Over on GAMESbrief, where I blog about the business of games, I have just published a list of the things I read that I found interesting in October. Not all of them were about games. These are the ones that I think will be of interest to my more general readers.
Economics and Management
- Anthropologist David Graeber writes a compelling and scathing account of why capitalism creates pointless jobs (Evonomics). John Maynard Keynes would be surprised at how hard we work in the twenty-first century, given the massive improvements in standard of living. I continue to think that this is a very real problem that will only get worse as the “productive” jobs get handed over to robots and technology. Will we as a society adapt by choosing to work less, or will we continue to work harder and harder driven by a masochistic sense that work (as defined by our capitalist system) is inherently good.
- Memo to Jeff Bezos: Stack-Ranking is a Destructive Employee Practice: Excellent piece on the destructive nature of competition-focused management styles. Based on seminal work involving chickens (spoiler: none of the hyper-competitive chickens survived: as they fought their way up the pecking order, they literally pecked each other to death.)
- Why Tim Cook is Steve Ballmer and why he still as his job at Apple by the marvellous Steve Blank. If you followed the link to Xbox One: A flawed plan, well executed above, this will seem eerily familiar. In essence, the skills of being a visionary entrepreneur and being an excellent (“world-beating”) COO or salesman are very different. The difference between Lean-style execution and operating a large corporate are so wide that few people who are good at corporate can step up to Lean (and vice versa). Steve sets out his case against Apple clearly and compellingly.
We are living through one of the most startling demographic shifts in history.
Ad Contrarian reports, using a Business Insider chart, that in 1950, there were 3x as many under 5s as there were over-65s. By 2050, there will be 2x as many oldies (over 65) as young-uns (under 5).
Probability is misleading and, as so often is the case, Tim Harford has explained it brilliantly.
He imagines a test for a disease that is 75% accurate, meaning it correctly identifies infected people 75% of the time, but incorrectly returns a false positive on uninfected people 25 . He tests 100 people, 4 of whom are infected. Continue Reading
This community update from Facebook just drives home Zuckerberg’s remarkable achievement.
This amazing talk from NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway covers how Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google are dominating the world. It particularly focuses on the consequences for the users, and is full of amazing soundbites as well as predictions on how each of the 4 companies could become the first $1 trillion company in history.
Are you familiar with The Archers?
It’s one of the longest running soap operas in Britain, a radio show set in rural Ambridge. While its storylines are often bucolic, it is currently running a story about Helen, who is suffering coercive and physical abuse at the hands of her husband, Rob.
It has led real life sufferers of coercive abuse such as Helen Walmsley-Johnson to write about her experiences.
It’s not often a how-to post makes me laugh out loud.
Over on Medium, David Barnes made some great points about why we should all seek to emulate Steve Ballmer, ex CEO of Microsoft, rather than Steve Jobs, late founder and CEO of Apple.
Starting with the fact that most of us are unlikely to be successful genius entrepreneurs who launched our first wildly successful business in our 20s.
Musician Nate Maingard hit a milestone today.
Since he announced his Patreon campaign in April 2014, he has received $20,000. Patrons currently give him $1,700 a month. Which is not exactly riches, but compared to the uncertainty that many artists face, it is a great start.
In a blog post today, Nate says, “Since joining Patreon I have written 16 songs, made many youtube music videos, started vlogging (video blogging), played a bunch of intimate house concerts, mentored other indie creatives, become a part of The Lyrical Nomads Collective and have even guest lectured at creative colleges in London and Amsterdam!”
Do you know your pornstar name?
For as long as the Internet has been a mainstream thing, there have been a steady stream of quizzes or websites that let you identify the name of your porn alter-ego.
The first one I remember is “the name of your first pet” + “your mother’s maiden name”.
I tried it out in my head. It’s pretty good. It made me laugh. I’m not going to share it with you. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
Boris Johnson has followed in the footsteps of a long line of politicians writing political biographies. Johnson chose Churchill, not because Churchill needs another biography – or even a hagiography – but because Johnson is desperate to cast himself as Churchill’s spiritual heir as he positions himself for Tory party leadership (which, by the vagaries of the British constitution, would also make him Prime Minister.)