Cory Leonard

Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Content = King

In media, tech on September 25, 2012 at 5:23 am

Can magazines, the good old fashioned print dinosaurs turn a profit?  A spotlight by David Carr at NYT on the owner of Atlantic Media seems to indicate tough times for the print world.  David G. Bradley apparently lost “$8 to 10 million a year” getting The Atlantic seaworthy, to no avail.

Blogging for the firm exitcreative, two bright spots appear:

“The Economist” is a trite answer to a separate question – “Who’s killing it with content?” – but it’s worth noting that their $130 annual subscription ends up in the hands of only around 1.5 million people. In spite of that relatively small number, the magazine makes money. £60MM every year. And that figure is growing.

Cook’s Illustrated is a less-cited example, but they continue to impress. They’re private, so they’re not quite as easy to assess as a business, but they seem to be growing, making money off a model that doesn’t include advertising, and experimenting effectively in the digital space. They publish 6 issues each year, do not discount their subscription rates, and charge for the digital version even if you get the magazine in the mail. And remarkably, somewhere near 80% of their one million subscribers re-up annually. Gangster.

via exitcreative | exitcreative is a blog about digital things, brand things, and real things..

 

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Author Pico Iyer: Seeking Stillness and Silence in the Rush of Business Life – Knowledge@Wharton

In tech on March 12, 2012 at 9:35 pm

A fresh take on globalization, interconnected traffic, and “stillness’ from a remarkable writer:

I think the fear of being disconnected quickly translates into an inability to see things in the long term. I think it’s like the difference between being stuck in traffic when the radio’s blasting and people are shouting and people are riding their horns. And then if you just step out of your car and climb a hill next to the freeway, within about three minutes you can instantly see the larger picture in every sense. You can breathe and you can decide exactly how you want to respond to it. But so long as you’re in the middle of it, you’re in the midst of the trees and can’t begin to see the woods.

via Author Pico Iyer: Seeking Stillness and Silence in the Rush of Business Life – Knowledge@Wharton.

 

After ‘Moneyball,’ Data Guys Are Triumphant – NYTimes.com

In tech on October 3, 2011 at 6:43 am

Why the data-driven will rule the new world:

“The book impacted the way I looked at data,” he says. “And it impacted those around me, allowing me to go farther afield with those data than usual.”

At its heart, of course, “Moneyball” isn’t about baseball. It’s not even about statistics. Rather, it’s about challenging conventional wisdom with data. By embedding this lesson in the story of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, the book has lured millions of readers into the realm of the geek. Along the way, it converted many into empirical evangelists.

This evangelism has created opportunities for the analytically minded. Julia Rozovsky is a Yale M.B.A. student who studied economics and math as an undergraduate, a background that prepared her for a traditional — and lucrative — consulting career. Instead, partly as a result of reading “Moneyball” and finding like-minded people, she pointed herself toward work in analytics. This summer, she interned at the People Analytics group at Google.

via After ‘Moneyball,’ Data Guys Are Triumphant – NYTimes.com.

The Greatness of Steve Jobs

In tech on September 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Nocera sums up Steve Jobs contrasting (and unlikeable) qualities, as well as his achievements.

The businessman I met 25 years ago violated every rule of management. He was not a consensus-builder but a dictator who listened mainly to his own intuition. He was a maniacal micromanager. He had an astonishing aesthetic sense, which businesspeople almost always lack. He could be absolutely brutal in meetings: I watched him eviscerate staff members for their “bozo ideas.”

The Steve Jobs I watched that week was arrogant, sarcastic, thoughtful, learned, paranoid and “insanely” (to use one of his favorite words) charismatic.

The Steve Jobs the rest of the world has gotten to know in the nearly 15 years since he returned to Apple is no different. He never mellowed, never let up on Apple employees, never stopped relying on his singular instincts in making decisions about how Apple products should look and how they should work. Just a few months ago, Fortune published an article about life inside Apple; it opened with an anecdote in which Jobs cut his staff to ribbons for putting out a product that failed to meet his standards. But his instincts have been so unerringly good — and his charisma so powerful — that Apple employees were willing to follow him wherever he led. Apple will miss those instincts.

via What Makes Steve Jobs Great – NYTimes.com.

 

To add to the uncharitable views of Jobs, Rebecca Greenfield of the Atlantic makes the case–along with Andrew Ross Sorkin–that he doesn’t appear to believe in charitable giving.  But he still has time, at least I hope so.

Arguing Online, via The Backfire Effect

In politics, tech on June 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Why it doesn’t pay to argue–and what it says about what gets our attention:

The last time you got into, or sat on the sidelines of, an argument online with someone who thought they knew all there was to know about health care reform, gun control, gay marriage, climate change, sex education, the drug war, Joss Whedon or whether or not 0.9999 repeated to infinity was equal to one – how did it go?

Did you teach the other party a valuable lesson? Did they thank you for edifying them on the intricacies of the issue after cursing their heretofore ignorance, doffing their virtual hat as they parted from the keyboard a better person?

No, probably not. Most online battles follow a similar pattern, each side launching attacks and pulling evidence from deep inside the web to back up their positions until, out of frustration, one party resorts to an all-out ad hominem nuclear strike. If you are lucky, the comment thread will get derailed in time for you to keep your dignity, or a neighboring commenter will help initiate a text-based dogpile on your opponent.

What should be evident from the studies on the backfire effect is you can never win an argument online. When you start to pull out facts and figures, hyperlinks and quotes, you are actually making the opponent feel as though they are even more sure of their position than before you started the debate. As they match your fervor, the same thing happens in your skull. The backfire effect pushes both of you deeper into your original beliefs.

via The Backfire Effect « You Are Not So Smart.

What’s Wrong with Social Media?

In media, tech on May 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Yes–Twitter is good for crises and quips but not for the serious, protracted discussion that is an essential part of society.  Bill Keller opines:

Almost everyone who had anything profound to say in response to my little provocation chose to say it outside Twitter. In an actual discussion, the marshaling of information is cumulative, complication is acknowledged, sometimes persuasion occurs. In a Twitter discussion, opinions and our tolerance for others’ opinions are stunted. Whether or not Twitter makes you stupid, it certainly makes some smart people sound stupid.

via The Twitter Trap – NYTimes.com.

Its not about whether Twitter and social media is good or bad, but rather how to keep it in a proper context. I can interact with people that I would rarely meet on a regular basis. But those interactions can go both ways…and tend toward the superficial. Again, Keller nails it:

There is a growing library of credible digital Cassandras who have explored what new media are doing to our brains (Nicholas Carr, Jaron Lanier, Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, William Powers, et al.). My own anxiety is less about the cerebrum than about the soul, and is best summed up not by a neuroscientist but by a novelist. In Meg Wolitzer’s charming new tale, “The Uncoupling,” there is a wistful passage about the high-school cohort my daughter is about to join.

Wolitzer describes them this way: “The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing.”

In The New Yorker Adam Gopnik packages approaches to technology in a discussion of the book Hamlet’s Blackberry as technology advocates, foes, and other taking the long view that social media is just like the Guttenberg Bible or printing press or Xerox machine—an innovation that occurs as part of the cycles of history.

Campus Bloggers featured in NYT Education Life

In politics, tech on April 21, 2011 at 1:38 am

Featured academic blogs from left, right and center–and all pretty well informed about what they spout.  The shortlist includes Althouse (slightly right), Instapundit (libertarian transhumanist),The Volkh Conspiracy (libertarian-conservative), Crooked Timber (social democratic),  Greg Mankiew’s Blog (right leaning mainstream), Informed Comment (left leaning), and The Becker-Posner Blog (small govm’t, private sector).

Online, professors are often highly political, deeply personal and, per the format’s wont, downright snarky in ways they are not in the classroom. Some academic blogs are pure polemic; some are substantive and scholarly, bringing to the national conversation a bit of policy perspective grounded in actual research and expertise. Some speak to their students; most aim for the widest of audiences. What the below blogs share, for better or worse, is influence.

via Big Blog on Campus – NYTimes.com.

The Market Eats their Young, Sometimes

In career, tech on January 8, 2011 at 1:09 am

Where the jobs are for students right out of college: entrepreneurship.

The lesson may be that entrepreneurship can be a viable career path, not a renegade choice — especially since the promise of “Go to college, get good grades and then get a job,” isn’t working the way it once did. The new reality has forced a whole generation to redefine what a stable job is.

“I’ve seen all these people go to Wall Street, and those were supposed to be the good jobs. Now they are out of work,” says Windsor Hanger, 22, who turned down a marketing position at Bloomingdale’s to work on HerCampus.com, an online magazine. “It’s not a pure dichotomy anymore that entrepreneurship is risky and other jobs are safe, so why not do what I love?”

via Young Entrepreneurs Create Their Own Jobs – NYTimes.com.

 

The only danger is that you may lose your shirt. Here’s how some have.�

 

The lost art of reading

In career, tech on November 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm

If you liked the article, you’ll love the book.  (Well, maybe not, says Christopher Beha).  Even so–the idea that reading is an “act of defiance” and a countermeasure to the speed and distractions of modern life–and an essential mark of the educated, examined life–all point in the right direction.

Here we have the paradox, since in giving up control we somehow gain it, by being brought in contact with ourselves. “My experience,” William James once observed, “is what I agree to attend to” — a line Winifred Gallagher uses as the epigraph of “Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life” (Penguin Press: 244 pp., $25.95). In Gallagher’s analysis, attention is a lens through which to consider not just identity but desire. Who do we want to be, she asks, and how do we go about that process of becoming in a world of endless options, distractions, possibilities?

via The lost art of reading – Page 4 – Los Angeles Times.

Lord of the Internet Rings – NYTimes.com

In tech on October 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm

 

Usually Dowd annoys as she carries the burden of cleverness.  (How to come up with catchy nicknames all the time that are fit to print?).  But here I give due where it is deserved.  Her essay comparing “Das Rheingold” to “The Social Network” is brilliant (dare I say “Brooks-like”) in its timeliness, insight, and literary themes:

This is a drama about quarrels over riches, social hierarchy, envy, theft and the consequence of deceit — a world upended where the vassals suddenly become lords and the lords suddenly lose their magic.

 

 

The beauty who rejects the gnome at the start is furious when he turns around and betrays her, humiliating her before the world. And the giant brothers looming over the action justifiably feel they’ve provided the keys to the castle and want their reward. One is more trusting than the other, but both go berserk, feeling they’ve been swindled after entering into a legitimate business compact.

But as I watched the opera, my mind kept flashing to the “The Social Network,” another dazzling drama about quarrels over riches, social hierarchy, envy, theft and the consequences of deceit. A Sony executive called “The Social Network,” the David Fincher-Aaron Sorkin movie about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his circle of ex-friends and partners, “the first really modern movie.” Yet the strikingly similar themes in Wagner’s feudal “Das Rheingold” — the Ring cycle is based on the medieval German epic poem “Das Nibelungenlied,” which some experts say helped inspire J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” — underscore how little human drama changes through the ages. …

We are always fighting about social status, identity, money, power, turf, control, lust and love. We are always trying to get even, get more and climb higher. And we are always trying to cross the bridge to Valhalla.

 

 

via Op-Ed Columnist – Lord of the Internet Rings – NYTimes.com.