Tom The Architect

Technology and other Interesting Stuff

Category: Recommendations

Tyler Cowen Interviews Daniel Kahneman

Economist Tyler Cowen interviews Daniel Kahneman (well worth a listen) renowned psychologist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences. I first learned about Daniel Kahneman when I read his 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow (NY Times book review), detailing his research and experiments demonstrating the impact of intuitive thinking and cognitive bias on our behavior.

In his conversation with Tyler he demonstrated the deep consideration he has given to a wide range of topics and his comfort with not knowing all of the answers.  Here are some great quotes from the interview:

Referring to a paper on happiness he authored with Alan Krueger:

Altogether, I don’t think that people maximize happiness in that sense. And that’s one of the reasons that I actually left the field of happiness, in that I was very interested in maximizing experience, but this doesn’t seem to be what people want to do. They actually want to maximize their satisfaction with themselves and with their lives. And that leads in completely different directions than the maximization of happiness.

On happiness feeling good:

Yeah, happiness feels good in the moment. But it’s in the moment. What you’re left with are your memories. And that’s a very striking thing — that memories stay with you, and the reality of life is gone in an instant. So memory has a disproportionate weight because it’s with us. It stays with us. It’s the only thing we get to keep.

On investing in memories:

We certainly invest heavily, heavily in memories. Vacations for many people are investment in the formation and maintenance of memories. There is a lot of investment. Whether it’s too much or too little, it probably depends a lot on people’s amount of consumption of memory that people engage in.

I, for one, am certainly biased. But I do not consume my memories a lot. And I almost never go back to photographs, not deliberately. If I stumble on something, it will move me. But the idea of going back to relive a vacation — that’s not what I do, so I have little empathy for this.

and my favorite on improving the quality of judgement:

My advice is divide and conquer. That is, there is one thing that we know that improves the quality of judgment, I think. And this is to delay intuition…..

So I think delaying intuition is a very good idea. Delaying intuition until the facts are in, at hand, and looking at dimensions of the problem separately and independently is a better use of information….

I don’t think CEOs encounter many problems where they have intuitive expertise. They haven’t had the opportunity to acquire it, so they better slow down.

Break the decision up. It’s not so much a matter of time because you don’t want people to get paralyzed by analysis. But it’s a matter of planning how you’re going to make the decision, and making it in stages, and not acting without an intuitive certainty that you are doing the right thing. But just delay it until all the information is available.

 

 

Steve Yegge on Presenting to Jeff Bezos

Steve Yegge over in his Google+ feed has a post I just found about his experience presenting to Jeff Bezos. His description of the experience and his approach was great. The entire post is interesting but my favorite part is the second to last paragraph.

You have to understand: most people were scared around Bezos because they were waaaay too worried about trying to keep their jobs. People in high-level positions sometimes have a little too much personal self-esteem invested in their success. Can you imagine how annoying it must be for him to be around timid people all day long? But me — well, I thought I was going to get fired every single day. So fuck timid. Might as well aim high and go out in a ball of flame.

We all have seen the timid presentation, that’s why I like the last lines so very much (my emphasis added).  Read the whole post you will enjoy it.

Book Review: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

I first heard of 37 Signals back in 2004, and found their approach to design very much aligned with my design ideals of simple, fast, and always available. At the time, I was interested in getting 37 Signals to do a one page redesign for a web site I was working on. It never happened, as they were transitioning from a consulting company to product company and were not interested. I had the chance to meet both Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson at the Web 2.0 Conference in 2005 and listen to Jason Fried’s talk about Less as a competitive advantage. Rework is just the logical extension of that talk. Being in the room and in the hallway after his talk, in the land of venture capital, there were skeptics to say the least. 37 Signals has been proving those skeptics wrong every day since.

Rework takes the same approach 37 Signals has taken with all the things they have created, focus on simplicity. The book in my mind is a collection of byproducts from their efforts to create a business. The idea for almost each essay can be found in the conversation they have been having with anyone who would listen. Just like the points Jason made in his talk Less Money, Less People, Less Time, Less Abstractions, Less Software, and More Constraints; Now packaged for More Convenience and as DHH would like to say More Profits.

The book is a fast read and having followed the 37 Signals conversation since 2004 it contains refinements and elaborations on many points. It is a great book and the ideas can be just as powerful to an individual as they are to a company.

I am not going to try and chop it up like a highlight reel, just read it for yourself its worth the effort.

Don’t change your average get more at bats

Marc Andreessen continues to impress me, this time as a blogger. He writes today about how age relates to creativity, derived from an ongoing debate about how age relates to entrepreneurship. Marc provides a study by Dean Simonton covering his life’s work on the subject of age and creativity. The study by Dr Simonton is nothing short of profound and Marc even takes the time to break the study down into understandable chunks for us knuckle draggers.

This is a must read post. I’m not going to try and steal Marc Andreessen’s thunder just go and read his post.

Live from my MacBook Pro

I have finally joined the Mac user community. For Fathers day I received, from my wonderful girls, a 15″ MacBook Pro. My first impression is WOW what a wonderful piece of hardware. The key board is excellent with key breaks similar to my favorite Thinkpad. The finish is awesome in many ways this laptop is a work of art. I will have to get used to different commands but that is a small price to pay. I first started programming on a TRS-80 when I was 11 years old. I moved to an Apple II when I was 13. At that time I thought the Apple II was incredible, sadly I only had access to the Apple II when I was in computer lab in school. I would spend the next 22 years working on PCs, Oh what have missed.

An interesting article on Gopher

Six Apart has a great interview with Paul Lindner one of the creators of Gopher. It is an interesting exploration into Internet history. I also like the “we’re Hiring” plug at the end. Working with interesting and talented people is always a plus. It you are into software development check out the “worse is better” link, it’s an article by Richard Gabriel titled The Rise of “Worse is Better”.

So check it out it’s all worth reading.

Links Summary:
Six Apart interview with Paul Lindner

The Rise of “Worse is Better” by Richard Gabriel

Check out Dabble DB from Smallthought

I was reading a post from Tim Bray about Dabble DB by Smallthough. So I went and watched the screen cast demo they have up on the site. Wow, very cool. Dabble is a collaborative data management, authoring, and publishing web application (I know that description doesn’t do Dabble DB justice). The application lets you copy and past spreadsheet data into the app. It lets you create associations not explicitly present in the original data. It lets you save views of the data. It publishes data in RSS and a lot more.

Just go and check it out, you will be impressed.

Links:

Tim Bray ongoing RSS Atom Feed
Dabble DB, Check It Out

Smallthough RSS Feed
Dabble DB

gapingvoid (From the Links Archive)

I have been going through my links as I migrate to del.icio.us and I came accross gapingvoid. I think some of the drawings are hilarious. I think some of the line art is cool also. So enjoy.

My Cafepress Store.

I now have my own Cafe Press store. I am still working on content for the store. I have put out some products for a friends website though.

Cafe Press is really cool and allows the common person to merchandise their ides easily.

Check it out.

Simple But good

Here is a cheap plug for Altoids. I personally enjoy the Tangerine Sours. I find the candy strangely addictive and satisfying. The packaging is original and cool.

TC