Weekend Briefing No. 98

Weekend Briefing No. 98 | The Ideas That Moved Us in 2015

Welcome to the last weekend of 2015. As the year comes to a close, I wanted to organize the Weekend Briefing a little differently to give you a chance to reflect on the ideas that moved us in 2015. As I’m looking back at a whole year, this briefing will be a little longer than normal… so, sorry, not sorry.

We’ll kick off with the ANNUAL BRIEFING section, where I’ve selected the best of the “best of” roundups from around the web. As you’ll see they are organized by publication. As you may know, I’m a podcasting junkie, so the next section PODCASTS OF THE YEAR is a selection of a few favorites. Then, lastly we close with my favorite video and photos in IMAGES OF THE YEAR.

I hope you take away some key ideas from this year that challenge you to take better and smarter action in 2016.





The Promise of Lean Experimentation. Nonprofits might benefit from embracing more experimentation and iterative testing in their work.

Philanthropy’s New Frontier. Philanthropists should invest in promising enterprises that have significant social impact, even if they offer below-market-rate returns.

Are Nonprofits Getting in the Way of Social Change? Nonprofits need to evolve—from self-interested to collaborative, and from institutional to entrepreneurial.

See all 10 stories at Stanford Social Innovation Review.



$250 to $500: How much it costs to store a kilowatt-hour of energy in today’s top-of-the-line lithium-ion batteries. It’s not exactly “Moore’s Law for Batteries,” but it seems fair to say the cost of lithium-ion battery storage is falling at a considerable pace.

36: The number of installed industrial robots per 10,000 manufacturing employees in China. That’s good for fifth place in the world but China is far behind the world leader, South Korea, which has 478 robots per 10,000 factory workers. Japan (315), Germany (292), and the U.S. (164) are the others in the top five. But China’s number is important because it reveals the enormous room for growth in the largest and fastest growing market in the world.

See all the stories at MIT Technology Review.



The Pope reminds us that we’re all connected. The Pope’s encyclical, Laudito Si, is a manifesto asking that we reconsider the current form of capitalism and made a powerful case for tackling climate change and inequality on moral and economic grounds.

Wall Street wakes up. For years, asset owners with longer-term horizons, like pension or sovereign wealth funds, have pressed companies to better manage environmental and social issues. This year, the shorter-term investors (shorthand: “Wall Street”) started to join in.

Consumers (finally) show interest in sustainable products. A Morgan Stanley report found that Millennials are twice as likely to buy from brands with good management of environmental and social issues, and twice as likely to check product packaging for sustainability performance.

See all 10 stories on sustainable business at Harvard Business Review.



What The Data Says About Airbnb In New York City. 16,000 people are renting out their entire apartments on Airbnb—meaning many are illegal hotels. There’s also a divide between neighborhoods rich and poor.

The People’s Uber: Why The Sharing Economy Must Share Ownership. Workers are often taken advantage of by the on-demand economy. What if they ran it instead?

Airbnb For Energy. Now You Can Buy Solar Power From Your Neighbor. The sharing economy meets renewable energy.

See all 12 stories on the sharing economy at Fast Company.



The Problem We All Live With (Parts 1 and 2). Chronicling segregation and integration in public schools, the episode shows how racial integration has solved much of the disparities in public schools in the past—and how geographic segregation unravels this hard work. Listen at This American Life.

Belt Buckle. A friend enlists Starlee Kine to track down the original owner of a belt found lying in an Arizona gutter decades earlier. Finished with metalwork depicting a miniature breakfast feast and emblazoned with the names “Hans Jordi” and “Bob Six,” the belt seemed like the last thing anyone would toss to the side of the road. Listen at Mystery Show. Listen at Mystery Show.

Every Night Ever. One night in 1953 something strange visited the sleepy town of Austell, Georgia. It’s an interesting enough little story, but it’s the quiet, wistful scoring and careful attention to detail that elevates this account from a textbook footnote to a timeless tale about the human desire to find meaning in our lives. Listen at The Memory Palace.

The Hero’s Journey. From the Odyssey, to Robinson Crusoe, to Star Wars — why are we drawn to stories about heroes? And what do they tell us about ourselves? This hour, TED speakers explore what makes a hero’s journey. Listen at TED Radio Hour.



The Himalayas from 20,000 ft. The aerial cinema experts at Teton Gravity Research release the first ultra HD footage of the Himalayas shot from above 20,000 ft. Filmed from a helicopter with a crew flying from Kathmandu at 4,600 ft. up to 24,000 ft. on supplemental oxygen, these are some of the most stable, crisp, clear aerial shots of these mountains ever released, which include Mt. Everest, Ama Dablam, and Lhotse. Watch at Vimeo.

The year in search. Google’s annual “Year in Search” video remind us that people turn to Google in the moments that matter to them—from the profound to the mundane. More than 100 billion searches are conducted on Google each month. And every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube, generating billions of views. That adds up to a whole lot of collective curiosities. The data that Search and YouTube capture offers a real-time pulse on the shared experiences of our culture. Watch at Google.

The year in pictures. This was the year of the great unraveling, with international orders and borders challenged or broken, with thousands of deaths, vast flows of migrants and terrorist attacks on some of the most cherished symbols of civilization, both Western and Muslim. See a month-by-month pictorial account and the year in visual stories and graphics from the New York Times.



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.