Games, Morality, and Houses – What’s Next

This was originally published in my newsletter on 12/10

Hey there 👋 Lots of interesting content this week…hope you enjoy!

Articles to Read.

The Leaning Tower of Morality

There’s an image that’s taken root in my mind recently that I can’t seem to shake. I picture humanity living in a large, rickety tower, tilting at a precarious angle to the ground — like so:

The tower represents our capacity for moral behavior. Lower levels are more base; higher levels, more virtuous.

Most of what we’ve discussed today pertains to our innate sense of goodness, our moral instincts. To the extent that morality is a learned behavior, all bets are off.⁵ But there’s a good case to be made that at least some of our moral intuitions come prewired (in the form of tendencies, at any rate), so the question of how they arose remains extremely relevant. And as far as I can tell, the answer seems to be individual selection rather than group selection.

A “Post-Verbal” World

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 4.08.17 PM

I was walking with a friend recently, and we were discussing the limitations of language, especially in trying to explain complex concepts like philosophy, a deep experience, or a new idea.

In short, on the topic of language, what we were discussing was just how clumsy verbal or written communication is in spreading what exists in one head into another — that, instead of transmutation of a concept or idea, like how a cold might spread, communicating an idea or viewpoint through language is actually quite difficult and oftentimes impossible. The conversation took an even more interesting and philosophical turn when we zeroed in on just what a world would look like if information, wisdom, and concepts could be fully and instantly articulated from one person to another.

Said another way, this could be as transformational of a leap for our species comparable to what we saw as we went from non-verbal to verbal. What verbal communication did for the cavemen, the tribe, the community — post-verbal communication would do for the now connected human race.

How to Game the App Store

I’ve been pestering Apple for years publicly and privately about the manipulation and outright scams going on in the App Store.

So, here are some of the top ways to game the App Store…Find a keyword that drives a decent amount of organic search traffic. Obvious ones are keywords like “weather”, “calculator”, “solitaire”, etc, but those keywords are so competitive, and the rest of the tactics so powerful, you could get away with 2nd tier keyword targets. Now go to App Store Connect and name your app that exact keyword. “Weather” is already taken, and Apple doesn’t allow duplicate app names, so you’ll need to add a symbol. Let’s go with “Weather ◌”. Here’s the thing, the App Store search algorithm gives a massive boost for an exact match to what the user searched, and the algorithm ignores symbols, so “Weather ◌” will get a huge search advantage, which will help to drive organic instals of the app.

How Zapier Reached $35M ARR With This SaaS SEO Strategy

Like other middleware SaaS, Zapier faced the challenge of having an “invisible” product. Their app didn’t perform customer facing actions but instead formed connections behind the scenes to unlock new functionality and value from existing apps.

Rather than trying to pitch users on the value of integrating tools, Zapier realized early on that people were already looking for specific integrations. To capture this existing intent, Zapier decided to make the app partners in their integration ecosystem the stars of their marketing and piggyback on their success.

They did this by creating three tiers of landing pages for every app in their ecosystem.

Airbnb Will Start Designing Houses

Today, Samara is announcing a new initiative called Backyard, “an endeavor to design and prototype new ways of building and sharing homes,” according to a press statement, with the first wave of test units going public in 2019.

“Backyard investigates how buildings could utilize sophisticated manufacturing techniques, smart-home technologies, and gains vast insight from the Airbnb community to thoughtfully respond to changing owner or occupant needs over time,” Gebbia says. “Backyard isn’t a house, it’s an initiative to rethink the home. Homes are complex, and we’re taking a broad approach–not just designing one thing, but a system that can do many things.”

How Walmart is trying to reinvent in-store shopping to win Black Friday

Amazon pulls in only about 40 percent of Walmart’s more than $500 billion in annual sales. But CEO Jeff Bezos’ willingness and proficiency at moving into new markets has every retailer from Walmart to CVS to Kroger looking at solutions to better modernize their businesses in the likely event Amazon continues to grow and expand. Walmart, in particular, has partnered with a number of technology companies to improve its delivery network. It’s also started working closely with Microsoft in a substantial multi-year cloud computing deal with Microsoft’s Azure platform in order to improve its online backend, as well as the many custom software elements that help it run its stores, warehouses, and data centers.

The Problem with Cashless Restaurants

Opening and maintaining small-business checking accounts can be a costly practice. A Chase business checking account, for instance, requires a $12 monthly fee in some circumstances — and that’s on top of a transaction fee of 40 cents for every transaction that exceeds 100 transactions in a given month. Cash’s restaurant has an ATM available, but he said he absorbs about half of those ATM fees on behalf of his customers. He added that dropping electronic payments has allowed him to lower prices so his menu is more affordable.

According to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company, 6.5% of all U.S. households — comprising an astounding 14.1 million adults and 6.4 million children — are unbanked, meaning they do not have a savings or checking account. What’s more, a 2015 study by the Urban Institute found that 360,000 households in New York City alone are unbanked, and another 780,000 are underbanked, which means they do have a checking or savings accounts but still rely on alternative finance services like taking out a loan.

More to Check Out: 
– Ethiopia Taking Control of Water
– China Rules
– Political Reality of Buying Ads
– Outrage Over Human Gene Editing Will Fade Fast
– A Business with No End

Kudos (to people in the community).

  • Zach Latta and Hackclub are crushing it.
  • PlayVS is growing really fast!
  • Hit reply to this email and let me know what you are up to! Curious how things are going 😇

My Update.

  • Only a few more weeks this semester in St. Louis. Gearing up for a big trip over Winter Break.
  • Maas, Darshil, and I launched Founder Rewind – got #1 on Product Hunt for that day!
  • Updated the theme of my personal blog. Let me know what you think.

Thanks so much for reading! Find me on twitter : )