Good Friday Reading #16

Obviously all my Friday Reading posts are good but this one is extra good for religious reasons i.e. a day off work. As well as the fact this Friday is a bank holiday it is also two weeks since I did a Friday Reading post due to a pesky bout of illness so it really will be extra good. This weeks roundup features Bruce Sterling, government innovation, Edward Tufte, data darwinism, spying on employees, decision making psychology, Douglas Rushkoff and the crushing reality of following your dreams. Enjoy.


“Disrupters don’t just play and experiment. They kill”

And then there’s this empty pretense that these innovations make the world better. This is a dangerous word, like, ‘If we’re not making the world better, then why are we doing this at all?’. Now, I don’t want to claim that this attitude is hypocritical, because when you say a thing like that at South By – ‘Oh, we’re here to make the world better’ – you haven’t even reached the level of hypocrisy. You’re stuck at the level of childish naivety.


In depth: government support for innovation must be less timid

When Jaggeree’s Christopher Thorpe applied for funding through an additive manufacturing programme, he found that filling out the forms was more hassle than just working on a prototype and releasing it on Kickstarter. He said: “R&D is about finding out what you don’t know, testing hypotheses. The grant forms suggested you had to know all the answers up front and be able to cost the work. I’ve written successful scientific research grants before and I’ve never seen anything like it. We just gave up on them.”


Edward Tufte: The AdAgeStat Q&A

AdAgeStat: Can visualizations make it easier for journalists/pundits/advertisers, etc. to “lie with numbers?”

Mr. Tufte: No, lying comes from the producer of the content, not the mode of production. Also highly produced visualizations look like marketing, movie trailers, and video games and so have little inherent credibility for already skeptical viewers, who have learned by their bruising experiences in the marketplace about the discrepancy between ads and reality


Uber, Data Darwinism and the future of work

At present we rank photos, rate restaurants, like or dislike brands, retweet things we love. But if this idea of collaborative consumption takes hold — and I have no reason to think it won’t — we will be building a quantified society. We will be ranking real humans. The freelance workers — like the Uber drivers and Postmates couriers — are getting quantified. The best ones will continue to do well, but what about the others, the victims of this data darwinism? Do they have any protection or any rights?


You Won’t Believe How Adorable This Kitty Is! Click for More!

“Check out these kitties! :-)” read emails featuring the photo of a Turkish Angora cat with a purple mohawk, sent to nearly two million cubicle dwellers so far. It includes an attachment or link promising more feline photos. Those who click get a surprise: stern warnings from their tech departments.


In the wild: Rory Sutherland

The problem we all face is “The physical fallacy”. All of us, even those the social sciences, have an innate bias where we are happier fixing problems with stuff, rather than with psychological solutions – building faster trains rather than putting wifi on existing trains, to use my oft cited example. But as Benjamin Franklin (no mean decision scientist himself) remarked “There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means – either may do. The result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier.”


For Douglas Rushkoff the future is now — and that’s the problem

I have been doing talks at high schools and colleges about Facebook, and over the past few months when I talk to them about Facebook, the vast majority says it’s not where they put their attention now. I’ve asked for a show of hands three or four times now, and the majority say that Facebook is for older people – that it’s “too slow” and too “permanent.”


Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life

Before you get started, though, you need to find the one interest or activity that truly fulfills you in ways nothing else can. Then, really immerse yourself in it for a few fleeting moments after an exhausting 10-hour day at a desk job and an excruciating 65-minute commute home. During nights when all you really want to do is lie down and shut your eyes for a few precious hours before you have to drag yourself out of bed for work the next morning, or on weekends when your friends want to hang out and you’re dying to just lie on your couch and watch TV because you’re too fatigued to even think straight—these are the times when you need to do what you enjoy most in life.


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