the economist

The internet didn’t invent viral content or clickbait journalism — there’s just more of it now, and it happens faster

Many people seem to believe that the idea of “clickbait” or artificially viral content was invented by the internet or social media, but it has been around for centuries and was arguably perfected by newspapers — all the web has done is make it faster and more efficient

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #197

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person “must see”.

Check out these six links that we’re recommending to one another:

  • I’ve tracked one year of sex and masturbation between [M]yself and my wi[F]e: activity tags, a look at the role of the menstrual cycle, and other trends – Reddit. “Add this to the list of things I didn’t know I’d share with you guys when we started this. Since we’re talking health data, well, in for a penny, in for a pound. One of the most common uses of new tech – whether it’s the printing press, the VHS, or the Web – is adult content. So, it’s no surprise that life-logging enthusiasts are turning their all-seeing eye to data. Here, a husband tracks sex patterns, and draws some interesting conclusions. I’ll let you decide whether you want to click or not.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • The Parable of Google Flu: Traps in Big Data Analysis – Science. “Since you asked about big data on Facebook, here’s a nugget. Last year, Google made big news by predicting the outbreak of flu. Or did they? One of the problems with a reliance on data for decision-making is that the data shapes our behavior, which changes the data. It’s like a big data version of the observer effect (or, as some have less politely described it, ‘algorithms dumping where they eat.’) In this case, changes to algorithms and media hype around flu outbreaks caused Google to overstate the number of cases of the flu. ‘Big data hubris’ is the often implicit assumption that big data are a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, traditional data collection and analysis.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • When one New Zealand school tossed its playground rules and let students risk injury, the results were surprising – National Post. “I love stories about unintended consequences. For instance, what if bending over backwards to make things (playgrounds, classrooms, etc…) safe for our kids actually raises the incidence of injury? Maybe what our kids need to stay safe is a pile of broken glass, some rusty barbed-wire, and some broken up 2 by 4s.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Bitcoin’s Future – Hidden Flipside – The Economist. “Here’s an old tech innovator’s saw: ‘If you were to ask a group of smart people to create X with the technology of today, what would it look like? Nothing like the X we all know.’ We take many things for granted as facts of the universe, but if you think in depth about some things, they just don’t make much sense. Money is one of them. And, while Bitcoin itself might not win the day, Bitcoin as’”platform for financial innovation’ is a pretty exciting possibility.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Harvard’s Free Computer Science Course Teaches You to Code in 12 Weeks – Open Culture. “There was one thing that really stood out in my mind from TED 2014 in Vancouver. Something new and interesting was brought to my attention. It’s something called University of the People and its founder, Shai Reshef, explained it. Basically, anyone can apply to get a university degree. It’s online. It’s tuition-free. It’s got real profs. It’s accredited. Students pay $100 per exam. That’s it. Pretty cool. Pretty mind blowing. I don’t have a university degree… so yeah, I’m now considering it. Of course, you can study all kinds of courses online for free (have you checked out iTunes U yet?). How about a free computer science course that will teach you to code in twelve week from Harvard? Well…” (Mitch for Alistair). 
  • What are some great mind-blowing books? Why? – Quora. “Sick of lists online about what to read? I’m not only sick of them… I am guilty of creating them. I kind of rolled my eyes when I saw this question posted on Quora. Then, I checked it out (still a sucker for some good linkbait) and it did not disappoint. As much as you read, and as much as you may think that you are well-read, this list will show you otherwise. Some amazing books that I have never read, that I think that I should read. I’m sure you will find a few gems for yourself as well.” (Mitch for Hugh).  

Now it’s your turn: in the comment section below pick one thing that you saw this week that inspired you and share it.

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What To Get The Person Who Has Everything (Without Breaking The Bank)

Do you know who has been naughty and who has been nice?

‘Tis the season to fight for a parking space at your local mall to dealing with unruly people as they battle the aisles to find the perfect gift for those that they love. There are few people who love this part of the holiday season. If you’re grappling with what to get that person who has everything, here are some suggestions that may be a little bit off of the beaten path:

  • Write. Get them a nice notebook (my preference would be a larger hard-covered Moleskine) with some Pilot Precise V5 pens. Let them know that this notebook is meant for inspirations, ideas, thoughts and other starters to help them build a better life. As cool as Evernote is, there’s something about writing down one’s thoughts in a great notebook with some fine ink.
  • Read. There are tons of great new books out there for you to buy (just check out Amazon or your local bookseller), so why not get them something that they probably wouldn’t buy for themselves? A subscription to some magazines. Fast Company, Wired, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Atlantic or even The Paris Review (if they love to write and read). The idea here is to buy them a subscription (or many) to a magazine that they like, but that they would never subscribe to. Plus, they’ll think about you every time a new issue arrives!
  • Mobile. If they use their smartphone all of the time, consider getting them a Mophie Juice Pack or some other kind of additional power pack. Most people complain about how bad the battery life is on their smartphone, but won’t spend the bucks to buy one of these battery rechargers. I’ve enjoyed my Mophie, and it has been there for me when my battery was fleeting. If they already have an additional power pack, buy them a handful of cases for their smartphone. This way they can change up their look whenever they like. I’m also  a big fan of the Belkin docks for iPhones and iPads. These docks are great for keeping by your bed or on your desk. They not only charge your smartphones and tablets but you can replace your traditional clock radio with these.
  • Computer. Whether their main computer is a laptop or a tablet, get them an extra charger (or two). Most of us bring our devices to work or we travel with them, but we only have one power supply. If you buy them a couple of these, they can leave one at home, one at the office and have an extra one to keep in their briefcase for travel. They’ll love you for it. Trust me.
  • Travel. If your loved one travels, get them the ultimate carry-on bag (I stand by my Eagle Creek Tarmac 22), but if that’s too steep of a gift, get them some of Eagle Creek’s amazing Packing Folders and Pack-It Specter Sac Set. If you want to do something really loving, enroll them in either Nexus or Global Entry so that they can breeze through the security and custom lines at airports all over North America.
  • To go. Buy them another backpack for their computer. They can use it on the weekend or to take to the coffee shop instead of having to carry around their day-to-day briefcase (which is usually stuffed with a whole bunch of stuff they don’t need for a quick jaunt on the weekend). Check out the incase line of backpacks or Ogio. The trick here is to keep it light, small and compact. It’s just for running to the cafe with a laptop/tablet, notebook and not much else. Let them know that this is their weekend pack.
  • Give. Most people don’t really need anything. Make a donation in their name to a cause that matters to them. Sometimes the best gift is the gift of helping those who need it more than most of us do. Not being preachy here, but it’s true.

Any other ideas? Feel free to share some of your better/different ideas…

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‘Quartz’ Passes ‘The Economist’ in U.S. Web Traffic

Less than a year after launching, Quartz’s web audience in the United States has overtaken that of The Economist, one of its chief competitors in the business news space, and is closing in on the Financial Times.
Quartz, the digital-only business pub…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #141

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth:…

Pearson: FT digital subs overtake print; ebooks hit 17% of global sales

Here are a few digital highlights from Pearson’s 2012 annual report.

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #139

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Can Breastfeeding Save Time Magazine?

When was the last time you discussed Time Magazine around the dinner table?

I found myself giving a dissertation on mass media at dinner the other night. It all started when one friend leaned into the table and spoke (in an almost embarrassed whisper)…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #90

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #81

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Force And Friction

The more actions you force on the consumer, the more friction you cause.

There was talk a awhile back about forcing people to give up their email address to have access to content. I’ve seen this executed many ways. In one instance, you can’t see anyt…

The Economist’s Profits Increase as Digital-Only Subscriptions Top 100,000




The Economist is having a very good year so far: Not only has the publication reached a significant digital milestone, having sold more than 100…

Walk It Off

What were some of the best business meetings you have ever had?

Were they in a boardroom when you won a big client or when you sat across someone in their office? Was it during a lunch meeting? Or at an off-site? I’m nearly through reading the biograp…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #71

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #64

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Spamming Mechanisms

It used to be a very clear line between what was considered spam and what was not.

Things have changed over the course of the past decade. I’m with the Wikipedia definition of spam: "to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately," but I…