I’m with John Boyd on this one: the closer to you look at something, the more distinctive the contradictions you’re going to see, all the way down as far as you can squint. In this post, I’ll look at the distinction between honesty, error, deception, and fraud – and will conclude with a heuristic. We don’t experience ground truth. We experience something as a result of data that flows into our skull that is constructed into something approximating an experience. But we don’t ever truly experience a state of ground truth. And this isn’t meant to be some kind of satire about who’s to say what is really true and what is really untrue given how one feels about the[…]

Cultural industries are an ideas business. They sell ideas. The Canadian cultural industry, since just around Confederation, sells the idea of Canada. Is Canada a good idea? Does anybody want to buy it? Is there a market for it? What is? All businesses rely on networks of channels. There’s power in networks. There’s power in distribution networks. The Canadian state, since its inception, invested in networks. There were promises of network connectivity built right into Constitution. It had to then. It has to continue to do so now. There’s just too much physical geography to ignore. And not a lot of that geography it is helpful to the social geography of the country. Look at the place: The rockies run[…]

I want to believe that the current generation of applications powered by Large Language Model (LLM) don’t represent the height of the state of the art for prediction machines and that no single firm will reach 80% market share and go onto dominate the generative era. I want to believe that the future is quite open, and that these early returns we’ve made in applied machine learning can compound. It’s because I want to believe so much that it’s worth questioning the assumptions. What might cause the future to become closed? Does OpenAI scan its API logs for good ideas? In 2023, a surge of founders developed skins for OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Some based their startup on enabling a user to[…]

This story begins in a lecture room on an upper floor at Temple University in Philly on a pleasant summer day in 2018. John Hauser is delivering a cracking talk on recommendation engines. He launches into an aside about how the best real estate agents on earth facilitate their consumers’ own discovery of their own preferences. He’s challenging conventional doctrine. The grizzled grizzlies fold their arms and lean back in their chairs. The students from KU lean forward. I catch Luo’s eye and exchange smiles. We’re beaming. I got my popcorn ready. This is gonna be good. He tells a story about how an excellent real estate agent will listen patiently as you state preferences, and then they go onto[…]

I’m sorting out much of what I read of Gregory Bateson (1904-1980). And in his tradition, I’m going to make connections and then try to stand above it. Come and play. My entry point was Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972), then I shot off into A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind Edited by Rodney E Donaldson (1991) and then Nora Bateson’s Small Arcs of Larger Circles (2016). I’ve been thinking a lot about the question David Graeber and David Wengrow asked in The Dawn of Everything (2021): why do groups of people differentiate? Bateson’s observation of schismogenesis – a combination of the word schism and genesis – is “a process of interaction whereby directional[…]

There’s a tension between the desire of some politicians to protect the population from harm, the desire of some in the population to be free from regulation, and the desire by some to have the freedom to harm. The idea of protection as a good is interesting because it has a lot in common with a risk pool. I reckon that protection is virtual good because protection is an idea. There’s this idea that the state provides protection from threats. Most threats, not all, are imagined, aren’t they? The state organizes protection from external forces: against intruders, looters, raiders, hordes, and parasites that pose threats to agriculture and aquaculture. The state organizes protection from internal threats: against murderers, organized crime,[…]

“[A]n unrecorded decision may well be, indeed should be, considered as a sure sign that something fundamental has gone wrong with the decision-making process, that one should look for the presence of schemers who can impose projects on those who should know better; that one should also look for powerful external pressures reverberating through the decision-making process — pressures that cannot be resisted and lead to decisions for which there is no real acceptance of responsibility (and are therefore unrecorded). All of this serves to underline a point that is not stressed enough in the political science literature: decision-making is fundamentally a process for assuming responsibility for a proposed action.” Allison, Graham., Zelikow, Philip. (1999) Essence of Decision. 2nd Edition.[…]

A major source of suffering is caused by the chasm between what is and what is preferred. There are at least three ways of alleviating this suffering: In this post, I’ll expand on the concept of what is preferred, attempt to differentiate bullshit from Futurescapes, and argue that Futurescapes are a powerful reframing tool. What is preferred I’ll focus on the suffering that exists because of preferences about the future that are unrealized today. The future is malleable. Liubertė and Dimov [1] wrote a gem of a paper in 2021. They were curious about how Elizabeth Holmes used language to create a portrait of the future. Rindova and Martins (2022) [2] made a valuable contribution about how these portraits, Futurescapes,[…]

Ultimately, how you choose to lead your startup in the post-2022 Tight Money Era depends on what lessons you’re taking away from the 2018-2022 Loose Money Era, and where you’re at on your own leadership journey. In this post, I’ll describe where my stance is at the end of 2022 with respect to a systemized study of new venturing knowledge. How We Got Here: The Loose Money Era Money was cheap between 2018 and 2022 [1]. Stupidly cheap. You know how I know money was cheap? Check the links: Intensely. Stupidly. Insanely. Idiotic. Terribly. Sweatily. Moronicly. Cheap. Cheap money enables radical conservation of thought. (I’m picking on scooters because it’s physically obvious, but there’s plenty of incredibly silly things going[…]

You only have so much attention. When you consume media, roughly 27% to 30% of your attention can be directly monetized, and there’s perhaps a tolerance for another 15% that can be wrung out with product placement. As a result, Time Spent is an attractive metric for those who create and monetize attention. For example, if you can attract 1,000,000 hours of attention, then you can monetize 300,000 to 450,000 hours of it. In theory, the amount you can charge for your attention depends on the value advertisers place on the audiences’ attention. And that depends on who they think you are, how susceptible you are, how much you spend in the relevant category, how causal the purchase decision is[…]