Brexit is (potentially) great news for the rest of the EU (Joris Luyendijk, The Guardian)

The economic and political realities of the EU, vs British delusions. Not even the remain camp was really in.

Sir Humphrey

We went in to screw the French by splitting them off from the Germans.

The opportunity for the EU is to wake up, improve what is working well, reform what isn’t; social democracy needs teeth against populists, easy one liners and its own technocrats. The UK needs to be cut down to size in its access to EU markets, and used as an example if you don’t want to become the laughing stock of the world: if you’re going to take a decision of this magnitude, at least take it for the right reasons.

UK citizens need to realise the huge mistake they have made by voting for the wrong questions and change their politicians, quickly. The Boris and Fromage clowns need to pay the price, the Tory party has been mismanaging the country, Labour is missing in action, the Liberal Democrats should cease to exist.


The Internet’s Original Sin (Ethan Zukerman, the Atlantic)

It’s not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web. Must read.

Stuck on advertising and investor storytime: “Investor storytime is when someone pays you to tell them how rich they’ll get when you finally put ads on your site.”

“most online advertising doesn’t follow your interest; it competes for your attention. It’s a barrier you have to overcome… to get to the article or interaction you want”. Amen!

“our attention, as viewers, is worth only a penny an hour to Facebook’s advertisers”

“Targeting to intent (as Google’s search ads do) works well, while targeting to demographics, psychographics or stated interests (as Facebook does) works marginally better than not targeting at all.”

Advertising on the web downsides:

  1. Advertising implies some sort of surveillance.
  2. Generates clickbait, “but little thoughtful engagement”.
  3. Centralized, bigger companies buy start ups.
  4. Personalization creates silos.

I would add a 5th downside: companies are out of the loop of their customers’ experience, are missing out on the opportunity for their customers to achieve better results with their products, to enable customers to contribute to the overall experience, for instance by telling companies which options they’re looking for, appreciate more and would be willing to pay for.

Micropayments are part of the solution; web solutions are now within the grasp of companies to engage their customers directly, ditching ads altogether.

What the gospel of innovation gets wrong (Jill Lepore, The NewYorker)

“the world may not be getting better and better but our devices are getting newer and newer.”.

Or how humans invent new hamster wheels for themselves. Disruption, a theory that explains nothing, but serves as hagiography, as an excuse.

The economic consequences:

  • Disruption as a code word for “new”, whether it’s better or not.
  • Disruption as part of financial gambling.
  • Growth vs actual improvement.

The moral consequences:

  1. Look back and think: what is it all for?
  2. Panic as a way of life.

Solving the leadership conundrum.

Organizational problem: moving from the hub and spoke, one leader model, to real team work: Why Motivating Others Starts With Using The Right Language (Via Lifehacker).

  • Cultural problem: competing as a team vs infighting. The road to capitalism is paved with soviet style run companies.
  • Cultural problem: countering the office politics, no bloody idea of professionalism mentality that pervades in certain societies.
  • Cultural problem: dealing with coworkers with little motivation, or obstructionists.
  • Cultural problem: those of us who don’t want to be “the leader”.

Partial  solution: a transparent framework in which people move from being told what to do to proposing solutions and needing less oversight:

  1. Tell me what to do.
  2. I think…
  3. I recommend…
  4. I’d like to…
  5. I intend to…
  6. I just did…
  7. I’ve been doing…

Each step up implies:

  1. Knowing what each function does, the inputs required and output expected.
  2. Better knowledge of what we do as a team: results.
  3. More responsibilities, more freedom.
  4. Less managing costs which could be specified (e.g. hours of manager’s time).
  5. Better communication so your own manager doesn’t need to track you down.



Big data, small ideas? (FT)

Big data: are we making a big mistake? (FT)

Causation vs correlation. Big data still follows the basics of statistical analysis. Sample error, sample bias.

“nobody wants ‘data’. What they want are the answers.
Big Data’s four articles of faith debunked:

  • “Uncanny accuracy is easy to overrate if we simply ignore false positives.
  • The claim that causation has been “knocked off its pedestal” is fine if we are making predictions in a stable environment but not if the world is changing (as with Flu Trends).
  • The promise that “N = All”, and therefore that sampling bias does not matter, is simply not true in most cases that count.
  • “with enough data, the numbers speak for themselves” – that seems hopelessly naive in data sets where spurious patterns vastly outnumber genuine discoveries.”

“Big data” has arrived, but big insights have not.”