MEK Studios,2013-02-10:/notional/20130210055031443 Critical thinking to start your day.<br>A blog of ideas, thoughts, and concepts for consideration. Copyright (c) 2013 Michael E. Kirkpatrick 2017-05-27T09:31:50-07:00 Michael E. Kirkpatrick Google now knows when its users go to the store and buy stuff,2017-05-27:/2017/05/google-now-knows-when-its-users-go-to-the-store-and-buy-stuff 2017-05-27T09:31:50-07:00 2017-05-27T09:31:50-07:00 Elizabeth Dwoskin; Craig Timberg <blockquote> <p>Google has begun using billions of credit-card transaction records to prove that its online ads are prompting people to make purchases – even when they happen offline in brick-and-mortar stores, the company said Tuesday.</p> <p>The advance allows Google to determine how many sales have been generated by digital ad campaigns, a goal that industry insiders have long described as “the holy grail” of online advertising. But the announcement also renewed long-standing privacy complaints about how the company uses personal information.</p> </blockquote> Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria,2017-05-14:/2017/05/torching-the-modern-day-library-of-alexandria 2017-05-14T08:31:02-07:00 2017-05-14T08:31:02-07:00 Jame Somers <blockquote> <p>You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings at the Library of Congress, Harvard, the University of Michigan, at any of the great national libraries of Europe—would have been available for free at terminals that were going to be placed in every local library that wanted one.</p> <p>At the terminal you were going to be able to search tens of millions of books and read every page of any book you found. You’d be able to highlight passages and make annotations and share them; for the first time, you’d be able to pinpoint an idea somewhere inside the vastness of the printed record, and send somebody straight to it with a link. Books would become as instantly available, searchable, copy-pasteable—as alive in the digital world—as web pages.</p> <p>It was to be the realization of a long-held dream. “The universal library has been talked about for millennia,” Richard Ovenden, the head of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries, has said. “It was possible to think in the Renaissance that you might be able to amass the whole of published knowledge in a single room or a single institution.” In the spring of 2011, it seemed we’d amassed it in a terminal small enough to fit on a desk.</p> <p>“This is a watershed event and can serve as a catalyst for the reinvention of education, research, and intellectual life,” one eager observer wrote at the time.</p> <p>On March 22 of that year, however, the legal agreement that would have unlocked a century’s worth of books and peppered the country with access terminals to a universal library was rejected under Rule 23(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.</p> <p>When the library at Alexandria burned it was said to be an “international catastrophe.” When the most significant humanities project of our time was dismantled in court, the scholars, archivists, and librarians who’d had a hand in its undoing breathed a sigh of relief, for they believed, at the time, that they had narrowly averted disaster.</p> </blockquote> The Local News Business Model,2017-05-14:/2017/05/the-local-news-business-model 2017-05-14T08:29:20-07:00 2017-05-14T08:29:20-07:00 Ben Thompson <blockquote> <p>It’s hardly controversial to note that the traditional business model for most publishers, particularly newspapers, is obsolete. Absent the geographic monopolies formerly imposed by owning distribution, newspapers have nothing to offer advertisers: the sort of advertising that was formerly done in newspapers, both classified and display, is better done online&#8230;</p> <p>&#8230;the future of “local news” [will] almost certainly be subscription, not advertising-based.</p> <p>I think it’s worth expounding on that point. What most, including Rutenberg, fail to understand about newspapers is that it is not simply the business model that is obsolete: rather, everything is obsolete. Most local newspapers are simply not worth saving, not because local news isn’t valuable, but rather because everything else in your typical local newspaper is worthless (from a business perspective). That is why I was careful in my wording: subscriptions will not save newspapers, but they just might save local news, and the sooner that distinction is made the better.</p> </blockquote> Glass Works: How Corning Created the Ultrathin, Ultrastrong Material of the Future,2017-05-13:/2017/05/glass-works-how-corning-created-the-ultrathin-ultrastrong-material-of-the-future 2017-05-13T21:51:04-07:00 2017-05-13T21:51:04-07:00 Bryan Gardiner <blockquote> <p>From above, Corning’s headquarters in upstate New York looks like a Space Invaders alien: Designed by architect Kevin Roche in the early ’90s, the structure fans out in staggered blocks. From the ground, though, the tinted windows and extended eaves make the building look more like a glossy, futuristic Japanese palace.</p> <p>The office of Wendell Weeks, Corning’s CEO, is on the second floor, looking out onto the Chemung River. It was here that Steve Jobs gave the 53-year-old Weeks a seemingly impossible task: Make millions of square feet of ultrathin, ultrastrong glass that didn’t yet exist. Oh, and do it in six months. The story of their collaboration—including Jobs’ attempt to lecture Weeks on the principles of glass and his insistence that such a feat could be accomplished—is well known. How Corning actually pulled it off is not.</p> </blockquote> How to Accidentally Stop a Global Cyber Attacks,2017-05-13:/2017/05/how-to-accidentally-stop-a-global-cyber-attacks 2017-05-13T21:06:31-07:00 2017-05-13T21:06:31-07:00 MalwareTech <p>Incredible story of how the registration of a single domain effectively stopped the recent global malware breakout.</p> <p>I don&#8217;t know much about malware or worms, but these guys do and I&#8217;m glad they&#8217;re on the lookout.</p> <p>Great work.</p> <blockquote> <p>I woke up at around 10 AM and checked onto the UK cyber threat sharing platform where i had been following the spread of the Emotet banking malware, something which seemed incredibly significant until today. There were a few of your usual posts about various organisations being hit with ransomware, but nothing significant…yet. I ended up going out to lunch with a friend, meanwhile the WannaCrypt ransomware campaign had entered full swing.</p> <p>When I returned home at about 2:30, the threat sharing platform was flooded with posts about various NHS systems all across the country being hit, which was what tipped me of to the fact this was something big. Although ransomware on a public sector system isn’t even newsworthy, systems being hit simultaneously across the country is (contrary to popular belief, most NHS employees don’t open phishing emails which suggested that something to be this widespread it would have to be propagated using another method). I was quickly able to get a sample of the malware with the help of Kafeine, a good friend and fellow researcher. Upon running the sample in my analysis environment I instantly noticed it queried an unregistered domain, which i promptly registered.</p> </blockquote> Moneyball: The Art of Scouting Programming Talent,2017-04-24:/2017/04/moneyball-the-art-of-scouting-programming-talent 2017-04-24T08:47:54-07:00 2017-04-24T08:47:54-07:00 Janie Clayton <p>Ms. Clayton brings up some very interesting points and observations about the hiring of software developers and how they are treated in the workplace. It&#8217;s a bit of a rant to be sure, but with some insights.</p> <blockquote> <p>&#8230;Billy Beane was allowed to languish in baseball for ten years in spite of a poor track record of success because he had the right look. Everyone was waiting for him to shake off whatever was wrong with him so that he could be the player everyone imagined he could be. Baseball scouting is less about what someone has done and more about what you can imaging them becoming.</p> <p>This applies so much to technology as well. We have the myth of the 20-year-old programmer in a hoodie who writes code that changes the world. We have ingrained in ourselves what we think a programmer is and how they’re supposed to look and act. If you’re a venture capitalist, you’re not looking at a track record of past success, you’re looking for someone that feels right. You look at what you imaging that person can be rather than who they are.</p> <p>Having several failed start ups is seen as a bonus, but only if you’re the right kind of person. People are willing to keep giving you chances because they have a gut feeling that you are going to become something even though you have no past track record to back it up.</p> <p>If you’re black, or female, or trans, or some other underrepresented minority group, it’s harder for venture capitalists to imagine what you could become. It doesn’t matter as much if you have a solid business plan or if you’re doing something no one else is doing. If it’s something that is outside of their scope of understanding, you’re not going to sell them of the fantasy of being Peter Theil investing in Facebook.</p> </blockquote> Be Wary of Free Services,2017-04-24:/2017/04/be-wary-of-free-services 2017-04-24T08:42:40-07:00 2017-04-24T08:42:40-07:00 Jojo Hedaya <p>You should always beware of free services. If they&#8217;re not making money from you, they are making money some other way; possibly by selling you (your data or access to you) to others (e.g. data mining companies, advertisers, etc.).</p> <p>Jojo Hedaya, CEO of, who was exposed for selling user&#8217;s emails (ostensibly &#8220;anonymized&#8221;) in the recent New York Times piece about Uber&#8217;s CEO, seems trite and insincere in his response:</p> <blockquote> <p>Our users are the heart of our company and service. So it was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.</p> <p>And while we try our best to be open about our business model, recent customer feedback tells me we weren’t explicit enough.</p> </blockquote> <p>If you don&#8217;t know how the free service you use pays for itself, don&#8217;t use it. Odds are your data is funding the continued free service.</p> Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire,2017-04-24:/2017/04/ubers-ceo-plays-with-fire 2017-04-24T08:36:03-07:00 2017-04-24T08:36:03-07:00 Mike Isaac <p>A profile of Uber&#8217;s CEO, Travis Kalanick. His leadership is scary.</p> <blockquote> <p>In a quest to build Uber into the world’s dominant ride-hailing entity, Mr. Kalanick has openly disregarded many rules and norms, backing down only when caught or cornered. He has flouted transportation and safety regulations, bucked against entrenched competitors and capitalized on legal loopholes and gray areas to gain a business advantage. In the process, Mr. Kalanick has helped create a new transportation industry, with Uber spreading to more than 70 countries and gaining a valuation of nearly $70 billion, and its business continues to grow.</p> <p>&#8230;Crossing that line was not a one-off for Mr. Kalanick. According to interviews with more than 50 current and former Uber employees, investors and others with whom the executive had personal relationships, Mr. Kalanick, 40, is driven to the point that he must win at whatever he puts his mind to and at whatever cost — a trait that has now plunged Uber into its most sustained set of crises since its founding in 2009.</p> <p>“Travis’s biggest strength is that he will run through a wall to accomplish his goals,” said Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire investor who has mentored Mr. Kalanick. “Travis’s biggest weakness is that he will run through a wall to accomplish his goals. That’s the best way to describe him.”</p> </blockquote> Jeff Bezos' 2017 Letter to Shareholders,2017-04-24:/2017/04/jeff-bezos-2017-letter-to-shareholders 2017-04-24T08:33:10-07:00 2017-04-24T08:33:10-07:00 Jeff Bezos <p>This is the first time I&#8217;ve read one of Mr. Bezos&#8217; letters, and I think it&#8217;s well worth the read. He starts out with True Customer Obsession:</p> <blockquote> <p>There are many ways to center a business. You can be competitor focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you can be business model focused, and there are more. But in my view, obsessive customer focus is by far the most protective of Day 1 vitality.</p> <p>Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.</p> <p>Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen.</p> </blockquote> <p>He goes on to talk about resisting proxies (for decisions), embracing external trends, and high-velocity decision making.</p> How Hackers Hijacked A Banks Entire Online Operation,2017-04-13:/2017/04/how-hackers-hijacked-a-banks-entire-online-operation 2017-04-13T08:22:10-07:00 2017-04-13T08:22:10-07:00 Andy Greenberg <blockquote> <p>The traditional model of hacking a bank isn’t so different from the old-fashioned method of robbing one. Thieves get in, get the goods, and get out. But one enterprising group of hackers targeting a Brazilian bank seems to have taken a more comprehensive and devious approach: One weekend afternoon, they rerouted all of the bank’s online customers to perfectly reconstructed fakes of the bank’s properties, where the marks obediently handed over their account information.</p> </blockquote> The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews,2017-04-11:/2017/04/the-utter-uselessness-of-job-interviews 2017-04-11T19:17:13-07:00 2017-04-11T19:17:13-07:00 Jason Dana <blockquote> <p>Employers like to use free-form, unstructured interviews in an attempt to “get to know” a job candidate. Such interviews are also increasingly popular with admissions officers at universities looking to move away from test scores and other standardized measures of student quality. But as in my friend’s case, interviewers typically form strong but unwarranted impressions about interviewees, often revealing more about themselves than the candidates.</p> <p>People who study personnel psychology have long understood this. In 1979, for example, the Texas Legislature required the University of Texas Medical School at Houston to increase its incoming class size by 50 students late in the season. The additional 50 students that the school admitted had reached the interview phase of the application process but initially, following their interviews, were rejected. A team of researchers later found that these students did just as well as their other classmates in terms of attrition, academic performance, clinical performance (which involves rapport with patients and supervisors) and honors earned. The judgment of the interviewers, in other words, added nothing of relevance to the admissions process.</p> <p>Research that my colleagues and I have conducted shows that the problem with interviews is worse than irrelevance: They can be harmful, undercutting the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.</p> </blockquote> Internet Service Providers can now Sell your Browsing Data to Advertisers,2017-04-03:/2017/04/internet-service-providers-can-now-sell-your-browsing-data-to-advertisers 2017-04-03T08:37:52-07:00 2017-04-03T08:37:52-07:00 Michael E. Kirkpatrick <p>From <a href="">The Washington Post</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Congress sent proposed legislation to President Trump on Tuesday that wipes away landmark online privacy protections, the first salvo in what is likely to become a significant reworking of the rules governing Internet access in an era of Republican dominance.</p> <p>In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&amp;T and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules also had required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves.</p> <p>The Senate has voted to nullify those measures, which were set to take effect at the end of this year. If Trump signs the legislation as expected, providers will be able to monitor their customers’ behavior online and, without their permission, use their personal and financial information to sell highly targeted ads — making them rivals to Google and Facebook in the $83 billion online advertising market.</p> <p>The providers could also sell their users’ information directly to marketers, financial firms and other companies that mine personal data — all of whom could use the data without consumers’ consent. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission, which initially drafted the protections, would be forbidden from issuing similar rules in the future.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is a tremendous loss for each of us as American citizens. I liken it to driving down the highway. By and large, no one knows what highway or street you choose to drive down. However, the places you visit along that road (fast food, retail, etc.) know when you walk in the door. The same was true of the Internet. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) didn&#8217;t collect information on where you drove along the information superhighway. Only the destination sites (e.g. Google, Facebook, news websites) collected information on your browsing habits. This new law allows you to be monitored anywhere you go and for other to profit from the observation of your behavior.</p> SpaceX Launches a Satellite With a Partly Used Rocket,2017-04-02:/2017/04/spacex-launches-a-satellite-with-a-partly-used-rocket 2017-04-02T15:00:40-07:00 2017-04-02T15:00:40-07:00 Kenneth Chang <p>A big step forward for reusable rockets and lower costs for access to space.</p> <blockquote> <p>SpaceX launched a commercial satellite into space on Thursday with the boost of a partly used rocket, a feat that may open an era of cheaper space travel&#8230;</p> <p>What was noteworthy was that the first stage, or booster, of the rocket had already flown once before. It could conceivably launch again, since it returned in one piece, landing on a floating platform in the Atlantic&#8230;</p> <p>Until now, almost all rockets have been single use. Once the fuel is spent, a rocket stage plummets to Earth, a quick demise to a complex machine that cost tens of millions of dollars to build&#8230;</p> <p>[Elon] Musk has suggested that rocket launches could eventually be much cheaper because the cost of rocket propellants is less than 1 percent of the full price for a launch. So if a rocket could simply be refueled like a jetliner for another flight, the cost of space travel could drop to a fraction of what it is now.</p> </blockquote> The Deck, Adieu,2017-04-02:/2017/04/the-deck-adieu 2017-04-02T14:55:25-07:00 2017-04-02T14:55:25-07:00 John Gruber <p>The death of a philosophy towards online advertising.</p> <blockquote> <p>Here are just a few of the things that make me proud to have been part of The Deck:</p> <ul> <li>We never allowed animated ads. (Remember when that was the main problem with online ads?)</li> <li>We never allowed user tracking or JavaScript payloads. The Deck respected your privacy (and your bandwidth).</li> <li>We had great sponsors who made great products and services (and designed great looking ads).</li> </ul> <p>Perhaps most importantly, we never showed more than one ad per page. From the beginning of web advertising, publishers have seemingly been in a race to cram as many ads per page as they can. In print magazines and newspapers, there are ads like that too, but they’re the low-rent pages in the back of the book. The real money in print comes from the prestigious ads that are exclusive. The back cover. The inside front cover spread. The full page opposite the table of contents. Exclusivity has tremendous value, and most web publishers still haven’t gotten that. And on the web, an ad doesn’t have to be big to be exclusive and to occupy valuable real estate.</p> </blockquote>