What we read this week (25 May)

Our reads this week: whether Facebook can be successful in the long term, how the mobile internet affects our approach to healthcare, what companies should focus on when recruiting, a new community for maker-minded kids, and insights on businesses operating at the intersection between technology and culture.

Quote of the week

The Singularity has always sounded to me like a secular version of the Rapture. It seems to fit very neatly into that same God-shaped hole.

William Gibson

Articles of the week

  • Bud Caddell: Emerging Bets at the Intersection of Technology & Culture
    Bud Caddell from Deutsch LA took his team of innovation strategists to SXSW this year to study all the startups launching there. They aggregated all their insights and put them into this report. It’s a great overview about current trends in the US startup world and what marketers can learn from them.
  • Fred Wilson: Culture and Fit
    Fred Wilson, head of Union Square Ventures, discusses some common mistakes made in companies’ hiring processes, and where the focus should really lie: culture and fit should be prized above talent and renown.
  • Technology Review: The Facebook Fallacy
    Michael Wolff explains how Facebook is not only on course to go bust, but will take the rest of the ad-supported Web with it. A controversial and compelling case on the state of affairs of ad-based online business, and why current methods cannot be successful in the long run.
  • O’Reilly Radar: Parsing a new Pew report: 3 ways the Internet is shaping healthcare
    Pew Internet and Life Project recently coducted a survey on how people inform themselves about health. Alex Howard breaks down the study’s findings into three key trends: Quantified Self, participatory medicine and what he calls the ‘new digital divide.’ Mobile health data, it seems, is particularly helpful, but in the hands of people who aren’t as likely to need it. The article prompts some interesting questions about how we could make this kind of information more accessible.
  • New York Times: Disruptions: A Beacon to Silicon Valley, From a Start-Up for Children
    Since our conversation with Zach last November, we have been eagerly awaiting the public appearance of his new venture. DIY is here and it is shaping up to be an interesting community for kids who make things. The kids post pictures of their work online, and can find inspiration in users’ projects, from melted crayon paintings to soda bottle rockets. It’s nice to see the Internet evolving in a way that appeals to a different age group.

What we read this week (11 May)

This week, we read about a new approach to the alarm clock, shopping by Facebook Likes, considering the opportunities and dangers of the IoT, what a networked city of the future might look like, and James Bridle’s thoughts on digital culture.

Quotes of the week

The internet is human fanfiction.

-James Bridle, at NEXT12

Geography is now only about how far your body is away from your phone.

-Alexander Bard, at NEXT12

Articles of the week

  • Huffington Post: An Interview With James Bridle of the New Aesthetic
    James Bridle coined the term “New Aesthetic,” and so is the appropriate person to approach about what it means. For exactly a year, he used a tumblelog by the same name to collect examples of where the virtual overlapped with the tangible to form a new aesthetic. He tells Robert Urquhart of the Huffington Post about his observations in digital culture.
  • Deutsche Welle: The Internet of Things and sustainability
    Our friend Martin Spindler, a freelance IoT consultant, tells the Deutsche Welle about what IoT can do for us, and why it’s important to explore the benefits of possible implementations before dismissing them as being too risky in terms of privacy and data security.
  • design mind: The Networked Urban Environment
    Jan Chipchase, chief researcher at frog, gives a great primer on networked cities in this article. He shows the opportunities but also explains the questions we have to ask about all the data creation and the involvement of private companies in our shared city lives.
  • Selectism: UNIQLO Wake Up App
    Japanese apparel producer UNIQLO shows how brands can add both value for, and touchpoints with, their customers. In this case, they built a gorgeous multi-platform wake up app that pulls in live ambient data to create customized wake up ring tones.
  • The Verge: Real-time Facebook ‘likes’ displayed on Brazilian fashion retailer’s clothes racks
    C&A is experimenting with live data in Brazil. They’ve equipped their clothes hangers with a display that tells shoppers how many Facebook likes an item of clothing has received, in real time. It will be interesting to see how this feature affects consumer behavior and whether it catches on. A good example of how IoT might be integrated into everyday life.

What we read this week (13 Apr)

Our reads this week: an impressive Kickstarter project, thoughts on the cognition of organizations, patent battles in Germany, Instagram’s sale to Facebook, and a collection of pieces on the New Aesthetic. Enjoy the weekend.

Quotes of the week

Agility, context, and a strong network are becoming the survival traits where assets, control, and power used to rule.

Joi Ito

Publishing is going away. Because the word “publishing” means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That’s not a job anymore. That’s a button.

Clay Shirky

Articles of the week

  • Third Wave: The New Aesthetic
    The New Aesthetic is the topic of much debate and discussion at the moment, and though it’s still hard to put our finger on what exactly it is, it’s clear that the ideas emerging are very interesting. We gathered together some perceptive articles and material on this matter into an overview of the topic.
  • New York Magazine: When your favorite app sells out
    Earlier this week, Instagram announced that it had been bought by Facebook for a tidy one billion dollars. Paul Ford discusses why the tech world has responded to the deal with such disappointment, and what this reponse tells us about what we really value in the products we use.
  • Wired: Pebble E-Ink Smartwatch
    The Pebble is a snazzy wristwatch with an e-ink screen. It works with your iPhone or Android phone to inform you of many things, from events on your calendar that are coming up to how fast you’re currently cycling. Coders can also write their own apps for the watch, so many more handy tools could be yet to come. The project is being funded through Kickstarter, where it raised an astonishing one million dollars in 28 hours.
  • MIT Media Lab: The Cognitive Limit of Organizations
    Joi Ito contemplates the nature of the relationship between organizations and information. Innovation and the intellectual development of society will depend increasingly on collaboration between organizations, Ito predicts. A transformation is taking place: the network is becoming increasingly valuable, while individual power and control over resources may just be standing in the way of progress.
  • New York Times: German Courts at Epicenter of Global Patent Battles Among Tech Rivals
    Germany is friendly to patent holders — so much so, in fact, that companies are feeling they have to move some of their operations elsewhere in order to flee the consequences of lawsuits. The German courts are overburdened with patent suits, many of them nuisance suits, designed simply to impede the competition. With so much energy and money flowing into these processes, many are wondering if things need to change.

What we read this week (23 Mar)

Nicholas Felton talks about Facebook’s Timeline design, online behavior tracking is a collective bargain, and while Google rethinks their Wallet strategy, Sweden is considering getting rid of cash altogether.

Quotes of the week

The challenge is no longer the technology, the challenge is in running a successful business and getting those products in people’s hands in ways that feel natural, useful and delightful.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

“optimized for retinas.” Kinda describes present-day tech strategy in general. I bet we’ll remember our other senses soon enough though.

Kyle Cameron Studstill

Articles of the week

  • Domus: An interview with Nicholas Felton
    Interviewed by Dan Hill, Nicholas Felton, data visualizer extra-ordinnaire, explains some of the thinking and process behind Facebook’s Timeline design.
  • The Atlantic: It’s Not All About You: What Privacy Advocates Don’t Get About Data Tracking on the Web
    Helpful reflections on the deeper implications of online behavioral tracking. Let this quote show the framing: “The privacy discourse frames the issue in an ego-centric manner, as a bargain between consumers and companies: the company will know x, y and z about me and in exchange I get free email, good recommendations, and a plethora of convenient services. But the bargain that we are making is a collective one, and the costs will be felt at a societal scale.”
  • Bloomberg: Google Said to Rethink Wallet Strategy Amid Slow Adoption
    Google Wallet sees a very slow adoption rate. Beside the fact that the technology – as in mobile devices with NFC chips – haven’t really hit the market that heavily, Google sees also a problem in convincing carriers to accept their technology. The main reason for this: the mobile payment market is expected to grow quickly and into billions of revenues. The carriers want a piece of that cake and Google isn’t providing them with an incentive to use their technology instead of something that the carriers can build for themselves.
  • AP: In Sweden, cash is king no more
    Sweden was the first nation that introduced cash money and it is now the first to openly discuss of getting rid of it too. A world without cash might seem inevitable, but it’s not quite here yet, and there is privacy to consider as well: Without cash, there is no way of paying for anything without being tracked.
  • Striding with ITV into the future of news
    Made by Many launched the new version of the ITV News site and are covering their work for it on their company blog. They focussed the project on the question of “What would news be like if we had networked digital media (and digital cameras and phones and laptops) but there had never been newspapers or broadcast TV news programmes?” Tons of great insights about how to develop digital products in this series of articles.

What we read this week (10 Feb)

A week that prominently featured outcry over how web services handle our data, a Q&A with Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley and some thoughts on the Death of the Cyberflâneur.

The reason the Web took off is not because it was a magic idea, but because I persuaded everyone to use HTML and HTTP.

Tim Berners-Lee about the social process of trying to get everyone to use the same standards

As the room lit up with projections of Call of Duty footage, Nyan Cat animations and sample-heavy bass, I couldn’t stop thinking that this show was among the signs that “Internet culture” is now just culture.

Anthony Volodkin about a recent Skrillex show

  • RWW: Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley on What He’s Learning From Twitter and What’s Next
    Dennis Crowley speaks about the future of Foursquare and how his service will become more mainstream.
  • The Next Web: Path’s Address Book Mistake Shows an Apple Problem Path has been caught uploading their users’ entire address books to their servers as soon as one installs their app on an iOS device. The outcry was and is big. Rightfully so. Still, there is a larger issue to be discussed here. It’s how we started accepting privacy-related questions in a way that Facebook, Apple and Google want us to see them. Time to demand from the services we use to be transparent upfront about how they intend to use our data.
  • Pinterest is quietly generating revenue by modifying user submitted pins
    Pinterest, while officially still in beta, sees tremendous growth. Now they are even started earning money, which is not objectionable. The way they chose to start monetizing is quite questionable, though: They alter user submitted links to include referral codes, thus collecting affiliate kickbacks – without making that obvious to their users.
  • NYTimes: The Death of the Cyberflâneur
    We share Evgeny Morozov’s opinion on Facebook’s “frictionless sharing.” But services like Tumblr and Twitter make us think that the cyberflâneur is alive and well.
  • Slate: How the hot ad agency fell from grace.
    “I come to bury Crispin, not to praise it.” Slate’s Seth Stevenson, never a fan of the ad-world-darling Crisipin Porter & Bogusky, rips them apart for their work on VW and Burger King, which have dropped CPB in 2010 and 2011.

What we read this week (3 Feb)

A taste of this week’s reading: Quora tackles the facts and figures in Facebook’s IPO application, the New York Times mulls over the growing pains in cyborg life, and the state of the future.

Quotes of the week

Maybe our desire to digitize and archive every little thing is not proof of a fear of forgetting. It’s a manifestation of our urge to remember how to remember.

Carina Chocano

What if you didn’t buy books so much as join them?

Megan Garber

Articles of the week

  • Quora: What are the most notable aspects of Facebook’s S-1?
    The Quora community expounds on Facebook’s IPO, providing a nice mix of editorial and factual content. The answers are dotted with interesting tidbits from the company’s IPO registration statement (S-1). The word ‘control’, for instance, is mentioned 131 times in the document, compared to 35 mentions of ‘privacy’.
  • Dan Pink: The Flip Manifesto
    Dan Pink offers 16 pieces of business advice that “[flip] conventional wisdom.” His points include “for Godsakes, talk like a human being” and “take as much vacation as you want.” He introduces his thinking with a case study of one of our best-known contemporary entrepreneurs: Bob the Builder. If you’re not feeling quite up to reading the whole thing, watch Dan’s 10-minute animated talk on motivation at the RSA.
  • Parker Higgins: Twitter’s best-in-class censorship reveals weaknesses in centralized corporate communication channels
    Our friend Parker Higgins, who recently moved to San Francisco to work for the EFF, with an on-point assertion about the implications of Twitter’s censorship acknowledgment.
  • New York Times: The Dilemma of Being a Cyborg
    Carina Chocano discusses what we experience when we lose our data, or “the constantly generated, centrally stored evidence of our existence.” A perceptive take on the interplay between human life and technology.
  • Imperica: The future of the future
    Leila Johnston and Chris Heathcote discuss the future of… the future, and of advertising. As our notion of the future has become very blurry compared to the 50s, their grasp of the current state of futurism is a must-read. Along the way we learn that advertising can stay relevant, particularly if it fulfills a need beyond just advertising a product.

What we read this week (20 Jan)

In this week’s reads: Facebook wants to get into your car, Nike tracks your heartbeats, Apple’s iBook Author shakes the bookshelves, and William Gibson makes a not-unusual cameo appearance.

Quotes of the week

Metaphors are useful, as they enable the thin skein of connectivity between bodies of thought; yet they are also a leaky mechanism, potentially losing much richness from original concept to translation.

Dan Hill

Is serendipity just the playing out on the human level of the same emerging, patterned self-organization that drives evolution?

Simon G. Powell

Articles of the week

What we read (New Years Edition)

Welcome back. We hope, you had a great time off. Here’s a collection of articles we read through the break. Let them help you fire up your brain.

Welcome back. We hope, you had a great time off. Here’s a collection of articles we read through the break. Let them help you fire up your brain.

It’s not information overload, it’s information overconsumption that’s the problem.

Clay Johnson

  • WIRED: How Smartphones Are Changing Photography: The Numbers Are In
    No day goes by where we don’t snap a few shots with our camera phones. Yet, numbers on the overall role of smart phones in the world of photography were relatively rare. This just changed. Here are some solid statistics of “regular” cameras vs camera phones.
  • Tencent vs. Sina: The Fight for China’s Social Graph
    While Europe and the US are being dominated by Facebook and Twitter, in China it’s a completely different picture. In the land behind the Great Firewall, Tencent and Sina compete for the number one spot.
  • What It Looks Like Inside Amazon.com
    Ordering things on Amazon is easy. But what happens after we click on the button then sends our order to one of Amazon’s many servers? Here is a look into the inside.
  • Interview: Gabe Newell
    “In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.” – Gabe Newell, Co-founder & CEO of Valve Entertainment, a gaming industry giant that not only developed some of the most successful games, but also is a pioneer in inventing new distribution models.
  • The year in mobile apps: Where we’ve been, where we’re going
    A brief, but nevertheless interesting wrap up about mobile apps in 2011. Attention: US centric.
  • Rediff.com Business: India needs to rethink notion of ‘smart cities’
    India (and China for that matter) are in the unique position of having to build many cities from scratch. With an ever increasing population that demands better living conditions, those countries are poised for this large scale projects. At the same time, the approach to ‘smart cities’ needs to be redefined. Technology should help the people who will be living in those cities.
  • The Spirit of Mega
    Back in 2004, Wired Magazine send out Bruce Sterling on a tour around the world to explore true ‘mega projects’. From the Eiffel tower, CERN and Shanghai, he managed to capture not only the largest accomplishments of humanity, but also the spirit that is required to build them. A fascinating, long read.
  • VICE: The Future of Pointless Things
    Julian Bleecker runs the Near Future Laboratory and he is one of the few people out there who can say that without it sounding a bit over the top. So when he gives an interview to the good people of VICE magazine, it’s obvious for us to read it. If you are interested in a healthy discussion about culture, technology, design, design fiction and reality in general, this is highly recommended.
  • GigaOm: Why Berlin is poised to be Europe’s new tech hub
    Om Malik reports back from his visit in Berlin and shares his analysis of Berlin as a startup hub. His findings aren’t terribly surprising (Berlin has lots of potential but the startup ecosystem is just beginning to bloom), yet it’s always interesting to learn a Silicon Valley veteran’s point of view about the city. Plus, plenty of our friends are featured, including our office mates Gidsy.
  • Mashable: Louis CK Earns $1 Million in 12 Days With $5 Video
    American comedian Louis CK released a holiday special: Exclusive video material of one of his gigs for $5 – no DRM or other copy protection, no marketing. Just a very simple deal. Pay 5 bucks, get a video. In 12 days he made USD 1m, cutting out his publishers completely. Point proven.
  • The age of emotions
    Tariq Krim, CEO of Jolicloud, talks about what he perceives to be the next age on the web: “The age of emotion is the third age of the Internet and marks a certain maturity in how we as application developers should serve the user and respect its inner emotional balance.”

What we read this week (Dec 23)

This week’s reading list features a Google tablet, Facebook as a customer service tool, stats on mobile and social media in Japa, thoughts on Amazon’s role in changing e-publishing and much more.

Ubiquitous computing is roughly the opposite of virtual reality. Where virtual reality puts people inside a computer-generated world, ubiquitous computing forces the computer to live out here in the world with people.

Mark Weiser

What we read this week (Dec 16)

This week we read about smart homes, customer service, remix culture as the new prohibition, patents, Facebook’s revenues and ROI in Social Media Marketing.

Quotes of the week

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be creating things on the web. This year’s advances in browsers, standards, and smart thinking have enabled us to finally begin to web design. We’re no longer forced to think of the web as a digital reproduction of physical pages, but rather to finally embrace it as its own thing.

Dan Cederholm

The hardest thing to do, and I think the most important, is for agency leaders to unlearn everything we’ve been taught over the years. It’s very hard for people my age to admit they don’t know anything. Fact is, when I was young, I asked older people for advice. Now I’m old, and I ask younger people for advice. Our role as leaders is no longer to be the experts.

Clark Kokich, Razorfish

Articles of the week

  • Can’t get no satisfaction: Why service companies can’t keep their promises
    Dave Gray of Dachis again with another look at the service economy and the foundations for a decent customer service.
  • Homesense Final Report
    Georgina Voss and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino ran the Homesense project for two years, and helped a number of households enhance their homes through networked technology. (No internet fridges, though!) Here’s the final report with their key findings.
  • Waxy: No Copyright Intended
    “Remix culture is the new Prohibition, with massive media companies as the lone voices calling for temperance.” – A wonderfully insightful article by Andy Baio about a generation of people growing up without even understanding the fundamental concept of copyright.
  • TechCrunch: Apple Made A Deal With The Devil (No, Worse: A Patent Troll)
    Especially over the course of the last 12 months, we have seen an increase in the number of lawsuits targeting manufacturers of Android-based devices. Some of them came from Microsoft, some from Oracle, but mostly it was Apple who was trying to prevent others from competing with their products. In an unusual journalistic quality, Jason Kinacid from TechCrunch depicts how Apple transferred valuable patents to a company that can only be described as a patent troll to increase the opportunity for lawsuits. While the use of patents in general is debatable, it becomes obvious that Apple is using those tactics not to protect their assets, but to hinder innovation.
  • Business Insider: Facebook’s Revenue Numbers Just Leaked, And The Numbers Look Underwhelming
    An interesting glimpse into what seem to be Facebook’s revenues. Let’s just say: Facebook is definitely turning a solid profit, but failing the high expectations. Read the full article for some more concrete meat.
  • What I Learned When I Started a Design Studio
    Khoi Vinh with valuable insights that apply to many more businesses than just design studios.
  • There is No ROI in Social Media Marketing
    Sean Jackson, CFO of Copyblogger, says that asking for the RoI of social media is like asking for the RoI of your employees using email. Marketing is not an investment but an essential communication tool.