Thursday, August 7th, 2014


Book of More, Man

There will be no edition of NextDraft on Friday because someone told my kids it was Summer. Back on Monday.

In a few cities, Google is now offering same-day deliveries of books from Barnes & Noble. The two companies might seem like unlikely partners until you consider their common enemy: Amazon. On some level, it's amazing that the biggest companies in the world are in a fierce battle for technological superiority and their weapon of choice is the old fashioned book. Whether they're delivered digitally or by a van, it's still about the words. In an era when many assumed that people would lose the attention span for longform content, it turns out you can't get it to us fast enough. (This might be an overly optimistic spin on the story, but I'm a humanities major.) From the NYT: Google and Barnes & Noble unite to take on Amazon.


The Failed Gamemaker

When Stewart Butterfield's first game company wasn't going all that well, he and his team decided to focus on one of the game's features that enabled players to share images. Before long, Flickr had taken over the web, and in some ways, launched a new era of social media. So Stewart went back to his original passion. And his next game flopped. So he focused on an internal communication tool his team had built to better work on the game. That became a new product called Slack. And Slack could be huge. In Wired, Mat Honan does an excellent job tracing the career of Stewart Butterfield, and in doing so, paints a very accurate portrait of the evolution of the start-up world: The most fascinating profile you'll ever read about a guy and his boring startup.

+ Maybe everyone doesn't hate tech companies after all. Kevin Roose examines the numbers and finds that the Silicon Valley backlash has been greatly exaggerated. Either that, or people in NY and the Bay Area are just early adopters.


The Dam

ISIS has now extended its reach in Iraq and taken over "the largest hydroelectric dam in the country. A breach in the dam could unleash disastrous flooding." The Obama administration is considering humanitarian aid and possible airstrikes.

+ The Daily Beast: Will U.S. troops stand by while ISIS starves thousands?


Dueling Sanctions

Putin is not backing down in the face of Western sanctions. Instead, Russia has announced food counter-sanctions of their own. While these sanctions will have an impact on Western countries, they will also be felt in Russia. From Quartz: How will Russia feed itself?

+ MoJo: Here's a look at the U.S. foods that Russians are eating. (The list even includes Kale.)


Ribbon Cutting

"What you need to know about my husband is that, while I think he's cool, he's not, you know, hipster cool. Earlier this year, he asked me what Coachella was. And he's been to Brooklyn exactly zero times. As such, his buying PBR is the perfect example of what hipsters have been dreading -- PBR has entered the mainstream, and it may be the beginning of the end for the brand." Outside's AC Shilton predicts that we've hit peak Pabst Blue Ribbon, and provides some interesting background on what makes a product seem cool. (It sure ain't flavor...)

+ Speaking of hipster ingestibles, take a look at this chart showing the amazing rise of the American almond craze.


Not the Island Kind

A 4.5 magnitude earthquake hit Waimea on the Big Island just hours before Hawaii is expected to be soaked by its first (and possibly second) hurricane in twenty-two years.



"As casino expansion reaches its limits, the towns and cities that turned to gambling to escape their problems may discover that they have accepted a sucker's bet." David Frum argues that casinos are a great way to wreck a local economy. And they tend to wreck a lot of personal economies along the way.

+ Vox: Slot-machine science -- how casinos get you to spend more money. Website designers should hire slot machine designers. No one is better at holding your attention.



"Marijuana is a thirsty plant, and cultivating it at a time when California residents are subject to water restrictions has become a sticky issue." That blunt assessment from the NYT makes it clear that no publication can resist marijuana puns. It's also a sign of how bad the California drought is. Fewer people care that farmers are growing and selling weed, and more people are concerned about the water that's being bogarted.


Silent Protest

"This was my biggest challenge: A drinks date with another old friend, someone who knows almost all of the same people I do and who feels exactly the same way as I do about all of those people. The temptation to shit-talk would be high." Melissa Dahl tries to go seven days without complaining. (I'd be lucky to go seven tweets...)


The Bottom of the News

My child "will, at some point, come across my Twitter profile; my professional and my personal writing archive; my RateMyProfessor page; my life as a burgeoning rock star. That will be a frightening day." Josh Sternberg worries about the day his kid decides to Google him. I used to worry about this until I realized that our kids aren't going to be interested enough in us to bother.

+ The New Republic makes the case that office snacks are bad for you. So just go back to your treadmill desk and starve.

+ If you can't walk on water, at least you can bike.

+ Can one bad apple really spoil the bunch? Yes.