the new yorker

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #192

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:

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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The Failed State Of Branding

How well do you think brands are doing?

Brands are going to have to face the music. It’s a ruse that has (probably) been going on longer than anyone cares to admit, but it’s something that has showed itself – front and center – in the past few months. What we’re seeing is something we may have known all along (but were reticent to admit). People just don’t care or think that much about brands. The entire engine of advertising is built on that truism. If people loved brands, there would be no need to advertise, right? Advertising is simply a financial engine that allows brands to pay to have access to an audience. This got very murky a little over a decade ago, when the Internet and social media collided. Suddenly, because all of the things that people think, like, share and create was made public, brands figured that they could suddenly engage and connect with anyone who makes mention of their favorite bubbly sugar water. It turns out that even if millions of people are liking a brand anywhere public, it doesn’t really mean that they care all that much about it, does it?

What are we seeing suddenly that should make us rethink branding in 2014?

Here are four different types of brand new content that all marketers need to read, watch and think about before they go out develop their next Pinterest or Vine strategy:

  • Are Consumers “Falling Out of Love” With Brands? That is the question that this Marketing Charts article asks. It is based on a study conducted by Mindshare called, Culture Vulture 2014 (but it also looks at some other reports), and here’s what the article states: “…consumers are ‘falling out of love with brands’ and that ‘brands are in crisis’… only 47% of North American consumers last year agreed that they like to pass on interesting things they see or hear about brands, with that figure having steadily fallen over the past few years, from 66% in 2010. The analysts take that as a sign that ‘a majority of brands are seeing their relationships with consumers weakening,’ and that brands need to better adapt to consumers’ expectations.” Are you surprised by this? Brands are busy trotting out how many followers, likes and friends they have, but consumers are busy not being interested or asking, “what have you done for me lately?”
  • Twilight Of The Brands. The New Yorker ran this fascinating article from James Surowiecki (who also authored the excellent book, The Wisdom Of Crowds back in 2004), that looks at consumer empowerment and access to information as a few of the key leading indicators as to why consumers are caring less and less about brands. From the article: “You can never coast on past performance–the percentage of brand-loyal car buyers has plummeted in the past twenty years–and the price premium that a recognized brand can charge has shrunk. If you’re making a better product, you can still charge more, but, if your product is much like that of your competitors, your price needs to be similar, too. That’s the clearest indication that the economic value of brands–traditionally assessed by the premium a company could charge–is waning. This isn’t true across the board: brands retain value where the brand association is integral to the experience of a product (Coca-Cola, say), or where they confer status, as with luxury goods. But even here the information deluge is transformative; luxury travel, for instance, has been profoundly affected by sites like TripAdvisor.”  This means that in a world where the experience is everything, a product or service has to do more than just bang a drum to tell the world how great it is… they actually have to be great. Which, for most, is a constant struggle.
  • Absolute Value. That New Yorker piece above featured this book (co-authored by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen). This brand new business book looks at why consumers really make the choices that they make, and just how much power a brand actually has in that relationship. The reason for writing this book? Both authors feel that branding and loyalty are losing their relevance, because consumers are more connected and informed. In short, consumers are making better choices that are more rational and this puts a lot of what we know about branding (and it’s power) in the corner.
  • Facebook Fraud. This video (which is embedded below) has been making the rounds this week. It’s highly controversial and it’s getting a ton of attention. When I first saw it, there were only a few thousand views, and now it’s creeping close to 1.3 million views. It has got a bunch of people up in arms. There is enough discourse surrounding the validity of the content, that it’s not worth diving into further here. Still, it fits the general thought of this blog post: in a world where brands are so thrilled and excited to get people to like them, follow them and share their content, what we’re seeing is that only a few people in the marketplace really care all that much to do so. Personally, I’m not sure why this is such a contentious issue with anyone? For most people, it’s enough to just see your commercials… they don’t need much more. Just because brands want people to follow them and share their content, it doesn’t mean that consumers really care. This type of activity might be perfect for the heavy users, but the vast majority of purchasers could probably care less. No matter how excited the brand is about the prospect.

There is hope.

Not all is lost. These are important pieces of content that most brands should spend the time to consume, think about and build a true strategy against. The opportunities to connect and build a direct relationship with consumers has never been more promising. The challenge – for most – is that they are bringing a very traditionally-based advertising mindset to the fold, instead of spreading their wings and seeing the bigger opportunity in smarter marketing mixed with better consumer experiences. These next few years are going to be even more challenging for most brands, because consumers are becoming more connected and are consuming media in such new and interesting ways. Personally, this failed state of branding is probably a good thing for brands who are willing to think differently about what it means to create and share a message moving forward.

So, what do you think? Are brands losing their relevance more than ever?

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Netflix And The Future Of Television

Netflix has done what Blockbuster could not do. But it’s about much more than a streaming technology.

TV has become a fascinating new platform. Yup, it’s not the same old TV most new media pundits tend to trash in presentations. Netflix is a huge part…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #189

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:

  • Burnt: A heated hullabaloo over $4 toast – Edible San Francisco. “The always-quotable Alex Howard once told me that tax rates are simply the cost the rich are willing to pay to stop the poor rising up, or something like that. There’s a class war brewing in the Bay Area (and even Tom Perkins has agreed Kristallnacht might not have been the best choice of words). But whatever side of the burbclave fence you’re on, something’s got to give. And apparently, it’s toast–hipster, organic, toast for the one percent. On a recent NPR comedy show, the host remarked that he ‘hadn’t seen thin, scruffy men in hats this excited about toast since the great depression.’ That might make for good copy, but the story’s a bit deeper. Here, then, is a piece in defense of toast, suggesting that perhaps it isn’t the perfect lightning rod for income-inequality debaters.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Former FCC commissioner thinks it’s time to go nuclear on ISPs – BGR. “Decades ago, the US federal government gave carriers billions of dollars to build out broadband. The carriers pocketed the money, the US is still miles behind other countries in terms of access to fast bandwidth, and carriers want to treat traffic that makes them money differently from traffic from, say, Google or Facebook. Well, things are about to get worse. Earlier this month, the FCC‘s regulatory framework for forcing carriers to respect net neutrality was thrown out. The FCC still has a trick up its sleeve, though: reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers, the way they treat phone companies. This would have wide-reaching consequences for the fortunes of every ISP, and who makes money from communications. Watch this space.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Three Leakers and What to Do About Them – The New York Review of Books. “One of the defining debates of our time will surely be: what to do about privacy now that (almost) all our communications, locations, buying habits, reading habits, watching habits, among other things, are trackable? These kinds of questions cut in many directions: what should states be able to know? What should states be able to conceal? What do journalists have a responsibility to expose? Not to mention, what all those private companies should  be allowed to do with our data  the Googles and Facebooks everyone frets about; the Visas and Mastercards no one seems to notice; and the ISPs and telcos on whose wires and towers our communications travel. In this age of data, spying and just-about complete capture (of private citizen information; of government secrets) three people  Snowden, Assange and Manning – have more or less given up their lives in exchange for bringing these questions front-and-center. And the conundrum, especially for the American government, is: what to do about them?”  (Hugh for Alistair).
  • The Paratext’s the Thing – The Chronicle Of Higher Education. “Why the aside, the conversation, the Tweets and blog posts and Facebook comments are becoming more important than the things they are talking about.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Everything I need to know about management I learned from playing Dungeons and Dragons – Quartz. “I was at my parent’s house earlier this week. It is the house that I grew up in. On my journey to rediscover the electric bass, I was trying to find all of my old books from school on the subject. Of course, it was all just where I had left it. Right next to the stack of books, I discovered my original Dungeons & Dragons starter kit box. It included instruction manuals, adventures, the famous dice and even some characters I had developed. It transported me back in time to my early teens. I didn’t think I was a nerd (or I didn’t care), but I loved creating characters with friends and taking them on adventures. It was much more than a board game, it was much more than role-playing, and it was much more than something we did to kill time. I learned a lot from building these characters and these worlds. It’s quite possible, that I never realized just how much…” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • What You’re Worth To Facebook – The New Yorker. “Facebook had a great week. Just look at their stock. Just look at how they’ve managed to embrace and run with mobile. Just look at the pending launch of stand-alone apps like, Paper. The question becomes this: is there any chance that Facebook can outdo Google at this point? The real promise of Google’s revenue from advertising is that they are able to put a message in front of people who are searching for something, in specific. Is it possible, that Facebook can take this a step further by putting messages in front of people that are hyper-relevant without those people even having to search for it? Facebook thinks so. Let’s see if they can pull it off and what this means to companies like Google and Yahoo.” (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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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #185

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:

  • Mapping The Wealth Of U.S. ZIP Codes Shows The Haves Hiding From The Have-Nots – Fast Company. “One of the things I’ve loved about 2013 has been the rise of visualizations that help convey data–congressional deadlock, the outbreak of conflict, spending habits, and more. The intersection of a connected populace and widely available tools to crunch large amounts of data makes this possible. Here’s a Fast Company interactive infographic that shows the rich hiding from the poor, in what Harvard philosopher, Michael Sandel, calls the ‘skyboxification’ of American life.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Nordic Soul Top 100 Albums of 2013 Mix – Sean Horton. “A couple of years ago, I helped run Seattle’s Decibel electronic music conference. Decibel is the brainchild of Sean Horton, who is also an amazing DJ and the guy who programs music for a bunch of big retailers and brands. If you want to know what artists and sounds you’ll be familiar with three years from now, look no further than his annual lineup.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates – The New York Times. “In short, be kinder. Wise words for all of us in 2014.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Structure. Beyond The Picnic Table Crisis – The New Yorker. “This is one of those crazy, long pieces The New Yorker is famous for. In it, John McPhee explores – in a long, digressive, but highly structured essay – how to write long, digressive, but highly structured essays. Even though you don’t know at all where it is headed, you want to stick with it, with the writer on his journey of discovery and exposition. And that is the best kind of writing, for my money, the kind that doesn’t tell you where it is going, but when you get there, it all makes sense (and you’re glad you stayed till the end).” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption – The Washington Post. “Well, here’s a thought: if you want to beat the encryption and privacy game, why not just build and SUPER super computer. One that uses quantum computing. One that is so powerful that it simply glides through all of that private stuff that all of us think is protected by passwords and security. Plus, if let’s say you were a government agency that had the resources and capabilities to build that type of system and then have access to everything, who would know? Creeped out? You should be.” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • In Speed Metal, Fastest Drummers Take a Beating – Wall Street Journal. “The technology makes it hard to tell the difference between a human doing a double bass drum blast beat or a drum machine. So, bands that are trying to push the limits of heavy metal (in terms of aggression and speed) are turning to technology when the feet fails. If there’s one thing I can tell you about heavy metal (and trust me, I have tons of experience on this topic): the faster it is, the better it is. The problem with that equation is that fans of the genre want it faster, but they also want it to be real. So now, the great debate begins. What wins? Feet or algorithms? And, for the record, Mike Mangini (currently in Dream Theater) is one worthy of checking out -video below).” (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.

Transitions with John Digweed – 19th December 2013 by John Digweed on Mixcloud

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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #184

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:

  • High Frequency Dating – Mostly Harmless. Rob Rhinehart wonders just how much of the act of dating can be handed over to machines. Not politically correct, and maybe a bit NSFW, but definitely good satire. Besides, it’s the holidays, and you shouldn’t be working anyway.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Solitude And Leadership – The American Scholar. “Leaders do strange things. They get up early. They spend a lot of time thinking, and are very deliberate in their decisions. This piece by William Deresiewicz, delivered at West Point in 2009, underscores the importance of solitude and contemplation. As the holiday season descends upon us, many of us will disconnect from our daily flood of data and interruption. Maybe this is a reason not to reconnect quite as much after the holidays.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The 13 Best Books of 2013: The Definitive Annual Reading List of Overall Favorites – Brain Pickings. Maria Popova picks her best books of the year.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Our Thirteen Most-Read Blog Posts Of 2013 – The New Yorker. “A lazy week of links. The New Yorker‘s 13 most read blog posts of 2013.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • How The Sex Pistols Saved Christmas – Dangerous Minds. “Is there anything I could possible say that might get you to click on this piece more than that title? If it were mere linkbait, it might be an act of frustration. It isn’t. Just a little piece of a fantastic story that most people don’t know about a band that had a crazed reputation. See, even the most metal of metal bands or the most punk of punk bands have a warm heart beneath the tattered t-shirts, piercings, leather, addictions and spit.” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Li Hongbo Explains His Flexible Paper Sculptures – Colossal. “Well, if we do stop using paper to print books, magazines and newspapers, I think Li Hongbo has an idea of a magical way to rethink what paper is and what it is used for. This is one of those pieces that will have you marveling not just at one individual’s creativity, but that these stories may not have nay sense of longevity were it not for the Internet.” (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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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #183

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:

  • Autonomous Vehicles and the Labor Question – Taming The American Idol. “Stories of self-driving cars, or flaming batteries, grab headlines. But if you look at the long-term impact of autonomous transportation, it becomes a jobs question. Pushed into the limelight by Amazon‘s announcement of drone-delivered packages, this is a topic that, much as steam power did, will galvanize unions and make us reconsider the boundaries of work. When we had steam power, we got the weekend and the end of child labor. What will automated logistics yield, and how much fighting will happen beforehand?” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Thailand: Videos of police and anti-government protesters clashing – Asian Correspondent. “While we’re on the subject of drones, it’s fair to say that when it comes to revolutions in big squares, Twitter is so 2011. No, the new tech for protesters and uprisings is aerial drones that show the battlefield, helping protesters thwart the authorities and show the world the lobbing of tear gas. Exhibit A: protests in Thailand.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Pirate Bay switches address for the sixth time this year – The Guardian. “The ongoing battle between big media companies and various file sharing/streaming/unauthorized copyright infringing entities continues to be a fascinating case of the ponderous legal apparatus chasing the nimble motivated techie. The Pirate Bay is the best-known torrent site – where visitors can find links that let them download all sorts of things – most of it infringing copyright – from peer-to-peer networks. Legal pressure has meant that The Pirate Bay has had to change its domain name multiple times. This finally got so annoying to The Pirate Bay that they have built a new kind of browser, based on peer-to-peer technology, that will ‘enable users to store and share files without requiring a central hosting, eliminating the need for a domain name.’  This technology, if it works, is a fundamental reshaping of how the web currently operates. Time, as they say, will tell how successful the pirates are at keeping the legal system at bay.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Is It Already Too Late to Stop the NSA? – The American Prospect. “After Mitch’s David Simon link last week, here’s another one to add to the Christmas cheer (1984 version): has the power of the NSA grown so great, and the distance between the people and our governments grown so large, that we just can’t do anything about the NSA?” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Google’s Robot Army – The New Yorker. “I have become very fascinated with robotics, wearable technology and the Internet of things. So much so, that over a year ago, I started a new blog (on Tumblr) called, We, Robots. The main area of interest for me is not in how robots and this physical technology with automate our lives, but rather how this technology will augment the work that we do. And, if you check out We, Robots, you will see so many instances where technology and robots are helping humans be so much better at the work that they do. While everyone is spending their time and attention thinking about Amazon and drones, they may not have realized that Google has been on an acquisition tear by scooping up close to ten of the major robotics companies out there… and there is no sign of them slowing down. While this may seem curious to some, it seems obvious to me. If we have the Internet and connectivity everywhere (think Web, Android, driver-less cars, Google Glass and more), why wouldn’t we have robots as an important part of lives as well? Google has the war-chest to make an early run at this for market dominance, and that’s what they’re doing.” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Negative Emotions Are Key to Well-Being – Scientific American. “Not to be a downer, but as everyone preps for the holiday season, it’s not all about joy and cheer. This time of year, people get stressed out and depressed… a lot. If fact, if someone is prone to be more anxious or depressed, these holiday seasons are prime time to get pushed further along the downward spiral. Whether you are dealing with negative emotions or know someone who does, the medical community is making significant strides in this space. Guess what? Telling someone to ‘cheer up!,’ ‘get over it!,’ or ‘just try to enjoy yourself,’ is probably the wrong strategy. What we’re learning is that negative emotions are important to our well-being. They help us create balance and get us off the treadmill of constantly battling to be ‘happy’.” (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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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #177

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:

  • Amanda Pustilnik discusses “Models of Mind in the Law” – Center for Law, Brain & Behavior. “We ran a Strata online event on November 5th that looked at privacy and ethics in a digital age. While lots of the content was good, Amanda Pustilnik blew my mind. There were plenty of privacy-smart people on the event, and most of them wanted to put on their tinfoil hats when she was done. Did you know that there is a cap which police can deploy in the field to test whether you’re lying? That subjecting employees to a MRI, unlike a polygraph, is legal? That there’s a part of the brain which correlates with recidivism in parolees? Here’s a 20 minute video of Amanda talking about models of mind in the law. Mind, quite literally, blown.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • By Whom, For Whom? Science, Startups, and Quantified Self – Cyborgology. “There’s plenty going on in life-logging and the Quantified Self movement. But is this just relentless digital narcissism, or the Homebrew Computer Club of introspection? Whitney Boesel shares her thoughts on the 2013 Quantified Self Global Conference. In one session she ran, the theme of Quantified Self being bad science kept coming up. It’s an important point–are we building a world of sensors, from which we can glean patterns and treat the human condition? Or is this just tomorrow’s digital diary?” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Hadfield, Brandy Clark, Kennedy Conspiracies – NPR. “I watched Gravity the other day, which is amazing and you should watch it. They clearly did their homework: half of the things that happen in the movie have actually happened in real life to Chris Hatfield, former commander of the International Space Station. Hear him talk about life in space in this interview with NPR‘s Terry Gross.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • It’s The Golden Age of News – New York Times. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Read New York Times editor, Bill Keller, on the state of foreign news.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • No Stores? No Salesmen? No Profit? No Problem for Amazon – MIT Technology Review. “Technology, contextual marketing, data, analytics, game theory and more. Yep, Amazon is using a whole bunch of influence and persuasion techniques coupled with technology to get you to spend money and more money. On top of that, they don’t have any stores and have none of those pesky sales clerks working you over for a commission. So, that’s a good thing? A Creepy thing? Read this and decide. The future of retail may be a lot different from how we anticipated it.” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Should Literature Be Useful? – The New Yorker. “Read more literature. You know, the literary fiction, not the stuff you find racked in airport magazine and book stores. You won’t only sound very sophisticated and intelligent during cocktail hour, but you will wind up being more empathetic. This is a fascinating read about the value of spending some time every day with classic literature. It may, in fact, make you a much better leader, but more importantly, a better human being. True story (not fiction).” (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.

Amanda Pustilnik discusses “Models of Mind in the Law” from Center for Law, Brain & Behavior on Vimeo.

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The Merits Of Reading A Book

What was the last book that you read?

I buy new books all day. Literally. I read most of my book on my iPhone using the Kindle, iBooks or Kobo app (but, mostly Kindle). I haven’t been reading enough books this year. I used to read – on average – about a book a week. I think I have only read a handful of books this year. Sadly. Still, I find myself reading all of the time. Tweets on Twitter, Facebook status updates, e-newsletters, articles online, blog posts, magazine articles, newspaper articles (remember those) and more. Still an infovore, but my consumption of books has not been at a personal level of satisfaction.

Moving forward.

Recognizing this flaw in my personal development, I’ve made an active push to read more books in the past few months. I even have physical books lying around my offices, by my bed and even in my knapsack. Book reading is an important part of what makes me grow. I know this. Still, this past year I got lost in less meaningful pieces of content. Yes, less meaningful. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but as amazing as an article might be or as enjoyable as it can be to spend a lunch hour scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, I can’t help but feeling like all content (outside of book reading) leaves me as hollow as a meal at a fast food restaurant. It feels like the right thing at the time, but there is nothing but regret and the desire for a more substantive meal shortly thereafter.

Diving deep into a book.

Last week, I finished reading Steven Pressfield‘s latest book, The Authentic Swing. The thing about Pressfield (and his books) is that he forces you to focus and dive deep on the topic of writing and getting the words out of you. For me (and anyone else with a passion for writing), it’s inspiring. Still, that’s first-level on what happens when you read a good book. It’s much more about focus. A book allows you to shut-out the real-time Web, the beeps, the alerts, the distractions and more that continuously drive us away from the things that we really need to focus on. Pressfield calls everything but doing the work that we’re supposed to do “the resistance.” Never has there been a tool to seduce the resistance more than the Internet. Books take you away from that. Writing notes and adding perspective to the books that you’re reading do that too. Sadly, I got away from that.

I once was lost…

I’m not done with Twitter or reading blog posts or articles in The New Yorker, but I am done with those resources being the primary destination. Books first. Everything else flows after that. I don’t know about you, but the more books that I read, the more creative and strategic solutions my brain can come up with. We live in a world where content is short, fast and free. Perhaps this is more a “stop and smell the roses” type of blog post. Regardless, the merits that are derived from spending the time, energy and effort of reading a full book (cover to cover) is something that is easily lost in our fast food content culture.

Interested in fine dining? Try reading more books. I’m going to. Join me.

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How ‘The New Yorker’ Cover Became Twitter Gold

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The first really talked-about New Yorker cover came nearly 70 years after the magazine’s founding. In 1992, when Tina Brown took over as the fourth editor in its history, she broke a long-standing editorial taboo by adding three brand-name visual artists to the staff: cartoonist Art Spiegelman, illustrator Edward Sorel and photographer Richard Avedon. The Feb. 15, 1993 edition — coming one day after Valentine’s Day and not two years after the Crown Heights riot — was fronted by Spiegelman’s drawing of a Hasidic man, in hat, coat and beard, making out with a black woman.

There was, generally speaking, an uproar. But not from all quarters, according to Spiegelman. “Many voices came forward to express delight with the cover as well,” he said in Blown Covers, a book about New Yorker covers edited by the magazine’s art editor, Françoise Mouly (who is also Spiegelman’s wife). “My favorite was from a young reader who wrote that she didn’t understand the controversy. She thought that it was sweet of the magazine, on the week of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, to show him kissing a slave.” Read more…

More about Twitter, Internet, Social Media, Magazine, and The New Yorker

Malcolm Gladwell Overdose

Get ready for the heavy brunt of publicity and advertising around Malcolm Gladwell.

And remember this: all of it is merited. Gladwell’s latest book, David And Goliath, comes out on October 1st. I got my grubby little hands on an advance copy… and it…

10,000 Hours And 20% Of Your Work Time

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chunk would?

Time is always the number one concern in our lives, isn’t it? Feel free to blame consciousness. The clock is always ticking… and it’s ticking down. Some of the greatest thinking of our time comes from people who are more acutely aware of just how limited our time on this earth is. Work is no different. We’re constantly in this strange battle for time. Be it deadlines, product launches, responding to emails, starting a meeting on time, getting home on time, finding the time to blog or whatever. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

How much time will this take?

Because of the human addiction to time, we want things to happen fast, faster and fastest. We want raises, promotions and more as quickly as possible. This fascination with speed and business is especially prevalent in the digital marketing space. Because it is still (somewhat) nascent, employers are paying a premium for talent and that talent has expectations that they will be moved up as quickly as possible. We see it in the work that the industry is doing as well. Brands want to know how quickly it will take them to get a million fans on Facebook. They want to know how quickly they can change the brand narrative by engaging on Twitter. They want to know how much quick money can be made if they blast out another email promotion. But, here’s the thing:

It takes time to get good. It takes a lot of time to get great.

With that, the world keeps on spinning. So, we’re obsessed with speed and time. Clients want things to happen fast. Agencies have to appear like they are moving faster (to stay ahead). Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to truly master something in his bestselling book, Outliers. Last week, he revisited his 10,000 hour theory in The New Yorker blog post titled, Complexity And The Ten-Thousand-Hour Rule: “No one succeeds at a high level without innate talent, I wrote: ‘achievement is talent plus preparation.’ But the ten-thousand-hour research reminds us that ‘the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.’ In cognitively demanding fields, there are no naturals. Nobody walks into an operating room, straight out of a surgical rotation, and does world-class neurosurgery. And second–and more crucially for the theme of Outliers–the amount of practice necessary for exceptional performance is so extensive that people who end up on top need help. They invariably have access to lucky breaks or privileges or conditions that make all those years of practice possible. As examples, I focused on the countless hours the Beatles spent playing strip clubs in Hamburg and the privileged, early access Bill Gates and Bill Joy got to computers in the nineteen-seventies. ‘He has talent by the truckload,’ I wrote of Joy. ‘But that’s not the only consideration. It never is.’”

Is it possible to be great at something in less than 10,000 hours? Or, asked another way, can we get there any faster?

According to Gladwell (and others), it doesn’t apply to everything (obviously). Some people may be inherently gifted with specific genetic and physiological gifts that make them more prone to be successful when you can match that specific gift with a specific area of expertise (Gladwell’s blog post points to areas like high jumping, etc…), but some things do have to be learned and nurtured through experience and more education. Marketing is one of those things. It takes time. Lots of time to get great at it.

What about focus?

While we’re focusing on time and how to get focused enough to earn those ten thousand hours, Google is either slowly ridding themselves of (or has already done away with) their infamous 20% rule (where every employee is expected to spend 20% of their work time focused on a personal project – no matter how outlandish). The Wall Street Journal reported today in the news item, Google’s 20% Mistake, that “one can’t just throw money and bodies at innovation–there is no correlation between the size of a company’s R&D budget and its innovation rate. Most ideas are bad ones, so you have to entertain a lot of them to find the real gems. On average, a company needs 3,000 ideas to get 300 of them formalized, 125 of them into small experimentation, ten of them officially budgeted, 1.7 launched–and one that makes money… On paper, eliminating it might look like it saves money. But the signal it sends is that management, not the workers, know what the most productive use of your time is. It’s a step down the road to a company of clock-punchers.”

Time is money.

For my time (and money), all of this is less about management decisions and how HR is going to deal with the fallout, and much more about the macro issue of time well spent and how we’re all struggling in a world that is expecting us to put in our 10,000 hours and find our true groove. We can’t look to our bosses on this, we have to look within. After reading these two powerful pieces on how much time it takes to get great at (mostly) anything, the only thought I had was this: am I, personally, committed to the 10,000 hour rule and am I spending enough of the other time working on something personal, out there and possibly bigger than me?

Get less worried about how long something takes and get focused on how much better you are getting over time.  

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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #166

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:

  • The Histomap – David Rumsey Map Collection. “I hadn’t seen this epic map until a Slate article by Rebecca Onion explained its history. It’s a gigantic, unified map of history–a four-thousand-year cheat-sheet. While it was first revealed nearly a century ago, it seems strangely modern, full of potential for a navigable, interactive application or life-feed.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Slow Ideas – The New Yorker. “Some notions spread like wildfire; others take decades to catch on. In this The New Yorker piece, Atul Gawande considers why. I love the contrast between anesthesia (fast) and antiseptic (slow) and it’s an example I will likely us often; I’m sure that someone as interested in how messages disseminate as you are will find it equally useful.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • There’s a Hole in My Bucket – Wikipedia. “In which Wikipedia wins the award for the most pedantic page on the Internet, for the week of August 24, 2013.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Ballet dancers in random situations – Leenks. “With the NSA spying on everything we do on the Internet, Egypt falling to pieces, UK spies smashing newspaper hard drives, Syria falling to pieces, journalists’ partners getting detained under terrorist laws, Fukushima leaking radioactive water, fracking, Quebec sinkholes, bankrupt exploding railways, prorogued parliament, for starters, I’ve had my fill of shitty news this summer. Instead: ballet dancers in random situations.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • What Is Medium? – The Atlantic. “I was speaking with Anil Dash this past week at HubSpot‘s Inbound 2013 summit in Boston and we somehow got on the topic of Medium. Medium is a new publishing platform founded by two of the people who created Twitter. It’s all the buzz now. I was curious as to what Anil thought it was, and if there was any merit to it (he actually blogged about it right here: What Medium Is). Sure, the content is stellar, but what makes it anything more than WordPress or The Huffington Post? Is the hype there simply because of who created it or is there something more… creeping beneath the surface that isn’t so obvious? The Atlantic investigates (and, make sure to read Anil’s piece too!).” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Then and Now: Photos of Real Places Mentioned in Fiction – Flavorwire. “I love features like this. They hunt down the moments and real spaces that took place in some of fiction’s greatest work and show us what it looks like today. As a marketing professional, I’m all about the modernization of our world (and I love technology), but it can be jaw-dropping to see just how much change has transpired in a few short years.” (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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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #165

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:

  • NSA: The Decision Problem – Edge. “I had the pleasure of meeting George Dyson a couple of weeks ago, and while I only spoke with him briefly, I heard him present and explain the tides of technical history. He is a careful, convincing researcher of the near past, and in doing so, of the probable future. So when I saw that he’d chimed in on recent NSA revelations, I thought it was worth a look. I wasn’t disappointed. ‘The ultimate goal of signals intelligence and analysis is to learn not only what is being said, and what is being done, but what is being thought.’” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Snooping on your kids: Sometimes surveillance defeats the purpose – GigaOm. “Two very different pieces on spying, this week. Next up: Mathew Ingram is one of my favorite tech writers. He’s never better than when he looks beyond the news to its consequences. In this epic, four-part series, Mathew talks about how he’s snooped on his kids for nearly a decade–and what he’s learned. Part confessional, part cautionary tale, as Mathew says, ‘it was the interference with their development as fully functioning social human beings (whatever that means in an online context) that really gave me pause, and finally made me step back from all of my monitoring.’” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • How The Government Killed A Secure E-mail Company – The New Yorker. “When the Snowden affair broke, it occurred to me that there would be a huge new market for secure, encrypted Internet communication services; where users would pay for privacy. It turns out that the US government is pretty much making such services illegal. The government position is: let us spy on all your users communications, or you will go to jail. The scary thing about all this is that the companies and individuals who are trying to provide these services are not even allowed to talk about the legal threats they receive from the government: secret courts make secret orders. The contents of which must remain secret. Welcome to modern freedom, everybody.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Out Loud: Everything Is Interesting – The New Yorker. “Mitch and I share an admiration for what might be the best article ever written about participation culture on the Web, Nicholson Baker‘s The Charms of Wikipedia. Here is a The New Yorker podcast interview with Baker about LCD screens, the craft of writing, the importance of slowness, cigars and many other things.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Struggling Immigrant Artist Tied to $80 Million New York Fraud – The New York Times. “My cousin loves this online marketplace where he can pick any piece of art, choose the sign and someone – in some village in Asia – will paint it (by hand) for next to nothing. The results are impressive and it looks a whole lot better than a poster or print. I couldn’t stop thinking about this story. Imagine this: taking a hot and breaking artists and then convince someone to paint original work that is similar and then position it as an original. It scary. Scary smart. Until you’re caught. Then, not so good. (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Reshaping New York – The New York Times. “If you want to make online publishing interesting, you have to do something with it that you can’t do in other formats. The traditional copy and paste of content to the Web has been an example of what not to do. Still, it’s mostly all that we’ve got. This is a fascinating piece. Not just for the breathtaking changes that New York has gone through in the past decade, but because of how this is all presented. It’s inspiring. Still, it feels like we’re at the very nascent stages of what digital publishing is… and what will soon be able to do.” (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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A Digital Life: “Orange is the New Black” shows Netflix gets how millenials watch TV

The generation that’s grown up with free content on the internet is also used to having television when they want it, wherever they want it — a premise that Netflix seems to understand best. Here’s why.

Interactive Time-Lapse Map Tracks One Month of Citi Bike Usage

In late May, New Yorkers greeted the Citi Bike bike-share program with a mixture of excitement and skepticism. Some dreaded the onslaught of inexperienced riders on the city’s chaotic roads, while others welcomed the opportunity to expand their commu…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #159

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:

  • The Weird, Recursive “Mad Men” Ads – The New Yorker. “Since Mad Men is about advertising, and since its stars like Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks are celebrities in their own right, the ads have become a little meta. Okay, more than a little: tone and tenor borrows from a bygone age, blurring the line between show and ad. Who needs product placements when the pitchmen are doing the pitching?” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Where Don Draper ends, D.B. Cooper begins – Medium. “I haven’t watched much Man Men, so this could be a horrible spoiler. I really want to spend a week consuming them, uninterrupted; my undergrad focused on advertising and my uncle was a larger-than-life ad man in the South Pacific. If this speculation isn’t how the show ends, then I really want them to create an alternate ending. It’s so symmetrical, so perfect, that if Lindsey Green‘s conclusion of the show is mere coincidence, something is fundamentally wrong with the universe.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • First-ever human head transplant is now possible, says neuroscientist – Quartz. “This week’s links are not for the faint of heart. I have a cousin who got a full lung/heart transplant, which is astounding and terrifying to me. But here’s something… well I don’t even know where to start. The title to this story says it all.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • A short film about the monkey head transplant experiment of the 1960s – io9. “The astounding article above is a bit ‘disappointing’… in that the science discussed seems to be theoretical, and not tested.  But, if you can stomach it, take a look at this short documentary about Dr. Robert White (referenced in the above article) and his (successful) experiments doing monkey head transplants. In 1970. Don’t watch this if you are squeamish. Even if you aren’t squeamish, be careful watching this.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • First Human-Made Object To Travel Beyond Our Solar System – PSFK. “I’m not sure if it’s because I watch too much Star Wars and Star Trek, but I would have thought that we have already had satellites and probes peek past our solar system. We have not. This explains why I probably should have stayed in school, instead of watching Star Wars, reading comic books and playing video games. We’re so used to seeing things like warp speed and more on our favorite science fiction shows, that we forget how little we actually know about space and what is beyond our solar system. The cool news is this: we’re about to find out.” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity – The New York Times. “How inspired are you to create from the corner coffee shop? It’s a cultural thing, isn’t it? Sitting there, sipping a cafe au lait, staring at the glow from the screen as patrons chat, mingle and co-work. The hum of the coffee machines and people’s conversations can be inspiring… or, do they distract you? Well, it turns out that there is some research that demonstrates how hard it is to be creative when it’s quiet and how hard it is to be creative when it’s too loud. Its turns out that that there is a goldilocks theory for your creativity as well. Enter Coffitivity. Perhaps this ambient coffee shop sound generator will boost your productivity?” (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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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #157

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:

  • The Tulipomania – Project Gutenberg. “I’m always looking for interesting historical content. This is no exception–a book on the madness of crowds from Charles Mackay. It explains a number of popular delusions, so I’ve made this link point to one in particular, on the great tulip mania. But it’s chock-full of interesting stories, and because it’s told in a long-gone age itself, is doubly interesting. Also, I win the Most Obscure Link This Week award automatically.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Using Metadata to Find Paul Revere – Kieran Healy. “There’s been a lot written in the past couple of weeks about data, privacy, and wiretapping. This was my favorite piece. It re-imagines the British trying to catch Revere using only his social graph. Had they access to the rebel’s contacts, it would have been an easy matter to thwart the US independence. That it’s written in the language of the time makes it all the juicer.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • What happened when I started a feminist society at school – The Guardian. “This past year has seen a lot to make you think that something is very wrong with how Western society, boys, men (and even other women) treat women: the Steubenville rape case, Nigella Lawson, the pillorying Sheryl Sandberg was subjected to for her book, Lean In. The things themselves are bad enough, but what’s shocked me is the reactions and commentary around these events. Here’s more bad news, from a teen girl in England who tried to start a Feminist Society at her school.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • This Is What Happens When Publishers Invest In Long Stories – Fast Company. “The magazine Fast Company has been experimenting with something one of their writers calls a ‘slow live blog.’ When a story breaks they make a ‘stub,’ a URL with the basic information. But then they keep building on the story, adding new information, more context, links and updates, all in the same place. Analytics show: people love it. As I’ve written before here: long-form has a shining future.”  (Hugh for Mitch).
  • Profits Without Production – The New York Times. “Think about this piece of data: When GM was in its prime (1950 – 1960), its value came from its production capabilities. With hundreds of factories, they employed about one percent of the total nonfarm workforce. Compare that to Apple today. As one of the highest valued companies in America, they employ 0.05% of the American workforce. On top of that, their cost of production has no significant link to what they charge for their products and services. Basically, they charge what the market will bear. Think that changes our world of economics and policy? Paul Krugman does.” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Whatever Happened To Terence Trent D’Arby?  – The New Yorker. “I often find myself deep down the rabbit hole on YouTube. I’m a child of the eighties and I have what can only be described as a ‘guilty pleasure’ eclectic taste is cheeseball pop and hair metal. I’m not asking for forgiveness. On those rabbit hole runs on YouTube, I’ll find myself spending hours watching recent video clips of Level 42 playing some random Yugoslavian music festival (I made up the Yugoslavian part, but the rest is true). I also happen to love bands that only had a few big hits, but decades later are still peeling them off for audiences, simply because they love making music. It was hard not to know the name Terence Trent D’Arby back then. The word was that he would be the next James Brown or Prince… or both combined. It never happened. And here’s why. I also concede that Terence Trent D’Arby is not as obscure as Alistair’s The Tulipomania, but it’s close.” (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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7 stories to read this weekend

Monsters University, Tony Soprano and Michael Hastings — they all make an appearance in this week’s newsletter, along with Justin Bieber, carmakers, the Rust Belt and last but not the least, Silicon Valley’s real papa, Robert Noyce, who started Intel Corp.

7 stories to read this weekend

The long weekend is here and that means a lot to read: or at least I like to do that. Here are some amazing stories about San Francisco, Rajat Gupta, Argentina in the 1970s, Buffalo, razors, Philip Dick, Facebook, Brooklyn and cars.