Money, Lying, and Youth Sports

This was originally published in my newsletter on 12/10

Hey – Happy Monday! Hope you enjoyed your weekend 😇

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Articles to Read.

The internet’s history has just begun

As the chart shows, this started to change in the 1990s, at least in some parts of the world: By the year 2000 almost half of the population in the US was accessing information through the internet. But across most of the world the internet had not yet had much influence – 93% in the East Asia and Pacific region and 99% in South Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa were still offline in 2000. At the time of the Dot-com-crash less than 7% of the world was online.

15 years later, in 2016, three-quarters (76%) of people in the US were online and during these years countries from many parts of the world caught up: in Malaysia 79% used the internet; in Spain and Singapore 81%; in France 86%; in South Korea and Japan 93%; in Denmark and Norway 97%; and Iceland tops the ranking with 98% of the population online.

‘Nothing on this page is real’: How lies become truth in online America

“BREAKING,” he wrote, pecking out each letter with his index fingers as he considered the possibilities. Maybe he would announce that Hillary Clinton had died during a secret overseas mission to smuggle more refugees into America. Maybe he would award President Trump the Nobel Peace Prize for his courage in denying climate change.

“Nothing on this page is real,” read one of the 14 disclaimers on Blair’s site, and yet in the America of 2018 his stories had become real, reinforcing people’s biases, spreading onto Macedonian and Russian fake news sites, amassing an audience of as many 6 million visitors each month who thought his posts were factual. What Blair had first conceived of as an elaborate joke was beginning to reveal something darker. “No matter how racist, how bigoted, how offensive, how obviously fake we get, people keep coming back,” Blair once wrote, on his own personal Facebook page.

American Meritocracy Is Killing Youth Sports

The winning team celebrates at the Little League World Series.

Expensive travel leagues siphon off talented young athletes from well-off families—and leave everyone else behind.

You could follow the money. Kids’ sports is a nearly $17 billion industry, which makes it larger than the business of professional baseball and approximately the same size as the National Football League. Or you could follow the kids. The share of children ages 6 to 12 who play a team sport on a regular basis declined from 41.5 percent in 2011 to 37 percent in 2017, according to a recent report from the Aspen Institute. Going back to 2008, participation is lower across categories, including baseball, basketball, flag football, and soccer, in some cases by a lot: Baseball is down about 20 percent.

How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit (an incredible guide)

For founders, achieving product/market fit is an obsession from day one. It’s both the hefty hurdle we’re racing to clear and the festering fear keeping us up at night, worried that we’ll never make it. But when it comes to understanding what product/market fit really is and how to get there, most of us quickly realize that there isn’t a battle-tested approach.

The product/market fit definitions I had found were vivid and compelling, but they were lagging indicators — by the time investment bankers are staking out your house, you already have product/market fit. Instead, Ellis had found a leading indicator: just ask users “how would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” and measure the percent who answer “very disappointed.”

Next Stop, Uberland: The Onrushing Algorithmic Future of Work

It didn’t. A recent study by the ride-sharing trade publisher Ridester suggests half of all Uber drivers make less than $10 an hour, while BuzzFeed examined leaked Uber data and found that, after expenses, the average Uber driver in the U.S. takes home $10.87 an hour. It seems a full-time Uber driver can easily earn a poverty wage. And in Rosenblat’s telling, the rates only go down as Uber becomes more established and more drivers flood the streets, trapping drivers who take out subprime car loans at usurious rates to drive for Uber in a state of near-indentured servitude. One driver that stuck out to me in Uberland was Raul, a New York City Uber driver who had to boost his shifts from 8 to 9 hours to 12 to 14 in the face of falling rates. Rosenblat, who maintains a sometimes-unnerving cool while narrating tales of outrageous exploitation, writes: “The autonomy to choose which fourteen of the twenty-four hours in a day to work doesn’t create the sense of freedom implied by ‘flexibility’ rhetoric” of Uber.

Why is art so expensive?

The $63 billion, “winner-take-all” global art market, explained.

According to a joint report by UBS and Art Basel released in March, the global art market saw $63.7 billion in total sales last year. But that doesn’t mean that most artists see even a small fraction of that money, since the highest-value sales usually involve one wealthy collector putting a highly sought-after work up for auction.

To understand why a few artists are rich and famous, first you need to realize that most of them aren’t and will never be. To break into the art market, an artist first has to find a gallery to represent them, which is harder than it sounds. Some gallerists also look outside the art school crowd, presumably to diversify their representation, since MFAs don’t come cheap. (In 2014, tuitions at the 10 most influential MFA programs cost an average $38,000 per year, meaning a student would have to spend around $100,000 to complete their degree.) That said, the art world remains far from diverse. A 2014 study by the artists collective BFAMFAPhD found that 77.6 percent of artists who actually make a living by selling art are white, as are 80 percent of all art school graduates.

Stories From the Neopets Economy

Neopets is a website about, well, Neopets, which are cute animals you can own as pets. The main currency of Neopets is Neopoints, abbreviated NP. You earn NP from playing Flash games, getting lucky from random events, and playing the market.

Since new UC pets are impossible to create, there’s a fixed supply, and where there’s a fixed supply, there’s speculators. Owning a UC pet is a big deal. Some genuinely prefer the old art, whereas others simply treat them as a valuable bargaining chip in the pet trading market.

More to Check Out: 
– The Art of Making You Feel Small
– FB and Snapchat are linked to depression
– Customers Buy Out Doughnut Shop So Owner Can Tend To Sick Wife
– Blockchain elections would be a disaster for society
– Idea Dump

Kudos (to people in the community).

  • Maas, Darshil, Gavin, and I launched 2 products this past week:Create A Signature and Final Grade Calculator
  • Thankful for all of the friends and mentors who read this newsletter every week. Really appreciate it!! Please do let me know what you are up to and how I can be helpful 🙂

My Update.

  • Looking to meet ambitious people? Trying to find projects to work on? As I mentioned, we’re pairing up the best people we know (from across the world) to spark conversations and new ideas. Drop your info here 🙂 Share with any driven friends!
  • Spent the past week in Arizona and celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends. Really enjoyed being home. Back to STL now!
  • Passed 1000 daily blog posts in a row.
  • Just Focus now has over 1200 installs. Check it out!

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

Also published on Medium.