16 January 2022

Welcome back to the Week That Was series highlighting things from the interwebs which are interesting, noteworthy and/or probably worth your time.

Articles๐Ÿ“, Tweet(s)๐Ÿ“ฑ, Videos๐ŸŽฅ, Charts ๐Ÿ“ˆ all fair game with or without attendant commentary.


๐Ÿ“ธ Jazzy Skies

Jazzy Skies

Jazzy Skies, Alex Hyner, Photography & Photoshop, 2021


๐Ÿ’ผ Founders

It’s interesting that, particularly in technology, there tends to be a narrative about tertiary studies “getting in the way” and large numbers of founders being dropouts from their studies. The data seems to belie this however. Both the dropout narrative and the soft ageism which seems to accompany it…




๐Ÿ‘€ Visual Hierarchy


Visual Hierarchy




๐Ÿง  Neurons

From the Nikon 2016 Small World in Motion Competition

This footage by Dr. Renaud Renault showing neurons seeded in two different micro-compartments extending their neurites through micro-tunnels to establish connections with each other.


The original paper where this experiment was setup. Combining Microfluidics, Optogenetics and Calcium Imaging to Study Neuronal Communication In Vitro




๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ“œ Afro History

๐Ÿ›๏ธThe Wheeler Institute has got a 10 week course running from the 1st of February on African History through the lens of Economics.

It’s open access and available to anyone with an internet connection.

Afro History

This course will cover recent contributions in economic history that, using geospatial data from anthropological maps, colonial archives and secondary sources, will explore current economic and development challenges by drawing parallels between the past and present.

Course content:

  • Lecture 1: African Development and History
  • Lecture 2: Precolonial Africa. Economic and Political Organization
  • Lecture 3: Social Structure [kinship, family, social relations]
  • Lecture 4: Slave Trades
  • Lecture 5: Scramble for Africa
  • Lecture 6: Colonization. Introduction. Human Capital and Infrastructure
  • Lecture 7: Colonization. Institutions
  • Lecture 8: Decolonization and Early Independence
  • Lecture 9: Cold War, Third Wave of Democratization, and Recent Progress
  • Lecture 10: Conclusion. Persistence and Opportunity

๐Ÿ“–African History through the lens of Economics


๐ŸŽฎ๐Ÿ“Š Gaming Stats

The Video Game Industry vs. The Global Box Office

Gaming Stats



๐ŸŒ‹ Tonga

Yesterday’s volcanic eruption in Tonga was visible from space - including the shockwave.


๐Ÿ“ˆ๐Ÿ“‰ “Alexa”

The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of “Alexa”.


H/T Reddit


๐Ÿข๐Ÿ  WFH

With “the year covid moves from pandemic to endemic” optimism in the air, the dynamics of work from home - and employee versus employer expectations will be interesting to track.

The latest Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA) report was recently published, summarising the last number of months which sampled tens of thousands of workers. It’ll be interesting to see how the trends play out.


Baseline of WFH will settle much higher than the pre-pandemic era. That much is clear



Throughout the pandemic we saw plans for WFH post-covid increase and many more companies announce they would make current arrangement permanent



Roughly half of the surveyed employers will still have full-time office work however the number of hybrid arrangements will have risen massively from pre-pandemic era



Depending on the industry, having no option for WFH or hybrid will likely make talent attraction and retention more challenging.



A couple of conclusions from the study



They subsequent key takeaways





๐Ÿค” On Failuire

What else will “fail”?


Balaji 1


Balaji 2


Balaji 3


Balaji 4



๐Ÿœ๐Ÿง  Sum of Parts

Per Azeem Azhar:

One study looking at ants suggests that the reason why human brains are getting smaller is because of the social distribution of cognition and knowledge.

Brain Size

Figure 1. Trends in hominin brain evolution.

(A) Cranial capacity in fossil apes (Miocene hominids) and hominins over the last 10 million years. Brain size remained relatively steady throughout the late Miocene and Pliocene, increasing only slightly in Australopithecus compared with earlier hominins. However, by 2 million years ago, there was a dramatic increase in the rate of growth, coinciding with fossil evidence for the earliest members of genus Homo. This change point is illustrated by a red vertical dotted line (95% CI shown as thick pink vertical line). A second change-point is detected at โˆผ1.5 million years ago and the rate of brain size increase remains steady through the Pleistocene and the evolution of Homo sapiens. If the small-brained Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins H. naledi (blue dots) and H. floresiensis (orange dot) are included, these two change points merge into a single, overlapping encephalization event between 1.97 and 2.21 million years ago.

(B) During the last 100,000 years, brain size has remained steady in H. sapiens until a rapid and dramatic change point only 3,000 years ago decreased Holocene human brain size at a rate fifty times greater than the previous increases in Pleistocene brain volume. Each black dot represents an individual fossil skull or osteological specimen.

From ๐Ÿ“šFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution.


๐Ÿ“น๐Ÿ”ฎ On Prediction

From The Browser:

All his political predictions: wrong. A prediction that the iPhone “looks about the same, [because] the laws of physics dictate you still need a battery brick”: spot-on. An understandable failure to predict the precipitous downfall of the blogosphere. Also, some fresh predictions for 2032: “Short-form video is going to do to YouTube what Twitter did to blogs


๐ŸŽจ Nubian Guard

Nubian Guard

The Nubian Guard, Ludwig Deutsch, oil on panel, 1902


๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿค“ Wiki Browsing

Wiki Research recently published a systematic large-scale analysis of how readers browse Wikipedia. It’s actually quite interesting and worth perusing but this graphic showing the aggregate navigation tree is quite insightful.

Wiki Browsing


Gwern’s takeaway

Major implications seem like (1) the bad internal search engine is a bigger liability than it looks; and (2) deletionism, by degrading low-quality articles and removing articles entirely, halting readers in their tracks & killing sessions, is also worse than it looks.

๐Ÿ“šA Large-Scale Characterization of How Readers Browse Wikipedia


๐Ÿ’ฌ Deep Cuts

โ€œPerdition awaits at the end of a road constructed entirely from good intentions, the devil emerges from the details and hell abides in the small print.โ€ - Iain M. Banks, Transition


๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿ› ๐Ÿ“‹ One More Thing

โ€œAny sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magicโ€… as is nonsense ๐Ÿ˜…


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