Go back ten years. My co-founder Richard and I had an agency business, except it wasn’t yet a business because we had no clients. We started a podcast. Oddly our employees were against it. I’m still not sure why. I have observed that employees in general are anxious about bosses doing things because that inevitably ruins their plans (which involve refactoring code or doing more user research). I’ve been there and I get it. But bosses are going to do things.
So we did them—and it worked out great. That podcast turned out to be the best way to build our business: We had thousands of listeners, and it was in general a very positive endeavor. We helped a lot of people along in their careers and won an award from the Village Voice for being marketing but actually good.
So we’re launching the Aboard Podcast. Well…sort of. We had this other podcast (Ziade & Ford Advisors) and we just renamed it. You can do things like that. Computers make it easy. Here’s the Apple link. Here’s the YouTube podcasts link. Add it to the other 10,000 podcasts you keep meaning to listen to!
The first episode is about AI and how to understand it and how we’re coming to understand it. Towards the end of the podcast Rich accidentally walked into a UI/UX pattern for future AI interfaces that will basically destroy society again. Especially as we head into an election. If you listen you’ll probably agree.
Of course, this being 2023, we’re doing it in video. It’s on YouTube. Personally I did not get into the technology industry to show my large jowly head on camera in the bottom right of a screen. But I’ve learned that the tech industry is not what we want computers to be but rather what computers are doing to us. Also the pandemic taught us that nothing is real unless you’re staring into a camera while doing it.
As a result, all roads in 2023 lead to one place: YouTube. TikTok? Instagram? Sure. But YouTube is winning it all. You can feel it winning. What once was tweeted is now…tubed. Software is demonstrated and promoted on YouTube. Podcasts are released to YouTube. So we’re there. We are going to tube. I’m a middle-aged brandfluencer tube dad. Like and subscribe.
This first episode—it’s a disaster. I stare at the camera like a robot, Rich stares at me and makes eye contact with my cheek. We’ve got clip-on mics which don’t sound as good as the Shure mics we used to use, but allow for more fluid video recording. However, Rich is an animated speaker who moves his arms like a large bird attempting and failing to fly, which bumps the microphone and makes it sound like six trucks are backing over gravel. Also I need a haircut. Or to start a Flock of Seagulls cover band. Plus we had to record audio in a separate file in order to get two tracks so that we can have clean transcripts, but it turns out that what constitutes a microsecond in video is different from what does so in audio, which means that the end of the video goes out of sync like a torrented copy of Heat (1995).
It’s weird also to notice how all the podcasting software now does everything but in a hyperspecialized way, so the idea that there are two people speaking in the same place on two separate microphones seems—they just can’t accommodate it. It really does feel like everything in tech right now is a rigid monoculture that can’t handle anything off the critical path. Which makes me feel glad we’re building a general purpose tool with Aboard. At least we’ll be really wrong. I’d hate to be slightly wrong.
But you know what? OVER THE WALL. New product features, podcasts, newsletters. OVER THE WALL. Audio out of sync? Table view not editable yet? OVER THE WALL.
I think we can fix the audio for next week, even if I can’t fix my head. So: What do you want us to discuss? Some future proposed topics: How to avoid being sued, how to know when to stop using a technology, the kinds of people you must avoid in the tech industry…what else? Let me know.
Also! Aboard! We have a product! And a whole lot of new features are headed into the production right now. So I’m off to make more helpful videos, and that’s what we’ll discuss and share next week.