This week, begin here:
If you’ve not come across 12 year-old Madeline Messer’s editorial for The Washington Post, chronicling her exploration of gender bias in app store games (3 min), you should stop and read it.

Madeline FTW:

If I were an app maker, the ethical issue of charging for girl characters and not boy characters would be enough reason to change. But app-makers should eliminate this practice for a business reason too: If girls stop playing these games, then they also would stop making in-app purchases and stop watching the ads. If our character choices tell us these games aren’t for us, eventually we’ll put them down.


Jay Hasbrouck has written a wonderful piece for EPIC on the roles that traditional ethnographic methods can play in the commercial marketplace (11 min), far transcending notions of ‘design thinking’. This, in particular:

In the same ways that design thinking has been reduced to a series of rote methods or string of “fun” workshops by some, it has itself tended to reduce the perception of ethnography to a practice for which the sole purpose is to provide the observations needed to ‘solve’ a design challenge.

Apparently, data scientists can use predictive analytics to reliably isolate and predict booty calls from phone records (3 min). Your author can reliably predict hot click-through on the above link.

From the latest issue of The Hedgehog Review, Frank Pasquale on algorithmic self-awareness in the age of continuous optimization (26 min):

To negotiate contemporary algorithms of reputation and search—ranging from resumé optimization on LinkedIn to strategic Facebook status updates to OkCupid profile grooming—we are increasingly called on to adopt an algorithmic self, one well practiced in strategic self-promotion. This algorithmic selfhood may be critical to finding job opportunities (or even maintaining a reliable circle of friends and family) in an era of accelerating social change. But it can also become self-defeating.

Read the whole piece (or, minimally, bookmark it). It’s exceptionally good.

Charlie Brown makes a compelling case in the Stanford Social Innovation Review for network-dependent (in contrast to grant-dependent) strategies for social enterprises (4 min). There’s some extraordinarily valuable nuggets to be found for the traditional enterprise, as well.

From a fascinating interview with HBS lecturer Jose B. Alvarez on the winners (and losers) in the latest round of retail overhaul (11 min):

Is the typical Kroger store going to be where the average person is going to want to shop in a few years? I don’t think so. This is true for the supermarket space in general; it’s really not about Kroger as an organization. Supermarkets are these very large, impersonal, and inefficient spaces for customers. Grocery shopping is one of the most unappealing chores for a large swath of customers. The supermarket space is ripe for disruption by ecommerce.

A fascinating study of patent applicants suggests that parent income, not academic prowess or natural intelligence, is the most critical driver of inventor behavior (about 10 minutes). The study gets particularly compelling around slide 20.

There’s no shortage of takes on Apple’s gold watch, but we’re partial to Benedict Evans’ (4 min).

Naturally, there’s already a market for $45 Chinese counterfeit Apple watches (2 min).

Poke’s done something quite smart, launching a Ted Baker campaign that reveals clues in fashion photos that reveal themselves only when processed with a specific Instagram filter (1 min).

“When you’re designed against, you know it.” (10 min) This is both heartbreaking and increasingly-prevalent.

Ben Horowitz on the sweeping changes undergoing systems management (4 min):

Knowing when a cluster of services that provides, for example, an identity service is out of capacity is critical, but getting paged in the middle of the night because you lost one server in a cluster of 20 is asinine.

From Semil Shah’s quick look back at five years of SoLoMo (2 min), this:

it turns out our phones, phone numbers, and various messaging apps (like Snapchat, Instagram, and Whatsapp) are social but not because of Facebook or Twitter’s graph, but because of our phones being social devices themselves.


It seems that ground zero in the clickbaiting of American history (4 min) is a New Orleans cemetery in which Nicolas Cage plans to be interred. Your author finds this to be equal parts fascinating and melancholy.

Until next week.