The Browser
Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Pinterest — A Database Of Intentions

Interview with Evan Sharp, co-founder of Pinterest. “We think of Pinterest some days as this crazy human indexing machine. Where millions and millions of people are hand indexing billions of objects — 30 billion objects — in a way that’s personally meaningful to them. We’re not building a machine that answers questions, although that’s great. We’re helping you discover the things you like” (4,000 words)

The Trick That Makes Google’s Self-Driving Cars Work

Google cars drive safely in Mountain View because Google loads them with perfect models of the terrain. “It might be better to stop calling what Google is doing mapping, and come up with a different verb to suggest the radical break they’ve made with previous ideas of maps. I’d say they’re crawling the world, making it legible and useful to computers”. It will be a long job; but Google is playing a long game (2,080 words)

Get Ready To Roboshop

Short, action-packed interview with Gibu Thomas, Walmart’s head of mobile, about Walmart’s smartphone apps, which help customers find what they want when they are inside the store. “You could search for toothpicks, let’s say, and it would show you all the different brands of toothpicks, what aisle they’re located in, and a map so you can get to them really quickly. People took to it like ducks to water” (1,200 words)

How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood

How Netflix knows what you want to watch next. It pays human viewers to tag films using more than 70,000 standard terms, which can be matched against customer preferences. “We’re gonna tag how much romance is in a movie. We’re not gonna tell you how much romance is in it, but we’re gonna recommend it. You’re gonna get an action [film] and it may have more or less romance based on what we know about you” (5,900 words)

Paul Otellini’s Intel: Can the Company That Built The Future Survive It?

Intel boss retires, looks back, he did OK, but missed the deal of his lifetime: the iPhone contract. “There was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100x what anyone thought” (5,671 words)

The Perfect Milk Machine

“The dairy farmers of America, and the geneticists who work with them, are the Mendels of the genomic age. That makes the dairy cow the pea plant of this exciting new time in biology.” Here’s how to produce cattle farmers dream of

I’m Being Followed

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” 105 companies (at least) are tracking your browsing habits for money. It’s why most web sites can seem free. You should probably know about it

Nuclear Haze

Excerpt from forthcoming book on bombastic declarations of politicians as the U.S. adopted civilian nuclear power in the mid-1900s. In truth, the first plants were hastily built and at great financial, and perhaps social, loss

Pringle As Technology

“By creating a stackable potato chip that could be sealed in a container and shipped, Procter & Gamble was able to get to sell the chips nationally, benefiting from economies of scale”. A bit like Ikea’s flat-pack furniture

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