Friday, August 3, 2012

Market-free zones in market societies

Blog post at Valve

A long, fascinating post about what corporations are, how they arose, what their role is, and how they could change in the future.

As mentioned in the post, reading the Valve survival manual is critical for comprehension of what Dr. Varoufakis is talking about.

Some highlights:

  • Valve differs in that it insists that its employees allocate 100% of their time on projects of their choosing. 100% is a radical number! It means that Valve operates without a system of command. In other words, it seeks to achieve order not via fiat, command or hierarchy but, instead, spontaneously. [This is followed by some history regarding Hume vs Hobbes, with further reference to Smith and Hayek]
  • Capitalist corporations are on the way to certain extinction. Replete with hierarchies that are exceedingly wasteful of human talent and energies, intertwined with toxic finance, co-dependent with political structures that are losing democratic legitimacy fast, a form of post-capitalist, decentralised corporation will, sooner or later, emerge. The eradication of distribution and marginal costs, the capacity of producers to have direct access to billions of customers instantaneously, the advances of open source communities and mentalities, all these fascinating developments are bound to turn the autocratic Soviet-like megaliths of today into curiosities that students of political economy, business studies et al will marvel at in the future, just like school children marvel at dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History museum.
Well worth a full read, particularly by those who've worked in a corporation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stop Stealing Dreams: What is School For?

Seth Godin has written an book, which can be viewed for free here.

Some lines (or paraphrases of them) that I liked:
  • Section 16: What is school for? ... learning is not done to you. Learning is something you choose to do.
  • Section 21: Two bumper stickers: "Cut School Taxes" and "Make School Different". Which one would you put on your car?
  • Section 33: Harvard Business School turns out management consultants in far greater numbers than it develops successful bootstrapping entrepreneurs. Ralph Lauren, David Geffen and Ted Turner all dropped out of college because they felt the real challenges lay elsewhere.
  • Section 38: Scientific schooling uses precisely the same techniques as scientific management. Measure (test) everyone. Often. Figure out which inputs are likely to create testable outputs. If an output isn’t easily testable, ignore it. It would be a mistake to say that scientific education doesn’t work. It does work. It creates what we test. Unfortunately, the things we desperately need (and the things that make us happy) aren’t the same things that are easy to test.
  • Section 39: The other route—the road to the top—is for the few who figure out how to be linchpins and artists. People who are hired because they’re totally worth it, because they offer insight and creativity and innovation that just can’t be found easily. Scarce skills combined with even scarcer attitudes almost always lead to low unemployment and high wages.
  • Section 46: But I am wondering when we decided that the purpose of school was to cram as much data/trivia/fact into every student as we possibly could. Because that’s what we’re doing. We’re not only avoiding issues of practicality and projects and hands-on use of information; we’re also aggressively testing for trivia.
  • Section 52: The real debate if you’re a worker is: do you want a job where they’ll miss you if you’re gone, a job where only you can do it, a job where you get paid to bring yourself (your true self) to work? Because those jobs are available. In fact, there’s no unemployment in that area. OR do you want a job where you’re racing to the bottom—where your job is to do your job, do as you’re told, and wait for the boss to pick you?
  • Section 70: What matters is that motivation is the only way to generate real learning, actual creativity, and the bias for action that is necessary for success.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Common Cooking/Baking Mistakes

Article at Cooking Light

This list contains a number of fundamental mistakes, nicely illustrated with clear pictures. I found it quite informative (although that of course means that I was making many of the mistakes that were listed)...