Friday, 18 October 2013

What I've been reading this week

Digital’s a broad church and I think you need to read widely to get a sense of the changes it’s bringing.

This week: Google wants your face, Internet advertising is doomed, Korean killer robots, hovering rockets & Wes’ new movie

Traditional business models

Apple also announced this week that it’s hired Burberry’s CEO to be their Head of Retail. Burberry have been notably successful in creating a unique luxury retail experience, so this move makes a lot of sense for Apple in my view.

New business models

Every self-respecting internet ad platform has the ability to self-serve, now FourSquare has one too. This might finally make the service useful outside of the USA. As an aside: although I rather like checking in, I don’t really know why because there’s basically no point. Fact.

Google will use users’ images in online advertising. Interesting to see how people respond to their face or those of their friends on a banner ad!

Supermarket chain testing Kinect-enabled shelves that can tell the age and gender of people passing by them. Cool.

A fascinating study into the bystander effect in innovation – why people wait for others to act rather than doing it themselves.

The effectiveness of Internet advertising is declining, leading to consolidation of inventory and challenging the business models that have been the basis of the online economy. This paper on the approach of Peak Advertising sets out the challenge.

Neat little presentation on the evolution of business models caused by digital.


Apple will launch new Macs and tabs next week. I feel a spending spree coming on…

Some data from Microsoft profiling technology usage in the modern UK family home… do mothers really IM their kids to tell them that dinner’s ready?

A new VR/ augmented reality solution from some former Valve employees. It looks like a clever system and the low price of the (admittedly self-assembly, inelegant) starter kit is only $200. Shows how cheap this tech will be within 3 years’ time.

Facebook acquires 3 year old data compression firm Onavo for between $150m and $200m. Onavo is a good business and I can see why Facebook would want its knowhow to improve the way their app works on low bandwidth connections…

Drones are a technology du jour. Cheap control systems and falling costs of actuators and motors means that we’ll see a lot more of them in all sorts of applications, not just law enforcement and agriculture. It also means that new air traffic control regulations will be required to prevent chaos.!

Darpa is working on a $30 headset to enable technology to be reliably mind controlled. If they succeed it will really open up the wearables and bionics markets. One to watch.

Korean killer robots hunt down jelly fish then mince them with rotating death blades. There’s a film in there somewhere, but in the interim it’s yet another example of the falling cost of technology that was sci-fi until very recently.

Space X demonstrate what’s possible in the new machine age. Their latest “Grasshopper” rocket can take off and land vertically, just like something out of a movie.

Funny, isn’t it? Last year people were saying hardware is dead. Now it’s all about hardware. Shows how much analysts know about anything J.

All that technology has its downsides. Human beings are terrible at task switching – often the thing we were doing previously continues to run in the background, as it were. Here Sendhil Mullainathan  argues that to optimise your mental bandwidth you switch off your phone. A terrifying prospect.


I’ve gone on a lot about new types of journalism and here’s a great example from the Telegraph – coverage of the ongoing troubles in the West Bank. Brilliant journalism.

In a slightly surreal move, it looks like Twitter is preparing a news alert service within itself… a giant news alerts service. My head hurts just thinking about it…

… and Twitter’s just hired a new Head of News. I can’t comment on Vivian Schiller’s credentials for the role, but AllthingsD don’t seem impressed!

An excellent lecture on the future of journalism. It’s long, but worth taking the time over as its contention, that the Internet has enabled a return to human behavioural norms that have been suppressed by progress to date, is one that I wholeheartedly agree with.

Hearst Magazine readers spend twice as much time reading the digital edition than those who read in print… although there’s 13 years between the two studies so the conclusion is almost entirely meaningless. Ah well.

Russia has always been tantalising for media owners as it’s a large market and reasonably affluent. This (rather bulky) report suggests that anti-piracy laws have helped develop a legitimate online video market with YouTube leading in UGC and local players in paid and ad-funded. How long before Netflix gets involved?

Just for fun

Latest Wes Andersen movie, out March next year. So exciting!

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