Does a Company Like Apple Need a Genius Like Steve Jobs? The old tech adage is that “open beats closed.” In other words, open technological systems, or those that allow interoperability, always beat their closed competitors. This is an article of faith for certain engineers. It’s also the lesson from Windows’ defeat of the Apple Macintosh in the nineteen-nineties, Google’s triumph in the early aughts, and, more broadly, the success of the Internet over its closed rivals (remember AOL?). But is it still true? Read more by Tim Wu of The New Yorker here.
Open and Shut: Tim Wu, writing for The New Yorker “News Desk”, has done us all a grand favor by penning a sort of grand unified theory on how the “open beats closed” axiom can be true in the face of Apple’s decade-long success: “Does a Company Like Apple Need a Genius Like Steve Jobs?” Wu’s conclusion: yes, Apple is falling back to earth sans Jobs, and the normalcy of open beating closed will return any moment now. Let’s consider his argument. More here.
There Was That Whole Internet Thing, Too: Anyone wanting to see the whole “history is written by the victors” thing in process should read Tim Wu and John Gruber battle it out over exactly why Apple has kicked the crap out of everyone else since the late 90s.
Wu, who’s confused about what open v. closed systems really mean (he uses a variety of definitions), says that Apple has succeeded despite being a closed system. Gruber says open v. closed doesn’t matter, and says Apple succeeds because it produces great products fast (meaning first to market). Gruber’s argument can be condensed down to “Companies run by geniuses should generally do better than those which are not,” and I agree. More here.
How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for ‘Star Wars’: One weekend last October, Robert Iger, chief executive officer of Walt Disney (DIS), sat through all six Star Wars films. He’d seen them before, of course. This time, he took notes. Disney was in secret negotiations to acquire Lucasfilm, the company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, and Iger needed to do some due diligence.
The movies reacquainted Iger with Luke Skywalker, the questing Jedi Knight, and his nemesis Darth Vader, the Sith Lord who turns out to be (three-decade-old spoiler alert) his father. Beyond the movies, Iger needed to know Lucasfilm had a stockpile of similarly rich material—aka intellectual property—for more Star Wars installments. As any serious aficionado knows, there were always supposed to be nine. But how would Disney assess the value of an imaginary galaxy? What, for example, was its population? More here.
Prince Alwaleed And The Curious Case Of Kingdom Holding Stock: Any reporter who shows an interest in Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia can expect at some point to get a little gift from His Royal Highness. A driver will courier over a thick, tall green leather satchel, embossed with the oasis palm logo and name of Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding Co., weighing at least 10 pounds. Like Russian nesting dolls, the green leather satchel reveals a green leather-bound sleeve, which in turn encases a green leather-bound annual report. About the only thing not shrouded in leather are thin versions of a dozen of the best-known magazines in the world, each boasting the prince on its cover. More here.
New new world
Data Crunchers Turn Their Algorithms on the Papal Conclave : Analytics savant Nate Silver and his team at the FiveThirtyEight blog have hit a wall with the upcoming papal election. They will not be sticking their necks out with a prediction for the conclave vote, citing a dearth of conventional polling data to plug into their models.
Sitting out the most-watched election on the planet speaks to the difficulties of building a statistical model to short-list the papabili, or men most likely to be appointed pope. The outcome of the papal conclave vote is far more difficult to forecast than, say, a political election. For starters, you have to account for a two-thirds clinching vote rather than a simple majority. Secondly, historical voting data from the College of Cardinals will get you only so far. For example, 67 of the 115 cardinal electors voting in this conclave (or, 58 percent) are first-timers.
Still, these obstacles aren’t stopping Vatican watchers and oddsmakers from predicting the next pontiff. More here.
IBM CEO Predicts Three Ways Technology Will Transform The Future Of Business: With cloud, mobile, social and big data advances all happening at once and at lightning speed, how will shifts in technology impact the way businesses are run? According to Ginni Rometty, the first female CEO of IBM, it will change everything. More here.
How to Hire Superstar Employees: In his book The Roadmap to Freedom, peak performance expert Chris McIntyre describes how to build a core team of superstars that will help you lead your company to the next level. In this edited excerpt, the author describes his six-step process for finding, hiring and keeping superstar employees. More here.
Recharging Your Willpower and Other Tips This Week: A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com. One way to recharge your willpower is to forgive yourself for making mistakes. Rather than indulging in “the usual self-criticism or ego-boosting,” McGonigal says, you should extend to yourself the understanding you would give a friend who had dropped the ball. But don’t stop there; analyze how you can do better next time. That way you’ll recover from failures while still making it possible to grow. More here.
Meet Memoto, the Lifelogging Camera: Facebook and Instagram have conditioned people into sharing photos of their most memorable moments — vacations, parties, weddings, meals and outings with friends.
But what about everything else that happens in between?
That’s the content that Memoto, a Swedish start-up, wants to capture with a small, wearable camera that automatically takes photos of the wearer’s surroundings. More here.
Think PCs are dead? Check out these crazy mods: It may be biased, but AMD thinks PCs are still important, and it wants people to reimagine them. At SXSW, it shows off some artistically modded PCs. More here.
This Digital Helpline Will Explain The World To Robot Brains: European scientists have begun a new experiment to help robots interact better with the complex situations in the human world. They’ve created an online intelligent database called Rapyuta as part of the RoboEarth project, with the goal of creating a central repository of all knowledge and wisdom that a roaming robot could need. More here.
Yes, the Financial System Is Rigged. Why Shouldn’t You Profit From That Knowledge? : Our system is rigged. Unfair. Hopelessly neglectful of the little guy. All true. But do you really have a better choice? Did you honestly think Washington was going to let it all fail—and for good? After all, who’s backing Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), which are almost single-handedly backing the resurgent mortgage market? Who pumped more than $2 trillion into suppressing interest rates to record lows? More here.
How To Bounce Back Stronger After You Blow It At Work: Three strategies to manage disappointment when it shows up. Because, for better or for worse, it will. More here.
My Secrets: How I Became a Prolific Writer and Learned to Get Beyond School Essays: Some people think I am a journalist. My friends ask how I can possibly write as much as I do, given all the responsibilities that I have. I write for Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ASEE Prism Magazine, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and now this LinkedIn blog. I’ve just co-authored a book, Immigrant Exodus, which The Economist named a book of the year. And I am working on two more books: one about women in tech and another about how the U.S. can reinvent itself. Writing is just a hobby; my day job is as an academic and researcher. More here.
The great illusion of the self: As you wake up each morning, hazy and disoriented, you gradually become aware of the rustling of the sheets, sense their texture and squint at the light. One aspect of your self has reassembled: the first-person observer of reality, inhabiting a human body.
As wakefulness grows, so does your sense of having a past, a personality and motivations. Your self is complete, as both witness of the world and bearer of your consciousness and identity. You.
This intuitive sense of self is an effortless and fundamental human experience. But it is nothing more than an elaborate illusion. Under scrutiny, many common-sense beliefs about selfhood begin to unravel. Some thinkers even go as far as claiming that there is no such thing as the self.
In these articles, discover why “you” aren’t the person you thought you were. More here.
Let’s Save Great Ideas from the Ideas Industry: TED thinking assumes complex social problems are essentially engineering challenges, and that short nuggets of Technology, Edutainment, and Design can fix everything, fast and cheap. TED thinking’s got a hard determinism to it; a kind of technological hyperrationalism. It ignores institutions and society almost completely. We’ve come to look at these quick, easy “solutions” as the very point of “ideas worth spreading.” More here.