1,000 True Fans

This is an edited, updated version of an essay I wrote in 2008 when this now popular idea was embryonic and ragged. I rewrote it to convey the core ideas, minus out-of-date details, that I believe will be useful to anyone making things, or making things happen. If you still want to read the much longer original essay it will follow below this edited version. — KK

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An Italy divided

Two cyclists on opposite sides of the moral compass fought a politically-charged duel that lasted a decade

By Susannah Osborne

The rivalry between Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi reveals the tensions in Italy between the wars. The two cyclists could not have been more different – their riding styles, their moral conduct, their motivations and their physical appearance. Bartali was a heavy-set, strong man with the look of a boxer. Stork-like Coppi was lean, wiry and could break away and never get caught.

Coppi-2

Bartali was a Catholic, born in Tuscany and worshipped by working-class Italians. Signed in 1936 to the Italian Legnano team as a successor to Alfredo Binda he won the Giro d’Italia three times, the Tour de France twice (10 years apart) and seven one-day Monuments. After his Tour de France win in 1938, on the eve of the Second World War, Mussolini proclaimed him as living proof that Italy was a master race. The Vatican’s favourite sportsman, ‘Gino the Pious’ was blessed by three different popes.

 

Coppi was not concerned with religion. He was worldly, outward-looking and non-conformist. Some claim he was the bridge between the romantic days of pre-war cycling and the science-based sport of today; he was known to experiment with his training and his diet. Feted as one of the best riders of all time he won the Giro d’Italia five times, a record held jointly with Binda and Eddy Merckx, and the Tour de France twice in three attempts. When it came to the the Classics Coppi won the Giro di Lombardia a record five times, Milan-San Remo three times, Paris-Roubaix and the Flèche Wallonne; in 1953 he claimed the world championship. Raphaël Géminiani once said of Coppi: “He rode like a Martian on a bike.”

From their first encounter in 1940 until 1949 the cycling careers of Gino and Fausto were intricately intertwined. Coppi was introduced to Bartali as a domestique for the 1940 Giro. But the pair quickly locked horns after Bartali collided with a dog, allowing Coppi to set his sights on the podium. When Coppi attacked on the Abetone Pass an angry Bartali ordered his team-mates to chase him down. Bartali was brought into line by the team manager and Coppi won. It was a result that incensed Bartali.

When racing resumed after the Second World War so did their rivalry. Bartali beat Coppi in the 1946 Giro but it was Coppi who was victorious a year later. The animosity between the riders reached fever pitch at the 1948 World Championships in Valkenburg when the two men focussed solely on beating each other, forgetting they were riding for Italy. Once they had established that neither of them would win they both withdrew from the race. Booed by the Dutch fans and castigated by the Italian media the pair received a two-month ban.

Bartali was convinced Coppi was taking drugs and he sneaked into his rival’s hotel rooms to extract evidence from the bins. Yet surprisingly, at the 1949 Tour, when tensions between the two were at their height, a ceasefire was declared. Misfortune struck Coppi early on in the race as crashes and mechanical problems lost him valuable time. A broken bike in stage five worsened his position and to make matters worse Binda, Italy’s coach, and the team car were shadowing Bartali. Coppi was furious.

Convinced that he should carry on and still had a chance Coppi regained his verve in the mountains. Stage 16, from Cannes to Briançon, featured the ascents of the Col d’Allos, Col de Vars, and Col d’Izoard. In 1938 and 1948 Bartali had proved his dominance on these climbs and, as before, he broke away. Coppi followed but as they tackled the Izoard Coppi punctured. Bartali waited. Nearer the summit Bartali punctured and Coppi waited. They rode together into Briançon, having gained 20 minutes on the race leader Fiorenzo Magni. Coppi eventually won the race and Bartali finished second.

Coppi died of malaria aged 40, his later years overshadowed by the scandal of an extra-marital affair. Bartali died of a heart attack at 85; it was later revealed that he played a significant part in aiding the passage of Jews to safety during the Second World War. In life and death these two men couldn’t be more different.

*Rapha read William Fotheringham’s ‘Fallen Angel: The Passion of Fausto Coppi’, Aili McConnon and Andres McConnon’s ‘Road to Valour: Gino Bartali – Tour de France Legend and World War II Hero’ and Peter Cossins’ ‘The Monuments’ while researching this article.

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Neo-Liberalism and its Prospects by Milton Friedman

In his magnificent book, Law and Public Opinion, A. V. Dicey distinguished between the trend of legislation on the one hand and the trend of opinion on the other. Legislation, he argued, is dominated by the underlying current of opinion, but only after a considerable lag. Men legislate on the basis of the philosophy they imbibed in their youth, so some twenty years or more may elapse between a change in the underlying current of opinion and the resultant alteration in public policy. Dicey sets 1870 to 1890 as the period in which public opinion in England turned away from individualism (Manchester liberalism) and toward collectivism; yet he points out that economic legislation was not strongly affected by the new trend of opinion until after the turn of the century.

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On Being Conservative By Michael Oakeshott

The common belief that it is impossible (or, if not impossible, then so unpromising as to be not worth while attempting) to elicit explanatory general principles from what is recognized to be conservative conduct is not one that I share. It may be true that conservative conduct does not readily provoke articulation in the idiom of general idea, and that consequently there has been a certain reluctance to undertake this kind of elucidation; but it is not to be presumed that conservative conduct is less eligible than any other for this sort of interpretation, for what it is worth. Nevertheless, this is not the enterprise I propose to engage in here. My theme is not a creed or a doctrine, but a disposition. To be conservative is to be disposed to think and behave in certain manners; it is to prefer certain kinds of conduct and certain conditions of human circumstances to others; it is to be disposed to make certain kinds of choices. And my design here is to construe this disposition as it appears in contemporary character, rather than to transpose it into the idiom of general principles.

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Startup mistakes

Paul Graham

Escrito em outubro de 2006 por Paul Graham, esse Startup Mistakes by Paul Graham é um clássico que precisa ser lido e relido por quem vai empreender.

In the Q & A period after a recent talk, someone asked what made startups fail. After standing there gaping for a few seconds I realized this was kind of a trick question. It’s equivalent to asking how to make a startup succeed—if you avoid every cause of failure, you succeed—and that’s too big a question to answer on the fly. Continue lendo “Startup mistakes”

1,000 True Fans

Kevin Kelly

The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

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It’s Not About You: The Truth About Social Media Marketing

Tim-O'Reilly

I recently attended an event with a large number of advertising executives.  All of them are coming to grips with the change from the era of push media to the era of social media, which might more properly be called “pull media.” At its core, the social revolution allows people to consume what they want, when they want, and largely on the recommendation of friends and other non-professional influencers.  Attempt to graft old models onto it and you are doomed to struggle; find models that are native to the medium and you will thrive.

At O’Reilly, we first learned this lesson in 1992, when we published The Whole Internet User’s Guide and Catalog, the first popular book about the Internet, and the first to cover the as-yet undiscovered World Wide Web. (When we published the book, there were only about 200 websites, and the first web conference which we convened, “the World Wide Web Wizards Workshop” had thirty attendees, albeit among them such later luminaries as Tim Berners-Lee and Marc Andreesen.)  We had the great good fortune to hire Brian Erwin, formerly the head of activism for the Sierra Club, to help us with our PR and marketing.

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Calm over the horizon

Many years ago, I worked for my parents who own a video production company. Because it is a family business, you inevitably end up wearing many hats and being the czar of many different jobs. I mainly managed projects and worked as a video editor. On production, there were times that I was called on to work as an audio tech and was made to wear headphones on long production days. In those days, having a really good set of headphones that picked up every nuance of sound was essential to making sure the client got what they needed.

First impressions.

Naturally, my first impression of these headphones is based off of the look of them. They have a classic over-the-ear style that is highlighted by a blue LED light that indicates the power for the noise canceling. The padding on the ear pieces seems adequate for extended usage periods.

They are wired headphones, but the 3.5mm stereo mini-plug cable is detachable. Something else I noticed right of the bat was the very nice carrying case that comes with them. It has a hard plastic exterior with a soft cloth interior that helps to protect the surface of the headphones from scratches. I never truly appreciated cases for headphones until I started carrying them from place-to-place. Now I can’t imagine not having a case.

A perfect fit.

Once I gave the headphones a thorough once-over exam, I tried them on. As I mentioned, they have a classic over-the-ear style and just looking at them, the padding on the ear pieces seem adequate and the peak of the headband seemed to be a bit lacking, but you don’t really know comfort unless you try on the product. So, I slipped the headphones on and found them to be exquisitely comfortable.

Quality.

Now that I had the headphones on my head, I was finally ready to plug and play some music. I plugged the provided cable into the jack on the headphones and then the one on my iPhone 6. Then I called up Pandora. I tend to have a very eclectic music purview and have many stations set up for different moods. From John Williams to Fallout Boy, the sound quality of these headphones was remarkable. There is an amazing depth of sound and incredible highs and lows that make listening to music a truly breathtaking experience.

It’s safe to say that because of my unique professional experiences, I’ve tested out a lot of headphones.

In order to test how voices sounded, and the overall art of sound mixing, I pulled up Netflix on my iPad Air 2 and watched a few minutes of a movie to hear all the nuances of the film. None of them were lost. In fact, I ended up hearing sounds that I hadn’t heard before. Echoes…birds chirping…wind blowing through trees…breathing of the characters…it was very impressive what the headphones ended up bringing out for me.

I would highly recommend these to any sound mixing specialist.