The Most Interesting (not only) Tech Reads in April 2023
Kara Swisher, Pelagius, The Economist, Djikstra, the essay of the year (Everything is a Practice, doubt something could beat that) and more…
‘On With Kara Swisher’: Sam Altman on the GPT-4 Revolution
- Podcast with the head of OpenAI, but the most memorable is Kara’s view on risk and a generational take. Altman is another young optimist, similar to what we have seen with the coming of the internet in the 90s, and there were many downsides (weaponization) that they were not treating properly. Not that Altman does not say — we wanted this to be a government project and it failed or that he is not ‘building in public’ to make everyone every (and others join) or that he is pro-regulatory. His view of humanity as one big technical revolution should be mitigated by reading some of Timothy Snyder’s books.
Baggage On Georgia
- Great podcast about Georgia and it’s bleak future with the surreal visit of the musem of Stalin.
n one sense, the war did not really begin in 2022. It did not even begin in Ukraine. It started the first time Vladimir Putin invaded one of Russia’s neighbours and got away with it. That was 15 years ago, in Georgia. And in the same place Joseph Stalin, author of the Soviet empire’s darkest chapter, was born.
How will AI transform childhood? — Marginal REVOLUTION
- There is a general idea that digital technogy gets us information and makes us stupid, or at least intellectually weaker. I am a strong believer of a modular approach; the “devices” should be first and foremost “removables” before they become anything else and we should be able to peacefully walk and contemplate life without any need to get satisfaction via “digital assistant”. Of course, also this idea has stupid at the edge (how autonomy do want, there are people living a happy life absolutely disconnected, but does that scale?). In any case, sure, AI for kids, but not if that makes him a stupid addict.
Many parents may be reluctant to let their kids become attached to an AI. But I predict that most families will welcome it. For one, parents will be able to turn off the connection whenever they wish. Simply clicking a button is easier than yanking an iPad out of a kid’s grasp.Most of all, letting your kid have an AI companion will bring big advantages. Your child will learn to read and write much faster and better, and will do better in school. Or maybe you want your kid to master Spanish or Chinese, but you can’t afford an expensive tutor who comes only twice a week. Do you want your child to learn how to read music? The AI services will be as limited or as expansive as you want them to be.It is an open question how quickly schools will embrace these new methods of learning. At some point, however, they will become part of the curriculum. Competitive pressures will make parents reluctant to withhold AI from their kids. Even if the AIs are not present in the classroom, some kids will use them to help do their homework, gaining a big advantage, and the practice will likely spread.Of course children will use these AIs for purposes far beyond what their parents intend. They will become playthings, companions, entertainers and much more. When I was a kid, with no internet and mediocre TV, I created imaginary worlds in the dirt, or with simple household items, and my parents often had no clue. The AI services will become part of this model of spontaneous play, even if parents try to make them purely educational.What about teenagers? Well, many parents may allow their kids to speak with AI therapists. It might be better than nothing, and perhaps better than many human therapists.
E.W.Dijkstra Archive: The Humble Programmer (EWD 340)
- I always looked at this with admiration of both style and insight
Now for the fifth argument. It has to do with the influence of the tool we are trying to use upon our own thinking habits. I observe a cultural tradition, which in all probability has its roots in the Renaissance, to ignore this influence, to regard the human mind as the supreme and autonomous master of its artefacts. But if I start to analyse the thinking habits of myself and of my fellow human beings, I come, whether I like it or not, to a completely different conclusion, viz. that the tools we are trying to use and the language or notation we are using to express or record our thoughts, are the major factors determining what we can think or express at all! The analysis of the influence that programming languages have on the thinking habits of its users, and the recognition that, by now, brainpower is by far our scarcest resource, they together give us a new collection of yardsticks for comparing the relative merits of various programming languages. The competent programmer is fully aware of the strictly
The Microsoft Copilot future of work demo is incredible
- The surveillance mode of AI is to be analyzed as well, it is a big sociological theme at least since Foucault has focused on it with passion.
The Microsoft Copilot “future of work” demo is incredible. Your boss will soon be able to ask their Copilot to create a summary of who does the least work on average and have their termination letter already drafted in Outlook.This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Managers often have to make subjective evaluations of workers with imperfect information. Soon, you can instead just ask Co-pilot to analyze the meeting transcripts in the knowledge graph and rank who make the most insightful contributions.From the reply: ust the world we wanted. Sounds great.The tech industry and USA libertarian intellectual class has failed us by their lack of humanity. From the reply: ust the world we wanted. Sounds great.
How to Learn and Teach Economics with Large Language Models, Including GPT by Tyler Cowen, Alexander T. Tabarrok :: SSRN
- Even though teachers are not going to be “replaced” easily, next to science is pedagogy/training one of the main advertised usecases,
Pinker on Alignment and Intelligence as a Magical Potion
- A quite interesting, including a noteworth constructivist/sociological take on the concept of IQ
While I defend the existence and utility of IQ and its principal component, general intelligence or g, in the study of individual differences, I think it’s completely irrelevant to AI, AI scaling, and [existential risk from AI]. It’s a measure of differences among humans within the restricted range they occupy, developed more than a century ago. It’s a statistical construct with no theoretical foundation, and it has tenuous connections to any mechanistic understanding of cognition other than as an omnibus measure of processing efficiency (speed of neural transmission, amount of neural tissue, and so on). It exists as a coherent variable only because performance scores on subtests like vocabulary, digit string memorization, and factual knowledge intercorrelate, yielding a statistical principal component, probably a global measure of neural fitness.In that regard, it’s like a Consumer Reports global rating of cars, or overall score in the pentathlon. It would not be surprising that a car with a more powerful engine also had a better suspension and sound system, or that better swimmers are also, on average, better fencers and shooters. But this tells us precisely nothing about how engines or human bodies work. And imagining an extrapolation to a supervehicle or a superathlete is an exercise in fantasy but not a means to develop new technologies.
Anki-fy Your Life — by Moses Liew — About to Learn
- My bet is that with the arrival of AI is amplifying the divide of those who remember and those who don’t.
If you store this content in your long-term memory, it also allows your brain to subconsciously make connections and solve problems with the knowledge.There’s also a great argument for using Anki to understand hard concepts, especially in research papers. That’s a slightly different process, involving multiple re-reads and building up a knowledge from very basic questions about the concepts.
State diagram — Wikipedia
- Learning about Circles and Arrows as Shannon’s way to think visualizing computation already in 1949; learning about state machines and state diagrams.
State diagrams can be used to graphically represent finite-state machines (also called finite automata). This was introduced by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in their 1949 book The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Another source is Taylor Booth in his 1967 book Sequential Machines and Automata Theory. Another possible representation is the state-transition table.
The philosopher: A conversation with Grady Booch
- Saving this conversation only because it’s done by the creator of UML, which was a big deal in the 1990s and Uncle Bob talks with him a great deal and I’ve seen Grady conducting oral history museum for Computing History Museum.
Geoffrey Litt on Twitter: What if — despite all the hype — we are in fact underestimating…
- A great analogy of AI-based software with Spreadsheeds. Not convinced, surely impressed.
ou, skeptic: “nooo but the LLM-generated software will be lower-quality than handcoded software by pro teams: filled with bugs, uglier, bad… 😡 “ ou, skeptic: “nooo but the LLM-generated software will be lower-quality than handcoded software by pro teams: filled with bugs, uglier, bad… 😡 “
Thinking about Tracking Design, Part 2: Why track in the first place?
- I really enjoyed the first part when the popular image of tracking was framed as a scene from the movie Das Leben den Anderen. This did not contain such a gem, but boiling down the purpose of tracking to the discovery of 1) origins 2) intentions works elegantly and is supplied with clear illustrations.
Here’s a practical example to help you understand how this traffic information is essential: let’s say you run an ecommerce store for sneakers and suddenly you have an unexpected burst of sales on a particular item; you normally sell 10 pairs a week, and suddenly you get orders for 100 in a day! What happened? You turn to your traffic data, and you find that most of the new orders came from people who had gone directly to the page via a link on a blog for sneaker collectors. With this information you can reach out to the blog owner and discuss potential business opportunities, for example some kind of affiliate deal or a collaboration.Without the detailed traffic data, all you would have known was that you had a big spike in orders, and … that’s it! There would be no way to really capitalize on it.
Waiting for the Betterness Explosion
- It’s great so see intellectualls live, I believe.
What’s the heart of the problem with the idea that there’s going to be something that’s so smart, it makes us feel like ants, and that basically it can do whatever it wants and we can’t help to control it and foresee it, and we’re all going to be at its mercy and potentially die. What’s the argument against this?Robin: I think you’re right that there’s this very common phenomenon whereby most people have some sort of default views about the world and history and the future, and then some smaller groups come to a contrary view, that is a view that on the face of it would seem unlikely from some broad considerations. And then they develop a lot of detailed discussion of that, and then they try to engage that with the larger world, and then what they get usually is a big imbalance of attention, in the sense that they…Think of 9/11 truthers or something, right? They’re going to talk about this building and this piece of evidence and this time and this testimony or something, and people on the outside are just going to be talking mainly about the very idea of this thing, and is this at all plausible? And the insiders are going to be upset that they don’t engage all their specific things, and they introduce terminology and concepts and things like that, and they have meetings or they invite each other to talk a lot. And the outsiders are just at a different level of, does this really make much sense at all?And then, when the insiders are trying to get more attention and the outsiders, some of them will engage. There’ll be a difference between some very high profile people who just give very dismissive comments, versus lower status people who might look at their stuff in more detail, and they’re just going to be much more interested in engaging that first group than the second because the fact that somebody high profile even discussed them is something worthy of note. And then, the fact that this person was very dismissive and doesn’t really know much of their details, in their mind supports their view that they’re right and the other people are just neglecting them.So here, the key thing to notice is just, on the face of it, they’re postulating something that seems a priori pretty unlikely relative to a background of the past and other sorts of things. That would be the crux of the main response, is to say, look, what are you proposing here, and how would that look if we had seen it in the past? How unusual would that be?
- AI demonstrated the power of plain text to everyone, something that programmers settled in terminals know itimatelly and this is a great empowerement even for terminal dwellers.
Adobe Firefly: AI Art Generator
- I believe Ben Thomson’s thesis about ‘The end of beginning’ (of computing history via stabilization of the number of major players) is correct and this seems like a good illustration. Also with a poignant HN comment.
What this reinforces is that unlike with previous big innovations (cloud, iphone, etc), incumbents will not sit on their laurels with the AI wave. They are aggressively integrating it into their products which (1) provides a relatively cheap step function upgrade and (2) keeps the barrier high for startups to use AI as their wedge.I attribute the speed at which incumbents are integrating AI into their products to a couple things:* Whereas AI was a hand-wavey marketing term in the past, it’s now the real deal and provides actual value to the end user.* The technology and DX with integrating w/products from OpenAPI, SD, is good.* AI and LLMs are capturing a lot of attention right now (as seen easily by how often they pop up on HN these days). It’s in the zeigeist so you get a marketing boost for free.
Define Wokeness! Or how you shall know a word by the company it keeps
- Linguistics visualized and data employed in very elegant manner.
The cloud backlash has begun: Why big data is pulling compute back on premises
- Combine with https://medium.com/@laurengreerbalik/customer-empathy-is-dead-10f412782b5e
What is ‘Conscious Consumerism’? Who is a ‘Conscious Consumer’? Medium
- Looking for concepts like cultural mainstreaming, cultural appropriation and the rise of reuse economy.
Book Review: The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism by Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen
- Anothe catch-phrase of critical sociology and the critique of conscious consumerism as consciousness hygiene.
1984 Kundera The Tragedy of Central Europe
- I regard this as a bit pompous, and a bit nostalgic, and truly elegant as Kundera usually is.
The last direct personal experience of the West that Central European countries remember isthe period from 1918 to 1938. Their picture of the West, then, is of the West in the past, of aWest in which culture had not yet entirely bowed out.With this in mind, I want to stress a significant circumstance: the Central European revoltswere not nourished by the newspapers, radio, or television — that is, by the “media.” Theywere prepared, shaped, realized by novels, poetry, theater, cinema, historiography, literaryreviews, popular comedy and cabaret, philosophical discussions — that is, by culture. Themass media — which, for the French and Americans, are indistinguishable from whatever theWest today is meant to be — played no part in these revolts (since the press and televisionwere completely under state control). While still shaken by this triply tragic event which the invasion of Prague represented, Iarrived in France and tried to explain to French friends the massacre of culture that had takenplace after the invasion: “Try to imagine! All of the literary and cultural reviews wereliquidated! Every one, without exception! That never happened before in Czech history, noteven under the Nazi occupation during the war.” Then my friends would look at me indulgently with an embarrassment that I understood onlylater. When all the reviews in Czechoslovakia were liquidated, the entire nation knew it, andwas in a state of anguish because of the immense impact of the event. If all the reviews inFrance or England disappeared, no one would notice it, not even their editors. In Paris, evenin a completely cultivated milieu, during dinner parties people discuss television programs,not reviews. For culture has already bowed out. Its disappearance, which we experienced inPrague as a catastrophe, a shock, a tragedy, is perceived in Paris as something banal andinsignificant, scarcely visible, a non-event.
‘On With Kara Swisher’: Sam Altman on the GPT-4 Revolution
- Sam Altman tells a story of the OpenAI in — for me — a new way, making me think of it as a “New Netscape”
Now, the reason we’re doing this work is because we want to minimize those downsides while still letting society get the big upsides, and we think it’s very possible to do that. But it requires, in our belief, this continual deployment in the world, where you let people gradually get used to this technology, where you give institutions, regulators, policy-makers time to react to it, where you let people feel it, find the exploits, the creative energy the world will come up with — use cases we and all the red teamers we could hire would never imagine.And so we want to see all of the good and the bad, and figure out how to continually minimize the bad and improve the benefits. You can’t do that in the lab. This idea that we have, that we have an obligation and society will be better off for us to build in public, even if it means making some mistakes along the way — I think that’s really important.
On With Kara Swisher: Reid Hoffman on Why AI Is Our Co-pilot
- An Optimist take, making me think about possibilities to help many hypochonders today. As you know, the google image search for a symptom does not help of course. Having an assistance running an initial analytics of a picture of a rash or something “suspicious” on your body? Or the sound of the cought of your child? LGTM!
Hoffman: But it isn’t that I deny that there aren’t challenges with currently deployed technology or being-developed technology, but I think that shaping the technology is the solution and that the solution can be so much better. So, for example, let’s talk about AI. If you say, well, I have a line of sight right now to every smart phone having an AI tutor and an AI doctor, that could be for everybody. Everybody in the entire world who has a smart phone. Delaying that is a huge cost in human suffering. Like, that’s a hugely valuable —
Steampipe: select * from cloud;
- Yet another embrace of SQL. Thistime +CLI to remove context switching for technical teams.
Tom Holland on History, Christianity, and the Value of the Countryside (Ep. 174)
- He says many wonderful things and this episode introduced me to (since then) my favorite ‘The Rest is History’ podcast, but the celebration of curiosity on the side of Herodotus is possibly the most memorable one.
What I learned about modernity from Herodotus is that I think the quality about Herodotus that I have always loved — he’s always been my favorite writer, not just my favorite ancient writer but my favorite writer. He was the first classic writer I read. I’ve re-read him, I’ve reinterpreted him, I’ve translated him.I realized, as I was writing it, what I loved was the infinite curiosity that he has about everything. His writings are called Historia, which in Greek basically means researches, inquiries. It doesn’t mean history in the sense that we have. He is writing about the past. He says that this is his aim, but he’s not exclusively writing about the past.He’s writing about wild animals, he’s writing about rivers, he’s writing about wonders in different lands. He’s writing about how Egyptian men squat to go to the toilet and Egyptian women stand up, and how Scythians get stoned on bongs, and all kinds of extraordinary, mad, weird, fascinating stuff. He was called, in antiquity, the father of lies because there were lots of people who felt that he was just making it all up. I think that’s incredibly harsh. Often, many of the things that he was doubted for, he’s been vindicated.I was translating Herodotus, and I was able to use the internet as I was doing it. If there was a subject’s name or something, I wouldn’t have to go to a book to look it up. I could look it up online. I realized — it brought home to me how arrogant it is for us to sit in judgment on him when he was the first person to be doing this. He was the first person to be pursuing the infinite curiosity he felt about the vast expanse of everything to its absolute limits and so, of course, he got things wrong. We would. He didn’t have the internet. He didn’t have an example of Herodotus. Herodotus didn’t exist. There was no Herodotus before Herodotus. He’s doing it for the first time.I think that the sense of curiosity that the modern world is all about — we have access to more knowledge than is beyond the wildest dreams of previous generations, and we can follow it wherever we want.Herodotus, for me, stands at the head of that tradition, the head of that fascination with the vastness, the infinitude of the world and the universe that we inhabit. I look at modernity, and Herodotus sharpens for me a sense of how extraordinary and wonderful it is that we can know everything that we do, and that we have access to all the sources of information that we have. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing, an incredible privilege of being alive in 2023.
Dana Gioia on Becoming an Information Billionaire (Ep. 119)
- the fusion of pragmaticism and romanticism is what makes some of the insights extremely attractice
COWEN: Did your poetry converge or diverge with your work at General Foods and this military organization?GIOIA: Well, my poetry was transformed by working in business. It probably could’ve happened at other companies too, but if you think about this, most poets in the United States have been in school since they were 6. At 65, they’re still in school, their whole vision of the world is of a schoolroom, of a university. I was basically working with very intelligent, nonliterary people for 15 years. In the same way in Washington DC, I was working with highly intelligent, highly competitive, but nonliterary people. It changes your sense of language, it changes your sense of the audience. I think I would’ve been a worse poet had I not gone into business in a business school.Another reason why I was probably good is that I suffered in a way because I was working ten, twelve hours a day doing this other thing, then I was squeezing my writing into late nights and weekends. I do believe, as the jazz musicians say, you got to pay your dues. If your art isn’t so good that you’re willing to suffer for it, willing to sacrifice for it, you’re not getting deeply enough down inside you.
Existential risk, AI, and the inevitable turn in human history — Marginal REVOLUTION
- The weird thing to me is the bet that AI is a more radical change then all computing altogether. Can’t identify with this bet at this point (2023–04–17).
In several of my books and many of my talks, I take great care to spell out just how special recent times have been, for most Americans at least. For my entire life, and a bit more, there have been two essential features of the basic landscape:1. American hegemony over much of the world, and relative physical safety for Americans.2. An absence of truly radical technological change.Hardly anyone you know, including yourself, is prepared to live in actual “moving” history. It will panic many of us, disorient the rest of us, and cause great upheavals in our fortunes, both good and bad. In my view the good will considerably outweigh the bad (at least from losing #2, not #1), but I do understand that the absolute quantity of the bad disruptions will be high.I am reminded of the advent of the printing press, after Gutenberg. Of course the press brought an immense amount of good, enabling the scientific and industrial revolutions, among many other benefits. But it also created writings by Lenin, Hitler, and Mao’s Red Book. It is a moot point whether you can “blame” those on the printing press, nonetheless the press brought (in combination with some other innovations) a remarkable amount of true, moving history. How about the Wars of Religion and the bloody 17th century to boot? Still, if you were redoing world history you would take the printing press in a heartbeat. Who needs poverty, squalor, and recurrences of Ghenghis Khan-like figures?
Augmenting Long-term Memory
- A foundational paper that the recent popularit of ANKI stands.
Given how central memory is to our thinking, it’s natural to ask whether computers can be used as tools to help improve our memory. This question turns out to be highly generative of good ideas, and pursuing it has led to many of the most important vision documents in the history of computing. One early example was Vannevar Bush’s 1945 proposal** Vannevar Bush, As We May Think, The Atlantic (1945). for a mechanical memory extender, the memex. Bush wrote:A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.The memex vision inspired many later computer pioneers, including Douglas Engelbart’s ideas about the augmentation of human intelligence, Ted Nelson’s ideas about hypertext, and, indirectly, Tim Berners-Lee’s conception of the world wide web** See, for example: Douglas Engelbart, Augmenting Human Intellect (1962); Ted Nelson, Complex information processing: a file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate (1965); and Tim Berners-Lee, Information Management: a Proposal (1989).. In his proposal for the web, Berners-Lee describes the need for his employer (the particle physics organization CERN) to develop a collective institutional memory,a pool of information to develop which could grow and evolve with the organization and the projects it describes.These are just a few of the many attempts to use computers to augment human memory. From the memex to the web to wikis to org-mode to Project Xanadu to attempts to make a map of every thought a person thinks: the augmentation of memory has been an extremely generative vision for computing.In this essay we investigate personal memory systems, that is, systems designed to improve the long-term memory of a single person. In the first part of the essay I describe my personal experience using such a system, named Anki…
The age of average — Alex Murrell
- Globalization == Total Nivelization? Surely a class-thing, but it means something that I’m reading this as well, it may be the suggestion about my own place in the society at large.
Introduction:Interiors all look the sameArchitecture all looks the sameCars all looks the samePeople all look the sameMedia all looks the sameBrands all look the sameConclusion
become a 1000x engineer or die tryin’
- Definitelly not partaking on the age of average, the content’s just clickbait but still fun!
For millennia, programmers have searched far and wide for the vaunted 10X Engineer. Unfortunately, due to inflation — real and imagined, 10X just won’t cut it anymore. We need bigger gains, bigger wins, more code, more PRs, more lines, less linting, etc….Therefore, in this article I’ll cover how to catapult your productivity to the heavens via a series of command line wrapper functions around the OpenAI API.
The natural size
- As if written by a Renaissance thinker
No matter how many people come over for dinner, you’re only going to be able to engage with a few.And no matter how big the crowd in the arena, the musicians can only see the faces of a few hundred.An investor can only be engaged and smart about a very small number of companies.And it doesn’t matter how many students are in the class, the teacher is only going to be able to get in sync with a few.Microphones, network connections and other forms of scale are a miracle, but sooner or later, our brains get in the way.
War Diary by Jean Malaquais
- Great read, in Czech — only? — about the sudden disconnect from daily existence in Paris and being thrown into the mass of ordinary soldiers marching to the quick French defeat in 1939. Poetic, disturbing. Mailer was Malaquis to be French Orwell.
Pelagius — Wikipedia
- Tom Holland talks about him Extensivelly in the podcast about, paradoxically, Communism (the rest is history).
Pelagius (/pəˈleɪdʒiəs/; c. 354–418) was a Romano-British theologian known for promoting a system of doctrines (termed Pelagianism by his opponents) which emphasized human choice in salvation and denied original sin. Pelagius was accused of heresy at the synod of Jerusalem in 415 and his doctrines were harshly criticized by Augustine of Hippo, especially the Pelagian views about humankind’s good nature and individual responsibility for choosing ascetism. Pelagius especially stressed the freedom of human will. Very little is known about the personal life and career of Pelagius.
scheme — What is the definition of natural recursion? — Stack Overflow
- Result of my search for the typization and etymology of the word ‘natural’ as part of ‘How to Code: Simple data’ Course.
“Natural” (or just “Structural”) recursion is the best way to start teaching students about recursion. This is because it has the wonderful guarantee that Joshua Taylor points out: it’s guaranteed to terminate[*]. Students have a hard enough time wrapping their heads around this kind of program that making this a “rule” can save them a huge amount of head-against-wall-banging.When you choose to leave the realm of structural recursion, you (the programmer) have taken on an additional responsibility, which is to ensure that your program halts on all inputs; it’s one more thing to think about & prove.
Pairing with GPT-4 · Fly
- A great report from writing code with an AI assistant.
This type of prompt is something that feels more like an experienced developer talking to a developer who might just be starting out. It gives us back some more reasonable code.You Still Need to Know What You’re DoingIt’s Great at Jumping ContextsIt Makes Up Seemingly Plausible Answers That Could Be Wrong.It Gets Stuck When the “contexts” Get Too Large, You Still Need to Know What You’re DoingIt’s Great at Jumping ContextsIt Makes Up Seemingly Plausible Answers That Could Be Wrong.It Gets Stuck When the “contexts” Get Too Large,
- I remember listening Peter’s on a podcast with Kara Swisher
I’d have to characterize it with a quick review of the story. “In Search of Excellence” was published in 1982. The research began in 1978 or so. The Americans, of course, came out of World War II kings of the hill with nobody even in second place, and then the Japanese had the audacity to do these things like build cars that work, and they got us in ship building and they got us in steel, but who the hell cares about that? The car is intimate to the American life fantasy. We were second in a way.There were a couple of guys at Harvard, Bob Hayes and Bill Abernathy, and they wrote a single article in the Harvard Business Review that was called “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline,” and they said too much marketing, too much finance, not enough product quality. We dittoed that in a way, but there was another part of the story that was interesting as well.I was at McKinsey at the time, and McKinsey was getting beaten up for the first time in its history by the Boston Consulting Group, and our managing director said, “We’ve got to have something to talk about.” He had all these famous projects on operations and strategy, and then he called me in. I was a junior person, which was bizarre. I just got my PhD from Stanford in organization effectiveness. I think that was the reason. He said, “Look,” he said, “We’re the smartest people in the world and we design the smartest strategies in the world and then our clients get out-implemented. Whose problem is it? What the hell is going on?”Our fundamental hypothesis was, yeah, the Americans are getting the crap beaten out of us, but there’s got to be some places that work. We went to some obvious places like IBM that at that point was so far №1 it wasn’t funny. We went to places — and this is weird to say in 2018 — I went to St. Paul on a cold day and talked to 3M. Nothing had been written about 3M. Also at the time, we went to a middle-sized company or a large middle-sized company. I myself as co-author. Bob Waterman at McKinsey office in San Francisco where the weirdos in theory were, according to McKinsey. We went 30 miles down the road and talked to this funny little company that nobody had ever heard of, and it’s reasonably well-known today, and it’s called Hewlett-Packard.The lid comes off the whole thing. There are a million ways to describe that, but at any rate, so we wrote this book called “In Search of Excellence.”
coursera-dl/edx-dl: A simple tool to download video lectures from edx.org (and other openedx sites)
- A great project for OSSU. Wondefing if it’s still working.
edx-dl is a simple tool to download videos and lecture materials from Open edX-based sites. It requires a Python interpreter (>= 2.7) and very few other dependencies. It is platform independent, and should work fine under Unix (Linux, BSDs etc.), Windows or Mac OS X.
Effective Python Testing With Pytest — Real Python
- TBD, need to learn how to test for side effects with fixtures.
The Importance of Being Earnest — The ‘Handbag’ scene — YouTube
- I confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found, a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion — has probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before now — but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognized position in good society.
the rest is history — Podgraph Search
- finally transcripts for my new favorite podcast!
48. The French Revolution
- Great take, from England, with humour, full of opinionated, moderate ideas and details.
Now, the French Revolution is not one event. It’s a process. And it’s not something that anybody plans. It’s not a protest about inequality, which people often think. And nor is it an uprising of the poor against the rich. It’s none of those things. Where it comes from, I guess, is that France has got three interlinked problems. One is there’s a general kind of economic depression. There are economic discontent. Its population has massively exploded by far the most popular nation in Europe. But it’s got huge unemployment. There’s not enough jobs for everybody. Food prices have gone through the roof. There’s not enough food being produced. So in other words, you’ve got a lot of people, let’s say in Paris, you’ve got a third of the population of Paris. These are kind of young people. So they’re in their 20s and 30s. They don’t have a job. And they don’t have any food. And they cross about it. And sort of discontent is rising. So that’s the first thing. Second thing is that France is heavily indebted. Because of all these wars it’s been fighting. Now, it’s not the only country in Europe with debts. But it finds it’s very hard to service its debts. It can’t. Its tax raising system and its sort of political system is incredibly antiquated and complicated. And the king, Louis XVI, can’t get enough money to pay his debts. So France is basically on the verge of bankruptcy. And the third thing that sort of compounds all that is just bad luck. They have a series of terrible harvests. There’s a really, really bad weather. Terrible winter in 1788, 89. So people are starving on the streets.
AI, NIL, and Zero Trust Authenticity — Stratechery by Ben Thompson
- A great summary of the advent of multi-factor authentication and IAM authentication methods called ‘zero trust authenticity’ that succeeded the traditional Intranet | Firewall | Internet structure we know from corporations (where it still applies, I believe) in the course of 2010s due to the arrival of smartphones + cloud + SaaS.
n this model trust is at the level of the verified individual: access (usually) depends on multi-factor authentication (such as a password and a trusted device, or temporary code), and even once authenticated an individual only has access to granularly-defined resources or applications. This model solves all of the issues inherent to a castle-and-moat approach:If there is no internal network, there is no longer the concept of an outside intruder, or remote workerIndividual-based authentication scales on the user side across devices and on the application side across on-premises resources, SaaS applications, or the public cloud (particularly when implemented with single-sign on services like Okta or Azure Active Directory).In short, zero trust computing starts with Internet assumptions: everyone and everything is connected, both good and bad, and leverages the power of zero transaction costs to make continuous access decisions at a far more distributed and granular level than would ever be possible when it comes to physical security, rendering the fundamental contradiction at the core of castle-and-moat security moot.
Everything Is A Practice — by Scott Gilbertson
- The read of the year. Beautiful, backed by existence and suggesting the only personal spirituality that has ever appealed to my weird soul.
Everything is a Practice.A practice is the disciplined repetition of what you know with enough experimentation in that repetition to unlock those things you don’t yet know. It is ever-accumulating, and never-ending. It is sometimes painful, but that is the way.Individual projects may come to an end, but the practices that made them possible do not. You may finish writing a book, or reach the end of a run, or understand how to fix an engine, but there is no point where you’ve written enough, you’ve worked out enough, you’ve learned enough. The practices never end, which means you get to keep improving.The practice leaves a path behind you to show you how far you have come and carves out a path ahead of you to show you where you can go.The practices of your life are your life. They form the path you follow, they are how you become what you want to become, they make you who you are and who the world wants you to be. You are not solely in charge of your practices or the path they form. The world gets a vote too. In the end that’s part of the practice too — adjusting to feedback from the world, your body, your life, your family, your friends. All of these things are part of the practice, all of them inform it.
Age of Invention: The Bourgeois Supremacy
- The Economist started, iirc, as part of the initiative against the corn laws, i.e. as one of the initial liberal initiatives.
ut when did England start seeing itself as a primarily commercial nation? When did the interests of its merchants and manufacturers begin to hold sway against the interests of its landed aristocracy? The early nineteenth century certainly saw major battles between these competing camps. When European trade resumed in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, an influx of cheap grain threatened the interests of the farmers and the landowners to whom they paid rent. Britain’s parliament responded by severely restricting grain imports, propping up the price of grain in order to keep rents high. These restrictions came to be known as the Corn Laws (grain was then generally referred to as “corn”, nothing to do with maize). The Corn Laws were to become one of the most important dividing lines in British politics for decades, as the opposing interests of the cities — workers and their employers alike, united under the banner of Free Trade — first won greater political representation in the 1830s and then repeal of the Corn
paypal/data-contract-template: Template for a data contract used in a data mesh.
- paypal embracing data contracting
The Emergence of the Composable Customer Data Platform — The Databricks Blog
- On Composable VS Packaged CDPs
The term CDP was first introduced by David Rabb, a marketing technology consultant and industry analyst in April 2013. The piece titled “I’ve Discovered a New Class of System: the Customer Data Platform. Causata Is An Example,” introduced the term CDP to the market for the first time.Tag management platforms were amongst the first to adopt this early definition of CDPs. In 2012, Google launched Google Tag Manager, a free tool allowing brands to manage their client-side web tracking. With a behemoth like Google releasing a free tool, household names in the tag management space no longer held the same value. They had to pivot their technology, focusing on data collection, a consolidated customer profile and activation through their integrations.CDPs were at the time seen as a solution to help brands build towards a single view of their customer and activate the data either through integrations with other tools or natively within their own tool’s platform.So why aren’t off-the-shelf CDPs the solution for every business?