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November 29 2013

Four short links: 29 November 2013

  1. Huaqiang Bei Map for Makers — excellent resource for visitors to an iconic huge electronics market in Shenzhen. (via Bunnie Huang)
  2. A 16th Century Dutchman Can Tell us Everything We Need to Know about GMO PatentsThere’s nothing wrong with this division of labor, except that it means that fewer people are tinkering. We’ve centralized the responsibility for agricultural innovation among a few engineers, even fewer investors, and just a handful of corporations. (and check out the historical story—it’s GREAT)
  3. Polymath Projects — massively multiplayer mathematical proving ground. Let the “how many mathematicians does it take” jokes commence. (via Slashdot)
  4. Stats on Dying TV — like a Mary Meeker preso, accumulation of evidence that TV screens and cable subscriptions are dying and mobile-consumed media are taking its place.

July 09 2013

L'avortement dans les séries américaines - Des séries... et des hommes

L’avortement dans les séries américaines - Des séries... et des hommes

En menant mes recherches, plusieurs choses m’ont sauté aux yeux : tout d’abord, on pourrait conclure rapidement, devant le nombre de séries évoquant au cours d’un ou de plusieurs épisodes la question de l’avortement, que le tabou est désormais levé, et qu’il n’est plus besoin de marcher sur des œufs pour évoquer le sujet aux heures de grande écoute. Toutes les séries pour adolescents ont aujourd’hui leur personnage de jeune fille tombée accidentellement enceinte, et torturée par l’inévitable question : dois-je le garder ? De Private Practice à The Secret Life of the American Teenager, des Frères Scott à 90210 (Beverly Hills nouvelle génération), aucune n’échappe à ce qui est presque devenu un passage attendu.

Là où le bât blesse, c’est lorsque l’on constate que le traitement de la question est presque toujours le même : l’adolescente, en proie au doute (car il est impensable que la décision d’avorter lui apparaisse clairement et sans hésitation), finit généralement par se résigner à garder le bébé.

#IVG #Histoire_des_séries #TV #adolescence

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April 03 2013

June 22 2012

Visualization of the Week: The story behind the U.S. power grid

Visualizations and promo videos from the PBS series "America Revealed" were passed around this week, and it's easy to see why they caught on. Maps like these are fascinating.

Those pictures are impressive, but what drew me in was the mix of visuals and context that you see within episodes of the TV series. So often we're presented with visuals or a story. But if visualizations are meant to do more than paint pretty pictures, we need the "and" — data and a story, a visualization and its context. This is why Hans Rosling's approach is so compelling.

With that in mind, this week's visualization is a segment from the "Electric Nation" episode of "America Revealed" that illustrates — and explains — the development, use and fragility of the United States' electric power grid. The segment is below and you can find the full 53-minute episode available for free here. Other episodes in the series are posted here.

(Note: If the embedded video doesn't jump to the electric grid segment, scrub to the 4:34 mark. The segment runs until 8:39. Watch for the grid maps and the illustration of the 2003 Northeast blackout.).

Found a great visualization? Tell us about it

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring visualizations. We're always looking for leads, so please drop a line if there's a visualization you think we should know about.

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More Visualizations:

February 13 2012

Apple's iTV and the implications of what Steve said

If I accept conventional wisdom, Apple is getting into the TV-making business because:

  1. The living room is the last consumer segment that Apple has yet to completely remake in its image.
  2. Apple creates new markets where none exist, and it isn't satisfied with merely improving upon existing ones.
  3. Steve Jobs allegedly said that he'd cracked the code for creating an integrated TV set.
  4. If the iPad is really "just" a big iPod Touch, and has already sold 55 million units, then a TV that is "just" a big iPad could do gonzo business.
  5. The business of making TVs is broken, and Apple has to fix it.
  6. Cable and satellite providers are evil, and Apple has to liberate consumers.
  7. Tim Cook "needs" a hit.

As I stated in my last post following Apple's gaudy earnings numbers, I don't accept conventional wisdom because conventional wisdom is dead! Apple killed it.

Most fundamentally, all assumptions about Apple seem to stem from a misunderstanding of how differently Apple thinks and operates from everyone else.

For starters, Apple doesn't chase markets just because they're there. Nor do they get sucked into market share battles just so they can say they sold the most units (see: iOS vs. Android).

Further, neither the aggrandizement of the CEO's ego nor the altruistic care-taking of the consumer drive Apple's product strategy.

Rather, Apple pursues markets purely and vigorously based upon a simple logic. Do they believe that their integrated hardware + software + service approach can be applied in a leveraged fashion to create a differentiated offering that delights consumers, appeals to the masses, and can be sold at high margins at a predictable run rate?

If the answer is "yes," then game on. If the answer is "no," then leave it as a hobby (such as the current Apple TV), or avoid the market altogether.

This is the backdrop for understanding the rumors about Apple building a new-fangled television set. Rumors and whispers notwithstanding, in the words of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the obvious question is:

"Of each particular thing, ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?"

Apple TV matrix
Top layer = iOS devices; Middle layer = Core device functions; Bottom layer = Noteworthy hardware subsystems.

In the case of a serious living room play, if you check out the above graphic, what stands out most about the Apple TV in its current incarnation is its lack of apps, web, and communications support. These elements are the three biggest game changers that propelled the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad beyond the impressive media foundation that marked the pre-iOS iPod.

What is also lacking is the mainstream television programming (HBO, ESPN, ABC) that the typical consumer demands. A 'purdy' new TV doesn't remedy that problem, now does it?

But, remember, Apple is long removed from their anti-establishment days, whereby for the company to succeed the incumbent had to fail. Hence, the rebirth of the Mac was predicated on getting into bed with Microsoft; the rise of the iPod was predicated on getting into bed with the music industry; and the rise of the iPhone was predicated on getting into bed with mobile carriers.

When framed that way, who hasn't Apple gotten into bed with yet that they need to get in bed with to succeed in a mainstream way?

You guessed it; the cable and satellite providers. Why? Because as noted venture capitalist Bill Gurley sagely pointed out, "When it Comes to Television Content, Affiliate Fees Make the World Go 'Round."

In other words, for an Apple TV to be free-flowing with first-tier TV content in the same way that an iPod flows with first-tier music, Apple will need DIRECTV and/or Comcast to bless it.

ESPN, after all, earns $4.69 per subscriber household in affiliate fees on each and every cable subscriber. Apple's good friend, Disney, owns ESPN, ABC, Disney Channel and a slew of other channels. Disney simply isn't going to throw billions of dollars away in affiliate fees just so they can help Apple. All of the major TV content players view the world similarly.

So where does that get you when you connect the dots? I'll tell you where it doesn't get you ... to a television-like device that:

  1. Is priced 2-4X the cost of an iPad.
  2. Has sales cycles of one device every 5-10 years.
  3. Has bad margins.
  4. Has a serviceable form factor that for many people is good enough. (Apple challenges industries where the baseline experience is terrible. Television hardware wouldn't seem to qualify.)

Conversely, what if you could buy a set-top box that plugged into your modern, big-screen TV, and:

  1. It just worked.
  2. Had every channel you currently get on cable.
  3. You could run those same channels as apps on your other iOS devices.
  4. Your TV could be controlled by any of those same iOS devices.
  5. You could upgrade to the newest version of the set-top box every 2-3 years (on a carrier-subsidized basis).
    1. Who wouldn't buy this device? And why wouldn't the cable and satellite providers be all over this? After all, does anyone seriously like their set-top box?

      As a sanity check, a carrier subsidy on a sub-$500 device is meaningful, whereas a carrier subsidy on a $1,500+ device like a TV set is nothing.

      Wait! But, didn't Steve Jobs say that he'd like to make an integrated TV set?

      Even if he did say that, do you really think that in his final official act as Apple spokesman, Jobs would telegraph to the world his company's grand intentions in the living room?


January 27 2012

Developer Week in Review: Sometimes, form does need to follow function

It was 56 degrees in Boston on Tuesday. It wasn't a record (you need to go back to 1999 for that, when it hit 62), but it definitely is another page in what has been a very, very bizarre winter (so far, the largest snowfall occurred back on Halloween, for example). Call it climate change, call it elves, call it sunspot variations, but whatever you call it, call it weird.

Meanwhile, while we wait for the the great Northeast Football War to commence, a few notes on the week's events.

Sometimes, you need a button

I suspect that somewhere, once a day, a journalist is taking a pair of 20-sided dice and rolling on a table called "What product Apple might work on next." The latest incarnation of this madness is a rumor that Apple might enter the smart remote control market with a touchscreen product.

The problem is, there are already touchscreen apps for the iPhone and iPad that talk to remote control widgets. And they suck. As much as Apple hates buttons and clutter, remote controls need buttons, or at least a few. The problem is kinesthetic, and has to do with the fact that many activities that we do with a remote control involve looking up at the screen while using the remote, such as skipping through commercials. Touch screens, by their nature, don't provide tactical feedback, which means you need to look down to see what you're pushing.

This is a powerful reminder that as much as we want cool interfaces and minimal design aesthetics, sometimes it's more important that the darn thing does what we want it to do. The Apple crew has (to date) been great at paring devices down to their essential functionality, but it may meet its match in the remote.

Maybe Apple will come up with a work-around for this. One answer would be to have a duplicate of what's on the TV appear on the remote, so that you could see what you were doing while pushing buttons. But that would require DVR, Blu-ray and cable companies to adopt a universal way to get the video streaming to the controller. Of course, they could make it only work with the Apple TV (and rumored new Apple televisions), but that would be vendor lock-in, and Apple never does that ...

Time to invest in disk drive companies

Should you have any doubts that Big Brother is watching more and more, Australia is now proposing that telcos and ISPs be required to retain data about all emails and phone calls made in the country, and make it available to law enforcement officials. Apart from the privacy issues, think about the data management nightmare that would be — because it's not just a month or a year that they would be required to retain, but all records in perpetuity (or until the policy is overturned). This means that providers will need to figure out how to store this data in a way that will allow it to be accessed decades into the future.

Like SOPA and PIPA, this is an example of legislators writing checks that the providers have to pay. Add in the U.S. Patent Office, and you have a grand collection of bureaucrats and politicians trying to regulate technologies that they understand not a wit. Maybe it's time for all the technically adept of the world to form their own country, but I fear civil war would break out the first time they had to decide if Greedo shot first.

Open source heart code

Software operating in life-critical environments, from aircraft to medical devices, is nothing new. Unlike "Angry Birds," however, bugs in this kind of software come with a high price tag. Just this year, there were disturbing reports of hacks that allowed third parties to override the dosage delivered by insulin pumps.

Now, one lawyer has stepped forward to demand that she have access to the software that drives the pacemaker that was to be implanted in her. GNOME Foundation director Karen Sandler is spearheading a campaign to have the source code to implantable devices be open source so that it can be inspected for vulnerabilities and bugs.

As more software is embedded into high-risk devices (such as the autonomous vehicles Google is getting ready to deploy or software for voting machines), the potential for accidental (or intentional) disasters grow. How does society weigh the intellectual property rights of the manufacturers against the rights of the public to ensure that they are safe?

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September 14 2011

Social data: A better way to track TV

Solid State by skippyjon, on FlickrNielsen families, viewer diaries, and TV meters just won't cut it anymore. Divergent forms of television viewership require new audience measurement tools. Jodee Rich (@WingDude), CEO and founder of PeopleBrowsr, says social data is the key to new toolsets because it reveals both viewing behavior and sentiment.

Rich explores the connection between social data and television analytics in the following interview. He'll expand on these ideas during a presentation at next week's Strata Summit in New York.

Nielsen has been measuring audience response since the era of radio, yet the title of your Strata talk is "Move over, Nielsen." What is Nielsen's methodology, and why does it no longer suffice?

Jodee RichJodee Rich: Nielsen data is sampled across the United States from approximately 20,000 households. Data is aggregated every night, sent back to Nielsen, and broken out by real-time viewings and same-day viewings.

There are two flaws in Nielsen's rating system that we can address with social analytics:

  1. Nielsen's method for classifying shows as "watched" — The Nielsen system does not demonstrate a show's popularity as much as it showcases which commercials viewers tune in for. If a person switches the channel to avoid commercials, the time spent watching that show is not tallied. The show is only counted as watched in full when the viewer is present for commercials.
  2. Nielsen ratings don't measure mediums other than television — The system does not take into account many of the common ways people now access shows, including Hulu, Netflix, on-demand, and iTunes.

How does social data provide more accurate ways of measuring audience response?

Jodee Rich: Social media offers opportunities to measure sentiment like never before. The volume of data available through social media outlets simply dwarfs Nielsen's sample base of 20,000 households. Millions of people form the social media user base, and naturally that base is more representative of the dynamics of an evolving demographic.

It's not just the volume, however. Social media values real-time engagement over passive participation. We can see not just what people are watching, but also monitor what they say about it. By observing actively engaged people, we can better discern who the viewers are, what they value, what they discuss, how often they talk about these things, and most importantly, how they feel about it. This knowledge allows brands to tailor messages with very high relevance.

Strata Summit New York 2011, being held Sept. 20-21, is for executives, entrepreneurs, and decision-makers looking to harness data. Hear from the pioneers who are succeeding with data-driven strategies, and discover the data opportunities that lie ahead.

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How will these new measurement tools benefit viewers?

Jodee Rich: With social data, the television experience will be better catered to viewers. Broadcasters will enrich the viewing experience by creating flexible, responsive services that are sensitive to real people's tastes and conversations. We believe that ultimately this will make for more engaging entertainment and prolong the lives of the shows people love.

This interview was edited and condensed

Photo: Solid State by skippyjon, on Flickr


March 22 2011

The magic adapter: Apple TV and the battle for the living room

Apple-TV.pngConventional wisdom is that Apple has not cracked the code to winning a spot in the living room. Maybe, but let me present a case that challenges such wisdom.

First, some backdrop. A friend of mine recently made a semi-serious statement that Apple will make more profit on its Smart Covers for iPad 2 — some project Smart Covers alone to be a $1 billion business — than the entire industry combined will make on their actual tablet product sales.

This got me thinking. Apple has essentially turned what is a mere "accessory" to their products into big business. Why couldn't they apply that same philosophy to retrofitting the big-screen TV?

In homage to what "Intel Inside" meant during the PC era, I'll dub such a concept "Apple Inside." The premise is this: Apple already works with third-party hardware makers to support iPod and iPhone integration in cars, within docking stations, and other vertical device segments. Obviously, Apple also works with legions of software developers to see to it that great apps find their way onto iOS devices.

Why not combine the hardware and software constructs to let consumer electronics manufacturers harness Apple's iOS-iTunes mojo? Putting a bow around this, what if Apple helped save Sony, Steve Jobs' one-time aspirational business hero, by nesting an Apple TV inside of a real TV?

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Such a product strategy, which I will call "The Magic Adapter," accomplishes the following for Apple:

  1. It gives Apple a hardware-software service adapter baked into millions of living room devices.
  2. It outflanks Google's still-developing living room efforts with Google TV before Google finds its footing in this domain.
  3. It allows Apple to fortify its living room position without having to commit the dollars and Apple Retail floor space into what has historically been a low-margin, commodity business.
  4. It's a lynchpin for an "iOS everywhere" play.

Apple traditionally doesn't do OEM-type deals, but I'd argue that in this case the goal is to extend the iOS platform play. Apple's core mantra is enabling, extending and accelerating the transition to Post-PC. At the iPad 2 announcement, Steve Jobs noted that more than 50% of Apple's revenues now come from Post-PC devices — iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Apple TV — all of which are iOS-powered.

The current Apple TV product is, technically speaking, more of an adapter than a standalone solution. Think of it as a proxy service for bridging the last mile of run-time space between your big-screen TV, your media gateway (i.e., a Mac or PC) and your online experience. This truth is what led Apple to devolve the Apple TV from being a "mini" Mac Mini in its first generation to more of an iPod Touch without a built-in display in the second generation. Could the third generation be an embedded system?

If you connect the dots between a future Sony BRAVIA (or other big-screen display) to an embedded Magic Adapter to Apple's AirPlay streaming service to iTunes/iOS, I think there's a clear line to ubiquity in the living room.


June 10 2010

TERRA 535: ***Emmy Special*** Montana FARE

TERRA is pleased to bring you this special screening of Montana FARE. Most of our audience doesn't know that TERRA is also a popular science and nature TV series on MontanaPBS and this series was recently awarded a College Emmy for the broadcast of Jaime Jelenchick's Montana FARE and the corresponding interview produced by Danny Schmidt and Andy Adkins.

We are proud of the crew that made this possible and thankful to MontanaPBS and the Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program at Montana State University that encourages and supports such amazing (and award winning!) student work.
TERRA 535: ***Emmy Special*** Montana FARE

TERRA is pleased to bring you this special screening of Montana FARE. Most of our audience doesn't know that TERRA is also a popular science and nature TV series on MontanaPBS and this series was recently awarded a College Emmy for the broadcast of Jaime Jelenchick's Montana FARE and the corresponding interview produced by Danny Schmidt and Andy Adkins.

We are proud of the crew that made this possible and thankful to MontanaPBS and the Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program at Montana State University that encourages and supports such amazing (and award winning!) student work.

May 05 2010

Capitol Crimes

The Jack Abramoff Scandal

April 30 2010

Populism, Social Change and Our World

Special 1.5 hour final edition of The Journal

April 23 2010

Bank Reform and Net Neutrality

The case for net neutrality and William K. Black on bank reform.

April 16 2010

Achieving Financial Reform

The unholy alliance between Washington and Wall Street exposed.

April 09 2010

Louise Erdrich

On Writing

April 02 2010

Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson

Are We Living in Martin Luther King's America?

March 26 2010

Is it Reform Yet?

Bill Moyers looks at health care and financial reform efforts

March 19 2010

Dr. Jane Goodall

Bill Moyers interviews Dr. Jane Goodall

March 12 2010

John Sexton

New York University President John Sexton on God, baseball, and the importance of education. 

March 05 2010

Health Care Reform

Two perspectives on Obama's long-debated health care plan
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