FEATURED STORY

Four short links: 4 September 2015

Four short links: 4 September 2015

Next President, Robotic Drivers, Vintage Graphics, and Javascript Scheduling

  1. Lessig for President — it’s time.
  2. Is a Cambrian Explosion Coming for Robotics? (PDF) — interesting list of drivers, including wireless tech, battery efficiency, and worldwide data storage.
  3. How Oldschool Graphics Worked (YouTube) — video series on how 80s computer graphics effects were built. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Tasks, Microtasks, Queues, and Schedules (Jake Archibald) — today’s dose of javascript scheduling headache.
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Designing responsibly in the attention economy

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Tristan Harris on design ethics and leaving things better than you find them.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Design Podcast, our podcast exploring how experience design — and experience designers — are shaping business, the Internet of Things, and other domains.

640px-Abel_Grimmer_001In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Tristan Harris, design thinker, entrepreneur, and philosopher at Google, and speaker at O’Reilly’s first design conference.

Harris talks about Design for Time Well Spent, the Doubt Club, and why it’s important to leave things better than you find them.

Here are a few highlights from our chat:

I think one aspect of why designers need to design responsibly is this new scale, this new proportion of influence and impact — because one choice about whether something takes five seconds of someone’s life versus one second of someone’s life gets multiplied by a billion people.

Even when the intention is very good and very positive, it devolves into what I’ve called the ‘race to the bottom of the brain stem’ to seduce people’s psychological instincts. The best way to get time from people, the best way to seduce or get their attention, is to use people’s psychological biases in a way that gets them to come back or stay.

Part of being ethical means being deeply thoughtful, comprehensive — not just optimistic about the one goal that you have, but to see where that goal might break down.

Read more…

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Managing complexity in distributed systems

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Astrid Atkinson on optimization, and Kelsey Hightower on distributed computing.

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In this week’s episode, O’Reilly’s Mac Slocum talks to Astrid Atkinson, director of software engineering at Google, about the delicate balance of managing complexity in distributed systems and her experience working on-call rotations at Google.

Here are a few snippets from their chat:

I think it’s often really hard for organizations that are scaling quickly to find time to manage complexity in their systems. That can be really a trap, because if you’re really always just focused on the next deadline or whatever, and never planning for what you’re going to live with when you’re done, then you might never find the time.

You can only optimize what you pay attention to, and so if you can’t see what your system is doing, if you can’t see whether it’s working, it’s not working.

I used to get paged awake at two in the morning. You go from zero to Google is down. That’s a lot to wake up to.

Read more…

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4 trends in fintech startups

An analysis of fintech competitions shows a focus on data, payments, lending, and small business.

Photo close-up of Mexican paper money, by Kevin Dooley on Flickr.

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Fintech hackathons and competitions occur globally. In January 2012, Swift launched the Innotribe Startup Competition as an initiative to bring together disruptive startups and incumbents in financial services. It was one of the first of its kind and has been joined by similar events in subsequent years. Just this year, I counted 18 fintech hackathons and startup competitions — eight of which are happening later this year.

Fintech startups are aiming to disrupt financial institutions with their technology, products, and design. Meanwhile financial institutions focus on secure systems for money transfer, payments, and lending at a global scale. But the two are not necessarily at odds. It’s hard for incumbents to innovate existing businesses in house, and this is where startups thrive: testing new business models and pushing the limits of technology unencumbered by regulations or corporate baggage. Hackathons and startup competitions are where innovative ideas are tested. Read more…

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Four short links: 3 September 2015

Four short links: 3 September 2015

Lock Patterns, Peer-to-Peer Markets, Community Products, and Speech Recognition

  1. The Surprising Predictability of Android Lock Patterns (Ars Technica) — people use the same type of strategy for remembering a pattern as a password
  2. Peer to Peer Markets (PDF) — We discuss elements of market design that make this possible, including search and matching algorithms, pricing, and reputation systems. We then develop a simple model of how these markets enable entry by small or flexible suppliers, and the resulting impact on existing firms. Finally, we consider the regulation of peer-to-peer markets, and the economic arguments for different approaches to licensing and certification, data, and employment regulation.
  3. 16 Product Things I learned at ImgurYou can A/B test individuals, but it’s nearly impossible to A/B test communities because they work based on a mutually reinforcing self-conception. Use a combination of intuition (which comes from experience), talking to other community managers and 1:1 contact with a sample of your community. But you’ll still be wrong a lot.
  4. kaldia toolkit for speech recognition written in C++ and licensed under the Apache License v2.0
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Lead with merit and be rewarded with success

Michael Lopp on the concept of merit badges for leaders.

Girl Scout Sash with Badges," by Steve Snodgrass on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license

Attend Cultivate, September 28 to 29 in New York, NY. Cultivate is our conference looking at the challenges facing modern management and aiming to train a new generation of business leaders who understand the relationship between corporate culture and corporate prosperity.

At our Cultivate conference in July, Michael Lopp had a fantastic session on “Leadership: By the Numbers,” which was a bit like leadership fundamentals that you may have forgotten or never knew. However, he also had a few slides in his presentation that were meant to be a brief tangent from his primary talk, but they grabbed my attention immediately. Lopp always has fantastic stories and pearls of wisdom from the hard-won experiences in his career like “Busy is a bug, not a feature.” But before he launched into his “Vegetable Talk” on how being a good manager is really basic—like vegetables—he explored the idea of having merit badges for leaders. Read more…

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