Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things I Found in My Google Reader

This morning I was stuck waiting at my car dealership. I was there for a oil change and a new battery. Of course, they found more things wrong with my car that obviously needed fixing immediately. That meant that I needed to cool my jets and wait.

Which meant that I spent some time browsing through my Google Reader. I don't usually spend too much time on Reader- mostly, I'm on Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook. I set up Reader a while ago with all the RSS feeds I'd been collecting for the past four or five years, so there is a bunch of stuff in there.

Here is what caught my eye. First, and I can't believe how cool this is,

Panasonic has finally invented the technology to create the Power Loader from Aliens. Seriously, check out the video. Badass.

Today is the day Google invited 100,000 people to beta test its new application, Wave. It's apparently a neat IM, collaboration, publishing platform. All the geeks seem to be excited.

Scientists at Bell Labs have broken the 100 petabit per kilometer.second barrier. Who cares, you say? Well, it means that you can download every song on iTunes in 25 seconds. Yep. Also badass.

Andy Beal has a snaky blog post about the musical chairs act among top tech CTO's, "For Tech Execs It’s Not About the Money…This Just In: It’s About the Money."

Are you a newly rich tech CTO? In the market for a new pad? Leona Helmsley's mansion is starting to look affordable, "Dunnellen Hall Price Dropped Another $15 Million." Now a steal at $60,000,000.

Brian Solis rides to the rescue of the publishing industry and explains "The reports of newspapers’ death are (perhaps) greatly exaggerated". Why, you ask?

1) Newsprint may be black and white but the media business isn’t – While people tend to lean towards a twofold viewpoint (the world was this way, now it’s that way; people used to do things this way, now people do things another way), the truth is that the advent of new forms of media have yet to wholly kill previous forms. Television didn’t kill radio. The VCR didn’t kill the movies. Okay so maybe the Internet struck a near fatal blow to the music industry, but even in that case, things continue to evolve. In Chris’ words, “People want to get into a binary debate that we used to just all want (the newspaper) because we had no choice and now people want the raw feed to mix up their own news. From where I sit what’s really happening is that people have splintered in a lot of different directions. You still have people who value the gatekeeper/passive experience at one end and then you have (people on the other end) who just want the raw feed of all data washing over them, but mostly people exist on the span in between.”

2) Never underestimate the power of human nature - The people who get newspapers in print tend to be committed to getting the product in that form and whether it’s habit or not, they tend to stick with getting that paper delivered to their doorstep. O’Brien related that when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased publishing its print edition and went web only, thanks to a joint operating agreement all P-I subscribers were switched automatically to the only remaining Seattle daily – The Seattle Times. People had the option to cancel, but something interesting happened. They didn’t. Not only did they retain their existing subscriptions, but when those began to run out, almost everyone renewed. O’Brien is not surprised by this and spoke of the digitally saturated people with whom he speaks every day – the venture capitalists and tech company executives whose lives are shackled to Blackberries and RSS feeds. “These are people who use technology for everything in their lives and they still get the paper in print. They still have it delivered to their doorstep.”

3) In today’s rapidly moving world, tactile yet passive experiences have merit - One of my favorite things about that morning paper is, quite simply, turning the pages. Humans are, after all, kinesthetic creatures, so the hands-on experience of a paper has some value. O’Brien agrees with that, and thinks that there’s something even more simple. Sometimes people just want a “psychologically different experience … a purely passive experience.” He went on to explain that oftentimes people don’t want “something with buttons or to click around. Even with a Kindle, there are buttons to push and that’s not appealing to them. They just want something that’s there. Something they don’t have to think about.” There are some who disagree with that perspective, but I’m not one of them.

Now, we turn our attention to two of my favorite topics, history and food.

Archeologists working in Rome have discovered the Roman Emperor Nero had a rotating dinning room in his modestly named "Golden Palace." This new fact about our culinary heritage prompted the food writer at the Guardian newspaper to go on a ballistic (but very properly British) rant on the eternal need for gimmicks in restaurants.

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