I've been trying to come up with ideas for posts on this blog over the weekend. In doing so, I dug up some things I've been thinking about on and off for years without adding much depth to my understanding.

Two such ideas are described below. Hopefully over the coming months I'll find the time to articulate them properly and dig into more detail.

1. Better and more useful news

Most news is irrelevant for the viewer, and incentives for publishers are polluted by the need to sell advertising and keep viewers hooked. This causes most media outlets to focus on sensationalism and obsessively highlight negative events. What would a more useful (to the consumer) form of news look like?

There have been many attempts at addressing parts of this problem [1]. But I haven't found any that have really taken off; disrupting the incentives that traditional media organizations hook onto seems really hard.

2. Quantifying efficiency [2] in markets

The efficient market hypothesis (EMH) claims that the stock market is mostly efficient, and most investors will fail to beat the market in the long run.

What makes markets efficient? Can we quantify the efficiency of markets? Unlikely because efficiency depends so much of on the capabilities of the actor, but maybe we can model an answer for an approximate case.

This topic of interest to me because I want to understand if a particular market is ruthlessly competitive and efficient or still has low hanging fruit. For example, as the EMH states I suspect public stock markets are incredibly efficient. But maybe real estate and startup angel investing are not.

I doubt there are clear quantitative measures here. But are there heuristics that can help quantify the extent of the efficiency, in a rough sense?

  1. One attempt at addressing the problem is news sites that focus solely on good news.

    For example: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/ and https://www.positive.news/.
    But this doesn't solve the problem of the news not being useful to the average reader. Good news in some corner of the world doesn't have any material impact on you. ↩︎

  2. Efficiency here can be described roughly as "the amount of effort needed to extract value from the system". Or how much competition there is in the market. ↩︎