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Mike Elgan
The world's only lovable tech journalist
The world's only lovable tech journalist

Mike Elgan's posts

Any current or former AirBnB engineers out there who worked on their algorithms, please email me:

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This Week in Google!

I'm on the show tomorrow, which starts at 1pm Pacific, 4pm Eastern. Don't miss it! (It's going to be a big one!)


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I've got Canada questions

Canada and the United States are probably the biggest observers of Thanksgiving. I don't know much about the Canadian version.

For example, in the United States Thanksgiving is on the 4th Thursday of November. Because of its proximity to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Christmas together (and New Year's Eve) have fused into "the holidays" foodwise — it's like six weeks of special "holiday" foods.

Is it like that in Canada? Or is the earlier Thanksgiving too early for fusion?

Also: For those of you also familiar with American thanksgiving, how is Canadian Thanksgiving food different?

(PICTURE: This is what +Amira Elgan made for our Thanksgiving dinner three years ago.)


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Smartphones make people distracted and unproductive

(Read my column: )

Silicon Valley is draining away the economy's most precious resource for its own benefit.

OK, I'd better explain that.

The economy's most precious resource is human attention — specifically, the attention people pay to their work. No matter what kind of company you own, run or work for, the employees of that company are paid for not only their skill, experience and work, but also for their attention and creativity.

When, say, Facebook and Google grab user attention, they're taking that attention away from other things. One of those things is the work you're paying employees to do.

As a thought experiment, imagine that an employee who used to pay attention to your business eight hours each day now pays attention only seven hours a day because he or she is now focusing on Facebook during that last hour. You're paying the employee the same, but getting less employee attention for it.

Facebook is getting that attention - and monetizing it with additional advertising dollars. In short, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is transferring wealth from your company to his.

With each passing year, he steals more and more.

Here's more on the problem, and also what to do about it:

#smartphones #distraction #attentioneconomy

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I've only tried six of the 25 IPAs on this list!

How about you?

The list is on Cool Materials, and it's their "IPA Bucket List: 25 IPAs You Have to Drink at Least Once."

#ipa #beer

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Government areas in Washington, D.C., are not 3D in Google Maps

Probably for security reasons.

What’s interesting, is that you can see a clear boundary between 3D and 2D areas (the White House is in the bottom near the center).

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Is there a whitelist-centric email app or site?

I use Inbox, and I’m committed to achieving “zero inbox” (I can’t stand “solutions” that prioritize because your inbox ends up with thousands of low-priority messages that still might contain important stuff).

I’ve spent the last 15 years doing what we all do — trying to manage my email with a blacklist or gray-list system (using filters, rules and other tools to select email types or sources for either being deleted automatically or filed away in some categorical folder for later batch processing).

After all this time, I still feel like I spend way to much time blacklisting stuff. I seem to be on thousands of mailing lists, and I can’t blacklist stuff fast enough.

Maybe the solution is a whitelist system, whereby the only emails that can make it into my inbox are sources I’ve deliberately pre-approved in advance. This could be accompanied by a canned message explaining my system and inviting the sender to contact me via a process that requires them to use up their own time, and not just mine.

Is this a good idea or a bad one?

Does anything like this exist?

Or would this be best constructed using Inbox (gmail settings)?

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Smartphones make people dumb, distracted and depressed

... according to science.

And it’s getting worse every year.

Facebook, Instagram and other apps are making people miserable, even as they grow more addicted. The smartphone is the major facilitator of this crisis. People go to meetings and can’t unglue their eyes from their phones. While pretending to work, they spend their days on social networks out of addiction, and it makes them depressed. People can’t do deep work or hold a real conversation anymore because they constantly feel the pull of that world of distractions we all carry around in our pockets.

What’s the solution?

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Are smartphones wrecking our lives?

And, if so, are minimalist phones like the Light Phone part of the solution?

Here’s my conversation with Light Phone co-founder Joe Hollier.

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