Facts Matter and the Truth Will Out


A Brexit promise that turned out to be untrue (Getty Images).

We Can Handle the Truth. One of the key attributes of a NewCo is that it makes decisions based on data, on facts. So it’s particularly distressing when we see truth denigrated in the public arena, whether it’s Brexit advocates refuting their claims hours after they won the referendum or two American presidential candidates having, to different degrees, complicated relationships with truth-telling. Katharine Viner’s long read in The Guardian details how we got into this mess (she blames the imperatives of Internet publishing); more important, it offers some ideas on how we might get out of it by puncturing the filter bubble, modulating the clickbait, and other actions. Her argument is that technology got us into this mess and it’ll be technology that gets us out of it. “The truth,” she writes, “is a struggle,” but it’s a struggle worth undertaking so citizens, like NewCos, can make smart decisions about their future.

New on NewCo Shift. There’s a lot new on NewCo Shift today. Kaya Thomas writes stirringly about how Facebook’s diversity problem has a human impact, and Ben Huh of Cheezburger looks back at his recent gap year. And, if you were away last week (seems like everyone was), catch up on our founder John Battelle’s video interviews with Brad Smith of Microsoft and Max Ventilla of AltSchool.

The Education Advantage. One part of the middle class is doing well. No surprise: it’s the upper middle class (Bloomberg). According to a recent study, that slice of Americans is differentiating itself via education. And while it’s not exactly news that having a four-year college degree makes an enormous difference in income, there is a growing sense that the benefits of education last for generations. “Education is more inherited than income,” says Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution. And that has a terrible impact on economic mobility.

Can We Afford Universal Basic Income? While there are many appealing aspects of universal basic income, it’s still unclear how to pay for it. Longtime poverty fighter Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimates that in the U.S., it would cost $3 trillion a year (Vox), or roughly the country’s entire take from taxes. He says the current SNAP system is what we should be following.

How To Support a Visionary. Some entrepreneurs think they can do everything themselves. But the skills you need to be a visionary often conflict with what you need to be an effective manager. That’s why behind every successful Silicon Valley visionary is a brilliant operator (Quartz). Using Backchannel’s recent celebration of Belinda Johnson, “Airbnb’s Sheryl Sandberg,” as its starting point, Quartz details some of of the most successful visionary/operator pairings (Zuckberg/Sandberg at Facebook, Jobs/Cook at Apple) and some that didn’t last (like Spiegel/White at Snapchat). The best of these operators perform a unique inside/outside role, managing internally and serving as a “secretary of state” to outside constituencies. Does your company have someone excelling in that role?

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