Weekly Roundup: 8 Mar 2015

The world keeps moving faster and faster. It’s increasingly hard to filter out the most important 'signals from the noise' with the time we have available. Below is a summary of the most interesting and relevant topics that have passed through my signal filter over the past week.

"All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy of which victory is evolved."

- Sun Tzu

We are on the eve of the Apple Watch launch, a time where we are increasingly integrating computing into every aspect of our lives, and augmenting ourselves with technology. 

The buzz words of right now are terms like wearables, beacons, nearables, haptic triggers, and virtual & augmented reality. Our devices are proliferating and connecting in new and unforeseen ways, which is driving increasingly complex interactions.

John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks has written a fantastic article unraveling several aspects of our ongoing self augmentation, covering the areas of our Prosthetic Self, our Data Skin, our Present Self, and the Dreams of AI.

As technology augments the things we do, we must always remember the fable of Icarus. This was about the twin perils of complacency and hubris - flying too low or too high. John provides an interesting list of thorny questions that we need to keep in mind to ensure we don't crash into the sea.

As part of the above article, John linked to a data visualization by app Human. It is amazing to see how data being collected by organizations is being used to create amazing things. See how some of the most famous cities across the world come to life through their citizens running, biking and driving.

Speaking of technology augmenting our lives, there is an interesting bias called "algorithm aversion". If we see an algorithm fail (even if it is very small), we tend not to trust it - even when we are shown it is vastly superior to human judgement. Be careful about trusting your gut.

Some of the smartest marketers in the world right now weigh in on what marketing & advertising will look like in 2020. A quote that really stuck out for me - "Good agencies will act like product companies, not service companies".

It might be time to start thinking like an Essentialist - that you will produce more by removing more, not doing more. This very much feels like the model of First Principles and the Eisenhower Matrix. Be ruthless with your time, and always have a strong North Star.

Have you ever heard of the Monty Hall problem? It's a logic puzzle that still does my head in. Zachary Crockett writes a fantastic article about Marilyn vos Savant, and the "nightmarish journey, rife with name-calling, gender-based assumptions, and academic persecution" that came with getting the puzzle right.

Speaking of a nightmarish journey of name-calling, persecution and gender-based assumptions, Jon Ronson writes a great piece in the Times from the forthcoming book "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" on Justine Sacco. If you remember Sacco, she wrote a racist tweet that went viral and basically ruined her life. An interesting take on the modern phenomenon of witch trials, shaming people in stocks int he public square, and our obsession with trying to amuse the people we can't see.

Hire good people. Treat them well. Help them succeed. Compensate them fairly. Let them go home. An essay in praise for meaningless work, and escaping cupidity and the Peter Principle.

The startup world is full of new and interesting concepts - things like fail fast and pivot. The fundamental thing we all need to remember however is that the ultimate goal of a startup is to build a business, not inflate the ego of the founders. Some great lessons on the stunning failure of Fab.com, and how it went from raising $325 million dollars to going bust.  

I have very mixed feelings about Buzzfeed, and the world of click bait they have invariably helped create. Rohin Dhar shows that the Internet publishing powerhouse actually sources 62% of its content from just 25 sources - and surprisingly a huge amount comes straight from Tumblr. It seems stealing from other publishing platforms (who's users no doubt stole it from somewhere else) is really good business.

Summarizing just how incredible Netflix is - the company earns $2.4 million per employee. But the real dangers are looming with the incredible land grab kicking off with everyone trying their hand at content. And it's forcing Netflix to risk everything.

Could McDonald's current woes be directly linked to them being a bad corporate citizen? The world of business and corporate responsibility is changing, and organizations that fail to see the writing on the wall are in real danger of being wiped out.

Two interesting articles on gambling. First, can you manufacture luck? It turns out, luck might actually be the result of how you behave, and not just the odds.

Second, a beautifully written long form essay by Jay Kang on his gambling addiction. The high is always the pain, and the pain is always the high.

To finish up, an oneiric video experience I stumbled upon, An Embroidery of Voids. Haunting. Enjoy.