reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 26


  1. If you haven’t heard of Lambda School, it’s time to start paying attention – Stefan Von Imhof
    If you’re active on Twitter, by now you’ve probably heard of Lambda School — the online school where you owe nothing until you get a job.

    If not, it’s probably time to start paying attention.

    The future of education is here. 

  2. Guilty (of Success) by Association – Leon Coe
    Conclusion: If you want to create something important, randomness is more influential than focus.
    Subject Matter: Where you live has a large effect on the type of randomness you encounter, thus shaping your thoughts, friends, and things you work on.

  3. India’s population growth will come to an end: the number of children has already peaked – Our World in Data
    India’s population is expected to continue to grow until mid-century, reaching an estimated 1.68 billion in the 2050s. But an important piece of evidence tells us that population growth will come to an end: The number of children in India peaked more than a decade ago and is now falling.

    What are the second-order consequences of this fact? How will this affect the economy? 

  4. Schumpeter on Strategy – Jerry Neumann
    The mainstream of economics, then as now, pretty much tries to describe the economy as if it shouldn’t change. If it is changing, it’s changing towards an equilibrium, where it won’t have to change any more.

    Schumpeter noticed that this is not how it works. Both the economy as a whole and individual businesses change constantly. His model of the latter, in his Theory of Economic Development, explains how some entrepreneurs make an unusually large amount of money.

    There are three main parts.

    First, almost all entrepreneurs don’t make an abnormal amount of money, even of the successful ones. They make the same amount as if they were doing the same job for someone else.

    Obviously, some entrepreneurs do make a lot of money. This is the second part of Schumpeter’s argument. Those that make money, an entrepreneurial profit, do so by breaking the status quo. They innovate. They either get their inputs for less or they sell their outputs for more.

    Third part of the argument: this entrepreneurial profit goes away over time. Competitors figure out that there is this extra money and they imitate the innovator. When this happens, the surplus or excess profit is worn away as imitators enter the market and compete with the innovator.

  5. Time & Tribe – John O’Lilly
    The special thing about having that much context, and people around who know & believe in you is how much they can frame the year that’s past, and the year ahead.
    Your tribe has the context about you & your life — and can remind you, when you need it, of who you are, and who you can be.

  6. Introducing Lambda Async: Our Way to Guarantee Student Job Readiness – Caleb Hicks
    This is an excellent example of how technology can help scale effective student outcomes. All driven by aligned incentives. 

  7. Remembering Pierre Kabamba – Ribbonfarm
    This is a touching profile of Venkatesh Rao’s advisor. 
  8. The tech sector is over – Financial Times
    Everything is tech. Software has eaten the world (almost).
reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 25


  1. Epsilon Theory Core Curriculum, Vol. 1 – Ben Hunt
    A great list of books to build your mental models. Except Nate Silver, don’t read that one.  

  2. ‘I saw the making of Cheteshwar Pujara’ – Indian Express
    Sandeep Dwivedi grew up in a house that overlooked the ground where an 8-year old Cheteshwar Pujara learnt to bat from his cricket-tragic father. He witnessed the baby steps taken by India’s No.3, closely followed his rise up the ranks and has watched him bat around the world.

  3. Here’s The Technique That Ambitious People Use To Get What They Want – Ryan Holiday
    Ramit Sethi has called this the “Briefcase Technique,”saying that the best job applicants wait for a moment right after the pleasantries have ended and the basic information about the position has been explained.

    It is here, after they have answered just enough questions to establish comfort and trust, that they reveal how much research they have done prior to showing up, by explaining all the things they’ve learned about the business, how they intend to improve it and exactly why they’re the right person for the job. This move, done politely but confidently, immediately separates them from all the other potential hires.

  4. Travel Is No Cure for the Mind – More to That
    While travel does expand and stretch the horizons of what we know about the world, it is not the answer we’re looking for in times of unrest. To strengthen the health of the mind, the venue to do that in is the one we are in now.

    This post is my adaptation of Seneca’s awesome letter to Lucilius on the subject of travel. I highly recommend that you check it out — along with all of Seneca’s other wonderful letters as well.

  5. How to overcome the “scarcity mindset” – Rad Reads
    By pursuing ever-elusive gratification and trying to hang onto it, we do natural selection’s bidding—we seek the things that in the past would have contributed to genetic proliferation. We seek status, sex, material resources, and more and more of all of these things. The evaporation of the gratification they bring is natural selection’s way of getting us to keep pursuing them.

    We see the influence of this survivalist mindset in our economic systems, ranging from Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” or Hobbes tying “self-preservation” to “self-interest.” In turn, scarcity reinforces zero-sum thinking, the destructive “I win, you lose” that masquerades as meritocratic competition.

  6. Taleb The Philosopher – First Things
    A profile on Nassim Taleb. 

  7. Finland’s grand AI experiment – Politico
    An interesting idea but one that is fairly small when you compare it with universities or other countries. 

    The idea has a simple, Nordic ring to it: Start by teaching 1 percent of the country’s population, or about 55,000 people, the basic concepts at the root of artificial technology, and gradually build on the number over the next few year

  8. How Not to Be Stupid – Farnam Street
    Intelligence but via negativa.
  9. 2018 Letter – Dan Wang
    Dan Wang on Moore’s Law, China, Writing and more.  
  10. Swipe Right to Let Me Take Your Profile Photo – Hannah Wei
    To me, good photo sessions are no different than good dates. Good dates are playful. Think about how many coffee dates that didn’t inspire you to be fully expressive. How might your actions, expressions and conversations be carried out differently if you were suddenly standing on a rooftop pretending to be a super villain with a partner in crime? Any good dating profile photo should reflect a subject’s most interesting and authentic self. I could only capture my partner like that when we were both caught up in the moment.
    You have to create a moment in order to inspire people to fall into it.
    It wasn’t about the camera. It wasn’t even about striking a good pose. It was about finding a unique connection through shared adventure, and being so effortlessly caught up in the moment that one couldn’t help but want to remember every second of it with photos.
reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 24


  1. The Truth About Hard Work – Naval Ravikant and Kapil Gupta
    To the experts, what looks like hard work from the outside, is play from the inside. So a good area to focus on is an area that looks like work to others, but feels like play to you – That’s your superpower. 

  2. Indian technology talent is flocking to Canada – The Economist
    Pushed out by the cost of living as well as by a less welcoming American government, they are being pulled in by countries such as Canada, where tech vacancies are forecast to reach 200,000 by 2020. Canada is gambling that by the time America wakes up to the cost of discouraging immigrants its tech sector will have secured some of the best talent.

  3. It’s probably time to learn Chinese – Eric Meltzer
    The world seems to be moving from a unipolar America-led situation towards a bi-or-multipolar one where China assumes a lot more importance, so speaking Chinese is a good hedge in that sense.

    Important reasons –
    1. China is emerging from its copycat phase and is beginning to produce interesting technology and cultural products again.
    2. Almost as many people speak Mandarin as English; about 1.5 billion for each language.
    3. Very few Mandarin speakers also speak English. The oft-cited figure of 300 million english-speakers in China is laughable propaganda, and the true number is probably closer to 10 million, or less than 1% of the population.

  4. Sustainability is Unsustainable – Jed Lea-Henry
    Human history is a history of hardship and suffering not because it has to be so, but because it is also a history of near-complete stasis. And this is why ‘sustainability’ is such a dangerous idea.

    The term has two complementary meanings: ‘unchanging’ and ‘providing’. It’s the idea that we can find a stable, non-dangerous way of life, where no more existential problems arise that require creativity and progress to solve. This is Garden of Eden-type thinking — environments never sustain anything!

  5. A Strong Cold Email Always Beats A Weak Warm One – Hunter Walk
    What would I prefer instead? Send me a great cold email. One which tells me why you’re reaching out, directs my attention to something, and suggests what you’d like as a next step. Provide proof, rather than claims (show me code, a blog post, a deck). And don’t start off by apologizing for sending me a cold email.

  6. The biggest threat to Netflix in India is not Amazon Prime, or even Hotstar, but Reliance Jio – Aviral Bhatnagar
    With Jio pushing data onto your mobile, it can also bundle content through its “pipes.” The Jio service doesn’t only provide data, but could also provide video, audio and other content.

    Expectedly, Jio acquired Saavn for music streaming, signed deals with Balaji, Eros and Star for video and has even partnered with cable.

    Jio’s bundle could be more powerful than a standalone Netflix, in a reversal of the unbundling. For one subscription price, you could get a lot more than video.

  7. Falling for my Booty Call – Sarah Kasbeer on Longreads
    Sarah Kasbeer reflects on a history of hookups — and why they left her cold.
  8. Meet the Woman Who’s Created the 21st Century Finance Model for Emerging Technologies – Riva Tez
    Riva-Melissa Tez is the CEO and co-founder of Permutation in San Francisco. A London native, she runs an artificial intelligence platform and incubator. In her spare time, she works on The Longevity Cookbook, alongside Maria Konovalenkoand Steve Aoki, which is a book that distills academic research into practical measures for slowing the aging process. This is an edited transcript of a recorded interview.
  9. Investing Ideas That Changed My Life – Morgan Housel
    You spend years trying to learn new stuff but then look back and realize just a few big ideas changed how you think and drive most of what you believe.

    Morgan on convexity in re-reading. 

  10. Unit Economics – Sam Altman
    Commentators are looking hard for what’s wrong with startups in Silicon Valley.  First they talked about valuations being too high.  Then they talked about valuations not really meaning anything.  Then they talked about companies staying private too long.  Then they talked about burn rates.
    But something does feel off, though it’s been hard to precisely identify.
    I think the answer is unit economics.
reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 23


  1. On Labor Mobility, Economic Growth, and Targeted Programs – Center for Global Development
    For at least a couple of decades NGOs and others in developing countries have been designing, evaluating, tinkering, and trying to improve projects and programs that deliver specific in-kind “interventions” (e.g., micro-credit, asset transfers, business training, savings) to targeted individuals/households (e.g., women, the “ultra-poor”, small enterprises) in ways that raised their incomes in a sustained way. 

    This is a great, nuanced discussion on whether such interventions are of any significance as compared to the growth that can be achieved by focusing on big picture questions such as “How to achieve sustained economic growth?” or “How to prevent cyclical effects of recessions?” 

  2. Game of Thrones: A Girardian Reading – Dan Wang
    Girard’s ideas applied to ASOIAF.

  3. Peter Thiel Is a Closet Humanist (A review of Zero to One) – The New Republic
    “The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.”

    This call to intellectual originality is the core thesis of his new book, which isn’t really a management manual or guide to startups so much as an extended polemic against stagnation, convention, and uninspired thinking. What Thiel is after is the revitalization of imagination and invention writ large.

  4. Peter Thiel and thinking for yourself – Dan Wang
    Peter Thiel is asked the formula for starting great businesses at every talk he gives. His answer is every time the same: “There is no formula. You have to figure it out for yourself.”
    In his interview, Tyler offers a summary of Thiel’s thought. (Search for the paragraph that mentions Tocqueville.) I haven’t read enough Girard to follow the part about original sin, but Tyler describes Thiel as someone who is trying to get us to break free of socially-derived opinions and to see the world without distortions.
  5. I can tolerate anything except the outgroup – Slate Star Codex
    Scott Alexander on tolerance, forgiveness and group dynamics. 

  6. Violence and the Sacred: College as an incubator of Girardian terror – Dan Wang
    Where should we expect Girard’s predictions for mimetic crises to run most rampant? At places where values are confused and people are much the same. To me, that description best fits one place in particular: the American college.

    An excellent application of Girard’s ideas to elite universities where people are stuck playing zero-sum games driven by mimetic contagion. 

  7. Blockchains Never Forget – Venkatesh Rao 
    I’ll share more about the specifics of this experience, and lessons learned, but mainly I want to enter my first serious attempt at blockchain punditry into the public record: the blockchain is irreversible social computing. 
    The message of the medium is this: blockchains never forget. By providing an extra-institutional base layer of irreversibly settling collective memories that cannot be erased, blockchains create a foundation for fundamentally different institutional and technological landscapes. Ones based, as I will argue, on a notion of artificial forgiveness.
  8. The Rise of the Full-Stack Freelancer – Tiago Forte
    Full-Stack Freelancers respond to technology as an opportunity, not a threat. They leverage software-as-a-service and online platforms to vertically integrate a “full stack” of capabilities, instead of focusing on one narrow function. This allows them to capture a much greater percentage of the value they create, instead of giving it away to gatekeepers and distribution bottlenecks.
    Full-Stack Freelancers are responding to a series of technology-driven trends — contingent employment, intensifying globalization, and automation — by taking advantage of the other side of the coin: technology finally becoming powerful enough, cheap enough, and user-friendly enough to be deployed productively by a single individual.  
  9. The Blockchain Man – Taylor Pearson
    Or A Speculative Sociology of Our Blockchain Future

    The Blockchain Man’s world will be defined by the three tenets of the Protocol Ethic.

    a belief in the individual as the source of creativity
    a belief in serving the needs of the protocol as the ultimate purpose of the individual
    and a belief in the application of blockchains to achieve an individual’s highest potential.

  10. Ghost in the machine: Snapchat isn’t mobile-first , it’s something else entirely – Ben Basche
    It’s tempting to think of Snapchat as a part of the app revolution, as one of the shining examples of mobile-first design that has defined our smartphone age.
    This is of course true to an extent, but seeing Snapchat take its place at a consistent #1 or 2 in the US App Store alongside Facebook and Google’s main properties (and the other flavors of the week) somewhat obscures what is actually going on here.
    Snapchat is not mobile-first, and it’s not really an app anymore. Nor is it a meta-app platform at this point like Facebook Messenger is angling to become (at least not yet). Snapchat is a true creature of mobile, a living, breathing embodiment of everything that our camera-enabled, networked pocket computer can possibly offer. And in its cooption of smartphones into a true social operating system, we see the inklings of what is beyond mobile.