Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


terça-feira, abril 28, 2009

The International Paradox

Call it the International Paradox.

Web companies that rely on advertising are enjoying some of their most vibrant growth in developing countries. But those are also the same places where it can be the most expensive to operate, since Web companies often need more servers to make content available to parts of the world with limited bandwidth. And in those countries, online display advertising is least likely to translate into results.

This intractable contradiction has become a serious drag on the bottom lines of photo-sharing sites, social networks and video distributors like YouTube. It is also threatening the fervent idealism of Internet entrepreneurs, who hoped to unite the world in a single online village but are increasingly finding that the economics of that vision just do not work.

Last year, Veoh, a video-sharing site operated from San Diego, decided to block its service from users in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, citing the dim prospects of making money and the high cost of delivering video there.

sexta-feira, abril 24, 2009

Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better

Large inequalities of income in a society have often been regarded as divisive and corrosive, and it is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem.

This groundbreaking book, based on thirty years' research, demonstrates that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them - the well-off as well as the poor. The remarkable data the book lays out and the measures it uses are like a spirit level which we can hold up to compare the conditions of different societies. The differences revealed, even between rich market democracies, are striking. Almost every modern social and environmental problem - ill-health, lack of community life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison populations - is more likely to occur in a less equal society. The book goes to the heart of the apparent contrast between the material success and social failings of many modern societies.

The Spirit Level does not simply provide a key to diagnosing our ills. It tells us how to shift the balance from self-interested 'consumerism' to a friendlier and more collaborative society. It shows a way out of the social and environmental problems which beset us and opens up a major new approach to improving the real quality of life, not just for the poor but for everyone. It is, in its conclusion, an optimistic book, which should revitalise politics and provide a new way of thinking about how we organise human communities.
The Spirit Level

quinta-feira, abril 23, 2009

Mapping the Cultural Buzz

Whether their research can be used to manufacture interest — hold your party at a certain space, and boom, buzz! — or help city planners harness social convergence to create artist-friendly neighborhoods remains to be seen. (Ms. Currid and Ms. Williams next hope to map economic indicators like real-estate values against their cultural buzz-o-meter.)

For Ms. Williams the geo-tagging represents a new wave of information that can be culled from sites like Flickr and Twitter. “We’re going to see more research that’s using these types of finer-grained data sets, what I call data shadows, the traces that we leave behind as we go through the city,” she said. “They’re going to be important in uncovering what makes cities so dynamic.”

Ms. Currid added: “People talk about the end of place and how everything is really digital. In fact, buzz is created in places, and this data tells us how this happens.”

But even after their explicit study of where to find buzz, Ms. Currid and Ms. Williams did not come away with a better understanding of how to define it. Rather, like pornography, you know it when you see it.

“As vague a term as ‘buzz’ is, it’s so socially and economically important for cultural goods,” Ms. Currid said. “Artists become hot because so many people show up for their gallery opening, people want to wear designers because X celebrity is wearing them, people want to go to movies because lots of people are going to them and talking about them. Even though it’s like, ‘What the heck does that mean?,’ it means something.”

A service nation

Non-profit organisations now have 9.4m employees and 4.7m full-time volunteers nationwide. They make up 11% of the American workforce, more than the car and financial industries combined, according to “The Quiet Crisis”, a report by Civic Enterprises and the Democratic Leadership Council. Demand for their services has increased dramatically in recent months. The United Way has seen a 68% increase in the number of calls for food, shelter and warm clothing.
The Economist

domingo, abril 19, 2009

Leitura Recomendada: The Quiet Coup

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

by Simon Johnson

Economy May 2009 The Atlantic

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small.

2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains.

3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus.

4. Do not let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks.

5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity.

6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning .

7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”.

8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains.

9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement.

10. Make an omelette with the broken eggs. Finally, this crisis cannot be fixed with makeshift repairs, no more than a boat with a rotten hull can be fixed with ad-hoc patches. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself. Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the “Nobel” in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties.

Then we will see an economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage. A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks and companies are born and die every day without making the news.

In other words, a place more resistant to black swans.

sexta-feira, abril 10, 2009

Greed and Stupidity

What happened to the global economy? We seemed to be chugging along, enjoying moderate business cycles and unprecedented global growth. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose.

There are many theories about what happened, but two general narratives seem to be gaining prominence, which we will call the greed narrative and the stupidity narrative. The two overlap, but they lead to different ways of thinking about where we go from here.


In short, he argues, the U.S. financial crisis is a bigger version of the crises that have afflicted emerging-market nations for decades. An oligarchy takes control of the nation. The oligarchs get carried away and build an empire on mountains of debt. The whole thing comes crashing down. Johnson’s remedy is clear. Smash the oligarchy. Nationalize the banks. Sell them off in medium-size pieces. Revise antitrust laws so they can’t get back together. Find ways to limit executive compensation. Permanently reduce the size and power of Wall Street.

The second and, to me, more persuasive theory revolves around ignorance and uncertainty. The primary problem is not the greed of a giant oligarchy. It’s that overconfident bankers didn’t know what they were doing. They thought they had these sophisticated tools to reduce risk. But when big events — like the rise of China — fundamentally altered the world economy, their tools were worse than useless.


The greed narrative leads to the conclusion that government should aggressively restructure the financial sector. The stupidity narrative is suspicious of that sort of radicalism. We’d just be trading the hubris of Wall Street for the hubris of Washington. The stupidity narrative suggests we should preserve the essential market structures, but make them more transparent, straightforward and comprehensible. Instead of rushing off to nationalize the banks, we should nurture and recapitalize what’s left of functioning markets.

Both schools agree on one thing, however. Both believe that banks are too big. Both narratives suggest we should return to the day when banks were focused institutions — when savings banks, insurance companies, brokerages and investment banks lived separate lives.

We can agree on that reform. Still, one has to choose a guiding theory. To my mind, we didn’t get into this crisis because inbred oligarchs grabbed power. We got into it because arrogant traders around the world were playing a high-stakes game they didn’t understand.


David Brooks Greed and Stupidity - NYTimes.com

quarta-feira, abril 08, 2009

Facebook 200 Milhões


By any measure, Facebook’s growth is a great accomplishment. The crew of Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s 24-year-old co-founder and chief executive, is signing up nearly a million new members a day, and now more than 70 percent of the service’s members live overseas, in countries like Italy, the Czech Republic and Indonesia. Facebook’s ranks in those countries swelled last year after the company offered its site in their languages.

All of this mojo puts Facebook on a par with other groundbreaking — and wildly popular — Internet services like free e-mail, Google, the online calling network Skype and e-commerce sites like eBay. But Facebook promises to change how we communicate even more fundamentally, in part by digitally mapping and linking peripatetic people across space and time, allowing them to publicly share myriad and often very personal elements of their lives.

Unlike search engines, which ably track prominent Internet presences, Facebook reconnects regular folks with old friends and strengthens their bonds with new pals — even if the glue is nothing more than embarrassing old pictures or memories of their second-grade teacher.

Quick, Read the Book


But as the metabolism of the culture has sped up in the digital age, pockets of the publishing industry are prodding themselves out of their Paleolithic ways and joining the rush, with more books on current events coming out faster than ever before.

For generations the publishing industry has worked on a fairly standard schedule, taking nine months to a year after an author delivered a manuscript to put finished books in stores. Now, enabled in part by e-book technology and fueled by a convergence of spectacularly dramatic news events, publishers are hitting the fast-forward button.
NYT - You’ve Read the Headlines. Now, Quick, Read the Book.

Not the usual suspects...

The skew towards older visitors, although perhaps initially surprising for a social media site, actually makes more sense than you might think at first. With so many businesses using Twitter, along with the first generations of Internet users “growing up” and comfortable with technology, this is a sign that the traditional early adopter model might need to be revisited. Not only teenagers and college students can be counted among the “technologically inclined,” which means that trends are much more prone to take off in older age segments than they used to. And with those age 25 and older representing a much bigger segment of the population than the under 25 crowd, it might help explain why Twitter has expanded its reach so broadly so quickly over the past few months.

Twitter Traffic Explodes...And Not Being Driven by the Usual Suspects!

quarta-feira, abril 01, 2009

Web 2.0. G20

The Twitter feed for G20 Meltdown has for the past month posted details of preparations and links to other groups and YouTube videos. The G20 Meltdown Facebook group has 3,240 members, while more than 500 people are following it on Twitter. Its own website also provided material for protesters to download, including a flyer resembling a £20 ($29) note. “We are printing our own money,” an organiser posted on Twitter. “We got the idea from Gordon Brown.”