Links - September 28, 2016
- Startup Cargo Cults: What They Are and How to Avoid Them Leo Polovets - Coding VC
We all fall prey to cargo cults: following our biases and finding patterns where there might be none, mimicking the inessentials and hoping we get the same results. Think hard about why you do things, and trim as necessary.
- Snapchat Spectacles and the Future of Wearables Ben Thompson - Stratechery
There is too much Apple speculation here for me to make strong comments, but go read it. Products don’t exist in a vacuum.
- Economics Has a Major Blind Spot Noah Smith - Bloomberg View
A clear exposition one of my gripes about economics as a discipline: Once you layer in tax, after tax, after tax, and your policies start interacting with each other, they no longer achieve the desired effects.
In the real world, no agent -however rational- can make optimal choices, as they don’t have nearly full information. To make things worse, solutions proposed at a given time might alter the underlying reality before they even go into effect, and no longer work as expected! By the time they are in place, policies are hard to change (this week’s EconTalk touched on that topic) and we deal with it by adding more crap on top. Living in a complex society does not by definition require the levels of complexity of modern legislation.
- Amazon’s Newest Ambition: Competing Directly With UPS and FedEx Greg Bensinger and Laura Stevens - The Wall Street Journal
Similar to the recent Bloomberg article. Amazon seems more and more serious about their last-mile effort, and the incumbents are still incredulous.
- Trump was completely wrong about the Fed last night. But I’m glad the topic came up. Jared Bernstein - The Washington Post
If the political system in the US is hard, and confusing, the Fed is probably one of the most misunderstood. Even having taken several courses on the topic, understanding the intended effects of central banking, and monetary policy, is tough. Bernstein makes a good case for the importance about better understanding it.
- Uncertainty Wednesday: Limits on Observations Albert Wenger - Continuations
Another good one in Albert’s series on uncertainty, easter egg included. “All observation necessarily entails compression of reality,” further compression from our tool’s resolution limits, and even more from measurement error. Regardless of how good your observations are, they will always be uncertain. Moreover, observations themselves can change the underlying state of reality. Not only in the uncertainty principle quantum sense, but also in the user research sense, for example.