kuaidi and didi merger — a new moment in Chinese infrastructure

On saturday Kuaidi dache announced that they had agreed to merge with their biggest / bigger rival, Didi dache. Techinasia has a good write up about it, but I took issue with the suggestion that the merger has something to do with Uber.  I went on a twitter rampage about the deal, and Jon Russell told me to write it up (he already has a piece on techcrunch about the merger that has all the details).  I often confuse more words with a better argument, so I’ll just try to channel the twitter brevity but expand my point.  Here goes:

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Nomore.org may be more of a sham than I even imagined

Earlier this week I posted about a really powerful Super Bowl commercial, because it came from an interesting source and seemed to represent a halting, half-assed but nevertheless an attempt from the NFL to, y’know, stop being a disgrace.  Well, shit.

It’s a triumph of advertising doublespeak, created to color-code another month and diversify “cause-themed” product lines from major brands.  Nomore.org is not, in any way I can understand, designed to impact to the people they offer to protect and support.  It’s advertising gone wrong in so many fundamental ways.  There’s a startling lack of empathy for victims of domestic violence in the way Nomore.org describes itself, its purpose and mission.  It sounds a bit sociopathic, honestly.

The most damning statement is actually from the top comment, and it is SPOT ON:

And what’s the benefit of the NFL going with a cipher of a branding scheme, rather than with an actual nonprofit that does work or raises money? Seems pretty obvious: No More allows the NFL almost complete freedom to brand itself as deeply invested in women’s issues.

To the NFL—even in this thing that seemed impossible to fuck up—everything is merely image.

What. The. Fuck.   Doesn’t take away from the ad itself — it’s good, powerful work — but those who got it on air appear to be questionably motivated, at best.

Super bowl ads: One of the most powerful ads came from Reddit

While 2015 super bowl ads were, as always, a mix of serious and funny, good and bad, and, of course inspiring the best and worse reactions out of people, I hope we can all agree that NoMore.Org‘s ad was a powerful piece of work.

The spot was inspired by an Ask Reddit thread asking for stories from 911 operators.  Just goes to show, the most powerful stories are often straight from real-life and not from “storytellers“.

As much as I love the backstory of how this piece came to life, I have to mention that the NFL co-sponsored this ad.  We can’t  forget the NFL’s absolutely horrific record on domestic violence — a long-time problem, not just a 2014 scandal, nor let them off the hook simply for work like this.   Hats off to Grey, who made the spot, but as AdAge notes, the NFL could only manage to donate half of the “time” to show the spot – the other half was came out of Grey’s pocket.  Come on, NFL..


2015 predictions are dumb. But …

CES is going on, so there are lots of amazing new technologies in the news, like autonomous cars, wearables, more practical things, and completely impractical things.  Digital people are often accused of being too gadget focused, and it is weeks like this when we are certainly somewhat guilty.

But I’m a little bit over gadgets.  They’re cool, but I think they are simply indicative of a much more interesting moment.  So here’s my grand prediction.  2015 will be the year of discovery.  Previous years we thought about technology, digital infrastructure, services and experiences.  That was all building toward now, where the internet reaches a majority of all intelligent life on earth.  It is now nearly more ubiquitous than access to clean water or consistent electricity.

Think about that.  In less than 30 years, the internet (as a set of technologies) has become more important to the human experience than one’s sense of smell.

So what does the world look like when the internet is the most important infrastructure of life?  Well, we stop talking about it as a series of technologies or devices (Ben Evans’ talk from GE Minds + Machines conference goes into depth).  We start talking about what we do with it.  2015 is when we learn how humanity and society will change based on our newly found low-friction, even effortless access the information, tools, insight & inspiration we need to live better lives.

While this may be a uniform philosophical question, each corner of the world will have different challenges and paradoxes to work through. while the US and Europe fight about packet uniformity and classifying access providers as utilities, a whole different picture exists in developing nations, where, to quote Jan Chipchase, “the network is never neutral.”

To paraphrase Ben Thompson from his most recent podcast: what kind of world do you discover when every company in every industry can assume every person has access to the internet?

(every few weeks I contribute to a short newsletter for my blue hive colleagues about cool things in digital.  This is my most recent article)

Three things to read about Ferguson

I’m by no means someone who should have a strong and/or relevant opinion about the events in Ferguson MO.   But I’m reading everything I see to try to understand what’s happening in & to the US.  Here’s a collection of links to people who have interesting things to say:

Killer Mike on Instagram

Killer Mike at a Show in St Louis, the day of the Grand Jury ruling

Ta Nehisi Coates (the Atlantic)

What cannot be said is that America does not really believe in nonviolence—Barack Obama has said as much—so much as it believes in order. What cannot be said is that there are very convincing reasons for black people in Ferguson to be nonviolent. But those reasons emanate from an intelligent fear of the law, not a benevolent respect for the law.

Chris Rock in The Vulture

What would you do in Ferguson that a standard reporter wouldn’t?

I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Well, that would be much more revealing.

Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Right. It’s ridiculous.

So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. […]

(it is a wide-ranging interview: read the whole thing)

…about lots of stuff (look down). I tweet more (look right)