📚 New cities, Repair & restore, How to become a hacker, Allocator economy
How to say No + a lot more for the curious YOU
Hi and welcome to the post #144.
My little one turned 5 this week. We had a blast celebrating her birthday with friends & family. That and “Forks” from “The Bear” made this week memorable.
“How big things get done” gave me company during the long commute to work & back.
I feel satisfied for the week that went by.
I’m going to cover this book & “The Bear” in a future post very soon.
Today’s post started with a bunch of themes in mind, but those themes got diluted as I started putting the final curation together. And so, I let go of any theming. No worries, though. I’m as excited to share the post today as I’m every time. And I’m sure you’re going to love it too.
Let’s jump right in.
🏙️ New Cities
Urban planning & communities is one of my latest muse. There is so much about where & how we live influences the quality of our lives. Yet, we hardly recognize it and do something about it.
I found “The urbanist case for a new community in Solano County” in Noah Smith’s newsletter and could not resist going over it.
Here’s a snippet that sets the context of why there is a need to think of ‘cities’ in more & different ways than we think today.
Real cities are never actually ”done.” They evolve and change over decades and centuries. A city plan is a framework to enable many different people to come and make their lives, many different companies to come and build. If city planners do their job right, the end result of all that juxtaposition is to create something magical and wonderful, a whole that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
The California Forever group goes into detail out their approach and why they believe it will be a better way. It’s a fantastic read to know more about a lot of things that interplay to create a city what it is. If you’re looking to read more about complex ecosystems & mega projects, this is a good piece.
Before we move to the next idea, here’s one more snippet made me love this one. I dream of living in a city/area that’s walkable and enhances my social being.
Today, virtually every city that is walkable already existed in the year 1900. That is not something to be proud of. A world where it remains illegal or impossible to build new walkable places, where no place is allowed to be walkable if it didn’t already exist 100 years ago, means only the elites are able to live in walkable cities.
🛠️ Repair & Restore
There are folks who have made the art of repair & restoring old objects their life’s mission. Their reasons could be varied, but their impact is the same. They are preserving history and spreading joy. It’s so satisfying to see them do their magic.
Sophia Bogle restores century-old books. Her work is intricate and elegant. Loved the way she leaves a tiny signature at the end of her project to be part of the history forever.
The last repair shop is a documentary that covers not just a beautiful idea but highly inspiring folks who are making this idea happen. Here’s a quick introduction:
In a warehouse in the heart of Los Angeles, a dwindling handful of devoted craftspeople maintain more than 80,000 student musical instruments, the largest remaining workshop in America of its kind. Meet four unforgettable characters whose broken-and-repaired lives have been dedicated to bringing so much more than music to the schoolchildren of this city.
I love such stories and have shared them in this newsletter since the early days. Here’re some more stories from the archive,
Check out #10 for three interesting stories of Letterlocking, Goa’s last typewriter repair shop and restoration of a defaced Rothko painting.
Check out #97 to know more about “The Violin Doctor - John Becker” who repairs the world’s most fabled — and expensive — instruments.
👾 How to Become a Hacker?
Even if you don’t intend to become a hacker, you should read Eric Steven Raymond’s “How to become a hacker”.
Knowing the hacker attitude can be helpful in any field - coding or otherwise. Here’s a bullet point view, should tell you enough to make you read further (or opt out).
The Hacker Attitude
1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.
2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.
3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.
4. Freedom is good.
5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.
ps: I skipped the technical part, could not keep myself going after a couple of paragraphs.
💁 Why do People Tip?
Kwabena Donkor is a professor at Stanford GSB and wrote a working paper on the topic. “The tipping point: the subtle psychology and economics of taxi fares” provides a quick summary.
The following snippet is the crux of Donkor’s idea.
When a passenger tips, they aren’t simply paying the driver but also avoiding the psychological cost of leaving a small tip or not tipping at all. “You have something in your mind that you think is the norm or the right thing to do. And deviating from that results in a feeling like shame or guilt. And so I call that a norm-deviation cost.
🧑🏫 Manager as Resource Allocator
Dan Shipper makes some towering predictions about how AI will shape the future. His essay’s title - “The knowledge economy is over. welcome to the allocation economy” does not shy away from hiding it.
This excerpt covers the context of the essay.
But what happens when that very skill—knowing and utilizing the right knowledge at the right time—becomes something that computers can do faster and sometimes just as well as we can?
We’ll go from makers to managers, from doing the work to learning how to allocate resources—choosing which work to be done, deciding whether work is good enough, and editing it when it’s not.
It means a transition from a knowledge economy to an allocation economy. You won’t be judged on how much you know, but instead on how well you can allocate and manage the resources to get work done.
I don’t have any strong opinion on his claims (and it won’t matter for anyone anyways). I liked this piece for the way he has broken down the ‘manager’s role and responsibilities’. They are a good set of inputs for any manager today and in future. And it’s always good to know how you play that role well.
⛔ How to say ‘No’ gracefully
I don’t need to establish the context or the need. You know if you’ve this problem and if you want to do something about it. I do. Alex Brogan shares 7 ideas on how to say ‘No’ gracefully. Nothing fancy, no new tools or frameworks. Simple tactics.
In my work context, I should say “Yes. What should I deprioritize?” more.
In the personal context, I will have to use “You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.” more.
Let’s see how it goes.
✨ Everything else
A silk dress from 1888 contained a hidden pocket with coded messages. After a decade, someone finally solved the mystery. You’re not going to believe what those codes meant!
Same Energy is a visual search engine. You can use it to find beautiful art, photography, decoration ideas, or anything else. When I tried, it felt like a game. So much fun!
Menu trends that define dining right now. A visual essay from NYT. Another brilliant storytelling example.
Richard Johnson’s ‘Ice Huts’ Capture Wintertime Communities in Canada. The landscape may be white but those huts have colors and characters. His website has a lot more of the same, what an eye candy! (via colossal)
The economics of ski resorts; The Hustle does a deep dive on a sector that has seen massive interest and is not boasting of skyrocketing prices, footfall & revenue. I sense some similarities with what we saw in the Fitness space with the launch of cult.fit.
That's all for this week, folks!
I hope I've earned the privilege of your time.
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