Three pieces – Friday reading & links

Looking for new perspectives? Here are a few articles to check out.

  • “The New National American Elite” by Michael Lind. In this article, Lind suggests that the US has first now established a national elite – and risen from the fragmented state aristocracies that used to compete with each-other nationally: “In short, a historical narrative which describes a fall from the yeoman democracy of an imagined American past to the plutocracy and technocracy of today is fundamentally wrong. While American society was not formally aristocratic it was hierarchical and class-ridden from the beginning—not to mention racist and ethnically biased. What’s new today is that these highly exclusive local urban patriciates are in the process of being absorbed into the first truly national ruling class in American history—which is a good thing in some ways, and a bad thing in others.” I have written elsewhere in the newsletter about how elites provide an interesting analytical prism for us to think through, and found this article thought-provoking, even though I may disagree with some of it.
  • “The Unauthorized Story of Andreessen Horowitz” by Eric Newcomer. An interesting analysis of how more and more companies are becoming media companies, they need to have a media component to them to really be able to attract attention, capital, deals — your narrative is a key strategic asset. “Benedict Evans, Andreessen Horowitz’s former in-house analyst, has mused over the years that ‘A16Z is a media company that monetizes through VC.’ That observation becomes truer by the day.” It is fascinating to me that not more Swedish VCs adopt this strategy.
  • “Self-organized biotectonics of termite nests” by Alexander Heyde, Lijie Guo, Christian Jost, Guy Theraulaz, and L. Mahadevan. This is a fascinating model that suggests how termite nests are built and how their shape is dependent on a specific multi-agent model. “Termite nests are a remarkable example of functional self-organization that show how structure and function emerge on multiple length and time scales in ecophysiology. To understand the process by which this arises, we document the labyrinthine architecture within the subterranean nests of the African termite Apicotermes lamani and develop a simple mathematical model that relies on the physical and biological interactions between termites, pheromones, and mud in the nest. Our model explains the formation of parallel floors connected by linear and helical ramps, consistent with observations of real nests. In describing this multiagent system, we elucidate principles of physical and behavioral coupling with relevance to swarm intelligence and architectural design.” It seems far from impossible that these architectural designs may become more commonplace in the future.

Treat yourself to a fly-through of a termite nest below:

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