The Postlight Podcast, formerly known as Track Changes, is a podcast where “Postlight co-founders Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk tech, business, ethics, and culture.” To be straightforward, it’s a marketing podcast for Postlight’s digital agency—and the hosts aren’t shy about making that known. But, unlike many pieces of marketing content, this doesn’t feel diluted of authenticity, pragmatism, or common sense. The Rich/Paul duo is one of my favorites in podcasting.
At one point in my listening, I realized there were so many comedic yet poignant insights, that I needed to start writing them down. So I did—only later to find out they had transcripts of each episode.
What follows is a collection of favorite observations from the podcast.
Referring to the ratings section of Apple’s App Store:
[Paul] It’s like YouTube comments...it’s just people who have powerful opinions but not a goddamn bit of wit—just plowing their senseless lives into the rating bucket.
[Paul] If you wanna ever find where half a trillion dollars has been dumped into a hole and set on fire, just type in the letters “SSO” into your browser.
[Paul] Product always has the fantasy that software will fix humans.
Referring to the app collaboration between Apple and Google for contact tracing:
[Rich] The truth is you need a fascist leadership that can just jam [this app] down everyone’s throat.
[Paul] Wow! Ok! Ok, that took a turn. Let’s roll back just a little bit on the fascist takeover of a democracy and focus on the fact that...The one thing that is blowin’ my mind is you can’t update Android software to save your life.
[Paul] Fear motivates in a billion different ways.
[Rich] The Belt Parkway here in Brooklyn was built because there was no mechanism to get outta the city when the nuclear bombs were coming.
[Paul] Right. And in some ways I think the nuclear bombs would’ve been better than the Belt Parkway.
Commenting on the complex interplay between technological process and ethics:
[Rich] I don’t think we know [how to navigate that world]. I think we’re going to step in shit a bunch of times and then adjust.
[Paul] Ninety percent of my computer usage is updating computers.
[Paul] Shipping product is hard and making mistakes is easy.
[Paul] It’s embarrassing. Our industry is extremely embarrassing. I’m embarrassed by our industry a lot.
Commenting on the plethora of options in Google’s cloud platform:
[Paul] every three to five years everybody reinvents everything. And they still end up with like, it’s kind of a Linux box that you need to log into.
[Paul] Twitter...is a firehose of human anguish.
[Rich] Wreckfest...It’s a racing game...it’s incredibly satisfying. And the physics is so good. Like, if [someone] dents your car door [in the game], it won’t close anymore. It just sort of flaps as you’re driving. It tickles a part of your brain that would typically be used for hitting other people.
Then later, this observation about Spotify:
[Rich] The founder of Spotify came out recently and said stop thinking you have to put an album out every two years, you need to do a lot more than that. You have to put a lot of content out to make money on my platform.
[Paul] Artists love that, by the way. They were just like, “Absolutely! I love to be in a giant cattle pen where an angry Swede is telling me I must yield content for him.”
[Paul] if you give people years, they invent from first principles, instead of using what’s out there. Right? They go like, ”Oh, well, you know, what if we had our own component library on the front end that finally, finally, let us be truly productive instead of this enormous heap of garbage that millions of people have used to make trillions of dollars that I don’t want anything to do with anymore, I can make something better.” That’s human nature.
Referring to his penchant for networking raspberry pis at home:
[Paul] recreational sysadmin is, maybe, not everybody’s hobby.