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Unhealthy growth

We seem to have a growing awareness that unbridled growth is not healthy. 

Signal v. Noise: Exponential growth devours and corrupts, 2017-Feb-27 by David H. Hansson

As Douglas Rushkoff says, we need a new operating system for startups. The current one will keep producing the same extractive and monopolistic empires we’ve gotten so far. No, what we need is a new crop of companies that are institutionally comfortable with leaving money on the table. Leaving growth on the table. Leaving some conveniences and some progress on the board, in order to lead the world into a better direction.

The solution isn’t simple, but we’re in dire need of a strong counter culture, some mass infusion of the 1960s spirit. To offer realistic, ethical alternatives to the exponential growth logic. Ones that’ll benefit not just a gilded few, but all of us. The future literally depends on it.

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We gotta find better ways to decide public policy. Maybe this will help...

The fact that polling is broken and easy answers are so infernally popular has me looking for ways to improve decision making. Maybe this will help...

Nature: A solution to the single-question crowd wisdom problem, 2017-Jan-26, by Drazen Prelec, H. Sebastian Seung, and John McCoy

Here we propose the following alternative to a democratic vote: select the answer that is more popular than people predict. We show that this principle yields the best answer under reasonable assumptions about voter behaviour, while the standard ‘most popular’ or ‘most confident’ principles fail under exactly those same assumptions. Like traditional voting, the principle accepts unique problems, such as panel decisions about scientific or artistic merit, and legal or historical disputes. The potential application domain is thus broader than that covered by machine learning and psychometric methods, which require data across multiple questions. 

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We don't realize how much we're all used to getting along without facts...

So here's another reason why facts don't change our mind... We're used to getting along without them. 

New Yorker: Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds, 2017-Feb-27 by Elizabeth Kolbert

When it comes to new technologies, incomplete understanding is empowering.

Where it gets us into trouble, according to Sloman and Fernbach, is in the political domain. It’s one thing for me to flush a toilet without knowing how it operates, and another for me to favor (or oppose) an immigration ban without knowing what I’m talking about.

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Communicate your value proposition with a 'solution reflex'

The 'solution reflex' is a cool tool for any business person who frequently has to introduce their business model. 

Steady CRM:

  • Problem: Businesses lose track of their customers.
  • Solution: Loyalty and/or communications programs that systematically touch customers.
  • Market: Medium-sized companies that are outgrowing their original systems.
  • Business model: Installation and support of customer relationship management tools and processes. 

Not great but it's a start. 

VentureBeat: Your Business Summary is in the Wrong Order, 2016-Nov-13 by Dave Bailey

An effective summary answers questions in four ordered categories; Problem, Solution, Market and Business Model. I’ve used this approach to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding from angel investors and VCs. It works really well.

Starting with the problem grounds your business real-world context. It presents your business as purposeful, urgent, and user-centered. But something else happens when you tell someone a problem. It triggers a “solution reflex”: When people identify with problems, they instinctively want a solution. Activating the solution reflex is a powerful way to hold someone’s attention.

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The truth we can't find

To some extent, I think the rise of 'fake news' or propaganda, or whatever it is, relates to our inability to handle uncertainty. We hear something we don't want to believe, we worry it may be true, then we look for disproof. When we see something we like, we decide that must be true. 

We are too ready and willing to stop searching. Real truth is an evolving reality. We have to be searching constantly, scanning  in places we haven't look before. 

Points: The Inescapability of Uncertainty: AI, Uncertainty, and Why You Should Vote No Matter What Predictions Say, 2016-Oct-31 by Jennifer Wortman Vaughan and Hannah Wallach

Rather than conceal the assumptions and uncertainty in their predictions, AI systems should enable users to understand the roots of this uncertainty and provide them with ways to reason about it more effectively. Longer term, this is an education issue. We need to acknowledge that uncertainty is here to stay and equip future generations to embrace it. In the mean time, though, remember that regardless of how precisely stated, there are hidden assumptions behind every prediction.

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Navigating the stream: the challenge of communicating context

We can't combat clickbait and fake news without understanding why they arose and which of our behaviors feed them. In fact, if we want to have any control of ourselves in the stream, we have to understand how to navigate the newsfeed. I've always been very careful to identify my sources, but communicating context is a new challenge for me. 

How We Get to Next: The Schedule and the Stream, 2017-Jan-27 by Matt Locke

The feed massively increased the visibility of your network on Facebook, and helped raise the profile of stories that were being shared by millions of people in real time. But this came with a cost: These stories were stripped of their original context. If the organizing principle of the broadcast schedule was synchronization — millions seeing the same thing at the same time — then the organizing principle of the stream is de-contextualization — stories stripped of their original context, and organized into millions of individual, highly personalized streams.

Ten years in, we can see the effects. A culture built around the stream is more open and accessible than one built around the schedule, but stories are atomized, which encourages a spectrum of negative effects from clickbait headlines and fake news to trolling. ...

Most importantly, we need to look at our own behavior within the stream. As it’s a performative, oral space, the way we speak, share, and circulate stories has a huge affect on how the stream works as a public space. We need to support behaviors that make context more visible in the stream, like identifying the original creators of content, or identifying the original context of stories before we share them.

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Finding the best clients by cultivating conversations about our processes

Alex Mather points out that moving away from supplying a commodity means finding and nurturing relationships with people who are interested in creating unique and powerful work. Those people will expect a journey and not a product. 

Red Lemon Club: How to Survive the Biggest Creative Job Decline of All Time, 2017-Feb-1 by Alex Mathers

Meaningful art and design that makes an impact on its users is growing and vital, and relies on ‘expert practitioners’ who understand process to carry it out well with their clients.

But at the other end, commodity products and cheaper labour allow others to get a vital start on projects and businesses that can eventually develop into ones that do rely on more focused design expertise.

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