August 4, 2014
1. Now Has Arrived
For those of us around during the first Internet boom, few corporate deaths were more painful than Kozmo; a service that deployed a swarm of speedy bike messengers to deliver food, movies, and other goodies to your doorstep. But the time wasn’t right. Kozmo never had enough customers or technological efficiencies to survive. All that has changed. The instant gratification economy is booming: There are lots of investors, lots of customers, lots of mobile technologies, and lots of people who may never leave the house again. ReCode begins a series on the instant economy with this aptly-titled overview from Liz Gannes: I want it, and I want it now.
+ As per usual, The Onion is on top of the gratification trend: Millions of Americans demanded a new form of media “to bridge the entertainment gap they endure while turning their heads from their laptops to their cell phones.”
2. Not Just Another Pretty Face
“I come before you today as not just another pretty face, but out of sheer talent.” So said James Brady during his early days as the press secretary for Ronald Reagan. The life-course of James Brady (and, to some extent, American politics) shifted dramatically a couple months later when he was shot in the head during an assassination attempt on the President. The shooting left him partially paralyzed. From his wheelchair, he became a central figure in the nation’s gun control debate. James Brady died today at the age of 73.
3. The War on Empathy
In the Middle East, another truce that was supposed to last a few hours was interrupted by violence which led, once again, to both sides claiming violations.
+ Jerusalem is on high(er) alert as a pair of attacks have many concerned that the violence is about to spread beyond Gaza.
+ “It’s very easy to move from a person that you know, that you see the face and the suffering and everyday care and concerns — a human being like you like me — and an abstract, a general enemy, a demon” From NPR: Is there any empathy left in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
4. What’s Next?
“Our species does remember certain things ‘in our bones,’ and we have deep resonance with personal tragedies and with societal traumas. Our species is also forgetful and easily bored. So no wonder we lose interest in a calamity and go on to the next.” Foreign Policy’s Lauren Wolfe: Turn on, Retweet, Tune Out.
+ “Videos that do show crimes in progress may be helpful in identifying perpetrators or in drawing attention to an injustice that might have been neglected. But the proliferation of those videos can have a numbing effect.” The New Yorker’s Margaret Talbot on the always-on video culture that is turning us into judges and jurors: Instant Replay.
5. Human Testing
How was Kent Brantly able to walk into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta only a short time after he contracted Ebola in Liberia? It seems to be due to a very experimental treatment known as ZMapp, which before this week, had only been tested on monkeys.
6. Cheech and Mom
“At some point in the middle of my 70-year-old mom’s bong rip, as the distinctive schalp schlap schlap sound echoed in the kitchen, it dawned on me that my family life had recently taken a strange turn.” From NY Mag: How my parents became late-life pot moguls.
7. Mute to Kill
Personal Audio is a company that doesn’t actually produce podcasts. They merely demand cash from those who do, claiming they are infringing on a patent. Last week, the company dropped one such lawsuit against comedian/podcaster Adam Carolla after realizing he doesn’t make all that much money. But here’s the thing. Carolla won’t let them drop the case. He and his company intend “to continue to vigorously defend Personal Audio’s lawsuit and to pursue its counterclaims against Personal Audio, which include a request that the Personal Audio patent be invalidated so that Personal Audio cannot sue other podcasters for infringement.” How did Personal Audio get the patent in the first place? Well, they used to release magazine articles on cassette tapes.
8. Won’t You Stay…
“Reps are also encouraged to build rapport with customers with lines like, Enjoy Game of Thrones tonight.” The Verge takes a look at Comcast’s internal handbook for talking customers out of canceling service.
9. Time for Reflection
“It’s the American view that everything has to keep climbing: productivity, profits, even comedy. No time for reflection. No time to contract before another expansion.” That was George Carlin back in 1982. Imagine what he would have thought if he looked out and saw an audience filled with people holding up their cell phones. Longform has reprinted a great old interview with Carlin.
10. The Bottom of the News
“For weeks I’d been wanting to write a straw man argument takedown, but I couldn’t find the right argument to oppose. Then my four year-old said something totally wrong about String Theory.” For the good of journalism and the future of media, I’ve decided to share this list (yes, of course it’s a list): An Internet Journalist Shares Eleven Breakthrough Moments.
+ Quartz: The next era of the public payphone is about to begin.
+ Congrats to Syracuse, this year’s number one party school.
+ “Nobody eats the green melon.’ So why even serve it? ‘It looks nice next to watermelon, cantaloupe and pineapple.'” The NYT takes a stand for Honeydew.