Apple and Porsche. iPhone and 911. Two legendary products, two improved models, and one problem with each.
When Porsche ditched hydraulic steering for an electric setup in the 991 generation of the Carrera earlier this year, reviews couldn’t seem to focus on anything but the lack of steering feel compared to the outgoing 997 model. For those of you not into cars, the issues stem from a lack of steering feel, or a lack of sensation from the steering wheel causing the driver to have no idea of what is going on with the front tires. It’s especially important in sports cars, and nothing had steering feel dialed quite like a 911.
Purists and journalists cried foul, as they have with many new 911 models in the past. So far, they’ve all been wrong: each generation is faster, more efficient, and handles better, yet they preserve the look and feel of the classic 911. The 991 follows this illustrious path. Still, the 991 was launched with a flaw(?) that many are having trouble getting past, despite the feeling that the rest of the car is truly brilliant.
With the iPhone 5, Apple too has incrementally improved their product: it’s faster, lighter, carries some new technology, and looks slightly different, but no one will mistake it for anything but an iPhone. Maps, however, seem clunky and half-baked. Most reviews of the 5 won’t tell you much of anything else.
So. Steering feel and maps. Both first attempts by two companies known to perfect their products incrementally. With the outgoing 997, Porsche had from 2004-2012 to work out known issues. By the time the GT3 is released, electric steering may be a strength. With Maps in iOS 6, Apple is probably 90% done with an update that addresses most complaints and then some. There’s a reason why the iPhone and 911 are both legendary items: both companies will never stop their evolution.
We shouldn’t expect every detail of these new models to be perfect, we should expect that every detail will continue to be refined. The bar only goes up.
Two friends are back in Detroit for a month after being away for six months to a year. They’re shocked at how different it looks. They can’t believe how much is happening, how much there is to do, and how the overall feeling here is much more upbeat.
Another friend/co-conspirator just TURNED DOWN a job in New York City and is moving to Detroit, even though this will increase his commute by some 35 minutes.
Some say it’s all happening.
There are two reasons people travel.
1. To get away from your life
2. To get more from your life
If 1, I get it. I’m all for a beach, a book, no cell phone, etc. but I choose 2. I choose 2 because I often need a change of scenery in order to get out of my own way. To try something totally different. To really spend time with the ideas and plans that keep getting swept underneath the mountain of monotonous chores, mundane commitments, and incessant Facebook messages.
In the past 30 days, I’ve been three very different places. One beach, one random city, and one Vegas. I realized a few things.
1. A lot of people who answered ‘1’ above spend the most money to go to the worst places at the wrong times. The amount of money they spend and the planning they do beforehand reassures them that they’re going to have a great time, but it actually ensures that they’re going to be disappointed by the experience. It’s just never as good as they think it should be.
2. In places like Las Vegas (where I’m currently writing this) and various beach cities around the world, you’re a tourist. In random cities that you visit for no real reason (like Nashville), you’re an explorer. Plus, there’s no gift stores at the end of your ‘cultural experience’. You talk to people. You make friends. You surprise yourself constantly, and you only had to fly for an hour.
3. Vegas is my least favorite place in the world. Downtown Vegas is cool though.
4. Who you’re with is probably the only thing that matters.
This is a post I originally had on Posterous. I was looking for something I wrote earlier today and noticed that a year has passed. Updated thoughts will come soon. For now:
“So, what do you think?”
“Detroit is… a lot.”
I’m leaning against a narrow bar, half-sitting in a chair and easing what would be my only drink of the evening as the response came. We’re at a small, bustling bar called D’Mongo’s just one block west of Woodward Ave. in Detroit, Michigan. A spot that drives a wedge of hope into a city brutally marred by blight and bullshit.
The quote arrives from a friend visiting from Los Angeles, not overtly jaded but far from a hope pornographer. He’s lamenting on the spirit of Detroiters in 2011, the disparity of the communities and the sense that this is, for better and worse, the center of the newly formed Wild, Wild Midwest.
The more my perplexed friend tries to explain his position, the more confused he becomes. It’s a city with a ton of space and a fraction of the people that once used it. Wealthy-seeming suburbs that appear to exist both in spite of and unaware of the city they flank. Communities all give the air that they can’t stand one another. It’s a clusterfuck of issues, really, and it’s all made worse by the early March wintry mix, the Courtney Love of weather. His three-day trip may only make sense after a four-hour plane ride and several days worth of adjustments back to LA life and Pacific Standard Time.
My beer can succumbs to my delicate nursing and goes warm on me. My company, a quickly fading long-haired gentleman who looks more at home in a bowling alley than Bloomfield Hills (that’s a compliment, believe it or not), a beautiful and beautifully idealistic blonde, and my out-of-town guest decide to call it an evening as the lights flare though the rainy, unwashed windows.
The damp wind and blowing rain greet us as we rush to the car to start the harrowing journey- first back to the hotel, conveniently located less than 300 yards away, and then 11 miles north.
Once we’re on I-75, we wonder if our friend enjoyed his time. I wonder what I’m still here for.
I’ve lived here for the better part of my 25 years. Sure, I went to colleges in the state of Michigan, but hours away from the city. And yes, I grew up in a suburb and still live in one, but I can see the skyline as these words are typed. I’ve been implored to move by both friends in other cities and advisors and friends in this one.
Still, I can’t seem to leave.
It’s not for a lack of effort. I’ve spent months away in all of the places where most find exile. Yet after long weekends in Chicago, seemingly endless Thursday nights in Austin, weeks in the sun in LA or days in the canyons of the lower east side of New York, I’m always ready to return to Detroit. It’s grey. It’s cold. It’s home.
Is it comfort? Is it an attempt to stay grounded? Or is it an egotistical advantage to be the young, big fish?
The more I think about it, it’s not because it’s home and definitely not about comfort. In fact, it’s because it’s not comfortable that it’s tolerable to live here. People don’t move because it’s easier, they move because there are opportunities elsewhere. In leaving, they create their opportunities: to work for a company, to join a firm, to pursue a career in an industry that does not yet exist in Detroit, etc. Those who stay must create their opportunities as well, but instead of joining a company, we need to start one. We need to be smart, nimble and focused. The inconvenience gives us no choice but to make it.
To Be Continued…
In 2009, I had one resolution: to create more than I consumed.
One month later, TFLN was born. After a few more months, it took off and I was too busy to consume much of anything. This continued until early 2010 when I started to read tech blogs regularly.
Then, the world seemed to explode with content and myriad ways to consume it.
It’s far too easy to waste a day just passively clicking and navigating around the internet. In my opinion, it’s easily two million times easier. Yes. At least 2,000,000x. Endless scrolling on Tumblr. Tweets on tweets tweets on Twitter. New pins on Pinterest made from photos gleaned from Tumblr reblogs of magazine editorials.
I’m too tired to elaborate, but it’s looking like we’re losing creativity to cultivation and curation. We’re hunters of taste trying to pass as tastemakers. Everyone wants to own an art gallery, but no one wants to be an artist blah blah blah.
I think 2012 is the year for a chosen few to use the tools at their disposal to create more than they curate or consume. I’m calling it the year of the experiment. Time to get weird.