Futurists flocked to Barcelona this week to take part in Mobile World Congress. The annual exhibition gathers technophiles, venture capitalists, and mobile manufacturers in one place for a five-day, tech industry circle jerk. This year's big announcement came via Samsung: the electronics mega-company unveiled new phones—the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Despite its advanced features, one thing is abundantly clear right away: the S6 resembles the iPhone 6. Gizmodo writer Darren Orf noted, "It's hard to not see the iPhone 6 in Samsung's latest phone... But that doesn't mean the Galaxy S6 doesn't have its own charms." This reminded me a lot of what Matt Buchanan wrote about in 2013 when Apple debuted the iPhone 5S and 5C. "[P]hones have matured to the point that, until a truly radical breakthrough in computing technology occurs, there is not much left to improve on... And, for the next few years, advances in smartphones and tablets will continue to be subtle and iterative, driven by the twin processes of simplification and connection." Mobile technology, it could be said, has entered an era of convergence. Competing phone makers are developing devices that mirror one another, in both design and function. Or, the short version: Samsung is Apple is Microsoft is Amazon. The old axiom proves true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
There are few good journalists left. David Carr—the New York Times media columnist, veteran reporter, and author—was one of the last good journalists. I didn’t know him personally (we met twice on different occasions last year; he was kind and attentive, gracious with his time) but as a writer I have followed his reporting and criticism through the years. Writing should be work; it should inform and challenge readers, but also push the writer to voice uneasy truths and confront his or her own limitations. I think Carr understood that better than most writers. He wrestled with his demons, sometimes publicly and on the page, but never lost sight of what we journalists and editors hold dear above all else: truth. Thursday night, as news spread of his passing, Gawker CEO Nick Denton captured Carr’s magnitude in all its grandeur. “A light went out,” he tweeted.