What we read this week (28 June)

Infrastructure fiction, life lessons from Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, Booz Allen and its relationship with US intelligence, barriers for growth in emerging markets and using data more effectively in marketing.

Quote of the week

Focusing on a clearly identified destination is highly overrated.

Adam Brault

We owned the devices, but they owned the servers. They won.

Shoshana Zuboff

Articles of the week

  • An Introduction To Infrastructure Fiction
    Writer, futurist and infrastructure researcher Paul Graham Raven in a piece for Superflux, in which he describes how the thought processes of design fiction can be used to work on serious, though perhaps less sexy, infrastructural problems, with the goal of creating a more sustainable way of living. Some great argumentation, complete with helpful Douglas Adams metaphors.
  • Six Things We Learned From Patagonia’s Founder Yvon Chouinard
    A refreshingly direct Chouinard on making the world better through pessimism, the importance of connecting to nature and taking things slow, avoiding consumerism and cheating, and other life lessons.
  • Booz Allen, the World’s Most Profitable Spy Organization
    More on the Snowden saga, this time with a portrait of the company he worked for, Booz Allen, its cooperation with government intelligence agencies, and how this relationship inadvertently made room for events like the recent leaks to happen.
  • Emerging Markets, Hitting a Wall
    “Sustained, meteoric growth in emerging economies may no longer be possible,” as this New York Times article explains, as a result of increased automation, global supply chains, greater economic gaps and aging populations, and why this all means that developing countries may never fully develop.
  • The ‘Big Data’ Fallacy
    Eoin Townsend makes the case for a operating system of sorts for marketing, which would combine Data Management Platforms (DMPs), Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and other sources of data to ensure that the data isn’t simply collected, but put together in such a way as to be useful in developing strategies.

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 (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.