Bloomberg is just being more and more impressive. After his Citibike initiative, and attempted ban on big gulps, he’s now tackling recycling. He is just one of the more forward-looking mayors out there. See also his bold plans for preventing the next Sandy. He is a good example of how someone can apply their forward-looking skills in both business (taking out Reuters by focusing on the holistic needs of the trader, as mentioned in Blue Ocean Strategy) and government/urban planning.
I really hope that: a) whoever takes over shows us much foresight (unlikely, I know) and b) that Bloomberg continues his work on the global scale, through more initiatives like his city league for climate change.
Joss Whedon – for being one of the best out there at mixing highbrow and lowbrow. Who else directs Shakespeare in his home in black and white after filming one of the biggest, most spectacular blockbusters of all time? You could argue that many filmmakers and novelist do this, the need to follow the big with the small, etc. But they often don’t do it well. De Lillo followed up the best novel of the last century, Underworld, with Cosmopolis, which was pretty flat (although looking forward to see Cronenberg’s take on it). Donna Tartt was supposed to write a short novella after her overblown second novel, The Little Friend, that never even came out (although now apparently a third novel is coming out). Whedon, however, succeeds in pulling off both with equal panache. A true example of the hybrid mentality. Here is an interesting podcast interview with him, by the way, where he shows how much Buffy et al are inspired by his mother.
As we hear in stories time and time again, the traditional newspaper industry, based on circulation numbers and print advertising, might be dead. A new BBC Documentary series on the future of media just started, and the first one looks specifically at newspapers. It is true that we are seeing the decline of a lot of newspapers (hey, even the FT has spelling mistakes these days), but the newspaper is just the medium.
Journalism itself is far from dead, it seems to be thriving like never before. From the new revenue models of Byliner and the Atavist to Medium‘s curated take on the newsflow, there seems to be more experimentation than ever.
I still love glossy magazines as well, and Monocle, even if they’re sometimes a bit too retro and backward striving, have a great podcast on the rejuvenation of publishing formats, the Stack, on Monocle24.
I love that even New Republic, under its so far seemingly inspiring new leadership, has its Flypaper section, where they’re recycling media with the best of them.
Saw this TED talk featuring Lisa Bu, talking about reading books in pairs, which is a very nice idea. Over the last year, or really since I started reading exclusively on my Kindle, I’ve been trying to do something similar, either reading in pairs, or triads, or full clusters.
It is definitely the case that with the amount of good books published these days, a lot of them will reference the same examples and the same research. It is therefore quite fun to read them in clusters and compare how they treat similar subjects.
One cluster I’ve enjoyed recently is the Kahneman cluster, featuring various books on system 1 and 2 thinking, and the shortcuts the brain takes when operating under system 1. Maria Konnikova, in her very illuminating Mastermind, calls them System [Sherlock] Holmes and System Watson. Other good recent books that refer to many of the phenomena identified by Kahneman and Tversky (as well as Cialdini) and are worth reading at the same time are e.g. Sunstein and Thaler’s Nudge and Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise.
There was a very interesting article in the FT yesterday, on Asian civil society, and the battles they choose to fight. One of the points made is a comparison between these NGOs’ priorities and how developing countries made a quantum leap in telecommunications and computing, skipping the landline and desktop stages and jumping straight to the smartphone, and text-based apps on feature phones.
It is an interesting analogy, but it is probably faulty, since the battles they choose to fight are probably the only ones they can fight, not a choice. But then again, maybe so was the move to smartphones.
Was listening to a BBC podcast this morning with an interview with Bill Viola, where he mentioned that Japanese has a word for the space between trees. I imagine it’s the concept of Ma, that he’s referring to. It’s a beautiful concept, and a reminder of the quotidian dark matter we have around us.