David Krakauer on Claude Shannon’s definition of information

[Claude] Shannon said “Look, here’s what information is. Let’s say I want to navigate from one part of the city to another, from A to B, in a car. I could just drive around randomly. It would take an awful long time to get there, but I might eventually get there. Alternatively, I could give you a map or driving…

Sam Harris on following your own advice (you’re wiser than you think)

Sam Harris asks (and seeks to answer) difficult questions without fear, and writes well. Recommend. Most of us are far wiser than we may appear to be. We know how to keep our relationships in order, to use our time well, to improve our health, to lose weight, to learn valuable skills, and to solve many other riddles of existence.…

César Hidalgo on the importance of trust in networks of innovation

Another great episode of Exponential View – recommend. Azeem Azhar: It seems like the richer, faster growing economies require these dense and intricate networks of people, and these people need to have ways of communicating with each other, norms, behaviours that ultimately get reflected – measured – as trust. … César Hidalgo: Trust is fundamental for economic growth, because it…

Nested problems, nested solutions (7): Astro Teller on management and organisational culture

Yesterday’s post ended with the tension between designing systems and fostering a culture – writing scripts and setting tone – that will make it possible for an organisation to achieve its goals. In this great – and perfectly timed – interview on the excellent Exponential View podcast with Azeem Azhar, (Google) X’s CEO (or “Chief of Moonshots”) Astro Teller talks…

Resource: Steve Blank on the startup journey

“How to Raise Money – It’s a Journey Not An Event” (blog post and podcast by Steve Blank, embedded below) is a fantastic resource for understanding the different stages of development in the early life of a new company, and how priorities shift. It’s helpful for anyone who wants to understand the world of funding rounds for startups (seed funding, Series…

Three questions from economics

What are the tradeoffs in this situation? What gains can be made from trade and cooperation? How can we reframe this question to find new answers, or change the way we feel about the answers we already have? Largely drawn from Tyler Cowen’s interview with Tim Harford.

Steven Pinker on passing on language

Language is created anew every generation by the minds of the children who construct it out of the data that they get from their parents and peers. Steven Pinker – with Tyler Cowan, in Conversations with Tyler, Ep 14 The same could be said of culture in general, and team or organisational culture in particular. What data are you receiving?…

David Epstein on kind and wicked learning environments

These are terms used by psychologist Robin Hogarth, and what a “kind” learning environment is, is one where patterns recur, ideally a situation is constrained – so a chessboard with very rigid rules and a literal board is very constrained – and importantly, every time you do something you get feedback that is totally obvious, all the information is available,…

Penn Jillette on the politics of “us”

I’ve trying this thought experiment of trying not to use the words “us and them.” I’ve tried to say the sentence “those of us who voted for Trump,” which is a very difficult sentence to say, but if you say it, it’s very profound. Because it is “those of us” who voted for Trump. It’s not “them” who voted for…

Podcast recommendation: Ben Horowitz on organisational culture vs product (a16z podcast)

Episode 503 of the a16z podcast, The Stories and Code of Culture Change, is a great overview of Horowitz’s book, You Are What You Do, and features some highly memorable (and hilariously violent) stories that illustrate what culture is, and some ways you might build it. Here he is on the relative importance of culture and product: Let’s not get…