Good reads of the week #5

We’re not the good guys: Osaka shows up problems of press conferences

[…]the world No 2 Naomi Osaka announced that she would be boycotting press conferences at the French Open in order to preserve her mental health.

On Monday night, after being fined and threatened with expulsion, Osaka quit the tournament altogether.

And so the modern press conference is no longer a meaningful exchange but really a lowest‑common‑denominator transaction: a cynical and often predatory game in which the object is to mine as much content from the subject as possible. Gossip: good. Anger: good. Feuds: good. Tears: good. Personal tragedy: good. Meanwhile the young athlete, often still caught up in the emotions of victory or defeat, is expected to answer the most intimate questions in the least intimate setting, in front of an array of strangers and backed by a piece of sponsored cardboard.

There’s an odd ritualistic quality to all this: the same characters sitting in the same seats, the same cliches, all these millions of wasted words, the unopened bottles of mineral water. Is there not a better way of doing this?

This dynamic is only exacerbated in women’s tennis, a highly visible enterprise that takes place not just in a largely white male space, but a white‑male‑with‑free‑food space. That sense of voracious, engorged entitlement often manifests itself in exceptionally creepy ways. Question: “I noticed you tweeted a picture. Are you prepared that if you go on a long run you may be held up as a sex symbol, given you’re very good looking?” (Genie Bouchard, Wimbledon 2013.) Question: “You’re a pin-up now, especially in England. Is that good? Do you enjoy that?” (A 17-year-old Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon 2004.) And of course there are plenty of decent, curious journalists out there doing decent, curious things. In a way, this is what makes the chronic lack of self‑awareness so utterly self-defeating. Read the room. We are not the good guys here. We are no longer the power. And one of the world’s best athletes would literally rather quit a grand slam tournament than have to talk to the press. Rather than scrutinising what that says about her, it might be worth asking what that says about us.

If Power to the Person was about technology empowering individuals, and The Great Online Game was about how the internet blurs the line between work and play, this essay is about how we play the game as teams of individuals or small groups

The 2021 AI Index provides insight into jobs, publications, diversity, and more

Number of AI Journal publications, 2000-20
Number of newly funded AI companies in the world, 2015-20
Global corporate investment in AI by investment activity, 2015-20

Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice? The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes


Can exposure to celebrities from stigmatized groups reduce prejudice? To address this question, we study the case of Mohamed Salah, a visibly Muslim, elite soccer player. Using data on hate crime reports throughout England and 15 million tweets from British soccer fans, we find that after Salah joined Liverpool F.C., hate crimes in the Liverpool area dropped by 16% compared with a synthetic control, and Liverpool F.C. fans halved their rates of posting anti-Muslim tweets relative to fans of other top-flight clubs. An original survey experiment suggests that the salience of Salah’s Muslim identity enabled positive feelings toward Salah to generalize to Muslims more broadly. Our findings provide support for the parasocial contact hypothesis—indicating that positive exposure to out-group celebrities can spark real-world behavioral changes in prejudice.

Evidence of brain damage after high-altitude climbing by means of magnetic resonance imaging

Results: Only 1 in 13 of the Everest climbers had a normal MRI […]

Conclusions: We conclude that there is enough evidence of brain damage after high altitude climbing; the amateur climbers seem to be at higher risk of suffering brain damage than professional climbers.

Web 3.0 primer and reading list

A while ago I posted The Great Online Game – Not Boring (Podcast link). Which tied together a few things I’ve been thinking about but couldn’t place or put together. As a continuation of the theme, there are a few other articles that could do the same for you.

Packy McCormick of Not Boring has the last 10 months written about Web 3.0, crypto, and what that means for the internet going forward. Which opportunities lie in the proliferation of crypto. How will crypto integrate into our lives.

Reading list

Added podcast links too.

  1. The Great Online Game (podcast link)
  2. The Value Chain of the Open Metaverse (podcast link)
  3. Dao of Daos (podcast link)
  4. Own the Internet: The Bull Case for Ethereum (podcast link).
  5. Is BlockFi the Future of Finance (podcast link)
  6. Power to the Person (podcast link)

After you have read it all, please give feedback on the ranking. Am not super confident that Dao of Dao’s should be before Own the Internet. The reasoning is that DAOs are a structural thing and Ethereum is a specific blockchain. The fifth on the list should also be taken as a general intro to DeFi and not as a BlockFi take. There is also an argument to switching 6 and 1, might update that later.

I’m impressed with Packys writing and his vision of the future of the internet and am excited about that future. We need a more positive view on tech, as Caleb Watney (direct link to episode) talks about – is there something to cultures who produce more positive science fiction books than dystopian have a faster innovation cycle. All the current business leaders were heavily influenced by science fiction – Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, etc. Packy gives a good view into the next possible innovations with these great articles.