“Over the last few decades, nearly all the economic growth and job growth in the U.S. has come from high-growth technology companies. That growth is driven by companies like Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and VMware (which didn’t even exist 15 years ago), and companies like Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Zynga (which didn’t even exist 10 years ago). Then of course there’s Apple, which brought itself back from the grave in the beginning of this decade and is now the world’s most valuable public company. Collectively these companies have created almost a trillion dollars in new wealth over the last decade and a half.”—Transformational Entrepreneurship: Where Technology Meets Societal Impact - Harvard Business Review
“When they look back at this era, Internet historians will mark Facebook’s Instagram acquisition as the symbolic moment when the Great Shift was confirmed. Significantly, it also came soon after Steve Jobs’ death. The device that Jobs created had, within the space of five years, allowed a 551-day-old company with 14 employees to become worth $1 billion. On April 9, 2012, Web 2.0 lost its mantle as the most important Internet paradigm. We are now starting the Age of Mobile.”—Web 2.0 Is Over, All Hail the Age of Mobile
Kids learned to use e-readers quickly even though 43 percent of them had never used a computer before. Also, not surprisingly, they were quick to discover “the multimedia aspects of the e-reader, such as music and Internet features.”
Near-zero theft. Only two e-readers (out of 600) were lost in the whole study, partly because “community involvement was encouraged through e-reader pledges, community outreach programs, and support from community leaders.”
Kids got access to way more books. Before the study, primary-school students had access to an average of 3.6 books at home. Junior-high students had access to an average of 8.6 books at home and high-school students access to an average of 11 books. With the e-reader program, kids had access to an average of 107 book.
Primary school students’ test scores improved, but effects on older kids were less clear. The reading scores of primary-school students who received e-readers increased from 12.9 percent to 15.7 percent. But results for older kids were mixed.
Students sought out access to international news. “Amazon data revealed that students were downloading The New York Times, USA Today, and El País etc., demonstrating that students want to access a wide range of reading materials that were previously inaccessible.”
Kindles break too easily. Worldreader had not predicted how many Kindles would break: 243 out of 600, or 40.5 percent.
The program appears cost-effective. Worldreader estimates that “for the years 2014-2018, using a calculation focused strictly on the provisioning of textbooks, the e-reader system would cost only $8.93-$11.40 more per student over a 4 year period [$0.19 to $0.24 per month] than the traditional paper book system.”
Americans generate more trash than anyone else on the planet: more than 7 pounds per person each day. About 69% of that trash goes immediately into landfills. And most landfill trash is made up of containers and packaging — almost all of which should be recycled.
…It’s estimated that the weight of plastic finding its way into the sea each year is equivalent to the weight of 40 aircraft carriers.
“In a given day we translate roughly as much text as you’d find in 1 million books. To put it another way: what all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, our system translates in roughly a single day. By this estimate, most of the translation on the planet is now done by Google Translate.”—Google research scientist | Google Now Translates As Much Text in a Day As Human Pros Can in a Year
“As it is, women remain acutely underrepresented in the coding and engineering professions. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, in 2011 just 20% of all programmers were women. A smaller percentage of women are earning undergraduate computer science degrees today than they did in 1985, according to the National Center for Women in Technology, and between 2000 and 2011 the percentage of women in the computing workforce dropped 8%, while men’s share increased by 16%. Only 6% of VC-backed tech startups in 2010 were headed by women.”—"Gangbang Interviews" and "Bikini Shots": Silicon Valley’s Brogrammer Problem
Take, for example, Little League games. What grandparent wouldn’t love to read an account of the highlights from her kid’s game? But what newspaper is going to send reporters to cover them? None. Narrative Science has figured out a way to fill in that gap. With an iPhone app called GameChanger, parents can enter a game’s play-by-play, down to each pitch. Supplied with that data, Narrative Science’s computer programs can create little write-ups of the games which grandparents and all avid Little League fans the world over can read online.
…The program even displays some “emotional intelligence” in its Little League reporting: Grandparents, as it turns out, don’t really want to read a straight drama of ups and downs, as though they had no dog in the fight. They want to kvell. “So,” Levy writes, “the algorithmic accounts of those matchups ignore dropped fly balls and focus on the heroics.”
Harvard may be the second-wealthiest nonprofit institution in the world (right behind the Catholic Church) but even so the price tag for its collection of academic journal bundles lining its libraries’ shelves is too high: close to $3.75 million, according to a memo from a faculty committee released last week. Some journals cost as much as $40,000.
The academic publishing industry is renowned for its unwieldy market power, which has enabled it to push prices ever upward, keep research locked away for subscribers only, even though its product is the fundamentally the result of university-paid faculty working on publicly-funded research. As Geroge Monbiot explains in The Guardian:
What we see here is pure rentier capitalism: monopolising a public resource then charging exorbitant fees to use it. Another term for it is economic parasitism. To obtain the knowledge for which we have already paid, we must surrender our feu to the lairds of learning.
“'They're happy little doggy-dwarves who are always smiling. They're sort of demented and funny-looking in a way but then also really cute, and they don't care, they're always optimistic.' Translation: The Internet so loves a corgi because the Internet, in essence, IS a corgi.”—Seriously, What’s So Great About Corgis? - The Atlantic
“More than $12 billion was generated by mobile gaming in 2011 with 34% of the top grossing apps in the app store using the freemium model. Once someone is hooked, they’ll continue to spend a few dollars to continue to enhance their play. On average freemium games make $12.92 a month per user.”—The rise of the billion dollar mobile gaming market
“It’s not just maps, photos and geo locations that number crunchers crave. Tumblr, after all, is a blog network full of cat photos, animated GIFs and other tomfoolery. Yet last year its already booming traffic grew an additional 300 percent. As the Web comic XKCD noted a day before Gnip’s announcement, the proper noun “Tumblr” is perhaps six months away from surpassing “blogging” in online searches, much the way “Google” became synonymous with the verb “search” a decade earlier.”—PAUL SMALERA: All your Tumblr are belong to Them (via reuters)
“These micro- and supermicro-size social networks aren’t competing directly with Facebook or even with one another. Conceivably, one could be active on all of them. But then we may bump up against a new neurological limit: the maximum number of social networks that the human brain can handle.”—Why Path is no Instagram
In the article, Margaret Donnelly, a bartender in Key West described recent spring breakers as “very prudish” and said there “are far fewer wet T-shirt contests— a spring break mainstay — in town today”. She commented, “They are so afraid everyone is going to take their picture and put it online. Ten years ago people were doing filthy, filthy things, but it wasn’t posted on Facebook.”
“Thanks to technology’s mass appeal and accessibility, on a daily basis we collectively produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, and the growth rate is so high that 90% of all information ever created was produced in the last two years alone.”—Data wars: Unlocking the information goldmine (via myserendipities)
“Even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation. When a platform is self-service, even the improbable ideas can get tried, because there’s no expert gatekeeper ready to say “that will never work!” And guess what – many of those improbable ideas do work, and society is the beneficiary of that diversity.”—Jeff Bezos | Bezos Talks Innovation In The Publishing Space
“General news is not relevant to young people because they don’t have context. It’s a lot of abstract storytelling and arguing among adults that makes no sense. So most young people end up consuming celebrity news. To top it off, news agencies, for obvious reasons, are trying to limit access to their content by making you pay for it. Well, guess what: Young people aren’t going out of their way to try to find this news, so you put up one little wall, and poof, done. They’re not even going to bother.”—
Said (Microsoft researcher) Danah Boyd, addressing why young people aren’t following traditional, regular news.
FJP: Can’t help but think of this, for one thing. Also, if you’re interested: Jonathan Stray on making news immersive.
“Before Instagram, Facebook was used exclusively to share content - it didn’t provide tools to actually create content (with the exception of typed status updates). It left creation to others - notably Zynga for games, native camera applications for photos, and record labels/Spotify for music. The Instagram acquisition signals Facebook’s recognition that it is important to have a hand in the creation of content… I may spend two minutes shooting and reshooting a photo that my wife is finally happy with, but only four seconds posting that photo to Facebook.”—5 Things the Experts Say You Need to Know About the Facebook-Instagram Merger
It’s creepy because it seems designed to eliminate all the parts of life that are effectively games of chance. It’s designed to make you 100 percent efficient — and therefore about half as happy.
…There is a weird sense in which this technology treats everything unintended as if it is unwelcome: It is fundamentally opposed to the idea of figuring anything out for yourself. It advances the notion that we are entitled to a noncorporeal, completely nonpersonal presence we talk to like a person (“Where’s the music section?”) so we don’t have to expend the mental energy to suffer the indignity and inconvenience of potentially taking a wrong turn in a bookstore. We’re not talking here about turn-by-turn navigation that keeps you from heading for Boston and winding up in Charlotte. We’re talking about stamping out every trace of inefficiency in pursuit of a life where every right turn that would most directly have been a left becomes a problem to be solved.
“Silicon Valley needs to take itself more seriously? Why? Because it’s a multi-billion dollar industry that “employs people”? So is the porn industry. If anything, we should take ourselves less seriously because we’re all about changing the game, innovating, disrupting, etc.”—Alexia Tsotsis | Silicon Valley Needs To Take Itself More Seriously*
“Instagram had grown so fast that Systrom appeared on-stage last month at SXSW to announce that the app had 27 million registered users. That was nearly twice the size of Foursquare and the app was still only on one platform. If you consider that Apple has said it has sold a cumulative 315 million iOS devices to date, that implies that Instagram is probably on more than 10 percent of all active iPhones.”—From 0 To $1 Billion In Two Years: Instagram’s Rose-Tinted Ride To Glory
“Facebook and Instagram are two distinct companies with two distinct personalities. Instagram has what Facebook craves – passionate community. People like Facebook. People use Facebook. People love Instagram.”—Om Malik | Here is why Facebook bought Instagram
“Facebook was scared shitless and knew that for first time in its life it arguably had a competitor that could not only eat its lunch, but also destroy its future prospects. Why? Because Facebook is essentially about photos, and Instagram had found and attacked Facebook’s achilles heel — mobile photo sharing.”—Om Malik | Here is why Facebook bought Instagram
“The very surprising announcement this morning that Facebook is acquiring Instagram for $1 billion says a lot about the state of the web startup ecosystem and the tech world at large — and no doubt, a large part of the industry (and the blogs that breathlessly cover it) will be analyzing what it all means for a while. But for a big part of the financial sector, the deal signals one thing: Facebook has officially made its debut as a major buy-side player when it comes to mergers and acquisitions.”—With Instagram Buy, Facebook Officially Pushes M&A Strategy Beyond The ‘Acqui-hire’
“It was only later that I realized the value of being bored was actually pretty high. Being bored is a kind of diagnostic for the gap between what you might be interested in and your current environment. But now it is an act of significant discipline to say, “I’m going to stare out the window. I’m going to schedule some time to stare out the window.” The endless gratification offered up by our devices means that the experience of reading in particular now becomes something we have to choose to do.”—Clay Shirky - How Will We Read (via bijan)
A new United States Geological Survey study has found that middle America between Alabama and Montana is experiencing an "unprecedented" and "almost certainly manmade" increase in earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2011, there were 134 events of that size. That’s six times more than were normally seen during the 20th century.
While the changes in the area’s seismicity began in 2001, the trend has really accelerated since 2009, the geologists note. That happens to coincide with increased oil and gas production using new extraction techniques in some parts of the area.