Best, Propst believed, would be to join the panels at 120º angles. But his customers realised that they could squeeze more people in if they constructed cubes. A rigid 90º connector was therefore designed to join a panel to one, two or three more. Thus was born the cubicle, and Propst came to be known as its creator. He was horrified.

Inside The Box, a brief history of office design.

Unreliable research: Trouble at the lab. Science relies on the replication of experiments. The concern is that a startlingly small number of published papers hold up to attempts to reproduce the results. The Economist looks at what that means for the field and for academic research more broadly.

Chris Anderson as paraphrased by Andreas Kluth.

The first year after arriving to your new assignment was terrifying and exhilarating. It was a vertiginous learning curve, but you could ask dumb questions without fear and note that the emperor has no clothes.

In the second year, after the emperor had invited you in a few times to explain the subtle political dynamics that require him to go garbless for the ultimate good of the nation (but surely there were more important things to write about, such as his new elevated rail project), you would find yourself writing sophisticated analyses, traveling easily through the region, admiring your bulging rolodex and otherwise feeling very productive.

In the third year, you’d find yourself returning to stories with a certain cynicism and worldweary accounting of endless process. The elevated rail project has been delayed once again because of infighting within the opposition party. The emperor has no fiscal discipline. You understand everything all too well. It’s time to move on.

Piracy: No stopping them. Piracy off the coast of Somalia is getting worse despite the international efforts of the EU, UN, and even countries like Iran. As naval forces make the shipping routes through the Gulf of Aden safer the pirates move farther afield. In one case they attacked a ship 1,300 miles off the coast.

Identifying a billion Indians. What it looks like to try to issue biometric-based identification cards to a country with over a billion people. Contractors have already created a database of 1 million people, only 0.1% of the total population.

Mandated Fun

The Economist recently published an article about the “cult of fun” among businesses. Kyle Baxter has a better take on it:

Here’s a much simpler solution: make the work itself interesting and rewarding for your employees so they can get satisfaction from their jobs, make the environment warm and enjoyable for people to be a part of. If you do these two things (which, admittedly, is difficult, but that is your job if you are running a company), workers will find fun things to do naturally with their colleagues.