The Best Of the 1st Half, The Trillion Dollar Listing, Naval and The Complete History of Ethereum

July 7 2021

“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”

- Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”

- Pico Iyer

"The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.”

- Frank Sinatra

A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out

1. Facebook is now Trillion dollar market cap business vs going public at $100bn in May 2012. They now have 3 billion monthly active users and over 10 million advertisers on the platform, with each spending over $10,000 a year.

Highly recommend listening to the latest Business Breakdowns Podcast: Facebook, they discuss what drives the value of its network, dive deep into the Facebook ad ecosystem and where the business can go next.

2. If you are looking for a good summer read, then Morgan Housel’s Psychology of Money should be on the short list.

Here’s a summary I did on twitter of the book.

3. Naval Ravikant Podcast: The Beginning of Infinity, and associated transcript, Naval discusses David Deutsch’s book: The Beginning of Infinity.

4. When Marc Andreessen at a16z talks about the future, I want to listen. A bunch of interesting thoughts in this discussion, but the most interesting being around how to tackle the parts of the economy that technology hasn’t penetrated yet: Healthcare, Education and Housing.

5. Matthew Ball shared a Framework for the Metaverse, discussing what the iPhone did to the Internet and then comparing it to what the Metaverse (Wired article) may look like and what it is not.

Also worth checking out this discussion on the Future of Media from last year.

6. Millions of workers are quitting their jobs, here’s why, according to NPR.

7. Reality has a surprising amount of detail - deep and thought provoking post. Key part below:

Before you’ve noticed important details they are, of course, basically invisible. It’s hard to put your attention on them because you don’t even know what you’re looking for. But after you see them they quickly become so integrated into your intuitive models of the world that they become essentially transparent. Do you remember the insights that were crucial in learning to ride a bike or drive? How about the details and insights you have that led you to be good at the things you’re good at?

This means it’s really easy to get stuck. Stuck in your current way of seeing and thinking about things. Frames are made out of the details that seem important to you. The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.

That’s why if you ask an anti-climate change person (or a climate scientist) “what could convince you you were wrong?” you’ll likely get back an answer like “if it turned out all the data on my side was faked” or some other extremely strong requirement for evidence rather than “I would start doubting if I noticed numerous important mistakes in the details my side’s data and my colleagues didn’t want to talk about it”. The second case is much more likely than the first, but you’ll never see it if you’re not paying close attention.

If you’re trying to do impossible things, this effect should chill you to your bones. It means you could be intellectually stuck right at this very moment, with the evidence right in front of your face and you just can’t see it.

This problem is not easy to fix, but it’s not impossible either. I’ve mostly fixed it for myself. The direction for improvement is clear: seek detail you would not normally notice about the world. When you go for a walk, notice the unexpected detail in a flower or what the seams in the road imply about how the road was built. When you talk to someone who is smart but just seems so wrong, figure out what details seem important to them and why. In your work, notice how that meeting actually wouldn’t have accomplished much if Sarah hadn’t pointed out that one thing. As you learn, notice which details actually change how you think.

If you wish to not get stuck, seek to perceive what you have not yet perceived.

8. 50 Ideas that changed my life by David Perrell

B. The Best Of The 1st Half

We are half way through 2021, it’s good time to reflect on the big ideas we picked up so far. As most regular readers know, we try to cover the big picture, focus on first principles thinking and try to understand the world without an agenda.

I wanted to share the key posts from this year because they are relevant today (in chronological order):

The Deficit Myth, Net Zero Meets G-Zero, Internet Scale

Ride Or Die Markets, White Working Class, Dalio on BTC

Bill Gates: How To Avoid Climate Disaster

When Fiscal and Monetary Policy Become One

Deep Work

The Inflation Narrative, Richer Wiser Happier, Ethereum

C. The Crypto Section

1. Balaji Srinivasan is one of my favourite thinkers. One of his new projects is 1729 (highly recommend subscribing). They shared their 2021 Crypto Crystal Ball: Half Time Edition, where they compared what friends, investors, founders had predicted for crypto in Dec 2020.

My favourite few:

2. Balaji was also on the Invest Like the Best Podcast discussing Optimizing Your Inputs. They cover ways to optimize your information diet, how technology is driving decentralisation, and what that could mean for countries, corporations, and individuals.

3. Acquired is one of new favourite podcasts. This week they closed out their 8th season with: The Complete History & Strategy of Ethereum. This a 3-hour tour de force, I learnt a huge amount.

4. A few weeks ago we discussed Rene Girard and Mimetic theory. Luke Burgis the author of “Wanting” was on the Bankless podcast discussing the mimetic (mimicking) roots of our desires and behaviours.

Viewing our species from this lens yields a vast wealth of insights about the nature of society, and they discusses how the internet (and crypto) could dramatically shift our understanding of these things.