Category Archives: technology

Social Media is the New Word of Mouth

The best form of advertising is word of mouth, and the new word of mouth is social media. The aim of social media companies is to make their users spend more time on their platforms in order to generate more ad revenue. The more time people spend online, the less time they spend with other people in person, which means less time for physical “word of mouth” interactions. Today, people have more interactions with other people on the internet than in real life, making social media the new “word of mouth”. (This was true before the Covid-19 pandemic which only compounded this effect further.)

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Use Visualization to Write Fiction Like Tesla

Most of my toughest problems writing fiction come from hitting a wall midway through the first draft when I realize I must alter the narrative in some dramatic way, requiring massive rewrites of what I’d written so far. This doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it is demoralizing—especially for longer projects like novels. I dread going back to do that rewriting work because it is difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Fixing what I wrote before often takes longer than it took to write in the first place.

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Best Nonfiction Books I Read in 2020

According to my Goodreads stats (which I use to track every book I read), I read 95 books in 2020, which is down slightly from last year (114). Though that includes comic books, which are shorter and quicker to read, plus audiobooks, and I read less comics, so more full-books in all. My increased reading was not due to being stuck at home during quarantine as that didn’t affect my lifestyle much—it’s primarily because I severely cut down on reading Twitter and other online news. I previously wrote about the futility of following the daily news closely, but I still clung to Twitter—a little too much—sometimes a lot too much. I will expand upon how I broke my Twitter addiction in a future post, but suffice it to say, these days I check Twitter just once a day (at night after getting my work done) for only a couple minutes—if at all. This immediately reduced my stress levels and gave me much more time to read more valuable things that will stand the test of time, such as the following books.

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The Self-Driving Car Conundrum

Self-driving cars are inevitable. Tesla, Ford, BMW, Nissan, GM, Google, Baidu, Apple, Amazon, Uber, Lyft, and many more companies are all working on developing autonomous driving systems for their vehicles. It is not a matter of if, but when. Self-driving automobiles will be ubiquitous in the future. There is one core conundrum with self-driving cars, however. Self-driving cars will only work if there are only self-driving cars.

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Death by Self-Driving Car

Death by Self-Driving Car is a collection of three short stories about the near-future prospects of autonomous automobiles and their potential impact on society.

“The Autonomous Trolley Problem” is a new spin on the classic philosophical thought experiment. What was originally proposed as an insoluble ethical dilemma may soon need to be solved when programming self-driving algorithms in the real world.

“Redundant Truckers” is about the mass unemployment former truck drivers could face in the wake of self-driving semi-trucks such as those being developed by Uber’s “Otto,” as well as the possibility of Universal Basic Income (UBI) to address that issue.

Finally, the titular story, “Death by Self-Driving Car,” is a Sherlock Holmes-style detective mystery about an insurance investigator hired to look into a rare self-driving car accident that resulted in the death of a human passenger.

Death by Self-Driving Car is now available as an ebook on Amazon, free to read for Kindle Unlimited members. You can also buy the ebook from me directly via PayPal, Cash App, Bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies at any price of your choosing (including free if money is a problem for you). Just email me with your preferred file format (PDF, EPUB, MOBI) and payment method.

Black Mirror and the Future of Storytelling

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Black Mirror is the future. I don’t mean the dystopian technological prophecies in the show will come true (though many of them might). I mean the format of 50 to 70-minute self-contained stories are the future of film and television storytelling. Continue reading

Recommendation Algorithms Rule Your Life

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Cultural critics used to be essential curators of music, movies, books, and art. When there were only a couple of newspapers or radio stations or TV stations, the select few professional critics had enormous power in telling the public which art they should pay attention to. Then came the internet and everything changed. With blogs, message boards, and podcasts, anybody could become a critic. Both the creation and critique of art became more democratic. Traditional critics became less important. People preferred to take recommendations from like-minded people in their specific cultural niche. This gave real cultural power to bloggers and amateur critics on the internet who developed a following. Continue reading