Sharing lists

I  spent the entire train trip and now a fair bit of time writing up a list of things I thought were worth sharing with my colleagues.  A day spent in the office to farewell a colleague left little time to write today so this list will have to do.

Tech Strategy/Big Ideas

Ben Thompson, Stratechery: A recent one that questions Twitter’s business model while it has a change in its CEO. I have come to the realisation that few people who work at a corporate can truly explain what the business model is, regardless of their hierarchy in the organisation.

Benedict Evans:  Browse through any of his highly opinionated presentations, and despite how much I dislike his Twitter style, I found his perspectives always challenge and expand my world.

Inspiration/Ethics in Tech

Doug Engelbart now deceased – most famously known as the inventor of the mouse, I’ve been a huge fan of his writing and ideas that still have barely been scratched – take for example this 2002 talk called “Improving our Ability to Improve”.

Aaron Swartz now deceased. Known as the Internet’s Own Boy until he died by his own hand at the age of 26, Aaron has probably had something to do with the tools you and I now use. I do regard him as  a prodigy, and maybe an idealist. I find his principled stand against the publishing industry which landed him in hot water quite inspiring. I won’t link to a single article from him but this eulogy from one of his mentors Larry Lessig, (who I should also list here but won’t) is worth a listen.

dana boyd – she writes her name in small case – is a technology & media researcher at Microsoft.  A recent article “Behind every algorithm, there be politics

Kevin Kelly – The cofounder of WIRED magazine, KK spends much time on pursuits that I can’t even categorize – which is one reason he ranks highly in my  reading list. I discovered recently (to my total surprise) that he is also involved with the Long Now Foundation with Stewart Brand (another person will likely make it into my list soon), a veritable goldmine of long-form, long-term talks. Eric Ries ,the author of Lean Startup, was a speaker in 2019, about building a new form of Stock Exchanges in the US.  But back to Kelly, here’s a bet he had with a Luddite-loving doomsdayer 25 years ago, & it’s outcome.

Marketing Tech

Doc Searls, one of the co-authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto – a series of 95 theses about the Internet worth revisiting, Searls is an advertising guru who has turned his attention to the “intention economy”. A prolific writer and speaker, his ability to synthesize (for me) complex ideas into inspiring ideals is a huge draw.

Prof Scott Galloway: A recent entrant into my reading list, I’ve beginning to see why some of my favourite authors like his discipline of writing. Here’s one about BNPL (buy now pay later companies)


Numberphile YT channel – hours of fun learning about things. James Grimes hosts fun people like this one by Hannah Fry about how railway timetables are created.

3Blue1Brown: YT channel – I love Grant Sanderson’s skill in explaining complex concepts effectively- one so beautifully demonstrated when Covid started last year and a simulation


Andrew Ng (Andrew Ng (@AndrewYNg) / Twitter) is inspiring, a visionary, and a brilliant explainer of all things AI & ML, their practical limitations and opportunities. His weekly newsletter The Batch is one to subscribe to, for wonderful coverage (& great dad jokes since Andrew had a baby J). Particularly so if you are considering or introducing AI/ML in your own area. Leaders particularly would do well to listen to the experience that Andrew commands. A course I’d highly recommend, even if you’re a ML/AI practitioner, is this free one title AI for everyone on Coursera, a company incidentally co-founded by Andrew Ng. It is a no-nonsense primer to the world, accessible even if you’re not a practitioner.

I started reading Jack Clark (Jack Clark (@jackclarkSF) / Twitter)’s blog ImportAI for the futuristic stories he writes in them. Inspired by real events, Jack’s imagination and writing skills are captivating, and I’ve come to appreciate both his optimism and cautions about AI.  A slightly older one but one that was vivid is in ImportAI 231 (scroll right down to the end)

Nathan Yao (Nathan Yau (@flowingdata) / Twitter) brings statistics to life and data stories through visualisations. See this one visualising age of workers and the jobs they are employed in.


Prof Aswath Damodaran (Aswath Damodaran (@AswathDamodaran) / Twitter) makes this cut in the hope that it inspires you to think about companies and valuation and your own personal investment philosophies.  He teaches his students to think, really think, about how companies are valued. I fell in love with his Talks at Google titled “The Value of Stories in Business”.  Substance over form on his website, but don’t let that stop you from digging into his lectures that he freely posts on his YouTube channel.

Observation & Attention

Rob Walker (Rob Walker (@notrobwalker) / Twitter) is the author of “The Art of Noticing”.  He was an accidental find for me when lockdowns started last year, & I found it overwhelming to deal with everything. Mediation helped of course,  as did some of the simple pleasures that Rob encouraged his design students to do long before the pandemic even began. Learning to notice has helped me have better conversations with people.  His weekly newsletter is brimful of ideas to use either for personal application, for team activities, or for simply becoming a better listener.

Authors of great sense-making help:

  • Robert Fulghum. He’s had a wonderfully long & varied life and career, a fantastic eye for the world around him, & the ability to distil the quintessence from the madness. This should be  a sample enough
  • Robert Caro, Working. The one book that has had the most influence on my approach to my own work.
  • Call me a nerd, but I read a book titled “How to Read a Book” by Mortimer Adler (see this review by Shane Parrish of Farnam St Blog). And in hindsight it was the first thing I should have done when I learnt how to read.
  • Seth Godin’s blog.  Not everyone likes his style of writing instantly but I say persevere.  A. & I did this workshop  together at the beginning of 2020. I  rank it as one of the 3 best things I’ve done in my life, besides the woman I married, & the next on the list.
  • Dr. Barbara Oakley, Learning How to Learn on Coursera.  I listen to the content of this course once every year or so (& now with my kids too) to be reminded of the gold that Dr. Barb shares. It was a proud moment for me when she accepted my invite to share her insights with us just before the Datathon in 2019, when I discovered she was holidaying in Australia. She’s also the one person on this list that I have actually met in person and grown to become friends with.