What it’s like for black people to rent/host on Airbnb

This was such an interesting story.

Quirtina Crittenden was struggling to get a room on Airbnb. She would send a request to a host. Wait. And then get declined.

So she ran her own experiment—she shortened her name to just “Tina” and changed her photo to a picture of a landscape.

“Ever since I changed my name and my photo, I’ve never had any issues on Airbnb,” Crittenden said.

#AirbnbWhileBlack: How Hidden Bias Shapes The Sharing Economy {npr’s hidden brain}

Why [Robin Sloan] quit ordering from Uber-for-food startups

Another writer picks up on a topic I wrote about back in March:

I feel bad, truly, for Amazon and Sprig and their many peers—SpoonRocket, Postmates, Munchery, and the rest. They build these complicated systems and then they have to hide them, because the way they treat humans is at best mildly depressing and at worst burn-it-down dystopian.

What would it be like if you didn’t have to hide the system?

—————

Meals from Josephine are not available for delivery.

On the day of your order, a text message arrives bearing a street address. You ride over on your bicycle and spot a Josephine sign taped to the front door, which is ajar. You step inside; the feeling is both clandestine and transgressive. In the kitchen, the cook—your neighbor—is working. Maybe another customer—also your neighbor—is lingering. You announce yourself, say hello, receive your meal. Chat a bit, if you like. Carry it home in a bag dangling from your handlebars.

Read Why I quit ordering from Uber-for-food startups {The Atlantic}

The Guilt of Delivery

I don’t like ordering food when it’s snowing, raining, or ever really. It’s lazy, unhealthy (the not moving and the food part), and it makes me feel guilty. I can afford to order cookies and ice cream and get it delivered to my house and that just sounds absurd. Maybe it’s because I grew up in home situated in a fairly rural area, overseen by a mom who would never order such things. She would make them herself, damn it.

It’s also weird because I see how waiters and waitresses are sometimes treated poorly in restaurants, and that makes me feel guilty for taking the services of someone who probably isn’t working their dream job.

Or maybe they are, who am I to judge. This isn’t about me.

I’ve been thinking about this recently since I’m busier and thus, order food more often. And the smartphone makes the process of ordering things a whole lot more convenient. And now it’s happening to everything. Not only can you get pretty much anything delivered from Seamless or Instacart or whatever—you can also pay people to do pretty much anything for you with services like TaskRabbit.

Which leads me to this article, The Shut-In Economy. It illuminates something I was trying to get at… that it’s good my mom made stuff for us and didn’t rely on other people to make things for us.

The luxuries usually afforded to one-percenters now stretch to the urban upper-middle class, or so the technology industry cheers. But can you democratize the province of the rich without getting a new class acting, well, entitled? My parents made me put away the dishes not to “outsource” their workload — they could have done it faster. They did it so I wouldn’t turn out to be a brat.

After all, either you’re behind the door, receiving your dinner in the tower. Or you’re like the food delivery guy who, while checking in with the concierge, said, “This is my dream place to live.” He’s the opposite of a shut-in. He’s stuck outside, hustling.

Check out the article (posted on Medium, incidentally…).

On That Jony Ive Piece You’ve Already Read

This piece deserves all the attention it’s been getting this week. It’s full of amazing bits of prose like:

Ive’s career sometimes suggests the movements of a man who, engrossed in a furrowed, deferential conversation, somehow backs onto a throne.

and:

I asked Jeff Williams, the senior vice-president, if the Apple Watch seemed more purely Ive’s than previous company products. After a silence of twenty-five seconds, during which Apple made fifty thousand dollars in profit, he said, “Yes.”

And this part resonates with me a lot. We do need more people who care about what they do.

We were in the fast lane of I-280, in squinting low sunshine. When I asked for examples of design carelessness, Ive cranked the conversation back to Apple. He has the discipline to avoid most indiscretions, but not always the facility to disguise the effort. “At the risk of sounding terribly sentimental, I do think one of the things that just compel us is that we have this sense that, in some way, by caring, we’re actually serving humanity,” he said. “People might think it’s a stupid belief, but it’s a goal—it’s a contribution that we can hope we can make, in some small way, to culture.”

Read it here {new yorker}.

The People Behind the Algorithm

You know those “you bought this, so you might like this” recommendations on Amazon? Turns out, a real live human helps ensure the recommendations you see aren’t too out of whack.

They log in to the Amazon Mechanical Turk site and are presented with two products. If one doesn’t belong with the other, they say so. For every match they identify, they make a few pennies. There’s still an algorithm, but it’s receiving crucial help from an army of low-paid workers.

NPR’s Planet Money team thought of a clever way to interview some Turks. Check it out here.