Weekend Briefing No. 90

Welcome to the weekend. This week, Angela Merkle visited China, while Mark Zukerberg held a town hall style Q&A in India and the Republicans had a happy hour debate. The US Navy sailed a warship into waters claimed by China. The USS Lassen passed within 12 nautical miles of the Subi Reef in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago, demonstrating that the US does not recognize China’s territorial claims to the area.


#OptOutside. On Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, REI is doing something big. They are closing their doors and paying their employees to get outside. This campaign reminds me a whole lot of Patagonia’s 2011 Black Friday ad telling customers, “Don’t Buy This Jacket” (of course, the jacket sold out). I’m starting to wonder if this type of campaign is becoming an unoriginal and passé press stunt. But, on the whole, any step encouraging people to consume less and live more is probably a good thing… and paying your employees to have fun is pretty cool too. Learn more about the #OptOutside movement.  Thanks to Carol Lammers and Phil Anema for sharing this with me.

Techno-utopia in the classroom. Tech execs are attempting to disrupt education. Salman Kahn is leading the way. On the back of his amazingly popular Kahn Academy, he has founded Kahn Lab School, an experimental school in which kids work at their own pace, picking up core skills via software like Khan Academy, with teachers tracking their progress and helping out as needed. Lab School’s overall approach to education is a touchy-feely surface that masks a rigorous fealty to tracking data about every dimension of a student’s scholastic and social progress. Every week, students set their own academic goals—the level of math they hope to master, the amount of time they plan to dedicate to that goal. Read more in WIRED.

Jumbo Wild. This is just the latest in the brand’s barely year-old New Localism content campaign that’s been creatively combining treehugger ideals with adrenaline-junkie action. We’re all used to seeing high-energy ski or surf films, Patagonia is trying to flip that on its head a bit by not only getting people excited about a place or a sport, but help them understand these places are often threatened and need to be protected. They’ve found that having an athlete use their own voice—like skier Leah Evans in Jumbo Wild, who grew up in that region—is a powerful thing that opens people’s eyes, and that’s been evident in the response.

Big Data, Small Credit is a report from the Omidyar Nework looking at the potential to expand credit access by analyzing mobile and smartphone usage data, utility records, Internet browsing patters and social media behavior. China, Brazil, India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey have 325 to 580 million people who lack access credit, but have some digital footprint. India alone has 100 to 160 million such consumers. In the last few years, a cluster of fast-emerging and innovative firms has begun to use highly predictive technologies and algorithms to interrogate and generate insights from these footprints, Read the report to learn more.

The world is about to start sounding more feminine as voice becomes a more common user interface. Siri is an integral element to navigating the newly announced Apple TV. The Nest smoke detector interacts with users via a female voice. It would be easy to credit—or fault—male designers, perhaps influenced by science fiction characters (in Her, for example, or Ex Machina) or worse, defaulting to the stereotype of a compliant sidekick. But the biggest reason for the female slant rests in social science and its impact on business. By and large, people tend to respond more positively to women’s voices. And the brand managers and product designers tasked with developing voices for their companies are trying to reach the largest number of customers. Read more in WIRED.


Rising Strong. The process of regaining our footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Our stories of struggle can be big ones, like the loss of a job or the end of a relationship, or smaller ones, like a conflict with a friend or colleague. Regardless of magnitude or circumstance, the rising strong process is the same: We reckon with our emotions and get curious about what we’re feeling; we rumble with our stories until we get to a place of truth; and we live this process, every day, until it becomes a practice and creates nothing short of a revolution in our lives. Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness.


9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings. As Maria Popova’s (my favorite curator on the web) site Brain Pickings turns 9 years old, she shares 9 things that she’s learned along the way.

Everything you know about happiness is wrong. Happiness isn’t something that should be chased.


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 Law. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine. Thanks.