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The “Signals” Editorial Challenge



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In case you haven’t yet heard, thanks to you — our brilliant readers — our next book, “Signals” is fully funded, and the team has already started working on the content.

We promised to keep you up-to-date with the status of the book, giving you a glimpse of how we are tackling the project and the chance to tune into our creation process. Our editorial team recently went head-to-head in a challenge to evaluate potential ‘signals’ for the book, which we will outline shortly; but before we do, here’s a quick reminder of what the book is all about.

Back in 2018, we published our first book, “Visualizing Change”, which is a collection of powerful visuals that show how the world is changing. It dives into tech, markets, the global economy, and other pressing topics — and it went on to be a bestseller in its category on Amazon, with an average review score of 4.5 stars.

Visualizing Change

We had a lot of fun creating “Visualizing Change”, and we hope to channel all of our experience and insight on what worked well (and not so well) into our newest book endeavor, “Signals”.

The origin story of the new book is simple: the world is being bombarded with more and more information, but today’s key decision makers and investors don’t want more information — they want more understanding.

That’s where “Signals” comes in. It’ll be a visual hardcover book with one aim: to use our data-driven approach to show simple and clear takeaways on the trends that will define the next decade of the global economy.

So what was the purpose of the editorial challenge?

There’s no doubt that working remotely during the COVID-19 crisis has had its challenges. Yet, it has given the VC team a chance to think about our exciting project in the pipeline, and to focus on the key themes, or ‘signals’, that we may want to include in the book.

On a sunny Friday working from home, our talented editorial team spent the day feasibility testing a bunch of potential signals for the book, working in teams of two. After a brief presentation from our Founder, Jeff Desjardins on how each ‘signal’ will be broken down, the teams spent the afternoon researching their topics, presenting their ideas to the wider team at the end of the day.

Here’s a look at some of the ‘signals’ that were addressed by the team, and the conclusions that were made:

Signal 1: “ESG: The New Normal

Industry heavyweights see ESG investing as the future, and are changing their strategies accordingly, while government and industry regulations are propelling the shift. Could ESG become the new status quo, integrated into almost all investment practices automatically?

The data and forecast in the above chart from FT confirms that the growth of sustainable investing will accelerate further in the coming years, likely setting the stage to be fully integrated into asset management.

Although this topic is a popular one right now in investment circles, the book would provide us with an opportunity to dig deep in discovering the implications of this potential signal. It gets the green light from Jenna and Katie to evaluate further.

Signal 2: “CRISPR and Human Enhancement”

The speed of genetic sequencing is growing exponentially, and it has led to genetic editing through CRISPR. Although an abundance of information exists on how such technologies work, there seems to be a knowledge gap in terms of understanding the potential implications, not just on humans, but entire industries.

What was staff writer, Iman’s main takeaway from researching this topic?

“Although CRISPR has become synonymous with technology, it is just one piece of the bigger puzzle in gene/genome editing technology. CRISPR and gene editing are not only about human enhancement, but the opportunity to solve global challenges at scale (including human health, food security, biopharma and biofuels).”

For that reason, this ‘signal’ is on amber; there is a huge opportunity for us to cut through the noise on this topic, but we need to re-frame it to show the bigger picture, highlighting CRISPR’s potential implications on a larger scale.

Signal 3: “Tech Laggards”

Innovative tech has disrupted our lives and created an abundance of opportunity, wealth, and benefits to human life as a result.

On researching “Tech Laggards”, team member Salina commented, “The potential for tech to disrupt government, healthcare, and education is huge. But, it’s difficult to measure this impact in a concise, yet meaningful and accurate way. These institutions are highly complex and sprawling — there’s a reason they have struggled to keep up with the pace of modern technology.”

Given that it is still too early to pull any real data-driven insights in this area, it would be difficult to re-frame this signal, so we are expecting to not include the “Tech Laggards” signal in the book.

Which team won?

We asked everyone involved in the challenge to vote for the most persuasive team.

Based on their initial work evaluating “ESG” and “Faux Meat” topics for the book, the winners of our first Editorial Challenge were staff writers, Jenna and Katie — congrats you two! Shout out to runners-up Iman and Salina for their detailed research into “Tech Laggards” and “CRISPR and Human Enhancement”.

What are the next steps for the book?

The challenge gave the editorial team a chance to flex their creative muscles and dive into the data, while providing valuable insight into some of the trends that will define the next decade of the global economy.

The remote event will be a regular occurrence in the VC diary until we have all 30 signals locked down — watch this space.

Can I pre-order it?

You can still support “Signals” by pre-ordering the book on the Visual Capitalist Store, where any orders will go towards giving us the resources to make the book.

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