On The Network Manifesto. Ten reasons why the internet isn’t as bad as traditional media wants us to think it is. My favorite: “People make the internet what it is. If you don’t like it, make it better.”
The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable. It’s called Silk Road. The URL is incredibly obscure, you can only access the site through Tor, and Bitcoins (explanation) are the defacto currency. Shipments go through the U.S. Postal Service. It was destined to happen.
The Great Ephemeralization. Big picture: Today’s economic growth indices, like GDP, are poor at accounting for the effects of ephemeralization, or the processby which “special-purpose products are replaced by software running on general-purpose computing devices.”
Disrupting College. New report by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, Louis Soares, and Louis Caldera addresses the challenges faced by our education industry, where disruptive innovation is likely to occur, and offers approaches for existing institutions to adopt. Analysis is spot on.
Cloud Government. I hire Scott Adams to be the new prez.
The Taliban troop with an east London cab driver in its ranks. Warfare where part-time fighters obtain military intelligence from Google Earth and report on operations to superiors with mobile phone video.
Editors have traditionally determined what content runs in the newspaper every day. Teachers have traditionally determined what content runs in the classroom every day. Stated politically correct: both could benefit from tools to better understand customer demand and where areas of oversupply exist.
Also, I want to see an educational institution as a technology company. No mo’ vendors.
The biggest thing for the near future is auto-cars, which will change everything… The costs are there right now. The Google car actually was cost-effective. Think of no traffic congestion, highways that can hold 30 times as much traffic. Half the energy costs. It just goes on and on. The only issue is how powerful will be the Luddites.
[The chief objection of the Luddites will be] the Schumpeterian creative destruction of entrenched interests. For example, every Teamster, cab driver, UPS driver, all these drivers will need to be retrained. Insurance will drop to a fraction of what it costs now. People don’t understand how horrible the average driver is. The number of body shops will be 20 percent of today. It’ll be disruptive, and they will not go away without a fight. Of course, bars will do a great business because drunk driving will be OK.
The first phase will be to keep the seat belts and seats facing forward. After a while the passenger compartment will become a more communal experience, with a table, a desk, a video screen, etc. Think about being dropped off at a restaurant and the car parking itself a mile away for $3. In San Francisco, as I remember, it’s currently over $20 for parking.
What follows are a few of the questions that have been consuming a significant amount my brain cycles recently. This may or may not be a departure from what I might normally post, but I’d like to start using my web presence as a personal data store as much as a place to publish opinionated pieces about this, that, or the other.
Two more notes. First, on the subject of journalism, it’d be fascinating to see beat reporters regularly post their current questions of interest. This may even be a sellable asset. In addition to benefiting from the information they produce, I as a reader could also learn tremendously from their research process.
Second, I literally can not wait until I have a tool that allows me to manage my learning process. Specifically, I’d love to be able to articulate questions that inspire movement towards knowledge, map my answers when I find them, and then computationally mine the activity data for insights.
How many hours a day are wasted trying to solve a problem that has either already been solved or just needs existing data to generate a solution? Which industries spend the greatest amount of time solving information problems, and what would be the economic gains if you could provide the “just-in-time” data needed to solve the problems? What tools do you need to actively monitor and provide for these information needs?
How does the nature of work change when the efficiencies of technology rule an increasing number of jobs obsolete? How is the nature of local business and commerce shifting because of the web and supply chain efficiencies?
What percentage of students have to take out loans for tuition, and how has that number changed over the years? How has the payback period changed in total and by course of study? Does higher education make more or less economic sense? This data repository may hold answers.
What is the breakdown of information provided by a traditional newspaper (how much and of what topics)? What other local information providers overlap with this information, and how much of it is unique to the newspaper? What are the overall information needs of the community, and how do you surface and visualize this?
What percentage of vehicles drive down I-5 with solely a single occupant? How could you incentivize these drivers to self-report their “flight plans”? What systems have attempted to solve this, and what have been their successes and failures?
In what ways can you produce, structure and save a lot of personal data in such a fashion that it can become useful in the aggregate? How do you bake this into your workflow so that it isn’t extra work? What bits of data would be useful on a personal level, a community level, and/or a societal level? Related: absolutely fascinating RadioLab episode explores how the mining of Agatha Christie’s written works led to a surprising insight.
This afternoon held in store for me a fast, engaging conversation with Andrew Jesaitis, a former business manager and colleague at the Whitman Pioneer, who I hear might be getting back into the journalism and media industry. He’s worked for Goldman Sachs since graduating, but will be starting an internship with The Ski Journal in the next couple of months.
I did my best to explain my understanding of how the business is changing, the forces driving the change, and what trends are solidifying for the future. Newspapers and journalism are under the influence of longer-term change because of more ubiquitous ICT, but the current cacophony of crisis is largely due to the biggest recession in half of a century and over-leveraged debt. A lot of the discussion has been centered around the lack of leadership in redefining newspaper business models, but I think Michael Nielsen deserves merit for saying that newspapers might also be failing because their institutional structures are too optimized for an old paradigm. They are too good at what they used to do, and the jump into experimental and uncertain territory is nigh impossible.