Tech for Tech’s sake, Violence, Food, and Poverty highlight the week in good reads.
The End of Poverty
- It’s amazing how much the world has changed over 200 years and how close we are to making true scarcity a thing of the past.
- Software for Software is eating the world. Rapid API is entering a space that reminds me of what IFTTT did for tech savvy consumers.
Sustainable Competitive Advantage
- I talk a lot about creating moats and the need to move from taking the beach to taking the country and ruling it. This is a nice introduction to the ideas that allow business to do just that.
The Shame of Work
- Avery interesting piece on the nature of work that’s particularly interesting when you consider a world where we won’t do it out of necessity.
The Decline of Violence?
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, one more time. He can be a tough read, but you’ll be infinitely more knowledgable when you’re done with anything he writes.
- Lighter fare (pun not intended) on why we eat what we eat. Rudimentary if you’re well versed in food science, but nonetheless interesting and succinct.
The Case Against Reality
- There’s clearly a massive delta between what we perceive and how the universe functions (Quantum Mechanics, anyone?). This is an interesting introduction into that concept that highlights why what we perceive may only be meaningful, or real, to us.
This week will look a bit different than others due to the crazy nature of news over the last week. Forecasting, Indian History, Fake News, and Election Fallout rule the day.
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been massively influential on my approach to nearly everything I do, particularly professionally. This is a great piece that shows why people got so sideways over the course of a long election cycle.
- Another top five influence on my thinking, Venkatesh Rao. Ribbonfarm is always great, and this longform history of his experience growing up in India and watching it come full circle is amazing.
Did Facebook Swing The Election?
I firmly believe no, but the below links explore the question in mostly interesting, sometimes maddening ways. Regardless of what impact it had, it’s clear that something has to happen to address fake news. Facebook isn’t alone in bearing that responsibility, but they’re in the crosshairs.
Everyone has a take, so I’ll save mine. Below are what I found to be some of the more sober accounts of the election, particularly as they relate to large concerns.
Idiots, Dishonesty, Threats to Democracy, and Twitter. It’s a heavy week.
Germany 26 Years Later
- It’s easy to forget the lasting impact structural and systemic choices have. Nothing changes overnight, and the lasting impact of communism in Eastern Germany is chilling.
Why Smart People do Dumb Things
- An interesting piece about the challenge of cognitive dissonance as intelligence grows.
The Down Round
- A shockingly great video series about the perils of Silicon Valley.
Adaptation to Dishonesty
- A chilling read about how the brain comes to accept dishonesty over time.
Facebook is Harming our Democracy
- I disagree with a lot of what this article posits, but it’s undeniable that Facebook massively skews what content is consumed by a huge number of people, the effects of which will inevitably be negative at times.
Why Twitter Must be Saved
- I feel like I end up defending Twitter on a daily basis. This article does a terrific job of explaining why it’s an essential tool in the public discourse.
IOT, Food, Form Factors, and CEO struggles are my favorites for the last week
Internet of Things for Product Managers
- Most ‘traditional’ applications only involve two of the five areas mentioned here, and we’re already seeing the people that understand the others get a huge leg up in hiring and new product development.
Silicon Valley is Coming for Your Lunch
- Food is so, so tricky. Someone is going to win this space in a big way, but most VC’s are terrified of the long history of failures.
Surface Studio and Nintendo Switch
- Great post on companies that have been surpassed by nearly every competitor and what they’re doing to turn it around.
Most of What You Know About Investing is Wrong
- Personal Finance is a huge passion of mine, but it’s an absolutely infuriating space full of misinformation. This article does a nice job of highlighting some prominent areas where dogmatic thinking hasn’t quite given way to reason.
Chipotle Eats Itself
- Great article about a tumultuous year for what was once a Gold Star company. I honestly have no idea what to make of their troubles after reading it, other than ‘doing food well at scale is hard’.
Steve Blank is Steve Ballmer
- Great article on why some CEO’s are great in succession while others fail to carve our long term success for their companies.
As a matter of necessity, I read a lot. ‘Things You Should Read’ will be an ongoing series in which I share my favorites along with my thoughts.
Overpowered Metrics Eat Underspecified Goals
- I can’t even being to comment on the number of organizations I’ve seen that were fundamentally broken due to a lack of alignment. A great look at how attempts are often poorly executed and some thoughts on fixing that.
Sam Altmans Manifest Destiny
- YC warps the industry around it. This piece does a good job of explaining why.
The Future of VR
- Damn near everything Andreessen Horowitz posts is great. This is no exception.
The Future of AI
- Most media coverage of technology trends is regurgitated crap, and most pundits are charlatans. Marc is the truth.
- From my perspective, this is more about substitution and more fluid access to stuff than it is a shift away from consumption and materialism, but it’s interesting nonetheless.