Popular culture

Jeremy Liew is the man these days, his 500k investment in Snapchat will likely go down as one of the best venture deal ever. Reflecting on this success, he observed how innovation, at least when it comes to consumer tech, is being democratised. Silicon Valley's monopoly on technology is weakening and another powerful force of innovation is emerging as a source of competitive advantage: insight into popular culture. 

In his definition, this refers to people's interests and preferences, their emotions and habits. At a higher level, it points to a rebalancing in the relationship between theory and empirical observation, between intellectual elaborations and common sense. It reminded me of a comment Peter Thiel made in a recent interview: "I think often the smarter people are more prone to trendy, fashionable thinking because they can pick up on things, they can pick up on cues more easily, and so they’re even more trapped by it than people of average ability."

It is something I feel on myself very often. Faced with a situation I want to understand, I sense the weigh of established knowledge clouding my thoughts. In these moments, ignorance can be bliss. Simply ignoring what smarter people said about a certain topic allows us to get to a really personal understanding and we are often surprised about the simplicity of our conclusions, to the point we start doubting them again. 

The right heuristic here is that simplicity is the normal condition of right conclusions. It is a topic I will write more about, soon.