Friday, August 02, 2013

Interesting Fast Company writing - with features by Jon Gertner & Charles Fishman

There's been a few different pieces from Fast Company recently that struck me as particularly noteworthy with two from the magazine and two the website.

The June issue of Fast Company featured the "100 Most Creative People in Business" and the people and write-ups I found to be most interesting were Carl June at #11, Scott Harrison at #10 and Nate Silver at #1. The pieces on June and Harrison were both very short, but on two people doing important work. Harrison is founder of the highly regarded Charity: Water and June an immunologist working on cancer treatments and who was featured in "Has Carl June Found a Key to Fighting Cancer?" by Jason Fagone for the August issue of Philadelphia Magazine.

The write-up of Silver as the founder of the (moving from the New York Times to ESPN) website FiveThirtyEight was a fairly lengthy feature by Jon Gertner and included some excellent material. Gertner made multiple references to the two concepts in the title of Silver's recent book The Signal and the Noise (which I reviewed last December), with the signal being actual valuable information and  the noise everything else. I also found interesting Gertner's note that "Silver enjoys capitalizing anytime he thinks someone is making a decision for the wrong reasons" and it reminded me of a blog post I wrote last year that got into stock valuations and how skewed or ethereal they can be, with Facebook's stock an example of that (just as Silver noted). The final thing that struck me from the Gertner piece on Silver was a fairly lengthy portion about how data analysis (often known as big data) has potential applications for public good, with specific mention of the areas of education and medicine. Noted in the piece were Rayid Ghani who was the chief scientist of the 2012 Obama campaign and Jake Porway who founded Datakind, a non-profit with the Twitter description "Connecting non-profits in need of data analysis with pro bono data scientists who can work to help them with data collection, analysis, visualization, and more."

Another Fast Company Magazine piece I found excellent lately was "The Road to Resilience: How Unscientific Innovation Saved Marlin Steel" from the July/August issue. The feature was written by Charles Fishman, whose writing I've posted on a few times on all the way back to "Message in a Bottle", his 2007 Fast Company feature on the bottled water industry. This latest piece by Fishman profiled a company that used to solely make bagel baskets and has grown tremendously with now the large majority of products being much more expensive baskets for industrial and manufacturing environments. Noted in the piece was an interesting quote from owner Drew Greenblatt with "What I realized is that the customers who are a pain in the neck are really the great customers."

The final interesting Fast Company pieces to note here were two shorts ones posted to the website. "How Vice Hacked Google Glass to Tell Crisis Stories" was by Neal Ungerleider about journalist Tim Pool and his on the job usage of Google glasses. Also was the Sarah Kessler piece "Pixar's John Lasseter on Steve Jobs, Creativity, and Disney Infinity" leading into the launch of a Disney game offering. In terms of Lasseter as a subject, it brought to mind the profile "Father of the Year" on him by Tom Junod for Esquire.