What does Jupiter sound like?

“We know what space looks like. But what does it sound like?”


The Art of Dialogue: prepare, listen, engage

From Fast Company

Fast Company features multiple pieces on the Art of Dialogue in the February 2013 issue, including “Conversations that changed our world, featuring iconoclasts who refuse to do business the standard way,” “How to talk good,” and Twitter co-founders on “deep talk.”

Some themes:

Also, Twitter co-founders talk with Charlie Rose on “engaging conversation:” “prepare, listen, engage.” “There is a hunger for depth,” says Ev Williams. “The truth is absolutely out there, [but] it’s not necessarily what people pay attention to.”

In a separate article, current Twitter Chief Nick Costolo says on being a CEO: “Nobody is a natural CEO.” A very effective management technique? “Management by terrorism. Either you decide, or I will destroy the company.”

And other thoughts, including “Building a better brainstorm” and “what Steve Jobs would be doing if he were alive.

Be more productive by doing less

Our bodies have limited resources, which need to be replenished. Taking breaks during the day, and vacations during the year, is a recipe to be more productive. From a New York Times opinion piece:

  • basketball players who slept for 10 hours a night increased their shooting percentages by 9%
  • air traffic controllers who were given 40 minutes to nap performed much better on vigilance tests
  • longer naps (60-90 minutes) can improve mental acuity even more
  • full-vacationers were more likely to have higher ratings from their supervisorsEdit

“To maximize gains from long-term practice,” Dr. Ericsson concluded, “individuals must avoid exhaustion and must limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

Read it at The New York Times.

NYT: sure, big data is great. But so is intuition.

Steve Lohr writes a reflection on the promises of Big Data, citing increasing buzz, yet also its initial big failure:

“Many of the Big Data techniques of math modeling, predictive algorithms and artificial intelligence software were first widely applied on Wall Street.” And what happened there we all know.

A chief scientist from an ad-targeting startup:
“You can fool yourself with data like you can’t with anything else. I fear a Big Data bubble.”

“A major part of managing Big Data projects, he says, is asking the right questions: How do you define the problem? What data do you need? Where does it come from? What are the assumptions behind the model that the data is fed into? How is the model different from reality?”

“Models do not just predict, but they can make things happen,” says Rachel Schutt, who taught a data science course this year at Columbia.

A concern is that “the algorithms that are shaping my digital world are too simple-minded, rather than too smart.”

Read at The New York Times.

The Atlantic: manufacturing coming back to the USA

The Atlantic (Dec 2012) has featured two articles on the return of manufacturing back to the USA. What may be of interest is that perhaps it should never have left:

“[Harry Moser, MIT-trained engineer] believes that about a quarter of what’s made outside the US could be more profitably made at home… about 60% of the companies that offshored manufacturing didn’t really do the math. They looked only at the labor rate–they didn’t look at the hidden costs.”mag-article-large

“There was a herd mentality to the offshoring… It was the inability to see the total costs–the engineers in the US and factory managers in China who can’t talk to each other; the management hours and money flying to Asia to find out why they quality they wanted wasn’t being delivered. The cost of all that is huge.”

“All you need is to have to hire one or two 747s a couple of times to get product here in a hurry and you lose those savings.”

On the savings of outsourcing, these stories are common: “I had five finance guys working on it, and they couldn’t come up with any savings.”

The story weaves around the renaissance of GE’s Appliance park in Kentucky, which used to employ 23,000 in 1973, but reached a low of 1,863 in 2011. Now it’s 90% higher, and growing. Soon, GE could be looking at 75% of its appliance business’s revenue to come from American-made products.

And it’s not just manufacturing jobs that will be created by manufacturing. Big factories have a “multiplier effect,” meaning their sphere of influence leads to other businesses coming in and opening shop, as well as to the need to hire engineers and designers here at home.

The articles:

Charles Fishman, “The Insourcing Boom”

James Fallows, “Mr. China Comes to America”

*picture is from the Atlantic

The most important things in life are decided on intuition

“[Intuition] is critical. It’s extremely critical. The most important things in life, whether they’re personal or professional, are decided on intuition. I think you can have a lot of information and data feeding that intuition. You can do a lot of analysis. You can do lots of things that are quantitative in nature. But at the end of it, the things that are most important are always gut calls. And I think that’s just not true for me, but for many, many people. I don’t think it’s unique.”

– Tim Cook, speaking to Bloomberg BusinessWeek