The Monday Media Diet with Harper Reed
On reading, FIP, and Chengdu
Harper Reed (HR) is a longstanding friend of WITI. I have fond memories of surfing through SXSW Music and catching a particularly good wave. We saw several great bands like the Cloud Nothings with minimal friction getting to/from each one. I also remember hanging out in a particularly beautiful room at Park Hyatt Tokyo, alternating between watching weird black crows float through the air and looking through the handpicked library selections from John Morford. He’s a technologist and seasoned traveler. We’re pleased to have him on the page. -Colin (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I am a technologist and entrepreneur based in Chicago, Il. I make a lot of internet things and build companies. In the past, I was the CTO for Threadless, the 2012 Barack Obama Reelection campaign, and the CEO of Modest, Inc.
Today, I am CEO of General Galactic Corporation, where we are building technology around the future of communication. It is a lot of fun! Come hang out!
Describe your media diet.
I am such a weird consumer of media. I try to minimize the cruft of media in my life.
I don't subscribe to any newspapers or regularly read any internet publications. I don't listen to podcasts, and I don't want "tv."
I mostly just read Twitter.
I have aggressively curated the people I follow in a way that helps push my perspectives and keeps me thinking. I also have many Twitter lists that have helped me view different filters and different sets of topics (examples: 1, 2, 3).
Outside of Twitter, I subscribe to a handful of newsletters (I only allow three at a time). Currently, I am subscribed to WITI (obviously), Rusty's Today in Tabs, and a friend's secret newsletter. They are all very good at giving me information that isn't contextual to my current world.
I read a boatload of books. Mostly fiction. A lot of sci-fi. I track all my books at reading.lol. I am always looking for recs.
Outside of those venues, I spent most of my time reading various WhatsApp groups and discords.
What's the last great book you read?
I don't think it is possible to pick one. Here are 3:
- A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet - a plausible future. A good allegory for our current relationship with the ecological destruction of our future.
- Long Division by Kiese Laymon - I love Kiese's work. I really enjoyed this book. I am a sucker for time travel.
- Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi - I read Riot Baby very slowly. It was such an atmospheric tale. Again, a very plausible future world.
What are you reading now?
I am reading my friend Simon Prentis' book about language called "SPEECH! How Language Made Us Human."
Simon has been talking about his ideas for years, and it has been fun to read them in a complete form. Simon takes all his years of being a translator and sets forth some really wild and great thoughts about language. I highly recommend it. I am sure linguists hate it tho. ;)
What's your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
What's a print copy again?
Who should everyone be reading that they're not?
I think it is a simple list:
- Non-western authors
- Non-male authors
I think about power a lot, and some of the best authors I am currently reading are ruminating about power in exciting ways. Whether it is talking about people who should have power, people who abuse power, or justice and equity - the perspective is one that I think people should be thinking about every day and in every activity.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
The FIP radio app is my go-to for musical vibes.
Plane or train?
Plane. How can you cross the ocean on a train?
What is one place everyone should visit?
This is not an easy question to answer. It is even harder to answer now. I used to travel internationally constantly and have been in my basement for what seems like 200 or 300 years. When I was all over the place, I typically said Johannesburg, SA. It is a glimpse of the future.
However, I would love to go to a small restaurant in Chengdu and eat some really spicy food with friends. I would like you to come too!
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
So so many rabbit holes. Recently, I accidentally fell into a rabbit hole around FPGA-powered retro gaming systems. A friend mentioned it and I LOVED every bit about it. The community is so nerdy and excited. They are very interested in making things perfect. I am not even a gamer! If you want to dive deep - check out the MiSTer project and its related topics. (HR)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Harper (HR)
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