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No, We Won’t Have a Video Call for That!

Just read this article. A written version of a talk by Florian Haas about

  • What modes we have available for communications in teams;
  • Why distributed teams always collaborate asynchronously, and what communication modes lend themselves to that particularly well;
  • Why written communication is so important in distributed teams;
  • And why meetings (like video calls) are a mode of communication that effective distributed teams hardly ever need to use — except for very specific reasons.

My favorite part was this 5-paragraph format for briefing people.


Whenever you need to thoroughly brief a group of people on an important matter, consider using a 5-paragraph format.

  1. Situation
  2. Mission
  3. Execution
  4. Logistics
  5. Command and Signal

Let’s break these down in a little detail:

  1. Situation is about what position we’re in, and why we set out to do what we want to do. You can break this down into three sub-points, like the customer’s situation, the situation of your own company, any extra help that is available, and the current market.
  2. Objective is what we want to achieve.
  3. Plan is how we want to achieve it.
  4. Logistics is about what budget and resources are available, and how they are used.
  5. Communications is about how you’ll be coordinating among yourselves and with others in order to achieve your goal.
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The Empirical Metamathematics of Euclid and Beyond

Euclid’s Elements is an impressive achievement. Written in Greek around 300 BC (though presumably including many earlier results), the Elements in effect defined the way formal mathematics is done for more than two thousand years. The basic idea is to start from certain axioms that are assumed to be true, then—without any further “input from outside”—use purely deductive methods to establish a collection of theorems.

Euclid effectively had 10 axioms (5 “postulates” and 5 “common notions”), like “one can draw a straight line from any point to any other point”, or “things which equal the same thing are also equal to one another”. (One of his axioms was his fifth postulate—that parallel lines never meet—which might seem obvious, but which actually turns out not to be true for physical curved space in our universe.)

On the basis of his axioms, Euclid then gave 465 theorems.

The Empirical Metamathematics of Euclid and Beyond

Now I wish I could read greek…