And now for something a little bit different

A 1H 2021 retrospective

✍️ The big story

There’s no way around itthe first half of 2021 has sucked.

Like a lot of people, I suffered from a 2020 election hangover in the first three months of the year. Once I was vaccinated, I found myself dealing with the survivor’s guilt of making it through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic intact. And somewhere in that period I also lost my job, which threw a few more personal insecurities into the mix.

All of which is to say—for a lot of this year so far, I’ve been at what Bo Burnham would call an “all-time low.”

For a while there, I simply tried to work through it: I updated my resume and LinkedIn, I signed up for a writing fellowship, I launched and played around with this newsletter… all in an effort to just do something and keep my mind occupied and away from the more existential questions of what I was doing with my life.

Then late May and June came around and I spent a lot of time out of my housewhich meant I spent a lot of time out of my own headbut it also meant that I spent a lot of time being not extremely online.

I traveled to Austin, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Georgia… During that time, I visited friends, read a couple of books, ate a lot, and played a fair amount of Civ VI. What I didn’t do was constantly refresh my feeds to find out what was happening every day in tech land.

And while my vacation is over, after some reflection I’ve decided to keep that going, at least for a little while. Which brings me to this…

Going forward

I’ve played a lot with this newsletter in the past few months since launching it: I’ve changed the name, I’ve played with the format, I’ve experimented with cadence, etc. And my biggest takeaway is that I feel best and get the best response when I actually have something to say—i.e., when I have a strong opinion about something and I’m not just writing to fill space and meet an arbitrary commitment of publishing on certain days of the week or a certain number of times a week.

With that in mind, I’m going to focus on the stories that matter (to me at least) and those that I feel I have a strong opinion on or feel I have something to add, rather than just whatever the big news of the day is. That will probably mean publishing less often and on an irregular schedule, but at least it’ll probably be more interesting.

I’ll still share interesting links and funny tweets or videos (Your moment of zen), because why not? But “The big story” is less likely to be “Some company you’ve never heard of just raised a big funding round” and more often something like, “Facebook finally released its Substack competitor and boy is it stupid.”

Anyway, I hope you stick around.

🔗 Cool links

No, you can’t recycle a bowling ball (but people sure keep trying) [Curbed]
Why do 1,200 balls end up at New York City’s main recycling plant each year?

Preserving Hong Kong, in miniature [The Atlantic]
Model makers Tony Lai and Maggie Chan have been working to preserve the Hong Kong of their childhood by re-creating it in miniature form—building meticulous dioramas, street scenes, and even a fairground.

What deadlines do to lifetimes [The New Yorker]
The science behind deadlines that I’m willfully ignoring by moving my publishing to a less structured timeline.

Office re-entry is proving trickier than last year’s abrupt exit [The Economist]
A poll of 2,000 American adults by Prudential, an insurer, found that 87% of those who worked from home during the pandemic wanted to be able to continue doing so after restrictions ease. According to the same survey, 42% of remote workers said they would search for a new job if they were asked to return to the office full-time.

🧘‍♂️Your moment of zen