Zach Holman builds things at GitHub. These are his good things.
Good things to read.
The Truth Machine. A book from the nineties that looks at how 2000-2050 could have turned out. The protagonist is a genius programmer who builds a massive company that changes the world. It raises some interesting questions about how civilization would change if you had absolute knowledge of whether everyone around you was telling the truth. It’s a really fun read.
Wall and Piece. A book by Banksy. His street art is witty, interesting, and provocative, and the pieces in this book are no different. But, while it doesn’t have a lot of long-form prose in it, he includes a few lines and paragraphs here and there in-between the photography: “A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to”, for example, or “Sometimes I feel so sick at the state of the world I can’t even finish my second apple pie”.
Command and Control. Pretty engrossing read about how lucky we’ve been to avoid total destruction of civilization as we know it. There’s been a number of nuclear accidents, failures, and near-catastrophes during the Cold War, and the book does a good job at stitching them together in a narrative that will frighten you. But in a good way. Maybe.
Good things to watch.
Treme. From the creators of The Wire (a choice which is otherwise too obvious to pick for a list like this), Treme is a look at post-Katrina New Orleans. It’s about music, it’s about culture, it’s about people. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world, and Treme does a great job telling stories that illustrate how everything is so fucked up in New Orleans right now.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Stanley Kubrick’s Strangelove is my favorite movie of all time. I remember discovering it one Friday night in my dorm room and being completely blown away by how funny it was, but also how relatable the humor still felt to me, a nineteen-year-old in post-Cold War America. What’s more, read up on the background of the movie’s production, and how Kubrick totally screwed over the production of Fail-Safe (which incidentally is a great straight companion to the humor of Strangelove).
ESPN’s 30 for 30. 30 for 30 is a series by ESPN Films. It’s a collection of different documentaries about certain aspects and stories from sport. The majority of them are very well done, and I really recommend them to everyone, even if you’re not a die-hard sports fan (some of my favorites were from sports I don’t typically watch). Broke takes a look at how quickly professional athletes are completely broke after they retire (78% of the NFL go bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement, for example). Other spectacular episodes: The Two Escobars, You Don’t Know Bo, and June 17th, 1994.
Good things to use.
Fujifilm X100S. I’ve shot Nikon for awhile, but recently I’ve taken the advice of a number of my friends and switched over to the X100S. It’s small, fast, and takes remarkably great photos (here’s a sampling of some of my recents). I bring it practically everywhere now.
Day One. I kept a journal on and off over the last decade or so, but the last half of that was mostly “oh crap, I haven’t written in a year so I should probably do something really quick”. It totally defeated the purpose of having a journal. I saw Day One in the App Store awhile back, but didn’t start using it until recently. I discovered that I loved it. They’ve made a lot of great design decisions, and, most importantly, Day One has encouraged me to write more frequently than I ever have before.
Traktor S4. I’ve been getting more into DJing the last few years, and I’ve gravitated towards the Native Instruments suite of hardware and software. I have an S4 and a Maschine Mikro at home, and GitHub has a few S4s and other assorted hardware at the office. Pretty decent build quality and software design, and the Native Instruments crew seems to have their head on straight when it comes to incremental, regular updates to both their digital and physical products. If you’re just getting into electronic music, the cheaper S2 is a great first step.
Connect with Zach on Twitter, @Holman.