Thought Starters

A mixed collection of materials looking at societal trends and the impact of technology on the way we live.

Slate looks at separatist movements in Europe in light of the recent decision by Scotland to maintain its ties with the United Kingdom:

Separatist

McKinsey’s forecast for the luxury market points to the growing role of emerging economies. Luxury brands shouldn’t count on a free ride though with Chinese consumers proving less receptive to Western luxury brands than in the past according to a report in The Guardian:

Luxury

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, venture capitalist Bill Gurley has raised concerns about the ‘burn rate’ of startups and the potential risks of a tech bubble  bursting. We may not see this happen in the immediate future but a correction does look increasingly inevitable.

The Financial Times profiles the emerging FinTech sector and the challenges it poses to the incumbents in the banking and financial services sector.

Bitcoin is one of the technologies that is providing a disruptive force in the financial services sector, with Fred Ehrsam from  Bitcoin wallet provider Coinbase giving an introduction to the cryptocurrency:

GlobalWebIndex figures confirm the commonly held view  that tablets are frequently shared whilst mobile phones are more closely associated with the individual:

Devices

Comscore research points to mobile apps taking a dominant role in the time  American’s spend with their smartphones with pointers on the when where and why of app usage:

Mobile App Usage

Results from Shopify points to  50.3% of traffic coming from mobile and just 49.7% from computers among customers using their eCommerce solution. Whilst this doesn’t purport to represent a  statistically sound sample of all eCommerce transactions, it does provide another data point supporting the need for companies to adopt a mobile first strategy:

Mobile Commerce

Code and Theory’s Dan Gardener and Mike Treff call for an approach to responsive design that goes beyond the screen size of device use, encompassing factors such as location, time of day and duration:

Responsive

The social network Ello launched in March of this year but is now beginning to reach critical mass, with consumers attracted by the promise of a system that isn’t based on pervasive tracking and surveillance. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its critics with Andy Baio pointing out the funding provided by venture capital which may see its more ethical policies watered down with time.

Ello

eMarketer figures point to social media taking a growing overall figure and share of UK’s advertising spend, with Facebook dominating brand’s spend on social networks:

UK Social Ad Spending

 GlobalWebIndex figures on Instagram users doesn’t provide any great surprises with steady growth, younger audience and strong indexing among middle and higher income earners:

Instagram

GlobalWebIndex also provide figures for the often overlooked Viber with 12% of the mobile audience use Viber each month,  providing a valuable reminder of  the diversity in the mobile messaging space.

ReadWrite looks at which countries have the fastest internet with South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong taking the top three places:

Fastest Broadband

Ezekiel J. Emanuel provides a fascinating opinion piece arguing that we should be placing more emphasis on quality rather than quantity of  life. Putting this into a more personal context, he stresses that we would like only palliative rather than curative care after the age of 75:

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

Mark Buchanan, drawing on Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future, warns of societal problems associated with the internet with the concentrations of power and the disenfranchising of large sectors of society. Another book to add to the reading list.

We’re seeing telecommuting increasingly promoted as providing flexibility to employees with the potential to better combine the demands of work and home, but it’s not a one sided coin. Lenika Cruz provides a personal account of how working from home aggravated her agoraphobia:

To be clear: Working from home didn’t cause my agoraphobia, it just enabled it. As someone who already had latent anxiety issues, I lacked incentive to prove myself wrong about all the imagined catastrophes that could occur if I were “trapped” somewhere. Telecommuting offered me the retreat I craved, but it helped to reinforce my avoidance patterns. And so the agoraphobia blossomed.

The featured image is a DALeast piece that was created as part of the Dunedin Mural Project and found on Arrested Motion.

THOUGHT STARTERS: CONTENT THAT HAS GOT ME THINKING 11

Enders Analysis figures point to the increasingly important role of mobile as consumers onramp to the internet in the UK. Mobile apps apparently account for 4 in 5 of consumers mobile minutes.

UK average time spent online per month by device

Ofcom figures point to UK having the fastest broadband access among the big five economies of Europe. UK also has the highest broadband take-up (83%); highest proportion of people to have bought goods online over a year (77%); highest weekly usage of the internet (87%); and lowest proportion of people who have never used the internet (8%). Figures aren’t always so flattering when comparisons include the Nordics and Denmark.

Mathilde Collin provides a valuable look at where email is and isn’t relevant within organisational communications on the Intercom blog.

The Unbundling of Email at Work

Venture capitalist Chris Dixon looks at where we’re seeing innovation and startups in the Bitcoin sector.

The “outing” of Dorian Nakamoto as founder of Satoshi Nakamoto has prompted a whirlwind of press interest and some valuable analysis of the role of the media. Felix Salmon has used RapGenius as a novel means of analysing Dorian Nakamoto’s recent statement denying involvement whilst Mike Hearn gives a breakdown of some of the key holes in the Newsweek story.

Debate continues on the pros and cons of Google Glass. Among the range of opinions is Joe Schoech arguing that the product is poorly implemented whilst Mike Elgan argues that concerns about privacy are misplaced.

Nate Silver puts forward his agenda with the newly launched FiveThirtyEight data journalism platform which should  provide a valuable new voice to the media sector. Building on this is Ben Thompson looking at FiveThirtyEight’s launch in the context of an increasingly rich selection of journalism that’s available online:

No longer are my reading choices constrained by time and especially place. Why should I pick up the Wisconsin State Journal – or the Taipei Times – when I can read Nate Silver, Ezra Klein, Bill Simmons, and the myriad other links served up by Twitter? I, and everyone else interested in news, politics, or sports, can read the best with less effort – and cost – than it ever took to read the merely average just a few short years ago.

The New Yorker profiles the shopping mall whose role in American society is beginning to fray in the face of  online competition  and consumers quest for a more authentic experience.

The malls are busy, well-tended, and vibrant, though they are still malls: a simulacrum of culture, in the same way that the Cinderella Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom is a representation of medieval life, without the chamber pots and periodic sieges.

Einar Öberg  has developed a website that provides you with the opportunity to turn your neighbourhood into an urban jungle.

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 10.10.53The featured image is a Drew Tyndell, Ben Niznik and Derek Bruno mural from Living Walls and was found on Drew’s Flickr page.