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The way we talk about our things

Hi there, I hope you're well.

A few weeks ago, Apple launched their 2022 lineup of iPhones.

It was a typical event for Apple, with tremendous production values and exciting product announcements from executives. I'm always struck by how much intention and design goes into the production of Apple's live events - every single moment is scripted carefully; every camera angle is calculated and precise.

One thing that always stands out to me is the way that Apple refers to their phones. During launch events, you'll never hear someone from apple talk about "the iPhone", or "an iPhone".

Seriously - go back and listen.

They will say things like "iPhone enables gorgeous photo capture across the entire range of light", or "iPhone 14 is designed to last".

That's a tiny change, but it's so significant. By never saying "the iPhone", Apple creates an air of elevated expectation for their product. The way that language is used is critical in marketing and sales, and Apple is a master at using language to create an emotional connection to their products.

If you're not paying attention, you might not even notice it. But it's something that I think about every time I see Apple use language to manipulate buyers.

What's even more interesting to me is the other side of this -- consumer behavior. Listen to people talking about their devices, and they speak differently still. Most people won't say "yesterday I got an iPhone 14" - instead, you're likely to hear "yesterday, I got the iPhone 14".

My friends, they made more than one. I promise.

And yet, it feels more special, exclusive, privileged to call your phone the iPhone 14.


This week's dispatch of Tiny Improvements focuses on language and cognition.

Sunrise over my neighbnorhood from an early morning last week.
September sunrises always seem to sneak up on me. This is a photo from my neighborhood last week.

The way we talk about our things

You don't have to take my word (lol) on language and cognition. These are some of of my favorite resources on the topic, from around the web:

šŸŽ™ The Allusionist: A podcast about language, hosted by Helen Zaltzman. Helen is a fantastic host, and the show is always interesting and entertaining.

šŸ“– Cultish: The Language of fanaticism is a book by Amanda Montell on the language used to create and control people within cults of all sorts - from religion to fitness, politics and MLMs. It's a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.

šŸ¦¤ Toucan is a browser extension that helps you immerse yourself in language learning, by replacing words on web pages you're visiting with vocabulary in another language. I've been using it to bolster my learning of Japanese. Their free tier is generous and super helpful. Give it a shot!

From me this week

  • I published an article on using the ConvertKit API with Remix to publish past newsletter issues to the web. It started as a quick experiment, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'll be publishing a follow-up article on how to use the same technique to publish your newsletter with Next.js, too.

  • A great demonstration of why I love sharing on twitter - what started as a tweet on my thoughts about figma getting acquired turned into a discussion on how to improve UX for signups on my site. You may be here because of it!

  • It's officially busy season for work - and I'll be attending a few events in the coming weeks. Most will have livestreams or recordings, so I'll be sure to share them here.

That's all for now - thanks for reading. If you found this useful, I'd love it if you shared Tiny Improvements with a friend. It's the best way to help me grow the newsletter.

Until next time,


Thanks for reading Tiny Improvements. If you found this helpful, I'd love it if you shared this with a friend. It helps me out a great deal.

Until next time - be excellent to each other!

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