Weekend Briefing No. 121

Welcome to the Weekend

Hello from Palo Alto! While I’m out here I had the chance to meet up with some amazing people including Todd Johnson – Partner at Jones Day who has been driving the social enterprise law movement – and Bernadette Clavier – Director of Stanford’s Center of Social Innovation (both Weekend Briefing readers). They both encouraged me to check out Stanford’s Design for Extreme Affordability Expo, where grad students were solving a design challenge at the bottom of the pyramid. Cool stuff.

I’m pretty blown away about the tremendous participation in the Weekend Briefing book club. We’re reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. If you are still interested, join the discussion on June 30th.

Oh, and here’s some good music for the month of June.

I’m working on a post about how not to “network”. Do you have any pet peeves when people reach out to you for professional advice? If so, reply to this email and let me know. If they’re good I’ll include them in the post.

The Beasts of Silicon Valley

We’ve all heard of unicorns – private companies worth more than $1b (at least on paper), but here is a list of other mythical creatures that reflect the increasingly diverse herd of tech companies. Reddit, for example, is best represented by Cerberus, which guards the gates of Hell (internet comments). Google is naturally the Hydra, because as soon as one of its heads, such as Google Wave, is removed, two grow back in its place. My favorite is the Cyclops Instagram, a one-eyed giant that resides on an island with meats, cheeses, latte art, and a quality of light so delicious it nearly killed Odysseus when he washed ashore. Learn your beasts at Quartz (6 minutes).

Fixing the Future

Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures sees a our digital progress as mostly good, but cautions that in order for long-term human flourishing we need to protect 3 freedoms. 1) Economic Freedom – putting people in charge of their time, including the introduction of a basic income. 2) Informational Freedom – open access to information and how is it distributed including, i.e. net neutrality.   3) Psychological Freedom – the ability for people to self-regulate their consumption of information and build healthy habits.  Watch the interview at YouTube (14 minutes).

Can Our Bodies Handle the Hyperloop?

People hop into a pod, which would travel up to 760 miles per hour inside a tube. That’s a whisker shy of breaking the sound barrier. So, is this a ticket to puke city? Outside of the turns and emergency stops, the health ramifications for average people should be non-existent, if the acceleration and deceleration max out at 0.1 to 0.3 Gs, the same level of gravitational force we feel on a commercial airline. Learn more at Scientific American (6 minutes).

China’s Solar Surge

China is now the largest producer of solar power in the world with 43 gigawatts of solar energy, against Germany’s 40 gigawatts. Obviously, on a per capita basis, Germany is still way ahead, but this surge in China is great for the industry as a whole. As the industry has grown, the price per watt of installations dropped from $8 in 2007 to under $3 in 2014. Now China is fully on board, we might expect its massive manufacturing capacity to push that down way further. Learn more at Fast Company (4 minutes).

Problem Solving In A Polarized World

We live in an increasingly polarized world, which makes it incredibly challenging to tackle society’s most pressing challenges. Recent research about rethinking the very act of problem-solving shows us how to get unstuck. 1) Engage unlikely bedfellows. Eliminate the “echo chamber”. 2) Frame the issue in a way that galvanizes all stakeholders. 3) A commitment to on-going learning, allows people to discover new data that may reshape their opinion and move beyond a tendency to privilege the data that supports their existing position. Learn more at Stanford Social Innovation Review (7 minutes). H/t Gregory Khalil.

The Liberal Blind Spot

According to Nicholas Kristoff, a self-proclaimed Liberal, Liberals promote all kinds of diversity on campuses — except ideological. Universities risk becoming liberal echo chambers and hostile environments for conservatives. Here are 3 reasons to be more open-minded to conservatives: 1) Stereotyping and discrimination are wrong, whether against gays or Muslims, or against conservatives or evangelicals. 2) There’s abundant evidence of the benefits of diversity. Multiple perspectives strengthen an institution. 3) When scholars cluster on the left end of the spectrum, they marginalize themselves. Read more in the New York Times (6 minutes).

63,000 NYT Wedding Announcements

What can reviewing 63,000 New York Times wedding announcements tell us about the changing nature of love and marriage? 1) Schools are the most common place to meet — but apps are on the rise. 2) OkCupid led to the most marriages, having introduced 39 couples, while Match and JDate follow with 16 and nine couples, respectively. Tinder and Hinge have 4 each. 3) 30-something is the new 20-something. Wedding announcements started including ages in 1989, when the median age was 27 for women and 29 for men. As of 2016, the median ages have increased to 30 for women and 32 for men. Dive deeper into the data at Vox (7 minutes).

About The Weekend Briefing

The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway.

Thanks for making the Weekend Briefing a part of your Saturday morning routine. Have a restful and thoughtful weekend.