Benedict Evans writes fantastic writing prompts. He’ll make references to different first principles, and he’ll go onto build arguments out of them later. Sometimes I agree with them. Sometimes I don’t. He does provoke thought. One theme is the nature of people. On October 9, 2020, Benedict Evans wrote: We connected everybody, and that meant we connected all the bad people and the idiots, and our own worst instincts, and all society’s problems get expressed in software. Sometimes the Internet amplifies and channels that, but maybe sometimes the Internet is people. On April 23, 2021, Benedict Evans wrote: Old: if you make something idiot-proof, God creates a better idiot.  New: if you create an Internet service that’s proof against assholes,[…]

Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that the word causal came from the word because. Because there’s a cause contained in the word because. The word is almost like a commandment. Be the cause. I don’t think that’s really true. It’s just a silly association. The word because seems to be an element of a persuasive argument. How about a little thought experiment? Consider the assessment: “Peaches are gross.” Okay, you may have one or many positions on this controversial subject: You agree because your experience matches that statement, you disagree because your experience does not match that statement, you may not agree nor disagree because it’s possible that some peaches are gross and some other peaches are[…]

Some communities make decisions about what is knowledge and what is not. You’re probably a member of some of those communities. Maybe you make up your own mind about what is knowledge and what is not entirely on your own? Maybe you’re not fully aware of how much you are influenced by the communities you identify with? Think about what you experienced during your formal education. In order to receive recognition (a grade, a credit, a certificate), you needed to demonstrate that you were able to create evidence that you accepted the knowledge you were told. You didn’t always need to agree that the knowledge that you had to repeat was the truth. You just needed to exhibit behaviour that[…]

2020 hasn’t been easy. Figures from the US Census Household Pulse Survey can be used to tell a story of anxiety, hunger, depression, desperation and hopelessness. Millions are hurting. 2020 is hitting the poor, the young, and those who are low to mid-skilled the hardest. 2021 isn’t looking easy. Vaccines will take time to rollout. The recovery depends on collective health security. Health security causes confidence, confidence causes increased risk tolerance, increased risk tolerance leads to investment, and investment stimulates growth in private sector productivity, labour market demand, and opportunity. It will take time for each part of the chain to develop. It all lags. A return to the previous trend line doesn’t address the underlining cause of wage polarization.[…]

Canadians are a people shaped by physical and social geography. Both explain a portion of why we are who we are, and how we relate to each other. Covid-19, an executable snippet of code wrapped in protein with the sole goal of persistence, is shaping us. It has already affected our social demography. Will it change Canada’s social geography? What It Is Population density is a pretty good indicator of attitude. I can’t make the claim that it’s always causal for all people, After all, did living with 25,000 others in a square kilometre in downtown Toronto make you more conscious of mental health challenges facing the population, or were you always conscious and chose to live with others who[…]

The diagram below, something that John Cutler put together, made me think. I got a kick out of it. Maybe you will too. First, I’ll unpack the image. Second, I’ll contribute a few thoughts. What are you looking at? If you look down the centre, you’ll see nine instructions, called mandate levels, labelled from A to I. At level A you’ll find the instruction “Build exactly this [to a predetermined specification]”, at F, “Increase/decrease [metric] known to influence a specific business outcome”, and at I, “Generate [long-term business outcome]”. To the left, you’ll see a few boxes, labelled Eng, Design, PM, and GM. To the right, similar boxes labelled PROD DEV TEAM, PM, GM. The organization on the left is[…]

What if the rate of forgetting is interrelated with the rate of learning? What might that mean? The Knowledge Funnel The Knowledge Funnel is a model that describes how knowledge is made useful by an organization. At one side, you got mysteries. We live in an era where the number of mysteries vastly outnumbers the amount of knowledge. There is no shortage of mystery. Heuristics are rules of thumb that work most of the time, but not all of the time. There are lot of heuristics. They tend to form the core value driver for many organizations. There are comparatively fewer algorithms. Those organizations that have fit algorithms are often extraordinarily profitable and competitive. Some researchers focus on converting mysteries[…]

What is Airlocking? Airlocking is a process where a belief spreads and locks-in to the point that direct, disconfirming, evidence is disregarded, and people believe something to the point that they’ll kill themselves by throwing themselves out of an airlock. If there is another term for this phenomenon, could you please let me know? In the meantime, I’ll call it Airlocking. Etymology Consider the following scene from Avenue 5, Season 1, Episode 8. It aired just as those in the United States and Canada were understanding the full gravity of Covid-19 in March, 2020. TV is useful because it gives everybody the opportunity to experience the same phenomenon for themselves, independently. Everybody has a different reflection. The whole episode is[…]

This post is a continuation of The Technology of Productive Meetings from November 2019. Below, you’ll find a summary two frameworks: ORID and Stances, before extending it further. This post is intended for those on the human side of data science. Carbon is harder than silicon. Summary The ICA teaches a group facilitation method that features the ORID framework. The ORID (Objective, Reflective, Interpretive, Decision) framework offers a path for a group of individuals to ship a decision. While the facilitator helps the group through the steps, it is the group itself that ships the decision. The method acknowledges the way people feel their way through a decision. The facilitator crafts a sequence of questions which match each one of[…]

In this post, I’ll outline some of the best parts about product managing data science. Data science is the creation of product from data, requiring a blend of the skills of technology, statistics, and business. Product Management brings and keeps product in the world, requiring a blend of the skills of technology, user experience, and business. All of the challenges of product management appear in data science. And then some. The Knowledge Funnel The Knowledge Funnel is a concept introduced by Roger Martin in Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage (2009). At the top of the funnel, you got mysteries. It would seem that there are an uncountable number of mysteries. In the middle, you have heuristics,[…]