Thought Starters

The following is a collection of articles and thought pieces highlighting interesting trends and changes in the world you and I live in.

Benedict Evans looks at which organisations can really benefit from a mobile app based digital strategy:

Do you have the kind of relationship, and proposition, that people will want to engage with  enough to put your icon on their phone? If the answer to this is ‘yes’, then you should have an app – if only because the app store is the way to do that that people understand, and they’ll look for you in the app store.

Nielsen figures point to 30 being the ceiling for the number of mobile apps typically used by consumers:

Mobile Apps

GlobalWebIndex figures point to Pinterest and Tumblr’s rapid growth globally, albeit off a much smaller base than the likes of Facebook:

Pinterest and Tumblr

Providing a more flattering view for Facebook are figures from the UK published by Ofcom in its Adults’ media use and attitudes Report 2015. The report also has plenty of coverage of UK consumer’s use of other media and devices:

Social media sites

There has been a lot of coverage in the media press on Facebook’s launch of Instant Articles. The service sees consumers access content on Facebook’s servers rather than being directed onto the publishers own platforms. This represents a further strengthening of Facebook’s position, but as Vox points out, has a certain inevitability to it.

Eugene Wei contrasts minimalist and frictionless design, suggesting that we should typically be aiming for the latter:

Minimalist design is about reducing the surface area of an experience. Frictionless design is about reducing the energy required by an experience.

Evolutionary biologist Josh Roseneau has looked at the correlations between faith groups in the USA and their attitudes towards evolution and environmental regulations:

Climate vs Religion

The Longform Podcast has been a recent discovery, with journalists interviewed about the story behind the story. A recent episode profiles  reporter Sarah Maslin Nir coverage of the New York nail salon industry and the brazen exploitation of its workforce. You can find Nir’s story over on the New York Times.

Well renowned journalist Seymour Hersh wrote a valuable article in the London Review of Books pointing out major inconsistencies in the United States’ account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately some commentators have chosen to attack the journalist rather than the story as Trevor Timm details in an account for the Columbia Journalism Review.

In an interesting interplay of film and gentrification, Nick Carr provides an account of life as a location scout in New York trying to find a quintessential New York which increasingly doesn’t exist.

Chip Rowe looks at the different design flaws in the human body and suggests some hacks to rectify them:

Evolution constructed our bodies with the biological equivalent of duct tape and lumber scraps. And the only way to refine the form (short of an asteroid strike or nuclear detonation to wipe clean the slate) is to jerry-rig the current model. “Evolution doesn’t produce perfection,” explains Alan Mann, a physical anthropologist at Princeton University. “It produces function.”

The featured image is Vegan To’ona’i by Askew One in Auckland, New Zealand and the photo was published in StreetArtNews.

Thought Starters

The following is a collection of articles and thought pieces highlighting interesting trends and changes in the world we live in.

Mobile messaging continues to grow as a communication format and as a platform which The Economist profiles in its latest issue. Mobile messaging sector has been given a boost  in the tech press by recent announcements at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference which  has seen Facebook Messenger repositioned as the hub  for consumer’s smartphones. It’s an interesting strategic play by Facebook as it could potentially see the messaging platform become a gatekeeper across mobile regardless of which mobile operating system consumers are using.  I recommend checking out Benedict Evans and  Charlie Warzei’s take on things if you want to find out more.

Jay Z and friends have launched the Tidal streaming music service into what is an increasingly crowded market. Ben Thompson uses this as a starting point to look at how has the bargaining power in the music industry value chain…and he concludes that Tidal doesn’t have a particularly strong position.

Amazon Dash Button provides an interesting example of the changing face of marketing and Amazon’s move to bind consumers more closely to its ecommerce ecosystem. Eugene Wei has an interesting review of the service or for a more critical perspective, try Ian Crouch. I don’t think I’m ready to have little brand advertisements all around my home quite yet.

The popularity of UKIP and other parties hostile to immigration across Europe point to concerns about ‘job stealing foreigners.’ Adam Davidson provides a valuable retort to this view drawing on the Lump of Labour Fallacy.

The drop in global oil prices has helped and hurt different countries. Moisés Naím picks out who the winners and losers are.

Fareed Zakaria advocates the benefits of a liberal arts education pointing to the benefits it provides in enabling countries to be economically successfully and warns of the risks of putting too much emphasis on STEM  focused education.

There’s been a fair amount of talk recently of the impact that technology and automation is having on employment in the developed world. Noah Smith suggests that this argument is overstated pointing to the massive impact that China’s workforce is having on the global economy.

It’s worth checking out  Evan Osnos’ detailed profile of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his view of development which doesn’t include Western ideals of democracy and press freedom. One to watch given his role in shaping international relations in years to come.

Scott Harrison’s profile of  the Moscow apartment bombings of 1999 and Vladimir Putin’s alleged involvement paints the Russian leader in a much less flattering and ultimately rather scarey light.  Well worth a read, particularly in light of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

Who are the happiest people in Europe? The social democratic model appears to be working in Scandinavia whilst the economic crisis in Southern Europe appears to be dampening things according to Eurostat figures.

Qualityoflife

For those of you in the UK, you might want to check out Cambridge University research reported on in the Guardian which looks at which parts of the UK are the friendliest and most neurotic.

Featured image is a John-Thomas Nagel photo taken in Sao Paulo in Brazil published in Street Art Utopia.