Longreads: Best of 2015 in Business & Tech

Wow. This is an amazing list of long-form articles on Business & Tech worth kicking off 2016 with.

I don’t think I read one single article of any of these in 2015. Yet, the very first one I grabbed (Easy DNA Editing) just about blew my mind into space within the first couple paragraphs.

I’d say this is a great list to kick-off 2016 with.

Source: Longreads

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GOOD.IS: Instead of Snacks, This Vending Machine Spits Out Short Stories

GOOD.IS: Instead of Snacks, This Vending Machine Spits Out Short Stories

The vending machine—what better symbol is there of Western civilization’s culture of convenience and unhealthy snacks? But what if one could instead feast on words, stories, and ideas?

This is an amazing idea. Grab a short-story or haiku print out while walking around town, maybe between meetings or your daily commute. Pick a 1, 3, or 5 minute read from some of the best modern literature.

My only suggestion would be that after it picks up steam I’d hope that they could suggest or require a payment of some sort. This could be applied in a couple ways

  • A small portion would go directly to the author
  • A small portion to the maintenance of the machines
  • Everything else could be donated to literacy programs or charities that focus on the advancement of literature in general.

Check out the coverage on Reuters about it too:

Source: Instead of Snacks, This Vending Machine Spits Out Short Stories

Engadget: Spotify pledges to fix the music industry’s royalty problems

Streaming services can’t fix artist salaries. Musicians should go straight to market IMHO

Paying artists for streams isn’t just Spotify’s problem — the whole industry is stuck with a royalty model that’s better suited for physical sales than streaming. Spotify is the one that’s pledging to fix that

As a musician I’m always excited for any and all ways in which musical artists can be more adequately compensated for all the hours of music they provide.

I also love streaming music, but it’s been a problem for a lot of artists. Have you read this piece? “My song was played 168 million times on Pandora. I Received $4,000…” It’s a really damning piece on the inherent problems with copyright, record labels, and streaming services.

So if Spotify is saying it’s going to remedy that issue, then I’d go out an by stock in Spotify today. But based on this article, so far all that they are saying is that Spotify is committed to solving the problem at some point.

What Spotify (or Pandora) currently pays in royalties to me is not as important as making sure money from song plays gets into musicians pockets. I personally don’t think that’s a problem a streaming service can fix. It’s a record label issue. The more musicians are enabled to go direct to market the better.

Similarly to WordPress plugin shops, musicians should start considering running their own online shops where end users can purchase mp3’s and streaming services can purchase licenses.

http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/25/spotify-pledges-to-fix-the-music-industrys-royalty-problems/

The National Memo: The Simple, Clear, And Still Radical Meaning Of The Christmas Story

Christmas means welcoming the stranger, not assigning them stars on jackets or special ID’s

The story of Christmas is not a political parable but an allegory of light brought into a dark and suffering world, on a date that coincides not accidentally with the winter solstice. Its newborn prophet is a harbinger of divine love for all, most emphatically including the sinners, the impious, the unclean, the unaccepted, the foreigner, the stranger, and the impoverished.

I have this thing about Christmas. I actually try hard every year to celebrate it. For me, that often means I call it “Incarnation Day” instead of Christmas. It means that we actually do “stockings” in our house on St Nicolaus Day (Dec 6) instead of the 25th. It means while we have a traditional Christmas dinner, while we dine we talk about poverty, not gifts. We talk about presence, not presents.

Incarnation Day for me, means welcoming the stranger — not assigning them a scarlet letter, or a star on their jackets, or a special ID card based on their religion.

Source: The National Memo

The world’s first website went online 25 years ago today

It’s the 25th birthday of the oldest website on the world wide web. Yeah!

Invented by Tim Berners Lee, the first website went live at research lab CERN in 1990

Feeling a little old right about now. To be roughly 13+ years older than the oldest website… hmmm…

Nevertheless, it’s crazy to consider all the change, all the progress that’s been made in this world as a result of the internet.

Say what you want about the proliferation of porn, or the “loss” of privacy. When you consider all the ways in which information is being made public, international and truly global collaboration is made possible, education is made more accessible and easier to communicate, new technologies evolve more rapidly and cheaply, all because of the “Internet” — this is a day to celebrate.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/12061803/The-worlds-first-website-went-online-25-years-ago-today.html

 

The first plasma: the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device is now in operation

The first plasma in the machine had a duration of one tenth of a second and achieved a temperature of around one million degrees. “We’re very satisfied”, concludes Dr. Hans-Stephan Bosch, whose division is responsible for the operation of the Wendelstein 7-X, at the end of the first day of experimentation. “Everything went according to plan.”

This announcement from Germany is BIG news. They successfully triggered a plasma reaction at roughly 1million degrees. As this machine and this facility continues to develop they will eventually be able to produce nuclear fusion — the power of the sun! Clean and perpetual energy.

This machine is only 52 feet long. It will probably have to be half that size to start being commercially available, but this means that potentially my grandchildren might be able to have all the energy they need and there will be no power lines, or gas combustion machines necessary at all.

Color me excited!

http://www.ipp.mpg.de/3984226/12_15

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

“…So an Accelerated Mobile Page (or AMP, for short) is a project from Google and Twitter designed to make really fast mobile pages…it’s an HTML page designed to be super lightweight and critically designs really fast loading.”

I love big companies pushing new technology with Open Source. It’s really a great way for them to benefit everyone generously. I love the idea of AMP, but initially I have some concerns

  1. “So certain tags of HTML you just can’t use. Things like forms, that are out.” — forms are really basic. Also important for donations, which I’m a champion of.
  2. WordPress has already rolled out a beta plugin to for self-hosted sites. From their copy they say: “With the plugin active, all content on your site will have dynamically generated AMP-compatible versions, accessible by appending `/amp/` to the end your permalinks.” This to me harkens back to the days when everyone was creating a second duplicate site and redirecting their mobile viewers there. So glad Google put an end to that garbage. But now Google is behind this initiative and it seems like we’re still dealing with canonical tags and duplicate content issues.

I’m hoping (kind of assuming) that both of these concerns will be fully addressed by the end of 2016. Here’s to hoping!

https://moz.com/blog/accelerated-mobile-pages-whiteboard-friday

The Polarizing Political Power of Newsfeed Customization

tech-isolates-perspective

“…the very tools we use to manage the overwhelming amount of data to be found online are, instead, causing us to become less receptive to differing political opinions.”

I love newsfeeds and aggregators. In fact, I’m experimenting with WordPress’s new Calypso app this second to serve as an aggregator for me to share thoughts on the fascinating stuff I’m reading.

This article strikes a nerve though because I’m all about having a well-rounded perspective on things. I want to be aware of various perspectives and entertain new thoughts and ideas. If my tech is actually limiting me, then I need new tech.

The thing is, there is passive tech and active tech. This article speak primarily to the way in which Facebook, Twitter, Amazaon and Google purposely serve you up things that they think you will “like”. Which means they want to serve you up things you already agree with.

But services like Feedly or FlipBoard (my two go-to aggregators) don’t automatically serve you anything except what you put directly into them. So if you only put left-wing fanatic stuff into them… they spit out left-wing fanatic stuff.

The bottom line is that all of these things are mediums — not ends. Even Facebook can be configured to bring in alternate views. Maybe you’ve purposely muted that crazy neighbor who spews right-wing theories because “you just can’t”. But maybe you just need to. Just to be able to challenge your own biases and prejudices… because you’re human. We’re all biased, prejudiced, scared, defensive. It’s in our genes to be so.

http://magazine.good.is/articles/technology-political-selective-exposure-ivan-dylko