The Focus On The Last Thing

from Seth’s Blog The play before time ran out. The last speech of the campaign. The typo on your resume or the spot on your tie. The final decision before the company declared bankruptcy. We focus on the thing that happened just before the end. And that’s almost always an unimportant moment. Things went wrong (or things went right) because of a long series of decisions and implementations. A misguided strategy, a bad hire, a brilliant insight about network effects–these are the acts with leverage, not the obvious thing that all the pundits would like to talk about. When you […]

Continue reading

Big Business vs. Small Business

from Seth’s Blog Small companies create almost all the jobs. They are the insurgents, the agents of change. Big companies are a backbone, reliable providers of goods and services. Big companies operate at a scale that most of us can’t even imagine. The two points of view often conflict. And each can learn from the other. Net neutrality is an argument between freedom of innovation by small business vs. control from big business. Campaign finance reform is an argument against big companies and their leaders buying the outcomes of elections. It’s not always about capitalism vs. the alternative. It’s often […]

Continue reading

A 2.5 Gigapixel Image of the Orion Constellation

from Kottke Amateur astronomer Matt Harbison has been working for the past five years on capturing a detailed image of the Orion constellation. He recently completed the project and the result is this 2.5 gigapixel photo mosaic composed of 12,816 individual photos. From PetaPixel, which has a good writeup of the project, a taste of the challenges involved with constructing this image: Even after all the images were shot and each panel completed, the finished image did not come together smoothly. “I began in 2015 on a Mac Pro with 2 Xeon Processors and 64GB of RAM. This machine was […]

Continue reading

The Power Of Community And The Trap Of Opt-Out

from Seth’s Blog In Colonial America, they had private fire departments. If you didn’t voluntarily pay your dues, the firemen wouldn’t put out a fire–they’d watch your house burn and make sure it didn’t spread to your neighbor’s house. [or this!] While this is a vivid way to ensure that everyone pays their dues, it’s such an inefficient way to support the fire department that it was replaced with the smarter alternative: a smaller tax on everyone, automatically collected. Even if a few manage to avoid paying their share, the blanket protection, which also leads to fire inspectors and building […]

Continue reading

Eleanor Jacobs, 91, Dies; a Force Behind the Earth Shoe Phenomenon

from NYTs Eleanor Jacobs, who stumbled upon a pair of odd-looking shoes in Denmark and, with her husband, Raymond, created a short-lived phenomenon by selling them in the United States as Earth Shoes, died on Aug. 25 at her home in Litchfield, Conn. She was 91. Her daughter Susan Jacobs said the cause was congestive heart failure. In 1969, while she and her husband were vacationing in Denmark, Ms. Jacobs’s chronic back pain increased from all the walking she had been doing. She found unexpected salvation with a pair of negative-heel shoes she found at a store in Copenhagen. More […]

Continue reading

Cheating

from Seth’s Blog There are really only two ways to approach this: “We don’t cheat.” “We cheat when we can get away with it.” The posture of, “our side doesn’t cheat,” is the belief in the validity of the game itself. It’s a statement of moral authority, a promise of consistency and valor. It respects the process. The posture of, “cheat if you can,” is the belief in the ends at any cost. It degrades the system, because if everyone cheats, then there is no system left. Cheaters often brag about their exploits, because they want to normalize them. More […]

Continue reading

Together, You Can Redeem The Soul Of Our Nation

from NYTs While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity. That is why I had to visit Black Lives […]

Continue reading

A Different Kind of Civil-Service Organization

from The Atlantic The U.S. national government is failing in its response to the pandemic. One recent example: A month ago, on March 20, the United States and South Korea had about the same number of coronavirus deaths: nearly 100 in South Korea, versus somewhere over 200 in the U.S. Since South Korea has a much smaller population—about 50 million, versus more than 300 million for the U.S.—its per capita death rate was actually much higher. One month later, South Korea’s death total had risen to only 236—while that in the U.S. was rising quickly past 40,000. With adjustments for […]

Continue reading

Thoughts On “I’m Bored”

from Seth’s Blog If you’re under 14: “Good.” It’s good that you’re feeling bored. Bored is an actual feeling. Bored can prompt forward motion. Bored is the thing that happens before you choose to entertain yourself. Bored is what empty space feels like, and you can use that empty space to go do something important. Bored means that you’re paying attention (no one is bored when they’re asleep.) If you’re over 14: “That’s on you.” As soon as you’re tired of being bored at work, at home, on lockdown, wherever, you’ll go find a challenge. You don’t have to quit […]

Continue reading

Some Shirts Hide You From Cameras—But Will Anyone Wear Them?

from ars technica Right now, you’re more than likely spending the vast majority of your time at home. Someday, however, we will all be able to leave the house once again and emerge, blinking, into society to work, travel, eat, play, and congregate in all of humanity’s many bustling crowds. The world, when we eventually enter it again, is waiting for us with millions of digital eyes—cameras, everywhere, owned by governments and private entities alike. Pretty much every state out there has some entity collecting license plate data from millions of cars—parked or on the road—every day. Meanwhile all kinds […]

Continue reading

Gustave Eiffel’s Original Drawings for the Statue of Liberty

from kottke Long thought destroyed or lost forever, a cache of original engineering drawings & blueprints for the Statue of Liberty done by Gustave Eiffel were found among some of Eiffel’s papers purchased at auction last year. Smithsonian magazine has the story of how they came to be found and why the drawings are so significant. More here.

Continue reading

The Problem For Freelancers

from Seth’s Blog No clients, no work. And the clients have a problem as well: Figuring out who the truly good freelancers are. A marketplace like Upwork is supposed to solve a classic two-sided problem like this one. But the problem is so difficult that marketplaces often make it worse (and charge too much as well). They make it worse by pushing people to be bottom-fishing cheap commodity providers. If someone searches for ‘logo designer’, there is a huge amount of pressure to be the freelancer who checks all the boxes, has decent reviews and is also the cheapest. More […]

Continue reading

The End Of Handshakes?

from Seth’s Blog In the future, of course, there are no handshakes. Star Trek, Star Wars, even Spaceballs… no one shakes hands. And handshakes haven’t been the standard default for as long as we think–they were codified by the Quakers five hundred years ago, because they were thought to be more egalitarian than tipping a hat or bowing. Today, of course, a handshake is often seen as a threat more than a disarming form of intimacy and equality. More here.

Continue reading

The Expert Generalist: Why the Future Belongs to Polymaths

from Medium Some of history’s greatest contributions have come from polymaths. Aristotle practically invented half a dozen fields of study across philosophy. Galileo was as much a physicist as he was an engineer when he helped kick-start the scientific revolution. Da Vinci might have been even more famous as an inventor than an artist if his notebooks were ever published. Even in the last 100 years, we have had people like John Von Neumann and Herbert Simon who have made breakthrough advances across fields as diverse as computer science, economics, and psychology. That is, of course, not to detract from […]

Continue reading

Toward Perfect

from Seth’s Blog Draw a perfect circle. Use a compass or a plotter. Now, zoom in. If you zoom in close enough, you’ll discover that it’s not a perfect circle at all. In fact, anything we create, at close enough magnification, isn’t perfect. It’s foolish to wait until you’ve made something that’s perfect, because you never will. The alternative is to continue to move toward your imaginary ideal, shipping as you iterate. Getting better is the path to better. More here.

Continue reading

Stop. Stop the Presses.

from Medium At the end of an exceptional first week for our new program in News Innovation and Leadership at the Newmark J-school, the students — five managing editors, a VP, a CEO, and many directors among them — said they learned much from teachers and speakers, yes, but the greatest value likely came from each other, from the candid lessons they all shared. When I first proposed this program about four years ago, I suggested it should offer a smorgasbord of courses to be taken at will. Then I was fortunate enough to recruit Anita Zielina, the ideal news […]

Continue reading

“There Are Several Reasons”

from Seth’s Blog That’s another way of saying, “It’s complicated.” If you’ve got one reason that’s good enough, share that reason. The other reasons are extra, and if you spend a lot of time on them, you’ve just told us that it’s complicated. Difficult decisions, on the other hand, ARE nuanced, and they involve adding up several benefits to overcome several negative outcomes as well. In those cases, it’s worth beginning by highlighting the things we’re going to avoid as a result of making this choice. More here.

Continue reading

Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism

from NYTs Mariana Mazzucato was freezing. Outside, it was a humid late-September day in Manhattan, but inside — in a Columbia University conference space full of scientists, academics and businesspeople advising the United Nations on sustainability — the air conditioning was on full blast. For a room full of experts discussing the world’s most urgent social and environmental problems, this was not just uncomfortable but off-message. Whatever their dress — suit, sari, head scarf — people looked huddled and hunkered down. At a break, Dr. Mazzucato dispatched an assistant to get the A.C. turned off. How will we change anything, […]

Continue reading