Big Business:

  • An interview with tech reporter Scott Kirsner on the lukewarm performance of internal innovation labs within large corporations. Kirnser has some suggestions on choices that can improve the odds (having the lab headed by a trusted operator, getting alignment on timelines, etc.) but the category is littered corporate window dressing, and defunct programs, with very few successes. From a longer-view of history standpoint, this makes sense - not all businesses are built for big-picture, blue-sky innovation, nor should they be. Plenty of firms get ahead and stay there through much more mundane, nuts-and-bolts improvements of the incremental variety. 

Machines for Moving: 


  • Some employers are adding 'climate leave' policies to help beleaguered workers cope with the fallout from superstorms. 
  • A beautiful and blistering indictment of the always-on, always-optimizing form of work that bleeds into life, until the last drips of joy are bled out of our days. The author points out the role that technology (both hard and soft, tangible and theoretical) plays in this long trend, from the metronomic pace of machinery in the Industrial Revolution, to Taylor's tyrannical time and motion studies. Today, it is the social media gamification of what were once our quietest moments of private leisure: the cup of tea, the sleeping dog, the setting sun. Of course, our time is finite, and that limited tenure on this planet inspires a fearful desire to make an impact, to perform meaningful actions, and assemble a worthy legacy before the hourglass runs empty. Perhaps there is no balance to strike between the big projects of life and the pleasures of letting the hours slip by without an anxious plan. Still, it is worth wasting some time tomorrow lost in smaller plans and undocumented hours, in order to taste of life more fully. 


More next week.