Lunch with Om Malik

There’s something charmingly unmodern about correspondence describing a lunch with a new acquaintance. It’s a throwback to the age before mass media, when life moved at a slower pace—or at least it seemed to from today’s perspective—and when penning and posting letters was the way the cognoscenti kept in touch with each other.

I woke up this morning to read that Om Malik had written about our recent lunch in this style. I just had to respond.

I know about Om through his writing, his photography, his investing, and his watch collecting. I share many of these interests. I always figured that Om and I know many of the same people too, and for many years I’ve said to myself that it would be great to meet him. That never seemed like a real possibility, since everyone is always so busy, breaking the ice with new people isn’t my best skill, and there just didn’t seem like there was a simple way to connect the dots.

Then a couple of weeks ago, Om and I exchanged a couple Twitter DMs—this was around the time I made the twentieth anniversary announcement of the start of the WebKit project—and before I knew it, we had set a time to meet for lunch in San Francisco.

I always worry when I meet someone like Om, a person I admire and is so accomplished. Will the chemistry be good? Will we find it easy to talk to each other? Will I get nervous and fail to make sense about anything?

I needn’t have worried. We found it simple to chat, and as Om commented, we meandered through several of our favorite topics.

We talked about his photography, his use of Leica cameras, his love of the cold and the snow, and how being out in the wilderness is an opportunity to focus on an inner dialog with our thoughts and experiences.

We talked about watches, how Grand Seiko makes up a large part of his current collection, the piece on his wrist with its stunning blue dial, and how one Grand Seiko that Om bought in the 1990s became the grail watch for an avid Japanese collector.

We talked about technology, our thoughts about what computing in the future might be like, how helpful it might someday become, and comparing it to the gadgets we brought with us to lunch.

I had a great time meeting up with Om. I’m so glad the pandemic has eased to the point where it’s possible to get together with wonderful people and share a casual meal. I missed that over the past eighteen months. I look forward to the next time Om and I can get together.

A postscript. In my conversation with Om, I mentioned a photographer. It was Richard Benson. Everyone called him “Chip”. A wonderful artist. He taught me a lot. I wasn’t in contact with him much after I left Yale, but I remember him very fondly.…

Ken Kocienda @kocienda