Weekend Briefing No. 120

Welcome to the Long Weekend

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! This weekend kicks off the Summer. This summer I’m hosting a book club, and I want you and your friends to join! Here’s the deal… We’ll read one book a month (see below) then discuss (in person or through the internets) on the last Thursday evening of the month. Just click on the link for the corresponding date(s) you want to join the book club.

June: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. The Weekend Briefing is all about focusing on the essentials. Essentialism is not one more thing – it’s a whole new way of doing everything. It’s about doing less, but better, in every area of our lives. Join the discussion on June 30th.

July: Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett. This book offers a grounded and fiercely hopeful vision of humanity for this century. It insists on the possibility of a common life for this century marked by resilience and redemption, with beauty as a core moral value and civility and love as muscular practice. Join the discussion on July 28th.

August: Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stevenson. A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space. Join the discussion on August 25th.


Thiel’s Pandora’s Box

Peter Thiel’s $10 million investment on lawyers managed to bring an entire media company to the brink of disaster, and he says that it’s “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.” By funding Hulk Hogan’s case, he has managed to change the world of journalism. He has made the lives of all news organizations much more precarious, and he has created a whole new weapon which can be used by any evil billionaire against any publisher. Not sure I agree with Felix Salmon on this, but learn more at Fusion (7 minutes).

The On Demand Economy

Pew Research Center conducted its first-ever comprehensive study of the scope and impact of the shared, collaborative and on-demand economy it found:  1) 72% of American adults have used at least one of 11 different shared and on-demand services. 2) 15% of Americans have used ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft, but twice as many have never heard of these apps before. 3) Women are twice as likely as men to buy handmade or artisanal goods online.  4) Those earning over $100,000 and under the age of 45 seem to use on-demand services most. Learn more at Pew (9 minutes).

Bloomberg’s Annual Letter

This week Mike Bloomberg released his annual letter that celebrated the climate deal in Paris and focused on the role of business in addressing climate change. Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), helps companies assess their internal sustainability efforts while enabling investors to compare similar companies across a range of rigorous sustainability metrics. This year, SASB will launch a pilot reporting program involving several companies to demonstrate how disclosures are a cost-effective and compelling way for businesses to understand the material risks that climate. Learn more in Medium (6 minutes).

The End Of Code

In traditional programming, an engineer writes explicit, step-by-step instructions for the computer to follow. With machine learning, programmers don’t encode computers with instructions. If in the old view programmers were like gods, authoring the laws that govern computer systems, now they’re like parents or dog trainers. As our technological and institutional creations have become more complex, our relationship to them has changed. Instead of being masters of our creations, we have learned to bargain with them, cajoling and guiding them in the general direction of our goals. We have built our own jungle, and it has a life of its own. Learn more at Wired (18 minutes).

Sweatshops To Robots

Since the 90’s the footwear industry has been grappling with labor conditions in its factories in Asia. Motivated by the rising cost of labor in Asia, more than 20 years after Adidas ceased production in Germany, they announced their return with the new “Speedfactory”, which will use machines to make shoes instead of humans. As they essentially eliminate the cost of labor, moving production closer to European and US markets makes sense. So, no more sweatshops, but also… no more jobs. Learn more in the Guardian (2 minutes).

Lift Off

The spoken word poetry of Donovan Livingston, Ed.M.’16, student speaker at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 convocation was the most inspirational thing I’ve seen this week. He touches on poverty and privilege, race and expectations in the classrooms of American schools. “Are we not astronomers — looking for the next shooting star? I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships — Tribulations into telescopes, so a child can see their potential from right where they stand. An injustice is telling them they are stars without acknowledging night that surrounds them. Injustice is telling them education is the key while you continue to change the locks.” Watch the poem at Harvard (5 minutes). H/t to Weekend Briefing Ambassador Tony Carr.

New York’s Obsession With Black

Why do New Yorkers wear black? We wear black because it’s slimming in a city that overvalues slimness. And because it confers a no-nonsense power, and we’re certainly interested in that. We wear black because it’s sexy — possibly the legacy of lingerie. We wear black because we’re not tourists here to see a show; because we are, in a sense, with the band. The band is New York, and the color is black. Read more in New York Mag (4 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.