Links - March 26, 2017
- Why does Donald Trump demonize cities? Will Wilkinson - The Washington Post
This article was awesome. The basic idea it tries to get across is that because cities are multicultural and inclusive, they are also more productive. This vision of the city as a bastion of openness and tolerance, unlike the insular rural communities that voted for Trump, is not new, but the post sparked some interesting conversation online. For example see Noah Smith’s, Ross Douthat’s and Chris Arnade’s takes.
- The Disqus Demo Day Story Fred Wilson - AVC
It is always good to hear these insider views of how companies got started. Much like Airbnb selling Obama-O’s, or Drew Houston forgetting his USB drive, these origin myths are just that, stories, but they reinforce the idea that all you need to start a startup is to solve a pain point.
- Complexity and Strategy Terry Crowley - Hackernoon
Thinking about technical complexity as a moat is interesting, especially considering the initial discussion about “the shape of the cost-functionality curve.” I definitely believe that there are increasing costs to adding functionality, or as the author says “Features interact — intentionally — and that makes the cost of implementing the N+1 feature closer to N than 1.” This is exactly why a startup can come up with a simple product and blow a big co out of the water. They don’t have to worry about how all the other pieces in the business - and in the code! - interact with each other.
- The eigenvector of "Why we moved from language X to language Y" Erik Bernhardsson
Stochastic modeling is a really cool topic, and here we see it applied to the transitions between programming languages.
- What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists? Neil Irwin - The New York Times
This is another version of Noah Smith’s Beware of Thinking like an Economist. Here the argument is “there are certain problems that only sociologists can solve,” which is probably just as bad. However, the historical aspect is interesting, especially the fact that there could have been a Council of Social Advisers.
- How the Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing It Farhad Manjoo - The New York Times
Nothing about Farhad’s argument seems controversial to me. There are still unsolved problems in the vein of “finding a needle in a haystack” where separating signal from noise has become increasingly difficult, but the expansion of content produced by humans can only be a good thing. If we trust that willingness to pay will somehow sort out the good vs. bad content problem in the long run, we’re headed in the right direction.
- The Problem With Facts Tim Harford
Starting with the case of Big Tobbaco vs. Medicine in the 50s and 60s, and continuing with Trump and Brexit, Harford makes an argument against ignorance. Agnotology, “the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced,” is a really interesting concept that I had never heard of. The punchline is that we need to get people excited about learning, and make them curious about the world in which they live in, so that they seek out truth on their own. Not an easy endeavor.
- Ask A Grown-Up This American Life
Life somehow keeps teaching us that we have no idea what we’re doing. “Growing up” is about learning from your experiences, but there are always new mistakes to make.
- Public key cryptography 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy
All new technology can be seen as a double edge sword. Luckily, crypto wasn’t killed by the US government.
- The Russian Passenger Reply All
- Sorry for the delayed response Susanna Wolff - The New Yorker
This happens daily to me. Sorry. Not sorry.
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