Jared White Photo of Jared

Expressively publishing on the open web since 1996.
Entranced by Portland, Oregon since 2017.

Hello and Welcome!

I’m Jared, an award-winning essayist, Rubyist, and podcaster who’s been commenting on and building for the web since Mosaic was a thing. (Yup, it’s true! 😆)

In my spare time I travel around Portland 🌲 and the Pacific Northwest and shoot cinematic-yet-quirky vlogs. 📹 📺  In addition, I compose and produce 80s-flavored retro electronica. 🎹 🎶

This is my home base on the internet. I hope you enjoy browsing around! 📍

P.S. What am I doing now? That’s what the Now Page is for!

P.P.S. What’s my favorite (fill-in-the-blank)? Find out in About Me. 😃

Things I Do

It would seem I’m always but one step away from reaching for an endeavor to occupy my time with at any given moment. Besides what’s obviously available on this website…from Bridgetown, a Ruby-powered site generator, to Yarred, my musical alter-ego, there’s something for…well…somebody.

Welcome to the Jaredverse! 😌

Newest Posts

Happy Birthday iPad! First Impressions from 2010

A lot of people still remember the hype train and rumors flying left and right leading up to the announcement of the iPhone—the “Jesus phone” as some wags liked to call it. I too was very excited about the iPhone.

But not as excited as I was about the iPad.

The iPad was hardly the first tablet to get my heart racing. In the tumultuous period of the very early 2000s, Be had been attempting to pivot from marketing a PC OS to rival Windows and instead service the theoretical market of “internet appliances” — even naming their updated OS BeIA. BeIA was intended to run on a variety of form factors, some looking rather iMac (G3) inspired, but one looking essentially like an iPad with a few extra buttons (and an antenna!):

BeIA Tablet prototype

You can see a fascinating early look at various BeIA prototypes in this YouTube video.

At the dawn of the millennium I had been a huge BeOS nerd, so you can imagine my excitement at the thought of a touchscreen, wireless, internet-capable tablet running a variant of BeOS. I simply couldn’t wait to get my hands on one once Be’s hardware partners started shipping production models.

And then Be folded and the BeIA dream died. For roughly ten years—ten!—I remained lost in the wilderness. (Not really though, because I quickly dived headfirst into shiny new Mac OS X waters…kicking off my love affair with #Apple with the gorgeous Titanium PowerBook G4. The rest is history…)

So when the rumors started making the rounds that Apple was working a tablet of its own later that decade, I was quite intrigued. Of course in those early days, most people assumed a tablet would run a touch-and/or-stylus-enabled flavor of Mac OS X, and we all saw plenty of third-party mockups of a “Mac tablet” to whet our appetites.

Then the #iPhone landed, and suddenly the narrative began to shift. What if…just bear with me here…what if an Apple tablet wasn’t running a stripped-down version of Mac OS X, but a beefed-up version of iPhoneOS? Using all of the touchscreen awesomeness of the iPhone experience?

And as we know now, that’s exactly what happened. And my body was ready for it. (We later came to learn that Apple actually started development of the iPad first and ended up deciding to bring multitouch technology to market in the phone form factor initially with the intention of circling back around to tackle the tablet project.)

I was so incredibly excited about the upcoming launch of Apple’s first tablet computer, I started a (short-lived) blog called iPad Artistry, featured in the above link. Here’s a live report with a few photos of folks lined up at my local Apple Store at the time.

Once I had gotten my hands on an iPad, I quickly put it through its paces and—despite many obvious limitations—fell in love with the experience. It was only a year later when I embarked on a journey to revamp my “personal brand” and website development agency around “tablet-first computing”. I ended up building a whole new CMS and website hosting platform from the ground up which launched in late 2012. I would spend the next couple of years trying to reach product/market fit and unfortunately never did so. Mariposta was certainly an interesting product, but ultimately doomed to failure because the web never embraced “tablet-first computing” and instead went for the ultimately superior concept of “responsive design” — aka websites should look and function well on a wide variety of devices and form factors, scaling up and down as needed. (Apps too eventually went the responsive design route, and the dream of tablet-first app design and product marketing died a slow and painful death.)

So here we are in 2023, and while in some ways I’m disappointed the tablet ended up having far less of an impact on media and computing than I’d originally hoped (the laptop PC and the smartphone remain the canonical computing platforms for most people around the world), I nevertheless am extremely happy with my #iPadPro and use it every day to get real work done. The iPad is a fun product, a joyful product, and that I’m able to earn a living using it as a trusty companion to my desktop Mac is a noble conclusion to this story.

I still hold out hope that tablets will eventually mature into the “everyday computer” for the masses—more capable, powerful, and usable than a phone…more versatile and nimble than laptops featuring a far greater number of potential use cases and ideal scenarios. Certainly it’s true my children use iPads all the time, and tablets are every bit as central to their lifestyle as any PC-style device.

In summary, Happy 13th Birthday iPad! I love you and can’t wait to see what you’re capable of next.

I used to blog a ton about #freelancing and maximizing your productivity and success as a “free agent” — I even tried running a local meetup here in the #Portland area.

It just occurred to me I hadn’t done much of that in a long while. I do still talk about #creativity and time management on occasion in my Creator Class newsletter and in the podcast, but not specifically about working as a freelancer.

As I look ahead to some of the product-driven work I’m participating in this year, I think it may be a good time to start this up again. Juggling client projects and product efforts (including open source software) is always this intricate dance of managing energy levels and expectations (and income!). Takes a lot of practice. I’m not saying I’ve reached “expert level” or anything…but it’s a nice feeling to know I’m performing much better now than in years prior.

Ke Huy Quan, Ethnic Stereotypes, and Bagpipes

This was a thought-provoking read by Walter Chaw about an uncomfortable topic. As the years have gone by, I’ve (slowly, to my great chagrin) come to realize more and more how ethnic stereotypes in popular media can be so damaging to the targets of such “humor”. One aspect of this which hits close to home is my own memory of cringeworthy experiences as a Scottish/Irish-American who once performed Celtic folk music professionally across the United States.

No, of course I’m not in any way comparing my experiences directly with those who are Asian-American. Being white-presenting in America, you get to choose when and how you are the butt of ethnic jokes. Others aren’t so lucky, to put it mildly. But it was certainly illuminating to see how stereotyping can feel “othering” and disrespectful, or simply how people’s ignorance—while perhaps understandable—nevertheless was frustrating. Just a few examples:

  • Pronnouncing “Celtic” as “Sell-tic” (the C is a hard K sound as it comes from the Greek word Keltoi), “Slain-tay” instead of “Slon-cha” for Sláinte, “Edin-berg” instead of “Edin-ber-re” for Edinburgh, and vast litany of other faux pas…
  • Seeing people very poorly dance “an Irish jig” as they’re walking down the street and notice our performance…
  • Calling our music “Riverdance music” 😡
  • Throughout my teenage years I was regularly misgendered as a girl because I wore my hair long and wore a kilt—which is NOT a skirt!

Not to mention all of the kitsch and cultural artifacts we had to contend with…what I might call the “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” set of stereotypes. Dancing red-headed leprechauns with pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and all that. Or worse, drunken Irishmen punching each other out at the pub. Grizzled old Scotsmen with impenetrable accents roaming the moors. Bagpipe jokes…So. Many. Bagpipe jokes.

Sure, it’s not all terrible, and sometimes genuinely amusing—but as is often the case with these sorts of things, the jokes are funnier when they’re offered from people already immersed in the culture. A legitimate Scottish pipes player can make a joke about bagpipes. Some bozo American who thinks “Braveheart” is an accurate historical depiction of Scottish history? Fuck no.

Which is why I try to be careful what I say or do when I’m around other cultures—especially ones I have little familiarity with. Rather than throw out a phrase I heard once or do some idiotic dance move or mention something truly dumb…along the lines of “hey, you look Asian, so you must be great at kung fu!” …I’ll shut the fuck up. 😅 (More people should try this!) There’s a fine line between stereotyping (even when well-meaning) and outright #bigotry.

All that to say…it’s really wonderful to see far better representation in popular Western media of many different ethnicities and demographics. We still have a long way to go, but it is getting better. Personally, every time I see someone obviously Irish or Scottish in a modern movie where they’re not defined by their accent or fairies or getting drunk or “the troubles” or sheep on the moor or funny sounds coming out of bagipes, etc., etc.—well that’s certainly cause for celebration.

The Dream of a Better Metaverse

One might perhaps come to the conclusion after following me in recent times that I’m just a technology skeptic. I must believe all the tech bros are jerks, and I hate anything newfangled. Cue the Old Man Yells at Cloud memes.

But believe me when I say this: I’m not a technology skeptic. I’m a bad technology skeptic. If I think a technology is fundamentally poor and ill-thought out, destined to (maybe) benefit a select few at the expense of the many, I’m going to call it as I see it. And we’ve had a bucketload of bad technology hype cycles lately.

But one major technology I’m actually extremely bullish on, one that I think does have tremendous potential, is the concept of the metaverse. And no, I don’t mean anything actually being built by Meta right now. I mean the initial conception of the term, which I understand to be a pervasive digital virtual reality where what you do matters.

Many of us use what I might call “proto-metaverses” all the time. My favorite is Minecraft. My kids and I have a handful of home servers we engage in regularly. And what we do there matters. If we build something today and come back a week later, it’s still there. If somebody drops a TNT block next to the wall of my house and it detonates, my house is destroyed. If I decide to go off exploring and find an exciting new landscape to play in, I can write down the coordinates and teleport there again in the future. I have memories of things I’ve done in Minecraft, just like I have fond memories of playing the Myst series of games—as if I were actually there, in a real place. That’s the magic of digital worlds.

The first metaverse I ever experienced was Second Life. (This was almost two decades ago!) I spent a lot of time there, built a lot of things, made friends. I ended up choosing to leave because I got really addicted. I was spending too much time in my “second life” and not enough time in my “first life”. That’s the danger of this technology. The addiction.

Still, I’m an unabashed fan of metaverses, and I’m always excited to hear about and possibly try out new ones. What I’m ultimately hoping for is that the World-Wide Web evolves into a #metaverse platform. If I could easily invite a bunch of friends over to “jaredwhite.com” and we could hang out in VR, wouldn’t that be amazing? I like think so. But it needs to be a truly #openweb solution, built atop open specs and open protocols. The worst thing in the world would be if any one corporation ends up “owning the metaverse.” We must resist that at all costs.

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Fresh Fusion

A weekly show where we discuss the business, the art, the ethics of content creation on the open web. Hosted by Jared White.

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