Welcome to another edition of TheSunnyMag, the curated magazine of stories that are startlingly insightful or a delight to read. This weeks issue has a few stories from The Atlantic, which has brought out an edition focused on technology. You can find them in the Big Picture section. The Harvard Business review has a well argued piece on why one shouldn’t build a startup outside of Silicon Valley. There are many other beautifully written stories in this edition. Happy reading!
New New World
I Am Woman, Watch Me Hack: When she was a little girl growing up in the Bronx, Nikki Allen dreamed of being a forensic scientist. As a teenager, she liked studying science in school, and she thought forensics offered a way to give back to her neighborhood. Not insignificant, the job also looked pretty cool — at least based on the many hours of “CSI” Allen had watched on TV with her aunt. More here.
The Psychology of Online Comments: Several weeks ago, on September 24th, Popular Science announced that it would banish comments from its Web site. The editors argued that Internet comments, particularly anonymous ones, undermine the integrity of science and lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse. “Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story,” wrote the online-content director Suzanne LaBarre, citing a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as evidence. While it’s tempting to blame the Internet, incendiary rhetoric has long been a mainstay of public discourse. Cicero, for one, openly called Mark Antony a “public prostitute,” concluding, “but let us say no more of your profligacy and debauchery.” What, then, has changed with the advent of online comments? More here.
Starship troupers: If starships are ever built, it will be in the far future. But that does not deter the intrepid band of scientists who are thinking about how to do it. More here.
You Can’t Be a Wimp—Make the Tough Calls: As one of the world’s preeminent advisers to CEOs and boards, Ram Charan has spent the past 35 years on the road, watching hundreds of executives deal with their toughest challenges. He regularly shares the insights from his experiences in speeches and the classroom and is the author of several best-selling books. (His latest books are Boards That Lead, which he cowrote with Dennis Carey and Michael Useem, and Global Tilt.) He has also published many popular articles, including the HBR classic “Conquering a Culture of Indecision” (April 2001), in which he addresses the problem of organizational paralysis. In this edited interview with HBR senior editor Melinda Merino, he returns to the topic of decisions and talks about what he’s learned in three decades of helping executives make them. More here.
The Amazon Mystery: What America’s Strangest Tech Company Is Really Up To: Investors love Jeff Bezos’s global-everything store, even though they aren’t making any money from it yet—and it’s not clear how they will. More here.
Why Big Opportunities Crush Small Companies: One of the most frequent mistakes that entrepreneurs make is to automatically think that a large potential market (i.e. the horizontal strategy) is better. The (flawed) reasoning goes something like this: “If I pick a broad market with millions of possible customers, my likelihood of finding X customers is much higher than if I had a very small potential market”. The problem with this reasoning is not always obvious (if it were, fewer entrepreneurs would make this classic mistake). More here.
Why putting SSH on another port than 22 is bad idea: Now, at first glance, this seems a valid reason: if you don’t know which port to attack, you can’t attack it at all :-). But if you re-read that last line, you will notice this is nothing more than security through obscurity, and if you think that that is a good idea, you should not be allowed behind a computer.. ever… More here.
To Diversify Your Network, Follow the 2+1 Rule: Aimee, a senior executive at a global financial services firm, had carefully cultivated her network of sponsors and supporters over 15 years, but recently, she watched helplessly as waves of market dislocation, structural reorganizations, and headcount reductions battered the industry and shredded her connections. “Many of the leadership team whom I had worked with for a number of years changed,” she explained. More here.
‘The Married Kama Sutra’ Depicts Humorous Marriage ‘Positions’‘: The Married Kama Sutra’ by Simon Rich and Farley Katz touts itself as “The World’s Least Erotic Manual”, and it probably is—but not without humorously insightful snippets of a married couple’s life, and the ways they keep the spark alive. More here.
And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone’: The 55 miles from Campbell to San Francisco make for one of the nicest commutes anywhere. The journey mostly zips along the Junipero Serra Freeway, a grand and remarkably empty highway that abuts the east side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is one of the best places in Silicon Valley to spot a start-up tycoon speed-testing his Ferrari and one of the worst places for cellphone reception. For Andy Grignon, it was therefore the perfect place for him to be alone with his thoughts early on Jan. 8, 2007. More here.
Don’t Build Your Startup Outside of Silicon Valley: The entrepreneurial zeitgeist today is hard to ignore. Startup America regions have been launched in 32 states. MBAs are flocking to internet startups at an unprecedented clip — faster than during the original dot-com bubble. Even President Obama is calling our entrepreneurial job creators to arms. There’s a sense that it’s up to us to get the country back to work, and that’s driving entrepreneurs to Detroit, Baltimore, Providence, and any number of cities that have struggled with unemployment. And the numbers tell a similar story: startups are mushrooming up everywhere. From 2006 to 2011, the number of startups founded and funded outside of California, Massachusetts, and New York has grown by almost 65%. More here.
Hiring in the Age of Big Data: Wasabi Waiter looks a lot like hundreds of other simple online games. Players acting as sushi servers track the moods of their customers, deliver them dishes that correspond to those emotions, and clear plates while tending to incoming patrons. Unlike most games, though, Wasabi Waiter analyzes every millisecond of player behavior, measuring conscientiousness, emotion recognition, and other attributes that academic studies show correlate with job performance. The game, designed by startup Knack.it, then scores each player’s likelihood of becoming an outstanding employee. More here.
All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines: We rely on computers to fly our planes, find our cancers, design our buildings, audit our businesses. That’s all well and good. But what happens when the computer fails? More here.
Why We Live 40 Years Longer Today Than We Did in 1880. The golden age of medicine—in one chart. Here.
The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel: Why did it take so long to invent the wheelbarrow? Have we hit peak innovation? What our list reveals about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress. More here.
The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think: Douglas Hofstadter, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, thinks we’ve lost sight of what artificial intelligence really means. His stubborn quest to replicate the human mind. More here.
Computer says no: The big threat to Obamacare is not Republican intransigence, but the White House’s own incompetence. More here.