Marco's Blog

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Ellen Pao or the End of Internet Capitalism

2015-07-10 11 min read Essays marco
Have you been following the Internet, lately? Its self-declared home page,, has been splattered all over the news after the interim CEO, Ellen Pao, caused a major uproar and finally had to resign. If you’ve never been there, the idea of reddit is neither new nor innovative. Its users are grouped into named categories, called subreddits. They can post entries to the subreddits, and other users can vote them up or down. Continue reading

Humans: a Sexual History and the New Moon Theory

2015-01-14 10 min read Essays marco
There is an interesting principle in biology, named Haeckel’s Recapitulation Theory: ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. In simple terms, that means that you can read the whole evolutionary tree leading to a species just by looking at successive development stages of the fetus. We start looking like single-cell individuals, “evolve” into bunches of cells, eventually “turn” into fish, then lizards, then monkeys, etc. It’s not as simple as that, and the principle/theory has been refuted/rejected. Continue reading

I HEART Janet Reid, but She's Dangerous

2014-04-02 6 min read Essays marco
I’ve been following the blog of one Janet Reid, literary agent. Well, she really has two blogs that I know of: the one I mentioned, and a second and much juicier one. It’s called Query Shark, and it’s a collection of queries and her comments. Queries, in case you didn’t know, are the letters (emails) that authors send to agents. In them, the former request representation by the latter, by presenting a project. Continue reading

Privacy or Transparency? The Battle for the Soul of the 21st Century

2013-10-16 7 min read Essays marco
When you drive at night through the countryside in the Netherlands, you notice something odd: people are sitting at the dinner table, watching TV, or getting ready to go to bed in their homes, and you can clearly see them from the street. There are no curtains, no shades, no privacy. Coming from a society that values the ability not to be bothered, the idea that everyone gets to see everything you do seems threatening. Continue reading

How Did the Mortgage Crisis Happen?

2013-09-10 12 min read Essays marco
1. Introduction There is a branch of Physics called Catastrophe Theory. It deals with the way something that changes smoothly for a long time may get a sudden change, a catastrophe. The classical example is a pile of sand onto which you drop grain after grain: after a (long) while, the pile can’t sustain all the added sand and there will be an avalanche. How is it possible that something innocuous like adding a grain of sand will end up in an avalanche? Continue reading

Good-Bye, Steve Ballmer

2013-08-26 11 min read Essays marco
By sheer coincidence, the two most influential computer people of the last decade are both Steves. One, Steve Jobs, is widely hailed as a genius. He started Apple, got fired, and came back to the rescue, making the company he inherited at the brink of collapse the most valuable company of all times. The other, Steve Ballmer, took the most valuable company of all times and from a position of absolute dominance ran it to a state of also-ran. Continue reading

The Infamous 2%

2013-08-03 5 min read Essays marco
That is bound to be the most misleading title in the humble history of this blog. The 2% I am referring to are not related to the much more famous 1% of Occupy fame. They represent the standard allotment of shares given to the technical leader of an Internet startup. In case you didn’t know, there is such a thing as a standard setup for a venture-backed software startup. Basically, the founders share according to contribution in roughly equivalent parts. Continue reading

The Law of Wishing Well

2013-01-12 4 min read Essays marco
Once upon a time, there were wells. Those were long, straight holes dug into the ground, usually with a retaining wall and a pulley. You dug until you hit fresh water and used that for drinking, bathing, watering the plants, etc. Some people thought that wells could be magic (they certainly could be tragic, e.g. if you fell into one and drowned). So they’d throw something (usually a coin) and make a wish. Continue reading

The Meta Romuli and the Mystery of St. Peter's Crucifixion

2012-09-25 10 min read Essays marco
As some of you know, I started writing the successor to In the Mission, my first published novel. This time around, part of the action will take place in my home town, Rome (Eternal, not New York). Research has been going strong, with the week I spent in Italy dedicated for the most part to research the setting and the details of the plot. One of the things that stands out about Rome and its institution is the obsession with twins. Continue reading

The Euro Debt Crisis - Explained

2011-11-10 12 min read Essays marco
It’s one of those moments in my life when people around me ask the same question over and over again. This time, it’s, “What’s wrong with the euro?” Since there are only so many hours I can spend explaining my version of the story, here is an article about it, and I hope this will answer some questions. What Was Before the Euro? I grew up in Europe, a child of a mixed marriage between an Italian and a German. Continue reading
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