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jerryking : sublinearity   4

How Nature Scales Up
June 23, 2017 | WSJ | By Charles C. Mann

Review of SCALE By Geoffrey West; Penguin Press, 479 pages, $30
books  book_reviews  scaling  physicists  growth  innovation  sustainability  cities  economics  business  linearity  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  sublinearity  massive_data_sets  natural_selection  powerlaw 
june 2017 by jerryking
Review: How Laws of Physics Govern Growth in Business and in Cities
MAY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | By JONATHAN A. KNEE

Book review of “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies” (Penguin), by Geoffrey West, a theoretical physicist.....Mr. West’s core argument is that the basic mathematical laws of physics governing growth in the physical world apply equally to biological, political and corporate organisms.....The central observation of “Scale” is that a wide variety of complex systems respond similarly to increases in size. Mr. West demonstrates that these similarities reflect the structural nature of the networks that undergird these systems. The book identifies three core common characteristics of the hierarchal networks that deliver energy to these organisms — whether the diverse circulatory systems that power all forms of animal life or the water and electrical networks that power cities. First, the networks are “space filling” — that is, they service the entire organism. Second, the terminal units are largely identical, whether they are the capillaries in our bodies or the faucets and electrical outlets in our homes. Third, a kind of natural selection process operates within these networks so that they are optimized......These shared network qualities explain why when an organism doubles in size, an astonishing range of characteristics, from food consumption to general metabolic rate, grow something less than twice as fast — they scale “sublinearly.” What’s more, “Scale” shows why the precise mathematical factor by which these efficiencies manifest themselves almost always relate to “the magic No. 4.”

Mr. West also provides an elegant explanation of why living organisms have a natural limit to growth and life span following a predictable curve, as an increasing proportion of energy consumed is required for maintenance and less is available to fuel further expansion.

....Despite his reliance on the analysis of huge troves of data to develop and support his theories, in the concluding chapters, Mr. West makes a compelling argument against the “arrogance and narcissism” reflected in the growing fetishization of “big data” in itself. “Data for data’s sake,” he argues, “or the mindless gathering of big data, without any conceptual framework for organizing and understanding it, may actually be bad or even dangerous.”
books  book_reviews  business  cities  economics  efficiencies  economies_of_scale  growth  innovation  Jonathan_Knee  linearity  massive_data_sets  metabolic_rate  natural_selection  physical_world  physics  physicists  powerlaw  scaling  selection_processes  sublinearity  sustainability 
may 2017 by jerryking
Instagram Finds Focus Under ‘Efficiency Guru’
April 13, 2017 | WSJ | By Deepa Seetharaman

Ms. Levine’s biggest contribution, Mr. Systrom says, is helping Instagram avoid the fate analyst Ben Thompson described: “Companies break every time they double.” [See reference to sublinearity in new book of Geoffrey West, “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies” (Penguin). Specifically, "infrastructure growth scales in analogous sublinear fashion]

In 2014, Mr. Systrom said he realized he and his co-founder, Mike Krieger, needed help to grow Instagram. Facebook had bought the startup for $1 billion two years earlier, when it had just 13 employees. The pressure was on for Instagram to make money and roll out products at a more rapid clip, and the co-founders saw the need for an executive to manage the expansion.

Marne Levine is “an efficiency guru” who has helped the Instagram app avoid some of the pitfalls of rapid growth. Ms. Levine has skills that are in high demand in Silicon Valley, where startups often struggle to get past their adolescence. Uber Technologies Inc., for instance, is seeking a second-in-command to help founder Travis Kalanick repair the ride-sharing company’s image after allegations of sexism and sexual harassment and the departure of several top executives. “We want to be the 10x company,” Ms. Levine, 46, says. “That means we need to think carefully about how we set up our operations, how we grow and how we scale.”.....A seasoned manager can instill discipline and order, helping new companies avoid wasting time and resources while adding a veneer of professionalism to attract potential customers.
Instagram  Facebook  focus  scaling  growth  Snap  Snapchat  expansions  COO  efficiencies  sublinearity  powerlaw  product_launches  speed  blitzscaling  operational_tempo  10x 
april 2017 by jerryking
Barbarians will always storm the gates of complexity
Oct 6, 2010 | Financial Times pg. 13 | John Kay. Why do
societies and seemingly indestructible empires collapse? Because as the
empires grow, the costs of central organization rise (complexity?) and
the benefits of further expansion became ever more marginal. The
phenomenon of multiplying complexity is not confined to ancient
civilisations. The nature of bureaucracy is to generate work for other
bureaucrats to do. C. Northcote Parkinson describes how the # of people
in the British Admiralty increased faster than the number of ships, and
continued to increase even after the # of ships declined. See Edward
Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, The Collapse of
Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter, and Jared Diamond's book Collapse.
complexity  collapse-anxiety  ProQuest  Jared_Diamond  Romans  books  bureaucracies  scaling  societal_collapse  sublinearity  Edmund_Gibbon 
october 2010 by jerryking

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