Our reads this week: the successful phenomenon of mobile money in the emerging markets, the advantages Google has over Facebook without having to push Google+, news on cyberwar (against Iran, once again), the case against share buttons in social media and some pretty nauseous reflections on the future.
Quotes of the week
More than a billion people in emerging and developing markets have cell phones but no bank accounts.
–Beth Cobert, Brigit Helms and Doug Perk
Articles of the week
- The Atlantic: How Google Can Beat Facebook Without Google Plus
Alexis Madrigal’s excellent analysis of why Google Plus isn’t working as planned, and how it might find its way in social media by taking a completely different, more organic approach to community building.
- Wired: Meet ‘Flame,’ The Massive Spy Malware Infiltrating Iranian Computers
After Stuxnet and Doqu, we will apparently have to remember Flame (or Flamer) in the list of viruses/malwares that represent the state of cyberwar. Wired’s Threat Level has a detailed report on this one.
- Robin Sloan: Pictures and vision
Robin Sloan explains how the Google vs Facebook battle could evolve in a very different way from what we might expect right now. He points out that the concepts that drive the two companies’ success might come down to photos and what he calls ‘vision,’ or making sense of what we’re seeing.
- Information Architects: Sweep the Sleaze
iA’s Oliver Reichenstein explains why the now all-too-familiar share buttons that appear on the edges of so many websites only depreciate the value of content. He makes the case for removing these buttons altogether.
- Ribbonfarm: Welcome to the Future Nauseous
You don’t have to wait 10 years for the future to happen because the future is basically happening as we speak. The article takes us on a virtual time travel, asking us to reflect on the changes that have taken place. The environment changed, but we stayed all the same. How are we able to prepare for, plan and deal with the future, at the same time managing to deny it taking place right here and right now?
Lots of great articles this week. Read about a Somali terrorist group’s social media strategy, the internet as a human right (or not), networked science, the way copyright is broken and plenty more.
Quotes of the week
The best way to predict the future is to hang out with some of the outliers already living it. We don’t make ‘predictions,’ but instead tell stories about the people and products that are exciting us before they’ve gone mainstream.
Internet Access Is Not a Human Right.
Articles of the week
- Slate: Twitter of Terror
A Somali militant group unveils a new social media strategy for terrorists.
- Duke University: What Could Have Entered the Public Domain on January 1, 2012?
The copyright system is pretty badly broken. Duke University’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain shows a few of the cultural works that would have entered the Public Domain – allowing you to reproduce, remix, and share them – under the copyright law in its 1978 version. That is, before copyright was extended from 28 years after publication to last ridiculously long, namely for 70 years after the author’s death. There is a whole treasure trove of culture, locked away and in many cases inaccessible.
- mobiThinking: Global mobile statistics 2011
A comprehensive, massive overview of mobile stats for 2011.
- anideo: Harmony
Apple’s overall success is being mostly attributed to their superiority in design. While there is no argument about their excellence in this field, it is much more then just the design that leads to such success.
- The Atlantic: To Know, but Not Understand
The Berkman Center’s David Weinberger, internet theorist and author of seminal books like The Cluetrain Manifesto and Small Pieces Loosely Joined, tackles a new subject: Big Data, and how to deal with it. This article offers an abstract of Weinberger’s new book.
- heise online: Sparkassen führen NFC-Payment ein
(Article in German) It is somewhat of a surprise to see the German Sparkassen Group implement NFC chips into their normal banking cards starting 2012. Nevertheless, we are curious how both consumers and retail will react to it and how the conversation will be shaped by this announcement.
- The Next Web: Amazon’s e-book tax loophole could mean lower European prices, but that’s bad for UK competition
Without making much fuss, Luxembourg cut the VAT, and in effect ebook prices for consumers. Ebooks, unlike paper books, are subject to full VAT across the EU. So this could change market dynamics quite a bit: Both Amazon and Apple sell their ebooks from Luxembourg, and might now be able to undercut local book prices. Here’s the German perspective (in German).
- New York Times: Internet Access is Not a Human Right.
As an elder of information technology and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, Vint Cerf says the internet should not be a human right. Sounds outrageous? The point Cerf makes is an excellent one, actually: It’s important not to protect the tool, but rather its empowering qualities. A must read.
- ReadWriteWeb: Google+ Is Going To Mess Up The Internet
Jon Mitchell, one of the regular authors at RWW, documents his frustration with Google+. An interesting read with some very well placed arguments. The problem with Google+ right now is that nobody really can figure out what Google wants it to become and as soon people stumble into new insights around it, it becomes all very overdramatized and hectic. Google needs to take charge of the communication around its favorite product. But then again, Google was never good at that.
- brand eins: Das digitale Urheberrecht steht am Abgrund
Brand Eins, certainly one of the best business magazines in Germany, inquires into the way copyright works – or fails to work – in a digital context. It’s a long, in-depth interview in German. Well worth reading.
- Clay Shirky: Newspapers, Paywalls and Core Users
Newspapers have been experimenting with paid vs free content for a number of years, sometimes more, often less successfully. Clay Shirky thinks that 2012 might be the year where newspaper economics could start working out. That is, they might work out once newspapers stop treating all news as a product and all readers as customers.
- GigaOM: You are what you curate: Why Pinterest is hawt
A nice overview of a trend that’s been surging for awhile now, and is still gathering steam: Online content curation. Focusing on Pinterest, GigaOM explains why curation services are so successful and why we can expect a wave of services that make curation even more streamlined and structured.
- CNN: Digital music sales top physical sales
Digital music purchases accounted for 50.3% of music sales in 2011. That’s a first, and proves beyond any doubt that consumers are willing to pay for online content, and that the CD won’t be missed for long. Now the big question is: Will we see music purchases rise further, or see on demand streaming take over? In other words, is it ownership or access to music that consumers are willing to pay for?
- Forbes: The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives
Sydney Finkelstein, a professor of management, did intensive research on some of the biggest corporate fails in recent history (Enron, Tyco, WorldCom etc.). Some years ago, he published the 7 habits that the senior executives at these companies all had in common. Eric Jackson has revisited them for Forbes. Recommended reading for anyone in executive positions.
- Do Designers Actually Exploit The Poor While Trying To Do Good?
A very interesting discussion with Jan Chipchase about design research and the work of big corporations in third world countries.