David Craddock, Where in North Dakota is Carmen Sandiego?, The Video Game History Foundation (2020-03-08). Research entailed more than making up clues. Lock tackled Government, which meant that if a case led students to Bismarck, the state capitol, she was in charge of devising reasons for the pranksters to be there. Other trivia could be so obscure—such as “gandy dancer,” slang for railroad workers and a term very likely to be unheard of to the game’s target audience—that accompanying history texts, assembled by the committee for inclusion with the game, were practically mandatory. Landsleedle and other teachers had accumulated a wealth of information on North Dakota, but had made most of it themselves. North Dakota was such a small state that even book publishers steered clear of it, certain that publications on the region would lose money.
Sophie Gilbert, Marc Maron’s End-of-the-World Anxiety, The Atlantic (2020-03-12). As Maron cycles through snake-oil salesmen and the Fox News bubble and the discomfiting “dovetailing of late-stage capitalism and Christian end-times prophecy,” he seems to touch on a timely insight. The most natural instinct of humankind is to want something to believe in. Whether that’s the second coming of Christ, the affirmation of asanas, or even just the momentary self-definition that comes with posting a picture on Instagram, the desire is the same: to feel like more than an aberration, more than a squishable bug on a giant shoe. Maron knows this better than most. He’s the rare star who found real fame in his 50s, after an early career defined by bit parts and failed auditions and canceled radio shows.
Tyler Cowen, Don’t Worry. America’s Response to the Coronavirus Will Improve., Bloomberg (2020-03-09). To be clear, Americans cannot count on any of these responses to be automatic. And it is still essential for the president and other leaders to send the right signals. Nonetheless, it is too early to write off the U.S. response as pathetic; being a laggard is an old and dangerous American tradition. It is past time, however, to flip the switch and get moving.
Sergio Pistoi, DNA Is Not a Blueprint, Scientific American (2020-02-06). DNA is not a blueprint: it’s a recipe coding for thousands of different proteins that interact with each other and with the environment, just like the ingredients of a cake in an oven. Whereas a blueprint is an exact, drawn-to-scale copy of the final product, a recipe is just a loose plot that leaves much more room to uncertainty. Open a packet of cookies: each one was made from the same recipe and baked in the same conditions, but there are no two that are identical.
Ben Swire, How a Kid's Perspective Improves Design Research, Ideo Blog (2020-01-16). Our project teams grab Quinn for their brainstorms because she listens to the problem and tries to solve it. She doesn’t think about financial viability or the laws of physics—she just thinks. Eventually, it's our job to add those things back in, but in the divergent phase of a project, she's a superstar.
Although she's prone to insert dinosaurs and robots into her concepts, she cuts to the core of an issue and simplifies the needs behind it in a way that can inspire us to develop a dinosaur-free solution.
Giovanni Russonello, Overlooked No More: Valaida Snow, Charismatic ‘Queen of the Trumpet’, The New York Times (2020-02-12). And she often graced the movie screen, helping to bring black music from the vaudeville stage into the audiovisual age. African-American newspapers and the international press celebrated Snow both for her immense skill and for her novelty as a female trumpet master. She encouraged that coverage and bent it to her ends, telling tall tales and making her interviews as much a performance as her stage act.
David Lerner Schwartz, How Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Continues to Show Up in Literary Fiction, Literary Hub (2020-03-05). Stories are tools to shape life, providing structure from otherwise chaos. The difference between our lives and narrative is a beginning, middle, and end. I like to think books built for interactivity are less about the linearity of story and more about the power of the cyclical. They prime us to pay attention to interconnection, the possibilities that could be, should be, won’t be depending on factors pre-decided by the author and also chosen by the reader in the moment. Retrospection, too, can be narrative, a looking back at the aggregate. A realization of quantity, a comparison of quality. A gradient instead of a line.
Kate Klonick, What Artificial Intelligence Is Not, BLARB (2020-02-22). Philosophers, ethicists, technologists, and people with blogs have devoted a lot of energy and time to fearing or not-fearing the singularity. The singularity might never happen. Or it might. But if you are in a sinking ship and taking on water, it might be better to spend your time on pumping, fixing holes, and finding lifeboats than worrying about a pirate attack. So too is it perhaps more prudent to spend time on the urgent and knowable problems of AI than those imagined ones that might not ever come to be.
Tracy Mayor, 6 career hacks from Apple VP Kate Bergeron, Ideas Made to Matter (2019-03-14). That said, she tells aspiring managers on her team that they need to be able to let go of a personal sense of ownership on projects. “If it's all about you, stay an engineer. You solved a hard problem. You can take that personal level of satisfaction when the product ships.” Managers, on the other hand, need to be able to draw true satisfaction from the success of others.
Matthew Cobb, Why Your Brian Is Not a Computer, The Guardian (2020-02-27). One sign that our metaphors may be losing their explanatory power is the widespread assumption that much of what nervous systems do, from simple systems right up to the appearance of consciousness in humans, can only be explained as emergent properties – things that you cannot predict from an analysis of the components, but which emerge as the system functions.
Mark Manson, 10 Important Lessons We Learned from the 2010s, markmanson.net (2019-12-29). The television age trained us to be docile and receptive. “Show me the shiny funny things, oh, glorious fun box.” But the internet requires us to be active participants in our own consumption. Taking responsibility for that consumption—and managing ourselves when we over-indulge on that consumption—is a difficult and never-ending task.
Seth Godin, Quality and effort, Seth's Blog (2018-11-01). We ignore checklists and processes because we've been taught that they’re beneath us.
Instead of reacting to an error with, "I need to be more careful," we can respond with, "I can build a better system."
If it matters enough to be careful, it matters enough to build a system around it.
Shane Parrish, How Not to Be Stupid, Farnam Street (2020-01-02). By the way, if you're in any field and you want to find ways to innovate, focus on words that are commonly used and try to define them simply.
It took me about a month, and I defined stupidity as overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information. Right? It's crucial information, like you better pay attention to it. It's conspicuous, like it's right in front of your nose and yet you either overlook it or you dismiss it.
Natasha Frost, What do Boeing CEO's Dennis Muilenberg's apologies actually mean?, Quartz (2019-10-31). Right now, Boeing's apologies appear to be more focused on rebuilding the relationship with customers than on actually fixing the problem or offering an explanation. It's not surprising if they thus ring a little hollow—especially since the company's attempts to fix the problem appear to be being done at the behest of the FAA, rather than its own leadership.
Lindsey Andrews, YAGNI – You Aren’t Going To Need It: Too Much Data is a Bad Thing, SensrTrx Blog (2019-10-24). When applied to manufacturing data, YAGNI explains the importance of collecting data that can provide valuable insights and actionable decisions. Many companies collect anything and everything because “you never know what you might find”, which is the wrong way to look at data collection.
Rob Kilner, Lunchtime Loafer, The Idler (2018-09-03). In the early days of my lunch-hour excursions, I would walk for half-an-hour before turning back, to see how far I could get. I plotted a circular lunchtime range on a map, which revealed an area the size of a small country (the Polynesian Island nation of Tuvalu) at my disposal.
And the lunch hours add up. Twelve months of them equate to around two weeks of free time.
Jessica Cohen, Local News Deserts and Rainmakers, Utne Reader (2019-04-01). Napoli’s 2018 study then found that 20 out of 100 randomly sampled U.S. communities had no local news, and eight had no articles addressing critical information needs in the seven days that news stories were analyzed. As online news and ads divert subscription and ad revenue from newspapers, many have limited resources for local reporting and rely on state and national wire stories — or papers collapse and close.
“What’s scary is what people don’t know they don’t know,” said Napoli.