Tuesday, September 1st, 2015


We Are In a Bubble

In Vanity Fair, Nick Bilton tackles the never-ending debate to determine whether or not the tech industry is in another bubble, and explains why "countless people from all over want this to be a bubble and they want it to burst." While our industry is subject to the same cyclical swings as others, it's important to note the differences between now and when we were partying in 1999: There are way more customers on the Internet, the big players have massive reach and very real revenues, technology is now much better able to support our ideas, and mobile has turned the Internet into a non-stop, always-on money machine. That said, we are in another bubble. But this time it's not a financial bubble. It's a psychological one. The psychological bubble makes you think that because you can code a photo app or design an algorithm to get me to the airport a little quicker, that also qualifies you as an expert on every other topic. The psychological bubble prevents you from seeing what role timing and serendipity play in your bombastic financial success. The psychological bubble makes you forget what I always like to remind people about the Internet business: Showing up at a gold rush with a shovel and a pan doesn't make you a genius.


The Rules of Engagements

"I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage." Citing "God's Authority," a Kentucky clerk continues to deny gay-marriage licenses, even after the Supreme Court ruled against her requests to be excused from doing so.


Reykjavík Against the Machine

After Icelandic authorities said the country would accept 50 Syrian refugees, author Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir called on her fellow citizens to do better. And since then, more than 12,000 Icelanders have offered to help.

+ "Not since the second world war has Europe faced refugee flows of such complexity and scale as this summer's migrant crisis." Against this backdrop, The Economist takes a look at the comparative acceptance rates of asylum applicants by different European Union member states.


Murder She Reprised

"Maintaining one's status and credibility and honor, if you will, within that peer community is literally a matter of life and death. And that's coupled with a very harsh reality, which is the mental calculation of those who live in that strata that it is more dangerous to get caught without their gun than to get caught with their gun." So said Milwaukee's police chief, Edward A. Flynn in an effort to explain his city's climbing murder rate. And he's not the only one looking for an explanation. The numbers are, for the first time in a while, rising in many major American cities.


WTF: What the Font?

As you may have heard, heard, heard and heard, Google has a new logo, it's first major branding change in 16 years. I'll save you the trouble of reading a 10k word thinkpiece on Google's new logo and tell you how they did it: Select all. Change font. Save.

+ Think logo changes are controversial? Try changing a flag. This PRI headline says it all: A New Zealand panel unveils alternate flag options, to a largely negative reaction. (Largely Negative is my rapper name.)

+ And Japan has scrapped its Olympic logo following allegations of plagiarism.


Boardwalk Empirical

"If not for zany schemes, Atlantic City would still be a sand dune ... Most cities exist as a consequence of commercial or strategic utility. Atlantic City is more of a proposition and a ploy." In The New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten shares a colorful portrait of the death and life of Atlantic City.

"It might seem extreme to say that a brief encounter with a boring building could be seriously hazardous to one's health, but what about the cumulative effects of immersion?" In Aeon, Colin Ellard explains how boring cityscapes increase sadness, addiction and disease-related stress.


Turn Off, Tune Out, Tweet Anyway

As I mentioned yesterday, the outtakes and opinions on MTV's VMAs were all over social media. The sharing of your real time opinions, however, should not be viewed as evidence that you actually observed that about which you're commenting. From ReCode: You talked about the VMAs on Twitter, but you didn't watch them on TV. (I once live-tweeted a presidential debate from a Giants game.)

+ Variety on how Netflix's upcoming feature film could change the movie business.

+ Quartz: Amazon Prime members can now download videos to watch offline. (Which, at least for my kids, will bring up a question: What's offline?)


All Of the Above and Beyond

Like many companies, Princeton Review uses variable pricing to charge different rates to customers based on geography and other factors. But the outcomes of such efforts can be troubling. An investigation by ProPublica found that Asians are nearly twice as likely to get a higher price on an SAT test prep course.


Joint Venture

"I've bought a lot of pot in my life, and now I'm selling it back." GQ's Chris Heath takes a look at Willie Nelson's road to entrepreneurialism: "What Paul Newman did for tomato sauce, what Francis Coppola did for Cabernet, Willie Nelson is hoping to do for weed."


Bottom of the News

According to a recent study, senior citizens' use of computers and mobile phones might shave 10 years off their mental age. (And the related tech support calls have added 10 years to mine...)

+ The good news. Citizens around the globe have finally found a common, universal ideal around which they can rally. The bad news. It's a Selfie Stick. InFocus has some photos of the sticks around the world.

+ Ruth Tam in WaPo: How it feels when white people shame your culture's food -- then make it trendy. (I imagine Ruth Tam feels a lot like I did when Hillary Clinton started emailing about Gefilte Fish.)

+ And, a lede that confirms a fear I've had during every public, outdoor event I've ever attended: "A portable toilet with a woman inside was accidentally carried across a festival site by a forklift truck.