House Party

Just a chill hang with some friends.

Hello! Welcome, come in. Let me take your coat. It’s so nice to see you again. This is, of course, Frances FitzGerald’s Upper East Side “Writing Cottage” which Choire invited us all to visit last night at his Dinner Party. I’m sure you recall, I just personally, since the pandemic? My memory is shot. You know how it is. Of course you can take a look around, absolutely!

Here’s the desk and sitting area.

And a little kitchenette. It’s a bit dated, but good enough when it is the time of lunch.

I know, right? It’s perfect. It’s for sale by the way, so if you did want to buy it for me that would be extremely cool of you. It’s tiny but only $450k, which feels crazy cheap? I promise I will use it to write a novel.

Who’s that in the corner? That’s just Sarah Jeong. She’s… you know, working through some stuff. It’s ok.

A life sized Psyduck (Sarah Jeong) sitting on a small red armchair in one corner of Frances FitzGerald’s lovely sitting area.

I promise we’re not bothering her.

I know yesterday was kind of a lot, so I thought today we’d just visit with some friends. Actually it’s not only Sarah, the whole gang from The Verge is here. There’s Liz Lopatto talking about Threads, and working toward a “unified taxonomy of text-based social media use”—a sort of periodic table of posters and lurkers. And here’s Kevin, also talking about Threads, although probably not the one that you think.

And check out these dorks: there’s Nilay and Casey Newton podcasting about the ‘slettering business and the future of journalism. Actually Casey just said something incredibly interesting about free growth vs. paid conversion on Substack:

I’ve heard from so many people in the aftermath of all of this saying, “Casey, I want to leave [Substack], but the network, the network.” I’m like, “Trust me, go check out the paid conversion that you are getting from all of these folks who are signing up for your newsletter. It’s probably not going to be that much.” I ran the numbers, which I never should do because I’m bad at math, but I did run the numbers at the end of 2023, and as far as I can tell, despite adding 76,000 free subscribers to Platformer through this dark pattern on Substack in 2023, we ended up net 200 paid customers on the year. So, in other words, we basically stayed flat for the entire year despite adding 75 percent to our free subscriber base.

I was curious so I did the same math for Tabs, and it looks like in 2023 I gained about 7,700 free readers and about 300 paid. So somehow I did an order of magnitude better on conversion than Casey but it was still less than four percent. Garbage Ryan is also thinking about the subscription business at some length today.

I know, no shop talk at the friend hang! But you can’t keep media nerds from talking about media. If you try they’re just gonna start talking about video games instead, like Bijan. Or gadgets, like John Herrman over there quizzing everyone on what they think the Apple Vision Pro is for:

It’s “a little unsettling to someone who has a dog,” writes another. “I can’t really see him and I guess I didn’t expect to but it’s weird to not interact with him as much as I would if I was sitting at a computer.” One owner’s cat kept confusing hand gestures for offers of treats that never came…

Is the Vision Pro for watching movies? Working? Being alone? Collaborating? Nobody knows, really.

Funny, but also depressing! Thanks, John.

Josh Millard wrote: TIRED: “unicorn”. WIRED: “horny on mane"

This is just like every NYC media party so far, huh? Oh wait, come to the kitchen, this is really special. Look, right over there with her head in the freezer? It’s Eva Holland, who came all the way here from the Arctic. As Outside Magazine’s Chris McCandless Death Bus beat reporter she just dropped a big update on the bus becoming a permanent exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, and her own first experience in the bus itself:

I felt like I had stepped into a quiet corner of a temple or church. Only instead of being awed into silence by soaring stone arches or ancient mosaics or the dappled light of stained glass, I was staring at messages left by hundreds of visitors over the years, the notes that B. R. Howard had preserved and Della Hall had cataloged and photographed so meticulously.

“I don’t want a never ending life but to be alive while I’m here,” read one, carved into the paint….

The sheer volume of scribbles, and the earnestness of what they expressed, were overwhelming. I was deeply, unexpectedly moved. If reading Carine’s book had helped me understand Chris, seeing the bus for myself helped me understand the people who’d followed him down the Stampede Trail.

Man, she looks really warm huh? Maybe we should get you outside, Eva.

A giant beeetle lying on its back in the infamous Dashcon ball pit. The caption reads “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself lying in a familiar ballpit“

I know there’s a bunch of political news today, like Nikki Haley finishing (as Philip Bump put it) “second to the concept of Donald Trump” in the meaningless Nevada primary, soon to be superseded by the actual Nevada caucus with only Donald Trump in it. Or House Republicans failing to pass their own bullshit impeachment vote on Alejandro Mayorkas. I feel bad for our country but this GOP House has been the funniest political clown show I’ve ever seen. But do we even need to talk about it? I’m sure there’ll be more soon enough.

I‘m gonna go mingle but please stay as long as you like. And hey, a bunch of us are thinking about hanging out on Bluesky later, we’d love to see you there. You don’t even need an invite anymore. It’s pretty chill, we’re mostly not trendbaitmaxxing slangcels over there, no one really cares about the insanely sweaty Michael Cera Superbowl ad campaign, and I’m pretty sure Catturd and the school library terrorist are banned.

Oh also there’s a new Neal dot fun loaded up on that laptop on the desk if you want to mess with it.

I think Music Intern Sam is about to play some tunes but before he does, I can’t stop listening to “The Truth” by Handsome Boy Modeling School. I don’t know how I missed these guys the first time around.

You might not have run into her but Senior Managing Editor for Graphics Alison Headley was here too, making that Psyduck picture. Thanks so much for coming, we have to do this again soon.

Oh btw if you want to chip in for snacks or come hang out in the subscriber Discord, upgrade to paid.