This can all be made better. Ready? Begin.

Ever wonder: who first put a dollar sign in front of a number? Why did they do it, and when?

Moreover, what motivated the invention of currency symbols in the first place? What made it necessary to differentiate between generic counting numbers and monetary figures? Which currency symbols came first, and did all currencies race to find representation in their own unique typographic symbol? What went into the design process of these symbols? Were they on physical money first? Do currency symbols go extinct when their associated civilizations go bust?

Back to the dollar sign… why does it live in front of the number and not behind it like other currencies (i.e. like the Euro (€) or even the lowly cent (¢))? …

Two big milestones and a hint at what’s next…!

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My Product Hunt journey began all the way back in 2014 and today I hunted my 2500th product on Product Hunt.

And yesterday, Product Hunt founder and CEO Ryan Hoover announced that after seven years at the helm he’s stepping down and installing Josh Buckley as the new CEO.

So: a big day in the Product Hunt world!

How Product Hunt took over my life in 2020

I started hunting products as a hobby, because doing so gave me a way to “surf future trends” and to learn from other founders and makers about how they perceived problems worth solving, and then got to work implementing their solutions. …

An interview with the hashtag inventor on the symbol’s unlikely role during a challenging and unruly cultural moment

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This interview was given to Andres Lomeña (professor, doctor of sociology, and contributor to Common Action Forum) for the Huffington Post. The Spanish version of this interview can be found here:

Andres Lomeña’s questions are prefixed with AL.
My answers are prefixed with CM.

AL:You have told hashtag’s origins many times, so I wonder if you have considered to write a book about it.

CM: Ha, indeed I have! But less about the hashtag itself, although I’m sure there are plenty of interesting stories to tell. Instead, I’m personally more interested in contemplating the individual’s role and responsibility for the technology products that they create, and what obligations they might have in socializing their motivations, intentions, and purpose, and reflecting on the consequences of their work. …

I’m going to go out on a very short limb here and suggest that most of the issues you’re encountering, especially the lack of authentication information not being consistently retained in a restore, have to do with a) security and b) privacy.

The black market for iPhones is still hot and most people, as you’ve demonstrated, don’t encrypt their phones, nor their backups, if they backup at all. Fundamental data security and information hygiene are still areas of great mystery and consternation for most users.

For example, I went into an authorized Mac retailer here on Maui (I’m here for the month) to send my MacBook Pro away to get the keyboard replaced (yes, it qualified for the recall and I couldn’t stand ttyping double tt’s and not having a reliable Shift key anymore) and had two experiences that demonstrated how rough it is to maintain your digital security, even with a company (or one of its authorized resellers) like Apple that makes privacy and infosec key among its…

That seems to be what some people believe, if the tweets in response to Kaitlyn Tiffany’s (🐦) story in the Atlantic are any indication.

In Managing Your Friendships, With Software, she writes about several startups whose apps appear to be overtaking the productivity category of the App Store as people seem to be looking for assistance in caring for and attending to their personal relationships:

There’s Dex, “a tool to turn acquaintances into allies.” Clay, “an extension of your brain, purposefully built to help you remember people.” “Forgetting personal details?” Hippo “helps you stay attentive [and] keep track of friends, family and colleagues you care for,” for just $1.49 a month. Plum Contacts sends reminders to message your friends, and rewards you with cartoon berries that “indicate how strong your relationship is.” …

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I found this 1995 email exchange in the MIT archives of the TELECOM Digest between Bell Labs engineer Ralph Carlsen (patents) and Patrick Townson, the editor of the digest. The TELECOM Digest is the “oldest continuing e-journal about telecommunications on the Internet, having been founded in August, 1981 and published continuously since then.

Given the obscurity of that resource, I wanted to bring some attention to it — especially after this story was covered on the 99% Invisible podcast by Roman Mars and Avery Trufelman back in 2014 (“Octothorpe”) and then reprised in 2018 (“Interrobang”).

Don MacPherson was a Bell Labs supervisor and colleague of Ralph Carlsen who trained customers in use of AT&T’s new telephone systems, which included the # and * symbols, and therefore helped to socialize the term. …

The challenges of being horny on main and fucking around in the uncanny valley of professionalism

Setting the scene

Why did Chris Messina and Sonya Mann have a conversation about sexuality and social norms? Before now, the two had never even chatted online. Why discuss such a taboo topic and then publish their private exchange?

Because they’re both interested in cultural change. Societal and communal expectations are always in flux, driven by complex, iterated feedback loops of behavior and reaction. …

About that time my partner’s orgasms shook the internet

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about sex or relationships on the internet. And the last time, I really didn’t even touch on sex — I wasn’t confident enough in myself or how to speak to my sexuality to wade into that topic. Instead, I shared what I’d been learning about non-monogamous relationships (i.e. how to ethically have more than one intimate relationship at a time). Many responses were harsh and assumed negative intent, which is another way to say: just another typical day on the internet.

If it’s not completely obvious, because it takes so much less effort to criticize than to meet someone in good faith with comparable vulnerability and curiosity, it turns out many people don’t. And so I decided that opening up about opening up was best reserved for private communications (probably in person) rather than the public internet. And so that’s how I had conversations about these topics for the next four years. …

Journal entry from the first three weeks of my #MessinaOdyssey

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It’s 5am and I’m heading back to San Francisco as a stopover on my way to Redmond, Oregon, where I’ll continue on to Bend. I’ve got 5 hours and 20 minutes of Airplane Mode to nail down my TEDx talk. The good news is that I feel pretty good and rested (went to bed by 10pm last night in Newark and it’s 11am in Lisbon, so I feel like I have more wind in my sails, even though my body has no idea what time it is). I know I have a lot to work out, but I have the pieces, I just need to cut this thing down and focus on my core message. Perhaps I’m getting confused with AI and voice computing and just need to focus on makers of the next generation of social technology (i.e. …

#MessinaOdyssey, Part 2

On March 3, I began my #MessinaOdyssey, taking an extended leave of San Francisco for the first time in nearly fifteen years. My rough itinerary for the next six months in can be found in Part 1.

Since publishing Part 1, I’ve been inundated with tips and offers of support and housing — I’m feeling energized and optimistic!

Absent from that post was how I came to my decision, so let me now fill in the backstory.

It would be foolhardy to attempt to reduce my last decade and a half in Silicon Valley into a taut list of perfunctory milestones, so I won’t. Things happened — both beautiful and painful. I’m a wholly different person than when I arrived in 2004; I’m more integrated in myself — grittier; and the deepening of my crow’s feet evinces the amusement and fun I’ve had too. …

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