December 12, 2018

360° of Mt. Cook

Front-facing on the Sealy Tarns track

Looking back on the Sealy Tarns track

December 12, 2018

Just Walk Out

When I got off the train and walked into the main terminal at Ogilvie Center, there was an Amazon Go right at the corner.

I had to try it.

So I hopped on their free wifi, downloaded the Amazon Go app, scanned my barcode, walked in.

The app would tell me later that I spent 2 minutes and 49 seconds in the store.

The products inside were interesting. There were two rows of potato chips, apples, and dried fruit. There was a refrigerator of drinks. But otherwise, everything inside was either prepared food or was a meal kit.

I snagged a Whole Foods 365 bottled water.

And then I walked out.

There is a sense of freedom as you move about the store, which is interesting considering you know each step you take is being tracked by cameras and sensors and algorithms.

It absolutely feels frictionless.

Some observations:

  • Almost everybody stopped at the gates before exiting, and the Go employee at the front had to reassure them, No, it’s okay, you can just walk out.”
  • There were microwaves and plastic utensils at the front. Like a Japanese 7/11.
  • Everything is strictly Grab And Go”
  • They had full meals ready to heat, just like the kind most of our clients on Bottle sell DTC.
  • They had meal kits.
  • The foot traffic in front of this store, considering its location right in front of all the Metra tracks, is insane.
  • Seeing people across the hallway standing in line waiting to pay for their Pret A Manger sandwiches felt like you were looking back in time.

Amazon Go

Prepared food

My purchase

December 6, 2018

Eating in Mt. Cook National Park

Hooker Valley Track

Campsite living

December 5, 2018

Screaming vs. Subtle

Both can get your attention.

JUCY camper minivan

Garage Project Beer

November 30, 2018

The Destruction Index

In an Atlantic profile of Sam Altman, he is quoted as saying, Democracy only works in a growing economy. Without a return to economic growth, the democratic experiment will fail. And I have to think that YC is hugely important to that growth.”

I agree with the premise. But I disagree with the conclusion.

The irony of innovation is that it is destructive.

Innovation means making things more efficient. Efficiency means a computer can connect two callers together faster than a human operator can.

When innovation makes tasks more efficient, those tasks require less time to complete. If they require less time, they require less employees.

Innovation is destructive.

If innovation happens too quickly, perhaps the destruction happens too quickly. The rapid change of innovation is so painful that it hides the economic progress from everyone working in the economy.

It’s hard to see how the world is improving from cheaper cars when everyone in your Michigan town loses their job.

Perhaps there is an ideal rate of innovation, an ideal rate of destruction. It could be measured as a ratio between growth and destruction. Because some economic projects, such as a new road between two towns where nothing existed before, wreak less short-term destruction than companies such as Uber, which directly reduce demand for taxis.

We could call this the Destruction Index.

Because while economic growth is good for everyone (and for Democracy), innovation is not good for everyone. If innovation comes too quickly, perhaps the pain of destruction overshadows the gains of growth.

My guess is that there is a naturally-occurring balance between growth and destruction in a normal, functioning economy. A standard Destruction Index.

It’s worth thinking whether or not it’s smart to artificially skew the index by keeping the innovation” pedal slammed to the metal.

November 19, 2018

Guns, Germs and Sweat

I find it hard to focus on computer scripts when I’m sweating through my t-shirt.

While it doesn’t get mentioned in Guns Germs and Steel, I wonder how much an impact the heat has on progress.

It’s certainly harder to focus and harder to think (for me, at least) when it’s hot outside.

My ideal library is in a cozy cabin. Sitting in a comfortable chair, next to a fire, surrounded by books, looking out the window at snow on the ground.

Not outside sitting in 90 degree heat.

Middle-Northern Europe, Beijing, Russia, Japan, the Koreas, and all of the original great American cities (NYC, Philly, Boston, Detroit, Chicago) all exist at about the same latitude.

My brain is whispering Occam’s Razor.