Friday threads


  • How school rankings work. I have so much suspicion of school rankings. First, I am skeptical that they actually measure the effectiveness of schools. Second, I suspect that they direct billions if not trillions of dollars of spending every year when parents go to shop for a home and check school ratings 8 and above.
  • Snowball earth! Everytime I run into an article or youtube video like this I falll for it. Just go through wikipedia and then dramatize it a little bit for me.
  • “Surely nothing could “survive,” whatever that means exactly, for 100 million years. But when brought back to the lab and offered nutrients, the microbes began to grow and multiply.” How deep does life go?
  • The Founder Effect. The closer you are to the original source, the more variation you’ll find.
  • Albert Hirschman on decision making as the scarce factor in economic development. One of my main observations from working at YouTube was the company was decision constrained, not resource constrained.
  • Are LLMs reaching diminishing returns? On some level, I find this comforting — I feel confident that I’ll be able to work in a way that compliments the LLM and there will still be room for humans in the loop.
  • “Alex died suddenly, when he was still relatively young. The evening before he died, Alex said to Pepperberg, “You be good. I love you.The Great Silence by Ted Chiang.

Friday Threads


  1. Maggie Appleton on organizing community.
  2. The leveling effect of AI. I saw this study once upon a time and then lost it. In a call center, deploying LLMs improves novice or low skilled employees more than high skilled employees by helping them mimic high skilled employees.
  3. The AI Email Assistant I've Been Waiting for, with Andrew Lee of Shortwave. Great technical deep dive on how to create AI experiences that actually work.
  4. Social Technographics Ladder
  5. This week my daughter and I have started using ChatGPT’s voice feature to ask questions on the way to school (e.g., “Tell me about Dinosaurs”); if you’re a podcaster, this is competition!

Friday threads


  1. The surprising historical accuracy of ancient flood stories in Australia. At this point, I feel like stories passed down are underrated as a way of understanding the past. The bias should be towards assuming there is some truth in it, but that you’re not yet sure what it is.
  2. “Part of this instinct, part of why this is hard to control (at least I think!) is that we sometimes expect a degree of understanding from our kids which they just do not have.” Emily Oster on children and discipline. Guilty as charged here.
  3. How to be more agentic. One for me to practice: Court rejection.
  4. New to me at least: a Deep Fake of London Mayor Sadiq Kahn leads to protests and violence. Several clips of deep fake audio are played over the course of this podcast, including some by the host and I couldn’t tell which were real and which weren’t.
  5. How the wrong side at Boeing won. Makes me think of this quote from Bill Russell:

    Let’s talk about statistics. The important statistics in basketball are supposed to be points scored, rebounds and assists. But nobody keeps statistics on other important things – the good fake you make that helps your teammate score; the bad pass you force the other team to make; the good long pass you make that sets up another pass that sets up another pass that leads to a score; the way you recognize when one of your teammates has a hot hand that night and you give up your own shot so he can take it. All of those things. Those were some of the things we excelled in that you won’t find in the statistics.

  6. You can’t tell people anything.

Friday threads


  1. What makes a superfood? . “As a marketer, if your product happens to come out first in something, you might want to look into it.”
  2. How to do things if you're not that smart and don't have any talent. Some favorites:
    • Be bold
    • Bring a sense of urgency & move fast.
    • Ask your naive questions.
    • Simplify things.
    • Follow up.
    • Show up during the hard times.
  3. Nat Bullard’s Decarbonization 2023
  4. Math Team. Such a waste of young life. I hope I never do this to my children.
  5. How Pixar does listening. My favorite tip: free writing thoughts before responding as a way of avoiding group think. I’d imagine that Amazon’s memo culture produces similar benefits.
  6. I’ve been asking ChatGPT a lot recently to help write “Stripe quality documentation” and getting great results. A new milestone for brands is having a style distinctive enough that LLMs recognize it.