MEK Studios tag:www.mekstudios.com,2013-02-10:/notional/20130210055031443 Critical thinking to start your day.<br>A blog of ideas, thoughts, and concepts for consideration. Copyright (c) 2013 Michael E. Kirkpatrick 2021-06-15T13:07:02-07:00 Michael E. Kirkpatrick http://www.mekstudios.com michael@mekstudios.com Antitrust posturing tag:mekstudios.com,2021-06-15:/2021/06/antitrust-posturing 2021-06-15T13:07:02-07:00 2021-06-15T13:07:02-07:00 Benedict Evans <p>Benedict Evans in his summary on the five proposed tech antitrust bills currently in Congress:</p> <blockquote> <p>&#8230;There&#8217;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.</p> <p>When people in tech say &#8216;you don&#8217;t understand - it&#8217;s complicated&#8217;, 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&#8217;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&#8217;s simple and easy have their fingers in their ears. Unfortunately, those people wrote some of these bills.</p> </blockquote> Fierce Nerds tag:mekstudios.com,2021-05-19:/2021/05/fierce-nerds 2021-05-19T07:20:25-07:00 2021-05-19T07:20:25-07:00 Paul Graham <p>Traits of fierce nerds:</p> <ul> <li>&#8220;They are as a rule extremely competitive&#8230;Competition is more personal for them.&#8221;</li> <li>&#8220;&#8230;tend to be somewhat overconfident&#8230;&#8221;</li> <li>Intelligence</li> <li>Independent-mindedness. &#8220;And the independent-mindedness of the fierce nerds will obviously be of the aggressive rather than the passive type: they&#8217;ll be annoyed by rules, rather than dreamily unaware of them.&#8221;</li> <li>&#8220;I&#8217;m less sure why fierce nerds are impatient, but most seem to be&#8230;in the more promising fierce nerds [impatience is] connected to a deeper impatience about solving problems.</li> </ul> <p>On how to avoid becoming bitter: &#8220;Work on ambitious projects. If you succeed, it will bring you a kind of satisfaction that neutralizes bitterness. But you don&#8217;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&#8217;t, it at least keeps busy.&#8221;</p> 99 Additional Bits of Unsolicited Advice tag:mekstudios.com,2021-05-06:/2021/05/99-additional-bits-of-unsolicited-advice 2021-05-06T18:29:33-07:00 2021-05-06T18:29:33-07:00 Kevin Kelly <p>&#8220;I have another birthday, and another bunch of unsolicited advice.&#8221;</p> <p>Worth the read.</p> Non-Fungible Taylor Swift tag:mekstudios.com,2021-04-19:/2021/04/non-fungible-taylor-swift 2021-04-19T13:27:03-07:00 2021-04-19T13:27:03-07:00 Ben Thompson <blockquote> <p>&#8230; 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.</p> <p>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”.</p> </blockquote> Embrace the Grind tag:mekstudios.com,2021-04-19:/2021/04/embrace-the-grind 2021-04-19T13:13:36-07:00 2021-04-19T13:13:36-07:00 Jacob Kaplan-Moss <p>“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.”</p> 2020 Annual Letter to Shareholders tag:mekstudios.com,2021-04-19:/2021/04/2020-annual-letter-to-shareholders 2021-04-19T12:35:06-07:00 2021-04-19T12:35:06-07:00 Jeff Bezos <p>“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.”</p> Intel’s Disruption is Now Complete tag:mekstudios.com,2020-11-15:/2020/11/intels-disruption-is-now-complete 2020-11-15T08:21:28-08:00 2020-11-15T08:21:28-08:00 James Allworth <blockquote> <p>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.</p> <p>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 <a href="https://www.anandtech.com/show/16226/apple-silicon-m1-a14-deep-dive/4">Anandtech</a>:</p> </blockquote> <p><img src="/images/notional/anandtech-chart.png" style="margin:0 auto; display:block;"></p> <blockquote> <p>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 — <a href="https://hbr.org/1995/01/disruptive-technologies-catching-the-wave">in his very first article on disruptive innovation</a>:</p> </blockquote> <p><img src="/images/notional/christensen-chart.gif" style="margin:0 auto; display:block;"></p> How to Stay Focused If You’re Assigned to Multiple Projects at Once tag:mekstudios.com,2020-10-03:/2020/10/how-to-stay-focused-if-youre-assigned-to-multiple-projects-at-once 2020-10-03T11:55:54-07:00 2020-10-03T11:55:54-07:00 Heidi Gardner; Mark Mortensen <p>Takeaways from an old HBR article:</p> <h2>Prioritize and sequence your work.</h2> <ul> <li>Narrow focus on &#8220;today&#8221; puts us in &#8220;reactive, firefighting mode.&#8221;</li> <li>Have clear milestones and review them regularly with leadership.</li> <li>Identify crunch times to better manage time (mine and the teams) and leadership&#8217;s expectations</li> <li>&#8220;Pick one task and focus on it intensely, rather than juggling.&#8221;</li> <li>&#8220;Decide on a distinct set of must-achieve outcomes, define which actions are necessary to achieve only those results, and ruthlessly stick to them.&#8221;</li> <li>&#8220;If you must multitask, then coordinate and group any compatible duties.&#8221;</li> </ul> <h2>Setting and Communicating Expectations</h2> <blockquote> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Optimizing your Development</h2> <p>&#8220;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.&#8221;</p> Notes on Membership tag:mekstudios.com,2020-09-20:/2020/09/notes-on-membership 2020-09-20T15:15:47-07:00 2020-09-20T15:15:47-07:00 Jay Rosen <blockquote> <p>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. </p> <p>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. </p> <p>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 <a href="https://membershippuzzle.org/about">Membership Puzzle Project</a>.</p> </blockquote> Design Docs at Google tag:mekstudios.com,2020-07-24:/2020/07/design-docs-at-google 2020-07-24T17:13:48-07:00 2020-07-24T17:13:48-07:00 Malte Ubl <blockquote> <p>One of the key elements of Google&#8217;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.</p> <p>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.</p> </blockquote> What comes after Zoom? tag:mekstudios.com,2020-06-30:/2020/06/what-comes-after-zoom 2020-06-30T10:52:31-07:00 2020-06-30T10:52:31-07:00 Benedict Evans <blockquote> <p>An important part of this is that there seem to be few real network effects in a video call per se. You don’t necessarily need an account to join a call, and you generally don’t need an application either, especially on the desktop - you just click on a link in your calendar and the call opens in the browser. Indeed, the calendar is often the aggregation layer - you don’t need to know what service the next call uses, just when it is&#8230;</p> <p>Zoom has done a good job of asking why it was hard to get into a call, but hasn’t really asked why you’re in the call in the first place. Why, exactly, are you sending someone a video stream and watching another one? Why am I looking at a grid of little thumbnails of faces? Is that the purpose of this moment?</p> </blockquote> How Giant Ships are Built tag:mekstudios.com,2020-06-18:/2020/06/how-giant-ships-are-built 2020-06-18T07:32:21-07:00 2020-06-18T07:32:21-07:00 Niraj Chokshi; Christopher Payne <p>Chris Payne, whose work I discovered when he went to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/magazine/inside-one-of-americas-last-pencil-factories.html">General Pencil</a>, one of America&#8217;s last pencil factories, has just had his work come out on another American industry here in San Diego; shipbuilding. Chris photographed the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) here in San Diego, including a new container and vehicle ship, the Matsonia for Matson which will soon be hauling cargo from the US mainland to Hawaii.</p> <p>For more of Chris&#8217; work, see his <a href="http://www.chrispaynephoto.com">excellent web portfolio</a>.</p> Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule tag:mekstudios.com,2020-06-11:/2020/06/makers-schedule-managers-schedul 2020-06-11T16:38:58-07:00 2020-06-11T16:38:58-07:00 Paul Graham <p>An old essay, from July 2009, that still resonates well.</p> <blockquote> <p>I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there&#8217;s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I&#8217;m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning. I know this may sound oversensitive, but if you&#8217;re a maker, think of your own case. Don&#8217;t your spirits rise at the thought of having an entire day free to work, with no appointments at all? Well, that means your spirits are correspondingly depressed when you don&#8217;t. And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.</p> </blockquote> COVID-19 in San Diego tag:mekstudios.com,2020-06-07:/2020/06/covid-19-in-san-diego 2020-06-07T12:01:39-07:00 2020-06-07T12:01:39-07:00 Michael E. Kirkpatrick <p>The world around us doesn&#8217;t always make sense. The world around me today doesn&#8217;t make sense.</p> <p>It doesn&#8217;t make sense to me that our leaders in San Diego are lifting restrictions and allowing people to gather in restaurants and on the beach. Soon, San Diegan&#8217;s will be able to gather in <a href="https://www.countynewscenter.com/beach-parking-lots-can-reopen-tuesday/">gyms, hotels, bars, wineries, day camps, bowling alleys, and more</a>.</p> <p>Why?</p> <p>I understand economic pressure and business pressure. I understand political pressure. I understand the desire to see other people.</p> <p>In San Diego county, <a href="https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/status.html">8,345 people</a> have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Of those, <a href="https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/status.html">296 people</a> have died.</p> <p>3.5% of people who have contracted this disease have died.</p> <p>Do we, as a community, believe this is acceptable?</p> <p>Most of those who have died, 140, are <a href="https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/Epidemiology/COVID-19%20Deaths%20by%20Demographics.pdf">over the age of 80</a>. Those are parents, grandparents, and loved ones.</p> <p>I want to see my parents. I want to see my family. I want to see my grandmother.</p> <p>Today, seeing my family potentially puts them at risk because I could potentially transmit the virus to them. Yes, I can, and plan to, <a href="https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/community_epidemiology/dc/2019-nCoV/testing.html">get tested</a>. We all should commit to getting tested regularly to better understand how this virus is propagating through our community and stop its spread when and where it&#8217;s found.</p> <p>For the past 47 days &#8212; since April 20th &#8212; San Diego county has averaged 128 new COVID-19 cases per day.</p> <p>Every day.</p> <p>And the rate of new cases has been remarkably steady.</p> <p>As of today, 1 in every 400 San Diegan&#8217;s has contracted COVID-19.<sup>1</sup></p> <p>This is a disease that doesn&#8217;t discriminate. Of the 296 deaths, 124 of them are from Hispanic or Latino communities, 123 deaths are from White communities, 29 are from Asian communities, and 8 are from Black communities.<sup>2</sup></p> <p>We aren&#8217;t alone. While San Diego has seen a 25% increase in cases over the past two weeks, the State of California has seen a 36% increase in cases over the same period.<sup>3</sup></p> <p>Of the 50 states in our union, 23 states are seeing a decrease in the number of cases in their state over the past two weeks. Why isn&#8217;t California leading the way?<sup>4</sup></p> <h2>Please</h2> <ul> <li>Wear a mask anytime you are out of your house &#8212; walking, shopping, and when you&#8217;re out of your house. </li> <li>Get tested. Call 2-1-1 and get tested for free at a County testing center.</li> </ul> <h2>County Leaders</h2> <p>Please advertise on billboards, online, on the radio, on television, on your Twitter accounts, and anywhere you can that San Diegan&#8217;s should wear masks anytime they&#8217;re not at home and that they should get tested.</p> <p>Please lead by example. Wear a mask at your press conferences, in your videos, photos, and in public.</p> <p>Please consider reimposing restrictions on activity in the County. </p> <p>We know what it takes to reduce the spread of this virus. Let&#8217;s reduce the spread of COVID-19. A steady rate of new cases for the past 47 days should be a striking indicator that the County is not ready to &#8220;reopen&#8221;.</p> <h2>References</h2> <ol> <li>The US Census Bureau estimates the population of San Diego county as 3,338,330. With 8,345 cases in San Diego, that&#8217;s 0.25% of the population, or 1/400.</li> <li>See the San Diego County <a href="https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/dam/sdc/hhsa/programs/phs/Epidemiology/COVID-19%20Deaths%20by%20Demographics.pdf">COVID-19 Deaths by Demographics</a></li> <li>In San Diego county, there were 8,345 cases reported as of June 5th. 14 days prior, on May 23rd, 6,701 cases were reported. In the State of California, 128,137 cases were reported as of June 6th, with 93,883 cases reported as of May 24th.</li> <li>See the table titled &#8220;How is My State Doing on Key Measures?&#8221; from <a href="https://www.covidexitstrategy.org">CovidExitStrategy.org</a>.</li> </ol>