This week, start here:
We went diving way back into the archives this week to a (fairly) obscure article by Charles Ellis in the August 1975 edition of The Financial Analysts Journal, titled The Loser’s Game, down a rabbit hole that began at the Farnam Street blog in a post called Avoiding Stupidity is Easier than Seeking Brilliance.

In it, Ellis argues that the financial markets are, in effect, a Loser’s Game — referring to a study of tennis by Dr. Simon Ramo in which he posited that there are in fact two kinds of tennis matches: a winner’s game in which points are taken from an opponent by skill, and a loser’s game in which points are earned by inducing opponent error.

This has enormous implications in emerging markets and for early stage startups — and equally so for those in spaces challenged by insurgents. If all of this has a vaguely Gladwellian David & Goliath ring to it, you’ll find some interesting ground in a related post this week on Small Wars Journal that identifies a fallacy in Gladwell’s embrace of insurgency. To excerpt:

Unfortunately, Gladwell has repeated an all too commonly held fallacy that suggests, with apologies to Tolstoy, that successful insurgencies and counterinsurgencies are all successful in the same way.

re: teens and Facebook:

I mean, man, it’s like not real life. Not. Real. Life. Why would you be on there when there’s this,” he gestured, with his chin, to everything around him…


Marvel Comics built an API so that its’ legion fans can build new content and tools around the publisher’s properties, images and stories. If Disney can adopt this mindset, why can’t more organizations?

North is a set of standards and best practices for developing modern web based properties. Nerd out, kids.

If you’ve not see the Our Incredible Journey tumblr, it’s pretty remarkable, really — a collection of thanks-for-supporting-us-but-we’ve-been-acquired-and-now-we’re-shutting-down letters from startups acquired by large Silicon Valley entities. This, on the subject, from Dan Hon:

This is also, it feels like, a protuberance of the Californian Ideology again. In the world that practically worships a utilitarian view of ethics, it doesn’t matter if a small number of users lose out if the acquisition and closure of service is to deliver a bigger vision to more people. It’s always the next thing, the big thing, the growth thing.

Neil Perkin’s recap of Joel Constable’s talk at Learnfest is brilliant reading on Pinterest’s approach to internal professional development — particularly the focus on balancing flexibility and velocity to drive organizational agility.

James Caig believes that we need more fiction in agencies. His is a whip-smart post on the role of abstraction and convergent problems in a strategic arena increasingly defined by the capacity to process data.

This is simultaneously fascinating and depressing: let’s question the assumption that machine automation and computation frees our minds to focus on less-rote, higher-order tasks. As Nicholas Carr writes:

The latest wave of automation technology appears to be “freeing us up” for less-interesting and less-challenging work.

You should absolutely, positively read Nicolas Nova’s interview with design researcher and ethnographer Jan Chipchase on the topic of pop-up field studios.

Oh,just a set of tiny robots used to apply precision controls to large-scale construction jobs, like 3D printing at epic scale. That’s all.

There really, really ought to be a site dedicated to cataloguing and mapping all of the neon signs in Hong Kong, sortable by district and topic, and inclusive of signs now removed but worthy of archiving. This, friends, is a wonderful Internet rabbit hole.

Have a great week.