Curation Experiment

When it comes to email blogs ( I am trying not to call them newsletters since that word makes no sense anymore), a lot of them are curation services where the writer shares a bunch of links and commentary on each link/topic.

I really like Alex Taussig and MG Siegler’s email blogs. They always have a great combination of frequency, tone, style and quality of thoughts along with wide-ranging curation.

Up until now, I have not experimented with that format explicitly. I do hyperlink a fair amount but I don’t curate the way they do. I want to try out just curation with this issue. Let me know what you think.

Here’s some thought-provoking stuff I found on the internet over past ten days along with some interesting bits in each :

World’s worst boss : I’m amazed at how often people choose to fail when they go out on their own or when they end up in one of those rare jobs that encourages one to set an agenda and manage themselves. Faced with the freedom to excel, they falter and hesitate and stall and ultimately punt. We are surprised when someone self-directed arrives on the scene. Someone who figures out a way to work from home and then turns that into a two-year journey, laptop in hand, as they explore the world while doing their job. We are shocked that someone uses evenings and weekends to get a second education or start a useful new side business. And we’re envious when we encounter someone who has managed to bootstrap themselves into happiness, as if that’s rare or even uncalled for.

John Taylor Gatto (1935-2018): Remembering America's Most Courageous Teacher : Above all, Gatto understood that his students were not mere underlings, but individuals with unique skills and talents to share with the rest of the world. They didn’t want to be talked down to but longed to be treated with respect and dignity. He recognized that their worth was not determined by the neighborhoods where they lived, their parents’ annual salaries, or the scores they received on standardized tests. He concluded that “genius,” is “as common as dirt. We suppress genius because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.”

John Backus's review of Flowers for Algernon : One interpretation I like is that the book is more about personal growth than IQ. Charlie's peers don't grow to resent him and then accept him again because his IQ is high and then low again, but instead because of how they feel relative to him. The "relative status" has two frames: where does Charlie stand relative to me, and is Charlie growing faster than me. At the start, everyone at the bakery clearly felt superior on both. People felt uncertain when he was growing but maybe still at equal or lower stature. People disliked him when he made it clear he was better on both dimensions.

A Non-Conformist's Guide to Success in a Conformist World : Don’t be an absolutist non-conformist.  Conforming in small ways often gives you the opportunity to non-conform in big ways.  Being deferential to your boss, for example, opens up a world of possibilities. Don’t proselytize the conformists.  Most of them will leave you alone if you leave them alone.  Monitor your behavior: Are you trying to change them more often than they try to change you?  Then stop.  Saving time is much more helpful than making enemies. In modern societies, most demands for conformity are based on empty threats.  But not all.  So pay close attention to societal sanctions for others’ deviant behavior.  Let the impulsive non-conformists be your guinea pigs. During childhood, educational institutions’ threats are by far the most real.  While “This is going on your permanent record” is usually an empty threat, “Do as we say or you will suffer at the next educational level” is not.  Vivid anecdotes about billionaire dropouts aside, the modern labor market remains extremely credentialist, and there’s no reason to think this will change anytime soon.

Economic Growth : If we think of an idea as a recipe that shows how to create value by rearranging physical objects, it makes sense to define a meta-idea as a recipe for social interaction that encourages the production and transmission of ideas. Growth comes from ideas about objects. Meta-ideas are ideas about ideas. For developing countries, the priority is to find a way to make use of the tested strategies that richer countries have already used to have a higher standard of living. One of the biggest meta-ideas of modern life is to let people live together in dense urban agglomerations. A second is to allow market forces to guide most of the detailed decisions these people make about who they interact with each other. Together, the city and the market let large groups of people cooperate by discovering new ideas, sharing them, and learning from each other. The benefits can show up as a new design for a coffee cup or wages for a worker that grow with experience acquired in jobs with a sequence of employers. People living in a large city cooperate with residents there and through many forms of exchange, with residents in other cities too. Cities connect us all together. China’s growth reflects is rapid embrace of these two big meta-ideas, the market and the city.

America’s $1.5 trillion student-loan industry is a ‘failed social experiment’ : The researchers hope to shift the conversation about student debt from one that assumes student loans are a useful tool for improving individual’s economic prospects to one that acknowledges that higher levels of debt and education haven’t necessarily boosted young Americans’ financial futures. “We are making several policy decisions right now based on the idea that student debt is essentially a benign mechanism for funding higher education,” said Julie Margetta-Morgan, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and one of the authors of the paper, which focused on borrowers between the ages of 25 and 40. “Our research suggests that is not, in fact, that case.” “We’ve essentially engaged in a failed social experiment where the government thought that it would be fine to give people student debt because that would pay off in the long run and we’re seeing that’s not the case,” she added. “Individuals shouldn't bear all the burden for paying for that mistake.”

Business Model Innovation in Healthcare :Besides being confused by the existing system, 20% of Americans can no longer afford basic healthcare (including their insurance premiums), leading to a higher number of people who are uninsured or underinsured. Now, unbundling is enabling a wave of new business models as the healthcare system shifts towards more virtual, independent, local points of care (an idea introduced to us by Dave Chase in his book, “The Opioid Crisis Wakeup Call”). These new approaches generally fall into one of two buckets: change of infrastructure (who pays, when they pay, how they pay) and change of venue (from in person to online). The emerging business models tend to be much simpler and instead of operating in bundled networks, there is an increase in independent clinics and care delivered through mobile phones.