almost 7 years on 2010-09-14

[LETTER] TIGER OWES HURD AN APOLOGY, PRINTING KORANS, AND OTHER SHORT NONSENSE


i figured this time i would spare you the broad sweeping thesis and instead offer a quick distillation of the last few weeks - all quarterbacked on monday (of course):

"everything is denominated in everything else": in a longer post at some point i will go after why i think that currency (which is primarily a store of value and a means of exchange) isn't at all needed in the future / a world with near perfect information and perfect communication -- suffice it to say for now that at a recent breakfast someone i respect distilled what i was trying to say quite nicely into "everything is denominated in everything else" -- precisely... and when everything is denominated in everything else, all that exists is [current things + future things * probability]

why monetary policy is facing the end of its useful life: when you really parse it down i would make the strong argument that monetary policy makes no logical sense. it functions based on two rather silly kludges -- first, it used to be hard to change prices (just think of all those signs you had to re-write) and second -- people for some unknown reason love seeing numbers that rise totally irrespective of the underlying meaning of those numbers. as prices fully variabalize the effectiveness of printing more pieces of green paper as a form of changing people's opinion about the future should stop working.

the us air update system, exactness vs. correctness / false precision: figuring out the useful granularity of messaging over time is really hard, and clearly something in which us air has invested literally nothing. it is great that i get phone/email/sms flight updates, but it really isn't helpful when you send a massively different expected delay every 10 minutes... the other night us air called me literally 30 times to keep changing my departure time -- that is just spam, totally not actionable / completely false precision... i would much rather you tell me with less exactness and more correctness / actionability what is going on.

i haven't really followed the mark hurd saga, but my quick take is that he really should be blaming tiger woods. it seems like the hp board way over-reacted to the detriment of the company, i suspect that the reason was that post-tiger they wanted to hedge their bets / were not willing to risk negative surprise (p.s. you gotta love larry ellison).
the real value of letter.ly ... i am getting incredibly high fidelity responses over email and in person.

a. people have sent me incredibly thoughtful digital replies... in many cases people are sending responses which were far far longer and more interesting than the post i put out. i have learned a ton from these responses -- none of these responses would have occurred in the open web.... partially because comment forms aren't designed for real dialogue, they are designed mostly for social currency exchange... partially because the responses come from people who care not to express public opinions much of the time.

b. the conversations i have been having in person for the week or two after i publish a manifesto end up being fantastic. i can't express i amazing it is to dive right into conversations on subtleties or interesting corollaries / clarifications with someone. you can skip the whole first part of the discussion where you try to do a halfway job of reconstruct a position or idea and jump to the good parts. people might find this silly, but i have been blown away by the frequency with which this is happening with people i respect. common source / groundwork is ridiculously powerful -- it makes me wish i had done more of the reading in college :) book burning the only real response would be for the us government / interested parties to promise to print 10 korans for every 1 koran burned.

various levels of 'check in' for communication specificity: when you first think about location it seems simple enough i am at xyz.... then you dive in and realize how much of a cluster f* defining your position beyond latitude/longitude really is. i think that a lot of privacy / specificity of communications concerns are solved easily with a ui that allows people to easily select a level of granularity (country > state > city > neighborhood > building > room > desk)... after all, it is all structured language :)

the world as a college campus: that is where we are heading from all angles... specifically these days i am thinking about the concept that you have a bunch of people being very productive / exploring but that are massively under-leveraged in the economy / unemployed... but there are other ways to draw out the concept :)
the identity pyramid scheme: i was born in london (no american birth certificate), and last month i had the pleasure of loosing my passport and my license at the same time -- running out of forms of us identity is not fun, mostly because it takes identity to get identity. it appears that passports are the cornerstone, if you have one of those all your other forms of identity domino after it.

the solution? well, option 1 is that you need to get both of your parent's american birth certificates, proof they were traveling abroad, your birth certificate, both of their passports from when you were born, etc. etc. etc. -- or, you can pay $200 for them to look it up on their system. oy vey.

the downward spiral of berry / never kill your product for distribution i recently switched back to my berry because iphone4, while beautiful and a great ipod, is really not a phone -- it was really sad to factory reset my device and realize that i couldn't remove bing, the nfl app, and about 20 other pieces of garbage that verizon pre-installed. the berry is a great device, but apple scared it, and it responded by shooting itself in the foot for distribution. never a good idea.

mosquitoes are a great way to end a gardin party... someone should sell them in a box.

p.s. i need to plug my father for a moment -- every year he writes one distillation of his thoughts to help support the george jackson academy, a charter school at which he teaches a weekly class and is highly invested. i just read the 2010 edition, "growth in a growthless society" and have to say that while i am probably biased, i thought it was stunningly insightful. i am proud of the dad, and will link it when i figure out where you can buy it.


original swl blogposts and letters 2007-2010