Tag Archives: technology

5 things I love on the internet, week of July 14th

Everything we thought we knew about PLUTO is wrong.  The New Horizons satellite is the first human-made device to capture detailed images of the distant orb and it’s moon.  Early analysis suggests that it isn’t a dead astroid; Pluto appears to be very much an Active Planet (with water, methane and more), which means that most existing theories in planetary thermodynamics are probably wrong.

Did you look at Pluto?  Good.  Onward.

Everything we know about particle physics is probably still right, but Boeing just patented an engine powered by lasers and small thermonuclear explosions.  LASERS!!!

Everything we thought we knew about how much consumers’ love/hate relationship with their Webcams is evolving .   This VW site (went live on Tuesday) challenges users to make engine noises to power a car & driver through a course.  Pretty cool stunt!

Everything we thought we knew about Economics is now outdated: meet the WTF economy

Everything we thought we knew about Ad Targeting Is too naïve.  This article examines how companies can / do use ad targeting to discriminate against consumers.  How deep does this problem go?  What can users do about it?  

Inspiring reads: Mobility, Innovation, Disruption and heart

(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)

I’ve been traveling a lot recently, so instead of a cohesive point of view about a topic in Digital, I’m sharing the raw materials: here’s some great articles, podcasts, websites and videos that have inspired me in the past few weeks:

Mobile is eating the world:  100 years ago, Trains were the innovative technology transforming the world.  That’s right, Trains.  Benedict Evans takes us through what it means for a technology to transform life, and how Mobile technology has surpassed “technology” and is more like “trains”, that is: irreplaceable, fundamental infrastructure for modern life.  DROP EVERYTHING AND WATCH this  video of Ben Speaking at a WSJ event about the year ahead on the internet.

Continue reading Inspiring reads: Mobility, Innovation, Disruption and heart

When Bundling and unbundling become product features

There’s been some news about a lot of companies “unbundling” their mobile products.  It’s happened enough times, fast enough, that it’s become a thing.  For example

Unbundling and bundling is usually a theme discussed on the business side of Tech.  The startup ecosystem is essentially founded on entrepreneurs betting that if they unbundle a poorly executed feature from a larger, successful product, and they do it the best they possibly can, they’ll win. But that’s just where it starts.  It is a cycle, after all.

The most famous example is Google, which bet that they’d win if they unbundled search from portal and media content (Yahoo!, Magellan, Lycos).  Now, what don’t they do?.  Linkedin started as a simple CV network, but is now trying to become a ubiquitous part of doing business.  Evernote started as a simple, synced notes product.  Now they sell moleskines, socks and scanners, offer CRM services and even want to kill powerpoint.

Marc Andreessen took to twitter to summarise this process: ”[…] paraphrasing Harvey Dent: ‘You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the company you first competed with.'”

So who might be the new Google? Here are some recent startups who are ‘unbundling’ and going after big markets

Now back to the top — these are not cases of business-unbundling (well, maybe Foursquare).  We are talking about big companies AND startups unbundle their mobile experiences.  Why?  They’re doing their best to serve the evolving Mobile User.

Smartphones are now core productivity tools, as well as communications tools, entertainment devices, and more.  The current smartphone user considers their phone a required part of pretty much everything they do.  This reliability leads to frustration and user discontent with complicated menus and processes  Users are now more focused on ease of use and speed to information — let’s call this ‘discoverability’ — than ever before.

When the goal is discoverability, the focus becomes providing the most Direct Access to content possible.  Splitting out the most popular feature of an App’s home screen shortens that journey significantly, and potentially reduces confusion.   A few years ago the challenge was “winning a spot on the home screen”; now the challenge is to focus on discoverability, convenience and accessibility.  Taking FB as an example, before the launch of Messenger, it was 4-6 touches to reach your messages on your mobile phone.  Now it’s 2.

Are you enjoying your ‘unbundled’ smartphone experience?  Interested in more about the business of bundling and unbundling?

Check out Jim Barksdale and Andreessen discussing bundling on a recent Harvard Business Review podcast (registration required).  A16Z Analyst Ben Evans (no relation) wrote a great overview (which introduces the above concept of Discoverability) as well, focused on how Asia is still in a massive bundling moment (despite being mobile-first)

Smart journalists predict how Journalism will evolve in 2014

Click through to see Nieman Journalism Lab's 2014 Predicitions feature
Nieman Journalism Lab 2014 Predicitions feature

The Nieman Journalism Lab has put together an amazing collection of predictions for 2014 from some extraordinary journalists (click the image above to visit the site).

All of them are great but here are my favorites:

Alfred Hermida:

“The year we [journalists] get smart about social media”

Expect journalists to be more precise in their reporting, being clear about what you know but also about what they don’t know. Reporters are not trained to talk about the holes in their reporting. But in a stream of constant updates [on social media], adding notes of caution can have much value.

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Jason Kottke:

“The Blog is Dead; Long Live the blog”

The primary mode for the distribution of links has moved from the loosely connected network of blogs to tightly integrated services like Facebook and Twitter. If you look at the incoming referers to a site like BuzzFeed, you’ll see tons of traffic from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and Pinterest but not a whole lot from blogs, even in the aggregate. For the past month at kottke.org, 14 percent of the traffic came from referrals compared to 30 percent from social, and I don’t even work that hard on optimizing for social media. Sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy aren’t seeking traffic from blogs anymore. Even the publicists clogging my inbox with promotional material urge me to “share this on my social media channels” rather than post it to my blog.

(originally posted on Kottke.org)

Raju Narisetti:

“Loosen the newsroom’s chokehold on the brand”

But for the news brand to succeed and a publishing house to find sustainable business models for journalism (usually the single largest expense for a publisher), the brand has to be co-owned: by those who create journalism, those who can turn that journalism into a product, those who try and monetize that product, and those who support and promote that entire package.

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Matt Waite:

“The Drone Age is Here and so are the Lawyers”

The fact is, paparazzi already view lawsuits and arrests and busted cameras and car accidents as the cost of doing business. Why should it be different when it comes to drones and aviation authority regulators? In the U.S., the one fine the Federal Aviation Administration has issued to a drone operator was $10,000. For exclusive shots of certain celebrities, prices are easily double, triple, and more than that. Do you want these photos, glossy magazine editor? The fine is rolled into the price.

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Damon Kiesow:

“A Beacon for Local Advertising Revenue”

For local media, the question is: What is our potential advantage? Apple, Amazon, and Google are fighting it out to be your digital wallet. Square and PayPal want to replace current point-of-sale systems. And every major retailer already has a native app.

But local media still has the local eyeballs, both on the web and in native apps. And those apps carry local advertising.

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Katie Zhu:

“Moving Responsive Design Beyond Screen Size”

Responsive is the de facto standard for news consumption on the go — but what’s truly responsive? Shouldn’t it respond to whether I’m walking or sitting, reading during the morning or at night — maybe if I’m stressed or not?

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Ed O’Keefe:

“Mobile Social Video”


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