Within the past five years — as I watched waves of young DJs and producers rise to prominence and the ‘EDM’ phenomenon take hold in the US — I came to realize that these contemporary artists have arrived at the optimum business model for the modern music industry. Essentially, one man with one laptop creates the music, distributes the music and performs the music, replacing whole busloads of tour support and entire floors of a traditional record label. These one-man musical armies draw fans by the tens of thousands and command massive paydays (check Forbes ). They’re thriving in a disjointed, fractured business landscape. But beyond the money, DJs have filled an essential creative role — processing all the music data faster than anyone else, affirming their rightful place as the tastemakers and music selectors for the modern music audience.

We’re All DJs Now

The current wave of EDM mania among younger twentysomethings is, I believe, the first musical trend that has ever made me feel truly old. Nevertheless, I think he’s onto something here: EDM makes sense as the musical paradigm for the age of the “lean” startup, of social media information overload, of collapsing institutions, of “everyone’s an entrepreneur” and its corollary “no one has a career.”

Most recently, Apple utilized covert tactics to challenge a Reuters story about Apple’s accessibility practices. Reuters referred to Apple as a champion of the blind community, but called for the company to do even more work in the accessibility field. Unable to get Apple to comment for the story, the article quoted a 2013 Tim Cook speech to underscore Apple’s understanding of accessibility’s importance. Despite being unwilling to officially participate, Apple asked Reuters off the record to include more quotes from Cook’s speech, said a person familiar with the situation. Reuters declined, since the speech is publicly available material. Instead of commenting on-the-record before or after the article was published, Apple’s PR team disapprovingly pointed a loyal group of Apple-focused bloggers to the entire 2013 speech transcript, and these bloggers then used the supplied details to attack Reuters. As Fortune put it, “it didn’t take long for [Apple’s] friends in the media (with some gentle prodding from Apple PR) to strike back.” Despite being aware of the entire process, and having the opportunity to be positively, publicly involved, Apple publicly said nothing.

Saying little on-the-record is a classic Apple PR strategy.

To promote this vision, Martine and Bina in 2004 founded what they call a “trans” religion, called Terasem, devoted to “respecting diversity without sacrificing unity,” as the website puts it. Most any self-respecting transhumanist would revolt at this: Refuting the human impulse to adulate the mysterious and adore the unknown is part of their hyperrationalist mission. But Martine sees transhumanism for what it is: a belief system.

Martine and Bina have acquired three Terasem “ashrams,” all near their various homes, but at this point the religion seems to have become more important in principle, as a teaching tool, than as a real-world spiritual community. They haven’t acquired so many official followers; only about 50 including relatives and employees. I visited the ashram in Bristol on the tenth of August at 10 a.m., the designated time for a monthly meeting. The ashram is a beautiful and roomy farmhouse, sparsely furnished but for a grouping of chairs facing a video screen, which was playing a DVD of Martine leading what looked like meditation exercises. No one was watching. Only three people had shown up, including me, and the other two were standing around the kitchen: Sky Gale, who works for Martine as a groundskeeper (and is charged with opening the ashram doors on the tenth of every month), and a blond video-game obsessive named Chris who looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. “I’m so glad we can’t travel to other planets right now,” he was saying. “We’d just pillage, and it would suck.” On its website I found the four truths of Terasem. (1) Life is purposeful. (2) Death is optional. (3) God is technological. And (4) Love is essential.

The Trans-Everything CEO

Saving this for my “tech cult” file.

A guy in his living room with a six pack of beer can have some bad ideas about what to do in the afternoon — shoot tin cans off the back fence, surveil his neighbor with a drone, maybe do dirt bike donuts on his neighbors front yard after those beers are gone.

A guy in his living room with $6 billion can have a normatively bad idea about what to do, and do real damage to normal, ordinary everyday humans.

But when Thiel is arguing for more women founders he isn’t just deflecting responsibility from himself and his fellow investors. He is also doing something else that I want to unpack: he is re-inscribing a form of hierarchical thinking that is part of the reason tech is such a mess regarding diversity. That is, when Thiel points to “more women founders” as a solution, he is asking women to become founders in order to possess a status that would allow Thiel to acknowledge women in tech at all.

The Myth of Magical Futures

I think this is a perceptive criticism. In the world of startups, there are really two categories of people: the exalted class of “founders” (whose economics, perks, and acclaim are disproportionate to the rank and file), and everyone else. Both a large hierarchal imbalance and a club-ish lack of transparency lie at the heart of this industry whose PR story leans heavily on an image of progressive meritocracy.

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thisistheverge:

What if the Apple Watch was round?

Based on the UI, I’m sure Apple at least considered alternative form factors like this during the development process. I know hardware engineering realities or ergonomic factors may have led them to the “just a tad more elegant than iPod nano strapped to your wrist” model they shipped, but I think the watch would have looked a lot better, come across as about 50% less Casio-ish, and been more appealing to people who love watches as objects had it been circular. Then again, the UI (content centered in a black field with no real “bezel” or anchoring elements at the top and bottom) seems intentioned to leave the door open for other form factors in the future, so maybe we’ll actually see something thinner, rounder, and more classically watch-like as the impressive hardware design behind the Apple Watch advances. Here’s hoping.

As a side note, I really love the visual design of the Watch UI. It feels like a much more refined, far better executed version of what they were trying for with iOS 7. Maybe it’s because the visual design “A team” has been preoccupied working on the watch, maybe it’s because they’ve finally had time to evolve this design vernacular following the post-Forstall chaos of iOS 7, maybe it’s because the more special purpose, device-like nature of a watch interface better suits Jony Ive’s industrial designer’s sensibility. In any case, I hope some of that polished, tasteful-yet-playful graphic style makes it back to iOS.

thisistheverge:

What if the Apple Watch was round?

Based on the UI, I’m sure Apple at least considered alternative form factors like this during the development process. I know hardware engineering realities or ergonomic factors may have led them to the “just a tad more elegant than iPod nano strapped to your wrist” model they shipped, but I think the watch would have looked a lot better, come across as about 50% less Casio-ish, and been more appealing to people who love watches as objects had it been circular. Then again, the UI (content centered in a black field with no real “bezel” or anchoring elements at the top and bottom) seems intentioned to leave the door open for other form factors in the future, so maybe we’ll actually see something thinner, rounder, and more classically watch-like as the impressive hardware design behind the Apple Watch advances. Here’s hoping.

As a side note, I really love the visual design of the Watch UI. It feels like a much more refined, far better executed version of what they were trying for with iOS 7. Maybe it’s because the visual design “A team” has been preoccupied working on the watch, maybe it’s because they’ve finally had time to evolve this design vernacular following the post-Forstall chaos of iOS 7, maybe it’s because the more special purpose, device-like nature of a watch interface better suits Jony Ive’s industrial designer’s sensibility. In any case, I hope some of that polished, tasteful-yet-playful graphic style makes it back to iOS.