Sometimes you find yourself wondering: what is the best type of bird seed?*

And sometimes you find yourself staring at a cardinal in your window mounted bird feeder, watching as its tail twitches up everytime it chirps, for a while.

*according to BirdNote, it’s black-oil sunflower seeds (the GOAT), white millet, and nyjer thistle. Avoid red milo.

“The woman was the subject, not the object”

It’s sad that this might still qualify as surrealism in some circles.

Super. Flower. Blood. Moon.

The recent super flower blood moon moon made me think about gardening. (Thanks Farmer’s Almanac!)

Austin Kleon has been writing about gardening lately (and, along with Recommendo, has me wanting to propagate plants).

And Anil Dash has me thinking about how the garden of the internet (after a period of intense monocropping) is starting to get weird and wonderful again. (And lots of artists love their gardens.)

And we have a window sill filled with seedlings and sprouts that I planted with my daughter.

So all of this reading and watering and marveling has me thinking about seeds, which makes me think about beans (which is a subset? I guess?). Which reminds me of this piece I wrote a while back (pre-pandemic, so forever ago) about beans as batteries. Which can be extrapolated to all seeds.

A seed is a life storage mechanism, a life battery. The battery is activated either through planting or ingesting (if safe (and properly prepared (I don’t want to get sued))). Seeds are created by the plants they create (and (maybe) by the beings they satiate). Seeds can be self-replicating batteries of life. That’s pretty cool!

Planting seeds and growing plants and tending gardens can help bring us in tune with life’s inherent beauty. Which can help us have a meaningful life. Which is pretty cool!<.

And all it, usually, takes is a little extra care. A little effort. A little attentiveness. A little slowwwing down.

All good things.

(And, yes, this can be read as a metaphor. I’m really struggling to not go full Charlie Day with this.).

And, thus, we come to the bottom of the rabbbit hole. Plant a seed. Eat a bean. Touch a plant. Add an extra dash of care. And breathe.

Are Beans the OG Battery?

I am very interested in what the next battery breakthrough will be. Our lives are increasingly powered by batteries and they are a natural companion for renewable energy sources. (Also a necessary companion if you think about times when renewables can’t generate.) Our current lithium-ion batteries are great; except they aren’t power dense enough, rely on rare resources, and the extraction of these resources helps fund some not-so-great political regimes.

The next class of uber-companies could come from the battery disruption space (mark off your buzzword bingo cards). Algorithms will allow for faster searches and iterations of novel compound combinations. Electric cars will provide power instead of just taking. And mines will be turned into power plant tunnels to the bowels of the earth. Maybe we’ll also learn how to mimic more natural systems and turn plants into literal power plants by tapping into photosynthesis. (I’m a big fan of algae as an industry.)

But this is all a rambling introduction to a much less world-changing question I had the other day: are beans the original battery?

They are nutrient dense, easy to transport, extremely shelf stable, and don’t take much effort or energy to transform into a consumable version of energy for another system.

Now, I wasn’t around in the dried bean discovery days (shocker, I know), but I imagine it was a transformative change in food storage technology. They’re basically edible rocks (And sometimes contain rocks so be careful). To my mind, the only other food storage medium that comes close in terms of shelf life and stability is canning, and that isn’t nearly as energy efficient and easy as beans appear to be.

Now we aren’t going to power the electric grid with beans. (I’m really just assuming here because who knows what some scientist is toiling away on somewhere in obscurity right now.) But could we discover a system or chemistry that allows for the “dehydration” of energy into a solid, stable form factor that can power the grid if you “just add (salt)water”?

Worst case scenario we all just eat more beans and take a load off the food supply system. They’re good for you anyway. (As schoolchildren everywhere know, heart healthy.)

First published this back in my short-lived (and maybe soon to be resurrected?) newsletter PLNT LYFE

Yeah, It’s About Basketball

I’m a Boston Celtics fan. And they just clinched one hell of a playoff series against the defending champ Milwaukee Bucks.

In today’s game the third year player they drafted 22nd overall, Grant Williams, led the team in scoring. And tied an NBA record for most threes made in a playoff game.

He was not known as a three point shooter before this season.

He’s 6’6” and built like a linebacker.

A lot of individual hard work put him in the position to do this tonight.

But individual effort doesn’t mean a whole lot in a team setting.

The team also played as a cohesive unit and superstar teammates helped put him in the position to do this.

Put in the hard work. Elevate yourself.

Play well with others. Elevate the team.

It’s not either / or if you want to make a difference. It’s both, and.

Add a little extra care. What could it hurt?

Meaning & Existence (& Haiku)

There are three factors that contribute to a meaningful life: coherence, purpose and existential mattering.

But a recent study believes there is a fourth factor:

the detection of and admiration for life’s inherent beauty.

So if you want more meaning in your life, embrace the haiku moment.

If you’re curious about trains…

Japan’s very fast train was made quieter and more efficient by looking at a little bird.

And 99% Invisible has a collection of crazy train stories.

Or check out Disneyland Railroad, which “recommended” to me as I rebuilt this site just before writing this post.

The Verticalization of the Internet

I’m not surprised every major platform is cloning TikTok (and Snapchat) in their apps.

I am kind of surprised it’s taken this long for mobile experiences to be full screen vertical by default (at least as I think about it more).

I get that the “old paradigm” fit more pieces of content on the screen at one time and most major players have a desktop-first past, but still. Why is it that full screen vertical is taking off after the phones have gotten so much larger? Seems like the shift would have been the opposite as screen real estate increased.

Time to bring Quibi back?

Due to the combination of: 1) suffering from imposter syndrome (because I’m human) 2) priding myself on curiosity and 3) deciding I should write more on the internet (including things where I act like a I “consume” a lot of “content”), I decided to track how much “content” I “consumed” for 11 days (guess I should have mentioned being a bit of a data nerd).

I counted any blog posts/articles I read to completion (or at least the vast majority); emails that were not correspondance, spam, strictly work, etc. (this does, however, include link curation type emails); podcasts (completed or started / finished / progressed); and books / zines. These numbers don’t include any of the above that I quickly ditched after sampling, the few mindless scrolls through Instagram, or the Twtter binges around Celtics games.

So, for the 11 day period starting April 25, my daily averages were:

  • almost 13 podcast episodes
  • 25 posts
  • 15 emails
  • A smattering of social posts or videos that felt like a platform-native version of one of the above
  • Various parts of 10 books and 1 zine

A lot of these numbers were probably pushed up by poetry, webcomics, and daily bloggers.

Octopodes (new pluralization I just learned) are the most recent obsession in our house. This has to be the most Ghibli octopus in the ocean, right?

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you should probably judge a fish by its clothes.

“(she considered him to be a footman because he was in livery: otherwise, judging by his face only, she would have called him a fish)”

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 📚

Sometimes it feels like success gets distilled down to a binary of talented or persistent.

The natural athlete vs. the grinder that wills their way to The League (whatever league it is).

(This is likely related to the myth of overnight success.)

But, as most of us learn at some point, it’s really a combination of the two. One just comes more naturally and the other is what makes you work.

(The talent doesn’t always have to seem directly related to the field of success, but somewhere there is a related talent that fuels the persistence and leads to success.)

This is a long winded way of saying, check out this story about Joel Culpepper and give his tunes a listen.

If you need to show people how to use your thing, is it a feature or a bug?

Stretch a little bit.

Craig Mod wrote a portrait of a life dedicated to craftsmanship, care, and charisma. It’s great. I want to meet Den.

And (because I have to sully nice things) it made me think about customer experience and marketing. (Blame Craig, he said “guerilla marketing” in it.)

The best marketing is not the kind you get by spending a lot or being really clever or partnering with just the right influencer. It’s the kind earned from an amazing customer experience. From building trust, overdelivering, and treating people like humans. (Is it weird that these can feel like novel concepts these days?). From focusing on your customer experience and using that focus to inform every other part of your marketing efforts (if you need them).

I’ll let Corey Haines take it from there (but reserve the right to revisit this (you can also read nearly anything Seth Godin has written)).

The craziest thing about planting seeds (aside from watching something that, in some cases, looks nearly indistinguishable from a small rock turn into a soft, living green thing) is the visible progress you can see over the course of a day.

We got our daughter some little seed starting kits (STEM, but you can eat it if it works) and planted them last weekend. The snap peas are going crazy but the tomatoes are more reserved.

This morning, one tomato plant was just starting to unfurl out of the dirt. Now it is almost an inch tall. And it has some friends following suit.

Things (as I am constantly reminding said daughter) take time. But there can be joy and wonder in the wait.

You are only the center of your own universe.

(inspired, in part, by this podcast intro)

Pieces like this give me hope (and set my curiosity into overdrive) for what the future of the web can be. What can happen when the weirdos, artists, nerds, and punks push at the edges - bumping the barricades - of the present until the future starts to leak through.

What question are you actually trying to answer?

Sometimes we have the shape of answer in mind before we even fully understand the question we’re trying to solve for. And we end up chasing that.

So figure out your true question and try to answer that question.

Rabbbits Weeekly marketing news roundup, the one in which we do math, talk a lot about Google and Microsoft, applaud a QR code, and get down with DTC.

Storytelling and history are powerful levers of influence.

The longevity and terroir of heritage brands.

The resonance and community of a story that transforms a product into a lifestyle.

The connection that can be found through similarities rather than statistics.

But they can also be tools of coercion, aggression, and war.

Especially when a story for the present is built on a foundation of “this is how it was before.”

Stories and history (arguably the same thing) can be tools for change. Or impediments.

“This is how it’s always been done” is not a reason to keep doing it.

The Trinternet

Your GDPR-compliant cookie banner is actually a violation of GDPR.

And so is your analytics platform. (If you’re using Google.)

And so is Facebook Meta. (This is unlikely to impact non-European targeting advertisers directly (if it were to actually happen) but the fallout, at least financially, from such a move could cripple Big Blue Infinity / Upsidedown Spider-Man Mask Eyes)

More importantly, this is another sign of the decentering of America in the digital sphere and the splintering internet. We essentially have two internets now: The West v. China. But these headlines could signal a Web Trinity: America v Europe v China.

To be overly reductive of the West v China split: the western internet is bottom up while China is top down. Wild west versus total control. This has been getting more dramatic lately with full blown tall poppy syndrome taking effect, as illustrated by the recent Tencent drops.

The US v (western) Europe division is more nuanced but built on items grabbing more (marketing / tech) headlines: privacy, competition, data sovereignty, and user experience. European authorities don’t want their citizens’ data in reach of US spy orgs (and no one wants it within reach of China) and they want privacy by default. The thorny bits are related to data handling for international tech platforms and the fact that privacy typically benefits incumbents since they get to keep their data locked up tight. And how does all of this impact the user experience of the web? (I’m guessing no one enjoys ubiquitous cookie banners.)

The ad-based internet gets a lot of flak; some of it warranted, some of it overblown. (I’d wager people will like depersonalized advertising a lot less than the current setup, remember ye olden days of banner ads?) Combining recent lawsuits in various European countries hints at a trend of making advertising harder while forcing the platforms that rely on it for money to pay for the content they make accessible (you know, because News Corp needs more money).

This will be an interesting space to watch over the next few years, especially if laws and regulations remain ambiguously written.

Note to self, try this:

If you’re a B2B business, is a difficult user experience a promise for how difficult you’ll make things for your customer’s customers?

Examples include:

  • “schedule a demo” as the primary button
  • no pricing info
  • deceptive pricing
  • mumbo jumbo copy that doesn’t actually explain what you do
  • no screenshots / examples of your software
  • multiple messaging options as a smoke screen for actually getting in contact with a human

(h/t the core int podcast @coreint)