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The Story of Beer

History Lesson: The Story of Beer | Manolith

Altruism repays

Technology Review | Altruism repays the best-connected individuals

China’s Creative Community

I’m starting to sound like a fanboy of Adam Schokora but there is no escaping the fact that he seems to be absolutely everywhere when it comes to the Chinese creative community and he does a brilliant job in this interview with Jenny Zhu distilling the themes and threads of a complex and rapidly evolving scene.

Some excellent links in the interview and Jenny’s blog is also well worth spending some time exploring.

How the Web challenges

I’m not overly concerned with managers but I am interested in trends and how they come to influence us. These quotes from an interview with Google’s chief economist are on the mark.

My attention is limited, I’m already spending a major amount of time sorting, sifting, grokking and only just starting to find my “voice” in visualization and presentation through the medium of blogging.

How different is the world now that we can access almost any data point?

“What is it that’s really scarce in the Internet economy?” And the answer is attention. [Psychologist] Herb Simon recognized this many years ago. He said, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” So being able to capture someone’s attention at the right time is a very valuable asset.

The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades, not only at the professional level but even at the educational level for elementary school kids, for high school kids, for college kids. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it.

[Hal Varian on how the Web challenges managers]

Bing

Speaking of Google and new waves, is Microsoft finally going to give them some competition in the search arena? Bing

[Via TechCrunch]

Holger Pooten

Interesting imagery… Holger Pooten Photography. NSFW

Google Wave

Imagine if email was invented today? HTML 5 is on it’s way and it looks like it’s also going to enable a new Wave of communication platforms.

Problem Solving

The article I posted below bought to mind a quote from “Popper” a beautiful book about the brilliant philosopher Sir Karl Popper by Bryan Magee. The importance of connecting to the work we do, to finding the problems that really interest us…

A consequence of always proceeding from problems which really are problems – problems which one actually has, and has grappled with – is, for oneself, that one will be existentially committed to one’s work; and for the work itself, that it will have what Existentialists call ‘authenticity’. It will be not only an intellectual interest but an emotional involvement, the meeting of a felt human need.

Another consequence will be an unconcern for the conventional distinctions between subjects: all that matter is that one should have an interesting problem and be genuinely trying to solve it.

Working With Your Hands

Work is a hell of a lot more than just the thing we do to earn a living…

A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic rather than to accumulate academic credentials is viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive. There is a pervasive anxiety among parents that there is only one track to success for their children. It runs through a series of gates controlled by prestigious institutions.

A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.

Nor can big business or big government — those idols of the right and the left — reliably secure such work for us. Everyone is rightly concerned about economic growth on the one hand or unemployment and wages on the other, but the character of work doesn’t figure much in political debate. Labor unions address important concerns like workplace safety and family leave, and management looks for greater efficiency, but on the nature of the job itself, the dominant political and economic paradigms are mute. Yet work forms us, and deforms us, with broad public consequences.

In the boardrooms of Wall Street and the corridors of Pennsylvania Avenue, I don’t think you’ll see a yellow sign that says “Think Safety!” as you do on job sites and in many repair shops, no doubt because those who sit on the swivel chairs tend to live remote from the consequences of the decisions they make. Why not encourage gifted students to learn a trade, if only in the summers, so that their fingers will be crushed once or twice before they go on to run the country?

There is good reason to suppose that responsibility has to be installed in the foundation of your mental equipment — at the level of perception and habit. There is an ethic of paying attention that develops in the trades through hard experience. It inflects your perception of the world and your habitual responses to it. This is due to the immediate feedback you get from material objects and to the fact that the work is typically situated in face-to-face interactions between tradesman and customer.

[Matthew B. Crawford | The Case for Working With Your Hands | NYTimes.com]

Just a minute

Spend one, just one, minute watching this slideshow from the lady at The Happiness Project… The Years Are Short