Dustin Curtis


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Newspaper Industry Is Running Out of Time to Adapt to Digital Future

Strange to watch The New York Times publicly contemplate its own existence.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a text file with my large, high-level predictions for the industries and companies I’m tracking. Now I’m going to make part of it public. (I wrote these in February.)

  • Television
    Apple is going to enter the television market. Samsung will be blindsided. Vizio will become the only worthy competitor in the market. It’s going to look exactly like the MP3 player market in 2001. Once again, software is the key.

  • Search
    Semantic/contextual/intelligent web searching will kill Google if Google doesn’t disrupt itself. Eventually. Google search is a terrible experience for normal people. They don’t know which links they can trust. Some service in the future is going to curate the top 100,000 or 1,000,000 queries into a list of great, precise results. Siri would be a great interface into that kind of system. “Siri, what camera should I buy?” would...

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Bradbury on the future

“People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it. Better yet, build it. Predicting the future is much too easy, anyway. You look at the people around you, the street you stand on, the visible air you breathe, and predict more of the same. To hell with more. I want better.”

RAY BRADBURY, 1920–2012

I didn’t know much about Ray Bradbury until a couple of weeks ago, after he died. The man was an artist with words. The more I learn about him, the more I am impressed by his thoughts: he was controversial, eloquent, and contrarian; and he didn’t care what people thought of him.

The world is a worse place without him.

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Twitter’s new logo

Twitter has modified its bird logo and cemented it as the solid logo and visual brand for the company:

Starting today you’ll begin to notice a simplified Twitter bird. From now on, this bird will be the universally recognizable symbol of Twitter. (Twitter is the bird, the bird is Twitter.) There’s no longer a need for text, bubbled typefaces, or a lowercase “t” to represent Twitter.


This is definitely a huge improvement. The new bird feels like it’s flying.

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Pre to Postmortem: the Death of Palm

Chris Ziegler has written an epic about the rise and fall of Palm, through its last hurrah:


That’s the number of months it took Palm, Inc. to go from the darling of International CES 2009 to a mere shadow of itself, a nearly anonymous division inside the HP machine without a hardware program and without the confidence of its owners. Thirty-one months is just barely longer than a typical American mobile phone contract.

Understanding exactly how Palm could drive itself into irrelevance in such a short period of time will forever be a subject of Valley lore.

This is a must read.

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A coincidence, I’m sure, but Samsung’s Chromebox looks kind of familiar

Samsung’s new Chromebox (which runs Google’s ChromeOS) has a familiar form factor. But all small computers are built with circular openings in the bottom, right? It’s a natural method of construction. How else would you build such a thing?


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Steve Jobs and The Cloud

Shortly after returning to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs shared his thoughts about the future of the company with attendees at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Here’s part of his speech (which I transcribed), where he clearly describes “the cloud” fifteen years before it would arrive. This is the definition of vision:

Let me describe the world I live in. About 8 years ago, we had high speed networking connected to our now-obsolete NeXT hardware … and because we were using NFS, we were able to take all of our personal data–our home directories, we call them–off of our local machines, and put them on a server. And the software made that completely transparent, and because the server had a lot of ram on it, in some cases it was faster to get stuff off the server than off your local hard disk because in some cases it would be cached in the ram of the server, if it was in popular use.


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Elon Musk’s determination

By 2008, SpaceX had launched three rockets. They all failed to make it into orbit. Shortly after the third failure, Elon Musk was interviewed by Wired Magazine’s Carl Hoffman:

Wired.com: At the end of the day you’re still zero for three; you have so far failed to put a rocket into orbit.

Musk: We haven’t gotten into orbit, true, but we’ve made considerable progress. If it’s an all-or-nothing proposition then we’ve failed. But it’s not all or nothing. We must get to orbit eventually, and we will. It might take us one, two or three more tries, but we will. We will make it work.

Wired.com: How do you maintain your optimism?

Musk: Do I sound optimistic?

Wired.com: Yeah, you always do.

Musk: Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; we’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.

Yesterday, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space...

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Dr. Koop and The Bubble

In early 1997, an ambitious healthcare startup called Dr. Koop, which was founded by former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, went online. It was during the era when internet portals reigned, and the company spent its first year struggling to gain exposure. By the end of 1997, with no traction and zero revenue, it was running out of money.

On April 6th, 1998, the company closed a respectable $1M Series A financing. It wasn’t enough, apparently, because just 22 days later, it closed another $6.8M Series B round. By the end of 1998, Dr. Koop had taken about $8 million in financing, made just $43,000 in revenue, and suffered a net loss of $8.997 million.

Nine months after the series B money was in the bank, and in desperate need of more cash, the company raised another $3.5M. It was January of 1999, at the height of one of the largest valuation bubbles in history, and Dr. Koop was...

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Just say “No.”

Yahoo has just announced Axis, a browser extension thing and mobile app that “redefines what it means to search and browse the Web [sic].”

• A group of people at Yahoo, including engineers, designers, and product managers had to conceive of, design, and build this product, which works basically identically to browser toolbars from the early 2000’s. It does have a sync feature, but it requires that you use a new custom, dedicated browser on your mobile device.

• A group of people at Yahoo had to make the marketing website, which describes the product ambiguously and does not actually contain any real screenshots or information.

• A group of people had to write, design, direct, and edit the advertisement on that marketing website. It’s an advertisement of a man punching 15-foot-tall transparent glass websites, followed by a giant pepper tree growing out of cement in an empty...

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