This is an issue of my monthly newsletter. Main topics: technology, startups, business growth, and marketing. See other issues on my blog or subscribe. ~Max
Technology and Startups
- Ten-year Futures – a presentation by A16z. New technologies enable new use cases. Seeing them, as well as non-obvious “second order” effects, is key. E.g. mobile enabled Instagram, Instacart, and ride-sharing.
- Decrypting Crypto – another presentation by A16z. Bitcoin is a combination of three old technologies: hashcash, public key cryptography, and distributed ledger. Value of cryptocurrencies goes beyond the traditional store of value and medium of exchange. E.g. tokens can help bootstrap new protocol-level innovation and incentivize developers, customers, and investors to contribute.
- AlphaGo Zero masters the game of Go from scratch. The ML algorithm learned the game without any pre-existing understanding of rules or strategies. Building a general or at least a-little-bit-less-narrow AI appears to be a big priority for DeepMind. Perhaps this can count as a small step in this direction?
- Delivering blood with drones in Rwanda – a TED talk by the founder of Zipline. What an amazing application of new technology and a case study in social entrepreneurship.
- Tacotron 2 is a new text-to-speech technology by Google that is (almost?) indistinguishable from a human voice. If Google manages to make it less computationally demanding and ship it as part of the Android OS, all kinds of interesting use cases will be made possible. I personally will listen to more of my Pocket articles in audio.
- Magic Leap is launching its SDK, shipping in 2018. AR/VR is already quite a saturated market. It’s not entirely clear yet how hyped Magic Leap technology will compare to Microsoft HoloLens, as well as to VR headsets: HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
I had a chance to work for companies with very different corporate cultures. In my experience culture does not just happen. Instead, it should be deliberately designed and reinforced. So I found this Harvard Business Review article relevant and insightful:
Think carefully about each of these four elements:
- Incentives are a basic element of doing good work. People should be paid fairly and competitively for their roles, and increases in compensation should be a predictable process. In addition to pay, the culture should work to reward results generated versus hours worked. Employees shouldn’t feel anxious about how visible they are in the office or on projects, and strict timekeeping can create a sense of mistrust between teams and management. Lastly, and this is something we care about a lot, good failure should not result in career suicide.
- Context and rules will determine what rituals and processes allow people to do great work. If initiative is punished instead of rewarded, people will feel less compelled to push new ideas internally. The ability to make quick judgment calls and move decisions forward will outpace any lengthy or cumbersome internal approvals process. The same goes for autonomy and flexibility—do you trust your teams to lead while you get out of the way? Are teams allowed to participate in flexible work options that encourage their productivity? Your teams need the right tools and resources to do their job—are they spending more time fighting for what they need? If access to those resources is limited, individuals will be less inclined to take part in initiatives with so many blockers in front of them.
- People are the core of a great organization and the processes and systems you use to hire, promote, and reward them can be both enablers and blockers. Bob Sutton’s famous “no asshole rule” is an important factor when hiring people for your company, especially if they’re “star performers”. Sutton believes that star performers who are demeaning can wreak havoc on organizations. You just can’t compromise your business on people like that.
- Leadership has to play a role in the culture if the whole organization is to transform. And leading by example is a pivotal component of management enablers (and blockers: leadership can lead by poor example as well, of course). If leadership exhibits the behaviors expected of teams and individuals, then people in the organization will follow suit.
Recently the list of most watched TED talks appeared in TED blog. Very helpful to make sure you didn’t miss anything:
- Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity (2006): 8,660,010 views
- Jill Bolte Taylor‘s stroke of insight (2008): 8,087,935 views
- Pranav Mistry on the thrilling potential of SixthSense (2009): 6,747,410 views
- Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense (2009): 6,731,153 views
- David Gallo‘s underwater astonishments (2007): 6,411,705 views
- Tony Robbins asks Why we do what we do (2006): 4,909,505 views
- Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen (2006): 3,954,776 views
- Arthur Benjamin does mathemagic (2005): 3,664,705 views
- Jeff Han demos his breakthrough multi-touchscreen (2006): 3,592,795 views
- Johnny Lee shows Wii Remote hacks for educators (2008): 3,225,864 views
- Blaise Aguera y Arcas runs through the Photosynth demo (2007): 3,007,440 views
- Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing your genius (2009): 2,978,288 views
- Dan Gilbert asks: Why are we happy? (2004): 2,903,993 views
- Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe (2008): 2,629,230 views
- Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation (2009): 2,616,363 views
- Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice (2005): 2,263,065 views
- Richard St. John shares 8 secrets of success (2005): 2,252,911 views
- Mary Roach on the 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm (2009): 2,223,822 views
- Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action (2010): 2,187,868 views
- Chimamanda Adichie shares the danger of a single story (2009): 2,143,763 views
But I decided to take it one step further and create a list of the most highly-rated TED talks.
Which is not hard to do using their Youtube channel statistics. So, here it is. The list of most highly-rated TED talks:
Last Friday we’ve been to the amazing presentation give by two designers traveling the world that call themselves Idea Nomads in Moscow. Oni and Zou (these are their aliases) have a goal to travel the world without taking flights.
So far, they visited China, Hong Kong, Tibet, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan giving various creative/design presentations and arranging the workshops and of course doing some self-PR. They don’t seem to be willing to stop so far, the route they had drawn on the world map is far from being complete.
I don’t know about you, but it’s another source of inspiration for me: