Sunday, November 19, 2017

Synopsis: Zero One Two

Peter Spiel wanted to put out a list of bullet points ( list 1 ). Publishing it as it is would have come across as tacky so he decided to mix list 1 with another list of bullet points ( list 2 ) and make it look like he was publishing list 2. He then stretched and contorted the merged list into slightly rambling sentences to make it harder to spot list 1. For the final step in this plan, he decided to deliver these sentences as part of a series of guest lectures, and fortunately found an impressionable, young student, Blab Masters, who wrote it out into a 150 page book. List details below.

The publication might be sponsored by Microsoft which would explain the forced SmartArt product placement.

Did you know?

The title represents the number of lists that should have existed, the number that the author wanted to bring to existence, and the number that were finally created. Much like start ups.

List 1: Mr. Spiel's achievements, and any references and stabs at humour he could string along to look cool.

Some examples of possible self-aggrandising words are: I, Paypal, Tesla, Facebook, Stanford, Palantir, LinkedIn, Darwin, SpaceX, Oedipus, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Faust, Wagner, and Tolkien. Just these 15 examples have about 250 occurrences in a 40,000 word book. If you assume 10 words to a sentence, and each occurrence of any of those words belonging to a sentence of their own, that's more than 5% of the book already.

Additionally, some examples of the stabs at humour below, and just these three account for another 0.15% of the book -
  • "Every week, dozens of new startups competed to throw the most lavish launch party. (Landing parties were much more rare.)"
    40,000 words is inferred from a count of the number of spaces. For instance, 'much more rare,' could have just been, 'rarer,' and that really should count as only 1 word instead of 3.
  • "All Rhodes Scholars had a great future in their past."
    Sour grapes? Or just the same superiority complex that runs through the rest of the book?
  • "[T]he U.S. Treasury prints “In God We Trust” on the dollar; the ECB ( European Central Bank ) might as well print “Kick the Can Down the Road” on the euro."
    They both sound the same to me.

List 2: a lot of eye-rolling-ly obvious advice, overtly simplified frameworks, and nonsensical inspirational lines. With this list, the diabolical Mr. Spiel targets entrepreneurs, a section of society highly vulnerable to self-help and advice, who fail to spot the ruse.

Examples include -
  • "In the most minimal sense, the future is simply the set of all moments yet to come."
    Designer talk meets nerd talk meets poet talk. Mr. Spiel couldn't help showing off in list 2 also.
  • "All salesmen are actors." 
    This is a corollary of Shakespeare's more general assertion from back in the 16th century. No credits or references were given. Possible case of plagiarism.
  • "It begins by rejecting the unjust tyranny of Chance. You are not a lottery ticket."
    And now nobody wants to work with Chance the Rapper anymore.
  • Spiel's opinion that, "...computers are complements for humans, not substitutes," which immediately, and without any other supporting argument, leads him to proclaim that, "The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete."
  • "Sales matters just as much as product."
    More, I would have thought? Maybe even most?
  • "But the reality is much more binary than that."
    Binary is a rather absolute concept. You'd expect a man advocating technology as a route to the future to be aware of this.
  • "Belief in secrets is an effective truth."
    If the meaning of that is a secret then this is very meta. And a misplaced Machiavelli reference maybe?
  • "Starting a new South Indian restaurant [ in Palo Alto ] is a really hard way to make money."
    You could start the bare minimum of South Indian restaurants just idling. That doesn't sound very hard, right? The tougher dosaing, vadaing, etc. could be pushed to a later stage.

Inspired by and heavily borrowed from: Zero To One

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