Antitrust posturing →

Benedict Evans · ·

Benedict Evans in his summary on the five proposed tech antitrust bills currently in Congress:

…There’s no question that there are business practices all over large tech companies that are bad for competition and should be regulated. This is all coming. However, there are also business practices that are bad for individual competitors but good for the consumer and often indeed good for broader competition. And more fundamentally, there are many decisions that are deeply bound up in trade-offs between the product, privacy, competition, ease of use, profitability, innovation, portability and many other things. If you want to solve the problems, you need to understand why they exist and accept that there will be complexity.

When people in tech say ‘you don’t understand - it’s complicated’, a common and easy reaction is to think that this is special pleading - a claim that somehow the law should not apply to tech. But in fact, it’s the exact opposite - this is a plea that tech policy has the same complexity and trade-offs as any other field of policy. We would all understand that you cannot solve car safety or traffic congestion with a five page bill, and that breaking up GM would solve about two of the fifty reasons we worry about cars. We understand that education policy, energy policy or healthcare policy are complicated and full of trade-offs, and that the only people who think it’s simple and easy have their fingers in their ears. Unfortunately, those people wrote some of these bills.

Fierce Nerds →

Paul Graham · ·

Traits of fierce nerds:

  • “They are as a rule extremely competitive…Competition is more personal for them.”
  • “…tend to be somewhat overconfident…”
  • Intelligence
  • Independent-mindedness. “And the independent-mindedness of the fierce nerds will obviously be of the aggressive rather than the passive type: they’ll be annoyed by rules, rather than dreamily unaware of them.”
  • “I’m less sure why fierce nerds are impatient, but most seem to be…in the more promising fierce nerds [impatience is] connected to a deeper impatience about solving problems.

On how to avoid becoming bitter: “Work on ambitious projects. If you succeed, it will bring you a kind of satisfaction that neutralizes bitterness. But you don’t need to have succeeded to feel this; merely working on hard projects gives most fierce nerds some feeling of satisfaction. And those it doesn’t, it at least keeps busy.”

“I have another birthday, and another bunch of unsolicited advice.”

Worth the read.

… It’s not that “art is important and rare”, and thus valuable, but rather that the artists themselves are important and rare, and impute value on whatever they wish.

To put it another way, while we used to pay for plastic discs and thought we were paying for songs (or newspapers/writing or cable/TV stars), empowering distribution over creators, today we pay with both money and attention according to the direction of creators, giving them power over everyone. If the creator decides that their NFTs are important, they will have value; if they decide their show is worthless, it will not. And, in the case of Swift, if she decides that albums are valuable they will be, not because they are now scarce, but because only she can declare an album “Taylor’s Version”.

Embrace the Grind →

Jacob Kaplan-Moss · ·

“The only ‘trick’ is that this preparation seems so boring, so impossibly tedious, that when we see the effect we can’t imagine that anyone would do something so tedious just for this simple effect.”

“If you want to be successful in business (in life, actually), you have to create more than you consume. Your goal should be to create value for everyone you interact with. Any business that doesn’t create value for those it touches, even if it appears successful on the surface, isn’t long for this world. It’s on the way out.”

Yesterday, Apple announced the first Macs that will run on silicon that they themselves designed. No longer will Intel be inside. It’s the first change in the architecture of the CPU that the Mac runs on since… well, 2005, when they switched to Intel.

There’s a lot of great coverage of the new chips, but one piece of analysis in particular stood out to me — this chart over at Anandtech:

What about this chart is interesting? Well, it turns out, it bears a striking resemblance to one drawn before — actually, 25 years ago. Take a look at this chart drawn by Clayton Christensen, back in 1995 — in his very first article on disruptive innovation:

Takeaways from an old HBR article:

Prioritize and sequence your work.

  • Narrow focus on “today” puts us in “reactive, firefighting mode.”
  • Have clear milestones and review them regularly with leadership.
  • Identify crunch times to better manage time (mine and the teams) and leadership’s expectations
  • “Pick one task and focus on it intensely, rather than juggling.”
  • “Decide on a distinct set of must-achieve outcomes, define which actions are necessary to achieve only those results, and ruthlessly stick to them.”
  • “If you must multitask, then coordinate and group any compatible duties.”

Setting and Communicating Expectations

Document and communicate progress. Seeing momentum helps your team leaders feel empowered and in control. Be up front when problems arise. The earlier you say, “I’ve got a conflict and might have trouble delivering 100%,” the more leaders will trust you.

Optimizing your Development

“Under time pressure, the temptation is for each person to contribute where they already have deep knowledge, rather than investing in members’ learning and growth. You need to own your development goals and your progress toward them.”

Notes on Membership →

Jay Rosen · PressThink · ·

When you can’t receive the product unless you pay your share of the costs for producing it, that’s subscription. It is not a subsidy system, but an alternative to subsidy: direct payment. The good news is that everyone knows who the “customer” is: anyone who values the product enough to pay for it. The bad news: a lot of the public is left out, including those who cannot afford to subscribe. And there are costs that have nothing to do with producing good journalism: Marketing expense, and subscriber “churn,” for example.

For anyone attracted to journalism by the opportunity to inform the public as a whole — the nation, the province, the town — subscription-only models are a problem. Which is not to say they are a “bad” solution. In practice, most subscription models are combined with advertising and other revenue sources to lower the price and make the product more affordable. And remember: there is no perfect answer.

With membership, the logic is different. Locate your strongest supporters and learn how to appeal to them for support. This is how I would define membership after three years of work as director of the Membership Puzzle Project.

One of the key elements of Google’s software engineering culture is the use of defining software designs through design docs. These are relatively informal documents that the primary author or authors of a software system or application create before they embark on the coding project. The design doc documents the high level implementation strategy and key design decisions with emphasis on the trade-offs that were considered during those decisions.

As software engineers our job is not to produce code per se, but rather to solve problems. Unstructured text, like in the form of a design doc, may be the better tool for solving problems early in a project lifecycle, as it may be more concise and easier to comprehend, and communicates the problems and solutions at a higher level than code.

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