Tom MacWright


I skipped a Recently in November, mostly because I didn’t write anything else in October and September, which were pretty hectic months personally and nothing happened to rise to the surface. Consecutive Recentlies without freestanding posts have happened before - like November and December of 2013 and January of 2014. They look weird, typographically, and trigger my always-lurking fear of stagnation, but usually my life is just occupying more time, or no topics are grabbing my interest. The blog mocks death, so far.

This was a good month for reading - The Fall (my first Camus), Look Alive Out There, and Zero to One. All interesting books with nothing in common. I’m thinking about reading Imperial San Francisco next, but it’s another (quintessential, sharp) heavy tome about urban history. The rest of my reading list, which is now a little bloated at 78 books to read, has a few that sound more fun, like Priestdaddy.

The Lighthouse

I also watched a few things. The Lighthouse was loud and filled with symbols pointing to who knows what. Fantastic Fungi draws you in with 20 minutes of mushroom science and then steers off into the land of psychedelic mushrooms. I was betting that the film was bankrolled by MAPS, the Bay-area organization relatively well-funded by the heir to Dr. Bronners as well as successful startup founders – but it turns out that it was a Kickstarter.

Observable office

Observable got our first real office and are hosting our first meetup, too.

Having followed Glen Chiaccheri’s work for a while, I was astounded to hear how he quit tech to become a therapist, but it all rings true. Once you focus on a goal, like making people’s lives better, the solution might lie in a totally different profession.

I signed up to give a talk at a conference nearly a year an advance and I’m not completely procrastinating. One of the elements will be ‘ethos licensing’, and I’ve been blessed to find Kyle Mitchell and Heather Meeker’s discourse about it - Good and not Evil and Kyle’s retort. I think it’s a fascinating and powerful topic and also that discussions of it lay bare people’s basic assumptions about freedom and values.

Justin O’Beirne, the man who cornered the market on extremely deep dives into cartographic changes by commercial map providers, published the same again, and it does not fail to deliver. Apple’s re-mapping of America, which probably amounts to equal parts technology, brokering data deals with local governments, driving vans, flying or buying LiDAR scans, and refining their ML-derived land use classifications – is proceeding at an impressive pace.


I’m off to Düsseldorf and Amsterdam for the next week, so expect less (none) of me on the Internet! 👋