Howdy 👋🏾, my kids and I left the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore and flew to Disney World for 120% humidity, tons of sun, and a chance to pilot the Millennium Falcon at Disney’s Star Wars Galaxy Edge. Vacation is a great time to recharge batteries, especially after the team and I put on the first AI-composed concert in Baltimore, and the R&R allows me to catch up on tons of tabbed articles and blog posts I haven’t had time to read in the busy work week.
So folks, this week you get my first-ever Thoughts on Tech & Things vacation edition, including articles I’ve bookmarked for a poolside read in Florida while on my family vacation. This newsletter also marks lucky edition number 13! I’m hoping that if you’ve made it this far, you’re enjoying the newsletter. Thirteen seems like the right time to gather some feedback from you:
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For those in the DMV (DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area or attending WordCamp US in National Harbor, the Mindgrub team and I will be there with our partner, WordPress VIP. I’m also on a panel Thursday discussing WordPress and its role in government, and seats are still available. If you’re interested, Run with VIP: WordPress for Government Summit starts at 5:30 PM on August 24th at the Hotel Washington.
⛱️ Back to vacation reads, here’s what I found interesting:
Meta, Canada, Wildfires, and a News Ban
Recently, Canada passed Bill C-18, which forces social media platforms to negotiate compensation to Canadian news publishers. Like laws passed in other countries, the goal is to keep our traditional media alive by pushing social media companies and search engines to pay for the content they share. Also, like before, social media and search engine companies have blocked, at least temporarily, the sharing of news content in response to these new laws.
Meta blocked traditional media from being shared on Facebook and Instagram in response to Bill C-18. Still, it’s making it difficult for Canadians to share news on Wildfires to the point that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:
“Right now, in an emergency situation where up to date local information is more important than ever, Facebook is putting corporate profits ahead of people’s safety,”
It is hard to do anything without unintended consequences, but I struggle with the argument that social media or search engines should pay for the content shared by others or promoted by those same media sources. News traffic dropped after Australia passed laws, but Google and Facebook also made a deal with those traditional media groups. Every company, including most modern news companies, pay or play the same marketing goals as everyone else. Why should traditional media be the exception?
Should Apple buy Disney 🤔
Steve Jobs passed away more than a decade ago, and one of his biggest successes was reinventing Disney. In 1980, Jobs acquired Lucasfilm’s (CGL) Computer Graphic Lab, a tech division of Lucasfilms focused on using computers to create special effects and CGI through hardware and software solutions. That company struggled, and in the 1990s, sold off its hardware division and focused on showcasing what its software could do with a blockbuster distribution deal through Disney to produce Toy Story, which was released in 1995.
Pixar quickly became a powerhouse, and throughout the rise of Apple, Steve Jobs stayed on as CEO of both companies until Pixar sold to Disney in 2006, a deal that made Jobs the single largest shareholder of the storied Disney. Job’s and Pixar’s impact on Disney can’t be questioned. At the time of the acquisition, Disney had missed the mark on several animated releases and seemed to have lost its voice – something Pixar helped it find as it took the lead over content for many of its subsequent releases. While Pixar’s CEO and later a Disney board member, Apple and Disney forged tighter and tighter relationships, to the point that Mikey Mouse is a watch face on its Apple Watch products, Disney movies are often pictured in Apple collateral. Disney was an early supporter of Apple Pay and appears to be for Vision Pro.
Now, spectators see a new world with a few undeniable facts:
- Disney’s traditional TV assets are on the ropes, and it needs money to keep investing in its streaming platforms.
- Apple has had success with streaming but is still a tiny player in the industry.
- Steve’s wife, Laurene Jobs, sold off a large chunk of Disney but still owns ~4% of the company and represents the fibers connecting the two companies.
- Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, is on a two-year contract and seems to have had bad luck finding a successor.
- Disney is trying to find a partner for ESPN as Apple aggressively moves into live sports with soccer and baseball.
When you frame it like this, you start to wonder why these two companies haven’t run for the altar already, and well, that’s been the news as of late. Big acquisitions have never been Apple’s deal, and to date, Beats is the largest single acquisition in Apple’s history (the one before that was for Next, which brought Steve Jobs back to Apple). I can’t see it happening, but man, wouldn’t that be something to witness?
👉John Gruber has some great thoughts on his blog.
I love walking the old town roads of Disney, and my goodness, Galaxy Edge did not disappoint. However, something always feels slightly off with the size of buildings or large props like the Millennium Falcon. It seems large enough and too small all at the same time, and after reading this fantastic post, I finally understand how Disney uses forced perspective to make buildings feel taller than they actually are. It’s definitely worth the read.
AI Commercials Are here
Big brands are looking to AI to cut costs to create ads, which means content, audio, and video are all or partially generated by AI.
“The engine is answering campaign briefs with great ideas and inspiration that are fully on brand and on strategy,” “The ideas are then further developed by the creative team to ultimately become content that will be produced, for example, for our websites.” -Gandon
At Mindgrub, we are exploring this for our ads and to help our clients add flare that was impossible or too expensive before. I always mention this to my clients: if you’re not using AI, I can bet some of your competitors are.
Next week, the newsletter will return to normal, and I hope to incorporate some of your feedback. In the meantime, catch me on my socials and website, and I wish each of you cheers as I sip champagne poolside. See you all next week!
P.s. I ran to Star Wars Galaxy Edge for the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride and waited like 900 hours in line, and it was meh (we rode it twice and waited only five min. the second time), but Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was the unexpected and the better Star Wars ride. Also, you have to get a reservation for Olga’s cantina to see the old Star Tours pilot and DJ Captain Rex on the wheels of steel!
When you make it, try the pesto dip and the Bespan Fizz!