Why is this interesting? - The Monday Media Diet with Jessica Graves

On fashion, AI, and why everyone should go to Okinawa

Next up in our ongoing interview series with people we find interesting: a friend of WITI Jessica Graves (JG). She is a fashion technology advisor and movement artist, with expertise in developing algorithmic products. Her luxury background includes fashion design at Oscar de la Renta, data science at Ralph Lauren, and former Alvanon consulting clients like Burberry, G-Star, Fast Retail among others. Her research background spans University of Chicago & Fast Forward Labs. -Colin (CJN) 

Describe your media diet. 

I read a few fashion & retail-specific publications. A long list of papers from Arxiv via machine learning conferences, if that counts. High Snob emails I click on now and then. And the rest just feels very nonspecific, story by story, major news sites I might be subscribed to and never logged in, or blocked from because of GDPR. Print publications feel like a new discovery every time, really like the selection in London bookshops. 

What’s the last great book you read?

The Book of Why would help a lot of people understand day to day conflicts in how to interpret evidence. Self-care Instagram could use the help. People feel paralyzed about how to interpret seemingly conflicting evidence from the wellness industry.

What are you reading now?

The New Economics by Deming. People often misquote this read to justify a cult of KPIs, but he says quite the opposite: "It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth." I would love to see more of the data community grapple with the genuine inability to measure what matters at times.

Where’s your first stop when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?

To buy it? Artwords in London

To read it? A big chair. Or a big table. Or anywhere with lots of people milling around, if I have headphones for white noise just in case 

Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?

Richard Hamming, on how to do good science. Steven Johnson, on long term decision making. Bob Litwin, on designing your life. 

What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone? 

Workflowy was made for me. Endless nesting lists, thoughts, actions. It's where I keep transient thoughts that would otherwise dissolve forever, whether it’s a song lyric for the song lyrics list, a list of things I forgot last time I packed, or thoughts after seeing a dance piece. The key differentiator for me is being able to change the hierarchy of the items on the fly, especially if I want to consolidate thoughts after a machine learning talk or something else that opens a lot of mental follow-up threads. 

What is one place everyone should visit? 

Okinawa, Japan. Ichariba choodee roughly translates to ‘if we meet once, we become family’ and it’s that warmth I remember the most, after a traditional Ryukyu meal from Maeda, a restaurant owner. 

Plane or train?

Train first, always.

Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.

I want to understand how different cultures, traditions & experts view transformation, so nothing is off-limits. I ended up with a lot of old & recently translated Buddhist texts. Niguma from 1000 years ago has something to say about information overload: “This life is short; things to know are many. Moreover, one's lifespan is uncertain, so like a goose drinking milk, take what you need.” Next thing you know I'm ordering rare scholarly volumes to the British Library. I'm not sure that hole has an exit.

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Jessica (JG)


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