Four short links: 1 February 2011

Stuff That Matters, Philanthropy, Internet Protests, and Healthcare

  1. The New Calculus of Competition (Umair Haque) — Don’t just lower the lowest common denominator. Elevate the numerator. Make it worthier: more meaningful, enduring, significant. A strong call to work on stuff that matters.
  2. The Troubled History of (NY Times) — it’s hard to measure “good”, which is one reason it’s difficult to know who’s doing good in philanthropy. Couple that with a product-first measurement mindset, rather than customer-first, and it’s no wonder struggled. The reported management flapping is gravy. (via Tim O’Reilly on Twitter)
  3. Andrew Mason at Startup SchoolSo the Internet came along, and the Internet should solve all the problems of organizing people and changing collective action. But the problem is, all we’ve done is we’ve taken the old world tactics that we used offline and ported online. We haven’t really changed the way we think about things. So, for example, here is a protest against the Iraq war that people held in Second Life. [laughter] I call these tactics the tactics of inconveniencing yourself, because all these things, signing a petition or going to a protest, they’re all like mini versions of lighting yourself on fire. [laughter] They’re saying, I will sacrifice a small part of my life to show you how much I care, and that just feels so futile and not very exciting to get to be part of. And the weird thing is if the tactic you’re using is inconveniencing yourself, all the Internet does is make it easier to sign petitions, so by making it easier to inconvenience yourself, you’re making your effort more and more meaningless, right. So, if it only takes one click to write a letter to your congressman, then it takes an order of magnitude more letters for them to actually care. Pay attention, would-be government influencers.
  4. Why is Medicine Often Not Evidence-Based (Ben Goldacre) — If we assume, fairly generously, that you’ll be 80% successful at each step in this chain – which really is pretty generous – then with 7 steps, you’ll only manage to follow the evidence in practice 21% of the time (0.8^7=0.21). Healthcare needs interaction designers, not just programmers.
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