Internetting Better

    14 ideas to build and grow a podcast network today

    I recently had the opportunity to express my interest in a field I’ve never officially worked in, for a company I’d never worked for, in an industry I’ve been out of for over a decade: audio, more specifically, audio on-demand, or as we’ve called it for twenty years, podcasting.

    I didn’t make it past expressing interest for the position but my application - in the form of audio on demand - was “one of the most creative submissions I’ve seen/heard” said an ABC executive, which I sincerely appreciate, but my fire and passion for podcasting/audio on-demand has now been given oxygen - after over a decade of self-employment I applied for the job intending to get it.

    So, I wanted to at least document my thoughts here on my blog, and then open source them, release my thoughts to the greater podcasting public.

    May these gathered thoughts help or inspire you to succeed in the field, even if you got the job as Head of Audio on Demand for the ABC ;)

    What I would do if I was the ABC’s Head of Audio on Demand

    • Create a role of tastemaker for the network. They’re the evangelist for the entire network of shows large and small. They themselves release a regular podcast but are also actively blogging and social media creating about episodes and shows. They’re the network’s number one fan and advocate.
    • Serve the niches to an extreme. Look for the small, weird, wonderful communities and interests. Niche passions are infectious, interesting, and lead to great audiences. Think Francis Bourgeois.
    • Serve local extremely well. The ABC already does this so well on every other medium, but the town of Esperance deserves a local daily podcast, as much as the region of Greater Sydney does along with Penrith. Every Australian should have a local podcast they MUST listen to, like it’s the gospel.
    • Up the metadata game. In radio we called the 1% of ultra-mad fans P1 fans, I was told it was because they had our station on preset one. P1 fans love the metadata that makes podcasts so more enjoyable, things like chapters for skipping to topics, unique and captivating album art per episode, and also album art to visually explain chapters. Like if a chart is mentioned, the chart is that album’s artwork. Metadata includes utilising all of the podcast specifications like categories, episode and season numbers, trailer identifiers, podcast:person tags, and show notes with links to things and people mentioned. Look at Podnews' How-To articles and and get your CMS or software developers to build support for all the apps.
    • Album art like Mr Beast. YouTuber Mr Beast knows that the thumbnail of a video is almost more important than the content, it’s what brings people into the episode. Album art is a neglected wasteland in podcasting, up your game.
    • Unearthed for podcasting. I can still remember when Triple J Unearthed came to Mackay - my friend Leah even has video of me at the event {screen grab of the video to prove I was young once}. Over the past thirty years Unearthed has provided an amazing platform for the up and coming musical acts of Australia. I’m dreaming of a similar program for podcasters. An on ramping exercise to the wider network, developing talent, encouraging it, providing resources and assistance.
    • Success, how do we measure it? The Triton Digital Australian Podcast Ranker provides a nice big list of podcast success, but I would sincerely ask all stakeholders whether that listing defines our success or not. I just think of my own podcasting efforts as a wedding celebrant. I would have one of the least successful podcasts in the universe but I’m probably a top 1% earner because everyone that listens to my podcast books me to be their celebrant. No podcaster is getting that kind of return from each listener.
    • Expanding what audio on demand means. We all know what a podcast is supposed to look like today. A regular release, either daily, weekly, monthly, of a drop of audio. But if we look at audio like we do video, there’s feature films, short films, miniseries, documentaries, anthology series, reality TV, ‘straight to home video’ films. How can some of those storytelling mediums be transposed to audio, and could they be released from the “release date” that immediately dates a podcast when released?
    • Embracing the open web and our own platform. Anil Dash recently wrote this great piece, “Wherever you get your podcasts” is a radical statement, and I agree, and will wholeheartedly fight for the open web. The simple fact that you or I can publish a website or a podcast without needing permission from Zuckerberg, whoever is running Spotify, or Tim Cook. But then it also makes a lot of sense for a publisher to own its platform, like the ABC does with ABC Listen. So find the balance between the two.
    • Drop introductions for audio logos. Think of the Netflix Tudum or the Apple Macintosh or Windows XP startup sound. Instead of wasting precious seconds at the start and end of a podcast, employ an audio logo. The first seconds of a podcast are where the decisions to keep on listening are made, don’t waste it with lots of fancy talk about how we’re listening to another ABC Podcast.
    • Debate what we’re calling this. Before Ben Hammersly mashed together the words iPod and broadcast it was called audioblogging. Today we’re playing with the term “audio on-demand” but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. My gripe is that people call videos on Youtube a podcast. The terminology is messy, and potentially there’s no fix, but somehow everyone agreed on what radio meant. Maybe the same can happen with recorded audio delivered on RSS or the web at your leisure?
    • Spread it far and wide with the wheel of content. I’m not going to make out like this is a Josh original, but I’ve been banging on about this since I worked at Southern Cross Austereo, 96five, 4BC and Fairfax radio, and everyone there looked at me like I was crazy. It’s my “Wheel of Content” idea. The simple idea is that a story enters the wheel at the hub (the middle), and then it works itself out through the different channels, audio, video, text, short form, longform, infographics, social media posts, all of it. Record the podcast, break it out into a number of blog posts, into smaller podcast episodes, into videos, tweets, posts, toots, whatever. Make that content work not just double time but 10x its usability. Get the story out of the mp3 file and run it far and wide.
    • Cross-guest. Introduce hosts and personalities from across the network as guests on other podcasts. Pretend like you’re not the only podcast in the network.
    • A big head with a long tail. This is my final thought that encapsulates all of them. Any one network can most likely only afford the social capital to market ten shows a year well. We’re talking large-scale marketing campaigns. But that same network should have 10x (at least) that number shows it is actively producing. This is not a new idea, Netflix and many streaming apps work the same way. Evangelism is a costly exercise, so evangelise the hits, and let the rest of the network ride off that network-effect of getting listeners interested in the rest of the shows. Build a big fat visible head of up to ten shows, and let that tail grow as long as you can resource.

    So much credit to friends for hearing me talk about podcasts and this job in particular so much, but also credit to industry leaders I’ve either been lucky enough to call friend, or have watched esnrestly from afar, like Cameron Reilly, James Cridland, and Scotty McDonald, and then Marco Arment with Overcast and ATP, plus Myke and Stephen of Relay FM who have been doing lots of this for a while already.

    Listen to Really Specific Stories

    Linking to, sharing, telling people about podcasts is a hard problem to solve. If only because I personally do most of my listening while driving.

    So I was reminded this morning to link to a project and podcast I’ve been really enjoying, @martinfeld’s Really Specific Stories.

    Really Specific Stories is a part of a broader PhD project, in collaboration with Dr. Kate Bowles and Dr. Christopher Moore at the University of Wollongong. Each episode includes an interview with a producer or listener from a selected tech podcast case study and uses the qualitative method of narrative enquiry to uncover their experiences. Down the line, responses from each interview will be included in a final PhD thesis.

    They’re all good, and this probably speaks more to my specific brand of nerdery than the quality of the episode, but I’ve personally enjoyed @gruber’s episode, Marco Arment’s, john Siracusa’s, Stephen Hackett’s, Casey Liss’s, Manton Reece’s, Daniel Jalkut’s, Jean Macdonald’s, and Andrew Canion’s episodes .. that said, they’re all great recordings about a very specific time in history, the time that tech podcasts became a thing.

    Imagine being the butt of this line in a news report “The launch of the eye-scanning cryptocurrency project Worldcoin” and you’re also the guy standing behind the main brand name related to a technology the world is shit scared of, and just thinking everything is fine.

    Advice I read recently said “Social networks: choose two” and I can’t drop the feeling that it’s quite sage. In the overwhelm and the overbearing influx of social media content and the greater network of services there I’ve almost chosen zero instead of two, which isn’t any better than the fifteen or so you can choose from today.

    I feel like today I live in between the rock of exposure and engagement and the hard place of privacy. I’ve moved so far away from Google and Meta properties to avoid the leakage of private data and my contribution to their share price, and moved toward the open web, privacy-respecting social media, and I feel really good about it - but barely anyone else in my network cares. I’m still surprised when I see intelligent friends using Twitter as if it’s the kind of bar people like us would show our faces.

    Seeing the launch of Instagram/Meta’s new Twitter doppelganger, Threads, is encouraging this week as the project lead, Adam Mosseri is seemingly committed to open-web philosophies:

    “We’re committed to building support for ActivityPub, the protocol behind Mastodon, into this app. We weren’t able to finish it for launch given a number of complications that come along with a decentralized network, but it’s coming. If you’re wondering why this matters, here’s a reason: you may one day end up leaving Threads, or, hopefully not, end up de-platformed. If that ever happens, you should be able to take your audience with you to another server. Being open can enable that.”

    Being open also enables you to “choose two.”

    Here’s how I currently “social media” (Spoiler: this is more media and less social):

    Anything I want to share with the world starts here on my, which serves a few purposes.

    1. Firstly it shares my stories with my community, and they’re a great bunch of people. A good portion of them are people who - like me - backed Manton’s Kickstarter for the whole idea, and the rest are people who went searching for a cool glass of water in the internet desert.
    2. Secondly, my micro blogs actually post to my own blog, which is hosted by but if I ever took issue with the service, the fee, the community, the leadership, or whatever may happen - I can very easily take my content to my own hosting. I could in fact do that today and still remain part of the community and use the tools. This is the power and the beauty of the open web and decentralised internet services.
    3. Finally, pushes my content out to a number of other social networks, with the number always growing. Linkedin, Twitter, Mastodon, Medium, and Bluesky, all social networks that I look active on because of

    I’ve had broadcasting in my genes for twenty years so that model serves me well. I craft a story, tell the story, and it shares to a few places. Today I’ll then get that story and also take it where can’t (because of lack of API), like Facebook, Instagram, and now Threads.

    And on a regular day, that’s where it stops. Opening those apps for anything other than broadcasting is such an overwhelming action. I’ve unfollowed thousands of people, but it’s still too much.

    But if I had to pick two today, I’d go where I get the most interaction, and that would be the Meta properties and Mastodon, Bluesky. T2, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all graveyards as far as community, for me at least.

    I open all the apps on a daily basis and it’s just so rare to feel seen or heard in there. I get more feedback and encouragement via emails from subscribers to my weekly blog email or text messages and conversations with people I love. You can actually publicly see how many people read my blog, and the odd post breaks out, but mostly it’s a group of 10-15 people.

    Maybe that’s just the way it’s supposed to be? Maybe we’re not supposed to be on every single social network in existence? It’s just a strange thing for me to come to terms with, the gradual decline from talking to thousands of people a day on the radio, and on stages, through to being on breakfast TV and reality TV, to just being a dad who gets 10 likes on his Facebook post and calls his wife to let her know he’s going viral.

    If you’re interested in reading more about and the wider open web movement, Manton Reece’s book is great, or at least, will be great when he publishes it and takes it out of draft.

    Long live Threads, maybe there’s a chance for a second breath of Twitter-like-wind there.

    Social media tier list - July 6, 2023, update

    🎂 This is the official tier list of social networks, all of them, from the beginning of time to July 6, 2023. This list is not to be questioned and is wholly correct, trust me.

    👼🏻 God Tier

    • IRC
    • Vine
    • iMessage
    • LiveJournal
    • Myspace
    • MSN Messenger
    • ICQ
    • Usenet/Google Groups
    • Email
    • Blogrolls
    • Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web (OG Yahoo!)
    • phpBB
    • Friendster
    • FourSquare
    • Digg (version 1 and 2)
    • Path

    👑 Royalty Tier

    • Threads
    • Apple eWorld
    • Hi5
    • Instagram
    • Mastodon
    • Flickr
    • Tumblr
    • ActivityPub
    • Blogger
    • WordPress
    • SixDegrees

    😶 Adam Sandler Tier (Could take it or leave it)

    • Orkut
    • Google Wave, Buzz, Shoelace, Friend Connect
    • LinkedIn
    • Pinterest
    • BBS/Bulletin Board Systems
    • Meerkat
    • AOL Messenger
    • Twitch
    • BlueSky
    • Snapchat
    • YouTube
    • Wavelength
    • BeReal

    🫤 Pleb Tier

    • Facebook
    • T2
    • iTunes Ping
    • Orkut
    • Google+
    • Weibo
    • Yahoo! Messenger
    • FriendFeed
    • Periscope
    • Fidonet
    • Pixelfed
    • Discourse

    🤮 Would rather eat cat vomit tier

    • Twitter
    • WhatsApp
    • Nostr
    • Hive
    • Telegram
    • Plurk
    • Bolt
    • Bebo
    • Yik Yak
    • Signal
    • Diaspora
    • TikTok
    • Green bubbles on iMessage
    • Post
    • Discord
    • Reddit
    • Swarm
    • Pownce
    • RenRen
    • Weibo
    • Parlar
    • Truth Social

    Shoutout to Bruno Bouchet for the tier grading methodology. All other Tier grades (like the S, A, B, C, F make no sense to me)

    Threads, a thread

    🧵 Decentralisocial networks are cool, but you know what’s also cool? Talking to your existing friends group, and having your content enjoyed by people.

    Unlike most of my late-2022 and 2023 content which hasn’t been seen by more than 10 to 15 eyes.

    Prediction: Threads will win; T2, Bluesky, the others will falter; ActivityPub and Mastodon will be a fun place for niche communities.

    The news is incentivised to be broken and terrible

    I was a media and news man for over a decade, I loved being - what I considered to be - an important part of the community, telling its stories and keeping the community informed, safe, and entertained.

    But the industry isn’t doing well.

    The second story on today is about a Fox News story about a recent TikTok that went viral, which the newsdesk found out about through a Twitter user sharing the TikTok in three parts, and the TikTok was just a replay of a Youtube clip from a radio show four years ago.

    Serendipitously the original clip and radio show was broadcast about one kilometre from where I type this in Franklin, Tennessee, but there’s no good reason for Australia’s national news website - - to publish this as a second story today. That the second most important story in Australia today is a four year old viral video is an insult to the wealth of stories Australia has to tell, and the global stories it could engage with.

    Yes, it gets the clicks. Yes, it’s actually an important story inside the video, be debt free. But from a professional storytelling point of view it’s embarrassing for the staff. Even the actual article is poorly written and just lazy.

    This is the downfall of society, our storytellers are poorly incentivised to do good work, and over incentivised to do work that gets clicks that advertisers want even though no-one is clicking the ads.

    I’m feeling bullish on the new group-messaging app and platform, Wavelength, After reading John Gruber’s review, then using it and joining a group, I think it could replace group chats in other places, but also serve as a platform for new conversations.

    If you’re interested, I’ve started a few group chats:

    Jump onboard if you’re interested!

    The future of creating is damned

    My greatest fear for my kids and for future generations is what it means to create within and around such specific analytics being available.

    I (unfortunately) have precise readings of how many people read and view my work. Where they come from and where they don’t. How many followers, likes, and shares each social network allows me.

    Honestly, it’s depressing and it is the biggest impediment to my creative work.

    Efforts to remove the signals from my life have been mostly meaningless and sometimes even have adversely affected business, revenue, and our family’s supply.

    I am most aware of this because my career as a creator started when its audience was measured by handwritten diaries, radio-listening diaries completed at the end of the day where the surveyed people would report on which radio stations they listened to - in quarter-hour blocks - throughout the day, usually reporting at the end of the day. Somehow entire industries and careers like mine were built on the back of less than 0.1% of the population writing in a book for a few weeks a year was representative of the entire local population, and we all took this as gospel.

    Now I know exactly that one person watched one of my YouTube videos of me talking about a chapter of my book, and they didn’t even finish, and I also know that my silly Instagram Reel of my four-year-old daughter with a wavy video effect has been seen by over 100,000 people.

    And even if we think that 100,000 people is a great reach, it’s only 0.00125% of the global population. Is 0.001% reach within our content goals this month?

    With the slightest margin of error, we can tell you that somewhere between 25 to 35 visit our business website every day, but somehow we make enough bookings to provide for our family.

    I think about the New York Times article recently published where I was quoted and our websites linked to, and it looks like pretty much zero of the article’s readers clicked those links. I wonder how many people actually read the article which had taken many hours of at least one journalist’s and one editor’s time to research, write, and publish. The most promotion I witnessed of the article itself was a small text link at the bottom of the NY Times front page. Do people read that far down? Do they click those links? Did anyone even read that article?

    Things aren’t bad, but there was a mysterious time only recently when you could broadcast a radio program and have no idea how many people heard it. You could print a newspaper, and obviously, you would have some idea of how many papers were printed, but who read which articles? You never knew! It was beautiful. You could write an article you thought was worth writing, that the editor thought was worth publishing, and you would just send it off to the printer along with the headline news about that scandal and the other story about how politicians are terrible.

    Do we still create beautiful things if we believe that no one will see them?

    George Berkeley wrote in A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge,

    The objects of sense exist only when they are perceived; the trees therefore are in the garden… no longer than while there is somebody by to perceive them.

    If you suppose that no one might perceive your creation, do you even create it in the first place?

    Are we ok with being unpopular? Are our kids ok with it?

    If you asked me I’d say I am ok with it, if only because it’s my reality. But the truth is that this reality also affects my ability to create. I second-guess myself, wondering if it’s even worth clicking the shutter button or opening up the laptop to write a chapter of a book that will most likely be purchased by only my close friends and read by even fewer.

    As I’ve published this piece, and added a featured image of me trying to figure out why Morgan’s Nikon camera wasn’t working (if you know, you know) I’ve realised that all of these thoughts of mine are before and almost exclusionary of artificial intelligence and large language models.

    Creating really is doomed isn’t it …

    I’ve been talking about switching social networks for a decade now …

    I’m wondering whether “stay in your medium lane” is good advice for Elon Musk and Twitter today?

    I think about Instagram starting as a still photo medium and how I like it less as it has changed lanes. Facebook started as a “friend-to-friend connection” medium, and I like it less as Adam Mosseri has obsessed over Reels and videos.

    Twitter started as, and mostly still is, a text medium.

    The human brain likes to catalogue and silo things. Twitter is a textual medium, and all of us on it love that about it.

    If Twitter wants to evolve to take on YouTube and Facebook and leave text behind, that will be its death knell. Not headwinds in the marketplace, but the fact that those of us that like to read and write text, want to connect and share in a place that champions reading and writing text.

    That’s why Imoved my writing and sharing to when it launched. champions text and text sharing, whilst also encouraging you to own your content/text.

    If anything was going to take Twitter’s place today, in my humble opinion, it would be, because it has a business plan, it has a network, by design it’s healthy and good for the soul, but it champions the reading and writing of text.

    Inherent problems in the internet of 2022

    Some inherent problems in the internet of 2022, in my humble opinion:

    1. Everyone is too exposed to everyone else, for example, it’s wild that anyone and everyone can read these words I’m typing. It’s beautiful and wild, but ultimately we aren’t born ready to be so exposed. There’s the smallest number of celebrities that have successfully been in the public spotlight for their whole lives and come out unharmed, and even those that keep a positive public identity have conspiracy theories made up about them (Hi, Tom Hanks). I don’t think we were made to be in community with the whole planet.
    2. Many people want to be more highly exposed, and believe that they are not exposed enough, and think everyone else needs to be exposed to them, their thoughts, their art, their work. We don’t. I’m actually ok with not knowing what Kanye West thinks at the moment.
    3. What happens if the extremists don’t live in the light but decamp off to the shadows? Do they become a problem for society? Do they impose on your and my own safety?

    I have very little problem with fringe right-wing voices decamping to fringe right-wing networks. In fact, I’d argue it’s a near-perfect situation.

    We're off to Mexico and how we can stay in contact, a manifesto

    My anxiety is of the opinion that none of you really care about me, contacting me or enjoying our family travels, if that’s so, please cease reading and thank you for confirming my deepest fears and anxieties. But, if you do wish to stay in contact with me and enjoy our photos and stories of lands far away, I have four notes for you:

    1. Every email address you have for me is wrong unless it is my name then an @ symbol then my last name, finishing with a .co … delete all other addresses from your address book or contacts app. Email remains my personal favourite place to communicate, please email whenever and whatever you like.

    2. If you must instant message with, or call, me I would prefer for it to happen on iMessage or FaceTime, contacting me with the same email address. If you refuse the beauty and glory of the apple ecosystem I am unsure how we can stay in contact. WhatsApp is ugly, Telegram is full of Russian spam, none of you use the Signal app, plus it’s linked to my phone number which I’ll get to in point three.

    3. My phone number will be trashed, and in the future, I’ll have other phone numbers that I’d prefer to not have to keep any longer than internet access is required. I wish to de-link myself from phone numbers in general but the world seems to think they are important.

    4. Although I am often tempted to post and share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever is hot online, my heart longs for a time when we take control of the stories we read, when we personally decide what we get angry or happy about. So my contribution to this effort is to write, photograph, publish, and share on my own personal blog … there’s also a weekly digest of what’s been published there and you can get it by visiting at to subscribe.

    If you wish to engage in the same kind of blogging I am, I can highly recommend

    I publish, photograph, write, broadcast and share online to satisfy something inside of me that wants to contribute to the fabric of our society, to the story of our generation, and this is me doing that. If you think that’s a bit weird, you’ll love my blog.

    Josh withers and his daughter Luna in the Blue Mountains. Photographed on film.

    Qantas T80 seat selection reminder shortcut for Apple Shortcuts

    Reading a recent Point Hacks email about the ol' ‘T-80’ Qantas rule reminded me of an Apple Shortcuts shortcut I’d been meaning to make for a while. I’m no programmer, or Shortcut-writer, but I whipped the shortcut up today and I think it works really well.

    Stealing this next image from Point Hacks, extra seats open up 80 hours out from the flight:

    If you’d like a reminder about that opportunity, download the shortcut on your Apple device now. It works on Mac, iOS, and iPadOS, basically anywhere Shortcuts works.

    This Shortcut looks for a calendar entry in the next year that has the letters QF in it, assumes that’s a calendar entry about a Qantas flight, and can create a reminder 80 hours before that flight to remind you that most seats that are blocked due to status are now unlocked and you’re able to select that seat if it’s not already taken.

    It’s set up to look in all calendars and create a reminder in my Travel Reminders list, but you can edit it to your liking. My Qantas flights appear as part of a Tripit calendar subscription and this works fine.

    Here’s how the Shortcut works:

    It looks through my calendar and shows me all the calendar entries coming up that contain the letters QF, luckily for us the English language doesn’t afford us many words that use the letters q and f together, so it’s an easy selection.

    The Shortcut displays the flights, you choose one, and a reminder is created along with a link to the Qantas manage your booking page.

    If you use a different calendar system or a to-do/reminders system, it should retrofit if your system talks to Shortcuts like most do these days.

    Download the Apple Shortcuts shortcut

    TikTok's talking points are totally cool, nothing to see here, move along now, everything's cool ya see

    It almost seems like TikTok is the great globalist company we’ve all been waiting for, to save us from the boredom of our everyday lives, and to connect us - not with our friends - but with some kind of massive data store in China that I am totally sure is totally ok and nothing to stress about at all, ya know.

    TikTok’s public relations talking points via Gizmodo:

    • downplay the parent company ByteDance
    • downplay the China association
    • downplay AI
    • TikTok is a global company
    • The TikTok app doesn’t even operate in China
    • TikTok is highly localised in its experience and operations, which means … insert country here … has a lot of independence in the day-to-day operations of the platform

    insert everything is fine gif

    Instagram is embarrassing itself because it didn't steal, it copied

    Five days after Instagram launched in October 2010 I graced the new photo-sharing service with this gold nugget.

    [Instagram screenshot from October 2010] (

    4,301 days later who knew that I could have summed up the entire social network in four words.

    “Make me feel better!”

    Instagram made me feel better for the longest time. The simple act of making and viewing photos was lubricated to the point of a simple addiction. I could make photos and share them so easily, and you could share your photos and I could experience them so easily. We would doom scroll wanting to see more of each other’s world through the film-filtered Instagram app. Instagram, having stolen from Hipstamatic, did what the hispters never achieved - they made photo sharing easy and beautiful on our new fandangled Apple-branded telephones.

    I still remember the early months of Britt and my relationship when she learned about Instagram and when she found out it wasn’t available for Android phones we bought her an iPhone. She switched to an iPhone to use a free photo-sharing app.

    Making people feel better is the key to success in business, you’re solving people’s problems, making them feel better. Instagram made us feel so much better.

    In the almost 12 years since, the service has adapted new features, like video, IGTV, Stories, and Reels. Each step along that path of evolution has become more and more embarrassing for it.

    In 2015 when it adopted Snapchat’s Stories feature the theft was seen as an act of survival, and we generally all went along with it. After all, we wanted Stories but didn’t want to change to Snapchat and risk getting sexted by some young person along the way.

    2018’s introduction of IGTV was a hedge against YouTube on mobile. Turns out that portrait/tall video was a few years too early for us.

    But in the first year of the Covid pandemic when Instagram replicated TikTok’s video service as an Instagram feature called Reels, that’s when the social network started losing its soul. The desperation to kill TikTok by replicating, copying, the whole service as a feature has brought us to July 2022 when the entire app has evolved into an Instagram-shaped TikTok.

    There’s a difference between stealing and copying.

    Great artists steal. When an artist - I’m not sure Adam Mosseri would identify as an artist - copies, they replicate, duplicate, they make a facsimile of something else. It lacks soul, and it lacks care. Copying is not what an artist does. Copying is what a lazy corporate slave does.

    Stealing, however, is key to being a great artist. If I steal from you, I take your thing and it becomes mine. I take ownership of it. I care for it. It has my attention, it has my soul. Great artists steal. They take your idea and make it their own. If Instagram stole TikTok’s video feature, it would look different to Reels. Reels wasn’t stolen from TikTok, it was copied.

    The easiest way to see if Instagram stole or copied TikTok would be to open the recently updated app and see if it carries the craftsmanship of people who care. Is the user experience beautiful, is it thought through? The content being posted on Instagram as a Reel, does it have a Tiktok watermark on it or is it original content made for Instagram?

    Also, what’s the deal with some parts of the app being black like a dark mode, and some being white. The recent update is just so poorly implemented.

    I often wonder about what the future looks like, and the only data we have to work with is the past. Which major brands, companies, and products ceased to exist in the past - and why? Why am I typing this on a MacBook instead of a Compaq? Why is my phone an iPhone, not a Nokia? Why is my car a Mazda, not a Holden? Why is my internet connection provided by Aussie Broadband, not OzEmail?

    For all the P&Ls, corporate mission statements, leadership changes, and org charts, I humbly believe that products/brands/companies that continue to exist, exist because they carry soul and bring purpose into the world, they continue to solve our problems. For all the complaints you can have about Apple Inc., there is a mountain of evidence that the individuals inside the company care about the products they ship. They might have different priorities than you or I, and what they care about might differ from what you’d like them to care about, but it is inarguable that they care.

    It’s clear, without a doubt, that Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, and Adam Mosseri, do not care about Instagram. They care about eradicating - or at least neutralising - the competition and now that they can’t simply buy their competition, the goal is to strangle them out of the marketplace. Welcome to modern capitalism, and Meta is welcome to engage in it, but I’m also at liberty to comment that it’s embarrassing and I can’t help but feel that this recent copying won’t result in the goal they are shooting for.

    My friend, Scotty McDonald, accused me of becoming a ratchety old man who doesn’t like change, tweeting: “I remember when you were the fearless, early adopting, shining light in my life”. I honestly hope this isn’t the beginning of my slide into the old man yells at cloud meme. But that’s why I blog, to document my eventual demise into a senile old man who might of had a few correct insights along the way.

    Regardless, the July 2022 “TikTokfication” of Instagram doesn’t make me feel better, and that was Instagram’s one job.

    In 2022 I want to be a lot more deliberate about my inputs. Garbage in, garbage out. I’m continuing to craft my newsletters and subscriptions, detailed on my inputs page. Plus I’m now documenting books I want to read, books I am reading, and books I have read.

    Small atomic changes should put make sure I’m walking down the right track.

    Stand back, imma fix email

    Why people hate their email but also why they should love it.

    I think it’s a crime that not many people subscribe to The Sizzle. The idea of paying $5 a month for it still scares lots of people away. Which is crazy, because for $5 you get immense value from the desk of @decryption. I referred my mate Nick to The Sizzle and he said “The Sizzle is one of the best things I regularly read. Can’t believe I didn’t know about it til now.” In that group chat another friend replied “Most people hate email. That’s a huge hurdle.” Which is true, but I have a theory about email.

    People saying they hate email is like people that say they hate church. There’s actually nothing wrong with church as a building, an idea, the gospel as a whole is a good guide for living, it’s just that some people have majorly abused elements of church. Seriously, please stop, Christians. So should we burn church as a concept to the ground? Churches don’t kill people, people kill people. Or something like that. Should we burn email to the ground?

    On the “burning email to the ground” note, a recent episode of Hemispheric Views interviewed Rob from Fastmail on the topic /cc @hemisphericviews @canion @martinfeld @burk

    IMHO it’s the same with email, emails aren’t bad, but the way people use email can be bad.

    I look at my mate Ash’s iPhone screen and see the red badge on his email app and it terrifies me. What’s the current unread count, Ash? The thing is, most people don’t love their inbox because it’s their internet yard … and most people don’t like looking after their own backyard.

    They like going to restaurants where waiters bring the food and take away dirty dishes. We like going to public parks where the council mows the lawn. We love theme parks where the employees maintain the rides. In this analogy, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Apple News, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, are the third parties.

    It turns out our homes & our yards are pretty cool, we just need to invest into them, maintain them, clean them, and if we do, we might enjoy living in them, and we can do whatever we like there because it’s our backyard.

    Email is the backyard of the internet. Your inbox is yours, you own it, and most of us leave it to rot because it’s not on public display and most people won’t see it.

    1. Hit the unsubscribe button on as many emails as you can. Be brutal, if you miss it, you can go back and resubscribe, but you don’t let just anyone camp in your backyard.
    2. Have a personal inbox, hopefully on your own domain, so you’re not beholden to a big tech provider. I recommend Fastmail, or for my personal email I use iCloud/MobileMe/.Mac, I have for maybe 14 years.
    3. Separate work and personal. Get personal emails in your personal inbox, work in your work inbox. Don’t look at your work inbox if you’re not working.
    4. Explore other email apps, technologies, and plugins, like Spark or Sanebox.
    5. Listen to this episode of Mac Power Users to get a little jumpstart on email.
    6. Regularly check your spam fodler and mark as not junk or move it to your inbox so the junk mail filter learns what is good and bad. On GMail learn how to use the Promotional tabs etc, and even disable them if you like.
    7. Actively look for emails to subscribe to. If you do have emails you love to receive, share them as a reply to this so others can experience the joy of receiving good, nice, helpful, relevant emails in their inbox.

    Here’s my mostly up to date list of emails I subscribe to.

    Email is one of the few agnostic, device-independent, big-tech-independent, communication channels that you can easily and lovingly own. Learn to love it. Mow your internet backyard, and maybe even do some landscaping.

    Tap your phone at Gold Coast bus stops to access my website

    My February 2021 Apple Fitness challenge is to walk 227km in the month. So I was out late last night closing in on the target when I stopped and looked at the bus timetable sign at a local bus stop.

    That NFC tag piqued my curiosity. I wondered if it worked on iPhone?

    So I tapped my iPhone 12 Pro up against the NFC logo and a website hyperlink notification popped up like when you scan a QR code.

    And TransLink, the local public transport provider, had neglected to renew the domain name used in the NFC tag.

    I now own the domain name and the people of the Gold Coast now have easy access to my website. 🤷‍♂️

    As an example, a local bus stop links to

    How cheap money and algorithms shaped the last decade and the opposite will shape the next

    This is a powerful read for people trying to mentally tie a bow on the 2010s. Ranjan wraps it up saying that the cheap money thanks to near zero interest rate policies we’ve had since the GFC, and social media algorithms, are what shaped the last ten years of our lives.

    “I’m incredibly excited about the coming decade because I am genuinely hopeful the two core trends I outlined will be reversed.

    Algorithmically-optimized lying has prominently entered the conversation to the point our ex-President was kicked off. There’s simply no way money can remain this cheap for a prolonged period of time. What that unwind looks like is an entirely separate post, but there will once again be discipline imposed on the allocation of capital. Financial and technological regulation is far more imaginable than just a few years ago. Change is coming.”

    The Margins, on Substack

    I’m two days deep Clubhouse and I’m feeling bullish about its potential.

    It’s a powerfully personal medium, with deep accountability (live voice). It’s like the child talkback radio and social networking.

    I’ve got one invite left if you’re interested.

    Feature request for iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Instagram DMs, and Facebook Page Messenger: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME SEE UNREAD MESSAGES SO I CAN “READ” THAT ONE UNREAD MESSAGE WHICH I CAN’T FIND ANYWHERE. Maybe a simple “filter by unread” or somethn?

    ‘Nice’ doesn’t sell ads

    I’ve found the most quotable book I’ve read in a while.

    “Imagine for a moment that a new drug comes on the market. It’s super-addictive, and in no time everyone’s hooked. Scientists investigate and soon conclude that the drug causes, I quote, ‘a misperception of risk, anxiety, lower mood levels, learned helplessness, contempt and hostility towards others, and desensitization’. Would we use this drug? Would our kids be allowed to try it? Would government legalise it? To all of the above: yes. Because what I’m talking about is already one of the biggest addictions of our times. A drug we use daily, that’s heavily subsidised and is distributed to our children on a massive scale. That drug is the news.”

    Ruther Bergman’s book Humankind was recommended to me by my Aunt over Christmas as we talked about the light subject of saving the planet and bringing peace to planet earth.

    Tracey recommended the book and in the first chapter Rutger is straight in for the attack on the news.

    “I was raised to believe that the news is good for your development. That as an engaged citizen it’s your duty to read the paper and watch the evening news. That the more we follow the news, the better informed we are and the healthier our democracy. This is still the story many parents tell their kids, but scientists are reaching very different conclusions. The news, according to dozens of studies, is a mental health hazard. First to open up this field of research, back in the 1990s, was George Gerbner (1919–2005). He also coined a term to describe the phenomenon he found: mean world syndrome, whose clinical symptoms are cynicism, misanthropy and pessimism. People who follow the news are more likely to agree with statements such as ‘Most people care only about themselves.’ They more often believe that we as individuals are helpless to better the world. They are more likely to be stressed and depressed. A few years ago, people in thirty different countries were asked a simple question: ‘Overall, do you think the world is getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?’ In every country, from Russia to Canada, from Mexico to Hungary, the vast majority of people answered that things are getting worse. The reality is exactly the opposite. Over the last several decades, extreme poverty, victims of war, child mortality, crime, famine, child labour, deaths in natural disasters and the number of plane crashes have all plummeted. We’re living in the richest, safest, healthiest era ever. So why don’t we realise this? It’s simple. Because the news is about the exceptional, and the more exceptional an event is – be it a terrorist attack, violent uprising, or natural disaster – the bigger its newsworthiness. You’ll never see a headline reading NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIVING IN EXTREME POVERTY DOWN BY 137,000 SINCE YESTERDAY, even though it could accurately have been reported every day over the last twenty-five years. Nor will you ever see a broadcast go live to a reporter on the ground who says, ‘I’m standing here in the middle of nowhere, where today there’s still no sign of war.’”

    With a careful note on journalism versus the news:

    “Of course, by ‘the news’ I don’t mean all journalism. Many forms of journalism help us better understand the world. But the news – by which I mean reporting on recent, incidental and sensational events – is most common.”

    And then he slides right into Facebook and Silicon Valley’s current obsession with buying and retailing our attention.

    “This modern media frenzy is nothing less than an assault on the mundane. Because, let’s be honest, the lives of most people are pretty predictable. Nice, but boring. So while we’d prefer having nice neighbours with boring lives (and thankfully most neighbours fit the bill), ‘boring’ won’t make you sit up and take notice. ‘Nice’ doesn’t sell ads. And so Silicon Valley keeps dishing us up ever more sensational clickbait, knowing full well, as a Swiss novelist once quipped, that ‘News is to the mind what sugar is to the body.’

    I believe that ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History’ by Rutger Bregman is required reading for anyone who’s upset, angry, our generally uncomfortable about the state of our people entering 2021.

    How to overcome Phone Addiction [Solutions + Research]

    “Phone addiction is one of the biggest non-drug addiction in human history. Studies show that excessive phone use is linked to procrastination, suicide (example), spoilt sleep, food and water neglect, headaches, lower productivity, unstable relationships, poor physical health (eye strain, body-aches, posture, hand strain), and poor mental health (depression, anxiety, stress). Some of these problems can be both causes and effects of phone addiction (procrastination, anxiety, unstable relationships, etc.).”


    If you’ve been following for a while you might have sensed a tension between the joy I find in being online and the disappointment I find in news feed algorithims.

    So I’ve been curating my own media diet for a while now and thought you might like a peek inside.

    Simon Owens on 'the Substack problem'

    “2021 will be the year that publishers start to form strategies to deal with the Substack Problem. By that, I mean they’ll need to find ways to discourage their star writers from leaving to launch their own Substack newsletters. In the most likely scenario, they’ll make deals with writers to launch the newsletter under the banner of the media company. They might structure the deal so the writer gets to keep their current salary and then some percentage of the subscriber income they generate – similar to the advances and royalties that book publishers dole out. This will be enticing to the writers because they get to maintain job security while also benefiting directly from their success. They can also grow their audience much more quickly with the help of the media company. It’s a win win for both parties.”

    Simon Owens, on his Substack, which I highly recommend subscribing to

    My issue with Spotify and Amazon muscling in on podcasting and how Apple has failed as well

    Life on the internet, and in podcasting, is a game of middlemen (middlepeople?). The middlepeople actually really benefit from being in the middle, more than we imagine, and it’s an easy position to hold, one that most of the middlepeople hold in secret. Spotify is muscling it’s way into becoming the middle person between you, your favourite podcast, and the 246 companies that receive that data. Meanwhile big-spending Amazon is muscling it’s way into our listening habits, and even my podcast app of choice, Overcast, is a middleperson by design in that the Overcast servers know what podcasts I listen to, and those servers are continually polling the different podcast servers.

    Spotify and Amazon I take issue with because they want to put a toll booth, even if it’s a free toll booth, on an already open road. Overcast is operating a booth on the road, but it’s not taking a toll. Whilst all of that is going on, the original champions of the podcast space, Apple Podcasts is - more than possiblly unknowingly - oversharing to the nth degree about who is driving on the free road, and I feel like that sharing needs to be reduced.

    Algorithms are destroying our communities and what can we, or I, do about it?

    There needs to be a better way to Internet

    Maybe it’s because 2020 gave me many opportunities to think through the implications of which technology companies I’m quite beholden too, or maybe it’s because 2020 brought to light so many of the unhealthy business practices so many technology companies are embroiled in, but I’ve been trying to make big changes in my lifestyle in response to either, or both - because I believe that tech company algorithms are destroying marriages, friendships, families, and communities. I believe our privacy is important.

    Social Media

    I find so much connection and joy in the social elements of the web today, be it Facebook or Instagram, Twitter or YouTube, but I’m increasingly aware that anything more than a passing view into any of these portals is unhealthy for my soul, and an increasingly unhealthy place to “spend my data.”

    I feel less and less comfortable with having my friendships, interests, politics, faith, and philosophy influenced by algorithms.

    There’s a real tension here because I enjoy publishing and broadcasting stories - my own, my family’s, my friend’s, and the stories in my greater circle of life - plus I love listening to and reading your stories.

    There’s just an inherently unhealthy aspect to a non-human deciding what you should hear about from your community.


    I have a 25 year love story with the audio storytelling medium. It was 1996 when Paul McDermott, Mikey Robbins, and the Sandman were on Triple J for Breakfast and I feel in love with the idea of telling stories and entertainment purely through audio - no pictures, no words, no video.

    As we skipped into a new millennium Dave Winer invented really simple syndication, RSS, and Adam Curry and Cameron Reilly started making podcasts, I witnessed the democratisation of audio away from broadcast radio despite forming and then walking away from a career in the artform.

    Today as I witness Spotify and Amazon work hard at putting podcasts behind data-collecting, algorithm-driven, firewalls I honestly feel sad for the loss of the open industry of podcasting. I’m not saying all podcasts should be free. I personally pay for a number of podcasts, I’m just saying we should be able to access them without sacrificing personal freedoms, liberties, and without sharing excesses of personal data like what podcasts I listen to, which ones I listen all the way through, and the ideas algorithms can derive from that data.

    Our entertainment and our information should be democratically available and curated by people, not by algorithms.

    News, information, and articles

    If you search on Google today for “The first podcast” you’ll see Google News articles for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s first podcast episode.

    Our news and information, our thought-pieces and studies, our stories and anecdotes deserve better than being submitted to an algorithmic in the hopes that the mathematics decide they’re worth being read.


    I don’t like the idea of the algorithms feeding me news, information, funny videos, and podcasts, to also be reading my messages and communications between people I love.


    I have so much love for the art of photography. I would love you to enjoy my photos, and even more so I’d love to enjoy your viewport to the world. Maybe some of mine can hang on your wall as art, and vice-versa.

    But I don’t want Facebook, Google, and Amazon to degrade that experience, and worse, abuse it for their own data-gathering needs about where we all were, and what we did.


    I don’t use Google Android phones because I don’t trust Google to run an operating system I could trust, and I use Apple computers because of the opposite, I enjoy knowing that my data is mostly processed locally - not in a data-overlord’s cloud. It’s an expensive choice, but until I know any better, I’m using Apple computers and mobile phones.


    So many TVs today are selling our viewing data to advertising companies, and purely because Amazon and Google’s names sre in the product title, the Chromecast and Fire sticks are products I don’t trust.

    The fix?

    I’m leaning back into the open web, reading blogs on people’s own websites like mine where you’re reading this to hear my friend’s and family’s stories, listening to open podcasts that are available to whoever would like to listen to them, articles and news organisations. I’m communicating via phone call, iMessage, and email - not via comment fields and discussion boards, or if I am commenting and replying to posts I want to do it on a social network whose business model is clear and open, like Micro.Blog. Instead of waiting for entertainment, information, news, and articles to be recommended by an algorithm, I would like to see it in my RSS reader, or even better, see you link to it from your blog, and if I want you to read it, I can link to it from mine. I’m taking my photos back from Google and Facebook and sinking them deep into Apple Photos because I feel like I can trust them to be stored safely and enjoyed beautifully there.

    I’m not insisting that my choices are the only and best, but with what I know today, and with the resources I have, and what I’d like to do and enjoy, I think these are pretty good choices.

    Why should we care?

    I’m writing all this so I might encourage you to come with me. I love the idea of us not talking over Facebook Messenger, and finding out about your pregnancy via an Instagram Story. I relish the idea of you listening to a podcast and thinking I might enjoy it so you share it with me. I dream of a day where local news and information is broadcast and published without fear of it not performing well in the news feed or without generating enough advertising revenue.

    I hope for a day where the internet and our relationships live harmoniously - not in fear of each other.

    We might never get there, but we can try.

    A new family and travel photo workflow

    For my personal travel and family photos, I’ve started a new photos workflow, and I thought other people who are beginning their family photo journey like I have in the past few years might be interested.

    The premise of the workflow is that photos begin on my iPhone, Britt’s iPhone, or my Sony A6400. They are processed, and then iCloud Photo Library is my one true family photo library.

    I’ve put loads (months) of work into clearing and culling that library down to about 21,000 photos now, and just recently finished geotagging every single last photo in the library using Metapho.

    Because I like the idea of capturing as much data as possible so I have wiggle room afterward, I shoot on my iPhone and Sony A6400 in RAW, and previously I’ve used Lightroom to process photos then export to Photos. Recently however I’ve moved processing to Darkroom. I wasn’t comfortable with paying for Lightroom CC storage, and then having to make decisions about keeping originals either on a hard drive, or to increase my subscription and size for Adobe’s Cloud, so I’m keeping them in Apple’s iCloud - a product I already use and pay for.

    The workflow simply looks like this:

    1. Import: I import the photos to my iPhone’s camera roll. If I’ve already taken photos on my phone, they’re there. I ask Britt to Airdrop her photos to me. For photos from my camera I have the Apple Lightning to SD Card adapter, and import the raw DNGs straight into the camera roll.

    2. Cull: I delete photos I don’t think I’ll keep. They stay in the Apple Photos deleted items for 30 days, more than enough time for regret to realise itself, or for me to realise I never needed those photos anyway.

    3. Process: I open Darkroom and because I’ve got access to my Photos library within Darkroom I can edit these new photos as I like. Darkroom has some great inbuilt presets and you can build your own as well.

    4. Modify Original: Once I’m happy with the crop, straighten, clour grade, edit, and what-not within Darkroom this is the impotant step. In the top right hand corner is the share icon, and I choose “Modify Original” so that the adjustments are stored inside the image file. It’s actually not stored inside, it’s essentially a little zip file, with the .ARW raw DNG file from the camera, a .plist file with the adjustments made in Darkroom, and then a rendered .JPG which is the image we all see, share, and enjoy. This means that there is a package in the iCloud Photo Library which containts those three files, totallying 40.4MB, instead of maybe 15.2MB. I don’t know why this is important to me apart from my inner burning knowledge that once data is gone, you don’t get it back.

    5. Location, location, location: Aside from the image itself, there are three pieces of metadata important to me. The first is the location, the geotag. I love how Apple Photos brings you memories inside the Photos app, and also on my homescreen using the new iOS 14 Photos widget, and those memories are often location related. So I use Metapho as discussed at the top to assign a geotag to every photo that doesn’t have one. Metapho is smart in that it looks at images shot at the same time and date and tries to help by pivoting off that data. Photos taken on my iPhone generally already have a geotag, and photos taken on my Sony might be geotagged if the terrible Sony Imaging Edge app was working that day. Images taken inside often have a slightly incorrect geotag as well, because GPS doesn’t work in the house, so I’ll correct those images.

    6. Who’s in the photo?: This step needs some time, because your iPhone literally needs to be plugged in, and in sleep mode, generally overnight, sometimes for a few nights. The process is about allowing Apple Photos to read your photos and detect faces. This all happens on device and at its own pace. I’ll go back to photos and see what faces have been detected and I’ll assign, or re-assign, the person name to that face so I could then search for photos of someone and find all of those photos in once search. This also adds into the memories feature. If Apple Photos hasn’t detected a face after a few days and I’m feeling pedantic, I’ll open Photos on my MacBook and in the Get Info window you can add faces manually.

    7. Captions and Albums: I’ll be honest, I have been lazy in this arena, but my goal is to caption photos accordingly, and if possible to also group them into manual albums based around events.

    8. What if they’re professional photos?: We take as many opportunties as we can to have our photos taken professionally, and those photos are often delivered weeks later, often with not-correct date or time information, and with no geotag. I’ll import all of these photos to my Apple Photos app and manually correct date, time, and geotag using Metapho.

    9. Backup: A final and important step is to make sure that Apple Photos on your device, and iCloud Photo Library in the cloud isn’t the only place these photos exist. You always need a backup. Mine is Google Photos - which I regret - and also in Backblaze. Ideally I’d have a physical backup but I’m just not there yet. A really good backup is to also print the photos. You’ll never regret hanging them on a wall or having the prints available to thumb through, like this photo of me as a toddler hanging at my aunty’s house.

    I hope this helped you formalise some sort of photo workflow for your own family and travel photos. It might not seem important today, but I can’t kick the feeling that in 30 years time it will really matter.

    2014 article on ‘Silicon Valley data’ being the new ‘Wall Street debt’

    “Built by geniuses, both products end up being deceptively cheap, morally corrupting, and of questionable long-term economic utility.”

    Live Free or Try

    My personal answer to this thought is that I’m barely “on Facebook.” I publish any and all thoughts, opinions, photos, et cetera, to my personal blog which is managed and published here on Micro.Blog, a social network that is beautiful in nature and inherently keeps my data personal. It’s business model isn’t sharing my personal data, it’s business model is to be a social networ, and it costs $5 a month, because if something is free you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold.

    The Damage Has Been Proven, So Why Are We Still on Facebook?

    “If a host of reports, studies, articles, commissions of inquiry, books and films were produced about the dangers inherent in the use of a certain product – let’s say a medication or an automobile – the likely result would be a public outcry demanding the elimination of said product. But that’s not the case with Facebook. Why?”