“Next: The Future Just Happened” by Michael Lewis

Book Notes

Book Log: “Next” by Michael Lewis #

I started reading “Next: The Future Just Happened” by Michael Lewis. I’m listening to the audiobook version—tonight primarily while shooting around. (I need to dig up the Brian Koppelman and JJ Redick conversation where they talk about the calm that shooting a basketball can bring. I can shoot around and listen to audiobooks and podcasts for hours without getting bored.)

Next really captures the late 90s/early 2000s and how people just really didn’t know what to think about the internet. People were discovering it was a place where you could be come an expert, anonymously. And it seemed like kids were figuring this out a lot earlier than their parents were.

  • Becoming a stock expert — The first part talks about a high school stock expert and laws that were broken (or not, depending on who you ask). He would basically invest in some stock then make a bunch of Yahoo accounts and post in finance message boards that he recommends people buy that stock. It’d go up. He’d make money.

Around that time, I remember a couple friends whose parents would day trade. They’d lose or gain thousands of dollars in a day and it just seemed like impossible amounts of money. I was definitely one of those kids addicted to the internet but never had an interest in stocks. It seemed so mysterious. (And still does, in many ways. Though reading Michael Lewis books makes me think that it’s a mystery to plenty of experts also.)

This part cracked me up, where Jonathan (the 15-year-old trader) talks about the writing style of his posts in the message boards. From Next: The Future Just Happened:

At any rate, through much trial and error, Jonathan learned that some messages had more effect on the stock market than others. “I definitely refined it,” he said of his Internet persona. “In the beginning I would write, like, very professionally. But then I started putting stuff in caps and using exclamation points and making it sound more exciting. That worked better. When it’s more exciting it draws people’s attention to it, compared to when you write, like, dull or something.”

  • Becoming a law expert (without becoming a lawyer) — The second part has a similar thread of someone really young becoming an expert without other people knowing just how young he is. Instead of playing the market, he focuses on the performance of his profile on askme.com. He answers dozens of law questions a day. I don’t remember askme.com but it sounds like someone answering a bunch of law questions on Quora today. Except without a real profile or a real name. But he does get the answers right. Which, in some cases, is all that matters. (In life, there are many cases where having the right answer doesn’t matter at all.)

Excited to continue reading the book. Also, I finished Moneyball a few days ago. I was thinking of writing some kind of mega post. Which almost guarantees you’ll never see any kind of mega post from me.

One thing from that book, though, is the idea of figuring out the right metric and optimizing for it. In baseball, when it comes to value, the As found a market inefficiency with on base percentage.

So what’s the metric for writing a blog? My hunch: consistency. So I’ll keep working on that.