Monthly Archives: June 2015

TV Shrugs Off Digital Disruption


Television is the New Television, Author: Michael Wolff.

By Justin Fox – Within a year, Netflix will have more viewers than any of the three broadcast networks, a couple of analysts at FBR Capital Markets predicted this week.

So does this mean that Silicon Valley — where Netflix is based and with which it long self-identified — is conquering television? Or is it that Netflix has simply learned how to be a successful television network?

On the whole Wolff has a point: the news media and the music industry have been transformed and by some lights destroyed by digital disruption.

Television, on the other hand, remains its couch-potato-breeding, spectacularly profitable self, even when watched on tablets or phones. Along the way it has surpassed movies — which have survived the digital transition more or less intact but somewhat diminished — as the dominant entertainment medium. more>


Humanist among machines


A Study of History, Author: Arnold Toynbee.
Civilization on Trial, Author: Arnold Toynbee.

By Ian Beacock – Europeans wanted better lives and they were certain that scientific progress would provide them.

After the devastation of the Great War, rationalization ruled from London to Moscow: empirical methods and new technologies were adopted to streamline everything from cityscapes to national populations, intellectual work to household chores. Many administrators and activists believed that there was no problem (material, institutional or social) that couldn’t be engineered away.

As a boy, Arnold Toynbee occasionally spent the night at the home of a family friend who was a distinguished professor of the physical sciences. The best part of these visits was the professor’s library. The young Toynbee devoured everything he could: literary epics, volumes of poetry, the latest scientific theories, surveys of geology and chemistry and the animal kingdoms.

Toynbee bristled at the notion that it (“Industrial System”) could do or explain everything. The problem with the Industrial System was that it didn’t know when to stop, pushing relentlessly into domains where it simply didn’t work. more>

What the Private Sector Can Teach Us About Open Government

By Katie Burke – Until recently, open government was synonymous with transparency, which emphasizes government accountability in informing citizens about public operations.

For example, local governments can achieve transparency goals by sharing public documents via a Web portal or sharing video footage of government meetings on the organization’s website.

Effective collaboration is built on cooperation and partnerships between governments, businesses and citizens.

When governments provide data as a service to the public, it allows businesses and citizens to be more effective. Data as a service means presenting government information in a way that is useful to constituents in business and their personal lives. more>

Updates from GE

City Lights: Intelligent LEDs Could Save Lives, Not to Mention Money and Time
By Jermaine Dallas – An intelligent lighting system could be a central part of the healthcare infrastructure, serving as network through which hospital managers receive updates in real time about a patient’s location and status.

It could significantly improve the quality of medical care and speed up response time.

These examples are much more real that you might imagine. Networked intelligent LED lighting systems (see right) equipped with sensors that can see, feel and hear could soon illuminate roads and hallways, and help improve security, optimize traffic, monitor the environment, and a whole lot more.

There are nearly 90 million streetlights in the U.S. and Europe. For the proponents of smart cities, that’s a lot of potential for lighting upgrades that could make lives easier and more enjoyable. more>

The sooner Greece defaults and dumps the Euro the better

By Peter Morici – After what has transpired these last five years, it is hard to believe anyone involved honestly thinks a one percentage point difference in the corporate tax rate would make a difference and reverse Greece‘s economic death spiral and rocketing debt.

Athens needs at least half its debt forgiven to finally stabilize its finances and rekindle growth, and successive rounds of austerity and lending will only exacerbate the losses creditors must accept in the end.

Normally currency depreciation would impose a lot of pain on the debtor state as the cost of imports rise and inflation flew out of control, but Greece also has a limited import sector.

The Greeks make more of what they consume than in most small countries, and much farming and manufacturing abandoned after the introduction of the euro could return. more>


The Fear Factor Behind Stock Prices

By Noah Smith – Why stocks go up is one of the fundamental questions of finance.

If it seems like a silly question, it’s only because the amazing performance of stocks relative to safe bonds — known as the equity premium — has been a fundamental, unchanging fact throughout our lifetimes.

.. we usually teach people that high long-term stock returns are a compensation for risk.

In the 1980s, some top economists challenged this view.

Using a very simple model (pdf) of how much people care about consumption risk, they found that people would have to be incredibly risk averse to generate the equity premium that we see.

So the equity premium got relabeled the “equity premium puzzle” and spawned tens of thousands of econ papers. more>

Discovering a new stage in the galactic lifecycle

By Jessica Stoller-Conrad – By observing the clouds of gas and dust within a galaxy, astronomers can determine important information about the history of star formation and the evolution of galaxies.

Dust in galaxies is created by the elements released during the formation and collapse of stars. Although the most abundant elements in the universe—hydrogen and helium—were created by the Big Bang, stars are responsible for making all of the heavier elements in the universe, such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and iron. And because young, distant galaxies have had less time to make stars, these galaxies should contain less dust. Previous observations had suggested this, but until now nobody could directly measure the dust in these faraway galaxies.

Because it is impossible to watch this evolution from young galaxy to old galaxy happen in real time on the scale of a human lifespan, the researchers use telescopes like ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) to take a survey of galaxies at different evolutionary stages. more>

Unregulated Capitalism Is Destroying the Planet – One of the most important points the Pope makes in his new encyclical on the environment is that the source of our current ecological crisis is actually an ideology, the ideology of unregulated capitalism.

“The idea of infinite or unlimited growth,” he writes, “which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology … is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the Earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit.”

Ever since the “Reagan Revolution,” we’ve become addicted to the pursuit of “growth.”

Instead of thinking about how to become better stewards of the Earth, we now worry about how to make markets more “efficient” – the environment be damned. more>

Here’s How To Finally Eliminate Digital Distractions


Work Smarter with Social Media, Author: Alexandra Samuel.

By Jane Porter – Many of us operate on the etiquette standards of a pre-digital world à la Emily Post [2, 3]. It’s rude not to respond to people’s message, the etiquette goes.

But these days, responding to everyone is just impossible.

“When you try to apply the rules of the old world to the circumstances of the new world, it’s a recipe for madness,” says Samuel.

“As long as you remain committed to the idea of keeping up, you are totally letting other people drive your attention and agenda.” more>

Why You Should Let Employees Work On Passion Projects On The Clock

By Ted Karczewski – Results from these experiments show that teachers can actively transfer more creative characteristics when they lead by example in the classroom. The same can apply to managers and bosses in the workplace.

Managers need to discover ways to bring their unique and personal creative interests into brainstorm sessions and group projects.

Your primary job should always be to help your team improve upon their unique skills. The more you can inspire through action and education, the more you’ll get out of them when it comes to time-intensive projects. more>