It’s been a hard week or so. Or 400 years. Depends when you’re counting from.

Maybe it’s the quarantine — we’ve all been cooped up, longing for connection to each other, to something. Maybe it’s the quick succession of notorious violence against innocent African Americans following Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Aubrey just days apart. But I don’t think that’s the only reason George Floyd’s murder has been a more powerful catalyst than Trevon Martin or Eric Garner or Rodney King or countless others. …

A lot has happened since I wrote about leaving Microsoft in 2014. Since then I’ve worked at two start-ups, had two kids, and returned to Microsoft to find what I was missing the first time around — a meaningful role where I felt I was learning, growing, and making a difference. I returned to a great team solving an important set of problems, and really began to feel at home.

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I distinctly remember the night I was to return from paternity leave how excited I was to return to work, and commenting to Katie that I finally felt I was in a place in my career where I could really grow for a while, where the sky was the limit. …

Last weekend Snapchat ran its first ad. And while the trailer for the movie Ouija is being heralded as a success, I think it reveals much about the shortcomings of the social network.

Maybe I’m old (not in Snapchat’s core demographic), maybe I’m slow (didn’t have much use for Twitter originally either), and maybe I just feel excluded because of my unshakeable Windows Phone addiction. But I’ve always been skeptical of Snapchat’s long term prospects, and here’s why:

I won’t try to convince you that your naughty pix aren’t as secure as you think, or that the founder is a terrible human being, or that sending disappearing messages is as gimmicky as collecting Beanie Babies. There’s clearly something there; millions and millions of users can’t be completely wrong. Snapchat has tapped into some need for ephemeral self-expression, some way of escaping the prying eyes of parents that hits a chord with adults too. Personally, I don’t get it — I don’t want to waste my creative efforts, no matter how trivial, on something that’ll disappear. I like that we can relive our memories through social media. And it forces me to ask today’s version of the reputational gut-check question: “how would I feel if this were tomorrow’s New York Times front page?” …

Yesterday Lu turned two months old. Do know what present healthy babies get on such a day? They get their first big dose of vaccinations. Not exactly a pizza party, but beats the heck out of polio.

The shots made her scream like crazy. We held her as she shook and wailed, and she eventually reduced herself to whimpering as she lost her energy for crying. It’s hard to watch, as they’re so scared and confused and don’t know that the pain is behind them, nor how much pain they’ve avoided in the future. …

I had been meaning to write to you while you were in your mom’s belly, but you surprised us by coming a little early! Maybe that’s the first lesson — you can’t plan everything, which knowing your genes you’re likely to think you can. But I’m glad you’re here now; I couldn’t wait to meet you either.

I wanted to impart upon you some fatherly advice for making your way in the world. Granted, it’ll be a few years until you can read this, and many more until you’ll understand it. But as much as a letter to you, it’s just as much a reminder to myself about what’s really important, what values I really care about sharing with you. …

Let me save you $400, 6 hours of your life, and considerable frustration by imparting upon you the key takeaways from the Tufte course I attended here in Seattle last week.

I may have gone in with hopes too high. I expected him to discuss the general principles of visualizing data, to work through some examples of information displayed poorly, and most importantly how it could be improved using said principles. But we didn’t get that. Instead, we got a rambling collection of the fetishes and grievances Tufte has built up over the past few decades, including:

An obsession with maps

He thinks maps are the purist example of good data visualization. Sure, they’ve stood the test of time; yes, Google Maps is one of the most widely used websites. But are maps really such a great metaphor for summarizing data? It’s much easier to visualize objects in the physical world than it is to communicate abstract notions such as volumes, times, averages, etc. A mouse can find its way around a maze, but good luck getting it to understand your multivariate regression. …

I had a great July 4th weekend here in Seattle, spending most of it grilling meat on various roof decks and patios. During one such session, I had a friend pitch me their idea for a new business venture.

On Monday, July 7th, I wrote back on my walk to work:

Been thinking more about your idea, and I think it’s bigger than <redacted>. An area that hasn’t been much impacted by the sharing economy yet is minor housework. …

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There’s no question I get asked more often about leaving Microsoft. Sure, people want to know what start-up culture is like (Ping pong table? Check. Kegerator? Check.) And folks who have never worked at a start-up want to know about how risky an endeavor it is. I would have expected that. But I never would have expected the fascination with my choice of phone OS.

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Maybe it’s because there’s something about your phone in this day-and-age that’s so personal. It’s your constant companion, your gateway to the world; is there a product with which you have more interaction?

So you might imagine I feel really strongly one way or another, but I’m torn. Here’s what I’m…

The Haverford Center for Careers and Professional Advancement asked me to write a post about the importance of using LinkedIn for college students to connect with alumni. Here’s what I said…

I used to think “networking” was a pejorative term, one that described the unsavory, backroom schmoozing that gave the unqualified-but-well-connected an express lane to the corner office. …

Today is my last day at Microsoft.

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It’s been quite a journey from my first visit to Redmond three years ago. But after a summer internship and 18 months on the job full time, it’s time for Microsoft & me to part ways.

This may come as a surprise to many of you who knew how passionate I was about the company and my future there. I was one of the first people who’d enthusiastically show you the features of my Windows Phone, and would even use “Bing” as a verb. It was a place I saw myself for the long haul. …


Jonathan Aisenberg

student of business, lover of the internet

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