Big tech and startup tech tackle sleep

Longform GQ article on “The Business of Sleep” has some perspective:

If you want to isolate a time when the idea of wellness began to dominate our culture, you could do worse than point to the 2008 financial crisis. In a few short months an entire generation felt their grip on the future slip. Jobs became scarce, before scarcely becoming jobs. Zero hours became the new nine to five. Suddenly, nearly everyone needed a side hustle and nearly everyone else needed to be told what one was. Property became a pipe dream. Social media showed them what they didn’t have. Generation Anxious was born.

and

One upshot of the 2008 financial crisis, he says, was that, in the following years, “It wasn’t cool to sleep four hours a night any more, you know? There used to be this whole banker culture, crushing it at work, 100-hour weeks, let’s brag about how little sleep we get. And we started to turn the curve on that. When we started in 2014, our goal was to think about people sleeping better. People resting more. We got people to start thinking about sleep.”

But then you have addictive design from social media and streaming video services, with quotes from Netflix’s CEO like

“When you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night. We’re competing with sleep.”

contrasted with Apple, which built the elegantly designed Bedtime night-and-morning alert feature into iOS, a feature I have used every day since it was released. This makes it

And so, when you are sitting there wondering if you should keep watching or scrolling or simply go to bed, chances are you’re making a choice between the largest companies on earth: Netflix (£127bn value), Amazon (£789bn), YouTube (owned by Google: £583bn), Facebook (£375bn) and Twitter (£21bn) on the one hand and Apple (£789bn) on the other.

Thiel’s fresh look at nationalism

At the 2019 National Conservatism Conference:

The nationalist view, according to Thiel… asks a simple question: Is it good for America?

A nationalist, Thiel argued, simply asks what Silicon Valley has done to improve the lives of American citizens. Outside of the Bay Area, he said, the answer is not much. Social media may consume more of our lives, but it’s not clear it’s making those lives better.

[The Iraq War] would have sparked the cold calculation of weighing the value of the oil against the cost of the war — a calculation that would have made it clear from the start that the war wasn’t worth it.

But

The problem is that it is all diagnosis and no cure. Thiel challenged important preconceptions but failed to even gesture in the direction of answers.

How to Build a Car by Adrian Newey

Finished “How To Build A Car: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Formula 1 Designer” by Adrian Newey.

The book is a whirlwind tour of an F1 designer’s career + how competitive the sport is, both for the constructors and the drivers. Ultimately, though the years blur into each other and it drags.

The problem is of balance; Newey spends too much time on the actual design and challenges compared to his experience as a senior member of an F1 team. Without curtailing descriptions of his design work, I’d have liked a book-length description of his years either just at Williams or McLaren or Red Bull (the last where he seemed/s happiest), than a tour of his entire career.

Nevertheless, a good one-time read.

Complement the book with this Aug 2018 WIRED longform article on the changes at F1 since the sale of the franchise to Liberty Media.

Cars as private spaces

In Japan, a survey of people who rented cars revealed that

one out of every eight users rented automobiles for purposes other than transportation.

An overwhelmingly large number of respondents said they slept or rested in vehicles, followed by customers who said they used cars as spots to talk with friends, family and business clients on the phone.

People also rented vehicles to watch TV in, get dressed up for Halloween, practice singing, rapping and English conversation, and even do facial stretches said to reduce the size of their face, NTT found.

A car may be one of the last truly private spaces left.

Using work apps for the home

A profile of families using email, Slack, Trello, Asana and even Jira the bug-tracking tool to coordinate housework has such examples as:

“We do family meetings every Sunday where we review goals for the week, our to-do list, and activities coming up,” she says. “I track notes for the meeting [in Trello]. I have different sections, goals for the week, a to-do list.” 

And

 it’s not uncommon for one of them to send an email recap, something along the lines of “As per our earlier conversation, we have decided that the children will be enrolled in tennis camp over the summer. Please let me know if you want to follow up on this.”

But also that such tools

might help even out the imbalances in household duties that often arise between partners—especially men and women—by making them more visible. “It tends to be that couples divide this work up in ways that aren’t exactly equitable, and that one person takes on more of that truly invisible work … Something like this might actually be a way for that person to say, ‘Look what I’m doing’