Five things on Friday #32

James Whatley

Things of note for the week ending August 10th, 2012

1. Christchurch Dedication
The building above is what’s left of the Christchurch Normal School that was damaged during the earthquake in New Zealand earlier this year. The additional images, that have been placed in as a kind of optical illusion, are only temporary as the building itself is due for demolition any day now. However, the work itself has meaning.

Mike Hewson, the artist responsible, wanted to pay tribute to the talented people that once lived there and covered the building with these mixed-media installations that did just that.

Thanks to Marek for the source.

2. Olympic Heat
Now that the first part of the Olympics is coming to a close, once wonders how the athletes themselves might celebrate. Well, wonder no more, ESPN has the scoop and they lay it down perfectly -

Home to more than 10,000 athletes at the Summer Games and 2,700 at the Winter, the Olympic Village is one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. To join, prospective members need only have spectacular talent and — we long assumed — a chaste devotion to the most intense competition of their lives. But the image of a celibate Games began to flicker in ’92 when it was reported that the Games’ organizers had ordered in prophylactics like pizza. Then, at the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms wasn’t enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics.

It’s quite a long article, but the whole thing is worth a look. It’s a great read.

3. This is Now

This is Now pulls together real-time Instagram feeds and organises them by city. The usual suspects are covered and from Tokyo through to Sao Paolo, you can see exactly what’s going on where, right now.

And yes, of course I chose London – LOOK AT ALL THE OLYMPIC GOODNESS!

4. A man walks into a bank
Patrick Combs deposited a junk-mail cheque for $95,000 for a joke. The bank cashed it.
Free account set up required to read this article [on the FT] – but it’s worth it.

5. Thiel vs Schmidt
This isn’t new, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few weeks ever since it happened.

First, a re-cap:

Eric Schmidt is chairman at Google and Peter Thiel is ex-CEO and founder of Paypal. A couple of weeks ago they appeared alongside each other at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech in Aspen and their topic of debate was ‘The Future of Technology‘.

Apparently these events tend to be quite plain and a bit boring (I can’t remember where I read it) however, this time ’round, Thiel wasn’t pulling any punches. Choice quote:

“Google is a great company.  It has 30,000 people, or 20,000, whatever the number is.  They have pretty safe jobs.  On the other hand, Google also has 30, 40, 50 billion in cash.  It has no idea how to invest that money in technology effectively.”

Which basically translates as Thiel saying ‘Hey! Google! You suck! You’ve run out of ideas!’

Thing is, while Schmidt didn’t actually agree with him, the two of them did kind of agree when it came to barriers to innovation, namely: the US government.

ERIC SCHMIDT: What’s very odd about this conversation is you’re saying technology doesn’t matter, that it’s all politics.

PETER THIEL:
I didn’t say that. I said, in fact, it’s the only innovation available, which is your point.

ERIC SCHMIDT:
But, you’re saying we’ve been stagnant for 40 years because of bad government policy. If technology ‑‑

PETER THIEL:
I didn’t say we’re stagnant. I said our policies could be improved.

And then… most tellingly, the moderator of the session asks Eric directly -

ADAM LASHINSKY:  You don’t want to address the cash horde that your company does not have the creativity to spend, to invest?

ERIC SCHMIDT:  What you discover in running these companies is that there are limits that are not cash.  There are limits of recruiting, limits of real estate, regulatory limits as Peter points out.  There are many, many such limits.  And anything that we can do to reduce those limits is a good idea.

— The whole transcript is available to read online and I implore you to grab a cup of coffee and sit down and read it all. It’s brilliant. There’s just so much that’s alluded to… and it makes great pub-chat fodder too.

__________

Whatley out.

 

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