Deepinder Goyal’s Tweet About Food Delivery in Mumbai

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock and aren’t sure who Deepinder Goyal is.

He sent this tweet out the other day:

… and I have questions. Lots of ’em.

  1. This wouldn’t have been possible twenty years ago: a businessman raising a question about a government decision on a public, online forum, and getting a response from the authorities on that forum. You might say newspapers and television channels, but they weren’t public forums – you could read and view, but you couldn’t do much else besides. Does that make the world today a better place – that it is very easy and cheap to raise questions and expect answers? More importantly, is the opportunity cost worth it?
    That is, anybody can raise questions and comment online.1 Still worth it?
    I say yes, but your mileage may vary.
  2. This would have been possible ten years ago. Deepinder Goyal could have tweeted out this question, but it is unlikely that the Mumbai Police would have responded. For one thing, they only joined Twitter in December 2015. For another, the pressure on them to respond wouldn’t have been quite as much ten years ago. Twitter (and other social networks) have become village squares. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
  3. Deepinder Goyal is likelier to get a response than I am because he is way more popular. This isn’t a criticism of the Mumbai Police, to be clear. I’m just stating a thumb rule that I think makes sense: the more followers you have, the likelier it is that you will get a response. What are the incentives for the average Twitter user? What are the optimal strategies? What are the optimal strategies given everybody else’s optimal strategies? With what consequences?
  4. Likes, retweets and replies are effectively a currency we get to spend on Twitter (and other social networks likewise have their own currency).
    1. These are certainly a unit of account, because the value of a tweet at least partially lies in how viral it has become. (“Holy shit, this blew up over night! Check out my soundcloud!”)
    2. They are also a medium of exchange (you retweet my tweet, I’ll retweet yours – although the terms of trade are in some ways a function of the point above)
    3. They are a store of value too. Try complaining about stuff on Twitter (fridge not working, internet down, flight ticket reimbursement etc. etc.) if you want to understand how this works out in practice.
    4. How should we spend this currency that we have? How much of it do we have? How should we spend it, and what are we optimizing for? What should we be optimizing for? Why?
  5. If public authorities can be held to account on online forums, does that make them less accountable in offline forums? Does the substitution effect dominate the income effect? With what consequences?

  1. You only need to see the responses to this tweet to figure that out, for example.[]

Was *the* googly a meta-googly?

If you are a cricket tragic, this thread is zimbly zuperb

Here is the video footage, for what it is worth:

Sylvia Plath’s Food Diaries

Seems like such a mundane tweet, unless you know who Sylvia Plath was, of course. The entire account is just “Everything Sylvia Plath ate, according to her journals, her letters, her poems, The Bell Jar, and other miscellany” It has been lovingly curated.

So who was Sylvia Plath?

Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century. By the time she took her life at the age of 30, Plath already had a following in the literary community. In the ensuing years her work attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who saw in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. In the New York Times Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates described Plath as “one of the most celebrated and controversial of postwar poets writing in English.” Intensely autobiographical, Plath’s poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sylvia-plath

Here is her bibliography on Wikipedia, and here is NY Times coverage of Sylvia Plath.

Via the truly excellent splainer.in

(I am anything but an expert on poetry, and you should keep that in mind!)

A Reading List for the Weekend, via Twitter

Who is Paul Graham, you ask? Started Y Combinator, a company you should know about. But I know of him primarily because of his essays, and if you haven’t read them already, I suspect you’ll have a pretty good weekend. Start with this, appropriate in so many ways, and then go where your fancy takes you.

Nipper

Trivia enthusiasts might have guessed already, but Nipper of course is the terrier-mix in this logo:

This tweet was the excuse to go searching for arbit stuff this week:

As the replies to the tweet make clear, this video was shot after the logo had been finalized. But why should that stop us from learning more about Nipper?

Across the long and rich history of Albany, Nipper ranks as the top dog. The twenty-eight-foot tall, four-ton steel and fiberglass canine statue anchored atop a warehouse on North Broadway has captured the hearts and minds of young and old alike for three generations.
Nipper was a real-life dog in nineteenth-century England who was painted by the dog owner’s brother, Francis Barraud. He depicted the curious dog listening to a gramophone and titled it “His Master’s Voice.” It became an internationally recognized logo for several audio recording companies, including RCA.

https://www.albanyinstitute.org/nipper.html

And here’s one more website for you to waste time on this Saturday morning.

Pre and Post Nuclear Bomb Steel

I had referred to Patrick Collison’s “Yes, and” rather than “No, But” approach to Twitter earlier this week.

In a world in which there was a “Yes, and” Society, and a Pune chapter for this hypothetical (but much needed) society, I’d have voted for Navin Kabra as Lifetime President. Today’s twitter thread of choice is one of many reasons why:

Recommended pairing: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. The whole book is a delightful read, but I have the pages where he speaks about America’s fascination with the atomic bomb in mind.

David Perell on the Microwave economy

I hope to write a longform essay myself about this topic, but this was fascinating on multiple levels:

Please read the entire thread, and the threads in almost all of the tweets that make up the first thread (if you see what I mean). Anything that can tie together a microwave dinner, urbanization, and Robert Pirsig is, as they say, self-recommending.

Cesar Hidalgo’s Viral Thread

You might first want to learn about who Cesar Hidalgo is…

… and then go through this thread.

Update: I scheduled this post a couple of days ago, but then came across this excellent Twitter thread by Rathin Roy, which is also worth reading:

Bonne Maman Jam, The Holocaust and Twitter

Twitter chose to show me this tweet the other day:

Read the whole thread, it warms the cockles of your heart.

And then I saw on of the replies:

And deeper down the rabbit hole, this:

And then because I had an impossibly long list of things to do, I stopped. But if anybody who is reading this is wondering how to spend a lazy Saturday morning… well, I wouldn’t mind being updated!

Oh and by the way, we get Bonne Maman preserves in India. I’ve had them for years, and they’re very, very good.

On Reading Between the Lines

Sri Thiruvadanthai (@teasri on Twitter) tweeted this out the other day. His account is locked, which is probably why the tweet can’t be embedded, my apologies.

Students of macro – this is a good test of whether or not you know your stuff. Who is @teasri talking about? One is relatively easier than the other, of course, but you should be able to get both.

The full interview is easily available on YouTube, if you’re interested.

And bonus video, just in case you haven’t seen it. In fact, two!