The Takeaways: Week 48 of 2021

Just a few this week.


Tyler Cowen (host), Conversations with Tyler. Claudia Goldin on the Economics of Inequality (Ep. 133) (October 6, 2021)

Melissa Perri (host), Product Thinking. Episode 44: Testing Your Ideas with David Bland (December 1, 2021)

Repetition is key as product leader. Don't stop talking about the way you want your teams to run because you think they no longer need to hear it. "It's part of your job as leaders to keep repeating this, and showing it, and enabling it and creating a culture and environment where people can work this way," David says.


Julia Angwin, The Markup. The Disparate Impact of Predictive Policing Software (December 4, 2021)

Inspired by last summer’s wave of protests against police violence, [Gizmodo data journalist Dhruv Mehrotra] had built a custom search engine to search for police records across multiple jurisdictions. When he got his search engine running, the first thing he entered into it as a search term was “PredPol”[crime prediction software used by many U.S. police departments] – because he had been curious about the software for a long time.

Lo and behold, a smattering of PredPol records from the Los Angeles Police Department popped up. He noticed that they were in an Amazon cloud storage bucket, so he fiddled with the URLs to see if there were more documents in that bucket and hit the jackpot. There were nearly eight million predictive policing reports from PredPol sitting in the cloud without any protection. He downloaded them all.


Stephen Diehl. The Token Disconnect (November 27, 2021)

On the most basic human level, I suspect our generation still hasn’t processed our shared collective trauma of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and our anger is now still coming out in very unhealthy ways. With crypto we’ve decided to do the most American thing ever, to commoditize our rage at the financial system into a financial product. Because after all, we’re just temporarily embarrassed millionaires and the only problem with CDOs wasn’t the moral hazard, but that you didn’t have a piece of the action. This time you have a choice, but I suspect history is going to have the same lesson to teach us about the perils of greed untempered by reason.

Lizzie Presser, The New York Times. How ‘Shadow’ Foster Care Is Tearing Families Apart (December 1, 2021)

But over the past decade, states have increasingly institutionalized hidden foster care, through statutes and departmental policies. Rather than bringing the results of an investigation before a judge, caseworkers persuade parents to send their children to live with someone they know, often by threatening a foster placement if they refuse. Parents, unsure whether caseworkers have the evidence to remove their children in a court proceeding, choose the option that, at first glance, appears to give them more control.

What the parents rarely know is that, unlike the foster system, the shadow system is not designed to support their children. The government isn’t required to ensure the safety of placements with the thorough home visits and health screenings that federal law requires with foster care. Relatives or family friends, often under pressure to take children into their homes, don’t receive a boarding fee to raise them; they usually don’t even have the legal authority to enroll them in school or take them to a doctor. In many states, departments simply close the cases, ending the assistance that child-welfare workers can provide. Because nobody monitors the children after they are moved, it’s impossible to know what happens to them while no one is watching.

Matt Webb, Interconnected. What wipes in Star Wars teach us about the brain and also interface design (April 23, 2021)

So here’s what I think is going on: Without a wipe, the brain needs a couple of seconds to spin down and spin up, otherwise the shift in scene is too abrupt. But using a wipe, there is some kind of cognitive cue that interacts with the brain’s automatic attentional system, efficiently triggering the process of attention deallocation/allocation, making the whole transition more efficient.

Tom Whitwell, Fluxx Studio Notes. 52 things I learned in 2021 (December 1, 2021)