TheBigStack December 2018 LinkStorm

A long form collection of microposts from The Big Stack's "Room" on StockTwits

The following is a “copy paste” monstrosity born from collecting the curation of December 2018’s readings and shares on StockTwits’ ROOMS product. It runs to nearly 100 pages in length, and this is without ALL of the posts from that month. It will likely be updated and edited into a narrative so that most people, aside from clinically hopeless readers of “everything” like me, will be able to glean useful, or at least entertaining, content regarding The Big Stack’s various product secular trends.

12/03/18: Turn Off, Drop Out: Why Young Chinese Are Abandoning Ambition

"Which word best describes your 2018? For many young Chinese, it’s “qiou” — a character created by combining “poor” and “ugly.”"

"China has its own social mobility issues. Household registration policies, high real estate costs, and unequal wealth distribution are the main obstacles to personal growth in today’s China. Many young people are unable to attain success in the form of owning a house, a car, and a permanent urban residence permit.

In addition, China’s slowing economic growth has led to a wave of layoffs. Meanwhile, young people also complain that work is excessively stressful and the dating pool has been contaminated by materialism and opportunism."

SLACK-er culture meets cute with the Stack.

eCommerce’s market share keeps growing, and the pie itself has room for more as the walls dissolve between brick & mortar and digital. It's all just sales.

12/03/18: It has been the case in all investment history - a date with destiny and reality.

“We essentially started as an experiment—as did Ethereum, as did bitcoin,” says Lubin.

Until now, “it has been enough to show up, it has been enough to do something cool, it has been enough to make a splash.” No longer. From now on, projects will be judged on three metrics: revenue, or return on investment...

“We’re going to get a lot more rigorous in terms of milestones and timetables,” Lubin tells BREAKER, even if that means “dissolving projects if we’ve come to the conclusion that our earlier assumptions were incorrect.” (When ConsenSys closes a project, it will try to move affected staff into other initiatives.)

But Lubin was not ruling out layoffs.


"we are at a crossroads, where we could head down one of these two paths, either a very centralized world where all of our communications and transactions are surveilled, censored, and policed; or a more decentralized one, where we preserve some freedoms and privacy.

And unfortunately, we don’t need to run a thought experiment to see what might happen if we go down the centralized road. There are hundreds of millions of people in China who are living through this experiment right now.

The Financial Times ran an interview with a 23-year-old Chinese millennial, and she said that she wasn’t sure if she was living in a futuristic society, or if she was building a cage for herself, which is about right. I am happy to see a lot of people making noise about why our current data infrastructure is bad — and not just in China, but here in the United States and elsewhere, too."


Derek Thompson, a North Star Podcast guest observed:

“There is a paradox to scale, I think.”

"People who want to be big sometimes think I have to immediately reach the largest possible audience — but in a weird way, the best way to produce things that take off is to produce small things. To become a small expert. To become the best person on the internet at understanding the application of Medicaid to minority children, or something like that.”

"If you go to Tokyo, you'll see there are all sorts of really, really strange shops. There'll be a shop that, only 1970's vinyl and like, 1980's whisky or something.

In a Des Moines suburb, to exist, you have to be Subway, you have to hit the mass-market Immediately. But in Tokyo, where there's 30-40M people within a train ride of a city, then your market is 40 million. And within that 40M, sure, there, a couple thousand people who love 1970's music and 1980's whisky.

The Internet is Tokyo. The Internet allows you to be niche at scale.”

12/04/18: The Friendship That Made Google Huge

"“To solve problems at scale, paradoxically, you have to know the smallest details"

"One day in March of 2000, six of Google’s best engineers gathered in a makeshift war room. The company was in the midst of an unprecedented emergency. In October, its core systems, which crawled the Web to build an “index” of it, had stopped working."

12/04/18: Even the persuasive skills of a sales clerk are not beyond the creep of automation.

TwentyBN, a Canadian AI startup, is touting a virtual salesperson trained to recognize what people are doing, and interact with them in ways that will drive up sales." MIT Tech Review

"a computer vision system that goes beyond simply recognizing objects in images to understand physical actions. “Millie is just like a game character, but with the difference that it can see you and respond,” says Roland Memisevic, CEO of TwentyBN."

12/04/18: The same thing is happening with China with Sales + A.I.

"On December 2 at the 2018 Neural Information Processing Systems conference... Alibaba demoed the AI customer service agent for its logistics company Cainiao... servicing millions of customer requests a day."

Agent: Hello, I am Cainiao’s voice assistant.

I am Customer: Hello. A: Yes, hi, you have package scheduled for morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Is it convenient for you to receive?

C: Who are you?

A: I am Cainiao’s voice assistant. I’d like to confirm your morning delivery to 588 Culture West Road. Does that work for you?

C: I’m not home in the morning.

A: Then do you have another address that you’d like to use?

Within 30 seconds, the agent has smoothly handled three common, and tricky, conversational ingredients: interruption, nonlinear conversation, and implicit intent.

12/04/18: An attempt to re-build new "old" networks, paid for by its membership

"A Dutch news startup has crowdfunded more than $1 million for a U.S. version of its reader-driven news model, in which journalists will be expected to spend as much as 40 percent of their time talking to readers about what they should cover.

"Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University and an unpaid adviser to The Correspondent, has been studying efforts to foster community-driven journalism since the 1990s.

”He said that while plenty of such efforts have failed, The Correspondent has a chance to succeed — noting its journalists will be expected to spend “30 to 40 percent” of their time interacting with members through The Correspondent’s website, which has been built with that goal in mind."

where #chemistry > #coding

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker—at the molecular level—as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr. Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching properties. Their findings are published today in Nature Communications."

"Auxetics are also great at energy absorption and resisting fracture. There may be many potential applications for materials with these properties including body armour, architecture and medical equipment. We have already submitted a patent and are talking to industry about the next steps."

"a new use for liquid crystals beyond the flat screen monitors and televisions many of us are familiar with"

12/04/18: The Big Stack theme “Potemkin Protocol” is rooted in our biases, cognitive and otherwise, fraud, illusions, augmented and virtual reality and A.I.

We can create entertainment, education, engagement but we can also create emergencies where there were none or ignore the ones that may be unfolding. all on the The Big Stack's infrastructure, on demand seamlessly. We need both the tools to differentiate and distinguish what is merely gaming attention and activity and which are providing value that can be ingested and integrated with the long term value of our lives.

12/04/18: Amazing Data Visualization of population as 3-D styled "mountains"

12/04/18: When AI is the Product: The Rise of AI-Based Consumer Apps

"TikTok a China-based company whose product is winning hearts in the U.S. and around the world,

it is, more importantly the first mainstream consumer app where artificial intelligence IS the product.

AI algorithms decide which videos to show users. This is possible due to TikTok’s clear signals from each video... Even the speed at which users swipe a video away is a relevant signal."

diversity of content in TikTok is as wide as YouTube lowers the barrier to entry for content creation, facilitates a sense of shared community most TikTok videos are 15 seconds today, creators don’t need to speak, and some don’t even show their face. This allows a whole new crop of creators that would not succeed on YouTube and Instagram to find their internet followings.

500 years of Urbanization via “Our World In Data”

Meanwhile, here is the first decade of Instagram’s growth:

Jun 2018: 1 billion
Sep 2017: 800 million
Apr 2017: 700 million
Dec 2016: 600 million
Jun 2016: 500 million
Mar 2014: 200 million
Sep 2012: 100 million
May 2012: 50 million
Sep 2011: 10 million
Jun 2011: 5 million
Dec 2010: 1 million
Sep 2010: 0
h/t jon erlichman

CRISPR explained via an AFP Graphic on the origins of the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technique. The World Health Organization said it is creating a panel to study the implications of gene editing.

12/05/18: Not just winter for crypto, new media getting hit with reality

"Both BuzzFeed and Vice made news for substantially missing their revenue targets. Mashable was sold at a dramatic price reduction. Vox Media was forced to terminate 5 percent of its workforce.

These companies, which once heralded the dawn of a new media age—replete with massive valuations, large fund-raising hauls, and millennial sex appeal—now appeared to exhibit some traits of the brands that they once attempted to disrupt. They were large, less nimble, and increasingly vulnerable to Facebook and Google. They seemed virtually encircled by competitors familiar and new. On one side was a new generation of smaller yet influential companies focused on monetizing their direct relationships with consumers, like Axios, TheSkimm, Crooked Media, and the Athletic, to name a few."

12/06/18: A powerful piece I had missed from a friend @MarzBonfire

“How social influence can undermine the wisdom of crowd effect,” by Lorenz et al.,¹ found that social interaction among participants produces convergent opinions, less accurate opinions, and higher confidence in those opinions.

“Convergent opinions” may explain the rampant repetition cited above that essentially blurs into a long stream of social mood conformity.

“Less accurate opinions” may explain the embrace of GLOBAL/NO BORDERS ideology that was rejected in America and is steadily being rejected throughout Europe, even though the embrace of these ideologies may have resulted from conformity to the same mood underpinning the raging bull market."

We're Doing It Wrong

My notes: A.I. non-anthropomorphic indexing, mapping and "seeing" with non-human "eyes" of "Narrative-Space"- not Promethean fire but it still illuminates.

"I think investment professionals, quant and non-quant alike, are misusing the massive computing power that each and every one of us has at our fingertips.

Whether it’s the powerful computer that we call a smartphone, whether it’s the crazy powerful multi-threaded computer that we call a laptop, whether it’s the insanely powerful computing utility we call AWS or Azure or the like … we’re using machine computing processes as an extension of our human computing processes.

This is a classic anthropomorphic fallacy."

Modern Promethean fire maybe on its way. Compact Fusion Reactor CFR become a real thing? A science fiction dream of sun-like power approaches.


SUBSCRIPTION revenue - It's back to the future.

While Apple investors fret over the latest iPhone sales, the market has rewarded Microsoft for locking in a regular stream of revenue tied to the cloud and its Office 365 franchise. Those old Windows software boxes? They’ve been replaced by shiny mobile apps tied to monthly payments. $AAPL $MSFT $ADBE and even $DE

Subscriptions offer a way off the product hamster wheel.

Recurring payments have changed the way that Americans consume software, music, movies, television, fitness, clothing, and food. Even tractor maker Deere (DE) is trying to sell subscriptions to farmers. And the trend goes beyond Corporate America. Don Ward, who has shined shoes for 18 years just outside Barron’s offices in midtown Manhattan, began offering a subscription service in 2010.

12/08/18: CHINA & eCommerce, good and bad #streamland

"The 21-year-old used to be a nurse, but now sings for money full time on YY, one of China’s largest livestreaming platforms. In the real world, Man is a diaosi—Chinese slang that roughly means “loser”—but online she’s a star. "She sings for the camera, flirts with fans online, and courts wealthy patrons to help pay her bills. She has money, but she’s miserable..."I don’t go out or even see the sun.”"

"Her unemployed father lingers in the background, chain smoking and trying to stay out of Man’s camera angle... “At most, she’s got two years left on YY,” he says. “She’s turning 22 soon.” "People’s Republic of Desire, a new documentary from filmmaker Hao Wu that explores the depressing and lucrative world of livestreaming in China."

The following notes via reads of AndreesenHorowitz’s coverage of China.

Look to China, for 2 buckets of revenue models.
transactions + subscriptions
or advertising + engagement
each directs different product thinking: WALLETS vs. EYEBALLS

BUT Consumer behavior changes (e.g. decl. marginal returns on on ads, on Buffett style content models (20th C. newspapers))

China skipped PC and credit card era due to high costs of building relevant stacks.

SMALL SCREEN was true mass intro to Internet - leading to seamless digital society.

Revenue distribution for Tencent $TCEHY has a revenue mix reflecting management thinking on top line, "we should not be inundating users with ADS"(capped at 2/day).

Books: bite sized snacks, gamified, SORTING/analytic tools for users (i.e. “search”).

Podcast: donations from USERS $314M U.S. ads vs $3+ B CHINA paid ("tips", packages)

Video: IQ (A.I.),VIP members, gamification, livestream + related merch

Music: FAN building/loyalty incentives, digital goods, UGC maker revenue, shared exp/social,lifestyle


Overheard from “fintwit”, pessimist archive podcast:
"What on earth will we do with 47 computers? (1952)",910665&hl=en

Sarasota Journal June 1952 "So MANY electronic brains being created that scientists are now trying to figure out ways to make the best use of them"

Narrator: LITTLE would they KNOW that CAT VIDEOS would soon overwhelm the capacity of so "MANY" electronic brains...

"Winston Churchill was born in 1874, when electricity, radio, television, and telephones were still unknown. He died in 1965, men had orbited the earth, walked in space, and sent a probe to the surface of Venus." via Intelligent Fanatics

Churchill himself on this:

“I wonder often whether any other generation has seen such astounding revolutions of data and values as those through which we have lived. Scarcely anything material or established which I was brought up to believe was permanent and vital, has lasted. Everything I was sure or taught to be sure was impossible, has happened.”"
Citing book, "The Search For God and Guinness"


"Great companies were once built on Microsoft’s code, Nadella says he was reminded by Gates. Nadella’s mission: Rebuild Microsoft brick by brick until it can happen again.”

“That’s what I want us to rediscover,” he says.

"The former engineer says he has focused the company around a simple concept: “equitable growth.” "Nadella and Scott Guthrie, the new cloud boss, welcomed Linux onto Azure’s IT framework, where it’s now used by half of all computer systems operating on Microsoft’s cloud. “When we achieved our success, with that success came out the classic hubris that I describe as being the know-it-alls,” Nadella says. “I said, ‘Let’s shed that.’ ”
This following quote echoes Ben Thompson's quote of Bill Gates' saying Platforms capture only a fraction of the value, while the rest goes to the users.

“"Bill used to teach me, ‘Every dollar we make, there’s got to be five dollars, ten dollars on the outside,’ ” Nadella tells Forbes, in his first sit-down interview since the $7.5 billion deal closed."

The Big Stack's notes on $MSFT and #GITHUB

"If you think about it, right or wrong, its acquisition of an OS from another computer well over a generation ago set it on a path to outlast its competitors and thrive in the original PC era. Perhaps the same thing has been happening again."

A fascinating thread and content via Andrew Chen of a16z on #consumer #startups

"Even while there's been all this innovation recently, physically speaking, we are still the same human beings from 100,000 years ago." "about tying all of these ideas today. 1) A killer new product enabled by an emerging technology or platform. 2) Pre-existing consumer motivations. 3) An insight on growth to kick it off"

"If a product is supposedly so cool everyone's telling their friends, but 80% of new users are coming from ads, that's a problem Ultimately you need both. A great story and vision for the business. And metrics that are real. I think you can probably invest in a company if you have one of those two things, but if you have both of those things, it's magical." massive slide deck!

12/11/18: on #eSports #streaming #decentralization #communities #tokens #monetization #twitch

"Communities which have a defined content themes and high SEO value are where influencers thrive. Influencers have migrated from channels to becoming content creators on “platforms” which evolved into direct competitors for traditional media companies."

"The eSports community has a powerful engagement motor on Twitch thanks to its inclusiveness and potential for aspirants ... The audience is global, dwarfing audiences in sports"

"Content with a soul means engagement, and that could lead to conversations, including discussions inspired by longer form content... STORYTELLING"

"gamers as an early adopter vanguard for “fully decentralized applications and services”...gaming’s 20 years of experience with virtual assets, a willingness to adopt and experiment with minimum viable products "

BlockChannel Episode 51: Curation & Scam Filtration, with Preethi Kasireddy

"Trustory is a social network for experts to identify what is true and what isn't. You get tokens for identifying accurate information and refuting inaccurate information and lose tokens otherwise. The app is currently focused exclusively on cryptocurrency-related topics."

This podcast interview of Kasireddy, well known in crypto circles, touches on a major secular theme of interest to The Big Stack, "Potemkin Protocol", the use of technology to alter the perception and existence of "reality", in AR, Augmented Reality, and the nature of accurate information.

#CREATIVITY is the "layer" which everyone possesses that can help us make the most of the rest of our "stack" of skills, talents and potential. Embrace change , a/k/a "CARPE VOLATILITY"

Bill Gates Embraces Meditation

"I stopped listening to music and watching TV in my 20s. It sounds extreme, but I did it because I thought they would just distract me from thinking about software. That blackout period lasted only about five years, and these days I’m a huge fan of TV shows like Narcos and listen to a lot of U2, Willie Nelson, and the Beatles.

Back when I was avoiding music and TV in the hope of maintaining my focus, I knew that lots of other people were using meditation to achieve similar ends. But I wasn’t interested. I thought of meditation as a woo-woo thing tied somehow to reincarnation, and I didn’t buy into it." Insiders, Experts or "Gurus" may be skeptical about this, but we all have to begin somewhere; a little "beginners' mind" couldn't hurt even the veterans in a field. :)


"Officially China still sees nuclear power as a must-have. But unofficially, the technology is on a death watch...the technology is too expensive, and the public doesn’t want it."

"Last June two of the world’s most advanced reactors began operating in China: a US-designed AP1000 and a French-German EPR. In theory, these reactors are at greatly reduced risk of a Fukushima-style accident...AP1000 design stores water above the reactor that can be gravity-fed to keep it cool if the pumps fail. EPR reactors employ multiple redundant generators and cooling systems to lower meltdown risk." "safety adds cost... the construction cost is nearly double that of the conventional technology... " notes: potential shift in "Made in China 2025" may reflect a deeper reality about manufacturing trends

12/12/18: "consider the enterprise software market: here the Internet has very much lived up to its billing, unleashing a torrent of innovative companies made possible by cloud computing, that are challenging lumbering incumbents up-and-down their product lines... some of those incumbents, like Microsoft, are responding in kind, dramatically overhauling their core strategies" "state of technology in 2018: the enterprise market is thriving, and the consumer market is stagnant, dominated by the “innovations” that a few large behemoths deign to develop for consumers (and probably by ripping off a smaller company). Meanwhile a backlash is brewing" "Google’s technical brilliance, its insurmountable “bestness” is, at this point in the company’s history, more due to the frictionless structure of the Internet, with its zero distribution and transaction costs that make it possible for a company to achieve Google’s insurmountable scale, than it is due to any sort of unique innovation." "the Internet saved the industry from Microsoft, but are we so sure another Internet-level shift, one that will upend Google’s dominance, is on the horizon?" on $GOOGL $MSFT #ENTERPRISE #FEEDBACKLOOPS

Another "The Big Stack" tech theme, "Song of the Flywheel" (a/k/a voice with ht to Amazon's "flywheel" including #ALEXA ) Speechcon Reference (Interjections): English (US) Speechcons are special words and phrases that Alexa pronounces more expressively. You can include these exclamations in your skill's text-to-speech using SSML. including phrases like "aha", "knock knock", and "dun dun dun" (extra mystery movie)and more. Click on them to try them out.


#Enterprise has been running hot, #Blockchain has not (sort of) But there are a lot of experiments underway

via theBlock: "The enterprise blockchain ecosystem has five core branches: (1) corporations, (2) startups, (3) protocols, (4) platforms, and (5) consortiums Forrester Research has estimated that 90% of blockchain experiments will never be a part of a company’s operations These companies continue to push enterprise blockchain adoption forward in the hope that they grab a piece of the estimated $3.1 trillion blockchain market."

Stablecoins and other high flying projects might be shutting down, but other efforts in The Big Stack continue to grow, like $BABA 's ANT FINANCIAL #WALLETS throughout #Asia A massive secular trend

The Big Stack has covered the PRODUCT dev potential of serving #eSports and #communities. Below's news has massive potential and implications

"Throughout 2019, we’ll be launching a large set of cross-platform game services originally built for Fortnite, and battle-tested with 200,000,000 players across 7 platforms. "free for all developers, and will be open to all engines, all platforms, and all stores. As a developer, you’re free to choose mix-and-match solutions from Epic and others as you wish." "We connect developers and players across all platforms, and respect existing platform relationships and player accounts. "Fortnite runs on 7 platforms that are fully interoperable; the game requires no login on console, and supports multi-platform login via Facebook, Google, Xbox Live, PSN, and Nintendo accounts, in addition to Epic accounts; and supports Twitch account linking."

I can't stress it enough, consumer product development, community building, and monetization "solutions" will come in part from what is happening in #eSports

Virgin Galactic has reached suborbital space for the first time Fourteen years after the company’s founding, it’s finally made it to space—just.
"SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 82.68 kilometers (51.4 miles), just high enough to pass the definition... for the edge of space (and high enough for both pilots to get FAA commercial astronaut wings). But it didn’t reach the Karman Line, the common line used to represent the border between Earth’s atmosphere and space, 100 kilometers above Earth’s surface. NASA also flew payloads on the flight, making it the first revenue-generating flight for the company." "Building and breaking, hope and hubris - this has been the cycle for all progress including flight."

12/13/18: French social media education, virtual influencers & virtual customization

In France, a growing education campaign in schools that seeks to educate students on which social media information should one trust. *** "Five posts from Twitter were up on the board. The assignment: Decipher whether they were trustworthy or suspect." #PotemkinProtocol a "The Big Stack" secular and tech theme requires new habits to process data and content "The phrase "Potemkin Village" is a metaphor for a special theater. And there is no more ripe stage for this than in the pervasive ebullience of all things cutting edge."

#PotemkinProtocol includes this: Virtual People, including "influencers" "Miquela has 1.5M followers on Instagram. The 19-year-old poses in hip clothes, promotes social causes and releases songs on Spotify. You may have seen the Ugg model on billboards." #AR #VR

another aspect of #PotemkinProtocol the constructive use of #AR Augmented Reality, via low cost 3-D scanning (your mobile device) to create on-demand consumer products on spec for each customer

"more people seek streaming entertainment instead of status updates" on $FB and The Big Stack theme of #STREAMLAND

“The Information reports that news media executives feel that while some shows are getting satisfactory viewership, ad revenue has been underwhelming. Six months ago, Facebook commissioned news programs from outlets like CNN and Buzzfeed. Facebook reportedly now plans to pay news video content producers less per show as it seeks to spread the same $90 million budget across more programs, potentially with a greater focus on international markets."

The Big Stack has covered #streamland and in particular $NFLX vs. $DIS but as we see there are multiple players competing

12/13/18: Morgan Stanley's Numbers on Flying Cars: $2.9 Trillion, 20 Years The Big Stack's theme of "The Children of Daedalus" wants us off the runway in so many ways #flight #space

12/13/18: The limits of the SEC with Crypto regulation

SEC Commissioner Pierce admits that "even the securities lawyers whom many of these entrepreneurs cannot afford are struggling to apply the [Howey] test....Enforcement actions ought not to be the means by which we tell the marketplace what we are thinking." She is 100% on point."

SEC: "Regulatory Apparitions: Remarks at the Exchequer Club":

"The reality is that money spent on drafting or complying with a rule cannot be spent on something else. At a very practical level, we at the SEC have to think about our own costs as we set our rulemaking priorities. Our resources are not unlimited, nor should they be."


At least 15 central banks are serious about getting into digital currency

"First, new forms of digital money are “shrinking the role of cash.” Besides that, some central banks are interested in using the technology to reach the hundreds of millions of people who do not have a bank account or access to modern financial services. Finally, most central banks see the potential to reduce costs by replacing physical banknotes with digital ones." Casting Light on Central Bank Digital Currencies (IMF) 11/12/18 "One possibility is central bank digital currency (CBDC)-- a widely accessible digital form of fiat money that could be legal tender. This discussion note proposes a conceptual framework"


Benjamin Franklin on progress February 8, 1780

This man was quite a thinker Conquering gravity "for the sake of easy transport", increasing agricultural productivity and output, the conquering of diseases, longer lifespans, AND his one still unsolved lament: "that men would cease to be wolves to one another... and learn...humanity"


The biggest brand in digital media has lost much of its lustre - Vice without virtue

BuzzFeed and Vox Media, which like Vice were rapidly accumulating young audiences coveted by advertisers, would eventually be valued by investors at $1.7bn and $1bn respectively. By June 2017, Mr Smith had charmed the likes of Fox, Disney and TPG, a private-equity firm, into investing a combined $1.4bn in his rapidly expanding news, cable, video and advertising operation. Vice, which started out as a print magazine called Voice of Montreal, was valued at $5.7bn. No longer... Google and Facebook have squashed all competitors in the digital-advertising marketplace... commands the majority of the $100bn internet advertising market in America; Vice, BuzzFeed and Vox combined get less than 1% of that market. $GOOGL $FB > $FOXA $DIS

the world's music label could be called "PARETO RECORDS" Princeton U: "Experimental Study of Inequality and Unpredictability in an Artificial Cultural Market" "Hit songs, books, and movies are many times more successful than average, suggesting that ‘‘the best’’ alternatives are qualitatively different from ‘‘the rest’’; yet experts routinely fail to predict which products will succeed. We investigated this paradox experimentally, by creating an artificial ‘‘music market’’ in which 14,341 participants downloaded previously unknown songs either with or without knowledge of previous participants’ choices. " "Our results support the hypothesis that social influence, which here is restricted only to information regarding the choices of others, contributes both to inequality and unpredictability in cultural markets"

A little levity, a picture found via crytotwitter: Models holding ASICs #miners ( via @parallelind )
This has been a "must"/ wish item for The Big Stack: the use of Science Fiction to help imagineer what becomes of the continuously evolving infrastructure and society of The Big Stack.

"chaohuan, or “ultra-unreal,” in the same article (available in Lithub under the heading “Modern China Is So Crazy It Needs a New Literary Genre“).

He describes chaohuan as an acceleration of Latin American magical realism: chaohuan aims to reflect a Chinese reality that is often stranger than fiction" afrofuturism, Gulf Futurism, "Solarpunk" (which was covered by Rooster360 a few years ago!), and more You want some MIND and VC/investment expanding fictional reading on your holiday/downtime, there's a decent book list in this piece


in 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first sustained, controlled flights in a powered aircraft. The flight lasted 12 seconds.

Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon, carried with him a piece of the cloth and wood from the original Wright Flyer. "Humanity has been fascinated with birds and flight for much of its recorded history - our myths, such as about Daedalus (whose name meant “cunningly wrought”) and his son Icarus, have been cautionary tales about our capacity for both building and breaking, and for hope and hubris." "Two late 19th century sons of Daedalus were among those who made it happen: Kitty Hawk. December 17, 1903."


a big podcast on $TCEHY #WeChat

show details: "a monster episode on Tencent, the Shenzhen-based social networking and entertainment powerhouse. We dive deep into the story of Pony Ma and his cofounders’ incredible journey from making software for pagers(!) to QQ, WeChat, League of Legends, Fortnite, Snapchat and even Tesla. Carve Outs Ben: President Obama’s OG podcast! David: Kara Swisher’s interview with the Google Walkout organizers: David (bonus!): Allen Iverson in the Players’ Tribune: "


Ali Yahya (formerly at GoogleX and Google Brain) shares an overview of crypto… through the lens of the past, and future, of trust.

Let's look past the current #crypto investment storm, and look inwards, backwards in time and then think forward about ourselves and trust. We couldn't have progressed beyond even family units without trust. Need and mutual interests can only take you so far literally (walking distance) but we built societies on customs over trust, which influenced our technology. So now we have that going in reverse our technology affecting our societal choices in terms of trust. Maybe that is what is slowly unfolding now. There are still 6000 human languages being spoken as of this time, in fact on society was just discovered in Asia, where there were many words for sharing and collaboration. What would they think of this?

The voice of a product will be its logo in the future.

IEEE Spectrum: Why Alphabet’s Glucose Sensor Failed

researchers at Alphabet and Novartis couldn’t build an accurate glucose sensor in a contact lens.

Chief technical officer Brian Otis, at Alphabet’s life science arm Verily, announced earlier this month in a blog post that the companies would put their in-eye glucose-sensing project “on hold.” They couldn’t get consistently accurate results from the device in clinical testing, researchers have attempted to track glucose not only in tears but also in other external bodily fluids such as sweat, saliva, and urine. And one after another, the projects have failed.

“Truly noninvasive chemical biosensing is a holy grail, but really, really difficult,” says Jason Heikenfeld, director of the Novel Device Lab at the University of Cincinnati


U.S.-China VC Deal Flow Rises Despite Trade Tensions

"355 deals between U.S.-based investors and China-based companies and 198 deals between China-based investors and U.S. companies. U.S. investors accounted for over 64 percent of the cross-border investment deal volume in 2018 to date. That’s a near perfect reversal from 2016, when China-based investors accounted for 63 percent of cross-border VC investments between entities in the U.S. and China." like Dune, "the spice must flow" :D

12/18/18: Hong Kong Ride-Share Driver

SpaceX valuation:

Dec 2018: $30.5 billion May 2018: $25 billion Nov 2017: $20.8 billion Jan 2015: $10 billion Oct 2010: $1 billion Jun 2009: $547 million Aug 2008: $410 million Mar 2007: $280 million Mar 2005: $163 million Dec 2002: $27 million

Source: WSJ, Pitchbook via jon erlichman That valuation just keeps on soaring faster, farther & higher

"Not for all the COFFEE in China" via MACRO Polo:

Slow Brew: China’s Coffee Revival and Globalization

"For the vast majority of Chinese, a “Grande” Starbucks black coffee that sells for more than $3 in Beijing is an unaffordable luxury, considering the average household’s monthly disposable income is equivalent to just 90 cups of Starbucks coffee.

In 2011, an intensely personal essay titled “I fought for 18 years just to have a coffee with you” went viral on the Chinese internet. The author was a migrant who had finally made it into the Shanghai elite and who used Starbucks as both a proxy of social status and a poignant symbol of the gulf between the haves and have-nots. At the time, China’s Gini coefficient, a widely used measure of inequality, hovered around 0.47 (the US sits at 0.42), one of the highest among major economies." relevant for $SBUX and more #consumer #china #trends

An AWESOME deep read written by Jerry Neumann on iTunes as a Case study on innovation

Ralph Waldo Emerson reportedly once said “If a man can…make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”1 Every engineer fervently wishes this were true. It is not. The success of any interesting product is not just a function of its efficacy, but of a complex social and economic process generated by the interaction of the technology with the market and the sociopolitical establishment. I’m going to break this down using the MP3 player market as an example. It’s not really surprising that technology released into the wild is used in unanticipated ways. The human reaction to innovations is one of the biggest sources of uncertainty in the commercialization process THIS is going to be great long read, make time if you're into this big picture analysis


on $BABA 's stack on Barrons by Sumzero

"While many people label BABA the “Amazon of China”, there are distinct differences. Amazon is a vertically integrated e-commerce retailer... a complex logistics network. BABA is primarily a digital platform that facilitates the connection between consumers and manufacturers... The largest investment for BABA, not carried on the balance sheet, is a 33% ownership interest in Ant Financial. "Moat" cited incl "network effect" and Alipay, has more than 870M users worldwide. Building out a trust payment network is difficult (Paypal is one of the few non-bank payment networks in the US)." (and rival's rise may have slowed.))


ONE of the VR/AR startups featured in the piece, Potemkin Protocols, about VR startup North, just acquired patents from Intel's closed "Vaunt" project
As I had suggested, "North" looked the hybrid offspring between Google Glass and Warby Parker, all yours for "just" $999 in this first going


Researchers have demonstrated that an amoeba—a single-celled organism consisting mostly of gelatinous protoplasm—has unique computing abilities that may one day offer a competitive alternative to the methods used by conventional computers.

The researchers, led by Masashi Aono at Keio University, assigned an amoeba to solve the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP). The TSP is an optimization problem in which the goal is to find the shortest route between several cities, so that each city is visited exactly once, and the start and end points are the same. The problem is NP-hard, meaning that as the number of cities increases, the time needed for a computer to solve it grows exponentially. Researchers have demonstrated that an amoeba—a single-celled organism consisting mostly of gelatinous protoplasm—has unique computing abilities that may one day offer a competitive alternative to the methods used by conventional computers.

more on the #PotemkinProtocol a/k/a #VR #AR front
Leap Motion unveiled LeapUVC, an expansion of its Image API that gives developers access to the Leap Motion Controller's camera data.

It's similar to Research Mode for HoloLens. The Universal Video Class (UVC) is the industry standard interface for cameras, so LeapUVC gives developers more control over properties such as LED brightness, gamma, exposure, gain, resolution, and more. "Multiple device support has been a longstanding feature request in our developer community, and we're excited to share this experimental release with everyone," the Leap Motion team said in a blog post. "Multiple interactive spaces can be used for multiuser AR/VR, art installations, location-based entertainment, and more."

Dec. 20, 1996, Steve Jobs' NEXT company was bought by $AAPL for 400M USD, marking an end to an 11 year exile from the company he created with Wozniak.


"young people are “data labelers,” people who sit in front of computers for eight hours a day and click on dozens of photos, outlining backgrounds, foregrounds, and specific objects, all according to the specifications of a client who is working on artificial intelligence. Some may label medical scans; others, photos of landscapes and trees; and still others, pictures of the road for a driverless vehicle.

This is the data given to artificial intelligence algorithms to learn to “see.”

The artificial intelligence industry relies on this cheap, human labor as algorithms and “machine learning” are in many cases trained by real people. Money is flowing into China’s artificial intelligence industry, and few places illustrate that better than Henan. In a province that just a few years ago was known for its Foxconn plant and electronics factories, its towns now boast offices of workers who are doing the laborious input work that makes computers smart."

Recent price action led to "hey what's the value of Apple compared to all that cash?"

Asymco covered this in Jan 2018 "Apple’s cash and investments... includes investments in the form of short- and long-term marketable securities. Long-term marketable securities are not always accounted as “cash” because strictly cash is considered a liquid asset and some securities may not be sufficiently so. Nevertheless, most analysts would agree that Apple’s securities are sufficiently liquid to qualify as cash."

Although it has been "stronger" earlier,it's impressive to see just how liquid the company is last month it reported 237B USD cash on hand, which is 1/3 the size of mkt cap, 739B USD as of this week's horrific close Normally we talk tech but the thought is the relatively low cost of investing in a large company with its large community of Apple customers who may be increasingly known for buying digital services and not just hardware

12/22/18: Written last year, at the "birth" of The Big Stack: "It’s humbling to be reminded that yesterday’s hotness becomes a footnote on wikipedia soon enough."


"The Library at Alexandria was in charge of collecting all the world’s knowledge, and most of the staff was occupied with the task of translating works onto papyrus paper. It did so through an aggressive and well-funded royal mandate"

"we saw a once-in-a-decade company. You see, modern programming is about assembling code — in the form of libraries" - Andreesen Horowitz on GITHUB

The “Earthrise” picture.

A chart shared by Shane Parrish. Shane Parrish of the Knowledge Project posted it. I just had a pleasant private chat with one of his recent interview subjects, a remarkable person who also has a great investment and business mind, and it reminded me of what is possible on all kinds of scales and time frames. This chart is also about new businesses too, startups or mom & pop, that a lot of outsized wins are from going where the crowd and competition is not present and for becoming a leader via mastery and uniqueness. The reminder lesson is: going for the new and about mastery.

"will do anything to avoid talking on the phone, but I don't even think twice about it in Fortnite"

"what makes it unique is that it's the great equalizer: it's entirely free for anyone to play, on any device on the planet"

"Fortnite is the new social network, and it's transcending into a substitute for the real world, a place you go and talk to friends, but do something at the same time." #eSports #community #twitch #amazon #HUYA I had covered this in "eSports, Communities & Storytelling": "the way to think about Fortnite isn’t Halo, but Instagram" "The eSports community has a powerful engagement motor on Twitch thanks to its inclusiveness and potential for aspirants ... The audience is global, dwarfing audiences in sports and rivals other online platforms."

12/24/18: "neural networks have competed their way to generating images of fabricated human faces that genuine humans have trouble distinguishing from images of the real deal" #PotemkinProtocol #AR #VR #AI
"AI looks just as alive as the people you see in these photographs, despite the fact that none of them have ever lived, and it's questionable whether we can even call the images that depict them "photographs" at all. All of them come, in fact, as products of a state-of-the-art generative adversarial network, a type of artificial intelligence algorithm that pits multiple neural networks against each other in a kind of machine-learning match."
(A Style-Based Generator Architecture for Generative Adversarial Networks)
IN LESS THAN half a decade this #PotemkinProtocol theme just gets better, going from fuzzy black & white to realistic photoimages of people that never existed.

12/25/18: Podcast about Patrick Collison, founder of #Stripe

”Don’t overweight, with a recency bias, the books published within the last year ...Take advantage of older books that have survived
Be careful about doing something drastically different from the status quo when designing an organization
”When you see a smart person holding a strong point of view on something, try to figure out how they’re right
Expose yourself to more world views be able to inspect, and try to understand, and extrapolate from ideas/views which contradict your own without taking offense

A goal to aim for – Make sure all the options you’re confronted with, are good options... look closer, there’s often an option C you haven’t thought about
So instead of trying to get better at decision making, you may want to try to get better at experimenting very quickly and then undoing/redoing the decision

“If people around you don’t think what you’re doing is a bit strange, then maybe it’s not strange enough”

$AAPL #Apple #digital #services #revenue will soon be larger > than hardware sales; the stock price might be off but revenues for the future continue to trend as I suspected, lots of services and digital "goods" for a large network/community of Apple customers.

Airpods interest increases, the rise of Voice

On Christmas Day in 1990: the World Wide Web is first tested Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau set up successful communication between a web browser & server via the Internet 12/25/1990 ! #history

"How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot."

The dark side of #PotemkinProtocol is closer to the original dark meaning of Potemkin Village, fraud. A major secular theme covered in and in this room

"Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real."

Smartphone app for non-invasive detection of anemia using only patient-sourced photos
Nature Communications, volume 9, Article number: 4924 (2018)
”a paradigm of completely non-invasive, on-demand diagnostics that may replace common blood-based laboratory tests using only a smartphone app and photos.

We initially targeted anemia, a blood condition characterized by low blood hemoglobin levels that afflicts >2 BILLION PEOPLE

Our app estimates hemoglobin levels by analyzing color and metadata of fingernail bed smartphone photos and detects anemia”

12/27/18: Beyond Photos, Back To Voice

#POTEMKINprotocol is a major Big Stack Theme
The dark side is fraud, and A/R, V/R tools we can use to either navigate or manipulate our biases

A followup to an earlier post, this time a mega-thread on FAKE METRICS "The numbers are all fking fake, the metrics are bullshit, the agencies responsible for enforcing good practices are knowing bullshiters enforcing and profiting off all the fake numbers and none of the models make sense at scale of actual human users." ("How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually." NY Mag 12/26/18) "you get fake users, who get autoplay videos which no one is really watching" ("Ad tech is broken. Here’s how newsrooms can help fix it" 4/20/16) some sites will take their fake users who don't look at ads and put them in front of VC as a fake business plan ( ) So you can create fake "disruption"

A method and application for animating a human subject from a single photo.

”The key contributions of this paper are:
1) an application of viewing and animating humans in single photos in 3D,
2) a novel 2D warping method to deform a posable template body model to fit the person's complex silhouette to create an animatable mesh, and
3) a method for handling partial self occlusions.

We compare to state-of-the-art related methods and evaluate results with human studies. Further, we present an interactive interface that allows re-posing the person in 3D, and an augmented reality setup where the animated 3D person can emerge from the photo into the real world.”

Photo Wake-Up: 3D Character Animation from a Single Photo Chung-Yi Weng, Brian Curless, Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman (Submitted on 5 Dec 2018)

12/28/18: via Amanda Rousseau

"Revenue generated each HOUR:
”Apple: $30.7 million
Amazon: $26.9 million
Microsoft: $13.3 million
Google: $12.7 million
IBM: $9.3 million
Disney: $6.9 million
Facebook: $6.4 million
Tesla: $2.5 million
Netflix: $1.8 million"

12/31/18: The massive Nathaniel Whittemore @nlw thread

"Long Reads Sunday #27 | Best Of 2018 Edition! Simply put, this is the best crypto content of the year - the most interesting, influential & inflammatory threads and essays. "

"Much of this year was about prying ourselves from the fever dream of free money and non-dilutive capital that was the 2017 ICO frenzy. "

"personal stories ... @PeterMcCormack’s Melville-esque tail of going from $32k to $1.2m and then all the way back"

the “decentralization theater” that slapped that word everywhere without articulating why it mattered. The tension between the money mindset and the Silicon Valley technology mindset centralized platforms have reached an inevitable but still hugely problematic stage of exploitation of user data and monopoly power... why tokenization could be transformative emerging in the context of a 40-year decline in trust of schools, banks, media.