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Review: The Hollywood Economist 2.0

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Shlok Vaidya  -  
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The Hollywood Economist 2.0: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies Paperback by Edward Jay Epstein

First, this isn’t really a book. It’s a collection of somewhat repetitive articles. I don’t think the format detracts too much, but know what you’re getting into.

Second, it’s an older book in a fast moving industry. It needs to be updated. They should update it every year. They won’t, but they should, so just keep that in mind as you read it. It’s already out of date, despite the 2.0-ness.

What it does do, it does well. That is, even though the author is not a trained economist, he accomplishes the only real purpose of that profession, which is explicate the economic flows that makeup the ecosystem, the industry, the market, the various players within and outside the companies involved.

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On Human Evolution, Personality Disorders, and the Environment

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Some idle thoughts on the evolution of humanity’s relationship with its environment as sparked by this article, which states:

Individuals who scored in the top 10% of manic features had a childhood IQ almost 10 points higher than those who scored in the lowest 10%. This correlation appeared strongest for those with high verbal IQ.

“Our study offers a possible explanation for how bipolar disorder may have been selected through generations,” said Daniel Smith of the University of Glasgow , who led the study.

“There is something about the genetics underlying the disorder that are advantageous. One possibility is that serious disorders of mood – such as bipolar disorder – are the price that human beings have had to pay for more adaptive traits such as intelligence, creativity and verbal proficiency.”

As I see it, there are two end states:

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Fuck Your High-Minded Design

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AK_47_drawing

Here’s an ill-considered piece by Mike Monteiro wherein he argues that designers, out of responsibility, should, in response to being asked to design things that matter, things that need design solutions, “raise our hands and say ‘I’m not making this.'” Full quote:

And if we come to the conclusion that these products cannot be made safe, how many of us will see it as our responsibility to raise our hands and say “I’m not making this.”

(If the damn thing doesn’t damage anyone except who it is fired at, it’s safe in the context of a weapon, but, whatever, he’s the design expert.)

He goes on to rant about firearm design, making Kalashnikov out to be some sort of money-minting weapons fetishist and how designers cannot design well if the intent of the object is to kill.

Fuck him. Fuck the AK-47. Fuck all guns and the people who design them, but especially fuck Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the AK-47.

Overall, it’s an adolescent’s petulant response to the real world, and, what pissed me off about it, is that it is one that does the design community a disservice.

Your role as a designer is to leave the world in a better state than you found it. You have a responsibility to design work that helps move humanity forward and helps us, as a species, to not only enjoy our time on Earth, but to evolve.

Great. But that’s not how the real world works. Yes, design can improve the world. But to do that, you have to engage with it, not hide behind your ideals.

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Remixing Today

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I’m remixing today to see tomorrow.

These are the pitches I’ve been posting to Twitter lately. I’ll compile them here every so often. Maybe with some expansion, maybe with the news stories that inspired them. Some may even turn into things. Read More


Agbogbloshie and Formalizing the Supply Chain

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…a scrap yard at the impossibly teeming Agbogbloshie market in Ghana’s capital, mining — along with hundreds of men and boys — for metal wires and parts that can be re-sold and burning the plastic that encases them. Hour after hour, their clanking tools pound apart computers and video game consoles that were discarded in the United States and Europe and shipped here to rot.

Demand drives supply. Supplies diminish. Over time, we recycle not because of altruism, but for profit, and as we melt away from advanced markets, who recycles, and how, expands to include anyone seeking profit. This is the ad-hoc infrastructure provision that fascinates futurists. As your average slum will substantiate, it’s filled with ingenuity, it has to be. It’s humans at work. Little pretense. Social order is organic, not rigorously structured.

For that simple reason, those ad-hoc supply chains will formalize, and the Uber, but for Copper, will have its own app, instead of a kid with a hammer handing it off to a brother in a rickshaw who delivers it to an uncle at the factory.