Friday Hodgepodge

Friday, September 24, 2021

Four Things

1. Some time ago, I ran across the following analogy between the arrival of the dynamo in the workplace and that of email:

At the turn of the century, factories had all of the components needed to deploy the much more efficient individual motor approach to manufacturing. But it still took decades for them to actually make the shift away from hulking central power plants and overhead spinning shafts.

Today we almost certainly have all the technological tools needed to push knowledge work into its next productive phase shift. But we remain in the moment mired to instead simply moving unstructured interactions into email threads and Zoom meetings; the Digital Age equivalent of hooking up a new electric motor to the old belt drive system.
I think it could be helpful to keep this analogy in mind when considering how to deploy other new technologies.

2. If I had to run lots of them, I'd consider seeing if the way Amazon runs meetings could work for at least some of them:
The interesting part to me isn't in the format of the document, but how it is used. Meetings start with reading. Depending on the length of the document, we'll read anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. If the meeting has a long document (six-pagers are the longest) and many attendees, the meeting will be scheduled for enough time to read and discuss.

Reading the doc is part of the scheduled time. I've worked at plenty of places that I've tried to document everything for a meeting ahead of time. I've written well thought-out emails, shared links to documents, and written detailed wiki pages. In all of my meetings outside of Amazon I had one of three outcomes:
  • No one read the email/document and I had to explain everything in the meeting
  • Some people read the document but forgot what it said because they read it days or hours before
  • At least one person had a question that I could have answered via email
The writer expected the new way of running meetings to solve problems like those listed above, but he also reaped other unexpected benefits, and elaborates on them.

3. Quick! Name something good about rip currents!

If you can't think of any, go here and find out.

I'm negatively buoyant and not a great swimmer -- something the pandemic has delayed me in mitigating. And I'm pretty sure I got caught in one once. (I surmise that I did not notice it, and was out of its channel when I realized how far from shore I was. Lucky me.)

The good thing about them is that once you know about them, and how they work, you can: (1) often visually recognize them and avoid them altogether; (2) remain calm if you get caught in one and realize it, and exit the current early; or (3) realize that swimming back to shore should not be particularly difficult.

Image by Proriat Hospitality, via Unsplash, license.
4. Samuel Adams has released a new beer that is so strong it's illegal in 15 states:
The brewer releases a new version of its Utopias brand every two years, and the twelfth edition will be on shelves starting Oct. 11. But don't bother looking for it in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont or West Virginia. Utopias are illegal in those states because they contain 28% alcohol by volume, more than five times the potency of typical US brews.
Interesting! And it's not illegal in Florida. I thought at first.

But I don't think it's $240.00 interesting, which is the price for a 25 oz. bottle of the stuff.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, some unpleasant news on the infectious disease front you might not have seen.

Gus Van Horn said...

I hope something like this pulls the fat out of the fire.

Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, you write, "But I don't think it's $240.00 interesting, which is the price for a 25 oz. bottle of the stuff." But, if you think about it, that's 1/44th the cost of Chanel No. 5 Parfum (not Eau de Parfum) on a per-weight basis. (I chuckle briefly at the thought of getting a bottle and telling my wife how much cheaper it is than Chanel No. 5. Her first response would be to remind me she prefers Estee Lauder; her second would be to make me wear it to see if it's fragrant enough; the third would probably involve pain.)

Joking aside, that's around three times the cost of 750 mL of Auchentoshan Three Wood single malt. I love beer, yeah, but I'd rather have the three bottles of Auchentoshan.

Gus Van Horn said...


I didn't mention it in the post, but for all that Sam Adams has done to make craft beer a fixture of American life, I have the additional obstacle of the brewery being one of those whose products nearly always manage to elude my taste in beer. (So, yeah, when I lived in Boston, I didn't tour the brewery until one of my brothers came up for a visit and wanted to go.)

There was a craft brewer like that in St. Louis, too.