The Joys of Marginalia

I can’t really concentrate on reading unless I have a pen in my hand. I love marginalia. I love used books and getting a glimpse of some stranger’s relationship to a book that is now in my life. I underline, star, box, vent, exclaim. I like rereading my books and seeing coffee stains or chocolaty fingerprints I left behind the last time I read them.

The Joys of Marginalia

The 100 person limit

Size and internal vs. external coordination costs matter a lot. North of 100 people in a company, employees don’t all know each other. Politics become important. Incentives change. Signaling that work is being done may become more important than actually doing work. These costs are almost always underestimated. Yet they are so prevalent that professional investors should and do seriously reconsider before investing in companies that have more than one office. Severe coordination problems may stem from something as seemingly trivial or innocuous as a company having a multi-floor office. Hiring consultants and trying to outsource key development projects are, for similar reasons, serious red flags. While there’s surely been some lessening of these coordination costs in the last 40 years—and that explains the shift to somewhat smaller companies—the tendency is still to underestimate them. Since they remain fairly high, they’re worth thinking hard about.

The 100 person limit

How would you define work in a networked world?

Most of these dynamics predate the internet, but digital technologies are magnifying their salience. People keep returning to the mantra of “work-life balance” as a model for thinking about their lives, even as it’s hard to distinguish between what constitutes work and what constitutes life, which is presumably non-work. But this binary makes little sense for many people. And it raises a serious question: what does labor mean in a digital ecosystem where sociality is monetized and personal and professional identities are blurred?

How would you define work in a networked world?