At the end of 2016 I was happily employed at Google New York at what I would have called my favorite job I have ever had, doing product strategy for Google’s Ad Exchange. I had a beautiful girlfriend, lots of friends, a family who I loved deeply.
Then everything changed.
The election in 2016 was a shock to me and lots of the other residents of my New York bubble, but that was just the start of it. My brother died unexpectedly in early 2017. As I was grieving, my busy job became more intense, and as if I didn’t have enough on my plate, I decided to get engaged and start planning a wedding.
If I was hyperbolically inclined, I could say something like ‘my world was shattered’ or even ‘the foundations of my world were shaken to the core’. Truth told, I was just trying to get through it all until October 6, 2018. That was the date I set as the end of all the shit. It was my wedding day.
Since then, I traveled with my wife for 3 months, attended my parents’ retirement party, became an uncle for the first time, converted to Judaism, quit my job, wrote the first draft of a novel, set up a little consulting business, moved apartments and started shopping for a puppy!
With all these changes, I started looking at things very differently than I had in 2016. I started this blog to talk about one aspect of that shift in perspective. I want to write down some my thoughts on the ‘place’ I’ve worked my whole career, the world wide web. In particular, I want to talk about some of the aspects of the web that are as wide-spread as they are questionable, the use of private user data and the manipulation of peoples’ behavior online.
In the same token, whereas it’s impossible to write a sentence like that without it sounding ominous, I don’t want to be overly alarmist about it. There is a lot of what I call ’60 minutes’ style reporting about this stuff recently where they tell you to be very afraid and write your congressman. Definitely write your congressman about lots of things, but don’t freak out. The internet is still the most amazing thing humans have ever come up with. What we need are ways of dealing with its great power when it comes to bear on our lives. I think those things have to be cultural and behavioral, not just political and legislative.
I don’t really know what all those things will be, but that’s what I want to explore here. I hope you’ll join me from time to time!
(Oh, and I made a little cartoon mascot. That’s Gus at the top of the page and he’ll be helping me illustrate things)
See more at my blog: http://gossamer.blog