A single source of truth

A new phrase, something that other people use all the time, but I keep thinking about it. Plus: "Now, with comments!" Also: 7 other things worth a click.

I wrote a book about West Point. I had a title idea before I wrote a single word.

It came from President George W. Bush’s address to the graduates on June 1, 2002:

“In your last year, America was attacked by a ruthless and resourceful enemy. You graduate from this Academy in a time of war.”

Boom. It hit me: “In a Time of War.”

I don’t have another book planned imminently, but I heard another phrase recently that has similarly stuck with me.

A friend and ex-colleague mentioned it at lunch last week. He has a deep background in both entrepreneurship and finance, and I wanted his take on an idea I’m working on.

More on that later. Well, maybe.

Anyway, here’s his phrase: “a single source of truth.”

If you’re into finance or have a background in information systems, you’ll likely be very familiar with this phrase. But it was new to me.

In short, and I hope I summarize correctly, it boils down to the notion that if you’re building a model or tracking information across a team, you want to be able to agree on where the data comes from.

I think I liked this because it’s basically the opposite of where we are in America now. We’re in danger of having no single source of truth.

As a country, we don’t watch or read the same media. We don’t trust the same people.

I’d like to hope we could at least agree on something basic and original — say, the U.S. Constitution. But even that core document is the source of more disagreement and division than anything else these days.

Spend an hour on Twitter and you’ll see what I mean. (Although, maybe save yourself.)

I don’t have a neat little bow to wrap up with this morning. I feel like I’m at the beginning of my thought process on where to go with this one.

The best I can say is that I’ve learned that people love choices, but they hate decisions.

And choosing what to believe is the most vital, recurring decision anyone can make.

Now, with comments!

I was excited for Friday’s comment thread on “best advice to your younger self.” But then we had a technical glitch that stopped anyone who wasn’t a paid subscriber from commenting.

This was a problem for a few reasons, including the fact that I haven’t added paid subscriptions. (Should I?)

Anyway, we fixed the glitch and worked things out. I knew that you’d all have some great advice, and you came through. (If you haven’t commented, you still can.)

But then, I got some great news. The reason for the technical issue was that the folks at Substack (the platform on which I run Understandably) had a temporary problem while they were rolling out something new: the ability to turn on commenting on all posts.

Even this one.

We’ll play this by ear, of course. I’m a bit wary; I don’t want Understandably to take on the worst aspects of LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter.

But for now, let’s give it a shot. Comments are officially turned on. If you subscribe to Understandably, you can comment.

Please message me if you have any issues: billmurphyjr@understandably.com.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’ won the Academy Award for best picture, making it the first foreign-language film to win the prize. (CNN)

  2. Within weeks, some parts of Africa could be the victim of “the most devastating plague of locusts” in decades. (NBC News)

  3. White nationalists marched through Washington, DC, wearing masks to hide their identities. (The Root)

  4. Tom and Jerry are turning 80. (BBC)

  5. Jeff Bezos posted a pretty bizarre story on Instagram, and it turns out it’s from a feud with the White House. (Me, on Inc.com)

  6. Nearly 20 years to the day after JetBlue’s first flight, its founder and former CEO is launching a new airline: Breeze. (CNBC)

  7. I got sucked in more than I’d like to admit to this story about flying across the country and back in coach on Alaska in one day, basically just to get a cheeseburger. (Business Insider)

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