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24 Jul

What we are reading this Sunday

Unremarkable Clothes


Wondering about why all logos have started to look the same? Or why all architecture today has assumed a dull monotony? Congratulations. You can now also add clothes to that list.

You might ask why this is happening. The simplest answer would be that of scale. You can only scale uniformity. Something that cannot be broken down into a structure or a process cannot be formalized, and hence, cannot be scaled.

But wait, the author has a few more hunches around why this might be the case.

A quote from the piece:

“When a place becomes an airport terminal of totally unconnected individuals with no shared culture or sense of a public, there is no coherent entity to express yourself to and it becomes pointless to signal or communicate something outward from within. Who would you be dressing up for?”

Do read. It will give you something to think about.

Startup Energy Theory


My favourite quote from this piece:

“Startups are statistically silly. You’re on a ledge. You stare down. You can see hundreds of bodies are buried there. And yet there’s a queue, miles long, of people cheerily jumping off the cliff. “I’ll just be knitting my wings on the way down, you see”. Why would you ever do this? I find (in myself and other founders) that you never really know the true reason why. It’s just an energy that needs to be deployed.”

The Arc of Collaboration


Kevin Kwok discusses how the nature of productivity tools has changed over the years. We started with disconnected apps that did things individually and had to be brought together by people collaborating on some messaging app like Slack — and are now moving towards apps on the meta layer that bring together all productivity apps under a single roof, workflow, and context.

"Standalone messaging is not what ties all apps together. It is a peer level product that’s used where the others fall through.

However, there is a need for a layer across all the applications. A layer for things that should be shared across the apps as well collaborative functionality across them.

Slack in its current form cannot be this. If you have to switch out of a product to use Slack, then it is not the layer tying them altogether. Instead, the layer needs to exist a layer above. If everything was in browser it’d be a browser extension. But since most apps are not, it needs to be at the OS layer.

There is some mix of presence, collaboration, coordination, and identity that should be ubiquitous across whatever apps are being used. A layer more attached to the people doing work and what they’re trying to accomplish—than which specific app they’re in."

Some Food for Thought

In any system, there is a clear trade-off between optimization and robustness. Optimization leads to efficiency but also increases fragility. An over-optimized system loses the ability to respond well to any significant volatility and breaks under pressure. Redundancy may seem wasteful during normal functioning but is super-useful during tail events.

Redundancy makes systems antifragile. As an example, you can see how many companies today have realized the fragility of the “Just-In-Time” method of managing inventory, with supply chain issues plaguing the world.


Okay folks, that’s it for today! I’ll see you with another edition of the newsletter tomorrow morning. Till then, take care and enjoy your Sunday.

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