Leaky pipeline

One of my favourite quotes goes something like this:

“Gedacht heißt nicht immer gesagt, gesagt heißt nicht immer richtig gehört, gehört heißt nicht immer richtig verstanden, verstanden heißt nicht immer einverstanden, einverstanden heißt nicht immer angewendet, angewendet heißt noch lange nicht beibehalten.”

Which in English is roughly:

“What’s thought isn’t always said; what’s said isn’t always heard; what’s heard isn’t always understood; what’s understood isn’t always agreed; what’s agreed isn’t always carried out; what’s carried out is still far from being upheld over the long term.”

I don’t remember where I first came across it, and I’d always seen it attributed to Konrad Lorenz, but when I wanted to use it in a presentation recently I thought I’d better check that attribution. Conveniently, I found a German quote research site that had done a thorough investigation and found that it probably is not attributable to Lorenz. Most likely it goes back to the 1980s, possibly to author Heinz Goldmann.

Regardless of where the quote comes from, I still enjoy the wisdom it encapsulates. I use it to hammer on two points:

  • Sometimes you have to ask the same question over and over again.
  • Writing a piece of documentation doesn’t equate to knowledge transfer

Tracking as pollution

John Gruber, “Google’s Outsized Share of Advertising Money“:

A world where Google sees, say, 25 percent of the world’s ad spending sounds like an amazing business, in principle. Unless you’re comparing it to the world we’re in today, where they see 50 percent — then 25 percent looks like a collapse. Privacy-invasive user tracking is to Google and Facebook what carbon emissions are to fossil fuel companies — a form of highly profitable pollution that for a very long time few people in the mainstream cared about, but now, seemingly suddenly, very many care about quite a bit. 

Maciej Cegłowski, “Haunted By Data” (2015):

Don’t collect it!

If you can get away with it, just don’t collect it! Just like you don’t worry about getting mugged if you don’t have any money, your problems with data disappear if you stop collecting it.

Switch from the hoarder’s mentality of ‘keep everything in case it comes in handy’ to a minimalist approach of collecting only what you need.

Your marketing team will love you. They can go tell your users you care about privacy!

I Am The Beat

We have a weekly collaborative Spotify playlist at work. In the olden days, we’d contribute to it during the week, and then set it running on the sound system in the kitchen on Friday. There’s a different theme each week, and this week the setters have outdone themselves. The theme is “Q and A”: add pairs of songs, where the first one is a question, and the second one is an answer.

There are some great and funny pairings, e.g. “Where is the Love?” followed by “Up on the Roof” and “Why Does it Always Rain on Me?” before “Cruel Summer”. It’s not unusual for me to go deep on the 80s for these playlists, and I fell down another YouTube rabbit hole again this evening. My treasure of the week is this gem from The Look:

It answers the question, “Who Do You Think You Are?”.

(In passing, “Twilight Café”, “Sign of the Times”, “Heartache Avenue”, “Reward”… I’ll come up for air eventually.)

Bitcoin mining

I subscribe to Matt Levine’s “Money Stuff” newsletter from Bloomberg. I’m not a big investor, and much of what he talks about goes over my head; but finance is a big part of what drives global change, and he writes about it very entertainingly.

In Friday’s newsletter he highlighted a story about a man in Wales who mistakenly threw out a hard drive containing a bitcoin wallet that — by current valuation — is worth about £200 million. The dude has got financial backing from a hedge fund to gain access to the landfill where he thinks it’s buried to try and recover it. Levine writes:

Financial backing from a hedge fund! Imagine those pitch meetings, wandering around Mayfair trying to get hedge funds to agree to sift through acres of garbage to find some Bitcoins. “You’ll want our special situations team.” If anyone has a copy of his pitch deck for this trade, I need it desperately. I assume it would lay out the plan for digging up the garbage, and the sources and uses of funds. There’d be a financial model showing that, even accounting for paying off the local council and discounting for the possibility that the hard drive has rotted away, you’ll make at least a 30% expected return on your investment. There’d be a page on the capital structure and payment waterfall. You’d need a deep dive into the landfill’s record-keeping system, with aerial maps showing the grid and schematic diagrams of the cross-section. Then a technical section on how you put a rusted garbage-covered hard drive into a computer to get the Bitcoins off of it. At the back of the deck you’d have a page on “The Team,” with little pictures and bios of the guys who are going to dig up the garbage. If no one sends me this pitch book I might have to make it myself. It should be taught in business schools. If you took a class on “Blockchain and Crypto for Finance” and there was no case study on digging up landfills for hard drives, you should demand your tuition back.

I bought some cryptocurrency back in 2017 to see what was up, to try out wallets, and have a bit of skin in the game to help me understand it better. I made a little profit, sold it all, paid the appropriate taxes, and came to the conclusion that it’s all a bit bonkers.

Expecting everyone to be responsible enough to manage their own wallet security or else lose all their money is bananas, so people will delegate it to larger organizations, and the middle-men get rich again. With SEPA and the prevalence of modern mobile banking products, crypto offers nothing extra in the way of convenience, and the promise of anonymity breaks down as soon as you try to convert crypto into real-world currency and vice versa. But then every few years prices go up by factor of 10 in the space of a few months, and everyone gets excited again. It’s still bonkers.

Poop

I seem to have messed up the poop emojis I was using to express my displeasure with bad movies, books, and TV shows on my Mixed Media posts.

No 💩

Just after I migrated to a new server. Hmm. I’m guessing it’s because I did the database import/export with the wrong character set, but I’m not going to go back and fix that now. I just spent three hours trying to hunt down a WordPress plugin problem that turns out to be a bug in the WP healthcheck code that someone else had reported before me.

If the poop emojis are messed up, there’s a chance that I’ve screwed up old posts with accented characters as well, but I’m not going to do anything about that now.

Update: immediately after pressing “publish” I realized that I should have titled this post “No shit” instead.