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What Happened When You Invited Steve Jobs to Your Product Demo

Steve Jobs

“I think it’s coming along,” said Tim, “though we expect—” “I think it sucks!” said Jobs.

His vehemence made Tim pause. “Why?” he asked, a bit stiffly.

“It just does.”

“In what sense?” said Tim, getting his feet back under him. “Give me a clue.”

“Its shape is not innovative, it’s not elegant, it doesn’t feel anthropomorphic,” said Jobs, ticking off three of his design mantras.

You have this incredibly innovative machine but it looks very traditional.” The last word delivered like a stab. Doug Field and Scott Waters would have felt the wound; they admired Apple’s design sense. Dean’s intuition not to bring Doug had been right. “There are design firms out there that could come up with things we’ve never thought of,” Jobs continued, “things that would make you shit in your pants.”

An excerpt from the 2003 book Code Name Ginger, the story behind Dean Kamen’s Segway scooter. Steve Kemper recounts the time Kamen introduced his invention (code-named Ginger) to Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. They immediately foresaw problems with the product. (via The Browser.)

 
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Longreads Is Teaming Up with The Stranger to Cover the Inauguration and Protests

Photo by Nate Gowdy

As we head into 2017, Longreads is more committed than ever to funding reporting with your financial support — and this week we’re excited to be teaming up with The Stranger to cover the presidential inauguration and protests in Washington, D.C.

Reporters Sydney Brownstone and Heidi Groover, along with photographer Nate Gowdy, will be on the ground, and we’ll be collaborating with The Stranger on stories (both #shortreads and #longreads, at both of our sites) coming from the nation’s capital.  Read more…

‘For Eight Years Barack Obama Walked on Ice and Never Fell’

Obama was born into a country where laws barring his very conception—let alone his ascendancy to the presidency—had long stood in force. A black president would always be a contradiction for a government that, throughout most of its history, had oppressed black people. The attempt to resolve this contradiction through Obama—a black man with deep roots in the white world—was remarkable. The price it exacted, incredible. The world it gave way to, unthinkable.

-From Ta-Nehisi Coates’s history of the Obama presidency, in The Atlantic.

‘No Woman’s Career Is Straight’

Hillary Clinton

In conversations, though, with many of them over the past couple weeks, they all agreed: This, in the end, is probably how it had to be. A woman who operated purely as a feminist would have condemned herself to fighting a permanently outside fight. And a woman who never tested the limits of the role she agreed to play—tested it over and over—wouldn’t have built the thick skin and the savvy needed to keep going.

“Those experiences and changes she made to forge a path are so reflective of women of her generation,” said Sally McMillen, a 1966 Wellesley grad who recently retired as a professor of history, and women’s history, at Davidson College in North Carolina. “I have always maintained that our generation was the transition generation for women, pulled by traditions but grabbing for new opportunities as we could—constant compromises and even reinventing ourselves as needed.”

-At Politico Magazine, Michael Kruse has an outstanding history of Hillary Clinton’s career — and the compromises and concessions she had to make along the way.

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The Moment Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ Changed Course

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KAHANE CORN COOPERMAN(field producer, later co-executive producer, 1996-2015):

I produced a field piece, with Stacey Grenrock Woods as the correspondent, about a guy, Alexander P., who had been a rock star in Ukraine and came here and was now a waiter in a hotel restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This piece may well have been in the works before Jon arrived. But it airs, and after the show you have a postmortem. And Jon was not happy. He said, “Your targets are just wrong. They shouldn’t be people on the fringe. Our targets need to be the people who have a voice, and that’s politicians, and that’s the media.”

STACEY GRENROCK WOODS(correspondent, 1998-2003):

I heard Jon was very unhappy with that piece, and I don’t blame him at all. I didn’t like it, either, but it was given to me. I think it ended up being a policy-changing piece.

-From a new oral history of The Daily Show, by Chris Smith, excerpted in Vanity Fair.

Searching for the Missing Children of Soul Asylum’s ‘Runaway Train’ Video

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In any case, he said, the video was “an opportunity to provide massive exposure to a huge segment of the population that may not routinely see missing child photos, and making whoever sees these photos think, I might be able to do something. I might have actually seen this person.” So Allen agreed to help Kaye and the band. But first, he extracted a promise from Kaye: If any child were recovered, his or her photo must be immediately removed from circulation and replaced with the photo of another missing child. What this meant, in practice, was that if things went according to plan, Kaye would have to repeatedly recut the video.

When the video debuted in May 1993, 13 children were featured. Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Wiles was the first to come home.

At MEL Magazine, Elon Green looks back at the making of Soul Asylum’s hit video for “Runaway Train,” and the missing children who were featured.

Sister, Friend, Caregiver

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Now 26, the thick curtain of bangs cut above her eyebrows has grown. Several years of braces corralled her front teeth. She finally learned it wasn’t her pinky she should thrust in the air if she wanted to give someone the finger. But she still wants to play like we did when we were younger.

“I’m not a kid anymore,” my mom told Ellie recently as she explained why she didn’t want to join her in a game we enjoyed in elementary school. Ellie and I would crawl on the carpet pretending to be dogs while our mom faithfully fed us invisible bowls of food and scratched our heads. She had retired from the role when Ellie last asked to play. By then, Ellie wasn’t a kid either.

“But I still am,” she said. “Why am I?”

Eight years ago, after Ellie—not her real name—turned 18, becoming an adult in the eyes of the law, a piece of paper was filed at a King County Courthouse formalizing a decision that was reached without much discussion, drama, or fanfare. If my mother died, one of her sisters would become Ellie’s guardian until I turned 30, at which point I would take over.

-A beautiful essay by Ciara O’Rourke, in Seattle Met magazine, on preparing for a time in which she will be the primary caregiver for her sister, who is living with autism.

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‘Pain, Fatigue and My New Normal’

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In 2013, I contracted a virus that I thought was the flu. It ended up being dengue, sometimes referred to as “breakbone fever.” The nickname is a reference to the levels of pain some people experience when they are in dengue’s throes. I expected my symptoms to subside once the active infection went away. After all, friends who contracted dengue, sometimes multiple years in a row, seemed to return to a sense of normalcy. Instead, the joint pain remained, below the fever pitch of “breaking bones” but nowhere near my old self. For a long time I waited for that “old self” to materialize, and for the pain to recede. It took three years to finally surrender to my present and admit that the pain isn’t going anywhere.

-Jodi Ettenberg quit her job in 2008 to travel the world, and for years she has written about her adventures at Legal Nomads. She now reveals her battle with chronic pain and how it forced her to make changes.

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The ‘Anti-Helicopter Parent’ Is Just as Insufferable as the Helicopter Parent

Photo by jdlrobson

If you read enough #longreads about parenting in The Atlantic, New York Times Magazine, and Slate, then eventually you will discover you are an awful parent. But there is nothing so satisfying for us awful parents as reading stories about parents who are more insufferable than we are. So it is with great pride I share this piece by Melanie Thernstrom, who profiles a “free-range” parent who lets his children play on the roof of their house and then rubs it in the face of his neighbors – thereby forcing the other parents to become imagination-quashing killjoys, AKA people who try to keep their kids from potentially breaking their necks. (But hey, my neighbor says the odds are low, and life-endangering activities are mother nature’s way of thinning the herd! I guess it’s fine!) Read more…

A Nation Struggles to Find Common Ground

I can do nothing more than share this with you and pray that saner minds will prevail. This is beyond right and wrong; it’s about the principles we hold dear in this democracy. Recently a “friend” — whose face I’ve obscured to protect his privacy and right to free speech, however vile — posted this on Facebook: Read more…