Christchurch and Westeros

The way we tell our stories matters

Thanks to everyone who’s signed up in the last few days. I’d like this newsletter and the blog to be a bigger conversation on our central question: how can we survive and prosper in a changing world? Please hit ‘Reply’ on this email, on blog articles, or on Twitter.

Handling Made-for-social-media Violence

Entrepreneurial made-for-social-media violence came to my home town a few weeks ago when fifty Muslims at prayer were murdered in a shooting spree in two Christchurch mosques. How can we prevent copy-cat attacks?

New Zealand politics is now dominated by the debate on how to regulate social media and what changes will to be made to censorship laws. In Inhuman Resources: Recruiting for Terror, published this week, I argue that over-reaching censorship could itself be a radicalisation tool. We need to be careful that we don’t end up doing the terrorist’s dirty work for him.

Sociological Storytelling and Game of Thrones

Twitter and Tear Gas convinced me that Zeynep Tufekci is an author worth reading, so even though I’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones, I read her article on The Real Reason Fans Hate the Last Season of Game of Thrones.

Tufekci writes about the intersection of technology and society, the same area that I’m interested in. She notes, “our inability to understand and tell sociological stories is one of the key reasons we’re struggling with how to respond to the historic technological transition we’re currently experiencing.”

She talks about psychological vs sociological storytelling (i.e. do you care about what happens to the people or what happens in the world), which not only explains the high death rate among key Game of Thrones characters but also why we’re so bad at understanding history. She also shows how to answer the old time-travel conundrum “should you kill baby Hitler?”

An Unlikely Segue into the Gulf of Mexico

Speaking of Zeynep Tufekci, who wrote the book on the Arab Spring, which was triggered by rising food prices, which would be the major effect of the Port of South Louisiana closing, Weather Underground published a fascinating set of articles about how the Mississippi River is trying to jump its banks and shortcut its way to the Gulf of Mexico, bypassing New Orleans.

The piece covers why the river is trying to change course, how it might happen, and the impact if it did. In summary: very, very bad.

I blogged a short overview, One Mississippi, No Mississippi, but if you’ve got time I recommend the whole thing on Weather Underground.

Nothing New in the World

Remember when innovative new taxi companies were fighting regulation that protected an entrenched industry? No, me neither. It was in 1635. Hat tip: Jamie Catherwood, the Finance History Guy.

Thanks for reading,

Bernard