5by5 | The Critical Path #29: The Consequences of Disruption

We discuss the five characteristics of disruption: Net growth and value creation, inevitability, increased speed of change, necessity for macroeconomic growth, historical consequences. This and much more will form the basis of discussion for Asymconf.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #29: The Consequences of Disruption.

  • Laserland

    These comments relate to the “After Dark” show that followed immediately. It does not have its own post here at so I put this comment here.

    I used to know about survey sampling a long time ago. I’m sure that other readers would be more helpful. 

    It’s absolutely correct that the process of drawing the sample is hugely important. And a large sample size, by itself, is insufficient. The classic case study is the presidential poll of 1948, now known by the headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”  (,0,6484067.story)

    Afterwards, the pollsters did a post-mortem. The poll was a questionaire that was distributed to subscribers of a monthly magazine. I think sample size was 50,000 but it turned out that its readership was dominated by rich old republicans; the results of that poll simply reflected who was polled. Blue-collar families didn’t read that magazine. That’s the lesson: The poll lets you “learn” about the characteristics of the sample you draw. 

    After that, pollsters developed more sophisticated sampling techinques. I think the first was “stratified random sampling” ( You divide up the population into subgroups in proportion to their numbers and then work hard to sample each subgroup (This avoids the problem of oversampling rich Republicans). 

    Nowadays, a very fine-tuned sample of about 1,500 is enough, but the secret of exactly how the sample is drawn is well guarded by the commercial pollsters. 

    Doing this really well is a big deal and probably not worth the time and effort until Dan takes a rough cut at it. Early on, the particulars of the sample design have to be bootstrapped since you will get a progressively better idea which strata to use. You should also be guided by the [few] research questions that you have. 

    One thing that distinguishes the podcast world from traditional media is that podcasting permits and sometimes encourages direct feedback as a part of its ongoing work. Dan doesn’t encourage it as much as Horace does here, but I suppose a first step is to use the info to be gathered already to inform about which strata and data collection method to use. (Personally, I subscribe using Downcast, so I would not acquire a poll/podcast bundle if it is a separate app. It’s no good to exclude subscribers unless the purpose of that poll is only to learn about non-subscribers.) Also, 5by5 continually acquires data from sponsors in the form of all those promo codes. 

    I suppose an initial step is to just think through the questions you want answers to. For ex, I wonder whether there is any reason to offer video podcasts again. Dan knows that the download numbers were small. I think its because an audio podcast is “hired” to be used in a multitasking environment (e.g., driving, gardening, exercising). 

    A video podcast would have to be “hired” for a different job.  I don’t even know of any such job that would give Dan the revenue stream that he already enjoys from audio. Perhaps video is a pay podcast, while audio remains ad-supported. I donno, but a survey would be a good way to explore some possibilities. 

    • Another way to randomize the polling data is to embed the link into the podcast notes inside the MP3 itself on a random basis. You can use an App like Podcast Maker to get the embed right (i have never used it in production).

      There would have to be some CDN work to setup serving up two different files but its another way. This would point the user to a web form or provide an email address so they can be reached out to.

  • Horace, I always enjoy the discussions about growth; Thanks!

    You talked about growth in the podcast. Specifically, you mentioned that the rate of innovation is increasing.  An obvious question is what will happen in twenty or one hundred years after continued acceleration in growth.   Here is a podcast from Robin Hanson who talks about what sort of growth we might see in the future.

    His bold idea (eventually emulating the human brain will lead to dramatic growth) describes dramatic innovations and disruptions to the world economy. I think this is compatible with the theory of disruptive innovation.

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