Weekend Briefing No. 431
Weekend Briefing - A Saturday morning briefing on innovation and society
Welcome to the weekend.
Many of you have asked me about my interest in Web3 in many different ways. But the basic question is: “Isn’t that just a bunch of crypto bros? Why would a thoughtful person like yourself be wasting your time on that?”
It’s a great question, and an especially poignant one this week where crypto prices have dropped off a cliff. I would say the first article below The Web3 Revolution is probably my best answer to that question. The writer had a similar experience to me at ETHDenver this year and shares a similar outlook (the potential as well as the skepticism) on Web3.
I personally don’t care as much about seeing the price of some coin go to the moon so I can buy my Lambo. I’m way more interested in how this technology (or combination of technologies) can restructure economic and participation incentives to address some of society’s biggest challenges… and ultimately increase human flourishing.
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41.5—New Hampshire consumed the most beer per capita in 2020. It averaged 41.5 gallons per adult over 21. Montana was a close second, and Maryland was last.
30—The median age for U.S. women giving birth rises to 30 years old, the highest on record. This trend corresponds with years of declining birth rates for women in their 20s.
270 million—If you break down the population by latitude, the 25th and 26th parallel north are the most densely populated latitude circles. Around 279 million people reside in these latitude lines, which run through large countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, the United States, Mexico and others.
The Web3 Revolution
The new movement wants to free us from Big Tech and exploitative capitalism—using only the blockchain, game theory and code. Web3 stands apart from the garish excesses and brazen misbehavior of the flashing-neon crypto casino. If cryptocurrency was originally about decentralizing money, Web3 is about decentralizing everything. Its mission is almost achingly idealistic: to free humanity not only from Big Tech domination but also from exploitative capitalism itself—and to do it purely through code. Web3 aims to apply these two concepts—decentralization and game theory—to all of digital life. The idea is to move beyond “don’t do evil” to “can’t do evil.” Regenerative cryptoeconomics is the use of blockchain-based incentives to design new kinds of systems, applications or networks that make the world a better place for everyone. Through Ethereum-based technology, the right structure can help solve collective action problems like climate change, misinformation and an underfunded digital infrastructure. WIRED (62 minutes)
Calls to rein in investing based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles are growing louder. Some notable names are pushing back as businesses get increasingly tangled up in cultural and political fights, and as the federal government builds ESG principles into regulations. A new financial firm, Strive, started by Vivek Ramaswamy (the author of “Woke, Inc.”) and backed by the billionaire investors Peter Thiel and Bill Ackman, has a similar mission: It will urge companies not to get involved in social, political or environmental issues. Notably, even BlackRock, an outspoken leader in sustainable investing, is stepping back, saying in a memo yesterday that it is supporting fewer shareholder proposals on climate disclosures this proxy season than last because many are too “constraining” and “prescriptive.” The fights are the same in business schools across the country, with some professors backing the Milton Friedman-esque model focused on profits, and others pushing a broader stakeholder capitalism approach. New York Times (6 minutes)
The 60/40 Portfolio Savior
The classic 60/40 stock-bond portfolio isn’t cutting it in 2022. In fact, it’s down more than 11% this year. That’s why Ray Dalio, the world’s largest hedge fund manager, is urging everyone to invest in alternatives like art. He’s not alone: 85% of wealth managers believe you should include art in your portfolio. Why art? Contemporary art prices outpaced the S&P 500 by 164% for the last 25 years. And even with the stocks in the red, the art market is still ripping. This week, an Andy Warhol painting sold for $195 million. In the past, you could only buy shares of companies like Apple, but with this investing app, you can unlock this powerful investment. Translation: You can invest in paintings like the Warhol that just sold for a fraction of the cost. Since 2019, they’ve sold three paintings and earned a net annualized return of more than 30% every time. Weekend Briefing readers can upgrade your portfolio and get priority access. Masterworks (Sponsored)
We Were Promised Jetpacks
We have jetpacks, and we do not care. An Australian named David Mayman has invented a functioning jetpack and has flown it all over the world—once in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty—yet few people know his name. His jetpacks can be bought, but no one is clamoring for one. For decades, humans have said they want jetpacks, and for thousands of years we have said we want to fly. But do we really? Look up. The sky is empty. Why? The Guardian (14 minutes)
Friendship and Well-Being
Social circles were shrinking even before the pandemic. Here’s what the science says about the number of close friendships we should have. According to a number of surveys, it seems that if you have an inner circle of about five close friends, followed by larger concentric circles of more casual types of friends, you’ll have higher levels of life satisfaction. Of course, making friends in adulthood isn’t always easy. Research shows people struggle with it because they find it difficult to trust new people and because they are simply crunched for time. For those reasons, it is often easier to start by rekindling old relationships that have fizzled. Take initiative, and don’t assume that friendships just happen organically. New York Times (9 minutes)
Is College Worth It?
First, what you study in college really matters. In fact, it tends to matter more than where you go to school. If you get a degree in something like engineering, computer science, nursing or economics, you have a good shot at increasing your lifetime income by half a million dollars. If, by contrast, you get a degree in something like art, music, philosophy or psychology, there’s a pretty significant chance that you’re going to be worse off financially than if you’d never gone to college at all. And if you drop out of college, you’re virtually guaranteed to be worse off financially than if you had never gone at all. In fact, for all the horror stories about people with huge student loans, the individuals who are least likely to be able to pay off their debt are the ones who owe $5,000 or less—because they’re overwhelmingly people who took out loans for degrees they never finished. Not only does this mean that individuals need to be careful when making decisions about college; it also means that policymakers probably need to be more responsible too. After all, why would we push everyone to go to college when we know it doesn’t meet a lot of people’s needs? Only about 31% of high school students go on to finish a college degree. And only 18% finish a degree and then end up in a job that actually requires it. In other words, we pour about $200 billion worth of taxpayer money into higher education every year. Kite & Key (6 minutes)
Never Setting Sun
This 360° time lapse video, filmed by meteorologist Witek Kaszkin in 2015, follows the never-setting Sun in a 24-hour trip around the sky above the Arctic Circle as the icy Arctic landscape is bathed in constant summer sunlight. Kottke (2 minutes)
The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell by Paul Smith. Every great leader is a great storyteller. As a manager, CEO or team leader, how can you innovatively engage your employees so that they understand where your organization came from, where it's going and how you're going to get there? How can you connect with your customers in a way that makes them believe in your company as passionately as you do? Paul Smith is one of the world's leading experts in business storytelling. He teaches people how to be more effective leaders by communicating their company's important mission, inspiring creativity and earning the trust of valued stakeholders. The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell explores the journey behind success, and breaks down not just the importance of your company's story but how to craft compelling ones of your own.
Most Read Last Week
Busy, But Unproductive—We’re drowning in messages and alerts, but nothing is getting done. Why is that?
Drinking Water—MIT researchers have developed a portable desalination unit, weighing less than 10 kilograms, which can remove particles and salts to generate drinking water.
Contact List—A podcast host starts a quest to call all of the 1,500 contacts listed in his phone.
Funding Fridays is a briefing about the data and trends in startup funding. I send it out on the first Friday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Funding Fridays.
Web3 Impact is a briefing I co-write with Banks Benitez about how Web3 is making the world a better place. We send it out on the third Thursday of each month. If you’re interested, click here to subscribe to Web3 Impact.
Should We Work Together?
This newsletter is my passion project. When I’m not writing, I run a law firm for startups. Most entrepreneurs want a trusted legal partner, but they hate surprise legal bills. At Westaway, we take care of your startup’s legal needs for a fixed-monthly fee so you can control your costs and focus on scaling your business. If you’re interested, let’s jump on a call to see if you’re a good fit for the firm. Click here to schedule a call.
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu
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