Extreme Chair Sitting, the Truth About Paid Reviews and America's Most Underappreciated Government Agency | Non-Obvious Insights #405

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Dear Newsletterest,

This week's unavoidable business stories seemed to be Apple's release of the Vision Pro headset and preview of Super Bowl advertising. For the big game ads, I will share my picks for the best and worst of Super Bowl marketing strategy this coming Monday as usual.

In this issue you'll read about the best video review I found of the Vision Pro, a man who believes extreme chair sitting should be a sport, why we should celebrate America's most underappreciated government agency, the surprising truth about paid reviews and an inside look at the new Perplexity.ai search tool that tech influencers are raving about. 

Stay curious,

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The Man Who Wants To Make Extreme Chair Sitting A Competitive Sport

The first time Robby Silk tries his luck at competitive sitting, he lasted only three hours in the Arizona heat. Several years later and during the pandemic, he completed his longest sit: 14-hours and 27-minutes inside Joshua Tree National Park in California. Since then he has gone to far further locations to practice his extreme sport - including Antarctica's Cuverville Island.

The idea of it all, he shares, “is to really just be, and not do much of anything.” His sport is one of a dozen compiled in this entertaining article featuring 12 amazing athletic competitions you should be watching. Also on the list are grits rolling, high swinging and stone skimming. The sports are a quirky yet perfect example of just how much fun someone can have when they decide to turn a diversion into a competition.

And chair sitting might have a possible future in the Olympics too. After all, dressage is already an Olympic sport and that's basically competitive sitting on top of a horse. 

What You Should Know About Apple's New Vision Pro Headset

The early reviews of Apple's latest flagship metaverse-fueling headset are already mixed. Some say it "lacks polish and purpose" and dismiss it as "spectacular and sad." More optimistic reviews called it a "revolution in progress" and it is at least delighting financial analysts who already believe it's a "game changer" when it comes to the financial windfall it could bring for Apple and suggest it could become a trillion dollar product

What is so cool about this product and why does it matter? The best review I found this week (and trust me, I read way too many!) was this short video from YouTuber named Cleo Abram who hosts a show called Huge If True.

In this review, she collaborates with expert tech influencer Marques Brownlee and offers some interesting observations about the future promise of this headset to offer a sort of teleportation experience and use spatial video to let us "live" inside our own past memories. It's an insightful review and the next best thing booking an appointment at an Apple store and trying the headset for yourself (which I also plan to do this week).  

Why We Should Celebrate The Most Underappreciated Agency In Government: The EPA

There are parts of the world where the first thing that residents check on their phones when they wake up isn't their email or the weather. It's the air quality report and based on the numbers, they decide if they will go out that day or not. This isn't a reality that most Americans or Europeans are familiar with. 

This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a stricter standard for fine particulate pollution (otherwise known as soot). While some critics say it's not far enough, any additional regulation here seems like a good idea. It's also a reminder that the EPA is one of the most underappreciated agencies in the federal government. Sadly, it's survival and funding isn't anywhere near the list of top issues getting covered by the media for the upcoming election, but if logic were a part of politics - this would be a swing issue.

The EPA needs to survive and have the funding to do its job. We all need to appreciate the life saving work it has done for decades to ban pesticides, prevent air and lead pollution and clean up toxic sites. It should be the ultimate example of how government actually works well to protect citizen health and future generations. They are heroes. 

The Truth About Paid Reviews Might Not Be What You Think

I have paid for a book review. Most authors have too in one way or another. If this fact shocks you, then you might enjoy a piece from Wired that digs into the misunderstood world of paid reviews and why it has become so prevalent across books, movies, hotels and just about any other experience that you can read an online review about.

The first reality check you'll get from this piece is perhaps the one that's the most important. Paying for a review and paying for a positive review are two different things. One is certainly unethical. The other has become a necessity in many cases for independent artists. Ok, at this point you might be wondering: why not just submit your work and wait for it to get reviewed on its own merits. Surely the best work will get reviewed the most, right?

Sadly not. Instead, the most well funded work or that with the biggest distribution or highest profile names attached gets the attention. Smaller independent artists and productions are just not noisy enough to break through. But there are multiple programs that exist to help them have a chance. Kirkus runs a paid review program for books with the same editorial standards as their usual program. Independent film reviewers selectively accept commissions to offer their truthful reviews for payment.

The key here, I think, is the editorial integrity of the review. If the payment is an incentive to cover the time for a reviewer to consider a piece of work, but can still write anything positive or negative that they wish, I happen to believe there is nothing wrong with that. What do you think?

Perplexity.ai and Testing The Future of AI Generated Search Results

Tech commentator Shelly Palmer offered a ringing endorsement of a new AI extension that can replace Google search called Perplexity.ai and so I decided to give it a try. Instead of a list of links, starting with promoted ads, the search results from Perplexity summarize what it finds on the web. Of course I started by Googling (Perplexing?) myself.

The results summary opens by describing me as "a prominent figure with diverse expertise." Ok, I like that. Unfortunately, it came to this conclusion because it had merged my profile with a respected Professor of biomedical imaging who shares my name. So, yes - it's not perfect. Still the summarized results, removal of paid links and narrative style were very appealing. I can see why people would like this as an alternative to Google search.  

Even More Non-Obvious Stories ...

Every week I always curate more stories than I'm able to explore in detail. Instead of skipping those stories, I started to share them in this section so you can skim the headlines and click on any that spark your interest:
How are these stories curated?
Every week I spend hours going through hundreds of stories in order to curate this email. Looking for a speaker to inspire your team to become non-obvious thinkers through a keynote or workshop?  Watch my new 2024 speaking reel on YouTube >>
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