I'm Drew Breunig and I obsess about technology, media, language, and culture. I live in New York, studied anthropology, and work at PlaceIQ.


Sony Marketer: “Our radical camera designed for selfies needs a name!”

Sony Engineer: “Well we called it DSC-KW1…”

Sony Marketer: “Sold!” (snatches camera and runs out of room)

"Money in the Bank" 

On capitalism and professional wrestling:

It is the strange fate of America, in its waning days, that even wrestling — carnival redoubt of grifters, heels, and freaks of every stripe — would wind its way into the colorless confines of a ratty corporate park. Today, World Wrestling Entertainment — now renamed, per a legal settlement with that more genteel WWF, the World Wildlife Fund — trades on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of over $856 million.

Jim Barnett, one of the most powerful godfathers in the mid-twentieth century “Territorial Era” of wrestling promotion, boasted that he dealt with only three coteries: kings, prime ministers, and dictators. Barnett more typically dealt with sweaty jobbers and Georgia babyfaces, with names like “The Continental Lover” or “Geeto Mongol,” but the claim is perhaps not as ridiculous as it appears. Historically, professional wrestling, with its screaming neon lunatics, potbellied big daddies, and tasseled “ring rats,” has been considered too absurd to be taken seriously — deprecated by sportswriters and ignored by politicians, its fans derided as low-class marks.

This — the notion that pro wrestling is a fixed, low-rent travesty, undeserving of serious mainstream scrutiny — is the single greatest angle ever sold by the wrestling industry.

Over Kansas.

captainwilfredworld asked: How did you study Anthropology and get into making apps for a living? Do you do a big part in anthropology and app making is just a side hobby?

Well, I don’t make apps for a living. Just for hobby, really.

But I do work in tech, specifically location data and analytics. Previously I worked in advertising, developing brand strategies. 

Anthropology can be incredibly useful as a base knowledge if it was taught not as a trade (“Here, memorize these kinship diagrams…”) but as a method of thinking and investigating. Understanding how people interact with their culture, and how cultures bleed into one another and negotiate, allows you to think about how your efforts situate themselves and are encountered.

Just the book I made of all my conversations—this 400-page book, almost like a bible, that encapsulates the year—just looking at that, not even reading it, but just looking at it, and realizing that I could go to any day of the year and basically relive it through my conversations, it’s really powerful.


The new Report is out.

I haven’t seen the book, but I have seen the database. Having so much qualitative data organized so precisely is fascinating. He was able to pull up every conversation we had in 2013, from the mundane to the significant.

On “Prime Pantry” & Amazon’s Terrible Product Design

Put aside the Kindle and Prime for a moment. Now name one thing Amazon has launched which is in common usage besides simple shopping.

I’d argue you can’t. Amazon comes up with problem solving tech but is absolutely terrible at packaging it.

Consider the Amazon Fire Phone. To what audience would a $200+ phone (with a two year contract) which doesn’t run a major OS appeal? It’s main features help you shop at Amazon more easily (though the image recognition services), a problem most people don’t have in the first place.

Or Amazon Wish Lists. A great product buried behind a horrible UI. Within Wish Lists are all the features of Pinterest (and were in place years before Pinterest) and no one cared beyond a select few.

Or Amazon’s Kindle hub, which has been recommending I follow Tim Ferris and his goofy highlight from a Ben Franklin biography for nearly 5 years now.

And now “Prime Pantry”, which is described as such:

Adding your first Prime Pantry item to Cart starts a Prime Pantry box. As you shop, you see that each Pantry item tells you what percentage of a Pantry box it fills based on its size and weight. Pantry boxes are large and can hold up to 45 pounds or four cubic feet of household products. As you check items off your list, we continuously track and show you how full your box is.

You can buy as much or as little as you want for a flat $5.99 delivery fee per Prime Pantry box.

Think about this from an average shopper’s point of view (and stay with me here. It gets booooring):

  • An item which would normally be Prime or a Prime Add-On now goes to a sub-category within your cart.
  • Click on your cart to check out and you see this sub-category marked by a infographic of a shipping-box filled up to the percent it contains. In my cart, this was 0.9% when I first noticed it. Zero point nine!
  • You realize that no matter what you do, clicking “check out” will ship a large separate box with small bottle of hand soap, for an extra $5.99. You want the hand soap, so you might browse the “Prime Pantry” store for more things to stick in your box.
  • The”Prime Pantry” store is pretty incomplete. I found three additional things in there that we use on a regular basis. Box filled to 10.4%.
  • At this point, you aren’t going to pay $5.99 for a mostly empty box, so you look for a way to check out without your “Pantry” items. There isn’t a way. Only way is to save all “Pantry” items for later.

Voila: Amazon has convinced you to buy the hand soap at the store across the street.

At several points in the process I felt like the team from AWS was given the reigns to design this process. Measuring boxes by percentage – even without the decimal point precision – is more akin to mangling server loads than shopping for groceries.

And this is the current state of Amazon: every new product or program they launch is almost certainly going to be hidden behind a terrible experience. Their new card reader is undercutting Square on price? I’d bet money it won’t catch on because a) Amazon won’t market it to retailers and b) they’d never figure out how to use it anyway.

To make matters worse, this seems to be a cultural problem rather than just a lack of resources. Read The Everything Store and it’s hard to think of Amazon as a company which tries to create good experiences. And this blind spot could likely bring them down.

Indiewire's Review of Godard's New Film Proves Godard's Point 

Eric Kohn reviews Godard’s new film, “Goodbye to Language.”

Here’s one sample paragraph out of the total eleven, emphasis mine:

To some degree, the overwhelming montage taps into the over-saturation of today’s media climate, a point that Godard makes explicit several times: the recurring shot of a flat-screen television broadcasting static speaks for itself, as does a more comical bit in which two strangers continually tap away on their iPhones and exchange them, repeating the action. At one point, as the narration samples highlights from philosopher Jacques Ellul’s essay “The Victory of Hitler,” someone holds up a smartphone screen showing off the essay’s contents. It doesn’t take a lot of analysis to determine Godard’s intentions: He portrays the information age as the dying breath of consciousness before intellectual thought becomes homogenized by digital advancements.

And then the final line:

Grade: B+

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