Nicolas Kemper:

Accretive projects are everywhere: Museums, universities, military bases – even neighborhoods and cities. Key to all accretive projects is that they house an institution, and key to all successful institutions is mission. […]

So, why do cathedrals take so long to build? Because the finish line is besides the point. Cathedrals are so compelling because they make visible the continued commitment that every building, city, and institution requires of their participants if they are to survive. Cathedral building ritualizes construction; they are compelling because they are never finished.

Near-realtime Earth observation resources.

The takeaway: “What you eat matters a lot more than whether it’s local or organic, or what kind of bag you use to carry it home from the store.”

Also, this on fish.

Alex Danco:

As Cooking As A Service expanded from <10% to 25-30+% of our eating, we grew to consume and expect a far greater selection and variety of food compared to when we did all our cooking ourselves. Our consumption choices around what food we eat gradually pivoted from “What am I able to cook for myself” to “Is this exactly what I want to eat, yes or no?” Once you transition into “is this exactly what I want, yes or no” territory, it’s very hard to go back; it becomes a part of the standard of living that we expect.[…]

From a couple of anecdotal conversations I’ve had with restaurant managers about this, it seems like once you open yourselves up as a restaurant that can be found on the delivery apps, a huge percentage of your kitchen volume switches over to fulfilling those orders, and your front-of-house costs get hung out to dry as increasingly unnecessary. Flexible, modular kitchens that are available for rent for any chef who wants to cook in it, and that have easy access to delivery cars and which pay for no front-of-house extras seem pretty obviously like the next iteration of back-end Cooking as a Service, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them pop up everywhere soon enough. If they can collectively bring down the cost of outsourced cooking another 20-30%, I think the economics start looking pretty compelling for outsourced cooking (including delivery) to effectively pay for itself out of the savings incurred by paying for ingredients and cooking equipment in bulk. At that point, kitchens start to truly become optional.

Flexible, modular kitchens. What’s basically being described here is Deliveroo’s dark kitchens: containers that restaurants can rent to deliver food in areas that they couldn’t otherwise reach.

New York Times:

Thus is the business model of WeWork, recently valued at $47 billion, now only facially about commercial subletting. All its accessories serve to buttress its real product: “office culture” as a service. When people at the company try to explain that culture, they invariably resort to talk of positive energy sources and the obligation to heal the social fabric — a vocabulary traditionally associated with utopian architecture, 1980s academic communitarianism or ayahuasca experimentation. […]

WeWork had contrived its turnkey member culture to make freelancers and entrepreneurs feel as though they worked at Google.

Interesting read on what product WeWork is selling — not mere office space but culture as a service.

I worked from a WeWork for around three years. Although I liked the space and the many perks it offered I wouldn’t say their culture was the best. Or maybe I just didn’t like the pretence of high-fiving each other for working (hustling, in their gergo). Do what you love, hey.

Google is forgetting the old web

Some people think Google has stopped indexing old parts of the web. Even supposing that’s not the case, that there isn’t any memory loss going on, it seems to me that in recent years Google has tweaked its ranking to give more prominence to what’s hot and trending, the new over the old. The first page of a Google search is more often than not just a collection of news articles. Smaller design choices — such as the news carousel featuring at the top of most searches — have put more weight on recency over accuracy, on articles about the latest developments of a situation over less noisy sources.

One other major shift in how Google views itself happened around the time voice assistants entered our lives — being that they need to return straight answers to be useful, not a set of options. That’s when Google started using machine learning and algorithms to return direct answers to queries. It works when the answer is factual, such as the height of a mountain or the distance from a place. It’s less trustworthy when asked about an event or a situation, seeing that it seems to return whatever is popular at the moment.

That’s saddening, even if no forgetting was happening. This focus on novelty over knowledge diverges from my mental model of the Web. As Tim Bray writes, a permanent, long-lived store of humanity’s intellectual heritage.

Seth Godin:

It’s probably easier to create heavily adorned mash-up than it is to produce a Field Notes notebook. Stripping away the artifice doesn’t always leave something pure. It often creates banality, the simple commodity that’s easy to buy cheaper one click away. […]

If Nike announced that they were opening a hotel, you’d have a pretty good guess about what it would be like. But if Hyatt announced that they were going to start making shoes, you would have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what those shoes would be like. That’s because Nike owns a brand and Hyatt simply owns real estate.

Basically an automated Bechdel Test.

Slate:

“Do you know what ‘ttfn’ stands for?” I whipped around to see a lanky preteen girl browsing a rack of greeting cards with a friend. “No, what’s that?” asked the friend. “Ta ta for now,” the girl said. “People used to say it to text goodbye.”

Back to when going AFK was an option and we didn’t expect everyone to reply to anything within minutes.

Logic Mag:

The thing that still confused me is how reliable supply chains are, or seem to be. The world is unpredictable—you’ve got earthquakes, labor strikes, mudslides, every conceivable tragedy—and yet as a consumer I can pretty much count on getting what I want whenever I want it. How can it be possible to predict a package’s arrival down to the hour, yet know almost nothing about the conditions of its manufacture? […]

The picture that many of us have of supply chains involve state-of-the-art factories like those owned by Foxconn. In reality, the nodes of most modern supply chains look much less impressive: small, workshop-like outfits run out of garages and outbuildings. The proliferation and decentralization of these improvisational workshops help explain both why it’s hard for companies to understand their own supply chains, and why the supply chains themselves are so resilient.

In their own words:

Every Noise at Once is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 2,850 genres by Spotify

Casper (the mattress company) announced a new product, a light which looks a bit like an HomePod and a Muji aroma diffuser.