Written by

Chris Gonzales


Redd Angelo

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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The Design and Making of Japanese Manhole Covers »

Filmmaker and reporter John Daub runs the popular YouTube channel Only in Japan, where in each episode he highlights something fun and interesting about Japanese culture.

In this episode, he showcases the beautiful design of manhole covers in Japan, takes you on a tour of the making-of process, and even discusses the fandom of people (aka “manholers”) who go to great lengths to see them all in person. And no, I’m not kidding. Just watch the video, it’s neat stuff.

(via The Kid Should See This)

I Joined Airbnb at 52, and Here’s What I Learned About Age, Wisdom, and the Tech Industry »

At the age of 26, Chip Conley founded the Joie de Vivre boutique hotel chain. He sold the company in 2010, and a few years later ended up taking a job as Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb. He was a 52-year-old boomer surrounded by tech-savvy millenials, which quickly forced him to rethink his role there:

I also learned that my best tactic was to reconceive my bewilderment as curiosity, and give free rein to it. I asked a lot of “why” and “what if” questions, forsaking the “what” and “how” questions on which most senior leaders focus. I didn’t know any better. Being in a tech company was new for this old fart. My beginner’s mind helped us see our blind spots a little better, as it was free of expert habits. We think of “why” and “what if” as little kid questions, but they don’t have to be. In fact, in my experience it can be easier for older people to admit how much we still don’t know.

It’s never too late to learn, and you’re never too old to stay curious. Remember that always.


One for the Thumbs »

You know how Netflix recently abolished star ratings in favor of a thumbs up/thumbs down system? Whether you loved or hated the change, Jason Snell of Six Colors makes a good case for why thumbs are better than stars:

At some point, Netflix must have looked at its data and realized that their five-star rating system wasn’t really improving its recommendations. It was just adding noise. Does knowing that one user gave a movie four stars while another one gave it five stars really provide more information? […] In the end, you can obsess over whether a movie deserves three or four of your precious personal stars, but Netflix doesn’t care. It just wants to know if you liked the movie or not, because that’s all that really matters.

Related reading:

  • “You Give Out Too Many Stars” (Roger Ebert)

    Gene Siskel boiled it down: “What’s the first thing people ask you? Should I see this movie? They don’t want a speech on the director’s career. Thumbs up–yes. Thumbs down–no.”

  • “That Four-Star Rating You Left Could Cost Your Uber Driver Her Job” (Caroline O’Donovan, BuzzFeed News)

    Individuals have different interpretations, too. “For some people, three could mean this is good, while four is great and five is perfect. Some people might say, nowhere is going to be perfect, so I’m going to say five stars is really good, and four is good,” Celis said. “The way you can interpret those stars is infinite, and most people don’t have the exact same system.”

Photo credits: AeroPress: Antonio Diaz // Juicero: Bloomberg // Street Fighter "VS" symbol: MrFMFilms (YouTube) // Way too much time spent putting this stupid joke picture together: me 😎

Photo credits: AeroPress: Antonio Diaz // Juicero: Bloomberg // Street Fighter “VS” symbol: MrFMFilms (YouTube) // Way too much time spent putting this stupid joke picture together: me 😎

A Tale of Two Products »

By now you’ve probably heard all about that whole Juicero debacle that made the internet rounds last week.

I’m not going to pile on with my own Hot Take™ — lord knows we don’t need any more of them — but I do agree with John Allsop, who compared the tale of the Juicero with that of the AeroPress coffee maker to see if there’s anything we can all take away here:

Juicero isn’t really a device for extracting a great drink from fruit and vegetables, it’s a device for extracting money from customers.

AeroPress is a device that – largely by accident but also due to the values of its inventor – is much, much more than just the best coffee maker you’ll find.

There have to be some lessons in that.

Unraveling Why Shoe Knots Fail »

Erin Ross of the Nature science journal shares the findings of an experiment studying the roles of impact and intertia in the failure of shoelace knots (bold emphasis mine):

The scientists expected that the knots would come undone slowly. But their slow-motion footage — focused on the shoelaces of a runner on a treadmill — showed that the knots rapidly failed within one or two strides. To figure out why, O’Reilly and his colleagues used an accelerometer on the tongue of a shoe to measure the forces acting on a knot. They found that when walking, the combined impact and acceleration on a shoelace totals a whopping 7 gs — about as much as an Apollo spacecraft on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

Holy crap. If that’s the kind of force that comes from walking alone, imagine what dancers’ shoes must feel like.

Paths to Pixar »

Ever wondered what it would be like to work at Pixar? Well, they’ve produced a series of videos that will give you an idea how existing employees got there:

So how does one get to Pixar? From the traditional to the offbeat, our employees’ paths to their home at Pixar are as fascinating as the art, design, and engineering that they create.

The “Tools” video embedded above was produced in part by Michael “@drwave” Johnson.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.