The Takeaways: Week 32 of 2021

This week's review of articles, newsletters, and podcasts that I found interesting, inspiring, or otherwise worth remembering.


Scott Hanselman (host), Hanselminutes. The Joy of making with LEGO Master and Cosplaying Engineer Amie DD (March 5, 2020)


Nikhil Krishnan, Out of Pocket. Personalized Health Insurance and the Payer Stack (August 8, 2021)

There are a few key advantages by creating more targeted insurance products. For one it becomes easier to target your marketing and potentially get word of mouth effects as beneficiaries refer others in their community who might have similar needs. Also if the goal is to keep consistent tabs on your beneficiaries so they don’t end up in the hospital, you want to make sure they regularly go to whatever their version of primary care is.

Hilary Milnes and Web Smith, 2PM. No. 736: A DTC Country Club (August 9, 2021)

NFTs have always been tied to access. The purchase of a digital good mystifies some who don’t understand the real-life value of an old YouTube video or NBA clip. It makes more sense when you think about NFTs as gateways to digital communities steeped in exclusivity.

Casey Ross and Katie Palmer, STAT. HIMSS in 30 Seconds (August 12, 2021)

Quote of the week: Lt. General Ronald Place: Lt. Gen. Place, director of the Defense Health Agency, faced the usual awkward pause from the audience at the start of the Q&A after his session on national security and the Covid-19 response. “I’m an introvert,” he told them. “I promise you that I can look at you silently longer than you can look at me.”

Ernie Smith, Midrange. #84: Gridlock

This is some bold stuff—and I honestly am excited to see what comes of it. In recent years, I think a lot of web design has gotten a bit stale or challenged because it doesn’t play too much with the format. In many ways, this is a result of CSS not always being the easiest thing to work with (though it’s gotten much, much better in the past decade) and in part because frameworks like Bootstrap sort of discourage this kind of thinking.

But maybe now is the time to drop the old standby—to admit that maybe it’s holding us back from building better websites.

Ben Thompson, Stratechery. Apple’s Mistake (August 9, 2021)

A far better solution to the “Flickr problem” I started with is to recognize that the proper point of comparison is not the iPhone and Facebook, but rather Facebook and iCloud. One’s device ought to be one’s property, with all of the expectations of ownership and privacy that entails; cloud services, meanwhile, are the property of their owners as well, with all of the expectations of societal responsibility and law-abiding which that entails. It’s truly disappointing that Apple got so hung up on its particular vision of privacy that it ended up betraying the fulcrum of user control: being able to trust that your device is truly yours.

Olivia Webb, Acute Condition. The dream of fixing maternity care and the startups trying to do it August 12, 2021


Tim Bray. Apps Getting Worse (August 7, 2021)

It is the dream of every PM to come up with a bold UX innovation that gets praise, and many believe the gospel that the software is better at figuring out what the customer wants than the customer is. And you get extra points these days for using ML.

Also, any time you make any change to a popular product, you’ve imposed a retraining cost on its users. Unfortunately, in their evaluations, PMs consider the cost of customer retraining time to be zero.

Shraddha Chakradhar, STAT. For undocumented students, a community to help them build health careers (August 13, 2021)

Since 2012, Pre-Health Dreamers (PHD) has supported over 1,500 students. The organization has an eight-month program for helping undocumented students through the graduate school application process, and 60 students from 16 U.S. states participated in the most recent iteration of this program that ended in May this year. PHD also offers one-on-one advising and professional training for students and educators alike.

Sacha Golob, Psyche. Why some of the smartest people can be so very stupid (August 4, 2021)

What exactly is stupidity? How does it relate to morality: can you be morally good and stupid, for example? How does it relate to vice: is stupidity a kind of prejudice, perhaps? And why is it so domain-specific: why are people often stupid in one area and insightful in another?

Emily Oster, Medium. A Credo for the Classroom (August 6, 2021)

Reprinting a letter from camp director Steve Baskin of Camp Champions in Texas:

Knowing that this will be a tough year for all of us, but especially our teachers, I want to challenge each of us to strive for grace and forgiveness when we interact with our teachers and administrators.

In first grade, I remember my teacher apologizing after she lost her temper. This admission struck me, I was amazed that adults can make mistakes and admit them. I admired her the rest of the year. I hope we can all accept the challenge to be our best selves for our fellow citizens and for our students.

Katie Palmer, STAT. ‘We don’t unlearn’: What the pandemic has taught regulators about real-world data (August 10, 2021)

In a wide-ranging conversation, three former agency officials including Abernethy spoke at the virtual portion of the HIMSS digital health conference on Tuesday about the impact that temporarily loosened restrictions might have in the long term. In particular, they focused on how a confluence of factors — years-long policy pushes, pandemic-aligned emergency measures, and the changing of the presidential administration — may impact how regulators adopt real world data.

Rebecca Pifer and Hailey Mensik, Healthcare Dive. Deep Dive: Predicting the future of healthcare: 10 takeaways from HIMSS21 (August 13, 2021)

  • Digital health revolution ongoing, but legacy organizations lagging behind
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning gains steam
  • Telehealth: 'Much more popular' once again
  • Health equity will take top-to-bottom interest — and careful touch with technology
  • Rising importance of cybersecurity
  • How healthcare fraud — and OIG enforcement — are evolving
  • Mental health a key post-pandemic challenge
  • 'Stepchild' femtech industry speaks up

Nikema Prophet, Nikema's Blog. How the Pandemic Opened the Door to My Career in Tech (January 13, 2021)

Better yet, if you are in a position to do so, throw the door open and welcome folks in. We didn’t show up empty-handed, and we’re not asking you to lower the bar. We bring skills, experience, and diverse perspectives. Don’t make us fight and bleed for an opportunity to participate. I promise you that tech and the world that it touches will be better off for it.

Austin Vernon. Why Doesn't Software Show Up in Productivity? (August 10, 2021)

Software rearranges inputs to be more efficient. It will improve the quality of life. To guarantee significant advances, we need better inputs and more of them.

Ed Yong, The Atlantic. Delta Has Changed the Pandemic Endgame (August 12, 2021)

The current pandemic surge and the inevitability of endemicity feel like defeats. They could, instead, be opportunities to rethink our attitudes about the viruses we allow ourselves to inhale.