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(person photographing roses with a phone) Sometimes you just have to stop and Instagram the roses.

A well-earned break

A well-earned break published on

“Just a note that, over the next while, it may be easier than usual to find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. I’m doing a social media gorge.”

I’ve often said that the secret to not driving yourself batty online isn’t to focus on annual Internet fasts, but on taking social media and the rest of what the Internet has to offer, and making ruthlessly intentional use of it. Don’t let Facebook’s newsfeed, Instagram’s stream or Twitter’s trending topics tell you what’s important; use lists, hashtags and carefully-honed searches to set your own priorities.

But I’ll admit I’ve sometimes been guilty of underestimating how hard that can be. Because nearly every social media platform out there is doing its damnedest to lure you into their algorithmically-driven (and advertiser-friendly) stream of content. They’re doing it not just by making those streams appealing, but addictive — and by making it harder to shape those streams on your own.

That isn’t likely to change any time soon. So you might well be thinking “Hey, maybe it’s time for a new social network that won’t treat its members’ time and attention the way coal-mining companies treat Appalachian mountaintops.” And if you’re also thinking “And I’m just the visionary to build it!” then you’ll probably want to read this piece by Alexandra Samuel. (Disclosure: I’m her husband and biggest fan.) She discusses some of the daunting obstacles and tough choices any Facebook replacement will have to confront.

Meanwhile, it’s worth every effort we can make to remember that our time and attention are our own, that they have value, and that what matters is the connections we make and deepen with each other and the meaning we create. And don’t feel any shame over doing that online. When you Instagram those roses, do it with your head held high — so long as that’s the angle that works to get the shot you want.

Mars needs megapixels!

Mars needs megapixels! published on No Comments on Mars needs megapixels!

Everybody’s been ooing and aahing over the engineering triumph of Curiosity’s landing – which was, admittedly, pretty nifty. But to my mind, the real triumph doesn’t belong to the engineers. It belongs to the project managers.

Can you imagine how hard it must be to prevent feature creep on these things? Once you’ve agreed to a rock-vaporizing laser and a chemical camera, you just know somebody’s going to be banging on your door demanding 22.2 surround-sound and an optical Thunderbolt port. Before you know it, Curiosity has a wizard-driven interface, can format legal documents and integrates with Endnote. At that point, the only humane thing to do is take it around back behind the barn at JPL and give it a swift, merciful death.

Yes, the parachutes and rocket-powered sky-crane and all were amazing – well done, engineers. But it was project managers who said “no” to the eight-hundred-thousand-gallon shark tank (“Hey, you know what would make this even cooler?!” “Not a chance.”), and for that, science owes them a debt of thanks.

Bright + shiny = We need a strategy!

Bright + shiny = We need a strategy! published on 1 Comment on Bright + shiny = We need a strategy!

If you’ve been hauled into your boss’s office and handed a business magazine with some new social network splashed across the front page – “Flegmar: The hottest thing since GorbMeSilly!” – and told, “We need a Flegmar strategy right now!”

…then this cartoon’s for you.

And so is this blog post about life at Weneda Communications.

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