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Sundar Pichai Should Resign as Google’s C.E.O. - The New York Times
David Brooks AUG. 11, 2017
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Google  censorship  culture  David_Brooks  CEOs  firings  Sundar_Pichai 
august 2017
The ever-shifting policies are always grand in this kaleidoscopic new world
June 2017 | Financial Times | by Bachu Biswas

Sir, Gillian Tett (June 17) coined the acronym FUCU, observing that the letters F, U, C and U point to four important cultural shifts among voters in the western world (“fragmentation”, “untrusting”, “customising” and “unstable”). I would argue that her acronym is missing another important letter, and that letter is K, which should be added after the letter C.

The letter K stands for “kaleidoscopic”. The Oxford dictionary describes the kaleidoscope as “a toy consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of coloured glass or paper, whose reflections produce changing patterns when the tube is rotated”. The patterns in today’s politics in the make-believe worlds of Make America Great Again and Brexit are policies that are either big on the nostalgic promises of past glory or economic solutions whose time has passed; but which, when confronted with reality, are often changed instantly, modified or claimed to have been fulfilled by “alternative facts”. The facts reflected in the mirrors of alternative facts create illusions that allow voters to believe whatever they want to believe. And if that belief is not adulatory enough, the political leaders rotate the tube again to create different illusions hoping that the new images will be more favourable.

Promises are short-lived in this world of “FUC(Kaleidoscopic)U” politics, but policies are always grand.

Bachu Biswas
Gillian_Tett  kaleidoscopic  letters_to_the_editor  short-lived  policies  Brexit  politicians  illusions 
august 2017
Why the electoral surprises keep on rolling in
June 16, 2017 | Financial Times | Gillian Tett.

...."I offer up the acronym “FUCU” — not simply because this summarises what many voters think about their leaders (with apologies to anyone who is offended), but because the letters F, U, C and U point to four important trends."

The first letter, “F”, stands for “Fragmentation”. Modern voters are deeply fragmented and polarised in a social, economic and political sense....But what is fascinating about the 21st century is that while our digital technologies create the illusion that humans are hyper-connected, in fact they divide us in subtle ways....Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms enable us to connect — but only with people we actively select.... Furthermore, since these cyber platforms supply news and information, they tend to fuel tunnel vision and polarisation, as extensive research from data scientists shows.

“U”, the acronym’s second letter, stands for “Untrusting”. ...popular trust in mainstream western institutions has crumbled. But what is more interesting is to look at who people do still actively trust.

‘While our digital platforms create the illusion that humans are hyper-connected, in fact they divide us in subtle ways’....A survey conducted by the public relations firm Edelman, for example, shows that public trust in tech companies has stayed sky-high in recent years. And while trust in leaders and “experts” has fallen, it remains high for our peer groups, suggesting that trust is moving from a vertical axis to a horizontal one. So while only 37 per cent of people trust chief executive officers, 53 per cent trust employees; and while only 29 per cent trust government officials, 60 per cent trust “a person like me”.....The third letter in the acronym stands for “Customisation”. This trend is not widely discussed, but it is crucial. As digital technologies have taken hold in recent years, consumers have started to see it as a God-given right that they should be able to organise the world around their personal needs and views, instead of quietly accepting pre-packaged offerings..... these three trends produce an environment that creates an environment that is the last part of the acronym: “Unstable”. A world with a FUCU culture is a place of political cyber flash mobs, in which passion suddenly explodes around a single issue or person, then dies away. It is a place where it is hard to have a sustained conversation about political trade-offs, and where voters and politicians jump across traditional boundaries with dizzying speed, defying labels as they go.
Gillian_Tett  elections  surprises  fragmentation  customization  instability  unpredictability  trustworthiness 
august 2017
Amazon forecasts quarterly loss as spending spree shows no signs of abating
JULY 28, 2017 | Financial Times | Leslie Hook.

The Seattle-based tech company is now expanding on all fronts: buying the Whole Foods grocery chain, offering new delivery services around the world and racing to open enough data centres to keep up with demand for its cloud computing business.....

Capital expenditure grew twice as quickly as revenue during the period, spending on servers for cloud computing rose 70 per cent and employee headcount jumped 42 per cent.

The figures suggest Amazon is moving towards a more capital-intensive business model with permanently higher headcount and a much bigger physical footprint. This represents a shift from the more streamlined online sales model that relies on big, efficient warehouses to keep costs as low as possible....Amazon’s hiring jump in the second quarter points to a different but equally important shift: Mr Olsavsky said adding sales staff for the company’s advertising and cloud computing divisions were the key reasons behind the rise in headcount, which increased from 351,000 at the beginning of the quarter to 382,400 at the end.

Amazon has been opening a growing number of bricks-and-mortar stores, including a convenience store and two grocery pick-up points, and its purchase of Whole Foods will add hundreds of US stores virtually overnight.....One of the fastest areas of growth was in third-party logistics, as it provides handling services for an increasing array of merchants who sell goods through Amazon. Revenue from these third-party logistics services rose 38 per cent during the quarter to hit $7bn, representing more than a sixth of Amazon’s sales....The growth in that division, as well as intense competition from rivals Microsoft and Google, has pushed Amazon to spend more than $8bn on servers over the past 12 months.

These two divisions — logistics and Amazon Web Services — are two of the fastest-growing in the company but both will require heavy investment to keep on trend.
Amazon  logistics  capital-intensity  Whole_Foods  hiring  capex  AWS  delivery_services 
august 2017
Lex. London and Europe:hard-wired advantages
July 7, 2017 | Financial Times | Lex.

This hints at a wider strength. Laying cables across the sea was a high-risk venture in the 1850s. The risk was deemed worth taking because London was the financial centre of a trading empire. The city’s present-day concentration of expertise in areas like forex, trade finance, risk management, insurance and law is also a function of this mercantile history. Other European financial centres tend to have more specific strengths, such as asset management in Dublin and Luxembourg, or banking in Frankfurt.

More fibre could be installed across Europe, but that alone will not alter much. Europe’s politicians and regulators will find it harder to replicate London’s other strengths, however much they may wish to capitalise on the UK’s departure from the EU or secure regulatory oversight of euro-related clearing.

Their best hope of doing so is ham-fisted policymaking in the UK. There are precedents aplenty. President John Kennedy gifted London the Eurobond market in the 1960s. The Parti Québécois helped Toronto supplant Montreal as Canada’s financial capital in the 1980s. It is much easier to drive business away than it is to attract it — something the UK government, pondering its “red lines” over things like immigration and the remit of the ECJ, should bear in mind.
transatlantic  London  ECB  regulators  policymaking  competitive_advantage  epicenters  Brexit  poaching  red_lines 
august 2017
Amazon and Whole Foods: What’s Next? - WSJ
By Laura Stevens
Updated Aug. 10,

The deal poses risks for Amazon.

Change Whole Foods too little, and the company continues to struggle with inefficiencies. Too much change, and it bleeds loyal customers and staff, potentially prolonging a same-store sales decline.

A look back at Amazon’s track record shows it is largely hands-off with its acquisitions, except in some cases where it has bought a company for scale or to remove a rival.
Amazon  Whole_Foods  post-deal_integration 
august 2017
Lego Turns to Digitally-Savvy Dane as Its New CEO - WSJ
By Saabira Chaudhuri
Updated Aug. 10, 2017

Lego named named Niels B. Christiansen, the 51-year-old former boss of Danish industrial group Danfoss A/S, as its new CEO. He replaces Bali Padda, a 61-year-old Brit who in December became Lego’s first non-Danish chief since its foundation in 1932.....The appointment comes as Lego, which employs 18,500 people, grapples with slowing sales growth and competition from smartphone apps and videogames. It is locked in battle with Mattel Inc. to be the world’s largest toy company by sales. For now, Mattel is slightly bigger, with $5.46 billion in revenue last year. Lego sales rose 6% last year to $5.38 billion, following a decade of double-digit growth, after a big marketing push in the U.S. failed to lift stalled sales there......Like rival Mattel, Lego is intensely focused on modernizing its toys for a digital era in which children spend more time on tablet computers and smartphones. The company launched an app in February that functions as a mini-social network, allowing children to share what they build online. It has also created Lego Boost, which combines computer coding with brick play, and is focusing on ways to use smartphones to bridge physical and digital play.

The executive reshuffle comes as arch rival Mattel has also sharpened its focus on technology. Earlier this year it named Margaret Georgiadis, a former president of Americas at Alphabet Inc.’s Google as its new CEO......Mr. Christiansen as having “transformed a traditional industrial company into a technology leader” while at Danfoss. He said the new CEO would look for digital opportunities in everything from sourcing and manufacturing to engaging with consumers and retailers, who are increasingly moving online.
Lego  brands  digital_strategies  Denmark  CEOs  appointments  toys  Mattel  play  product_launches 
august 2017
Netflix Canada hikes prices as streaming competition heats up - The Globe and Mail
DAVID FRIEND
TORONTO — The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017

The popular video streaming service is hiking prices for new members effective immediately. It will do the same for existing users after notifying them by e-mail in the coming weeks.

Netflix’s standard plan will now cost a dollar more – or $10.99 a month – to watch content on two screens at a time.

The basic plan, which does not offer high definition video and only permits one streaming screen at a time, also goes up a dollar to $8.99 a month.

Premium plan subscribers will pay $2 more for up to four simultaneous streams and ultra high-definition 4K content. It will now cost $13.99 monthly.

It’s the first price increase in nearly two years that affects subscribers in Canada.
price_hikes  Netflix  streaming  subscriptions 
august 2017
I see history as my root and my illumination
5 August /6 August 2017 | Financial Times | by Kwame Nkrumah Cain.

Sir, I am a bit perplexed at how Henry Mance can assert that history is “rarely instructive” (“ ‘Dunkirk’ shows that the past is not an open book”, July 29). At Stanford University, I was particularly attracted to history because Dionysius of Halicarnassus praised it as “philosophy learnt by example” [ Greek historian and teacher of rhetoric, who flourished during the reign of Caesar Augustus.]. Even to this day, such study helps me heed the counsel of the dead and marshal the strength of my own mind.

I see history as a laboratory rich in a hundred thousand experiments in economics, religion, literature, science and government. I see history as my root and my illumination, as the road from whence I came and the only light that can clarify the present and guide me into the future.

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stated: “He who cannot draw on 3,000 years is living from hand to mouth.” (i.e. my take is that being able to draw on 3,000 yrs. of living is the definition of wisdom).
========================================

Comment:
Gene 4 days ago
History is the great uncontrolled experiment on human behavior. Lessons should be drawn from it with caution (as history shows).
letters_to_the_editor  history  quotes  tools  hand-to-mouth  Greek  lessons_learned  skepticism  experimentation  wisdom  human_behavior  the_counsel_of_the_dead  foresight  Kwame_Nkrumah 
august 2017
TV chief looks beyond cable for the voyage of Discovery
5 August/6 August 2017 | Financial Times | by Shannon Bond.

"Swallowing Scripps marks a return to focus to the U.S. Zaslav is looking to the company for more content to bulk up his offerings, on traditional pay-TV and new digital outlets such as Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Snapchat. "Content has always been our north star", he said this week.
Discovery  mergers_&_acquisitions  Scripps  CATV  CEOs  John_Malone  North_Star  content  consolidation 
august 2017
[Report] | Legalize It All, by Dan Baum | Harper's Magazine
REPORT — From the April 2016 issue
Legalize It All
How to win the war on drugs
By Dan Baum
Richard_Nixon  White_House  '70s 
august 2017
Impossible Burger’s ‘Secret Sauce’ Highlights Challenges of Food Tech
AUG. 8, 2017 | The New York Times | By STEPHANIE STROM.

food is not an app. It is far more heavily regulated by governments and much more heavily freighted with cultural and emotional baggage.

“This rush to market is the Silicon Valley mind-set,” said Michael Hansen, a food safety expert who is the senior staff scientist at Consumers Union, an advocacy group. “They think because they’re doing something disruptive, the regulations that apply to other companies don’t apply to them.”

For now, few food start-ups are selling products to consumers. Only Beyond Meat, which uses a traditional pea protein to make its Beyond Burger; Hampton Creek, which makes plant-based sandwich spreads and salad dressings; and Impossible Foods have any notable presence in the market.
food_safety  vegetarian  FDA  Beyond_Meat  Impossible_Foods  plant-based  Hampton_Creek  special_sauce 
august 2017
The Memo: Five Rules for Your Economic Liberation: John Hope Bryant: 9781523084562: Amazon.com: Books
True power in this world comes from economic independence, but too many people have too much month left at the end of their money. John Hope Bryant, founder and CEO of Operation HOPE, illuminates the path toward liberation that is hiding in plain sight. His message is simple: the supermajority of people who live in poverty, whom Bryant calls the invisible class, as well as millions in the struggling middle class, haven't gotten “the memo”—until now.

Building on his personal experience of rising up from economically disadvantaged circumstances and his work with Operation HOPE, Bryant teaches readers five rules that lay the foundation for achieving financial freedom. He emphasizes the inseparable connection between “inner capital” (mindset, relationships, knowledge, and spirit) and “outer capital” (financial wealth and property). “If you have inner capital,” Bryant writes, “you can never be truly poor. If you lack inner capital, all the money in the world cannot set you free.”

Bryant gives readers tools for empowerment by covering everything from achieving basic financial literacy to investing in positive relationships and approaching wealth with a completely new attitude. He makes this bold and controversial claim: “Once you have satisfied your basic sustenance needs—food, water, health, and a roof over your head—poverty has more to do with your head than your wallet.”

Bryant wants to restore readers' “silver rights,” giving them the ability to succeed and prosper no matter what very real roadblocks society puts in their way. We have more power than we realize, if only we can recognize and claim it. “We are our first capital,” Bryant writes. “We are the CEOs of our own lives.
African-Americans  books  economically_disadvantaged  economic_empowerment  individual_agency  individual_autonomy  It's_up_to_me  James_Baldwin  knowledge  mindsets  personal_economy  poverty  relationships 
august 2017
The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice - WSJ
By Eric Bellman | Photographs by Karan Deep Singh/The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 7, 2017

Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers—“the next billion,” the tech industry calls them—is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy.

Incumbent tech companies are finding they must rethink their products for these newcomers and face local competitors that have been quicker to figure them out. “We are seeing a new kind of internet user,” said Ceasar Sengupta, who heads a group at Alphabet Inc.’s Google trying to adapt to the new wave. “The new users are very different from the first billion.”
Google  India  video  voice_interfaces  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  visual_culture  imagery 
august 2017
How to Navigate Art Galleries in Any City - The New York Times
By SHIVANI VORA AUG. 1, 2017
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art  galleries  travel  howto  museums 
august 2017
The Design Revolution in Consumer Tech - WSJ
By Steve Vassallo
Aug. 6, 2017

Walt Mossberg...began his first column for the Journal, in 1991, with the now-famous line, “Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn’t your fault.” In his final column, Mr. Mossberg bookends the quarter-century of products, personalities and progress he’s chronicled with this assessment of where we are now: “Personal technology is usually pretty easy to use, and, if it’s not, it’s not your fault.” In a generation, consumer tech went from unreliable and confusing to so intuitive that children are creating immersive three-dimensional worlds on devices with barely any instruction. Mr. Mossberg doesn’t put a name to this remarkable shift, but as someone who witnessed it firsthand, I will: design. By design, I don’t mean a spiffy logo or a pretty website. Design now also refers to a methodology and a mind-set that place the experience of the end user above all. This form of design isn’t concerned chiefly with how good something looks, but, rather, how well it works for ordinary consumers. In the [early] ’90s....“engineers weren’t designing products for normal people.” ......Engineers tend to focus on sheer technical limits: what can be done. But designers are preoccupied with what should be done. In other words, whether they’re building things that solve actual problems or fulfill real wants....Over the past two decades, advances in computing power have met typical users’ speed and reliability needs, and the means to launch products have grown better and more affordable. As a result, design is now the differentiator—and the driving force behind billion-dollar companies....Apple's products (e.g. iPod, iPhone), weren’t technical breakthroughs.....They were design breakthroughs—instances of creative need-finding and human-attuned problem solving. And they raised consumer expectations for technology, ushering in a new era of innovation....Google has invested heavily to reinvent itself as a design-centric business. Incumbents like Samsung , General Electric and IBM have spent hundreds of millions to build in-house design studios with thousands of designers. ...Slack and Airbnb—like Pinterest, Instagram and Kickstarter—are recent successes founded by designers, people who are devoted to the practice of building impeccably considerate technology. Design is the key to building the next great wave of companies. To compete seriously on design, startups must make it central to their strategy from the beginning......we’re entering the age of “ambient computing,” when personal technology will become invisible and omnipresent. Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, the Internet of Things, and other nascent tech will fade into the background of our lives. Technology will no longer come in the form of gadgets. Instead, as Mr. Mossberg predicts, “it’ll be about actual experiences, with much less emphasis on the way those experiences get made.”....The 21st century will be the century of the designer founder, when core value for businesses is created by entrepreneurs who have a deeper, more intuitive sense for the human condition.
Walter_Mossberg  retirement  design  design_thinking  technology  IDEO  '90s  UX  Apple  ambient_computing  customer_expectations  uncharted_problems  pervasive_computing  the_human_condition  augmented_reality  core_values  unarticulated_desires  farewells 
august 2017
How Data Is Revolutionizing The Sports Business
March 10, 2017 | Forbes | By Robert Tuchman , CONTRIBUTOR who writes about live events, deals, and brand marketing.

A top-notch record might be chalked-up to the right players and exceptional coaching, but a team’s increased brand awareness can be credited to its effective use of newly sourced data. The Panthers have been able to grow its business in a multitude of ways since it started acquiring and using key fan data....[there is] an array of data companies who are looking to assist organizations in this area.

Many of these emerging companies access information through individual data systems, third-party vendors, and social media sites. Beyond educating teams about the buyer of their tickets, these companies are helping teams better understand the individuals entering their building. This insight is a game-changer for teams as it can help to better service existing fans and develop new ones. To better service its fans, the Panthers created unique events that catered to their interests, which they learned from their data. For example, in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Florida hosted an evening honoring the Grateful Dead. The Panthers organization secured a well-known and beloved Florida cover band, Unlimited Devotion, to play the hits of the legendary musical icons. Incentivizing “Dead Heads” to purchase tickets via the Internet, limited edition memorabilia was made available only for online ticket purchasers, with a portion of the profits going to the Grateful Dead's non-profit organization. These types of cross promotions work best when you understand the specific interests of your fans.

And the results are in. The Miami Herald reported that during the 2015-2016 season, attendance went up 33.5 % from the previous season. In addition, season ticket renewals are reportedly increasing at four or five times last year’s rate......In today’s fragmented world, it is more important than ever for teams to generate loyalty and create a personalized customer experience. As in the case of the Florida Panthers, the greater involvement a fan may have in a team’s activities, the greater the possibility they migrate from their living rooms to the venue. More fans equal more sponsors, which leads to greater revenue for teams.

Data companies can help teams better understand its fans. Innovative sports franchises are figuring out how to use this data to create stronger engagements with their actual fans.
sports  data  data_driven  Moneyball  event-driven  events  event_marketing  fans  fan_engagement  musical_performances  cross-promotion  customer_loyalty  personalization  customer_experience 
august 2017
As Black-Owned Banks Withdraw, Community Sounds Alarm - WSJ
By Sharon Nunn
Aug. 6, 2017

The number of black-owned banks operating in the U.S. has been dropping steadily for the past 15 years and fell to 23 this year, the lowest level in recent history, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That has left many African-American communities short of access to capital and traditional financial services, according to some banking experts....The 2008 recession hit the black banking sector especially hard, and if the current rate of closures of about two a year, as well as the industry-wide reluctance or inability to start banks, continues, black-owned banks could disappear entirely within the next eight to 12 years. The trend is worrisome to some analysts who argue fewer banks serving low-income, minority groups could expand “financial deserts”—communities with few or no banking institutions—and increase the likelihood that black and Hispanic communities could become susceptible to redlining, a discriminatory practice that excludes poorer minority areas from financial services....... [black-owned community banks were] the first bank some African-Americans had access to, making it a symbol of black enterprise and economic development, .......A survey of entrepreneurs by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2014 found that 47% of black business owners had gotten got the full amount of funding requested from banks, credit unions or other financial institutions, compared with 76% of whites.

That survey also showed fear of rejection was the top reason cited by black business owners who chose not to seek needed capital at all.
black-owned  banks  African-Americans  trends  decline  FDIC  financial_services  redlining  low-income  community_banks 
august 2017
How This U.S. Tech Giant Is Backing China’s Tech Ambitions - The New York Times
By DAVID BARBOZAAUG. 4, 2017
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Qualcomm  China  China_rising 
august 2017
Writing the Script for Your Next Act - The New York Times
By CLAUDIA DREIFUS AUG. 4, 2017
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passions  Second_Acts  retirement 
august 2017
Now at Saks: Salt Rooms, a Bootcamp and a Peek at Retail’s Future - The New York Times
By DAVID GELLES AUG. 4, 2017

Venerable department store was dealing with the upheavals throttling the retail industry. As stores around the country reckon with Amazon.com, discount chains and changing consumer habits, they are turning to “experiential” offerings that entice people to enter their doors..... “Selling stuff in stores is not the answer,” he said. “You have to build an emotional connection with them. Where else can you take a fitness class and buy a Chanel handbag?”

It isn’t clear how many of Saks’s discerning clientele are actually interested in getting a lemon scrub after purchasing a $5,100 Alexander McQueen dress. During multiple visits over the past week, The Wellery was sparsely populated.
retailers  Saks  shareholder_activism  future  department_stores  experiential_marketing  wellness  Nordstrom  Macy's  emotional_connections  experimentation  bootcamps  Amazon  shifting_tastes  contra-Amazon  dislocations 
august 2017
Keeping America's Edge
Winter 2010 | National Affairs | Jim Manzi.

.....One of the most painful things about markets is that they often make fools of our fathers: Sharp operators with an eye for trends often outperform those who carefully learn a trade and continue a tradition. ...First, To begin with, we must unwind some recent errors that fail to take account of these circumstances. Most obviously, government ownership of industrial assets is almost a guarantee that the painful decisions required for international competitiveness will not be made. When it comes to the auto industry, for instance, we need to take the loss and move on. As soon as possible, the government should announce a structured program to sell off the equity it holds in GM. ....Second, the financial crisis has demonstrated obvious systemic problems of poor regulation and under-regulation of some aspects of the financial sector that must be addressed — though for at least a decade prior to the crisis, over-regulation, lawsuits, and aggressive government prosecution seriously damaged the competitiveness of other parts of America's financial system ........Regulation to avoid systemic risk must therefore proceed from a clear understanding of its causes. In the recent crisis, the reason the government has been forced to prop up financial institutions isn't that they are too big to fail, but rather that they are too interconnected to fail......we should therefore adopt a modernized version of a New Deal-era ­innovation: focus on creating walls that contain busts, rather than on applying brakes that hold back the entire system.....Third, over the coming decades, we should seek to deregulate public schools. .....We should pursue the creation of a real marketplace among ever more deregulated publicly financed schools — a market in which funding follows students, and far broader discretion is permitted to those who actually teach and manage in our schools. There are real-world examples of such systems that work well today — both Sweden and the Netherlands, for instance, have implemented this kind of plan at the national level......Fourth, we should reconceptualize immigration as recruiting. Assimilating immigrants is a demonstrated core capability of America's political economy — and it is one we should take advantage of. ....think of immigration as an opportunity to improve our stock of human capital. Once we have re-established control of our southern border, and as we preserve our commitment to political asylum, we should also set up recruiting offices looking for the best possible talent everywhere: from Mexico City to Beijing to Helsinki to Calcutta. Australia and Canada have demonstrated the practicality of skills-based immigration policies for many years. We should improve upon their example by using testing and other methods to apply a basic tenet of all human capital-intensive organizations managing for the long term: Always pick talent over skill. It would be great for America as a whole to have, say, 500,000 smart, motivated people move here each year with the intention of becoming citizens.
social_cohesion  innovation  human_capital  Jim_Manzi  immigration  immigration_policies  recruiting  interconnections  too_big_to_fail  economic_downturn  outperformance  capitalization  human_potential  financial_system  regulation  under-regulation  too_interconnected_to_fail  systemic_risks  talent  skills  innovation_policies 
august 2017
We Survived Spreadsheets, and We’ll Survive AI - WSJ
By Greg Ip
Updated Aug. 2, 2017

History and economics show that when an input such as energy, communication or calculation becomes cheaper, we find many more uses for it. Some jobs become superfluous, but others more valuable, and brand new ones spring into existence. Why should AI be different?

Back in the 1860s, the British economist William Stanley Jevons noticed that when more-efficient steam engines reduced the coal needed to generate power, steam power became more widespread and coal consumption rose. More recently, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-led study found that as semiconductor manufacturers squeezed more computing power out of each unit of silicon, the demand for computing power shot up, and silicon consumption rose.

The “Jevons paradox” is true of information-based inputs, not just materials like coal and silicon......Just as spreadsheets drove costs down and demand up for calculations, machine learning—the application of AI to large data sets—will do the same for predictions, argue Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb, who teach at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “Prediction about uncertain states of the world is an input into decision making,” they wrote in a recent paper. .....Unlike spreadsheets, machine learning doesn’t yield exact answers. But it reduces the uncertainty around different risks. For example, AI makes mammograms more accurate, the authors note, so doctors can better judge when to conduct invasive biopsies. That makes the doctor’s judgment more valuable......Machine learning is statistics on steroids: It uses powerful algorithms and computers to analyze far more inputs, such as the millions of pixels in a digital picture, and not just numbers but images and sounds. It turns combinations of variables into yet more variables, until it maximizes its success on questions such as “is this a picture of a dog” or at tasks such as “persuade the viewer to click on this link.”.....Yet as AI gets cheaper, so its potential applications will grow. Just as better weather forecasting makes us more willing to go out without an umbrella, Mr. Manzi says, AI emboldens companies to test more products, strategies and hunches: “Theories become lightweight and disposable.” They need people who know how to use it, and how to act on the results.
artificial_intelligence  Greg_Ip  spreadsheets  machine_learning  predictions  paradoxes  Jim_Manzi  experimentation  testing  massive_data_sets  judgment  uncertainty  economists  algorithms  MIT  Gilder's_Law  speed  operational_tempo  Jevons_paradox  decision_making  steam_engine  William_Jevons 
august 2017
We should never stop making new friends
July 2017 | Financial Times | Nilanjana Roy
friendships  lifelong 
august 2017
The Coming Productivity Boom: Transforming the Physical Economy with Information
March 2017 | Michael Mandel and Bret Swanson.

DIGITAL INDUSTRIES VERSUS PHYSICAL INDUSTRIES

Physical Industries
Where the main output of the industry is
predominantly provided in physical form
All other industries, including agriculture;
mining; construction; manufacturing
(except computers and electronics); transportation
and warehousing; wholesale and
retail trade*; real estate; education; healthcare;
accommodations and food services;
recreation.

Digital Industries
Where the main output of the industry
can be easily provided in digital form
Computer and electronics production;
publishing; movies, music, television, and
other entertainment; telecom; Internet
search and social media; professional
and technical services (legal, accounting,
computer programming, scientific research,
management consulting, design, advertising);
finance and insurance; management of
companies and enterprises; administrative
and support services
atoms_&_bits  booming  digital_artifacts  digital_economy  e-commerce  knowledge_economy  paradoxes  physical_economy  productivity  productivity_payoffs  value_migration 
august 2017
We are still waiting for the robot revolution
2017 | Financial Times | Tim Harford.

“Our chief economic problem right now isn’t that the robots are taking our jobs, it’s that the robots are slacking off. “

Or at least — it should. Our chief economic problem right now isn’t that the robots are taking our jobs, it’s that the robots are slacking off. We suffer from slow productivity growth; the symptoms are not lay-offs but slow-growing economies and stagnant wages. In advanced economies, total factor productivity growth — a measure of how efficiently labour and capital are being used to produce goods and services — was around 2 per cent a year in the 1960s, when the ATM was introduced. Since then, it has averaged closer to 1 per cent a year; since the financial crisis it has been closer to zero. Labour productivity, too, has been low.

Plenty of jobs, but lousy productivity: imagine an economy that was the exact opposite of one where the robots took over, and it would look very much like ours. Why? Tempting as it may be to blame the banks, a recent working paper by John Fernald, Robert Hall and others argues that productivity growth stalled before the financial crisis, not afterwards: the promised benefits of the IT revolution petered out by around 2006. Perhaps the technology just isn’t good enough; perhaps we haven’t figured out how to use it. In any case, results have been disappointing.

There is always room for the view that the productivity boom is imminent. Michael Mandel and Bret Swanson, business economists, argue in their policy paper that we are starting to find digitally driven efficiencies in physical industries such as energy, construction, transport, and retail. If this happens, Silicon Valley-style innovation will ripple through the physical economy. If.
Tim_Harford  artificial_intelligence  productivity  automation  economists  efficiencies  energy  construction  transportation  retailers  robotics  physical_economy  data_driven 
august 2017
Gig economy is not watching out for the wellbeing of workers
"There is no utopian world where the gig economy provides for the worker, where everyone can magically create their own software, or where the government provides benefits to gig workers -- as if getting Congress to pass such controversial and costly reform can be done at the snap of Mr. Harford's fingers!" ...."He encourages everyone to be a "supermodel", using Linda Evangelista as a poster child for stating that she would not "wake up for less than $10,000 a day" when most of the workers he is talking about hardly have an autonomy or stability whatsoever."...."Uber's high revenues do not translate to drivers' earnings"......Without an employer providing benefits and watching out for an employee's wellbeing, both mentally and financially, gig workers are leaving their families and their futures exposed"
letters_to_the_editor  Tim_Harford  gig_economy  precarious  freelancing  self-employment  independent_contractors  employee_benefits  Uber  Pablo_Picasso  inconsistent_incomes 
august 2017
The High Cost of Raising Prices - WSJ
By Andy Kessler
July 30, 2017

The more prices rise, the more customers bolt. It’s like running up a down escalator and never getting to the top. With the stock market hitting highs just about every day, investors need to be wary of companies that raise prices to make their numbers. These stocks make for spectacular sell-offs on even the slightest earnings miss......I had a friend who worked at General Electric for decades. He told me that in strategy sessions with his management, Jack Welch would constantly berate them, saying, “Any idiot can raise prices.” Except he used a stronger word than idiot to coax them into squeezing out costs, adding features, improving services and generally delighting customers. Contrast this with Berkshire Hathaway . Vice Chairman Charlie Munger found that with See’s Candies “we could raise prices 10% a year and no one cared. Learning that changed Berkshire.” .........There’s a long list of price bumpers. Walk down any supermarket aisle. Kellogg’s prices constantly snap, crackle and mostly pop. Procter & Gamble toothpaste sizes shrink faster than my cavity count, always less for the same price. Now private-equity firms are circling P&G. Same for Nestlé . Expect rising beer and liquor prices soon....Empires are lost on rising prices. Until recently, rather than innovate in mobile or cloud computing, Microsoft kept raising the price of its Windows operating system to computer manufacturers. Tablets and phones ate their lunch. Fees rose at eBay until Amazon took its growth away. .........Increasing prices attracts others to attack your market. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos warns: “Your margin is my opportunity.”....Competition solves much of this problem. Investors love protected businesses, but eventually relentless price increases kill them all. Consumers are the kangaroo at the bar in the old cartoon: The bartender says, “Say, we don’t get a lot of kangaroos in here.” The kangaroo replies, “No, and with these prices, I can see why!” Call me a kangaroo, but I prefer to invest in companies that lower prices and offer more.
Andy_Kessler  pricing  price_hikes  drawbacks  margins  Charlie_Munger  CPG  shareholder_activism  P&G  Nestlé  Kellogg  Jack_Welch  GE  large_companies  cost-cutting  Amazon  Jeff_Bezos  staying_hungry  delighting_customers  high-cost 
july 2017
Supermarkets Face a Growing Problem: Too Much Space - WSJ
By Heather Haddon and Julie Jargon
July 31, 2017

A massive retail build-out has taken a toll on earnings, leaving the industry vulnerable to closures; ‘There’s only so much food we can buy’....Supermarket chains operating in dense areas where shoppers have more online grocery options are particularly vulnerable to future consolidation, according to Barclays Capital Inc., which said that 38 of the top 50 grocery markets in the U.S. are already too saturated by food retail per capita or are on track to be so by next year......the growth in groceries has extended across many types of retailers in recent years. Part of the expansion comes from grocers, who accelerated their store openings as a way to drive sales growth after the 2008 recession. At the same time, club chains, dollar stores, pharmacies—and even gas stations—increased their fresh food offerings to drive traffic and boost profits.....The food-retail sector has become even more saturated at a time when competition is only getting fiercer, particularly at the two ends of the shopping spectrum. Growing European deep-discounters Aldi and Lidl are vying for U.S. market share, hoping their prices will win over the budget-conscious shopper while internet companies like Amazon.com Inc. are trying to lure higher-income grocery shoppers online. Regional supermarkets and conventional ones such as Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. are the most likely to get squeezed in the process, according to analysts....... enduring changes in eating and food-shopping habits toward cheaper and more convenient options means consumers will increasingly spread their dollars among a variety of retailers.
retailers  grocery  supermarkets  oversaturation  e-commerce  barbell_effect  real_estate  store_openings  commercial_real_estate  prepared_meals  convenience_stores  pharmacies  overcapacity  Aldi  Lidl  consolidation 
july 2017
Sage Advice From the ‘Gold Standard’ of White House Chiefs of Staff
JULY 30, 2017 | The New York Times | By PETER BAKER.

When a new White House chief of staff takes over, the smart ones check in with James A. Baker III, the only man to have occupied the office two different times for two different presidents and who is widely considered to be the gold standard.

Mr. Baker has plenty of advice from running the White House during Ronald Reagan’s first term and again at the end of George Bush’s presidency, but it usually boils down to this: “You can focus on the ‘chief,’ or you can focus on the ‘of staff.’ Those who have focused on the ‘of staff’ have done pretty well.”.....Mr. Kelly’s experience is in national security. “That’s a very different matter than someone who has to navigate all the crosscurrents of dealing with domestic politics, dealing with Capitol Hill and dealing with a president who just can’t throw his phone away and stop tweeting,”......Mr. Reagan’s selection of Mr. Baker may have been most surprising. No loyalist coming in, Mr. Baker had managed the campaigns of not one but two Republicans who had run against Mr. Reagan — Mr. Ford in 1976 and Mr. Bush in 1980. But Mr. Reagan believed he needed someone like Mr. Baker, a dealmaking pragmatist who could work both sides of the aisle, manage difficult personalities and assert his dominance among the staff while channeling the president.
White_House  politics  appointments  chief_of_staff  James_A._Baker_III 
july 2017
The vanishing middle class : prejudice and power in a dual economy : Temin, Peter, author. : Book, Regular Print Book : Toronto Public Library
Fairview Book In Transit In Transit 339.22089 TEM

As Peter Temin, an MIT academic who connects these dots eloquently in his new book The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, puts it: “None of this bodes well for democracy.” Temin and a growing number of other economists see America not as a single country but as two — an upper 20 per cent who live, metaphorically anyway, by the lake, and a lower 80 per cent who, hamstrung by a lack of education and unable to build an asset base, are increasingly despondent. Given this, it’s perhaps no wonder that the county where my husband and I will spend the next two weeks voted Trump. Sadly, if the president has his way, the policies that have helped create New Hampshire’s bifurcated economy will be rolled out to the rest of the nation. That’s an affliction we will all have to deal with.
books  economics  economists  TPL 
july 2017
Stanford dropout with a magical touch
Jul 14, 2017 | Financial Times | by: Hannah Kuchler.

Evan Spiegel refuses to be scared of Facebook. Confidence helped the 27-year-old Snap chief executive take a photo messaging app from a Stanford University coursework project to an almost $20bn initial public offering. The threat of Facebook has been following all the way.

In 2013, when the company behind Snapchat was just two years old, its co-founder (his partner was a fellow student, Bobby Murphy) was quizzed on stage about Poke, Facebook’s first attempt at imitating the app’s photo messaging. “Certainly it is scary when a giant enters your space and you are a small company,” Mr Spiegel said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. He laughed it off: Poke failed, and that became the “greatest Christmas present we ever had”.

But the world’s largest social network does not give up and has relentlessly imitated Snapchat since Mr Spiegel turned down its $3bn acquisition offer in 2013. Earlier this year, just as Snap headed for the public markets, Facebook finally succeeded in popularising a version of “Stories” in four of its apps — the Snapchat feature that expires after 24 hours.......an unlikely analogy..... “Just because Yahoo, for example, has a search box, it doesn’t mean they are Google.”......Mr Spiegel, who dropped out of Stanford, was the first chief executive from a new wave of highly valued tech start-ups to brave the public markets. It paid off personally: he became a multi-billionaire when he took Snap public....Spiegel is soaking up advice “like a sponge” from senior management and the board, which includes Michael Lynton, former chief executive of Sony Pictures and AG Lafley, former chief executive of Procter & Gamble.....Praised as a product genius who instinctively understands the desires of his young audience, Mr Spiegel now has to learn to be a public company leader, managing the expectations of investors who want to compare Snap to Facebook and Mr Spiegel to Mark Zuckerberg......By designing the disappearing photos that made Snapchat famous, Mr Spiegel completely rethought the camera. Photos became transient conversations, not kept for posterity; social media became a way to be creative — and silly — with your close friends, not flick through a feed of near strangers.....Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, told the Financial Times it plans to double its spending to $200m on Snap this year. But, he added, WPP will spend over 10 times more on Facebook.

...
dropouts  Stanford  IPOs  Snap  Snapchat  CEOs  Evan_Spiegel  WPP  Martin_Sorrell  product_development  product-orientated  public_companies  investors'_expectations  10x 
july 2017
Latest to Be Blamed for Retailers’ Woes: Private Equity - WSJ
By Lillian Rizzo
Updated July 30, 2017
A wave of retail bankruptcies washing through court has revived an old debate about the role of private-equity firms in accelerating the problems of companies in distress......"During that same time, Payless was also grappling with dwindling mall foot traffic, consumers shifting to spending online, changing trends and many store leases. Since the bankruptcy filing, hundreds of Payless stores have been closed, and employees have been laid off."

Vendors and landlords alleged in court papers that the dividend payouts, along with other payments to the investors, left the retailer particularly vulnerable to collapse just as technology and shifting consumer behavior upended the retail industry.

“The depletion of their coffers put the company on a dangerous path that ultimately led to this instant bankruptcy filing,” a group of Payless’s unsecured creditors said in June court papers.
retailers  bricks-and-mortar  private_equity  investors  bankruptcies  foot_traffic  creditors  store_closings 
july 2017
Carfax vs. CarProof: A look at used vehicle history reports | CTV Toronto News
CTV Toronto
Published Thursday, December 3, 2015

The reports are offered by CarProof, based in London, Ont., and Carfax, based in Centerville, Va. Each company offers a free version of the reports with minimal details, but gives users the option to pay approximately $50 to find out more details.
PHOTOS
Used car history reports
CarProof history reports are shown.
The information in the $50 reports is collected from insurance companies, dealerships, body shops and any other business where the companies can get verified records of service. Records are collected based on a Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, which is unique to each vehicle......Both companies said that history reports should only be one step in the process of purchasing a used car. A prospective buyer should still take the vehicle for a test drive and have it checked by a mechanic.....When looking at used cars I always bring a small magnet with me and a collapsible mirror. I also ask if I can get the car up on a hoist so that I can look underneath for signs of damage/rust/ repair. I always spin a tire to look at tread wear patterns, to see if it turns easily and runs true. If it wobbles or has uneven tread wear then I take a pass an look for another car to buy.
automobile 
july 2017
Staying connected: car makers race to offer remote-control functions - The Globe and Mail
PETER NOWAK
CHICAGO
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY, JUL. 25, 2017

BMW, for one, is charging hard toward remote-control functions. The Munich-based company’s new Connected+ app, recently previewed for press, will allow drivers to look up routes on their phones and send them directly to their car’s navigation system, share live trip status and location with contacts and remotely see what’s going on around their vehicle.

With the Connected+ app, drivers can share live trip status and location with contacts.

The trip-status sharing feature can show friends or family members exactly where a driver is via a private website and provides continually updating arrival-time estimates. The remote monitoring ability, meanwhile, uses the car’s cameras to build a three-dimensional view of the car’s surroundings. The real-time image can then be viewed remotely on a smartphone.

The app can also provide drivers with walking directions to their destinations once they leave their vehicle and automatically add nearby gas stations to navigational routes if it detects that the car is running low.

The Connected+ app will work with cars in production as of this month and will be compatible later this year with older vehicles using versions five or six of BMW’s iDrive computer system......BMW’s chief competitors, Audi and Mercedez-Benz, have similar apps – MMI Connect and Mercedes me, respectively – that allow drivers to remotely access and precondition their vehicles. Industry analysts expect both car makers are also working on adding additional features, a trend that is being fuelled by growing expectations from consumers for continually updating products.

The trend began with smartphones and mobile apps, but became popular with Tesla owners when the electric-car manufacturer started offering over-the-air software updates. Other car makers are now seeing that such updates can significantly raise customer-satisfaction levels.

“You get this sense that they are dedicated to giving you an experience platform and not just this list of things that you get when you buy the car,” Mr. Ramsay says. “Now, when you buy it, that list may be ever-growing.”
connected_devices  smartphones  mobile_applications  BMW  Audi  connected_cars  Mercedes  remote_monitoring 
july 2017
Think like a supermodel to wrest control of the gig economy | Evernote Web
July 13, 2017 | Financial Times | Tim Harford.

Smartphones have allowed companies such as Uber and Deliveroo to take critical management functions--motivating staff, evaluating and rewarding performance, scheduling and coordination--and replace them with an algorithm.....But gig workers could install their own software, telling it where they like to work, what they like to do, when they’re available, unavailable, or open to persuasion. My app — call it GigBot — could talk to the Lyft app and the TaskRabbit app and the Deliveroo app, and interrupt me only when an offer deserves attention.

Not every job can be broken down into microtasks that can be rented out by the minute, but we might be surprised at how many can. Remember that old line from supermodel Linda Evangelista, “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day”? GigBot will talk to your alarm clock; $10 or $10,000, just name the price that would tempt you from your lie-in.

It is easy to imagine a dystopian scenario in which a few companies hook us in like slot-machine addicts, grind us in circles like cogs, and pimp us around for pennies. But it is not too hard to imagine a world in which skilled workers wrest back control using open-source software agents, join electronic guilds or unions and enjoy a serious income alongside unprecedented autonomy.

Nothing empowers a worker like the ability to walk out and take a better offer; in principle the gig economy offers exactly that. Indeed both scenarios may come true simultaneously, with one type of gig for the lucky ones, and another for ordinary folk.

If we are to take the best advantage of a true gig economy, we need to prepare for more radical change. Governments have been content to use corporations as delivery mechanisms for benefits that include pensions, parental leave, sick leave, holidays and sometimes healthcare — not to mention the minimum wage. This isn’t unreasonable; even a well-paid freelancer may be unable to buy decent private insurance or healthcare. Many of us struggle to save for a pension. But if freelancers really do start to dominate economic activity — if — the idea of providing benefits mostly through employers will break down.

We will need governments to provide essential benefits, perhaps minimalist, perhaps generous, to all citizens. Above that safety net, we need portable benefits — mentioned warmly but briefly by Mr Taylor — so that even a 10-minute gig helps to fill a pension pot or earn time towards a holiday. Traditional corporate jobs have been socially useful, but if you push any model too far from reality, it will snap.
Tim_Harford  gig_economy  mobile_applications  Lyft  TaskRabbit  Deliveroo  freelancing  self-employment  independent_contractors 
july 2017
Why Deep Work Matters in a Distracted World
Posted by Taylor Pipes on 23 Feb 2017

Work accomplished = (time spent) x (intensity)

How to create meaningful work
Deep work does not have to be tedious. In fact, it can be enjoyable, creative, meditative, and thought-provoking. Here are some tactics to integrate the principles of deep work into your schedule:

Work deeply. It takes great patience and practice to get to the point where you can integrate long stretches of deep work into your schedule. Newport created an equation to explain the intensity required of deep work and compared it to students who pulled all-nighters in college.
Work accomplished = (time spent) x (intensity)

Work at a high level with dynamic and intense intervals that increase over time to produce a desirable outcome. Get in the zone for at least 90 minutes and build up to periods that last anywhere from two to four hours, or more.

Protect your time. Maintain a set of rituals and routines to ease deep work into your day more easily. Try implementing scheduling tactics into your workflow like:
Tallies – Keep a tally of the hours you spend working, or when you reach important milestones like pages read or words written.

Deep scheduling – Try scheduling deep work hours well in advance on a calendar, like two or four weeks ahead of time.

Scheduling and tracking time has a huge benefit of giving time back. Many academics, authors, and scientists have been able to produce ample amount of work while working normal hours and having time for personal pursuits or family on evenings and weekends.

Train your brain to do nothing. Try for a moment, to sit still and do nothing. How long do you find it takes until the social stimuli and buzzing signals of your mobile device prove too much? If you can embrace sitting quietly meditating or thinking, or even staring into space, then you can train your brain to spend more time in deeper work.
Quit swimming upstream. Decide for yourself what restrictions you can place on email and social media by removing it from your work week altogether, or by logging out and staying off for an entire day. Evaluate your personal and professional life and experiment where social fits and where it doesn’t. Your result may be a month-long digital detox, or completely cutting the cord on social.
Cut the shallow work. Endless meeting requests and instant email responses are turning knowledge workers into ‘human routers’ that create the shallow work that defines many of workplaces. We’ve been groomed to reply and respond because it feels like we’re accomplishing something, when in reality, we’re not.
attention  attention_spans  Cal_Newport  distractions  focus  GTD  hard_work  knowledge_workers  personal_accomplishments  productivity  rituals  routines  sustained_inquiry  thinking_deliberatively 
july 2017
How to Improve Resilience in Midlife
JULY 25, 2017 | The New York Times | By TARA PARKER-POPE.

“There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience,” said Dr. Grant, who, with Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, wrote the book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” “Those are the behaviors that we gravitate to more and more as we age.”

Scientists who study stress and resilience say it’s important to think of resilience as an emotional muscle that can be strengthened at any time. ......Here are some of the ways you can build your resilience in middle age.

■ Practice Optimism. Optimism is part genetic, part learned. So if you were born into a family of Eeyores, you can still find your inner Tigger.
■ Rewrite Your Story. When Dr. Charney was recovering from the shooting, he knew that his life was forever changed, but he reframed the situation, focusing on the opportunity the setback presented. “Once you are a trauma victim it stays with you,” he said. “But I knew I could be a role model. I have thousands of students watching my recovery. This gives me a chance to utilize what I’ve learned.”

Study after study has shown that we can benefit from reframing the personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves.
■ Don’t Personalize It. (i.e. self-defeating & self-doubt). We have a tendency to blame ourselves for life’s setbacks and to ruminate about what we should have done differently. In the moment, a difficult situation feels as if it will never end.
■ Remember Your Comebacks. When times are tough, we often remind ourselves that other people — like war refugees or a friend with cancer — have it worse.
■ Support Others. Resilience studies show that people are more resilient when they have strong support networks of friends and family to help them cope with a crisis. But you can get an even bigger resilience boost by giving support.
■ Take Stress Breaks. Times of manageable stress present an opportunity to build your resilience.
■ Go Out of Your Comfort Zone. Resilience doesn’t just come from negative experience. You can build your resilience by putting yourself in challenging situations.
discomforts  resilience  midlife  optimism  Sallie_Krawcheck  comebacks  reframing  serving_others  disconnecting  timeouts  personal_energy  Sheryl_Sandberg  Adam_Grant  living_in_the_moment  self-defeating  self-doubt 
july 2017
Wider Dufferin Overpass Opens, Ready for Rail Path & GO RER | Urban Toronto
July 21, 2017 4:49 pm | by Craig White.

The newly widened bridge facilitates future transportation upgrades for Torontonians, specifically for those who ride the rails or their bikes, or those who simply walk.

For those who ride GO Trains on the Kitchener, Milton, or Barrie corridors, the widened bridge means that another track can now be laid over the bridge. Eventually this part of the corridor will have two tracks for each of the three corridors, and another two tracks for the UP Express. The increase in tracks means that all corridors will eventually be able to support the frequent 2-Way All-Day trains which RER-type service requires. The provincial government, through Metrolinx, is changing GO from a commuter service to a Regional Express Rail service over the next decade.
Toronto  GO  Metrolinx  RER  transit  infrastructure  Queen’s_Park 
july 2017
Mall REITs: 1Q17 Recap & 2Q17 Preview - Thasos Group
Key Conclusions

Most REITs operating malls classified as high quality Class A by Green Street Advisors have negative YoY foot traffic on a rolling quarterly basis through May 2017:
Simon Property Group (SPG): -5.4%
General Growth Partners (GGP): -5.7%
Taubman Centers (TCO): -6.2%
High-tech stores such as Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla have no effect in preventing declining traffic.
Malls with destination restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s underperform by 3.5%.
Malls with high-end department store anchors such as Nordstrom and Macy’s underperform by 3%.
Malls and strip centers with grocery stores and consumer staples outperform by 5%.
location_based_services  shopping_malls  REITs  insights  Thasos  outperformance 
july 2017
Self-Driving People, Enabled by Airbnb
JULY 26, 2017 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

Airbnb has a different goal: enabling what I call self-driving people.

And that’s why I won’t be surprised if in five years Airbnb is not only still the world’s biggest home rental service, but also one of the world’s biggest jobs platforms. You read that right. Very quietly Airbnb has been expanding its trust platform beyond enabling people to rent their spare rooms to allowing them to translate their passions into professions, and thereby empower more self-driving people.....To see what’s growing, go to Airbnb’s site and click not on “homes” but on “experiences.” You’ll find an endless smorgasbord of people turning their passion into profit and their inner artisan into second careers....Airbnb’s “experiences” site has grown tenfold this year.

Tourists visiting a foreign country try to understand the culture by going to a museum and viewing “art by dead people,” noted Chesky. “Why not learn how to make art yourself, taught by a living artist in that culture and immerse yourself in the artist’s world? These are experiences you can bring back with you!”

Chesky believes that the potential for Airbnb experiences could be bigger than home-sharing. ....“The biggest asset in people’s lives is not their home, but their time and potential — and we can unlock that,” he explained. “We have these homes that are not used, and we have these talents that are not used. Instead of asking what new infrastructure we need to build, why don’t we look at what passions we can unlock? We can unlock so much economic activity, and this will unlock millions of entrepreneurs.”...In America, though, there is a surplus of fear and a poverty of imagination in the national jobs discussion today — because “all we are focusing on are the things that are going away,” said Chesky. “We need to focus on what’s coming. Do we really think we’re living in the first era in history where nothing will ever again be created by humans for humans, only by machines? Of course not. It’s that we’re not talking about all of these human stories.”....Indeed, the beauty of this era is that you don’t need to wait for Ford to come to your town with a 25,000-person auto factory. Anyway, that factory is now 2,500 robots and 1,000 people. The future belongs to communities that learn to leverage their unique attributes, artisans and human talent.

There is no Eiffel Tower in Louisville, Ky., but there are amazing bourbon distilleries popping up all over, creating myriad tourist opportunities; there are no pyramids in Detroit, but there is a bountiful history of Motown music and all kinds of artists now creating boutique concerts and tours for visitors to experience it.....We have to do 50 things right to recreate that broad middle class of the ’50s and ’60s, and platforms like Airbnb’s are just one of them. (Having universal health care to create a safety net under all of these budding entrepreneurs would be another.) But you have to be inspired by how many people are now finding joy and income by mining their passions.

100
COMMENTS
“A tourist is someone who does things that locals who live there never do,” said Chesky. Airbnb’s experiences platform is now enabling visitors to live like locals — even though they’re guests and, in the process, enrich the local community and create new employment. Any town can play.

So much of what companies did in the past, concluded Chesky, “was unlocking natural resources to build the stuff we wanted.” Today’s new platforms are unlocking human potential to “be the people we wanted.”

....
Airbnb  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  capitalization  entrepreneurship  experiential_marketing  gig_economy  human_potential  intrinsically_motivated  job_creation  middle_class  passions  platforms  self-actualization  self-starters  Tom_Friedman  tourism  unimaginative 
july 2017
Let Black Kids Just Be Kids
JULY 26, 2017 | The New York Times| By ROBIN BERNSTEIN.
African-Americans  children 
july 2017
Will Packer Starting Production Company With Backing From Discovery and Universal
JULY 25, 2017 | The New York Times | By MICAH MAIDENBERG.

Mr. Will Packer, 43, is already known as one of the prominent African-American producers in Hollywood, with movies that have grossed more than $1 billion.....best known for his work in movies, including the “Ride Along” films and “The Wedding Ringer.” Now he wants to take aim at consumers using just about every other form of contemporary media.....Packer is starting a new company, Will Packer Media, with backing from Discovery Communications and Universal Pictures. The new entity aims to develop a wide range of programming, from television shows and documentaries to short-form digital videos and advertising campaigns.....telling stories the way that a given story should be told...without having to look at it as one particular type of content for one particular medium.”.....To support the company’s planned advertising campaigns, Will Packer Media bought a marketing and technology company called Narrative that was founded in 2013 by the mogul Russell Simmons and the advertising executive Tricia Clarke-Stone. The company will take the name WP Narrative.

Ms. Clarke-Stone said combining her enterprise with Mr. Packer’s new company would allow for storytelling at the intersection of entertainment, innovation and branding. Working with Mr. Packer, for example, will give her team greater access to Hollywood talent.

“Brands now have a new standard they have to live by,” she said, explaining that they must act as broadcasters, publishers and entertainers. ”That’s the only way to engage with audiences.”
Hollywood  African-Americans  storytelling  movies  packaging  documentaries  short-form  video  producers  television  advertising  Discovery  Universal  films  brands 
july 2017
Your Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Sold
JULY 25, 2017 | The New York Times | By MAGGIE ASTOR.

High-end models of Roomba, iRobot’s robotic vacuum, collect data as they clean, identifying the locations of your walls and furniture. This helps them avoid crashing into your couch, but it also creates a map of your home that iRobot is considering selling to Amazon, Apple or Google.

Colin Angle, chief executive of iRobot, told Reuters that a deal could come in the next two years, though iRobot said in a statement on Tuesday: “We have not formed any plans to sell data.”

In the hands of a company like Amazon, Apple or Google, that data could fuel new “smart” home products.

“When we think about ‘what is supposed to happen’ when I enter a room, everything depends on the room at a foundational level knowing what is in it,” an iRobot spokesman said in a written response to questions. “In order to ‘do the right thing’ when you say ‘turn on the lights,’ the room must know what lights it has to turn on. Same thing for music, TV, heat, blinds, the stove, coffee machines, fans, gaming consoles, smart picture frames or robot pets.”

But the data, if sold, could also be a windfall for marketers, and the implications are easy to imagine. No armchair in your living room? You might see ads for armchairs next time you open Facebook. Did your Roomba detect signs of a baby? Advertisers might target you accordingly.... iRobot said that it was “committed to the absolute privacy of our customer-related data.” Consumers can use a Roomba without connecting it to the internet, or “opt out of sending map data to the cloud through a switch in the mobile app.”

“No data is sold to third parties,” the statement added. “No data will be shared with third parties without the informed consent of our customers.”
data  mapping  privacy  location_based_services  LBMA  advertising  smart_homes  iRobot  homes  home_appliances  home_automation  home_based  informed_consent 
july 2017
A Warrant to Search Your Vagina - The New York Times
By ANDREA J. RITCHIEJULY 21, 2017
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police_misconduct  incarceration  women  African-Americans 
july 2017
Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2017 |
Indoor mapping 101

Googled: "retail space" headwinds "indoor mapping".

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Deloitte  management_consulting  location_based_services  navigation  mapping  beacons  sensors 
july 2017
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