Sunday, January 28, 2007

hello, goodbye

One of our users, Tvrtko, suggested that our mascot try drawing itself for a change. But in order for that to happen, the alien had to be erased.

It started innocently enough, with just a cursor.

Then a quick tug on the ear (at least, I think that's an ear).
Come to think of it, the alien always kinda had a big head, anyway.
Beware the wrath of the "Pucker Tool", scourge of Illustrator.
Hold still. Wait for it... wait for it... (yes, this one is animated, just keep staring...)
Something is missing here. It does feel kind of empty without the alien, maybe something will be drawn in on Monday.

Thanks again, Tvrtko, for doing my work for me ;-)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

who plays to lose?

"Plays to Win"
Dwyane Wade is a basketball phenom, no doubt, but are there really any athletes out there who don't play to win?

It'd be much more remarkable if he played to tie (which is really hard to do in basketball). Then he'd really be the sportsman of the year.

reddit is hiring

Steve already posted this up on the reddit blog today, but I thought I could use a free post on my blog, too.

We'd love to add a couple bright programmers to the team -- gaming skillz are a plus (+10 points).

There's even some discussion on reddit about it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

so this is where shirt slogans come from

The folks over at Gawker wanted to see what would happen if we turned a reddit into a shirt slogan generator. Even Gawker's editors sometimes need help being clever.

Voila! This first one was submitted by swedishfish.

It turns out this one was editor-created, but here's proof that the crowds are not just wise -- they speak French, too.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

dreaming of multichromatic harmony

Only a few clicks away from resubmitting last year's MLK header as this year's, I hesitated before committing this rerun reddit logo faux pas.

Instead, it seemed like a good alternative to illustrate a utopian world where aliens of all colors could hold hands and wear reddit letters on their stomachs.

But our alien hero should have known better. It was all a dream.
And like all dreams -- once the bubble pops -- they end.
With open eyes it's clear that we still haven't fulfilled Dr. King's dream (which, it should be noted, had nothing to do with multicolored florescent extra terrestrials). Judging from the time-traveling experiences of our mascot, it's not something that will ever be fulfilled. Sure, wholly achieving it isn't realistic, but it's something worth striving for, right?
A washcloth probably isn't actually going to do much, but it's a start. Although I suspect that just being a decent person probably goes a long way.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

read it?

One of the things I've enjoyed most since the acquisition has been the chance to do a lot more reading. You see, it wasn't enough to tell people "Oh, I don't own a TV" -- now I can say that not only don't I own a TV, but I also read for leisure. I suspect this is why people don't talk to me for very long at parties.

On top of that, I'm deluded enough to think that some of you might care about what I'm reading (see the sidebar, you'll need to scroll down a bit). That, and I made these icons

and had nowhere else to use them. The links go to a personal Amazon Sellers account, but if you get duped into clicking one of the book titles and end up actually buying the book from Amazon (I wholeheartedly recommend their "used & new" section for this) I'm donating 99% of everything I get to BLAST Kid's Cancer.

Granted, it probably won't be much anyway, but you're nevertheless probably asking your monitor "Why the hell not 100%?" and muttering something about me being a cheap wanker.

Well, back when we first opened our Cafepress reddit store we priced all of our items at cost. In fact, we promoted the fact that it was zero profit -- Cafepress wasn't going to be giving us much in the way of profit even if we did bump things up a bit and we just wanted the free exposure ("someone was going to pay us to wear our logo?"). We figured not marking up our gear was the least we could do.

We didn't sell a single item. This went on for a couple months. Pretty dejecting stuff when you're the guy who draws the alien, ya know? But we had a fateful meeting with Joel Spolsky who said that he'd be happy to support us by buying a shirt -- if it were actually supporting us.

"Just make it 'minor-profit reddit gear' or something, and people will buy it to help you guys out."

And he was right. So I figured it'd be worth trying to apply that same lesson here -- hence the 1%. Besides, as Jason Calacanis once said, "everyone's gotta eat".

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

some links of note (that you wouldn't find on the reddit front page)

If you're not living in NYC, Boston, Chicago, SF, or DC (or planning a trip to any of them) you may want to skip this. However, if you're looking for the optimal route from your office to nearest Dunkin Donuts, look no further than Hopstop. Get directions just like you would on GoogleMaps, but since most urbanites prefer public transportation, the driving directions don't do you much good. Especially when you're trying to get to a meeting in Boston when you've never left the strip of the red line between Davis and Harvard -- hypothetically speaking.

Instead, you'll get directions for the optimal route on foot and via PT (that's what kids today are calling public transportation). Try it out, you can spend less time worry about what stop to get off at and instead spend more time overhearing conversations*.

On another note, if you've been looking for an easy-to-remember domain for all the reddit logos, checkout and (they both go to the same logo archive).

*That link was originally submitted to reddit and yes, those quotes are very often embellished or entirely made up, but let the suburbanites** have their fun.

**OK, I'll admit it, but only down here in this footnote of a footnote: I am one of those suburbanites, I just happen to have been living in a city for the last couple years.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

making the nytimes a little less selective

I thought this was an interesting read, but I couldn't submit it to reddit because sharing an article is verboten on TimesSelect. So, I've copied it here with full attribution (read: I am not David Brooks). If you pay for your online NYTimes articles, here's the link.

January 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The American Way of Equality

Income inequality is on the rise. The rich are getting better at passing their advantages on to their kids. Lifestyle and values gaps are widening between the educated and uneducated. So the big issue is: Will Americans demand new policies to reverse these trends — to redistribute wealth, to provide greater economic security? Are we about to see a mass populist movement in this country?

Nobody was smarter on this subject than Seymour Martin Lipset, the eminent sociologist who died at 84 on New Year's Eve. Lipset had been a socialist in the hothouse atmosphere of City College during the 1940s, and though he later became a moderate Democrat, he continued to wonder, with some regret, why America never had a serious socialist movement, why America never adopted a European-style welfare state.

Lipset was aware of the structural and demographic answers to such questions. For example, racially diverse nations tend to have lower levels of social support than homogeneous ones. People don't feel as bound together when they are divided on ethnic lines and are less likely to embrace mutual support programs. You can have diversity or a big welfare state. It's hard to have both.

But as he studied these matters, Lipset moved away from structural or demographic explanations (too many counterexamples). He drifted, as Tocqueville and Werner Sombart had before him, to values.

America never had a feudal past, so nobody has a sense of social place or class-consciousness, Lipset observed. Meanwhile, Americans have inherited from their Puritan forebears a sense that they have a spiritual obligation to rise and succeed.

Two great themes run through American history, Lipset wrote in his 1963 book "The First New Nation": achievement and equality. These are often in tension because when you leave unequally endowed people free to achieve, you get unequal results.

Though Lipset never quite put it this way, the clear message from his writings is that when achievement and equality clash in America, achievement wins. Or to be more precise, the achievement ethos reshapes the definition of equality. When Americans use the word "equality," they really mean "fair opportunity." When Americans use the word "freedom," they really mean "opportunity."

Lipset was relentlessly empirical, and rested his conclusions on data as well as history and philosophy. He found that Americans have for centuries embraced individualistic, meritocratic, antistatist values, even at times when income inequality was greater than it is today.

Large majorities of Americans have always believed that individuals are responsible for their own success, Lipset reported, while people in other countries are much more likely to point to forces beyond individual control. Sixty-five percent of Americans believe hard work is the key to success; only 12 percent think luck plays a major role.

In his "American Exceptionalism" (1996), Lipset pointed out that 78 percent of Americans endorse the view that "the strength of this country today is mostly based on the success of American business." Fewer than a third of all Americans believe the state has a responsibility to reduce income disparities, compared with 82 percent of Italians. Over 70 percent of Americans believe "individuals should take more responsibility for providing for themselves" whereas most Japanese believe "the state should take more responsibility to ensure everyone is provided for."

America, he concluded, is an outlier, an exceptional nation. And though his patriotism pervaded his writing, he emphasized that American exceptionalism is "a double-edged sword."

Political movements that run afoul of these individualistic, achievement-oriented values rarely prosper. The Democratic Party is now divided between moderates — who emphasize individual responsibility and education to ameliorate inequality — and progressive populists, who advocate an activist state that will protect people from forces beyond their control. Given the deep forces in American history, the centrists will almost certainly win out.

Indeed, the most amazing thing about the past week is how modest the Democratic agenda has been. Democrats have been out of power in Congress for 12 years. They finally get a chance to legislate and they push through a series of small proposals that are little pebbles compared to the vast economic problems they described during the campaign.

They grasp the realities Marty Lipset described. They understand that in the face of inequality, Americans have usually opted for policies that offer more opportunity, not those emphasizing security or redistribution. American domestic policy is drifting leftward, but there are sharp limits on how far it will go.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

wired and gawked

Now that we're shacking up with Wired, it was only a matter of time before some arrows got plugged into Decide what 2007's top trends are going to be and thus what's going to be printed in this April's issue. See, a paper magazine and the Internet can still be friends.

Oh, and after cluttering the pages of the Gawker empire with reddit ads, we're returning the favor and powering their new shirt slogan generators. Well, technically, the readers are doing all the real work coming up with slogans and voting on them -- we just stuck an alien head at the bottom.

See Defamer's top shirt slogans, someone called Anonymous came up with this gem, "Work sucks. I'm calling in dehydrated."

That's the wisdom of crowds in action.