These pages includes lists of investment, nonprofit, and other resources we find useful and inspiring. Please let us know if you have a favorite to add to the list!

2012 Year End Book List
Quirky Egg-Headed Organizations
Innovative Investment Organizations and Other Investment-Related Links
Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Investment, Business, Behavioral Finance Books
Other Non-Fiction
Novels, Stories and Poetry
What, You've Read All of Those?
Arts of All Sorts
Odds and Ends
Innovative Ventures

Odds and Ends:

Gates and Duflo – Genius Squared
Some of you know Esther Duflo, economist at MIT (tenured at 29), winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, author of the book Poor Economics.  And most of you know Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation.  A shared premise of their work is that we too often take a single-dimensional view of poverty, and thus attempts to alleviate it constantly fall short.  Both advocate a more complex, systemic view, which is a great idea, but harder to implement.  Here is a neat infographic that they developed to jump-start more multi-dimensional thinking – it shows various data by country, and you can see how one statistic or one country’s experience does NOT always correlate with another in expected ways.

Scarcity and Abundance
These photographs of weekly food consumption from around the world are well worth viewing:  though at first glance the sheer physical overload of the United States and some other countries is blinding, it also highlights another sort of scarcity – having too much presents its own set of clear challenges.  Perhaps over-abundance in one area is always balanced by scarcity in another?  Take a moment and really think about the photo from Chad.,29307,1626519,00.html

Let’s hear it for staying power!  Both IBM and the Girl Scouts are 100 years old in 2011-2012.  What strikes me as most notable with both organizations is the cris-crossing of the mission and impact – the significant social emphasis and benefit IBM has had over that time, and big economic impact of the Girl Scouts.  I wonder if our organizations today (and our evaluations of them) are pushed a little too hard to be single-minded, missing out on the great benefits in other arenas that can accrue while fulfilling primary missions and goals.   (the short film at this site is pretty cool)

Heather Knight at Carnegie Mellon
At Carnegie Mellon, one of the highest profile robo-researchers is Heather Knight, who’s been featured by Fast Company, Poptech, and the TEDWomen conference.  Why is her work so compelling?  Heather describes herself as a "social roboticist", and her work places particular emphasis on enabling robots to handle (human) social situations - she’s created one that can tell a stream of jokes that adjusts to audience feedback, for example.  Knight is interested in "developing robot personalities" – this is no Roomba!  (For fans of OK Go, Knight also helped create the Rube Goldberg machine for their "This Too Shall Pass" video, which is really pretty cool.

Justin Wolfers at Wharton
Wolfers does cool work on prediction markets, and uses huge datasets to analyze some really interesting questions (like horse racing/betting data).  One key theme that arises is that we are really bad at calibrating 'small' vs. 'tiny', or 'big' vs. 'gigantic' – when it gets to the ends of the curve that are exponential in nature, our minds can’t keep up with the progression.  This is why it feels so good to bet on a longshot - and why we generally shouldn’t do it.

Jessica Trancik at MIT and SFI
Trancik has examined the pace of technology change in various components and sub-industries. For many areas, as soon as the curves don’t follow Moore's Law in lockstep, we think change is hard to predict.  It is actually surprisingly regular — but we often choose the wrong models to explain it.  For example, Jessica examined energy data compared with both Moore's Law and Wright's experience curve ("the learning curve"). Progress in photovoltaics, surprisingly, fit more with Wright's curve (which is not so intuitive, since pv’s are based on Moore-like technology).  So, when something looks un-explainable, the problem might be with our models, not with the 'random' data.

Tom Seeley at Cornell
We have written a bit about Dr. Seeley's work before, and his super new book (Honeybee Democracy), so will just highlight one more interesting tidbit here. How is a swarm structured?  There are about 10k total bees, and 3-5% are scouts – these are the OLDEST and MOST EXPERIENCED bees. Of course this makes sense, who has better information on where to relocate than the guys who have done it before?  However, it struck me that while this structure does mirror many scientific research labs, it is the opposite of many investment organizations, where the younger (and perhaps more energetic) 'bees' are often assigned the role of scout. Then I realized that ALL of the great investors I have known are the ones who have continued to be their own scouts (regardless of the org chart) – using lots of input from all the other bees, surely, but never just sitting back and waiting for good ideas to come to them.

Mission Blue
Intrigued by Venter’s ocean exploration? Mesmerized by the giant whale skeleton in the Museum of Natural History? Known far and wide for your imitation of a jellyfish? Here are links to Mission Blue, the organization led by Sylvia Earle (oceanographer and explorer), and a recent TED voyage that her work inspired (content from the TED talks will be up on that site soon).

Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman is one of my favorite artist/commentators – her work is poignant without being sappy.

Stir Boston
This is a great resource for Boston-based wanna-be chefs – the team at Barbara Lynch’s restaurant group teaches classes in a small group format that are superb.  It’s like going to an amazing restaurant where they also teach you all about the foods and wines that are served – recipes and all!

Boston Symphony Orchestra
If you wake up on a Sunday morning in the summer and you are within 100 miles of Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, trust me, just pack up the picnic basket and go. You won’t be sorry.

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