- Peter Thiel’s Class 4 Notes — in perfect competition, marginal revenues equal marginal costs. So high margins for big companies suggest that two or more businesses might be combined: a core monopoly business (search, for Google), and then a bunch of other various efforts (robotic cars, TV, etc.). Cash builds up because it turns out that it doesn’t cost all that much to run the monopoly piece, and it doesn’t make sense to pump it into all the side projects. In a competitive world, you would have to be funding a lot more side projects to stay even. In a monopoly world, you should pour less into side projects, unless politics demand that the cash be spread around. Amazon currently needs to reinvest just 3% of its profits. It has to keep running to stay ahead, but it’s more easy jog than intense sprint. I liked the whole lecture, but this bit really stood out for me.
- Kickstarter Disrupting Consumer Electronics (Amanda Peyton) — good point that most people wouldn’t have thought that consumer electronics would lend itself to the same funding system as CDs of a one-act play about artisanal beadwork comic characters. Consumer electronics as a market has been ripe for disruption all along. That said, it’s ridiculously not obvious that disruption would come from the same place that allows an artist with a sharpie, a hotel room and a webcam a way to make the art she wants.
- OmniOS — OmniTI’s JEOS. Their team are engineers par excellence, so this promises to be good.
- Understanding Amazon’s Ebook Strategy (Charlie Stross) — By foolishly insisting on DRM, and then selling to Amazon on a wholesale basis, the publishers handed Amazon a monopoly on their customers—and thereby empowered a predatory monopsony. So very accurate.
Carsharing boosts city governments, why complex systems fail, and what web ops teams could do with big data.
This week on O'Reilly: How Zipcar's technology is saving big money for U.S. city governments, why scalable clouds need simple parts, and pondering the possibilities of web ops and machine learning.
Ebooks Numbers, Data Monopolies, Single Sign On, and Large Network Use
- E-Reading/E-Books Data (Luke Wroblewski) — This past January, paperbacks outsold e-books by less than 6 million units; if e-book market growth continues, it will have far outpaced paperbacks to become the number-one category for U.S. publishers. Combine that with only 21% of American adults having read a ebook, the signs are there that readers of ebooks buy many more books.
- Web 2.0 Ends with Data Monopolies (Bryce Roberts) — in the context of Google Googles: So you’re able to track every website someone sees, every conversation they have, every Ukulele book they purchase and you’re not thinking about business models, eh? Bryce is looking at online businesses as increasingly about exclusive access to data. This is all to feed the advertising behemoth.
- Building and Implementing Single Sign On — nice run-through of the system changes and APIs they built for single-sign on.
- How Big are Porn Site (ExtremeTech) — porn sites cope with astronomical amounts of data. The only sites that really come close in term of raw bandwidth are YouTube or Hulu, but even then YouPorn is something like six times larger than Hulu.
Agile FBI, Lucky Meat, Hiring Introverts, and Future of Reading
- FBI Uses Agile (Information Week) — The FBI awarded the original contract for the case management system to Lockheed Martin in 2006, but an impatient Fulgham, who was hired in 2008 to get the project on track, decided to bring it in house in September 2010. Since then, the agency has been using agile development to push the frequently delayed project across the finish line. The FBI’s agile team creates a software build every two weeks, and the pre-launch system is now running Build 33. The agency is working on Build 36, comprised mainly of features that weren’t part of the original RFP. Fulgham says the software is essentially done.
- Lucky Meat (Matt Webb) — the man is a mad genius. If you believe “mad” and “genius” are opposite ends of a single dimension, then I will let you choose where to place this post on that continuum. Then when you choose your tea (or coffee), the liquid is shot as if through the barrel of a gun BANG directly at your face. We use facial recognition computer chips or something for this. It blasts, and splashes, as hard and fierce as possible. And then the tea (or coffee) is runs down the inside slope of the “V” and is channeled in and falls eventually into a cup at the bottom apex where it finally drips in. Then you have your drink. (But you don’t need it, because you’re already awake.)
- Quietly Awesome — how are your hiring processes biased towards extroverts? See also I don’t hire unlucky people.
- How We Will Read (Clive Thompson) — Clive is my hero. I feel like we see all these articles that say, “This is what the e-book is,” and my response is always, “We have no idea what the e-book is like!” All these design things have yet to be solved and even thought about, and we have history of being really really good at figuring this out. If you think about the origins of the codex — first we started reading on scrolls. Scrolls just pile up, though. You can’t really organize them. Codexes made it easier to line them up on a shelf. But it also meant there were pages. It didn’t occur to them for some time to have page numbers, because the whole idea was that you only read a small number of books and you were going to read them over and over and over again. Once there were so many books that you were going to read a book once and maybe never again, it actually became important to consult the book and be able to find something inside it. So page numbers and indices became important. We look at books and we’re like, “They’re so well designed,” but it took centuries for them to become well-designed. So you look at e-books, and yeah, they’re alright, but they’re clearly horrible compared to what they’re going to be. I find it amazing that I can get this much pleasure out of them already. AMEN!
- Who Else Uses Masonry Style? (Quora) — list of sites using the multi-columns effect as provided by the jQuery plugin.
- Will Hatchette Be First Big 6 Publisher To Drop DRM? (Paid Content) — DRM “doesn’t stop anyone from pirating,” Hachette SVP digital Thomas said in a publishing panel at Copyright Clearance Center’s OnCopyright 2012. “It just makes it more difficult, and anyone who wants a free copy of any of our books can go online now and get one.” (via Tim O’Reilly)
Inside Personalized Advertising, Printing Presses Were Good For The Economy, Digital Access, and Ebooks in Libraries
- Web-Scale User Modeling for Targeting (Yahoo! Research, PDF) — research paper that shows how online advertisers build profiles of us and what matters (e.g., ads we buy from are more important than those we simply click on). Our recent surfing patterns are more relevant than historical ones, which is another indication that value of data analytics increases the closer to real-time it happens. (via Greg Linden)
- Information Technology and Economic Change — research showing that cities which adopted the printing press no prior growth advantage, but subsequently grew far faster than similar cities without printing presses. […] The second factor behind the localisation of spillovers is intriguing given contemporary questions about the impact of information technology. The printing press made it cheaper to transmit ideas over distance, but it also fostered important face-to-face interactions. The printer’s workshop brought scholars, merchants, craftsmen, and mechanics together for the first time in a commercial environment, eroding a pre-existing “town and gown” divide.
- They Just Don’t Get It (Cameron Neylon) — curating access to a digital collection does not scale.
- Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business? — provocative thought: the ebook industry is nascent, a small number of patrons have ereaders, the technical pain of DRM and incompatible formats makes for disproportionate support costs, and there are already plenty of worthy things libraries should be doing. I only wonder how quickly the dynamics change: a minority may have dedicated ereaders but a large number have smartphones and are reading on them already.
The evolution of privacy, a call for Maker-friendly cities, publishing's shifting business models.
This week on O'Reilly: Mike Loukides examined the clumsy state of human connections in our tech products, Dale Dougherty made the case for Maker-friendly cities, and we looked at key shifts in publishing's business models.
A brief history of O'Reilly books, how to think about and create visualizations, the fundamentals of publishing.
This week on O'Reilly: Tim O'Reilly looked back on important titles from O'Reilly's history, Pete Warden explained the thoughts and actions behind his latest visualization, and LeVar Burton reminded the TOC 2012 audience why storytelling matters.
VoIP Drupal is a window onto the promises and challenges faced by a new open source project, including its documentation. A meeting at at MIT this week worked out some long-term plans for firming up VoIP Drupal's documentation and other training materials.
Two dramatically opposed announcements from Apple and the state of California put the textbook publishing industry on notice recently that it could be facing rapid disruption. But open textbooks can't be created and altered as easily as open source software.