friday’s finds 2017

Every second Friday I review what I’ve noted on social media and post a wrap-up of what caught my eye. I do this as a reflective thinking process and to put what I’ve learned on a platform I control: this blog. Here are what I consider the best of Friday’s Finds for 2017.


“Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife.” —John Dewey (1916)

“No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them.” —Assata Shakur, via @IamMzilikazi

“The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.” —@kasparov63

History is not another name for the past, as many people imply. It is the name for stories about the past.” —A. J. P. Taylor via @RayBoomhower

@DonaldHTaylor: ‘In Turkish you never ask “Did you understand me?” It’s rather rude. Instead, you say “Anlatabildim mi?” – Was I able to explain?’

“Human beings augmented by other human beings is more important than human beings augmented by technology”@eskokilpi

“We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings.” –Ursula K. Le Guin via @HaymarketBooks

@Richard_Florida: “Cities need to be places of chance encounter and eccentricity, rather than exclusivity and segregation.”

Business & Work

Manifestos & Monopolies@stratechery

“In this brave new world, power comes not from production, not from distribution, but from controlling consumption: all markets will be demand-driven; the extent to which they already are is a function of how digitized they have become.

This is why most Facebook-fail-fundamentalists so badly miss the point: that the company pays nothing for its content is not a weakness, it is a reflection of the fundamental reality that the supply of content (and increasingly goods) is infinite, and thus worthless; that the company is not essential to the distribution of products is not a measure of its economic importance, or lack thereof, but a reflection that distribution is no longer a differentiator. And last of all, the fact that communication is possible on other platforms is to ignore the fact that communication will always be easiest on Facebook, because they own the social graph. Combine that with the fact that controlling consumption is about controlling billions of individual consumers, all of whom will, all things being equal, choose the easy option, and you start to appreciate just how dominant Facebook is.”

BBC: The flying drones that can scan packages night and day

Forrester estimates that automation technologies, including artificial intelligence, will replace 17% of US jobs by 2027. And growth in new types of employment will not be enough to compensate.

“Automation does create opportunities for new jobs – equivalent to 10% of today’s jobs,” says Mr Gownder.

“But that still leads to a net 7% loss of jobs due to automation, which has to be made up by macro-economic growth, non-automation related jobs, and monetary policy.”

Robots are going to take a lot of jobs — here’s what we could do about it via @mayadroeschler

universal basic income
negative income tax
government jobs guarantee
broader social safety net
robot tax

“Robots will never be our masters, but those who own them will be.”

What is human capital?

“What isn’t a joking matter, however, is the brave new world of work that has followed in the wake of neoclassical ideas such as human capital theory. Only when the employee is framed in such an ultra-individualist manner could the regressive trend of on-demand (or ‘zero-hours’) employment contracts ever gain a foothold in the economy. What some have called the Uberisation of the workforce functions by reclassifying workers as independent business owners, thereby shifting all employment costs to the employee: training, uniforms, vehicles and almost everything else.”

How could we cope if capitalism failed? Ask 26 Greek factory workers, via @juneholley

“For a start, no one is boss. There is no hierarchy, and everyone is on the same wage. Factories traditionally work according to a production-line model, where each person does one- or two-minute tasks all day, every day: you fit the screen, I fix the protector, she boxes up the iPhone. Here, everyone gathers at 7am for a mud-black Greek coffee and a chat about what needs to be done. Only then are the day’s tasks divvied up. And, yes, they each take turns to clean the toilets … Where the state has collapsed, the market has come up short and the boss class has literally fled, these 26 workers are attempting to fill the gaps. These are people who have been failed by capitalism; now they reject capitalism itself as a failure.”

Buurtzorg’s Healthcare Revolution“Today Buurtzorg employs over 14,000 nurses and care workers working in teams no bigger than 12”

A common critique on Buurtzorg (and some other pioneering workplaces) is the fact that they started with a new organisation and therefore didn’t have to transform an existing one. Common criticism: “Buurtzorg had no history and no legacy, but a clean sheet to start with. That’s easy. But it will never be possible to transform an existing organization into this.”

Last year, once again Jos de Blok and Buurtzorg proved them wrong. They even surprised the most skeptical people when they took over more than 2,000 employees from a Dutch home-care provider in crisis. After the employees worked their last day in a traditional, hierarchical organization on Friday, they started their Monday in a fully self-managed organization. While chaos was expected, the transformation went surprisingly smooth. Jos: “We experienced some minor difficulties, but now, one year later, everything runs very smoothly and we have amazing results.”

A Field Guide to Jobs that Don’t Exist, by @doxtdatorb

“In other words, the problem is not that Capital lacks a say in education, but that corporations and the 0.1% are reaping all the rewards and need to explain why. Too often, this explanation comes in the form of the zombie idea of a ‘skills gap’, which persists though it keeps being debunked. What else are CEOs going to say – and the skills gap is almost always based on an opinion survey – when they are asked to explain stagnating wages?”

productivity compensation


Democracy & Society

Art and literature are vital to democracy  via @TiinaMaki

“Yet while it’s conventional that wisdom exists in literature, creative writing has always been seen as more rarified or intimidating. It has been celebrated as personally palliative, yes, but it’s never been considered a method to increase participation in society. After all, what good is composing poetry and writing stories when you need a job, or a nation must be founded, or a war has to be won, or cancer is ravaging the bodies both human and politic?

But creative writing can be anyone’s best training for speaking out — and if you’ve ever read novels, heard scripture, watched movies or TV, listened to songs, or learned folklore, then you’ve been studying your entire life how storytelling works. By applying your hand at creating it, you are not just attempting art, you are learning vital skills and life lessons.”

The world has much to learn from Cuba’s agroecological revolution – via @ShaunCoffey

“In the early ’90s, true to the Cuban people’s ability to generate creative solutions in dire times, researchers worked with farmers to move the agricultural system towards increased biodiversity and participatory plant-breeding projects. They cultivated hardy varieties not dependent on chemicals and petroleum inputs, reduced mechanization due to lack of fuel, encouraged small farmers and smaller tracts of land, and supported citizens, adults and children alike to learn how to grow food in urban gardens to help sustain their diets. In Havana, gardens sprung up where none were ever imagined. The results were nothing short of miraculous and provide a model for both developed and developing countries to follow — particularly when one considers the need for strategies that might help mitigate climate change.”

Math myth-busting some of our worst urban planning misconceptions,  via @mobi_bikes

“A common political argument is that bike and transit riders should ‘pay their own way’. A study in Vancouver however suggested that for every dollar we individually spend on walking, society pays just 1 cent. For biking, it’s eight cents, and for bus-riding, $1.50. But for every personal dollar spent driving, society pays a whopping $9.20! Such math makes clear where the big subsidies are, without even starting to count the broader environmental, economic, spatial and quality-of-life consequences of our movement choices. The less people need to drive in our cities, the less we all pay, in more ways than one.”


Understanding Complexity, via @pourquoi

“So the most important thing about Complexity is that there is no way to learn (and thus solving the problem) without doing. Just thinking about it isn’t going to solve it. In Complex problems our practices are always evolving based on what we learn. In poker, even if we would play a game with the exact players with the exact same cards would turn out differently, because we learned things not just about the game, but certainly about our opponents.”

cynefin games

Image: Richard Shy

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4 Responses to “friday’s finds 2017”

  1. Shaun Coffey

    Thanks for a great post, again!

    With regards to Cuba and democracy, there is another driver often recognised in agricultural research. This is that scarcity of resources drives creativity. I think it was James Lovelock (of Gaia fame) who reflected that many parts of the research system are so well resourced that they can comfortably live within their silos and paradigms, and not have to venture into the spaces between where creativity and major innovation/disruption thrives. Being cut off was a motivator for Cuba to innovate.

    Now for our opportunity…Cuba came up with a useful way to foster a more sustainable food production system. The farming processes and business structures they used are far more diverse (and resilient?) than many other systems. The whole system is more inclusive. And yes, it is not a perfect system without its own issues, but…What can we learn from that? And how can we capture the learning? Where are the transferable ideas?


    • Harold Jarche

      I guess we can learn if first we accept that what happened in Cuba has value. I know many in the USA would never accept this idea. Maybe we have to wait until people are desperate enough to try something outside their zone of comfort/understanding.

  2. Shaun Coffey

    Yes, indeed. If we are not open to views that may be contrary to our own then it is unlikely we will learn.


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