Ignite NewsFoo: The Back of an Envelope

Hi, Andrew here.

I’m currently in Phoenix, Arizona at News Foo Camp, a conference about the future of journalism. It’s been utterly fantastic, and I’ll be writing more about it soon. If the people here are at all representative, journalism has a fantastic future.

This evening, I was one of the participants in Ignite NewsFoo, a series of five-minute talks. Mine was about approximation, nuclear weapons, and the size of the newspaper industry. Enrico Fermi is a hero of mine: he made the best approximations in history. (Physicists call approximations in the Fermi style Fermi problems — his were so good we started naming them after him). The most famous was at the Trinity test; he managed to get the size of the first nuclear explosion roughly right by measuring how far it blew a few torn-up bits of paper.

Enrico Fermi was badass. I wanted to show how his techniques can help you do anything from working out how many piano tuners there are in Chicago to understanding the challenges facing newspapers’ business models.

Here’s how it went. I’ll post the video once it’s available!

About Andrew Walkingshaw

Andrew is a cofounder of Timetric.
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