Zuck giving a talk and doing Q&A at Harvard in late 2005. Makes for an interesting watch.
Another dream would be to revolutionize [student] self-assessment, so that in any area—math, psychology, economics, whatever—you could assess your skills and know what you may need to learn. The ideal there is creating a skills-based credential that is well trusted and well understood enough that employers view it as a true alternative to a degree. You could unbundle the idea of “Where did you get this knowledge?” from “What knowledge do you have?”
That would unleash unbelievable open innovation. We see it a little bit today, where a dropout can bring in a sample of computer code and say, “I wrote this code, why do you care what grades I got or whether I went to college?”"
I named a bunch of methodologies and there are many more out there.
There are benefits to each approach and it is important to think which way makes the most sense for the product that you are creating. There are a lot of options to choose from and each have their own benefits and draw backs.
When it comes to media consumption (movies, music, restaurant ratings, news) ideally I would like a personalized stack rank system that on top of collaborative filtering is still informed and shows me social, expert and trend signals. It is hard to factor in all of these into one uniform and simple user experience but I think it is the most ideal system.
For example, on Netflix it would be great if on top of their personalized star ratings it would show me what my friends rated and reviewed the movie, what famous movie reviewers said, what awards the film won and if there is any new big news about the film. I realize I am a power user of these type of services and most people are probably fine with their simpler user experience that they currently have. I still think there are ways to make the general experience very clean and simple while adding additional information for power users.
About a month ago I came across a blog post on how someone stopped eating food. Rob Rheinhart, a 24-year-old engineer, decided to make Soylent, a liquid replacement for eating that supposedly contains all of the nutrients that you would ever need.
I was captivated by the idea. Even though I love to eat great food, sometimes I just want to get my calories and nutrients as quickly and efficiently as possible. I’d be tempted to use a liquid meal replacement for some portion of my meals if it was proven to be healthy and I could stomach the taste. I’d still eat out with friends quite often (and maybe start to cook more) when I had plans or was in the mood.
Though, sometimes I just want the nutrients and calories as easily and quickly as possible. Sometimes I even end up eating far too many granola bars or peanut butter and wheat thins as a make shift meal replacement when I am focused on something. A nutritional meal replacement beverage seems to be a better call.
The story got picked up by vice and led to an interesting conversation on hacker news. I think Soylent, with its controversial name, self-experimentation, and activist bent, makes for a very interesting story.
For whatever reason, I had never really seriously considered the idea of frequently using a meal replacement until I read Rob’s blog posts. I’ve seen ensure milkshakes before but they seemed like bad desserts and meant for people on weight-loss focused diets.
There are many meal replacement products on the market and I am not an expert at all but it doesn’t seem like any of them really have a reputation for being grounded in biology and nutrition science while also having a bargain basement price.
If more research proves the product is healthy, it receives good customer reviews and it is fairly priced, I will try some. If I like it, I may even become a regular consumer of it.
For now, I will just follow as the story develops.
Two side notes:
I hate the name but I have to say it is memorable. The confusion with Soylent Green is unfortunate which apparently is different from Soylent which was made of soya and lentils according to the book that Soylent Green was based upon.
Also thinking about this helped further my interest in thinking about nutrition and food in general. I am very skeptical that Soylent will be the answer or even a small part of it but I am still fascinated by it. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is very important.The entire food system needs to improve: from farms, to the distribution system, to the decisions that we make and the options that we have and choose as consumers.