reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 49


  1. The Next Silicon Valley Is … Los Angeles? – Tyler Cowen
    Is the the death of SV exaggerated? Where is the next SV has been a hot topic for years now with Peter Thiel leading the move to LA. Tyler Cowen looks at the case for why LA might be the new epicenter for SV.

  2. Delight Comes Last – Matthew Ström
    Matthew on product hierarchy and why delight comes last when designing products. Although this paradigm shift from minimum viable product and lowest common denominator experiences to consumer delight is changing fast.  

  3. Superhuman – a16z
    A case study on the previous link and why consumer delight and prosumerization are in vogue. David Ulevitch on why a16z is leading the Series B round for Superhuman. 

  4. Regenerations – Venkatesh Rao
    A four-part series on regenerations and change.
    On Going Feral
    On Being an Illegible Person
    At Home, in a Car
  5. Michael Lewis on Being Lazy – Inc Magazine
    Why laziness can be a good thing.

  6. Jony Ive Is Leaving Apple – John Gruber
    A great take on what Jony Ive’s move away from Apple means for the company’s future. 

The Universal Language of Memes

Meme culture has given rise to a language that transcends boundaries, both real and imaginary. Memes are part of a globally shared pool of memory we dip into when we want to convey an idea with nuances beyond text. They call upon a sense of familiarity and shared meaning that exists despite our many differences. 

A meme entails within it, a complex relationship between objects that make the meme, one that can be applied to explain a wide variety of phenomena and evoke appropriate reactions. Perhaps there is a deeper theory here of humor as a universal language that acts as firmware for humans.

Since memes allow for easy explanations and higher information density even for complex issues, I wanted to experiment with creating a memeified version of an article that dealt with a complex idea to see if the format was appealing and useful to a broad audience.

I recently finished reading this masterpiece called The Uruk Series by Lou Keep. It is a 12-part series that talks about a number of important big-picture themes. Read the introduction here. You should read it, if you find yourself interested in any of the following questions:

Why do state-backed schemes tend to fail? 
Why do we have discontent despite growing economic prosperity?
What do we mean when we say capitalism?
Why do mass movements become popular? What ends do they serve?
Why do we see the rise of narcissism in the modern world?

Of these articles, Part 2, titled “The Meridian of Her Greatness”, talks about the in vogue questions surrounding capitalism and its discontents. This is an important question and most of us seem to be missing the point entirely, falling squarely under the category of not-even-wrong. The article is a first step in creating the right scaffolding so we can have productive conversations around the topic. 

A memeified version of this article can be found here

You can find a tweetstorm style summary of this article here. I used some of the memes in conjunction with text to make explanations easier. 

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the format! Enjoy!






reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 48


  1. The Road Less Traveled – DeWayne Roy
    DeWayne on dropping out and hustling to find a job in SF.

  2. Industry Towns – Where You Start A Company Matters – Elad Gil
    A geographical analysis of where startups are funded and why network effects dominate in startup cities.

  3. Reflections on Refactor Camp 2019 – Venkatesh Rao
    vgr reflects on an eventful refactor camp. The theme this year was Escaping Reality.

  4. Mazes as Mirrors of Creation – Dan Schmidt
    The concept of idea mazes and why creating always involves detours.
  5. The Epic Story of Container Shipping – Venkatesh Rao
    A review of the book  The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, by Marc Levinson (2006).

reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 47


  1. Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox – Lina Khan
    A comprehensive review of Amazon’s relationship with antitrust regulation and how antitrust legislation has failed to keep up with business models in a networked age. 

  2. Quasiparticles and the Miracle of Emergence – Brian Skinner
    A simple explanation of quasiparticles and how emergence works at the atomic level.

  3. A peek inside Sequoia Capital’s low-flying, wide-reaching scout program – Techcrunch
    Founders have the best connections to other founders. Sequoia used this tactic to fund startups that would’ve otherwise flown under the radar.

  4. Facebook’s cryptocurrency partners revealed—we obtained the entire list of inaugural backers – The Block Crypto
    Details on FB’s foray into crypto. 
  5. How Amazon Is Beating Antitrust Before It Happens – Chris Gillett
    A great article on how Amazon is staying ahead of the curve wrt competition and regulation.

  6. The Day You Became a Better Writer (2nd Look) – Scott Adams
    Writing tips from Scott Adams.