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August 21 2014

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The Shape of Ideas

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Most torrented movies by state

August 19 2014

Giving a shit does not require capital, simply attention and humility and diligence. Giving a shit is the best feeling you can imbue craft with. Giving a shit in book design manifests in many ways, but it manifests perhaps most in the margins.
Let’s talk about margins — The Message — Medium

Google has one essential test when it thinks about buying a company - Quartz

Move over banks:

More and more, acquisition decisions in technology companies are made without advice from banks: 69% of technology acquisitions worth over $100 million this year were done without an investment bank, compared to 27% a decade ago. Apple’s buyout of Beats, and Facebook’s of Oculus were completed without the traditional advisors.

August 13 2014

August 12 2014

How To Lead With Tough Love

This sounds a lot like me. Now realised that I might be quite mean to people in my relentless pursuit of obsessive interest areas:

“I can’t just hand them the playbook and say, ‘Here are the five things that you need to do every day,’ says Leary. “More often than not, I give them a set of problems and I tell them, ‘Here is the direction that we want to go in,’ whether that’s a particular goal, a date, or a metric. I say, ‘I want you to go figure it out.’”

Criminal syndicates are different; they think of innovation as an organizational imperative. A drug smuggler who finds a new way across a border knows that customs agents will eventually discover the innovation, so he needs to always think of new ways. The Sinaloa Cartel was the first to design and construct a tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border. The cartel also managed to have family members hired as border agents, and even used a catapult to counter a high-tech fence in Arizona. The yakuza benefit from highly diversified revenue streams, which they’ve systematically grown from traditional gambling and prostitution rackets to modern construction and transportation businesses. Where there is a threat or an opportunity, criminal syndicates improvise.
3 Business Lessons From The Sinaloa Drug Cartel

August 11 2014

How Technology is Changing the World (P&G Edition)

Amen to this. Advertising is just a way of differentiating parity products. Very few people have actually gone about making products better from the get-go, it’s always been about putting up barriers in order to maintain your market position:

"One of the more interesting – and telling – factoids about the consumer packaged goods (CPG) market is that there are no product managers; rather, there is a very similar position called a “brand manager.” The nomenclature is no accident: while tech products have traditionally differentiated themselves by their product attributes, the distinguishing feature of your typical consumer product is its branding and positioning."

When you are depressed, you are not just depressed, you feel guilty about being depressed too, so you’re doubly screwed.
Against happiness: Why we need a philosophy of failure
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A little tour of the Wellcome Collection, always interesting

August 06 2014

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"All models are essentially wrong, but they are useful"(via Four Types of CMOs )

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Almost 1.4bn people have logged into facebook at least once in the last month. Take a guess how many of them are mobile only.

August 05 2014

You are your own priority

I’ve just come back from holiday and mulled a bunch of things that have been on my mind in the last few weeks at work; namely that you are your own priority. And if you’re not, you should gravitate towards that and this ‘work-life’ balance thing will look after itself.

There’s that lovely recent study (of about 700 people) that suggests us humans would rather zap ourselves (read: self administer shocks) than spend time alone with our thoughts. Kate Murphy over at the New York Times describes it t it quite elegantly

It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.

“One explanation why people keep themselves so busy and would rather shock themselves is that they are trying to avoid that kind of negative stuff,” said Ethan Kross, director of the Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan. “It doesn’t feel good if you’re not intrinsically good at reflecting.”

toothpaste for dinner

One of their points is incredibly relevant (for me at least). Whether you’re at work or chatting to friends, talking about things in the abstract or third person instead of dwelling on someone’s personal failures in first person makes it more likely to fix problems. When the issues move from first person to third, you’re artificially creating a disconnect that makes everyone a bit more relaxed. If you’re trying to help someone fix a delicate problem, it’s much more effective to finish off by bringing the conversation back to the person you’re dealing with: what would they have done? How does that change how they’ll act in the future? etc.

Not coincidentally, this is echoes a heap of suggestions in David Rock’s ‘Your Brain at Work’ book: make people think about their thinking, help them talk about and label their emotions to fix them, and give them the tools so they can critique themselves and reach their own conclusions. 

Their other conclusion is worth pausing on - many people seem to have realised that lack of (self) reflection and letting your mind wander impairs the creative process. I see this on a daily basis working with people and teams tasked with delivering digital and creative work. However, what most people in this industry don’t seem to dwell on - perhaps because it doesn’t seem to affect the bottom line as directly - is the fact that lack of self reflection hurts your ability to empathise with others around you. Simple enough, but worth repeating. If you can’t figure out what you’re going through and why, it’s very unlikely you can relate to others around you. 

Time to think isn’t that much of a luxury; creating the habit to do so is the hardest part. You’re rarely instructed on how to form a habit, and good luck finding someone to tell you how to “think about thinking”. Charles Sykes’ 11 things they don’t teach you in school (but should) brings this up: 

Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.”

Most people don’t, and don’t get me started on gap years: ain’t nobody got time and money for that on one hand, and on the other there’s no geographical solution to an emotional problem. 

Lastly, tackling the hairy issue of ‘busy culture’ and a world that favours doing over thinking is another post in and of itself. However, I see a lot of juniors and recent graduates but also misguided seniors who should know better confusing passion, dedication and targeted effort with mindless, ADHD-like, spreading-yourself-too-thinly behaviour in the name of work, career, etc:

“If your body isn’t healthy, the harder you work the less productive you will be. So many of my clients come to me after some sort of breakdown or failure in their lives.  And we have to put things together again, building a life in which their body is cared for just as much as their career is.”


There’s no agency that pays for overtime. Most people expect you to do the work you’re supposed to do within the 8 hours you have available, develop a work ethic, and manage your own time. If you’re only paid for eight hours, need to sleep about seven to function properly, should commute for a maximum of two hours per day, then doesn’t it make sense to use the rest of your time to enrich your life, relationships and other things in order to achieve that elusive ‘balance’ people speak of? 

UK train commuting feels slow because it is

Evidence one, Economist on the 'One North' proposal to improve transport links between five English cities

Evidence two, average train speeds between cities. From Northern cities to London: 77.6 mph; between cities: 46mph.

UK House of Lords EU committe disagrees with 'the right to be forgotten'

Excellent news and points indeed, even if it’s just a consultation.

A House of Lords EU Sub-Committee has examined the recent judgment of the EU Court of Justice on the right to be forgotten and concluded that it is “unworkable, unreasonable, and wrong’. Baroness Prashar, the committee chairman, said:

“We do not believe that individuals should have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said.”

July 25 2014

Why the Structural Changes to the VC Industry Matter | Andreessen Horowitz

The biggest transformation of all is in who can be reached. With potentially 5.9 billion users coming online — largely due to the developing world — we have the ability to reach global markets at a scale never before witnessed. Already more people have more access to mobile telephones than they do toilets.

At the same time, the number of international markets that were once off limits due to geopolitical issues or high costs of entry is significantly smaller. The widespread penetration of mobile devices — and therefore applications — has also leveled the playing field. For example: 80% of Twitter users are international, and Facebook arguably has more international than domestic users if you include its reach through WhatsApp. The direction of innovation is starting to turn, too: Spotify successfully entered the U.S. market after having starting outside the U.S., and Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent are likely to do so as well over the coming years.

Finally, we are seeing the rise of what my partner Chris Dixon has metaphorically described as the “full-stack” startup, where entrepreneurs want to own more of the full customer experience and are therefore building out expertise in areas beyond just tech. For instance, in a non-full stack world, AirBnB would have been a software company that developed a better customer matching and booking engine and then licensed that to multiple hospitality purveyors who would then own the customer relationship. Instead, the “full-stack” AirBnB owns the customer relationship end-to-end, and thus must build expertise in customer service, global operations, regulatory affairs, and so on. Perhaps more significantly, in a full-stack world, software companies can compete with their physical-world counterparts and build new and unexpected platforms that others can then build on.

July 23 2014

How Smartphones Have Unleashed Humanity’s Creative Potential | Gadget Lab | WIRED

It’s a cliché in the tech and business realms to say that the world is going mobile. Mobile first! Mobile only! Mobile native! We accept that this is happening, but we seldom explore what it means to us as people. Our phones, always connected and always with us, have become incredibly personal. They belong to us, to an extent that no previous device ever achieved. Because of that we belong to them too, and it’s a bond that shapes us at the deepest level—in how we express ourselves, in what we hold out as beautiful and compelling, in how we try to emotionally connect, in ways abstract and literal, with our friends and muses.

July 22 2014


July 21 2014

Love People, Not Pleasure -

That impulse to fame by everyday people has generated some astonishing innovations. One is the advent of reality television, in which ordinary people become actors in their day-to-day lives for others to watch. Why? “To be noticed, to be wanted, to be loved, to walk into a place and have others care about what you’re doing, even what you had for lunch that day: that’s what people want, in my opinion,”

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