Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

23rd January 2016

1) Brilliant. Apparently, humans aren’t as cooperative as we thought, but make up for it via stupidity. Economic experiments supposedly show cooperation may instead depict confusion.

2) From The Economist – The Danger of Too Much Collaboration. ‘The biggest problem with collaboration is that it makes… “deep work” difficult, if not impossible. Deep work is the killer app of the knowledge economy: it is only by concentrating intensely that you can master a difficult discipline or solve a demanding problem. Many of the most productive knowledge workers go out of their way to avoid meetings and unplug electronic distractions. Peter Drucker, a management thinker, argued that you can do real work or go to meetings, but you cannot do both.

3) Mesmerising. YouTube user DJ Hammers has been uploading videos of start-to-finish trips on NYC subway lines from the perspective of the operator at the front of the train. Here’s the time lapse of the Queens-bound 7 train. What the NYC subway train saw.

4) Why the Bitcoin experiment is failing – ‘It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of money that lacked “systemically important institutions” and “too big to fail” has become something even worse: a system completely controlled by just a handful of people. Worse still, the network is on the brink of technical collapse. The mechanisms that should have prevented this outcome have broken down, and as a result there’s no longer much reason to think Bitcoin can actually be better than the existing financial system.’

5) From WARC and Deloitte Digital – a 2016 Toolkit For The Video Revolution. ‘Marketers’ video efforts have often appeared to be piecemeal, and based on a campaign-by- campaign logic. As consumers watch increasing amounts of content across a diverse range of outlets, brands may benefit from following YouTube’s framework of ‘hero’, ‘hub’ and ‘housecleaning’ content –essentially this means striking a balance between ‘push’ and ‘pull’.

6) Great toe tapping fun. 30 GIFS inspired by New York City.Here is the NYC ‘Gifathon’.

7) The strangely successful life of Q-Tips. ‘Q-tips are one of the most perplexing things for sale in America. Plenty of consumer products are widely used in ways other than their core function – books for levelling tables, newspapers for keeping fires aflame, seltzer for removing stains, coffee tables for resting legs – but these cotton swabs are distinct. Q-tips are one of the only, if not the only, major consumer products whose main purpose is precisely the one the manufacturer explicitly warns against.’

8) Great fun last Friday afternoon when I attended The Lab(@itsthelab) hosted by Steve Chapman, an afternoon of experiments in movement, art, dialogue, silence, posture, masks and writing. Surprising, inspiring and highly recommended. Here is the write-up.

9) From Science Magazine, how the Venus Flytrap avoids being tricked and closes in on its real prey.

10) Mapping places in America, where Prohibition never ended.

And finally…

The 160 year old Ganges Canal Super Passages are an engineering marvel.

…and Liquid Ping Pong in Space.