Links - August 22th, 2016
- This is strictly a business decision Tim O'Reilly - Medium
Incentives rule all our decisions. If the mandate of fiduciary duty is to “maximize shareholder value,” that is what any board will do. Whether the “business decision” was correct or not is a question of short-term vs. long-term thinking, discount rates, and how much the company values its employees. When labor is interchangable, this is not a surprising decision. If the well-being of the employees were somehow baked in into the pricing model, there could be a different outcome.
- Imaging, Snapchat and mobile Benedict Evans
As usual, Evans gives us a lot to think about. Our phones aren’t really just phones, and our cameras aren’t really just cameras.
- It’s The Future Paul Biggar - CircleCI Blog
Overengineering is a real problem. I need to learn more about this new dev-ops world, and play with Docker et al, but the fact is that to get started, a monolith running on Heroku is more than enough. Scaling will be harder? Yes, but you might actually get something done and sell to real users. Good enough is good enough. Once again, short-term vs. long term incentives.
- All the Leaves are Brown and the Sky is Gray Cate Huston - Accidentally in Code
Perspective on software engineering impact: Somehow, the industry keeps moving forward as our projects die, 1 by 1. Stay motivated, and learn from your errors.
- The stuff we really need is getting more expensive. Other stuff is getting cheaper. Christopher Ingraham - The Washington Post
- The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority Nassim Nicholas Taleb - Medium
A draft of a chapter of Taleb’s upcoming book. He argues that asymmetrical rules lead to minorities dictating choices when there are large benefits to a concentrated minority and small diffuse costs among the majority. All his examples are negative, but its not hard to think of how this same effect can affect us positively.
- The Night That Obama and Hillary Founded ISIS Liz Meriwether - New York Magazine
The world of politics is odd.
- Page dewarping Matt Zucker
Math lets us do some really interesting things. This post presents a relatively simple model that solves a real problem for a real person.
- Firms and Inequality Claudia Sahm
An analysis on the future of work, and labor compensation. I am not surprised that gains are concentrated in a set of firms, the real question, as Claudia points out, is “is rising worker segregation a sign of reduced competition, greater economic rents, or is it telling us about a change in the nature of production?” My guess? The latter.
- The meaning of trust in the age of Airbnb Tim Harford
The fact that we can walk into a store and exchange a piece of paper for a loaf of bread is a sign of trust. Our economies, and our lives, are all based on trust, and Tim’s article explains how important this is in an age where “reputation” becomes currency. Reminded me a lot of Seabright’s Company of Strangers.
Links - August 18th, 2016
Hello there old friends. It has been forever since my last post, and I apologize for that. Here is a mixed bag of technology, management, and politics pieces. My interests haven’t changed, hopefully yours haven’t either.
Expect more frequent updates coming back soon.
- Serverless Architectures Mike Roberts
“Serverless” is the Next Big Thing. Serve static stuff on S3, make everything stateless, and plug a bunch of functions in Lambda. AWS once again changing the paradigm.
- The hedgehog and the fox Benedict Evans
I like to think of myself as a much more fox-ey than hedgehog-ey person, and I think success comes from getting a fox to surround themselves with hedgehogs. This is true in the AI context, as well as many others. “To think about tech now is to think about many things.”
- Stalking your Facebook friends on Tinder Alex Hogue - Literally Words
The internet: where nothing is really private.
- What Did You Do? What Will I Have Done? Albert Wenger - Continuations
While the comparisons with WWII are extreme, this is one of those “better safe than sorry” situations. Go vote, I can’t.
- Watch this very chill video of virtual soft-bodied creatures swimming underwater James Vincent - The Verge
- The Uber Engineering Tech Stack, Part I: The Foundation Lucie Lozinski - Uber Engineering Blog
It is always interesting to see how others do things. Especially interesting is the migration from python/node to Java/Go, and the heavy usage of OSS projects. I agree that having less languages is good, however, this might be a bit quixotic.
- Central bank digital currency: the end of monetary policy as we know it? Marilyne Tolle - Bank Underground
One of the most intriguing aspects of bitcoin is what kind of effects a constant, predictable, and stable money supply would cause in our financial systems. Coming from the Bank of England, this post holds more water than the usual cryptocurrency wonk posts.
- Delusions of Chaos Paul Krugman - The New York Times
The world is a mess, its just less messy than it used to be.
- The Unbundled City Paul Krugman - The New York Times
Not the usual Krugman. A really interesting take on how the Internet has changed cities. While he thinks of “back office operations,” I think of AWS and outsourced manufacturing.
- The Dreaded Weekly Status Email Christina R. Wodtke - Elegant Hack
In the modern office, email defines workflows. Communicating over email is hard. Do it right.
- Apple and the gun emoji Jeremy Burge - Emojipedia
Related, and somewhat more in depth, is the a16z podcast on emoji. Why do these icons carry so much weight?
- Judaism is not a major player in the history of humankind Yuval Harari - Haaretz (Paywall)
Exceptionalism is not just an American problem.
The only way I was able to get around the paywall was to click on the link from Facebook Messenger, which adds a referrer to the HTTP request. Let me know if you find another workaround.
- What Marissa Mayer Brought to Yahoo That Can’t Be Bought or Sold Jelena Woehr - Medium
Leadership is hard, and requires personal sacrifice. People appreciate that, and can tell when a person in power doesn’t put in the required effort. According to Woehr, Marissa did.
- Rectangular countries David Barry
Useless but fun geospatial data analysis, because why not?
Outside Lands, take two August 15, 2016
Well, “take two” isn’t really fair. I’ve actually been to the festival three times. I hope you’ll see a jump in quality from last year’s.
Pretty crazy how people are willing to be photographed due to the air of professionalism of a DSLR in ways that a smartphone camera wouldn’t allow. As I asked people to take their photos, they would constantly ask things like “Where will these be published?” or “What site are you taking the photos for?” and were oddly surprised when I told them it was for a personal blog. The camera is both a bridge and a barrier.
If you came looking for a specific photo, and it isn’t here, reach out and I’ll happily send it your way. 600 was a lot to post at once. More...
Links - July 14th, 2016
As you can tell from the articles below, I’ve read a lot about consciousness lately. In general, I like the topic a lot, but I was actually trying to find an article on the subject from a couple of years ago that I remember being really good. Sadly, I didn’t find it, but it did take me down the rabbit hole of the Internet, and I found all of the consciousness related posts below, so hopefully you will enjoy those.
- A Nihilist's Guide to Meaning Kevin Simler - Melting Asphalt
A graph theory approach to the meaning of life, and, by extension, every one of our actions.
- Square is guilting us into tipping basically everyone Ester Bloom - Quartz
Because who wouldn’t tip $3 on a cup of coffee?
- The Facebook of ecommerce Benedict Evans
- A Technical Glitch Ben Thompson - Stratechery
- Medieval technology, indistinguishable from magic E R Truitt - Aeon
- Six centuries of secularity began with the first 'how-to' books William Eamon - Aeon Essays
- How Did Consciousness Evolve? Michael Graziano - The Atlantic
- Consciousness Began When the Gods Stopped Speaking Veronique Greenwood - Nautilus
- Postcards From the Edge of Consciousness Meehan Crist - Nautilus
- End of Cycle? Elad Gil
- Why Python is Slow: Looking Under the Hood Jake VanderPlas
- Why Does Pepperoni Curl? J. Kenji López-Alt - The Food Lab/Serious Eats
Yeah, its a post about pizza. To be more accurate, pizza + science.
- Fintech Revolution or Evolution? Alex Rampell, Angela Strange, and Charlie Warzel - a16z
In a recent post, I shared Charlie Warzel’s analysis on the future of payments. This episode of the a16z podcast takes a deeper dive.
- Remembering Stonewall 99% Invisible
Living in San Francisco, and having just attended Pride, this seemed very fitting. A really interesting story, which made me think a lot about how what is socially and culturally acceptable changes over time and space.
- Who Do We Think We Are? This American Life
I listened to this several weeks ago, but just noticed I hadn’t posted it. Mostly recommending it for Act 1, which deals with a really hard story. Especially interesting due to the herd mentality of “we do this because it is the way we’ve always done it,” which I hate so much. Other people’s decisions can change our lives forever. Sometimes unknowingly, and for all the wrong reasons.
The Last Two Weeks July 11, 2016
Summer in San Francisco is great. On most days, the city gets cold and foggy, so it is better to stay inside. Luckily, an hour or two away there are endless warm options to get away to. I definitely took advantage of it these past weeks. More...