Six Links: Pirates, Moats, Capitalism

Hopefully this edition of Six Links will help you find yet more intriguing content to help you finish January strong. Here goes:

The Hijacking of the Brillante Virtuouso by Kit Chellel & Matthew Campbell:

Anytime a commercial vessel is lost, the incident is recorded with a quill pen in a leatherbound book at Lloyd’s, a London institution that blends age-old ritual with modern finance. Contrary to common belief, Lloyd’s isn’t an insurer, or even a company in the usual sense of the word. Since its origins in a 17th century coffeehouse popular with traders who funded sea voyages, Lloyd’s has evolved into something like a stock exchange for risk, where actual insurers come to buy and sell exposure.

Google Maps’ Moat by Justin O’Beirne:

Many of San Francisco’s neighborhoods have a single street that commercial activity is centered around. And these “main drags” or “commercial corridors” act as destinations, attracting people from other parts of the city… Annechino and Cheng spent months researching one city. But not only did Google capture all of their commercial corridors (and several more), it somehow came up with them for thousands of cities across the world.

Increasing Returns & The Two Worlds of Business by W. Brian Arthur:

Increasing returns are the tendency for that which is ahead to get farther ahead, for that which loses advantage to lose further advantage. They are mechanisms of positive feedback that operate—within markets, businesses, and industries—to reinforce that which gains success or aggravate that which suffers loss. Increasing returns generate not equilibrium but instability…

Driverless Hotel Rooms: The End of Uber, Airbnb and Human Landlords by Nathan Waters:

You giggle, then follow the augmented directions leading to a sleek driverless hotel room. It’s about the size of a mini bus but without the seats, steering wheel and engine. A giant transparent panel stretching the length and height of the vehicle greets you on approach. The panel opens and you step inside. Inside is everything you’d expected. On the left, a couch seat that folds into a queen-sized bed with the push of a button. To the right, a small kitchenette with electric stove, running water, sink, microwave and bar fridge. Behind that is the detachable bathroom module with toilet, shower and wash basin.

Exiting the Dark Ages of Capitalism by David Heinemeier Hansson:

Squeezing out every last dollar from a relationship will leave it sour and dry. That goes whether the relationship is between a company and its workers, a company and its customers, or a company and its suppliers. It’s a two-dimensional, flat, and antagonistic relationship. It’s also frequently completely unnecessary, and nearly always unsustainable.

Vast Literatures as Mud Moats by Noah Smith:

I don’t know why academic literatures are so often referred to as “vast”, but it seems like no matter what topic you talk about, someone is always popping up to inform you that there is a “vast literature” on the topic already. This often serves to shut down debate, because it amounts to a demand that before you talk about something, you need to go read voluminous amounts of what others have already written about it.

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