51:39   but that they've been pretty carplay friendly all along. I thought, oh, this is the first

00:51:44   carplay to announcement. And you're like, no, that's not carplay too. And and then I looked

00:51:48   and of course, I should have known better. There's tons of verge coverage about it. It's just an

00:51:53   extra screen. And then a couple people who own Porsches are like that, that second screen isn't

00:51:57   even new. And it's totally stupid. And every single person, every single No, every single

00:52:04   person who reached out to me who owns a Porsche who has the screen said, I paid extra for it. And

00:52:10   I it's the only thing I regret about my purchase. Because and they're like, hey, this and when you

00:52:15   pay extra for something from Porsche, it's a lot. I don't know what the add on is. But you know,

00:52:21   yeah, I mean, you there's you can get it in black or you can get it in the good black. And it's Oh,

00:52:26   I want the good black paint. And they're like, well, that's an extra $10,000. Ah, geez.

00:52:32   No, I don't think it's coming. Yeah, it was so it was last WWDC. Right. So it was June

00:52:40   22, when the Apple announced it and the gist of it. I got too distracted by the idea that it was

00:52:48   more adaptive to irregular shaped displays, which sounds super useful in the design of a dashboard.

00:52:59   But I think what you can hit on there and what I missed and I see why it might be a non starter

00:53:06   is in addition to that technical detail, which is very cool. And I'm sure car makers would embrace

00:53:13   it. The whole point of carplay to really is to put the whole computer experience for the whole car

00:53:18   in carplace hands, right? It's it's no longer just show me some media stuff from my iPhone,

00:53:26   or let me use my iPhone to show maps from whichever map app I want, which is a great feature,

00:53:31   right? That's one of the great benefits of the carplay Android auto present of cars where you

00:53:40   get a choice in your mapping. And you don't even have to pay if you're using Apple Maps or Google

00:53:45   Maps, as opposed to you have to use your car makers brand of maps and pay your car maker

00:53:54   $45 a month for the privilege. And it's shittier compared to what you would get on your phone

00:54:00   anyway. That's great. But the idea that they're going to put their brand and their control over

00:54:06   the whole thing in anybody else's hands, and I think they're right, honestly, it almost seems

00:54:11   foolish, especially and it gets to the heart of the whole question of Apple's dual position of,

00:54:20   okay, they make one of the two major platforms for getting your phone to drive your on screen

00:54:26   content, right? There's Android and there's iPhone, and that's it. But also, it's the biggest open

00:54:33   secret in the entire history of Apple, I'd say even more so than the headset was until they

00:54:39   announced it a couple months ago, that Apple has an incredibly large division working on making

00:54:47   an Apple branded car, right? So there, I mean, I don't know that they would do it even if if Apple

00:54:55   totally announced if Tim Cook just they just said, we had this whole project Titan, and we're

00:55:03   shutting it down. And then it's just all in the open. And all of these people with expertise in

00:55:08   the area are all on the market and can go to work at Tesla or Ford or whoever else wants to hire

00:55:15   them. Even then, I don't know that car makers would want to put that much control into another

00:55:21   company's hands. But given that Apple is still seemingly working on making competing products,

00:55:28   I don't know, I don't get it. Why would you hand it and you need your phone, right? This is like,

00:55:34   the problem for every car maker is one they know their future, especially as things go electric,

00:55:40   is they're not going to be able to differentiate on engines anymore performance, the cars are going

00:55:45   to be fast and quiet, right? They might be able to differentiate on range, differentiate on the

00:55:50   experience inside the car. And you are already seeing that in huge ways. I love Doug DeMuro

00:55:55   videos, Doug's a good guy, you should go watch them. They're all just about the buttons you can

00:56:00   push inside the car. That's how the cars are being differentiated. Now is look at all the

00:56:04   cup holders and buttons and weird like quirks and features, right? And then he you watch every

00:56:09   single one of these videos, and I've talked to Doug about this a number of times, Doug and every

00:56:13   other car viewer on YouTube, they wave at the screen, and they say it runs carplay and Android

00:56:17   Auto. Yeah, and they just move on. They're done with that. And that is if you are a car maker,

00:56:24   that is death. What is happening is Doug DeMuro is casting a spell on you, that you will die soon,

00:56:31   because you are no longer in control of where all the most interesting features of the future of

00:56:36   cars will happen. And so GM dropping carplay, probably a huge short term mistake for GM.

00:56:40   If you're GM, you're like, we need people to start using our shit. We need people,

00:56:46   we need to escalate buyers to think that our software is good. Is that going to happen?

00:56:52   I have no idea. But it is an amount of self esteem that the car industry has not had about making

00:56:59   software save Tesla in forever. Right. And Rivian, right? And Rivian is brand new. Right.

00:57:06   And it's cool. And you know, Rivian, like they make the whole stack. They've licensed,

00:57:10   I think it's Unreal in their cars, the Unreal Engine, the graphics are really cool.

00:57:14   You can see the newer car makers have figured this out. The older car makers are not going to just

00:57:21   hand this over to Apple and die, which is I think what would happen. We started this whole

00:57:26   conversation by saying all cars kind of look the same and design is dead. If you're driving around

00:57:30   in a bunch of bubbly crossover SUVs that are all running carplay, like how are you going to

00:57:36   advertise these cars? But how are you going to market any differentiation? So there's some huge

00:57:42   tension there that's going to get resolved. I don't know in which way. And I think some car

00:57:48   makers are running towards Apple basically. And most of them are running towards Google.

00:57:56   And they're saying, we're going to let Android Automotive, which is Google's OS for cars,

00:58:01   not Android Auto, the phone, the Android Automotive, who's actually the OS for cars

00:58:06   and run in the car. We're going to bet on this because we think the power of Google's overall

00:58:11   ecosystem and cars will bring us an app platform and all the other stuff that we need. And that's

00:58:19   GM, that's Ford, that's Volvo. It's like down the line, they're all running Android.

00:58:24   Right. But with carplay support, most of the cars that have carplay support are running on Android.

00:58:30   Yeah. It's utterly crazy. Right. But at some point they're going to, I think they're all inevitably

00:58:38   going to do the GM thing, except for Volvo. I just had CEO of Volvo on decoder.

00:58:44   Yeah. And he was like, no, we're never doing that.

00:58:46   I don't know about that. I think keeping it so that you can at least get the content from your

00:58:50   phone, like media content and maps content onto your screen just makes people happy. I thought

00:58:56   it was so funny because it's so seldom happens. But Joanna Stern, our mutual dear friend had

00:59:03   the CEO of Ford on stage at one of the Wall Street Journal's events over the summer. And when she

00:59:09   asked him about the GM decision to drop carplay, he laughed. And you really just don't see CEOs

00:59:17   laughing at their competitors very often. And maybe long-term even they'll move in that direction,

00:59:23   but in the near term, it seems, man, that is a disaster. And the backstory on that is just how

00:59:29   many people when they go into a dealer to buy a car have carplay and it's a stat Apple has bragged

00:59:36   about. And it was so eye popping. I think you and I might've even been together when they first

00:59:42   popped like at that first WWDC, the one we're talking about where they announced carplay too.

00:59:47   And when they announced how many US new car buyers demand have carplay as a non-negotiable feature

00:59:54   they want. I forget what the number was, but it's, I don't know, it's 80% or I don't know,

00:59:59   some ridiculous number. And we were like, that can't be true. And they were like, well, it's

01:00:04   a new car buyers, not car buyers, right? And so new car buyers by definition are more affluent.

01:00:11   It's because they're more, way more expensive than used cars. And you listen to them and it's,

01:00:17   huh, that does make sense. And then you look into it. And it's like other people say the same thing.

01:00:21   And people people wrote into me and they're like, yeah, I work at a car dealer. And yes,

01:00:26   that's the how many people come in and say I need, they won't look at a car without carplay.

01:00:31   Trenton Larkin And I, I believe it. Honda and Toyota were

01:00:34   holdouts for a long time. And they actually they had to cave right the market just demanded carplay

01:00:38   from them. I'm just saying if you are, if you are a carmaker, if you are any kind of device maker,

01:00:45   turning over the core user interface of your product to another company is not a good idea.

01:00:51   No. Well, it's just think about it just from the maps perspective, right? And I agree with you. I

01:00:56   love I, I'm, I have like Tom Tom map, we have a new gene, and has whatever maps Tom Tom or whatever.

01:01:02   And it's this is horrible. But if you are selling an EV to people, and you needed to be able to plan

01:01:09   a route or do charging, or self driving, you actually need control of the map, you need

01:01:17   control of the navigation interface of the car, right? And you've got to wait for Apple to give

01:01:23   it to you. That's you can't hand your future off like that. And I, I really do think this is the

01:01:28   central tension. Apple had a great idea with carplay to although I think we talked about this

01:01:32   last year, maybe the design of it, like just what they were showing on the screens was asinine.

01:01:39   It was like four clocks. But they had the right idea, right? This big adaptive thing,

01:01:43   all this, all the apps will take over the speedometer, all this stuff. They're better

01:01:46   designers, obviously. But you there's no wonder no one's taken it up. You cannot hand over

01:01:52   everything the future of your business to a company, like you said, that might be building

01:01:57   a car of its own. Well, and the other factor too, that I've wondered about, and really,

01:02:02   sort of a year later, when I re re looked at it this summer with that Porsche thing,

01:02:07   is well, wait a second, even if a car maker totally bought in to Apple's spiel and said,

01:02:17   Okay, we're going to embrace carplay to as soon as we can, we're going to put our engineering team

01:02:23   onto it and say this is a high priority, we would like to ship these in the first possible model

01:02:28   year. It only works if the customer has an iPhone, right? That's the only way that you get carplay

01:02:35   to so the car needs to do all of that stuff in its built in interface anyway, right? Because it's

01:02:41   like stuff like like how much how much energy is left in the battery if it's an electric vehicle,

01:02:47   right? That's obviously that's essential information. If it's presented through carplay to

01:02:53   when you you're using carplay to there still needs to be a way when for people who don't own

01:02:58   an iPhone or if you just even if you do own an iPhone, but you get in the car without your phone

01:03:03   with you. Yeah, it needs to still be there. So it effectively doubles the work. It's like you need

01:03:11   to have a built in interface for everything. And then you need to redesign everything to work with

01:03:16   carplay to that makes no sense. Honestly, it just and the other thing that it's just sort of ironic,

01:03:22   almost it's Horace Deju coined it as the the cook doctrine. But it was one of the maybe the first

01:03:30   time that Tim or maybe the second time that he was acting CEO while Steve Jobs was out on medical

01:03:35   leave, but it was in hindsight, obviously sort of laying the groundwork for Tim Cook, who up until

01:03:42   that point had sort of been a behind the scenes figure at Apple, and mainly known for his presence

01:03:49   on the quarterly analyst calls not at keynotes or product wise, but he sort of had to in his

01:03:57   prepared statement like a effectively a doctrine and read it and it was part of it was I'll put

01:04:05   the link to the show notes where where Horace transcribed it but the part that sticks out is

01:04:11   we believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make

01:04:16   and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.

01:04:20   That is essentially just that it that explains why they pursued Apple silicon when they could have

01:04:29   easily stayed on Intel forever. Because then they you know, while the Mac platform was on Intel,

01:04:37   they it was at worst, technically under the hood, architecturally the same as every other

01:04:44   PC out there. And so they could compete solely on the design of the cases, the quality of the

01:04:50   displays, and of course, the software versus Windows, but so essential that they deemed it

01:04:57   worthwhile to pursue their own architecture, right? That if you apply that doctrine as a car

01:05:05   maker, controlling the interface to the car on the screen to be deemed a primary technology behind

01:05:14   the products that you make. Right? Yeah. No, without question. It is that I'm glad you brought

01:05:20   this up because it's the thing that's always been on my mind when I hear about the future of cars is

01:05:24   if you seed control of the software, you've lost the product, right? Especially with EVs like it

01:05:31   is like a traditional carmaker is really good at building gasoline engines, controlling explosions,

01:05:40   moving fuel, right? An engine is a big air pump. It's that is a very complicated mechanical

01:05:45   engineering problem. And I'm not saying EVs are not, but they're different in a meaningful way.

01:05:52   And the consumer experience of them is meaningfully different, right? So now you're

01:05:59   just left with the experiences you can have in the car. And boy, if you don't have control of

01:06:05   the screen, are you limited in what you can do? Like you're down to cup holders. You're down to

01:06:09   basically coupled. Well, you say cup holders when we took Jonas, we took my son, we drove him up to

01:06:15   Boston for his sophomore year of college at the end of August. And I rented a Jeep Wagoneer, which

01:06:22   is their big ass, but DNA via blood and truly one of the ugliest cars ever. Oh, it is it was

01:06:28   hideously ugly. And it's ridiculous. It's so big. It is so big that as we were driving, I noticed

01:06:34   that I could as an of course, I passed a lot of cars because I drive fast. But as we would pass

01:06:40   minivans, I could see their sunroof. I'm so high up that I'm looking that's really down on a

01:06:48   minivan. But there was some question I had about the Wagoneer and I thought I know that the best

01:06:54   way to find an answer to this is Oh, I know what it was. I couldn't find the the USB C port that

01:07:02   I would want to use to plug my phone into CarPlay. So I didn't have to use Bluetooth. And it was it.

01:07:08   I just couldn't find it. And so I looked at a YouTube video and the YouTube video was about

01:07:14   the fact that the Wagoneer has 18 USB ports. And they were celebrating. This is so awesome.

01:07:21   Look at this. It doesn't matter where you're sitting. You've got you can charge to every

01:07:25   single seat in this car can have two devices charging backseat, middle seat, middle seat,

01:07:32   even the middle seat. There's like here is a USB port just for somebody sitting in the middle seat

01:07:36   in the second row. And it's exactly but that's that's cupholders right 18 USB ports.

01:07:42   Why not? So my Jeep does also has a second screen in the front passenger. And I have all these

01:07:49   dreams that my wife will drive and I'll plug my phone in over HDMI and stream and it's not just

01:07:55   gonna hold my phone. Like I did it once. And I was like, Wait, why am I not just holding my phone?

01:08:00   And the only other thing you can do is put the map up on it. But it's only the built in map.

01:08:05   So we have the screen that we never use. And that is I'm telling you, this is existential for car

01:08:10   makers. Yeah, no doubt about it faces. And the sooner they recognize that, I mean, and it to me,

01:08:18   it's the broad trend. And I think it's underappreciated. You get it because I think it

01:08:22   almost exemplifies the verge. What is it that the verge covers is the fact that everything is

01:08:32   becoming a computer, everything's a computer, and it's only going to accelerate right. I mean,

01:08:37   my favorite example is that our headphones are computers now, right? Little our airport,

01:08:42   our air air pods and every other wireless headphones from competing companies that are

01:08:47   the same thing. They're just little independent computers that fit in your ear. That's all

01:08:52   everything is a computer. And car makers who don't recognize that they're just big multi ton,

01:08:58   fast moving computers. They're out there. They're missing the point. That's all they are. They're

01:09:04   just big people transporting computers. Yeah, they fail. There's an infinite car makers love

01:09:11   car CEOs love being on decoder. They like talking about it. They want to talk to a tech audience

01:09:17   about how they know they are rolling computers now. And there's a big split. There's the car part

01:09:23   where they're basically integrating hundreds, if not thousands of little custom microcontrollers

01:09:30   from different suppliers that control the windshield wipers and the body control module.

01:09:34   All of that stuff is now moving to unified platforms. And that was initially the big Tesla

01:09:41   innovation. It is the Rivian innovation, right? That they've, they've unified the compute

01:09:46   architecture of the entire car so that your brake lights are running on the same compute stack as

01:09:52   whatever else. That is not true in most cars today yet in a way that it's true. That's why Tesla can

01:09:58   do over there updates. And then there's the infotainment experience, which is what most

01:10:03   people think when the car is a computer. So these things are happening in parallel. The car makers

01:10:09   have very quickly moved on the unify all of the architecture of the car piece because they all

01:10:17   have the same problem. So the suppliers are getting ahead of it, right? Cause they're just responding

01:10:22   to like market demand basically from all these car makers. So they're figuring it out over there,

01:10:28   make good touch screen computers continues to allude virtually every company that is not Apple

01:10:35   or Samsung's mobile division. Google, right? There's a handful of companies that are like,

01:10:40   we're good at touch screen, mobile computers and car makers as of yet save Tesla are not among them.

01:10:46   Right. Rivian may be close, but even there. I keep not talking about like,

01:10:51   keep bringing up Rivian's a teeny tiny company. Right. That's exactly why Lucid is potentially

01:10:56   good at this too. Right. But like, right there, they are just different. Well, and it's yeah,

01:11:02   cause there's currently there. So you just, you don't buy a Rivian. You get on a years long list

01:11:07   to buy a Rivian. You can at least one now. Do you have to get on a list? I don't know. And they will

01:11:13   allow you to lease a Rivian. So they're really nice vehicles that you're on a list. It's just

01:11:18   a list of people who make 95,000 dollars that are currently, they're currently made in such small

01:11:24   quantities that there's just no way to extrapolate what it means to the industry. Like you had

01:11:29   mentioned earlier that pickup truck buyers are infamously brand loyal and Rivian can sell their

01:11:37   pickup trucks as fast as they can make them. But there's such a small quantity that it doesn't,

01:11:43   it doesn't give us any clue as to whether the majority of pickup truck buyers are willing to

01:11:52   switch to brands like Rivian or Tesla or something like that. It's just, it's just too much of a

01:11:57   rounding error at this point as much as I, and I wish them luck because I love their design and,

01:12:02   and I hope they succeed and thrive, but it's just too hard to, to draw any conclusions from their

01:12:09   small quantity. Yeah. The first job that chat GPT is going to take in the auto industry is the

01:12:13   person who writes the press release at Ford every year saying the F-150 is the best selling vehicle.

01:12:17   They have written that press release for 40 years. Just let the robot do it, man. It's going to be

01:12:23   fine. It just sounds it's to me hearing that phrase makes me think of NFL football because

01:12:32   I don't remember, I don't remember watching football on TV without hearing that in a

01:12:39   commercial, the best selling pickup truck in America. Oh, sorry. This is totally inside

01:12:45   baseball. I think your audience will appreciate it. So, you know, the built Ford tough plate.

01:12:50   Yeah. A friend of the ad industry, that plate was real. That was a real thing that they dropped

01:12:55   to get that sound and that effect. And there, apparently there had been discussions about

01:13:00   redoing it, updated, make sure, then they got to make another place. And then there was like,

01:13:06   I don't know. I don't know where they landed. I just know that there was some conversation

01:13:08   I'm doing in CGI and like people had very strong feelings about not actually dropping

01:13:13   a giant metal plate again. Page Todd Visserie here for debate.

01:13:19   Yeah. I would just say it's the cyber truck wiper. And did they drop a giant metal plate in the Ford

01:13:24   ad? These are the car stories that I am chasing at the verge.com. All right, let me take a break

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01:16:29   of the talk show a free bag of coffee with any subscription. Again, the URL is drink trade.com/the

01:16:36   talk show. That's drink trade.com/the talk show for a free bag of coffee with any subscription

01:16:42   purchase. Drink trade.com/the talk show. It's funny what podcasts I don't do you do the reads

01:16:52   for decoder or no, usually the decoder ones are often they're pre recorded, but they we are we

01:16:58   are precious journalists, my friend. The well, I'm a one man show. So I don't have the opportunity.

01:17:05   But I was listening to Bill Simmons podcast this week. And you can tell what they require where

01:17:11   they're like, you have to say this this many times or this paragraph must be read verbatim.

01:17:16   He had a spot from McDonald's. And at the end, he had to say copyright 2023 McDonald's Corporation.

01:17:24   And it's like, no way. I swear to God, somebody at McDonald's, some lawyer at McDonald's needs

01:17:32   to be fired. Because you don't need you don't need to state a copyright in a radio ad or a

01:17:41   podcast ad. It's like, what are you doing? We might as well parlay this into talking about decoder you.

01:17:48   I mean, it makes me sick. To be honest, the guests you've had and let's just start with the big one.

01:17:54   You had fucking Obama. Yeah, on the show. My wife thought it was really cool. That was the coolest

01:18:00   she's ever thought I've been. That's great. How did that come about? I highly recommend it. And

01:18:05   it was for it was the topic and it was good that you had a topic because I mean, again, I mean,

01:18:10   you know me, I'm I'll keep you here for three hours. I keep Obama Yeah, I mean, you could go

01:18:15   for three weeks talking to that guy. But it was about the AI regulations that the Biden

01:18:19   administration had passed and what he thinks about it. But how did it come about?

01:18:22   I don't want to sound like I'm bragging at this point. There is more incoming to decoder than

01:18:28   outgoing, which is really fascinating. See, I took over the show from Kara Swisher. This was recode

01:18:35   decode. It was our old feed and she went to the Times and, and I'm a confident man. I think people

01:18:42   acknowledge I have no lack of self confidence. But you know, it's like a daunting thing to take over

01:18:47   Kara Swisher. So in the beginning, there's like lots of like, what are we gonna do? How do we not

01:18:51   turn the audience and we've just gotten the show to the point where I think it's understandable

01:18:58   enough what's going to happen and what we're going to talk about and how it's going to work

01:19:01   that I think a lot of people want to be on it. I always describe it as it's a game that CEOs

01:19:07   can plausibly win. Most of the episodes should be a tie. That's how I feel about it. But most CEOs,

01:19:14   most executives, most ex presidents are pretty type A. They would like to be challenged and they

01:19:19   would like to, they would like to win. I feel the same way. So decoder is set up that way.

01:19:23   It's not over, it's not contentious. Sometimes it can be, but it's set up to be challenging.

01:19:30   And so there's just, we do get a lot of incoming. And I think with Obama in particular,

01:19:36   the one that we did was actually our second attempt at it. The first one had been just a

01:19:41   couple of weeks prior. He had been set to open a big social media department at Harvard. There

01:19:47   was a big fancy launch event. He was going to be on stage and we were going to do decoder right after

01:19:51   and talk about content moderation. He's really big on it. He thinks that we should rethink how social

01:19:57   networks impact democracy. This is a big point of it. It's in that interview because I was obviously

01:20:02   very well prepped for that interview. And then he had what they called COVID like symptoms, so he

01:20:06   had to cancel. So I was like, "Oh, this is never going to happen." I left and everyone was riding

01:20:12   high and my team was all around me. They were all dressed up and they all looked sad. And then the

01:20:17   AI thing was happening and his team called back and said, "He really wants to talk to you about

01:20:21   this stuff." And I think, again, I just come back to that first piece of it. I'm good at whatever

01:20:27   the things I'm going to talk about are. There are very few places where you can sit in the weeds of

01:20:32   content moderation and get into it and be challenged and have it still be accessible to

01:20:37   the audience. I want decoder to be that show where I always joke that the tagline of the entire

01:20:42   verge is, "It's fun to be smart." And it's fun. So he came back and we talked about AI a little bit,

01:20:47   but really what I wanted to talk to him about was how are we going to regulate social networks when

01:20:53   there's just cannons of AI hallucinations pointed at every input box in the internet?

01:20:59   Because you have a First Amendment in this country that makes it very difficult

01:21:03   to even think about doing it. And if we were talking about Lightroom earlier,

01:21:09   I can open Lightroom or Photoshop and confidently, with a lot of effort, make an image that looks

01:21:16   convincing that is a lie. And the government really can't regulate me out of doing that.

01:21:20   And they can't regulate Photoshop out of doing that. If I push a button that says, "Generate

01:21:26   an image of me at the Eiffel Tower," the government right now is thinking about how to

01:21:30   regulate Adobe when you push that button and not the other button. That's, to me, it's just like a

01:21:36   wild point in history. There's only two other places where I can think of where that happens.

01:21:43   One, you cannot Photoshop a dollar bill. You can't do it. You can try to scan into Photoshop. Maybe

01:21:49   you can edit it. You try to print it. At some point, it's like, "No, we just don't allow this

01:21:54   to happen. Stop it." And then the second is obviously child pornography. It's like speech that

01:21:59   most platforms, we accept some amount of automated content recognition and integration with the

01:22:03   police and everybody understands why. That's it. But now with AI, because the volume of deception

01:22:09   can be so high, there is a real conversation about, "Okay, should we regulate the tools or

01:22:15   the distributors?" And I think Obama, he's a big nerd and he just wanted to talk about it

01:22:21   with somebody who was already in the weeds. And I'm a huge nerd and I was excited to do that.

01:22:27   I don't know why people come to us, but that's my belief is that the show is challenging and

01:22:33   people are drawn to it. It was a great interview. And I'm about as pro-Joe Biden as anybody I know.

01:22:44   I really like him and I actually, I think he's doing a great job as president. But yet at the

01:22:49   same time, I watched your interview with Obama and I'm like, "Christ, I miss that guy."

01:22:54   I do.

01:22:55   It's an overwhelming reaction to this interview.

01:22:58   Both of those things can be true, right? I can totally think Joe Biden is doing a very good job

01:23:05   as president and I'm very proud of a lot of the decisions or most of the decisions he made.

01:23:11   In fact, I might even politically align more with Joe Biden personally than Barack Obama on certain

01:23:18   issues, right? Like I'm very, my politics very much aligned with Joe Biden's. But yet at the

01:23:22   same time, even me as a very pro-Biden person, he's not Barack Obama, right? He's not. He just isn't.

01:23:32   The guy is just, he is a once in a lifetime combination of so many things, charisma,

01:23:43   intellect, open-mindedness, knowledge, humility, right? Like he has an enormous amount of humility

01:23:50   for somebody who's, well, a two-time…

01:23:53   Well, let me offer you one tiny… I'll give you actually two tiny counterpoints to this.

01:23:59   At Decoder, we interview a whole lot of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Everyone needs

01:24:04   to know how to pronounce my name. So the way that I have learned to get around telling people how to

01:24:10   pronounce my name is I ask them how to pronounce their name. And then that has evolved into,

01:24:15   and tell me what title you'd like to use. And I'll tell you this after two years now we've been doing

01:24:20   this, academics really give a shit about what title. Like you ask that question, you get like

01:24:25   a 10-minute response, all the endowments say whatever. CEOs are like, "Whatever." Barack

01:24:30   Obama looked at me and said, "Everyone knows who I am." Just flatly that's what he said. It was an

01:24:35   incredible… I was like, "All right, my shtick is not working here, whatever, but at least I said

01:24:39   my name to him." And then as he was leaving, and this just blew my mind, we had been talking about

01:24:48   the First Amendment and writing some laws. And there's this very famous Supreme Court case

01:24:53   called Red Lion that says the government can regulate broadcasters because they use public

01:24:57   airwaves. This is why the FCC could find CBS for the Janet Jackson thing, but they can't

01:25:03   regulate what happens on the internet. CBS uses the public airwaves. So it's like, you got to

01:25:07   find something. How are you going to regulate the internet without somebody like this? And he just

01:25:12   looked at me and he's like, "Yeah, you just got to figure it out. You'll figure it out." And he

01:25:16   just left. And I was like, "Oh, you used to be the most powerful person in the world." Your brain is

01:25:21   like, "Why are you bothering me with this problem? Come up with four solutions and I'll pick one."

01:25:26   Yes, there's humility, there's intellectual humility. But then every now and again,

01:25:30   you're reminded, he's very aware that he's one of the most famous people in world history,

01:25:36   and certainly used to be the most powerful person in the world.

01:25:39   Pete: Right. So I say that relative to who he is and what he's accomplished, right?

01:25:45   Joe: That's true.

01:25:45   Pete; Not just a two-time president of the United States, but a overwhelmingly popular

01:25:50   two-time president of the United States.

01:25:52   Joe; And left and right, the feedback was, "Boy, we miss that guy." There are Trump voters who

01:25:57   listen to Decoder, they often write me emails telling me how stupid I am. That's all fine.

01:26:01   But the overwhelming feedback was, "I wish we had a politician who could sit in the problem,"

01:26:07   right? Who was obviously engaged in the problem, had done their research. I'm not saying, I don't

01:26:12   know if Joe Biden has. I know that when Kamala Harris talks about it, it doesn't sound like it.

01:26:17   And I know that when Trump talks about it, he sounds like he's from another planet.

01:26:20   Pete; Right. It's all make-believe to him. It's all pro-wrestling. I've thought that since before

01:26:26   he was even elected in 2016, and I think it's only gotten exacerbated as he's gotten older,

01:26:32   gotten more crazy, is clearly losing his marbles in some way. He just thinks the whole world is

01:26:41   pro-wrestling and that there's, you just, whoever yells the loudest wins, and it's no different on

01:26:46   technical issues, even when there's very, very firm technical evidence. It doesn't matter at all.

01:26:53   You just know, though, there's no way Joe Biden can talk like Obama does about this issue. He

01:26:59   just isn't. And I don't, he is who he is, and I think he might be the first to admit it. Maybe

01:27:03   not, because, dude, I miss that guy. Also, you dressed better than Obama, and he called you out

01:27:10   on it at the beginning of the interview. So, again, this is like two rounds. So, the first

01:27:14   time I didn't wear a tie. And then I watched, we did an emergency interview with Larry Lessig as a

01:27:21   villain. Thank you, Professor Lessig. That was a great conversation. I encourage you to go listen

01:27:24   to it. And I was watching the clips of that. I was like, I can't be looking like that. And I

01:27:30   was dressed nicely. And so, the second time I wore a tie, and he walked in, he was like, what are you

01:27:34   doing? All right.

01:27:34   Pete Lausen>> You didn't need to wear a tie. That's what he said. Oh, man. It was a really

01:27:40   good interview, though. And the other thing, too, and again, it is weird. I don't want to turn this

01:27:45   into a whole thing about the next year's presidential election, but it is, and people are

01:27:50   coming around to this, where because of Fox News, there's this whole narrative that Joe Biden at 81

01:27:57   is too old, as though Trump isn't 77, right? Which is, you know, same ballpark, right? It's the same

01:28:05   four-year window. And quite frankly, there's always on the right wing, too. There's this,

01:28:11   especially driven by Trump, there's this whole thing of projection, right? Just, and it's, it's

01:28:17   almost cartoonish in the way that it's like introductory psychology 101 for college sophomores.

01:28:25   What is projection? The examples from Trump are like, couldn't be more almost laughable, right?

01:28:32   So what do they accuse Joe Biden of? Corruption. This is the guy who owned a hotel three blocks

01:28:38   from the White House while he was president of the United States. So the age thing is totally

01:28:47   projection. They're both too old, right? I think everybody can admit it. I mean,

01:28:51   I'm a big Joe Biden supporter. I'm going to be voting for him next year, no matter what,

01:28:55   at this point. I mean, there's, what else? That's what the choice is. But I will happily admit,

01:29:01   I think 81 years old is way too old to be president of the United States. I think it's

01:29:06   too demanding. I think 77 is too old. But the idea that one of them is too old and not the other

01:29:14   is ridiculous. But the other thing is, man, at 62, Obama seems younger than us, right?

01:29:22   Yeah, he's doing all right. He's living his best life. There was a moment in that interview where

01:29:27   I was like, you're an author. What do you think about Chatzavu and copyright? And he just goes,

01:29:30   Michelle and I have done very well. And it's like, all right, you're doing great. We had our first

01:29:35   sort of election planning meeting, the Verge team. How are we going to do this this year? And it was

01:29:41   the first, eventually it's exciting. Election year is always exciting for journalists. You get to go

01:29:45   out and there's lots of stuff happening. But you start from the perspective of these two guys are

01:29:51   kind of the least important thing about the election, right? You're kind of voting for

01:29:56   administrations or platforms or fundamental beliefs about America. Vibes. Vibes. And one of

01:30:04   them is evil. It's autocratic in a way that scares me. The Verge is like, we don't have to pretend to

01:30:13   be a newspaper. We just say it. And once you start from that premise, we can just say it out loud.

01:30:18   It's weird that Trump is talking about doing the things that he's talking about doing, which are

01:30:24   very autocratic. It's weird that Republicans seem to love speech regulations lately. For all Elon

01:30:30   Musk talks about being a free speech absolutist, he's the one suing his critics right now.

01:30:34   That's weird. And so you just start from this place of what is this election? It's not about

01:30:42   these men who are old and what they say about their policies is rarely perfectly accurate.

01:30:51   With Trump, it's not even related to reality. With Biden, he says stuff,

01:30:55   and then the Biden administration clarifies what he says. It's just because he's off the cuff or

01:31:04   whatever. But you're kind of voting for the operation of government. That's what this

01:31:09   election is about. Do you want one that operates, that is respectful of its citizens? Or do you want

01:31:14   one that's crazy? And if you're a tech publication, what are we going to ask them what their

01:31:19   differences on TikTok are? This is almost like a nonsensical place to begin. And we kept going. We

01:31:26   got excited about it because there's actually real differences. The service we do to the audience is

01:31:31   motivating and all this stuff. But I was thinking about this coming out of the Obama interview,

01:31:37   because that election was about him as a person. He was the captivating political leader. He

01:31:44   represented all of the things. And this election in particular is the opposite of that. These are

01:31:51   just stand-ins, they're cardboard cutouts of Democrats and Republicans, and they're both

01:31:57   very old. And if they ever debate, I think it will just go down as the moment millions of young

01:32:04   Americans decided to run for office. I think everyone's reaction to it has to be, we cannot

01:32:12   hand over the operation to the country to an ever-increasing number of older people. We young

01:32:18   people have to go do it. It's bizarre. It's just some sort of fluke of who won primaries and who

01:32:30   ran out of terms to run for with the limit of two terms. I mean, if there weren't a term limit,

01:32:37   Bill Clinton, obviously, in my opinion, would have easily won reelection in 2000. I mean,

01:32:41   if Al Gore came within 500 votes in Florida, beating George W. Bush—

01:32:46   Trevor Burrus Do you ever wonder about the timeline that

01:32:48   Al Gore won? Like this, to me, I was a sophomore in college in 2000.

01:32:54   Ben

01:33:11   Leibovitz I always think when I think about what had happened, what would have been different if

01:33:32   Gore had won in 2000? To me, it all comes down to whether they would have headed off 9/11. And I

01:33:41   sort of think they would not have. And I know that people on the liberal left-leaning side love to

01:33:49   over-index on the fact that—and this is a fact—that when the Bush people were coming in,

01:33:58   and the foreign policy people or the national security people talked to the

01:34:03   outgoing Clinton administration, the outgoing Clinton administration said,

01:34:07   "We think the number one priority is Al Qaeda." And the Bush people were like, "Vat! Nope,

01:34:14   it's Saddam." And that—it proved very prescient that in the year 2000, the last year, the Clinton

01:34:21   administration, their national security people really thought that Al Qaeda was going to be a

01:34:26   problem. And Al Qaeda had already tried to bomb the World Trade Center, right? They set off like

01:34:30   a truck bomb that just wasn't explosive enough to bring the buildings down. And so there's some

01:34:36   chance that a Gore administration would have been more focused on Al Qaeda in the first half of 2001

01:34:43   and maybe would have covered it. But it was such a sneak attack and so deviously played the policies

01:34:55   of airlines in the case of a hijacking against them. Such a pure jujitsu move. And it's funny,

01:35:01   too, because I was watching like documentaries, like, I forget, there were a couple of them. But

01:35:05   like in the 60s and 70s, like, airline hijackings were like super commonplace. And I know if you're

01:35:12   young enough, you're like, "What? What are you talking about?" And it was like, "No!"

01:35:15   Like dozens of times a year around the world, airlines, commercial airlines would be

01:35:19   quote unquote hijacked by like activists. And they never crashed the planes. They'd say,

01:35:26   "We want you to land and we want you to free political prisoners from such and such country

01:35:30   or whatever." And it was just sort of like a hassle. People didn't get killed. The planes

01:35:35   didn't explode. And the idea was that they institutionalize. The airlines said, "Okay,

01:35:40   if you ever get hijacked, here's what you do. Just listen to the guys, do what they tell you to do.

01:35:44   If they tell you to land, call air traffic control, say we're being hijacked, we're going to land

01:35:49   at the nearest airport or wherever they want you to land. Just do what they say, because then

01:35:54   nobody gets hurt." And, you know, playing that against us, that was the whole key to their plan

01:35:59   was like, "They're just going to let us do what we want. We'll take the cockpit and then we'll fly

01:36:03   the planes into the..." I think it would have happened. I think that what the Republicans would

01:36:08   have done to Gore would have led us to today's level of partisanship. Partisanship doesn't even

01:36:15   do justice. And Trump himself, like you said, where his rhetoric has gone, he's literally

01:36:21   saying things, calling his political enemies within the United States vermin, right? It's

01:36:26   like this coded Nazi language, explicitly saying over and over in his new stump speech that

01:36:33   our enemies outside the country aren't an issue. It's the enemies within the country are the issue.

01:36:39   I think that if Gore had been in the White House when 9/11 happened, which I think is more likely

01:36:45   than not to have happened probably on the same day, I think instead of getting behind him as

01:36:51   a country like the Democrats did behind Bush at first, I think they would have gone thermonuclear

01:36:57   and blamed it on Gore. And it's very hard to predict what would have happened after that.

01:37:03   But one thing that wouldn't have happened after that is going to war with Iraq.

01:37:06   Right? So it's so likely. The what ifs are like, "Oh, it's really hard to predict."

01:37:15   Trevor Burrus Yeah. Like I said, every now and again, I wonder what's happening on that timeline.

01:37:22   Is that dude okay? It seems like he'll be fine.

01:37:23   John Green I met him once at an Apple event. And just,

01:37:27   it was, I don't know, like a 10-second interaction. I mean, I had no idea who I was. I never know at an

01:37:33   Apple event whether somebody will know me. And I thought, as I shook his hand, "Well, he is an

01:37:39   Apple board member, and I'm pretty well known as an Apple media person." So there's a chance he'd

01:37:45   be like, "Ah, John, I've always wanted to meet you." You know, which is what happened the first

01:37:50   time I met Steve Jobs. You know, it was like, he knew who I was. And I was blown away. And I'm like,

01:37:54   "Ah, well." Or Schiller, same thing for, I met Schiller before I met any other higher level

01:37:58   executive. And he obviously read my website. And I was like, "Ah." So I thought there was a chance,

01:38:03   he obviously didn't. The man's head is enormous. I mean, like, I take a seven and a half hat size.

01:38:12   Al Gore must take like a size nine. I mean, it's like the size of a basketball. But you really,

01:38:19   you don't hear much about Gore anymore. It's kind of...

01:38:21   Steven: Well, he did the Inconvenient Truth, right? I mean, he had his moment. He's older.

01:38:25   Yeah.

01:38:26   Steven, off camera Well, but you say that, but I don't,

01:38:28   I'm not, let's see how old he is. He might be younger than either, he's certainly younger than

01:38:33   Biden, right?

01:38:34   Steven He's 75.

01:38:35   Steven He's 75.

01:38:36   Steven So he's younger than both.

01:38:37   He's younger than both. Yeah.

01:38:39   Steven And that's, that's, again, it just gets to

01:38:43   how weird it is that we've got these two really old candidates. Bill Clinton, I think, is younger

01:38:47   than both of them.

01:38:48   Steven I think, John, the only logical conclusion

01:38:50   of the show is Al Gore gets drafted to rerun for the presidency.

01:38:53   Steven Ah, man, I would get behind that.

01:38:55   Steven Apple board member Al Gore is gonna,

01:38:58   he's gonna save the country.

01:38:59   Steven It would free up a spot on the board, that's

01:39:01   for sure. Although I guess if he does, if he does it like Trump, he could just keep the seat on the

01:39:05   board, right? I don't know. Let me take a break here and thank our third and final sponsor of the

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01:40:13   So there's no cost to just try Squarespace first, whether it's you who needs a new website or

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01:40:57   Sign up 30 days in when you need to decide whether you're going to pay or not. Just remember that

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01:41:16   to Squarespace for their continuing support of the show. You've had a bunch of other guests. You

01:41:22   had Zuckerberg on recently. You had friend of the show, Matthew Panzareno.

01:41:27   Steven: Zuck was with Alex Heath. I gotta give Alex credit for that one.

01:41:31   Steven: Oh, that's right. That's right. But it was the same show, Decoder.

01:41:35   Steven; It is our show. Yep.

01:41:36   Steven; I thought the Panzareno interview was really interesting because it was sort of like

01:41:41   peers, right? Like you as the editor-in-chief of The Verge, Panzareno is the decade-long

01:41:46   editor at TechCrunch. I know both of you. I'm in between you. You're both regular guests on my show

01:41:53   here. We're pals at events. It's sort of like the way that it's not a zero-sum game, right? Like

01:41:59   TechCrunch and The Verge could both do good work and it's better for the web as opposed to a sort

01:42:06   of old-timey, you know, the two editors of newspapers in the same town hate each other,

01:42:11   right?

01:42:11   Yeah. But they need each other. You need an ecosystem of friends and competitors.

01:42:17   We've got to keep each other honest. The competition makes you sharp. All that stuff

01:42:20   is really important to me. I keep joking that The Verge is the last website that exists. We

01:42:26   care about it. We talk about it. We're trying to build it all the time. Everyone else in publishing

01:42:31   is kind of like they're decided to be content suppliers to a big platform one way or the other

01:42:37   for pennies. I just think that sucks. Matt and I, our careers are in a similar arc. That conversation

01:42:45   is really fun because we've just faced so many of the same pressures and so many of the same ways.

01:42:52   And in particular, I quit the corporate owners that he worked for for a long time at AOL.

01:42:56   It was just like sometimes only a handful of people know what the hell you're talking about.

01:43:03   Matt was one of those people for me.

01:43:05   Yeah. Well, the other similarity too, though, is that both of you never stop producing or just

01:43:11   writing your own stuff, right? Or you host a show now. You're not just the editor at The Verge.

01:43:17   You're one of the leading writers and your drive to continue writing and doing your own podcast is

01:43:26   unabated.

01:43:28   Yeah. Not to be too cheesy, but there's a... This is the right show to be. This

01:43:34   particular kind of cheesy on. There's a Steve Jobs clip where he talks about hiring managers

01:43:40   and how they were all bozos because they didn't know how to do anything.

01:43:43   It's a great clip. I watch it once a month. And he's like, literally, it's Steve Jobs using the

01:43:50   word bozos, which is like all you want in life. And he's like, we tried to hire a bunch of

01:43:54   professional managers and they were horrible. They didn't know how to do anything. And if you're a

01:43:59   great person, why do you want to work for somebody you can't learn anything from? And I

01:44:04   have just interned... And he's like the best managers are the individual contributors

01:44:08   who know that nothing will be as good unless they go manage the people.

01:44:11   That is as internalized in me as it can be. If I can't do it at the high level,

01:44:17   I have no credibility. And maybe there's a lot of other editors who are great, who don't do it

01:44:23   every day and they retain the credibility with their SaaS. There are lots of different ways to

01:44:27   do everything. For me, I'm always afraid that if I let up for one day, everyone will know that I

01:44:34   have no idea what I'm talking about. I need the proof. And I also think the verge is small. It's

01:44:39   a big fish in a little pond, but you hold us up next to our competitors, like the times or the

01:44:45   poster, the other things that we have to go up against. And we need to punch way above our weight.

01:44:51   To me, part of it is if I don't do the work, then I am in no position to push the staff as hard

01:44:58   as we need to push in order to compete the way that we should compete.

01:45:03   When did the redesign of the verge happen? Were you on my show afterwards or did it happen

01:45:11   between last year's and this? I think it was fresh last year.

01:45:16   When Yeah, once we're about a year, we're about a year into it. Yeah,

01:45:20   we launched it in late November and now we're about the same place. So yeah,

01:45:24   it exemplifies, you know, literally practicing what you're preaching though.

01:45:30   And I know people, of course, anytime you change the fonts for anything,

01:45:34   you can complain about fonts. And that was like the first thing it was like this

01:45:37   huge, significant redesign of a very popular website. And all anybody could bitch about

01:45:42   were the fonts for certain of the page elements. And you guys tweaked them. And it's I think it's

01:45:47   very, very readable. But the biggest thing, it's not the specifics of the design or the branding

01:45:54   of it. It's just the basic philosophy that it's a website, right? That you go there.

01:46:01   And so you're so right. It's just, every now and again, I have to say it out loud, right?

01:46:08   But you make a website, you should go to it, right? And if I do something like post link on

01:46:15   threads or mastodon with a link to the verge, or me personally, my weird thing where I run a website

01:46:21   where I spend a lot of time linking to articles at other websites, I know when I link to the verge,

01:46:27   that everybody can read it. And yeah, okay, you guys have a couple of paid newsletters now. But

01:46:32   for like news coverage, you just go there. And you can read the article and there's no paywall.

01:46:39   And when you scroll down, it doesn't cover the article up with a pitch to subscribe to a

01:46:45   newsletter or podcast or something like that. It's that the average website from most publishers

01:46:53   is so bad and getting worse, that to have a website that did a major redesign and went in

01:47:02   the other direction to make it more bloggy, you know, and you guys have like these short

01:47:08   form link posts now that you put on the homepage. And it's been I think, as a reader of the verge,

01:47:15   a grand success. As you know, fun. Yeah, again, it's it was super duper. I thought the verge

01:47:22   killed it during the whole open AI drama pre Thanksgiving. And because there was like,

01:47:29   oh, three hours later, everything you knew about the saga is old.

01:47:33   But you if all you guys learned was one nugget of new information, then you've got a format now

01:47:41   where you could post an update with just that nugget of information. And you didn't have to

01:47:45   write 700 word article about it. If it was 50 words worth of news on this ongoing saga,

01:47:54   then there's a 50 word link on the front page. So I when I say most publishers have turned

01:47:59   themselves into suppliers to other people's software. It's the same thing as cars. The

01:48:04   reason most publisher websites are bad is because most media companies have just given up on making

01:48:10   software. So they just buy other people's software. Right. And I'll just the stereotypical examples,

01:48:18   you have a WordPress template that you let some design firm make five years ago,

01:48:24   that they're gone. No one remembers anything about it. And that's where you're publishing into.

01:48:28   And then you bought a bunch of ad tech from some other people. And then you've got a newsletter

01:48:32   vendor. And they're like, you can increase suppliers, you can increase signups,

01:48:37   if you do this pop up. And then you kind of just get to the screenshots that people share

01:48:42   bad websites. And you're like, if you just take one step back, you're like, yep, that's a bad user

01:48:46   experience. He takes one step back to why it's Oh, there's 45 different pieces of software designed

01:48:53   to optimize 45 different business goals here. And no one is in charge of this. Right. And that is

01:48:59   that is just to be clear. This is not like a hot take. And this is just reality. Most people know

01:49:04   this. But because everyone's given up on making their own software, no one has any ability to fix

01:49:09   it. There's no one to talk to. And nobody can really explain how the page is ultimately rendered.

01:49:15   Really? It's like crazy. Right. And so I but so what I look at is when I say suppliers, right,

01:49:22   they've done that they've got them on the web. And then the only meaningful source of traffic to most

01:49:28   websites anymore at scale is Google. So everything is like this festival of SEO optimization,

01:49:35   which is weird and bad for the web. And I'm going to say this, and some Google executive is going

01:49:40   to jump out of a bush the next time I walk outside my house and say, that's not what the guidelines

01:49:44   say, which is literally all they can say while pointing to their 10,000 pages of SEO guidelines.

01:49:49   It's a very confusing and you're like, Oh, this is why everything got long and padded out. And

01:49:55   you can't just post an update. Because people believe in their heart, that sending 50 words

01:50:01   of new information onto a web page is bad for your Google ranking. And so we have to build this

01:50:07   article page. And the SEO consultants will do all this and it's this sucks. It should not be easier

01:50:14   to tweet than it is to post to the website that I run that pays me money. And so that's where all

01:50:19   that came from. And we are just baby stepping our way. We have the live streams now, which like when

01:50:24   we do Apple live logging, they're like basically in real time, we have a very special tool that we

01:50:29   use called Norcon live center for that. And then we have this, you know, then there's articles. And

01:50:32   then in the middle, we're doing these story streams, which are like slow life logs. Like

01:50:37   they're just a middle speed of updates that happened throughout the day. We're doing all

01:50:40   the trial coverage in there. Cause it's about right. No one wants to read a real time transcription

01:50:44   of a trial. Well, no, it does not seem like that's what anybody wants. No. So we have a middle speed

01:50:50   and it's because we control our product. Despite I mean, you know this cause you're an actual lawyer,

01:50:56   but despite what TV and movie dramas would have you believe courtrooms are very boring places

01:51:02   that person that proceed at very slow pace. And everybody who's ever served jury duty knows this.

01:51:10   You say you don't even have to be a lawyer. All you have to do is actually get, Oh, actually me,

01:51:14   I've never been picked for a jury because I have a wife who's a criminal defense attorney.

01:51:21   And you just, all you have to do, usually all you have to do is say that. And then,

01:51:24   and this has been my go-to. I thought that all you had to do was say you're, you're a lawyer.

01:51:29   And then the last time I got picked, I was like cruising to the end and the case settled right

01:51:32   before the impairment was. So we are, we're doing great. My wife is a criminal defense attorney is

01:51:37   a good way to get out. And then if that doesn't do it, and the last time I got had jury duty,

01:51:42   they asked me, would you be, or there's a questionnaire and I, and one of the questions is,

01:51:48   are you less likely to believe the testimony of a police officer? And I checked yes. And then they

01:51:55   called me out. They said, juror number 37. And I said, yes. And they said, you answered that you

01:51:59   would be less likely to believe the testimony of a police officer. Why? And I said, well, I, I believe

01:52:06   that police officers, once they've arrested somebody will say whatever it takes to convict

01:52:10   that person. And then they say, juror number 37, you are dismissed. And I left. And I, I look

01:52:18   forward to living a long, healthy life. And I, at some point when I'm retired, I look forward to

01:52:25   hang out on the jury. I look forward to making up for lost time as, and serving my civic duty

01:52:32   proudly as a member of juries. And then I might perhaps answer that question in a way that is

01:52:38   actually, it would actually be less, but that's actually honest for me. I actually, you can hook

01:52:43   me up to a polygraph and assuming you believe polygraphs actually produce actual results that

01:52:49   are accurate, I actually do believe police officers say whatever it takes to convict whoever it is

01:52:54   they arrested for a crime. I actually believe that. But it's a good way to, good way to get

01:53:00   out of jury duty if it's a criminal case. What else do we have on the agenda for the show?

01:53:05   **Matt Stauffer** Okay. I'll just, I'll add this. The thing that we're going to do with the redesign

01:53:10   where we're going to, we're going to get there is we are somehow, some way going to federate

01:53:16   the site with ActivityPub. It seems very obvious that that's what we should do with Quickposts.

01:53:20   So we started with this, you should be able to post the website as quickly as any social

01:53:24   platform. We added, we should be able to line up all those posts in order so we can do slow

01:53:29   live logs. And we're going to get to those posts should natively go to other platforms so you can

01:53:35   follow one of our writers while they are working for us, for ourselves. And somehow your likes and

01:53:42   comments on other platforms should come back to us and add value back to us. I don't know how any

01:53:48   of that's going to work. I just know that that is a newer and more interesting set of problems to

01:53:52   solve in media than whatever the hell has been going on for the last five years.

01:53:57   **Scott Benner** But it's so, I want to come back to that and it's a perfect segue into something

01:54:01   else I want to talk about, which is where social media is going with Threads and Mastodon and Blue

01:54:06   Sky and the husk of remains of Twitter. But before we move on, I just think that the core point of

01:54:14   that though is still just what a tremendous, who would have thought it's a competitive advantage

01:54:20   for sites like The Verge and mine that people can just go to them and read, right? It's a huge

01:54:28   competitive advantage at this point. And because so much is locked away, like more stuff, a higher

01:54:36   percentage of professional content that's published on the web today is inaccessible to most people

01:54:42   than ever before. The web, the open web where you can just go to trust that anybody can go to the

01:54:47   URL and without any kind of shenanigans about deleting your cookies or your site history or

01:54:52   whatever, or opening a private window so that it doesn't read your cookies so you can reset the

01:54:57   counter of the paywall or whatever. It that it's actually like it was supposed to be where if you

01:55:05   tell the browser open this URL, it shows you the contents of the URL. It's become a competitive

01:55:09   advantage at this point. It has I worry that advertising and scale on the web is in a

01:55:18   competition no one wants to acknowledge. Well, I and I think at scale on TikTok, I desperately worry

01:55:23   about it because at the moment, it's more or less my entire income. Yeah, and that stuff waxes and

01:55:29   wanes. And I don't think the advertising products on the web like you run a very bespoke advertising

01:55:35   product for a set of marketers that no one trusts you and that you can do that for us, which we need

01:55:41   big brand advertisers, right? And that's not my side of the house at all. That's someone else's

01:55:46   problem. I just see the stress on their faces. And so I think we got to invent some new products.

01:55:52   Otherwise, we're going to lose all of this. All of the dollars are going to go to TikTok and Instagram,

01:55:56   right? And you can feel how that way you can feel about that however you want. But those dollars

01:56:03   are not been going back into making journalism. Right. And so when you're saying there's this

01:56:07   explosion of paywalls, what you're really noticing is a bunch of journalists have,

01:56:13   for the first time in a long time, asked to be paid what their work is worth, which is a thing

01:56:20   that in no other industry is controversial, but is always controversial when you're like,

01:56:24   you have to pay to read this article. Right. As though it's like an accessibility problem,

01:56:29   right? Like, we're like, I literally the other day, I linked to something that was a paywall.

01:56:33   And someone said, Can you put a warning on this? And I was like, No, you're fine. You're you're

01:56:38   going to be fine. You saw paywall, you didn't get to read the thing. Fine, right? Some people are

01:56:43   going to pay. And that for us, we have big free homepage that actually sends out a meaningful

01:56:49   amount of traffic, our role in the ecosystem, I come back to the ecosystem, our role is to curate

01:56:54   the stuff that we think is worth looking at some which includes stuff worth paying for. Could I get

01:56:59   to a place where we send out enough traffic, that we can strike some business arrangements and let

01:57:05   people read the stuff? I would love to get that we didn't we I don't I can't walk into a meeting at

01:57:10   the New York Times, right? Like let my links through. May we work hard enough, like maybe

01:57:14   we can get there. But I there's just something about paying for journalism that has gone so far

01:57:22   out of the mainstream culture, that I think this response is actually healthy. Maybe the pendulum

01:57:29   has swung too far. Right? entirely possible. But it can't be that all of journalism is the New York

01:57:37   Times. And then tick talkers yelling at the New York Times. That's a dangerous place for us to

01:57:43   land. Yeah. And so I'm excited for a bunch of these, the worker owned models that are popping

01:57:47   up for a four media is the best new tech site in years. Yep, that's great. There. There shouldn't

01:57:52   be an argument of whether defector they should give all their stuff away for free. You should

01:57:56   obviously pay them if you want to read their stuff. And it's just weird that journalism,

01:58:01   right? Because at the end of the day, it's about facts and the facts are not copyrightable. You

01:58:05   just end up in this weird knot where no one thinks the response to Spotify existing is saying it's

01:58:13   immoral to have a paywall on Spotify. We just don't think about anything else that way.

01:58:17   Yeah. You mentioned publishing bird stuff through activity pub. And it's occurred to me that it's

01:58:23   the right way because I've been looking at this and it's ever since the Twitter hegemony over

01:58:30   short form text. Social media died when Musk bought the site a year ago and it and Mastodon

01:58:38   at least for my audience and probably the verge audience to it became relevant. I know Mastodon

01:58:44   has been around since I don't know 2017 or something like that. I know I signed up somehow

01:58:48   for some reason due to some Twitter fiasco in 2018 for my account. But now threads is a thing. Blue

01:58:58   Sky is I don't know. I wouldn't want to bet on Blue Sky lasting at this point. But it seems like

01:59:04   there's a culture there. And my homemade I'm, you know, again, one person show, but I'm responsible

01:59:11   for the auto Twitter posting bot that used to post to the daring fireball articles to Twitter.

01:59:16   And I know I could fix it in an afternoon. And I haven't made like a protest decision. Like I'm out,

01:59:23   I'm off Twitter. I'm not going to use it anymore. But it's like my sort of on the fenced ness

01:59:30   about the state of Twitter keeps me from ever spending the afternoon to fix that bot.

01:59:37   Oh, we're in the same place. Right? People ask us why we are still auto posting Twitter. I'm like,

01:59:41   look, it's an RSS feed. Yeah, just doing its thing. And it breaks. We won't fix it.

01:59:46   I, I think I'm going to fix it for me because part of me, I just bothers me that I, but

01:59:53   but looking at it, and I've been mucking about with that script because I added mastodon. So

02:00:00   there's there's a mastodon daring fireball at mastodon that social account that auto gets the

02:00:06   same content that used to go to the Twitter during fireball account. And I'm thinking there is no

02:00:11   threads API yet. But I had Gabe Rivera from tech meme on on the show the previous episode, and

02:00:17   he's leading the charge for really, really hoping that threads ads posting API, yeah, for tech memes

02:00:23   purposes. And if it did, I would immediately if the day that they open it up, I would spend the

02:00:28   time to add to to get during fireball content on the threads. But it doesn't make sense to be

02:00:36   to have, oh, here's this path that goes to post to Twitter. And then here's this path that goes

02:00:43   to post to mastodon. And here's a path to go to the post to threads. And I'm getting enough requests

02:00:48   for blue sky. Here's a fourth pad now now that the every time there's a new article, there's these

02:00:54   four paths for 40. What you're describing, like abstractly, I'm sure you think this is bananas.

02:00:59   And I'm sure your listeners think this has been as the entire publishing industry did this for

02:01:05   the weird proprietary formats like Google AMP and Facebook and star articles, right and snapshot

02:01:10   discovery did this already. And they did it more manually with video, right all over the place.

02:01:18   They're like, we're gonna make a video and then we're gonna do a square and we're gonna cut it

02:01:20   rectangle, then we're gonna manually upload it to all these fucking platform, the media industry is

02:01:25   and I am a member of it. And I like my job a lot. The media industry is stupid, just fully stupid.

02:01:33   And it will always choose what I describe as unscalable media shit over smart tech shit,

02:01:39   right. And you can see the tech industry is like really good at sustainable high margin businesses.

02:01:44   And the media industry is not and all activity pub represents for me is an opportunity to just

02:01:52   rest some control back over how we distribute our content. Like it's if you want to follow me,

02:02:00   you should follow me on my server that I that pays me money to work at right. And that's fine.

02:02:06   And maybe it'll show up in threads. And if you want to hit like there, maybe it'll show up on

02:02:10   my platform. And I should be able to follow john Gruber on my platform. It seems very obvious how

02:02:15   this should work. Right. And I think everyone wants threads to be this like one for one drop

02:02:20   in replacement for Twitter. And maybe it will be and maybe it won't be like who knows it's going

02:02:25   to take time. But what it also represents is a huge tech company, loudly saying they're going

02:02:32   to support Federation and activity pub over and over again. They're not they keep talking about

02:02:36   it. They're gonna do it. They have to do it to open up in Europe, it seems. Yeah, you just have

02:02:41   this moment where there's a nascent technology standard. There's a groundswell of support.

02:02:45   There's identifiable consumer benefits from it in business benefits in a way that crypto did not

02:02:53   have any of those things. We'll just put those things next to each other. Like, of course,

02:02:58   we should try to build some stuff. This is the time to build some stuff. A lot of it will crash

02:03:01   and burn, right? But at least it will be like interesting and new, rather than All right, I

02:03:09   we're gonna watch 500 Mr. Beast videos reverse engineer them into optimizing the YouTube

02:03:14   algorithm. And then that is the future of that stupid. We got to all stop doing that. Yeah,

02:03:18   you don't do that. But I know but my commercial media world does that right. instinctively and

02:03:24   I would rather spend I spent time with our product team today at the verge, just talking about,

02:03:31   okay, here are the 9000 problems we're gonna have to solve if we federate the site.

02:03:35   And that's so much more interesting, right? Because it's a product conversation. So

02:03:40   it's a conversation about what is the user experience of journalism going to be in the

02:03:44   future? I mean, that's the sweet spot for the during firewall audience. But like, that's it,

02:03:49   like, that's what we got to do. It's competition is generally good, and almost some having some

02:03:56   competition almost always makes any market better. And it's unfortunate, though, that most things

02:04:03   tend to dwindle to very few competitors, right? In the long ago history of TV, there were three

02:04:10   major networks in the United States, ABC, NBC, CBS, and it's sure as shit was better than if

02:04:15   there was only one. But it wasn't enough, right? But it was better. Twitter being the only relevant

02:04:23   short form text first social network was a bad idea. It's just always it before Elon Musk,

02:04:32   right? It's better that we have choices now like Mastodon, which is truly open, and you can

02:04:38   federate with truly micro sized. I mean, I know people who run their own personal server,

02:04:45   and they're the only user at their domain. That seems like too much work to me. But, you know,

02:04:51   some people find that fun, especially in my audience. But it's, I think overall,

02:04:57   things are better. And this drives some of my friends nuts that I overall, I think the effect

02:05:04   of Elon Musk buying Twitter has been good for this form of social media. I think it has been terrible

02:05:11   for Twitter itself. Yeah. And potentially democracy. And well, I don't hit maybe because

02:05:18   Twitter continues to be the number one instance of this sort of thing. But if it weren't for the fact

02:05:26   that Musk bought and steered Twitter into a demented direction, there's no way threads

02:05:34   would exist. I'm first in line as a critic of meta as a company overall and continue to be in other

02:05:41   ways. But the world is a better place with threads than it was before threads existed. I mean, I

02:05:49   really firmly believe it. It's a really good product. And it's opened it up. And Mastodon,

02:05:54   which did exist for five or six years beforehand, exploded in popularity by Mastodon's previous,

02:06:03   I mean, Mastodon usage remains tiny compared to threads or Twitter, but it's a thousand fold

02:06:09   increase over where Mastodon was before Elon Musk bought Twitter. And the world is a better place

02:06:14   with Mastodon much more popular than it was before. And it's Mastodon's popularity that

02:06:21   makes this whole discussion about activity pub even relevant, right? It wouldn't...

02:06:26   I just wish there was one more year before the election. That's all I'm saying. Like,

02:06:29   yeah, I wish this would global along a little with a little more distance.

02:06:32   I do too, right? It would be worse, I guess, if this had happened a year later, if now is when

02:06:38   Elon had bought Twitter, but it would have been better if he'd bought it a year earlier. Yeah,

02:06:42   it would have been better to happen just after Joe Biden was inaugurated, right?

02:06:47   Yeah. We're doing a big package on just the thing that was Twitter. It's dead now, right?

02:06:55   It is. They changed the name. I feel very comfortable saying Twitter is dead now. Whatever

02:06:58   it is, is called X. My contribution to it, which I'd have to finish writing this evening,

02:07:03   is just talking about how for a decade, the default answer for every question in the media

02:07:09   was a tweet. Literally any problem. Their site went down, tweet about it. The reporters will

02:07:14   tweet the news instead of posting to the website. A candidate makes a gaffe on the campaign trail,

02:07:19   we'll tweet an apology. It breaks on a tweet, right?

02:07:21   Everything. It was just the default answer. Like, how do we communicate? And it was like a

02:07:26   weird answer. It was a weird answer for a weird audience. And Twitter is always the smallest,

02:07:31   but it had the most elite audience. It was just a weird platform. And I am also the same way as you.

02:07:36   I think it's net good that everyone is reconsidering whether something like that

02:07:41   should be important. What I would put next to it is, I think the flood of AI content that is

02:07:47   coming for the web is sending Google into a tailspin. The web, first of all, because

02:07:54   the incentives of SEO are so crazy, the web itself, there's just not a lot of innovation

02:08:01   and content on the web. There's a lot of application level innovation on the web.

02:08:06   There's a lot of cool toys on the web, but the make content and publish it on the internet has

02:08:12   all moved somewhere else. It's all moved to some platform or the other. Mostly in video.

02:08:16   If you were starting today, you were starting Darren Fireball, or I was starting The Verge,

02:08:21   today as young people, not as Chris. But as young, if we were starting, we would almost certainly

02:08:27   start on TikTok. We would almost certainly start on YouTube. That's wild. I'm a writer at heart.

02:08:33   I like doing those other things. I love podcasting, but I am a writer at heart.

02:08:37   There's not a set of incentives that would make me start a blog today. That's bad. That is a

02:08:44   doom loop for the web. It is a doom loop for Google. Especially as the web gets polluted

02:08:49   with more and more AI content and Google starts generating more and more AI answers.

02:08:53   I'm just looking at this and saying, "Oh, this is a reset moment for the internet."

02:08:58   The thing at the center of every media answer is gone. The biggest referral traffic on the web is

02:09:04   something is going to happen to it. We should build some new shit to our specifications

02:09:10   and come up with some new habits. Maybe it'll be Activity Club. Maybe it'll be Threats. I don't

02:09:15   know. But chasing the old goals, I think, is doomed. I think we're going to watch a lot of

02:09:22   media companies literally kill themselves because they fail to see that this is not just challenge,

02:09:28   but also opportunity. Just yesterday, Sports Illustrated got caught publishing AI-generated

02:09:36   content. I was going to bring that up. It's hilarious. But if you dig in the story,

02:09:41   they didn't even do it themselves. No. This is what I mean about other people's software.

02:09:45   They contracted an affiliate marketing company that uses ML to generate spam affiliate bullshit.

02:09:52   Against Sports Illustrated's Google rank, Google Site Authority, and then hopefully,

02:09:59   we'll collect some pennies along the way when you buy a hat.

02:10:02   [Music ends]

02:10:02   This was uncovered by Maggie Harrison at Futurism. But she wrote, "This is my favorite paragraph I

02:10:08   block quoted of these AI." Well, the part that's scandalous about it, too, is that they were

02:10:17   passing these as off as real people. And they used AI-generated headshots. So, they made up names

02:10:23   and bought AI-generated headshots of these fictional people who don't even exist. But

02:10:29   the one of them, this guy—it wasn't a guy, but this fictional construct, Drew Ortiz,

02:10:35   said, "The AI author's writing often sounds like it was written by an alien." One Ortiz article,

02:10:41   for instance, warns that volleyball, quote, "can be a little tricky to get into, especially without

02:10:48   an actual ball to practice with." It doesn't make any sense. What do you mean, "volleyball's

02:10:54   tricky to get into without a ball"? Right? It's a nonsense sentence. It's like you wouldn't even—a

02:11:01   human being wouldn't—it's not poorly written. It's just nonsense. And there is—

02:11:06   I'll give you another one. So, that's really bad, right? That's as bad as it gets. A major American

02:11:12   cultural institution, Sports Illustrated, contracted an outside SEO chum vendor, which then

02:11:19   did something that looks like AI fraud. And Sports Illustrated published this without a second

02:11:25   thought. And look, the business goals here are not opaque. They wanted some traffic because they

02:11:31   thought they might sell some volleyballs and make some pennies. This is not a complicated thing.

02:11:37   Okay, you can go and look for coupon codes. I just bought a Solo Stove, so I was Googling for

02:11:45   Solo Stove coupon codes. I'm not going to call them out. It's a lot of our competitors have entire

02:11:51   coupon websites embedded in their websites to search for coupon codes, because they get

02:11:56   fractions of a penny. CNET, which is a storied brand, right? Literally—I mean, we have reported

02:12:04   on this several times—has an entire underlying automated mortgage rate content division,

02:12:10   where it just publishes today's mortgage rates. Why is CNET publishing mortgage rates today?

02:12:16   What are you? What have you become? Have you lost your soul?

02:12:21   It started, I don't know, 10 years ago with the rash of what time is the Super Bowl articles,

02:12:27   right? It was like all these sites that had nothing to do with sports or with television

02:12:32   would have an article somebody wrote about telling you what channel and which Sunday and what time

02:12:39   the Super Bowl starts. And it's all just SEO nonsense. But you're right. I think Google is

02:12:46   at a crisis point. And with their core product search, they've always had—to me, it's obvious

02:12:54   that you don't need inside information. Google has done better as the web got bigger, because

02:13:01   they can deal with the scale of it better than any of their competitors could, right? It was a

02:13:07   natural moat that as the web got bigger and more content got posted to the web, and it's

02:13:16   you know, and as more audio gets posted to the web with podcasts and with videos, all of that stuff

02:13:21   is harder to index or spider. And the bigger it got, the better it was for Google. A bigger web

02:13:27   is good for Google. But now the web can literally grow to infinite size. Like we have that—AI

02:13:36   is the infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters.

02:13:39   But it's not infinite information. This is the doom loop.

02:13:41   Right. Right.

02:13:43   It's not infinite new information. The LLM chatbot AIs that we have today

02:13:48   are not generating new ideas. Like almost definitionally not generating new ideas.

02:13:54   You can prompt them into smashing two other ideas together.

02:13:58   Right.

02:13:59   But you can't reliably get new information out of them in any way, really. So the web

02:14:06   might grow to infinite size, but it will just be a reflection of the past.

02:14:11   Right.

02:14:11   And so Google's first big problem is just identifying what is old and what is new,

02:14:16   and I don't think that they can. Like as far as I can tell, OpenAI had one tool for a minute

02:14:23   that was supposed to detect AI-generated text, and they pulled it because it was so inaccurate.

02:14:28   That's where—and I don't think—I think the arms race between chatbot technology

02:14:35   and chatbot detection technology is already lost.

02:14:38   Yeah.

02:14:39   Wasn't it CNET where a couple months ago there was a thing where they were deleting

02:14:44   old articles, like just turning them into 404s, and not because they were expensive to host,

02:14:51   but that they somehow were under the impression that it was good SEO strategy

02:14:55   to cull little visited articles from their archive, which is insane from—I'm not a librarian, but—

02:15:05   You've got to be careful, man. A Google search executive is going to jump

02:15:08   into your house. You're going to leap through a window and tell you that's not what the guidelines

02:15:12   say. The gap between the received wisdom about SEO and what Google thinks people should do

02:15:20   is vast. It is growing. It makes people furiously angry when you point it out,

02:15:27   angrier than anyone has ever been at us for some of our coverage. We just did the big article about

02:15:33   the culture of SEO professionals, and just the fury directed at us. And you really unpack it.

02:15:40   I was very sympathetic to it. It was a bunch of people staring at the asteroid, freaking out.

02:15:48   Don't make fun of us. We know we're doomed. It's basically the gestalt of that fury.

02:15:51   Yeah. That was a great, great piece, by the way. I'm blanking on the writer, but—

02:15:57   Amanda Chicago Lewis. She's wonderful.

02:15:59   It was just wonderful in terms of getting to know the personalities of the industry and sort of

02:16:04   how we got here. But I really am with you. I just don't see how—I don't think Google is set up to

02:16:10   do what we would want our leading search engine to do, which is to separate actual quality content.

02:16:21   And again, it doesn't have to be. I'm not religious about it. I mean, if AI can generate

02:16:26   actual good content, okay. It's like the bartender in the cantina in Star Wars. We don't serve their

02:16:32   kind here. I always thought that was such a throwaway line in the movie, but I always

02:16:35   thought it spoke to some sort of myth building that there's a resentment in the working class

02:16:43   in that universe towards droids, right? Which, you know, we're seeing now with AI, right? There's

02:16:49   resentment towards AI taking people's jobs. And I get it, you know? I mean, I don't know if it's

02:16:54   going to take my job. It could. I don't know. But at some level, beyond the concerns about people

02:17:04   having their livelihoods disrupted, what we really just want as users is I type a query in a search

02:17:13   engine and I get high-quality results that are true, right? That are actually giving me what I

02:17:19   wanted and I can trust these results are actually accurate and truthful. I don't think Google is set

02:17:26   up to deal with it. I almost feel like the way that these AI language models work is specifically

02:17:34   meant to, not purposefully just for SEO optimization, but the nature of it is exactly

02:17:40   the sort of thing that Google's spidering doesn't detect or notice. It just sails right through. And

02:17:47   there's just going to be, however big the web is, there's literally, it's effectively infinite how

02:17:52   much AI can write. They're never going to tire. They write a thousand times faster than a human

02:17:59   does. So I just bought a new refrigerator. So I just did a search just to test what's better,

02:18:04   LG or GE refrigerators. And I'm sure people listening to this have furious opinions about

02:18:09   this. This is where I learned people have very strong opinions about not this question,

02:18:13   but just appliance brands in general. So here's what Google said. LG refrigerators are generally

02:18:18   considered to be more energy efficient and have better smart features. GE refrigerators are

02:18:21   generally considered to be more liable, have a better selection and more affordable. And then

02:18:25   you click the little dropdown. All of its sources are from upsee.com, which is just an SEO spam

02:18:34   website. You can see how in the next turn upsee.com, which appears to sell warranties,

02:18:42   like it's an extended warranty company. They did this as content marketing because people Google

02:18:47   this and then you might buy a warranty from upsee. You can see how they're going to, the person who

02:18:52   wrote this, their job is gone. Right. Chat GPT will write the next version of this article and

02:18:57   Google won't know. Right. So then Chat GPT is going to write an article based on what it has

02:19:02   already scraped from the web, feed it back into Google, whose AI is going to re summarize that

02:19:06   and turn that into a Google result. And it's like, Oh, this is a disaster.

02:19:10   The other thing is that it's almost like there's some sort of irony in that Google is famous for

02:19:17   conducting AB tests, like the infamous one where they tested 29 shades of blue for a thing, and

02:19:22   then just pick the shade of blue that, that seemingly led to the most clicks or something

02:19:27   like that. But AI can run these, forget about AB tests. They can run like A to Z 1000 tests and just

02:19:37   publish a thousand articles about refrigerators and let Google figure out which one it wants to

02:19:42   send people to in a way that human labor would never be able to scale to that level cost

02:19:48   effectively. Right. If you're only going to make pennies for the thing, you can't afford to pay

02:19:54   even low paid human workers to generate as much content as AI can churn out.

02:20:00   Trenton Larkin Yeah, again, I I'm with you. I think there are uses for AI, I will tell you that

02:20:07   of all the people at the verge, I'm the only person who is confidently published AI generated

02:20:11   SEO spam onto the website. In the best printer article, I just wanted to see what would happen.

02:20:16   Trenton Larkin Yeah, that's what happens. Wait, for people who don't know what was the

02:20:22   gist of the gimmick?

02:20:23   Trenton Larkin It was best printer 2023, just buy this brother printer,

02:20:27   laser printer. And it was like, literally the genesis of this article was I was on a zoom call,

02:20:31   and everyone was at home and everyone had the same printer. And I was like, what are we doing?

02:20:34   Let's just see what happens. And is a joke as like, you know, needs to hit the SEO page limit,

02:20:41   or the SEO word count, which, again, a Google executive is about to leap out of a bush and tell

02:20:45   me that it's not like I don't say but whatever. So I just like to hear some chat GBT garbage to put

02:20:50   on the page. By the way, this page ranked it was like number one for best printer for a while.

02:20:55   We sold a number of printers, I'm told by the affiliate commerce team, whatever. The point is,

02:21:00   I did it as a joke. And it was like very transparent that I did it and no one got mad

02:21:05   at me. I certainly did not get a viral outrage cycle, which would have driven even more printer

02:21:09   sales. Right. But it's if you're just honest, we just don't lie to people, we had to come up with

02:21:14   editorial guidelines or an AI usage for our various editorial teams of the company. And

02:21:19   they asked me for my advice. I was like, the only guideline is don't lie. Right? If you're

02:21:25   just honest with people about the tools you're using, they will very often go along for the ride

02:21:29   with you. Right. Right. If you lie to them, and you tell them that volleyball is hard without a

02:21:34   ball, and because you're a robot thing, so of course people are going to be outraged,

02:21:39   or that this person exists. Yeah. A baseline lie. Yeah. Right. And I look, I don't I don't know if

02:21:46   it has been good or bad. I think personally, it, it generates c plus content at best to my eyes.

02:21:53   Some people feel very differently about that. It's going to get better, whatever.

02:21:57   It can't have new ideas. This is our competitive advantage. We're just, I'm just going to keep

02:22:01   having new ideas until I stop. And then I'll, I promise to disappear. But for the web at large,

02:22:07   the number of people that want to spam the web with content in order to get some clicks from

02:22:11   Google search in order to convert into some clicks onto affiliate links, that number is infinite.

02:22:18   Right. They are going to keep running that game forever. And Google has to figure it out.

02:22:21   Right. Or they have to pivot search in some huge and meaningful way to only trusted sources,

02:22:28   which I don't think they can do. Yeah. And it's turning, it's turning the web against itself,

02:22:33   where there's no cost of goods or effectively none, right? Serving another page view. So in

02:22:39   the paper era, paper is prohibitively expensive. It really, even newsprint, the pulpiest, cheapest

02:22:47   paper that you can possibly print things on, which is why newspapers were printed on it.

02:22:52   It's extremely expensive. Like the printing operations of a major newspaper or even a local

02:22:57   newspaper, which are largely closing, it's incredibly expensive. All that junk that get

02:23:03   put through my mailbox every day, all of these paper catalogs is incredibly expensive for those

02:23:08   companies to produce. And it's thankfully that it is because otherwise if it was like the web,

02:23:15   it would be like a infinite pile, like a fire hose of junk mail coming in.

02:23:19   Yeah. TV, there's only so many channels on cable. And prior to cable, there were only 13

02:23:27   wavelengths for over the air transmission that could be picked up. It was limited. And the fact

02:23:33   that there is no limit like that on the web means that it can really be an infinite fire hose. It's

02:23:38   an enormous problem. You know, where there's also no limit is YouTube, where I just searched LG

02:23:44   versus GE refrigerator. And I will tell you this thumbnail is incredible. The title is what's the

02:23:50   best fridge to brought to buy the truth will surprise you. The word surprises in all caps.

02:23:54   This video is 24 minutes long and has 3 million views. And it's like, is that better than a web

02:24:02   page? I don't even get the same person provides the same information. I hate how much of how to

02:24:09   blank how to fix blank is now a YouTube video. And it's convenient when it really does have a

02:24:14   visual component of you want to look for a thing under your sink that looks like this. And that's

02:24:20   the thing that you need to twist or whatever. But it's that it may it makes me so mad when

02:24:26   how to video of three steps is a seven minute YouTube video. Yeah, it's in fear. Now a YouTube

02:24:32   executive is going to leap out of the way to tell me that that's not what the guidelines say.

02:24:35   Right. And they don't only give you an ad break if your video is eight minutes long.

02:24:38   I know right where I didn't know the limit. But I you can backwards engineer what it is by looking

02:24:46   at the length of all those how to videos and you often get a second ad break if you hit 10 or more

02:24:50   minutes, which explains a lot of things. By the way, I really encourage everyone to just Google

02:24:54   LG versus GE refrigerator and look just look at the thumbnails. It is. Do it on YouTube. Yeah,

02:25:01   it's it's it's real good. It's, it's a it's I would call it a design playground.

02:25:08   Just trying to convey the information that you should watch this video.

02:25:10   All right, well, I will leave it at that. Thank you,

02:25:15   Nilay for coming back on the show. And thank you for your time and your continuing good work.

02:25:19   See you next year. I'm sure at some event or another and I look forward to having you back

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