Weekend Reading: Internet of Beefs, Company Culture, and Secular Cycles

January 18, 2020 • #

🥩 The Internet of Beefs

Venkatesh Rao has assembled a most compelling explanation for how the internet polarization machine works:

The semantic structure of the Internet of Beefs is shaped by high-profile beefs between charismatic celebrity knights loosely affiliated with various citadel-like strongholds peopled by opt-in armies of mooks. The vast majority of the energy of the conflict lies in interchangeable mooks facing off against each other, loosely along lines indicated by the knights they follow, in innumerable battles that play out every minute across the IoB.

Almost none of these battles matter individually. Most mook-on-mook contests are witnessed, for the most part, only by a few friends and algorithms, and merit no overt notice in either Vox or Quillette. Beyond a local uptick in cortisol levels, individual episodes of mook-on-mook violence are of no consequence.

🎭 The Curse of Culture

I have a working draft post on this topic for sometime in the future. This is one of my favorites from the Stratechery archives — on corporate cultures and how they impact company strategy:

As with most such things, culture is one of a company’s most powerful assets right until it isn’t: the same underlying assumptions that permit an organization to scale massively constrain the ability of that same organization to change direction. More distressingly, culture prevents organizations from even knowing they need to do so.

📚 Book Review: Secular Cycles

The Slate Star Codex review of Turchin and Nefedov’s Secular Cycles, which seeks to understand patterns in technological and social development, and underlying causes for expansion and stagnation periods.