Archive | October 12, 2015

The question to 42: Will computers overtake us in the near future?

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide Through The Galaxy, which is assume everýbody read of course, a very well advanced people build a supercomputer to calculate the answer to life, the universe and everything. After 7.5 million years of pondering the computer finally comes up with a very clear answer: 42. Now this particular supercomputer isn’t able to calculate the right questions that belongs to this answer, making it useless. However it is so kind to design a new and better computer strong enough to calculate the question belonging to the answer 42… Which will take another 7.5 million years.

At the time Douglas Adams wrote his novel, which is decades ago, the whole idea of a supercomputer building an even smarter computer all by itself probably sounded very sci-fi like. According to Stephen Hawking himself however, Computers will be smarter than humans within 100 years. And if this happens i doubt they need 7.5 million years to build smarter and smarter computers. Stephen Hawking, of course, is no computer scientist or AI expert. However he is absolutely not alone in his vision. A couple of Years ago Nick Bostrom, a superintelligence expert at Oxford, did a survey among AI experts. They asked: By which year there be a 50 percent probability that we will have achieved human-level machine intelligence, human-level intelligence being defined as the ability to do almost any task at least as well as a human would. The answer was: By 2040 to 2050 this will be the case.

In 1989 Peter J. Marcer wrote a short contribution, in reaction to an article by Stonier, to the magazine AI & Society called: Why computers will never be smarter than humans in re. The content of this article can be derived from its title and the main reasoning was the following:

‘A theorem derived from a system of algorithmic information content or complexity n (i.e. the size in bits of the smallest program for computing it), provided n is sufficiently large, can in general not be proven by a theorem constructed from a system of complexity n-l.’ (Stonier, 1989)

Now from this we can derive two things. First: Mr Marcer probably didn’t get invited to a lot of parties. Second: A system or machine cannot solve a when this problem is not in its domain as specified by the programmer. Hereby the problems a machine can solve is limited by the intelligence of its programmer.

The discrepancy in insights then and now according to Nick Bostrom is based on the following: System learning. We created algorithms that enable machines to further teach themselves. This variable was not taken into account 30 years ago when AI meant building an expert system that can solve our problems within the domain we design for them.

The question according to both Bostrom and Hawking is not if AI will ever be smarter than humans. Even the question when it will happen is pretty irrelevant. The question how we will align the interests of AI with ours will be the main issue in the future. The supercomputer in The Hitchhikers Guide through the Galaxy wasn’t very helpful to humans, but it wasn’t destroying them either. According to Bostrom both situations are possible depending on the way we design AI in the future.

To see what he has to say about AI and how to cope with it in the future I would really recommend the Ted Talk above. Also I’m curious what you all think about the possibility of AI outpacing human intelligence and how we can deal with it.

Stephen Hawking: There is no God and computers will overtake humans in the next 100 years – Yahoo News UK. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from https://uk.news.yahoo.com/stephen-hawking-no-god-computers-102114199.html#PT3nczk

Stonier, T. (1989). Open Forum Why Computers are Never Likely to be Smarter than People, 142–145.

 

Old-fashioned youngsters

iPad-voor-ouderen

Mobile applications and communication have replaced activities like reading novels and playing parlour games. Instead of taking a walk along the landscape, we rather stay at home with our smart device. This development does not only affect us as young professionals, but also the growing older part of the population. Therefore, in times of technological adaptions, which device do our parents and grandparents actually mostly prefer?

Use of smartphones

More than a half of Dutch elderly from age 65 possesses a smartphone. Compared to last year, this is a remarkable increase of 14 per cent. Whereas 95% of the young customers (age 12-30) own a smartphone, the seniors are rapidly catching up with the digital generation. Unlike the younger population, they also take better care of their device. Less than ten per cent have damaged their phones, while the amount of abusive users among the youngsters is about six times larger. The elderly are not only more cautious with the device, but they often use cases to protect the product. It will eventually enlarge the lifecycle of the phone.

Use of smart tablets

The amount of tablet users from age 65 exceeds the smartphone users. The reasons are not surprising. Tablets are user-friendlier than smartphones. The bigger touchscreen, the larger icons and the brighter colours make the device more popular among the seniors. The tablets are mostly used for daily purposes like reading the newspaper, watching television and listening to the radio. What is striking, is the fact that the elderly mainly use their smart tablet to go online. They easily ignore personal computers and laptops, because those devices are too heavy or too complicated. Services like video calling and web browsing are much more feasible on tablets and that is why these devices are more in demand among the seniors than the juniors. Furthermore, a tablet could extend the time for elderly to live independent at home. Certain applications are developed to facilitate the living conditions, like a Medication-app, where they could check their medicine scheme or the SOS Alarm-app, which can be addressed in emergency cases. With countless benefits for caregiver and caretaker, health care has been improved by the rise of the smart tablets.

Our parents and grandparents mostly prefer the smart tablet while the younger generation likes to use the smartphone more. Both were disruptive technologies. In times of the smartphone revolution, the young population acted faster in contrast to the relatively newer tablet development, where the old population responded earlier. In this case, we seem to be less adaptive than our beloved oldies. Does this make you feel old-fashioned yet?

Loo, van der David (2014, April 3). Ouderen en tablet apps: een ideale combinatie? Accessed: October 10, 2015 from: https://www.appspecialisten.nl/kennisbank/ouderen-tablet-apps

Telecompaper.com (2015). Quarter of Dutch smartphone users have iPhone. Accessed: October 10, 2015, from: http://www.telecompaper.com/news/quarter-of-dutch-smartphone-users-have-iphone–1088242

Scheijndel, van Nico (2014, December 15). Meer ouderen digitaal. Accessed: October 10, 2015, from: http://www.plusonline.nl/tablets-en-smartphones/meer-ouderen-digitaal

Simyo.nl (2014, September 1). Ouderen zuiniger op smartphone. Accessed: October 10, 2015, from: https://www.simyo.nl/blog/ouderen-zuiniger-op-smartphone/

Zilverenkruis.nl (2014, December 15). Alle senioren aan de iPad. Accessed: October 10, 2015 from: https://blog.zilverenkruis.nl/alle-senioren-aan-de-ipad/

Smartphone and big data marketing – how does it work?

blog post 1

Currently it is unthinkable for people in the Western world to live without electronics. As mentioned by Ting Li in Session 1 78% would choose their smartphone above alcohol while in the Middle Ages it was unthinkable to live without alcohol. In almost 4 years the amount of smartphones in America have increased with 29%, meaning that now two third of American citizens have smartphones (Smith, 2015). 56.3% of the American population is aged between 18-65 and therefore we can conclude that almost everyone this age has a smartphone (United States Census Bureau, 2014). This has advantages for us a population, by connecting us to the broader world of online information. But how can companies profit from this trend? To look into this matter there is one term that is mentioned throughout the business world:  Big Data. In the world there are over 6 billion smartphones who all access the Web and share information. This data is used by companies now to advert directly to the consumers taste, but there is so much more that can happen. There are so many opportunities out there in the world to acquire more information about people and make them worth it. So what are the options companies can use to acquire more information? Each smartphone user will generate about 60 gigabytes of data each year. This data comes from every text, picture, phone call, email and every search. This year there has been a research concluding that people spend more time on their mobile device and laptop than sleeping, 8 hours 41 minutes versus 8 hours 21 minutes (Davies, 2015). Consumers are obsessed with their smartphones and this helps with the amount of data generated. Smartphones are currently also used to pay for services and products for example with Google Wallet, PayPal and Lemon Wallet (Voo, 2012). Through these transactions, companies will generate information to determine where you go for shopping, what your interests are and even what kind of meals you eat at home. This information is very valuable, because advertisement agencies can pinpoint your wants and desires.

This all sounds as an ideal situation for companies, but how would you feel about this? Do you think this way of getting information is ethical?

References

Davies, M., 2015. Average person now spends more time on their phone and laptop than SLEEPING, study claims. [Online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2989952/How-technology-taking-lives-spend-time-phones-laptops-SLEEPING.html

Smith, A., 2015. U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015. [Online] Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/

United States Census Bureau, 2014. State & County QuickFacts. [Online] Available at: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

Voo, B., 2012. Digital Wallets – 10 Mobile Payment Systems To Take You There. [Online] Available at: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/digital-wallets/

The Future of the Internet Is Flow

About a week ago, I came across this very interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about the Internet, and where the Web is going. The authors stated that The Web was a brilliant first shot at making the Internet usable, but it backed the wrong horse. It chose space over time. The conventional website is “space-organized,” like a patterned beach towel—pineapples upper left, mermaids lower right. Websites are divided the same among the web (hence it’s a web). Instead it might have been “time-organized,” like a parade—first this band, three minutes later this float, 40 seconds later that band, like a river flowing by.

So let’s skip the theory and see how this goes into practice. The authors argue that your future home page—the screen you go to first on your phone, laptop or TV— will be a bouquet of your favorite streams from all over. News streams are blended with shopping streams, blogs, your friends’ streams, each running at its own speed. This home stream includes your personal stream as part of the blend—emails, documents and so on. Your home stream is just one tiny part of the world stream. You can see your home stream in 3-D on your laptop or desktop, in constant motion on your phone or as a crawl on your big TV.

By watching one stream, you watch the whole world—all the public and private events you care about. To keep from being overwhelmed, you adjust each stream’s flow rate when you add it to your collection. The system slows a stream down by replacing many entries with one that lists short summaries—10, 100 or more.

An all-inclusive home stream creates new possibilities. You could build a smartwatch to display the stream as it flows past. It could tap you on the wrist when there’s something really important on-stream. You can set something aside or rewind if necessary. Just speak up to respond to messages or add comments. True in-car computing becomes easy. Because your home stream gathers everything into one line, your car can read it to you as you drive.

Does this sound familiar? Well it should a bit. The current Facebook wall/timeline, or Twitter is a great example of this theory put into practice. So let’s imagine this but fully integrated into our lives. No more checking e-mails, its right in that stream, no more browsing for news, but the news is delivered right to you. What are the implications for current information strategies?

My idea of this:
I think the near future will hold platforms such as Facebook or Google+ for the “stream”. People already more and more only use these pages to access the articles and updates they want. Fancy Tweakers.net? Follow it on Facebook and you’ll receive updates sending you to their website. Those are the suppliers: Websites for news, shopping and much more. The University MyEUR integrated into your stream, no need to get into the hassle of logging in on MyEUR but they will just post important things on your stream.

So there we are, with a platform, suppliers and users. What if we stop forwarding from Facebook to a certain website but display that News-item right onto your stream? Who makes the revenue? Probably, Facebook will provide the needed adverts onto the stream, giving a share of the profit to the suppliers of the stream. Another possibility is the Freemium model, want to pay for the stream? Pay 10 euros a month and no advertising. Just like Spotify, a similar pay-per-stream model might be suitable. With smart-watches and phones the need for more efficient display of information increases.

Do you guys have any thoughts on this? Where are we heading?

Author: Hidde van Heijst
#: 436800

References:
“The Future of the Internet Is Flow”, the Wall Street Journal, 2nd of October 2015. David Galernter & Eric Freeman. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-the-internet-is-flow-1443796858

Youtube: Is it losing to its competitors?

Have you ever heard of YouTube? Of course you have. But did you ever think about the way YouTube generates its revenue?

It is widely known that YouTube gets its revenue from offering ad-services. But recently the Alphabet subsidiary is struggling to make a profit. While the company generated revenue of $4 billion dollars in 2014, it is struggling to cover its costs (Levy, 2015). The company is facing more competition than ever with the industry rapidly changing and new online content viewing options appearing left and right. In order to battle this problem YouTube is taking action in a few ways.

Firstly the company has announced partnership with a few of the top content creators on YouTube. These include Smosh, The Fine Brothers, Prank vs. Prank and more. While YouTube has worked with content creators before, they have never paid them upfront for their services and create special content together (Levy, 2015). This is a big step for YouTube to venture into a new business within their services to expand their profits.

While the own content creation of YouTube is the right step towards sustaining the business and keeping the audience distracted from alternative options, this alone will not account for an immense increase in profits. Therefore YouTube is considering adding a subscription based pricing for additional services. The new subscription would remove ads while streaming for $10 a month (Newton, 2015). This would be a great added value for those people that watch YouTube on a daily basis and would enjoy an ad-free experience. I for one instance would love it if I did not have to wait for useless and irrelevant advertisement to finish so that I could watch the actual content that I came for. But this does not apply to all users of the platform. While 1 billion videos per month are viewed on Youtube, not all of its users are active daily and will not see the benefit of paying a subscription fee.

While Youtube is a very popular content streaming platform, I think they should refine how they want to be situated in the industry. With services like Netflix and Hulu and even Facebook’s video features, YouTube should step up its game and start looking into new ways of adding value while making the business profitable. If companies do not innovate and invest into making the business better, they will eventually stagnate and maybe even decrease in revenue.

What do you think YouTube could offer to its users, that gives the platform an advantage that competitors lack?

~366004ko

Sources

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/10/11/can-youtube-make-a-profit-on-a-2-in-1-subscription.aspx

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/05/08/how-youtube-found-itself-producing-original-conten.aspx

http://www.theverge.com/2015/4/8/8371131/youtube-paid-subscription-offline-video

Transhumanism, what now?

So, have you guys ever heard of transhumanism?

To be completely honest with you, I haven’t. But since it has its foundations within the tech world, I will gladly look into this subject for you.

Apparently there is a movement called transhumanism in which they strive to determine what makes an individual human but even more so, it looks at the opportunities one has to surpass his or her natural capabilities. Let us call these people “believers” for simplicity. These believers strongly feel that there is a way to enhance our natural capabilities, and moreover they strongly suggest that technology is the key.

Transhumanism has been around for approximately two decades, but there is evidence present that suggests these ideas have actually been around for a long time. The quest for the fountain of youth is one, the myth of Deadalus and Icarus (yes the ones that thought it was an excellent idea to build wings, but flew too close to the sun resulting in melted wings and death) another. Of course back then they would never have foretold the existence of technology as we know it. But why do these believers think that the tech world will bring them the results they are looking for?

In their defense, human enhancement is already something we find quite normal, up to a certain level that is. An example of a widely accepted practice of enhancing human capabilities is the installment of a pacemaker for heart patients. Even the idea of HULC, the hydraulic-powered exoskeleton that allows soldiers to carry weights up to 90 kilos at a top speed of 16 kilometers per hour might enthuse a lot of people. However, the use of nanotechnology for human genetic engineering might be a bridge to far for the most of us.

So believers might have a good point, but what does that mean for our future? Scientists from around the world have agreed upon the survival of the fittest and natural selection theories by Darwin. But this transhumanism might give the human race an opportunity to influence the evolutionary process. What do you guys think, does ever evolving technology have the power to change life as we know it?

 

Source: Extreme tech

 

Will the next generation still become consultants?

Consulting, disruption, consultancy, framework, cusp, of, disruption, mckinsey, bcg, atkearney, bain

After our lecture on digitization versus disruption by BCG’s Peter Burggraaff, I started thinking about the impact of these trends on the consulting business. As stated by McKinsey and Company’s Dominic Barton (Global Managing Director) in an interview with the Harvard Business Review, they “value the judgment, not so much the analytics”. This related to the X-axis of disruption in consulting, in which one can separate the difference between projects/processes that are highly repeatable (and thus attractive for automation) and those that are non repeatable (currently

Meanwhile, according to prof. Clayton Christensen (author of “Consulting on the cusp of disruption”) the Y-axis of disruption in consulting is the size of the problems, often related to bigger companies.

A research by ‘the Emerging Future’ tells us that intuitively we think that in 6 years, the advancement of technology will be 32(!) times compared to what we currently can. If that is even remotely the case the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence/Cognitive Systems, combined with analysis of tremendous amounts of data, will more and more equal the thorough analysis of consultants. The advancement of technology, majorly subject to time (not if, but when), is therefor noted as the Z-axis of disruption.

So combining all this: let’s see where existing companies are situated in the ‘matrix’.

  1. This is where large software companies are growing their business, often in combination with a consulting practice. They have certain Intellectual Property (IP); either generated by the company or in collaboration with clients, and integrate these in software products (e.g. SAP, Oracle etc.).
  2. The position of large ‘consulting firms’. They deal with big problems that are very specific. Because of there nature, as stated by Dominic Barton: they are relying on judgement, as (currently) analytics fall short.
  3. Although difficult to label, this might be where all SME oriented consultants earn their money. They face similar non-repeatable issues, but the number of parameters that influence the issue are limited and thus less complex.
  4. This part of the landscape is crowded; it consists of SMEs that work on analytics and startups that deliver cutting-edge solutions for your every day problem.

With the advancement of technology, we will see that the area of the number 2’s will become more and more narrow. The number of problems that can be solved with automated solutions will become bigger and bigger, IBM Watson is just a start of what is possible with cognitive systems. Meanwhile startups are starting to attract business that is not interesting to the leading firms and will gain more business in the consulting-landscape if they proof to deliver sufficient solutions. Despite the fact that consulting firms are aware of these disruptors and are preparing themselves for the digital age, e.g. McKinsey Solutions, it has proven though for major firms to disrupt themselves. I guess time will tell.

While thinking of all this I noted that my ‘graph’ is far from what a consultant may call ‘MECE’. Look at it as a conversation starter. Which factors do you think will influence the disruption of consulting? Will they be smart enough to stay ahead or will we be one of the last generations of BIM students looking at consultancy?


Sources:

https://hbr.org/2013/09/clay-christensen-and-dominic-barton-on-consultings-disruption/

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21586524-mckinsey-looks-set-stay-top-heap-management-consulting-future-firm

http://theemergingfuture.com/speed-technological-advancement.htm

Get a new life to your speakers!

2c84f2f14f60f55423abd719be0df43d3948c47adda586ac01671661b34228f3Remember the situation when you last time connected 3.5mm jack to your mobile device or laptop in order to play the desired music in your room? I am sure some people do that on daily basis without even noticing. Would not it be nice to play wirelessly, with the only need of tapping the play button on your device? There is number of, mostly compact, Bluetooth speakers on the market, that lets you stream your music wirelessly. However, what if you have already a solid set of speakers at home, and don’t want to buy new ones? There is a tiny device does the thing.

On the 29th September 2015, google introduced a number of products, among which, Chromecast Audio was released. Chromecast Audio is a small device that plugs into your speaker for streaming music through Wi-Fi (Google Inc. 2015). It lets you play your music from any mobile device or laptop from anywhere around the house or apartment. Furthermore, it goes further and allows your friends to stream the music from their devices without any additional set up or pairing using a “guest mode”. It is especially handy on a party, when somebody wants to play some tune!

chromecast-audio

The device is available to buy anytime from today in the Netherlands via the official google store. Availability for purchasing via mediamarkt is coming soon (Google Inc. 2015). The final price with taxes is only 39€, which is substantially lower compared to a direct competitor Sonos. The entry level wireless speaker “PLAY:1” costs 229€ (Sonos 2015). In addition, the Sonos Company has very similar solution “CONNECT” that lets you connect your speakers and you stream music through the device. The cost of Sonos CONNECT is 399€ (Sonos 2015). As it can be inferred Google is not only disruptive but also innovative in the industry of home entertainment.

So, what do you say? Would you go with solution from Google, and make a small step towards cable free society? Let me know down below in the comments section what do you think.

Sources:

Google Inc. . Chromecast. 12 October 2015. http://www.google.com/intl/nl_nl/chromecast/buy-speakers/ (accessed October 12, 2015).

Google Inc. Chromecast Speakers. 29 September 2015. http://www.google.com/chromecast/speakers/ (accessed October 12, 2015).

Sonos. Sonos CONNECT. 2015. http://www.sonos.com/en-wo/shop/connect (accessed October 12, 2015).

—. Sonos PLAY:1. 2015. http://www.sonos.com/en-wo/shop/play1 (accessed October 12, 2015).

The importance of information in Elections.

Figure 1: Truman celebrating his re-election.

On the 3rd of November 1948, the headline of the Chicago Daily tribune was:

Dewey defeated Truman”

However, Truman was re-elected as president due to the fact that he won the majority of the votes.

Therefore, the question remains how could it be possible that one of the most prominent news providers got it wrong?

The pre-electoral polls gave Dewey a large advantage over Truman. The issues with those polls were that there were not representative of the US population in the fall of 1948.

This historical example shows us that having the wrongful information can lead to tragic consequences. It also shows how information systems can help an election process. Unfortunately, for Dewey the technology at the time did not allow for it.

Today, Information technology allows for very précised and detailed segregation of the population. The voting population can be segregated by income, gender, sex, religion, ethnicity, and age. Almost everything, you name it!

A serious campaign manager knows with reasonable assurance the proportion of votes that his candidate will gather within each district. Moreover, it allows them to focus their campaign on certain geographical areas or topics.

In the US presidential elections of the year 2000, there was a minuscule gap between Albert Arnold Gore, and George Walker Bush. In the final days before the elections Florida was one of the biggest battleground states, meaning that polls could not predicts which way the state will vote at the elections. Bush’s electoral campaign decided to put all it’s forces onto winning the Sunshine state. This gamble paid off because Florida overly voted for Bush and was one of the main reasons got his first term in office.

There is a saying that politicians change opinions as the wind blows. Often it happens that politicians change their rhetoric to please their electoral base. However, as Big Data made an entrance into the US presidential elections in 2008 and at a more advanced level in 2012 it became clear that politicians can do much more than that. For a reason Obama employed more than 100 data scientists in the 2012 elections. Through them they were able to build a data set larger than 100TB. They were not only processing and collecting much bigger volumes of data but mostly able to automate personalized communication with potential voters. This data set could be used to e.g. automatically send you a personalized email from your local politicians about topics you previously seemed interested about when a campaign helper visited your home 2 days earlier.

In light of the above-mentioned facts, do you think that politicians will use big Data to program their campaigns with the sole purpose of pleasing the specific voters or whether they have inherent beliefs and values that will remain phrased the same for each voter?

 

Source: https://datafloq.com/read/big-data-obama-campaign/516

VillageLuxe, the Airbnb for high-end fashion

What is it?

VillageLuxe is a web and mobile platform that lets women both lend and rent high-end designer pieces directly from the closets of their neighbours. This C2C rental marketplace is currently invite-only and focused on fashion-conscious women in New York City. The aim of this platform is in order to improve the inefficiencies of women’s closet. Fashion-focused women spend considerable amounts of money on clothing, shoes and accessories, however they underutilize their closets . See it from a business perspective and think about the closet as an asset. Between uses these ‘investments’ end up sitting in closets underutilized. What about the clothes they  don’t wear as often?

VillageLuxe is Founded by Harvard grad Julia Gudish Krieger and is not simply a clothing rental service like Rent The Runway. Since VillageLuxe specializes in renting pieces from individual women’s closets, it has a much broader spectrum of high-end fashion.  Options range anywhere from Alice + Olivia dresses to a Prada bag. This idea of monetizing underutilized assets has been seen with other business models like RelayRides with cars and Airbnb with homes.

How does it work?

VillageLuxe users engage in a two-sided network with lenders and borrowers, and most users engage  on both sides. As a result, each new user actually adds value to both sides of the network, giving the company a unique ability to balance between supply and demand. Because of the good experience, users  are using WOM to spread the word in order to maximize the value of the service. For the reason that the more fashion-oriented women who sign up, the more rental options users have, creating a positive network effect.

However, VillageLuxe is maintaining its exclusivity through an invite-only signup process the for the reason that it offers a luxury service. In order to keep high quality users the company has implemented mandatory reviews and social connections.

VillageLuxe’s Future

Is the business model scalable and could it maintain the same level of quality and trust as it expands? Certainly VillageLuxe will be presented with similar questions that Airbnb faced about how much control the company actually has to manage the users’ experience and whether they can prevent people from abusing the service. What impact will VillageLuxe have on future consumer buying patterns?

References

Behance.net, ( 2015) VillageLuxe website Design [online] Available at: https://www.behance.net/gallery/23201621/VillageLuxe-Website-Design %5B Accessed on: 12 Oct.2015]

Itunes.com, (2014) app villageluxe [online] Available at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/villageluxe/id933596321?mt=8 [ Accessed on: 12 Oct.2015]

Stylecaster.com, (2015) Village-luxe [online] Available at: http://stylecaster.com/village-luxe %5B Accessed on: 12 Oct.2015]

The brooklynstylist.com, (2014) your city is your closet [online] Available at: http://thebrooklynstylist.com/your-city-is-your-closet [ Accessed on: 12 Oct.2015]

Wwd.com, (2015) retail-news [ online] Available at: http://wwd.com/retail-news/specialty-stores/villageluxe-julia-krieger-private-closet-10174248/ [ Accessed on: 12 Oct.2015]

Why is Pepsi building a phone?

Quick, name the first smartphone brands that come to mind.

Most people would mention Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG or Sony. If you’re more familiar with the industry, you might add Lenovo, Xiaomi, and/or Huawei to the above list. You’re very unlikely to mention Pepsi, however.

Yet a recent leak indicates that the beverage manufacturer will indeed release an Android phone. According to Sina.com, seemingly the source of those leaks, the phone is to be called the Pepsi P1. The device will feature a 5,5-inch screen with 1080p resolution, a 1,7GHz processor and 2GB of RAM. The rest of the technical specifications include: 16GB of storage, 3000mAh of battery capacity, and a 13 megapixel main camera along with a 5 megapixel front-facing one. The phone is expected to retail for CNY 1.299 – approximately € 180. Pepsi will reportedly announce the device on October 20th, and it appears to be a China exclusive.

Pepsi is not the first unexpected company to get involved in selling smartphones: Facebook attempted it in 2013 with the HTC First, and Kodak has released the IM5 this summer. The former was a dramatic flop with only 15.000 units sold across the US. There are no sales results available for the latter but it’s not likely to have done well, with only 4 stores in the Netherlands still stocking it.

But at least Facebook and Kodak had somewhat sensible reasons to try their hand at smartphones. For Facebook, the phone was intended to promote their ill-fated Android homescreen replacement. Kodak counted on their brand recognition amongst the older crowd, targeting consumers that are shopping for their first smartphone.

Pepsi’s core business however, has nothing to do with consumer technology. It’s entirely unclear why they would enter the highly competitive Chinese smartphone market, what value they could add, or who their target customers would be. A spokesman told the Daily Mail that “Pepsi has always moved at the speed of culture, and today technology is a key cultural pillar at the heart of consumer interaction”, which doesn’t seem to actually mean anything. Do you know of a better reason for Pepsi to release a phone? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

No need to visit a webshop anymore, use WhatsApp!

Nowadays smartphones are all around us. When taking a train, walking around on campus or visiting a concert, you can see people using their phone everywhere. One of the major purposes of the mobile phone is texting. However sending SMS (for the ones who never heard of it: Short Message Service) messages is completely out-dated. Mobile service providers lost their cash cow to various message services that are using an Internet connection for getting messages from one person to another. The most popular one is WhatsApp.

Currently WhatsApp is installed on 90% of all smartphones in the Netherlands and the application has 9.5 million Dutch active users (Bathoorn, 2015; Multiscope, 2015). Furthermore, the app is used frequently: on average Dutch WhatsApp users are sending 30 messages per day while receiving 65 messages. For young adults between 18 and 34 years old, these numbers are even 60 and 150 respectively (Multiscope, 2015).

Mobile phones notifying you all day long about a new picture that has been send by your friend or about your mom asking you when you will visit your parents again. But the app is not just used for personal messages. Currently 38% of all WhatsApp users are using the app for business purposes as well. Among young adults (18-34 years) this number reached 48% already (Multiscope, 2015).

Since WhatsApp is one of the most popular apps and people tend to use it for business purposes as well, why haven’t a lot of companies switched to WhatsApp in order to reach customers yet? That is exactly what Jarno Duursma discusses in his book called ‘WhatsApp voor bedrijven’ (WhatsApp for businesses). Duursma describes four major reasons why businesses should use WhatsApp (Bathoorn, 2015):

  1. With 9.5 million active users, target groups are using the app on a large scale.
  2. WhatsApp is user friendly; everyone knows how to use the app.
  3. Messages are more likely to be read. WhatsApp is currently in the top 5 of apps being used most frequently worldwide.
  4. WhatsApp can lead to higher conversion in comparison to social media, since messages can be send anonymous instead of via a public page.

An early adopter of WhatsApp for business is SuitSupply, a well-known men’s fashion brand. To provide high quality service via the app, SuitSupply linked the message service to their CRM system. By doing that, they directly know whether a customer purchased something before, whether he is still waiting on a package to arrive or whatsoever (Duursma, 2015). As mentioned by Martijn van der Zee, marketing director at SuitSupply, customers can send WhatsApp messages when they need any style advice. Customers can easily send a picture of their suit and a SuitSupply employee will find and share matching shirts and ties. If a customer is interested, he can even pay via WhatsApp and in most cases the products will be delivered the next day (Duursma, 2015).

Suitsupply-conversation-595x208

So, with an incredible number of active users and the successful case of SuitSupply, WhatsApp seems to be a valuable way of contacting and serving customers. So, would you prefer WhatsApp instead of other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter? And do you believe in ordering via WhatsApp, or would you rather visit a webshop?

Let me know!


Sources

Bathoorn, J. (2015, June 6). WhatsApp voor bedrijven, doe jij al mee? Accessed on: October 10, 2015, at frankwatching.com: http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2015/06/06/whatsapp-voor-bedrijven-doe-jij-al-mee/

Duursma, J. (2015, October 5). WhatsApp als servicekanaal: Suitsupply pakt het innovatief aan [case]. Accessed on October 10, 2015, at frankwatching.com: http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2015/10/05/whatsapp-als-servicekanaal-suitsupply-pakt-het-innovatief-aan-case/

Multiscope. (2015, July 28). Nederlander krijgt 65 berichten per dag via WhatsApp. Acessed on October 10, 2015, at multiscope.nl: http://www.multiscope.nl/persberichten/nederlander-krijgt-65-berichten-per-dag-via-whatsapp.html

3 million jobs lost due to robots

Two to three million jobs are possibly lost due to technological developments. At least, this could one read in the headlines of several newspapers in fall 2014. Some refer to this phenomenon as the Future Of Work, in which information technology is used to improve the workplace. Often this is associated with working at home, which is also made possible through these developments. Whereas 20 years ago not one Dutch household possessed a PC, one cannot think of a household without Internet connection. A more radical phenomenon of the technological developments is robotization. What is the effect of this development on the labour market?

Examples of robotization in different sectors:

  • Packbots: small robots used for logistics and transport. Packbots were originally built for the army, but are also currently used as support for warehouse personnel;
  • Drones: flying robots used in health care and transport sectors. In health care, one can think of a drone equipped with a defibrilliator which arrives at the incident earlier than the ambulance.
  • Self-driving cars: do not have an impact on the labour market at this point, but it could be that the function of bus and taxi drivers becomes obsolete due to these vehicles.

 

Pros

Robots are never sick, they can work 24 hours a day and do not ask for a higher wage. An example is Amazon: robots are used to support warehouse personnel, which has improved efficiency significantly. At the same time, robots made work easier for employees, as robots take over jobs we do not like. Focusing on health care, robots can cause a higher quality of life of elderly people. With the ageing population, this need becomes more important and robots can be the solution to this issue. They could help these people going to the toilet, get out of bed or manage the intake of medicine. Some even argue that the robotization will create more jobs, because these robots require maintenance and development.

Robot

Cons

As mentioned, Asscher does not rule out that there won’t be enough paid work in the future. Due to current technological developments, labour could be replaced by robots and machines. Especially lower educated people, such as accounting staff, taxi drivers, merchandisers and pizza deliverers will suffer most from this development.Self-driving taxis, automatic payment methods and financial analyses executed by robots all lead to the obsolescence of human beings in the labour market. Also, regulation is making these developments more and more accessible, speeding the robotization of the labour market.

Is robotization taking over our labour market or is this just a hype? Do we still need people for the human ‘touch’ with our customers?

 

References:

ICT-Magazine (2015) EU: 4 mln voor onderzoek naar robots in de zorg, http://ictmagazine.nl/5812/eu-4-mln-onderzoek-robots-in-zorg/, 12-10-2015.

Phil for Humanity (2015) The Pros and Cons of the Internet Of Things, http://www.philforhumanity.com/Internet_of_Things.html, 12-10- 2015.

RTL Nieuws (2014) Asscher: baanloze toekomst door robots, http://www.rtlnieuws.nl/economie/home/asscher-baanloze-toekomst-door-robots, 12-10- 2015

Crownstone, just a gadget or a new way of energy consumption?

If you look in your student room or at your parents’ house how many devices have you plugged into your outlet? In my student room around 15 devices that always are plugged into my outlet. Some of them on standby others permanently active. Because we pay for energy separately in my dorm and I’m still a pore student I would save some money on my Energy bill at the end of the year.

Crownstone offers an affordable solution that  could help me with this problem. It is a device that you can internally or externally apply on your outlet to control your energy usage. The main purpose of the creators of Crownstone is to increase the smartness in our home. The following video should give you more information about the thoughts of the creators.

The company behind this idea is the Rotterdam based DoBots and presented their idea on Kickstarter. For 50 euro you can buy the product and you will receive 2 or 3 pieces that are connected to your smartphone true Bluetooth. You need to download an application and you can start making your home smarting with the following features:

  • Turn devices on and off through your smartphone
  • Dim the lights
  • Measure power consumption of appliances
  • Localize smartphones, smartwatches, and fitness trackers
  • Identify appliances based on their energy consumption
  • Turn devices on and off based on your presence
  • iOS and Android apps for your smartphone and tablet to fully customize your experience (no technical know-how required)

This all sounds great but I think there are some practical problems with this new innovation. Since the connection is true Bluetooth Low-Energy I should always turn it on when I use the application. I noticed that when I turn on classic Bluetooth ,my battery of my smartphone ( I got to admit I have an old one) will be drain much faster. Is this Bluetooth Low-Energy solving this problem? Also for older Iphones?  Another problem I can think of is security. The software should be secured properly otherwise people can hack into my house very easily, just like the people in this advertisement. 

References:

https://dobots.nl/products/crownstone/

Technology of the week : Crowdfunding: Kickstarter vs. Geldvoorelkaar.nl

The term crowdsourcing was introduced in an article from Jeff Howe (2006). Literally it means ‘sourcing out your activities to the crowd’. Tasks that were usually provided by a company, a couple of people or only one person, are outsourced to all kinds of people, the crowd. With crowdsourcing every individual can contribute to a project. The main purposes of crowdsourcing are finding solutions for existing problems and generating new ideas. The internet is an important component in this process. The type of crowdsourcing we’re going to focus on from on, is crowdfunding.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter has mastered the platforms’ unique strategic challenges (getting pricing right, winner-take-all dynamics, the threat of envelopment), which resulted in a head start over their competition (Eisenmann et al., 2006). Kickstarter is an established platform since 2009 and is now one of the biggest crowdfunding platforms in the world where 1.9 billion dollars have been pledged to projects by 9.4 million people from all over the world. In the year 2013 around 3 million people invested 480 million US dollar in projects. These 3 million people come from 214 countries and territoria around the world and from seven continents (even Antarctica). 19911 projects were successfully financed that year. In the year 2014, 529 million US dollars were invested in projects.

Geldvoorelkaar

Geldvoorelkaar.nl is the biggest crowdfunding platform in the Netherlands. “This platform connects companies with money to companies that need money” (Geldvoorelkaar.nl, 2013). Geldvoorelkaar.nl provides an alternative to the traditional way of financing using banks. In 2010, two former bank managers developed the idea to start a crowdfunding platform and in 2011 this idea became reality. Due to the credit and banking crisis, the necessity of an new impuls in the market became important for further development. SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) and starting entrepreneurs need capital to grow. In addition, the platform gives the community the opportunity to invest money and to contribute to social projects. Because of this combination of borrowing and investing, geldvoorelkaar.nl has financed more than 800 projects, with a total funding of more than 66 million euro (Geldvoorelkaar.nl, 2015).

Comparing

Below, a table summarizes the comparison analysis of the two crowdsourcing platforms.

Kickstarter Geldvoorelkaar.nl
Both crowdfunding platforms provide an open platform that brings together borrowers and investors.
Both crowdsourcing platforms are used by people or businesses that can’t get credit via traditional credit providers
Entry barriers in the industry are relatively low
Backers of a project can’t be rewarded with money or equity Investors receive a financial return from their investment
There are three rules that projects must meet to be able to get on the platform Everyone can fill an application for a credit request and the platform itself decides if the project will be published on the website
The platform charges a 5% fee on successfully funded projects The platform receives money in three ways.
The platform operates over the whole world The platform is only active in the Netherlands

What both the platforms could do better, is to put more effort in ‘Customer Relationship’. In order to accelerate its growth, it can secure the exclusive participation of users in the form of a commitment from them not to join rival platforms (Eisenmann et al., 2006).

Is there any future in crowdfunding?

We’re convinced that this technology will grow further in the near future. More people will become aware of the option of crowdfunding, e.g. we saw several crowdfunding projects in the newspapers from last week (Metro, 2015). Also the amount of scientific research about crowdfunding is increasing. People can read about how to successfully start a crowdfunding platform in Zvilichovsky’s article (2014). According to Zvilichovsky et al. (2014) positive network effects are created while project owners back other projects. By doing this also learning effects will occur, because they learn about the in and out’s of the platform. They also learn about how to define and present their own projects.


Sources

Howe, J. 2006. The Rise of Crowdsourcing. Wired Magazine 14(6).

Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., and Van Alstyne, M.W. 2006. ‘Strategies for two Sided Markets’. Harvard Business Review 84(10) 92 -101.

Eisenmann, T., Parker, G., and Van Alstyne, M.W. 2009. ‘Opening Platforms: How, When and Why’ in Platforms, Markets and Innovation, Gawer A. (ed.), Northamption, MA: Edward Elgar, pp. 131-162

Zvilichovsky, D., Inbar, Y., Barzilay, O. 2014. ‘Playing both sides of the market: success and reciprocity on crowdfunding platforms’ [online] Avaiable at: http://idei.fr/doc/conf/sic/conf%202015/zvilichovsky.pdf [Accessed: 25-09-2015]

Group 42

Embracing Tech for Farmers – Farmigo

71TAZtqURFL._SL1500_

Currently, there are several startups in Europe who want to bring the farmers market online in form of subscription model: HelloFresh, Bonativo, Gousto and Farmdrop (just to name a few). Each of those startups build on the underlying concept of locally grown mostly organic food for urban customers. Most new ventures follow a home delivery approach, however differ in customer’s choice of individual items and automated baskets based on recommended recipes.  

These new business models integrate cases of disintermediation and reintermediation simultaneously. Disintermediation occurs in form of taking out wholesalers and supermarkets to reach customers and reintermediation remains in form of the newly created startups. A critical question some customers may ask themselves is whether the farmers benefit from such business models in comparison to traditional wholesaling? And whether more advanced tech could assist farmers to forecast better?

This is where Farmigo comes into play. The 2009 founded company took a more holistic and dedicated approach to eliminate supermarkets (Kowitt, 2014) and increase benefits for farmers and customers at the same time. Currently Farmigo operates on the West and East coast of the U.S. focusing on urban areas, which have access to farms within a 100 mile (160km) radius (Adams, 2015). The food startup established a community-based business model, where it connects local farmers directly to consumers through “food communities”. Each community within a specified geographic area can access several farms through the dedicated Farmigo site and subscribe on a weekly or semi-weekly basis. Once ordered the food is delivered from the farms to community drop-off stations such as offices, schools or community centres within 48 hours of harvest (Ha, 2014). As customers pass certain pick-up stations, which can be specified beforehand, they can collect their fresh orders.  

Both Farmigo founders have a career background in software engineering. One of them was previously vice president at SAP working on supply chains and logistics (Adams, 2015) who wanted to embrace his supply chain expertise to offer farmers new ways to connect to customers. To increase stability of demand forecasts and estimate corresponding harvesting supply, Farmigo has developed a cloud-based software system for farms to manage their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions. This system incorporates inventory management, business analytics, payment management, logistics as well as forecasting agricultural and livestock yields.

The ultimate benefit for farmers is a higher margin on the transaction made. According to the founder of Farmigo, on average farmers get 30% of the sale when dealing with wholesalers. Farmigo turn this around and entitle farmers up to 60% of the transaction. The community organizer gets 10% and Farmigo the last 30% (Kowitt, 2014). Another benefit for farmers is that they get paid immediately rather than the standard retail conditions of 30-60 days.

As Farmigo is building an alternative food system based on technology and a community approach it will challenge other farmer online delivery services and could be implemented in Europe where there is a high demand for local organic food in highly populated areas.

Check out Farmigo: http://www.farmigo.com/

CSA SW: http://www.csamanagementsoftware.com/

References

Adams. (2015). Retrieved October 11, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestreptalks/2015/05/11/this-entrepreneur-thinks-his-startup-farmigo-will-kill-off-supermarkets/

Chang. (2012). Farmigo Brings Community-Based Farmers’ Markets Online. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2012/12/farmigo-local-food-communities/

Ha. (2014). Built In Brooklyn: Farmigo Brings Local Produce To Schools, Offices, And Homes. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/22/built-in-brooklyn-farmigo/

Kowitt. (2014). Can this startup kill off the supermarket? Retrieved October 11, 2015, from http://fortune.com/2014/08/04/can-this-startup-kill-off-the-supermarket/

Is Apple trying to slowly kill Google? And what ad-blockers have to do with it?

Is Apple trying to slowly kill Google? Since they are fierce rival this scenario does make sense, but how would ad-blockers play a part in that strategy?

Let’s take a step back.

Google in 2014 announced total revenues of $66 billion (Investor.google.com, 2015). Can you guess what portion of the $66 billion comes from advertisement? Whatever you guessed is probably wrong, because the vast majority of Google’s revenues, $59 billion in fact, comes from advertisement. Specifically in 2014 68.3 percent of Google’s revenue came from advertising through Google sites and 21.2 percent through advertising via Google network sites.

Distribution of Google's revenues from 2001 to 2014, by source

Distribution of Google’s revenues from 2001 to 2014, by source

If we focus even further we can observe that for 2014 Google had roughly $12 billion ($11.8 billion) in mobile search revenue, almost 20 percent of its total revenues. Of that $12 billion roughly $8.8 billion was attributed to iOS devices. Taking into account that half of the search volume for Google comes from mobile devices, we can infer that in the future that percentage Google makes from mobile devices is only going to grow (Sterling, 2015).

Distribution of Google’s revenues from 2001 to 2014, by source

A permanent threat of Google’s revenue is ad-blockers. Ad blockers are separate programs or add-ons for browsers that remove or filter advertising content in a webpage, or an application. There are ad-blockers available for all operating systems (Windows, Linux, OSX), mobile platforms (Android, iOS, Windows) and browsers including Firefox, Chrome and recently Safari. The obvious benefits of using an ad-blocking tool for the user is the faster, lighter (in terms of data) and cleaner portrayal of websites and also a frustrating-free navigation experience without annoying pop-ups or videos loading without your permission. Another important benefit of using ad-blocking software is the increased privacy since ad platforms cannot track your personal data. Furthermore security issues can be a reason of using ad-blockers, since dangerous malware is sometimes hidden in advertisements (Navaraj, 2014).

Despite the obvious benefits mentioned above, ad-blockers are a threat to content providers (such as websites, publishers and video producers), which depend on advertising as their main source of income either every time ad is shown to a visitor, or every time an ad is clicked, but also to advertising providers such as Google, which depend on users viewing or clicking their ads on behalf of their advertisers.

There is a growing trend in the use of ad-blocking software. Globally the number of active users surfing the web behind an ad-blocking software in 2009 was 21 million, but has quickly grown to 121 million in 2014.

Global Ad Blocking Growth

Global Ad Blocking Growth

In 2015 the adoption rate of ad blockers globally increased by 41% in 2014 amounting to 200 million users and is expected to grow even more (Blog.pagefair.com, 2015). So in the last 6 years the users of ad-blockers has been multiplied tenfold. The amount of lost revenue due to ad-blockers is beyond imagination. It is estimated to be $41.4 billion by 2016. That has dare consequences for publishers and content providers in general as well as provider of ads, mainly Google.

You might wonder ok, what does Apple has to do with Google’s revenue model, the wide spread of ad-blockers and how does that involve Apple trying to kill Google?

Well recently Apple introduced a feature on its mobile devices which allowed the installation of ad blockers.

Can you see it now?

Apple is indirectly attacking Google’s revenue model (which is based on advertisement) by enabling iOS users to filter and block all advertisement from Google. That is a war and has huge consequences for Google and publishers that depend on revenues from ads on their websites that now can be avoided.

The question now is how Google is going to respond and how publisher are going to survive without their main source of revenue.

Athanasios Zias

Student number: 401028

References

Blog.pagefair.com, (2015). The 2015 Ad Blocking Report | Inside PageFair. [online] Available at: http://blog.pagefair.com/2015/ad-blocking-report/ [Accessed 10 Oct. 2015].

Grossman, L. (2015). The Great Ad-Blocker Battle. [online] TIME.com. Available at: http://time.com/4065962/our-attention-is-just-a-pawn-in-the-great-game-of-silicon-valley/ [Accessed 12 Oct. 2015].

Investor.google.com, (2015). 2014 Financial Tables – Investor Relations – Google. [online] Available at: https://investor.google.com/financial/2014/tables.html [Accessed 12 Oct. 2015].

Investor.google.com, (2015). Google Inc. Announces Second Quarter 2015 Results – Investor Relations – Google. [online] Available at: https://investor.google.com/earnings/2015/Q2_google_earnings.html [Accessed 12 Oct. 2015].

Navaraj, M. (2014). The Wild Wild Web: YouTube ads serving malware. [online] Bromium Labs. Available at: http://labs.bromium.com/2014/02/21/the-wild-wild-web-youtube-ads-serving-malware/ [Accessed 12 Oct. 2015].

Patel, N. (2015). Welcome to hell: Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook and the slow death of the web. [online] The Verge. Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/17/9338963/welcome-to-hell-apple-vs-google-vs-facebook-and-the-slow-death-of-the-web [Accessed 12 Oct. 2015].

Sterling, G. (2015). Report: Google Had $12 Billion In Mobile Search Revenue, 75 Percent From iOS. [online] Marketing Land. Available at: http://marketingland.com/report-google-had-12-billion-in-mobile-search-revenue-75-percent-from-ios-130248 [Accessed 12 Oct. 2015].

Hackers steal your data during your morning commute.

Image © Decorrespondent.nl

I am not the kind of person that tries to hide every trace off the internet. I am not the kind of person that refuses to use cloud based services. But I am the kind of person that browses responsibly. In order to guarantee my data is safe from people snooping around I occasionally use a VPN, and I think you should too. In my recent post[1] I’ve touched upon a difficult dilemma in current society, privacy versus security. In this post I will further elaborate on the privacy aspect of online browsing, in particular when you are on an untrusted connection.

How?

With all the talk on online security, it is surprising to see how a lot of situations with security flaws are used without hesitation. I hear a lot of complaints of individuals who worry about remarketing, done by innocent cookies. But have you ever used Wi-Fi on a train? 2 years ago Roy Verploegen posted a blog on the recent introduction of Wi-Fi in the NS trains, describing the poor quality of service. But the quality of the connection is not even the worst part. Free public WiFi connections are increasingly proven to be a privacy hazard. Hackers are able to gain access to your browsing metadata, and hijack your surfing pages[7].

Using ‘sniffer software’ hackers can ‘sniff’ through the traffic traveling to and from a wireless router to a device. This metadata can reveal identity info, including the device info of the user and server the device is communicating with. Even more vulnerable are ‘rogue Wi-Fi’ hotspots, which hackers set up at a public location[8]. These hotspots are given generic names like ‘Free Wi-Fi’ or ‘Starbucks’, often saved in the devices of the users. These hotspots redirect the internet of the users and enables them to view and alter any unencrypted data sent and received by the user. Using ‘DNS spoofing’[9] hackers can let you believe you are accessing your bank, while in reality you are giving all your info to the hacker.


Image © Norton

VPN?

VPN is a Virtual Private Network, which enables you to virtually join a local network (LAN) where you are not physically present[2]. A VPN connection can be set up on your device and as you connect with the internet, you do so through a so called ‘tunnel’ to the LAN. VPN connections are often used by companies and universities to enable users to act as if they are on the private network. This is important to ensure sensitive data does not leave the company network or to enable users to access local files and applications. VPN connections are also used for watching country restricted content[3] and hiding illegal downloads[4].

A VPN connection secures your internet connection to guarantee your data is safe. It does so by encrypting the data you are sending through the ‘tunnel’ to the network you’re virtually connected to. It establishes a connection between the server and your own device by exchanging trusted keys after logging in with your credentials. This allows you to browse completely anonymous on any internet connection, if you thrust the server.

Unlike Tor[5], your connection is encrypted to the server (exit node). Both the server and your device have the key to unencrypt your data. This allows system administrators to access your data, while externally it is completely secured. In Tor, only your device has the encryption keys. In addition, your data passes at least three servers, all with new encryption keys, until it reaches the exit node (server that sends/receives data with the internet)[6].

So..

Next time, worry less about re-marketing and worry more about your (internet)connection. As a lot of readers of this blog are students, make use of the university VPN when you treat yourself to a latte macchiato. Or, if you want to go a little more professional check out this list of the best VPN providers.

-Jurgen


[1] https://informationstrategyrsm.wordpress.com/2015/10/07/your-phone-got-hacked-by-a-nosey-smurf/

[2] http://lifehacker.com/5940565/why-you-should-start-using-a-vpn-and-how-to-choose-the-best-one-for-your-needs

[3] http://www.howtogeek.com/210614/how-to-access-region-restricted-websites-from-anywhere-on-earth/

[4] http://lifehacker.com/how-to-completely-anonymize-your-bittorrent-traffic-wit-5863380

[5] https://www.torproject.org/

[6] http://security.stackexchange.com/questions/72679/differences-between-using-tor-browser-and-vpn

[7] https://decorrespondent.nl/845/Dit-geef-je-allemaal-prijs-als-je-inlogt-op-een-openbaar-wifinetwerk/25988820-b2a600e1

[8] https://powermore.dell.com/technology/hackers-use-wi-fi-steal-passwords/

[9] http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles-tutorials/authentication_and_encryption/Understanding-Man-in-the-Middle-Attacks-ARP-Part2.html

Summary – Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine

Google stands out as a successful and innovative company, above all the internet-based companies. It distinguishes at IT and business architecture, experimentation, improvisation, analytical decision making, participative product development, and other relatively different forms of innovation.

A lot of what the company does is established in the legendary IT infrastructure, but technology and strategy at Google are inseparable and mutually absorbent. It makes hard to say whether the technology is the DNA of its strategy or the other way around.

As an example of management practice, Google may be the internet- era heir to companies like General Electric and IBM.  The search engine and a massive scalable IT infrastructure would be very hard and costly to emulate. But other attributes like the technology explicitly for innovation coupled with a well-considered organizational and cultural strategy can be used by many other business industries.

Google spent billions of dollars creating an internet-based operating platform and its own developing of technology which makes it possible to develop and to roll out the own new services or for its partners.

The main attributes of Google’s infrastructure are:

  • Scalability
  • An accelerated product-development life cycle
  • Support for third-party development and mashups

Google has the control over the evolution of its own innovative ecosystem. It can even claim a certain percentage of the value created within it. With every transaction performed through the Google platform, Google has continues awareness and access to all the information and is the center of the germinal revenue streams. Google does not need any market research: it has all the information in the database. A key ingredient of innovation at the company is the extensive, aggressive use of data and testing to support ideas.

Another important note is that Google’s organizational culture plays a key role. It has a unique well organization with a cultural strategy which attracts the most talented people. A big reason of Google’s success in the innovation is that there is budget innovation into the job descriptions. New ideas are generated by its employees.  Whatever their function may be, one of their work activities is based on innovation. This is keeping the employees work hard to innovate ideas at Google.

Furthermore, there is a possibility of eliminate friction from the development process. Any engineer has a chance to create a new idea. It can be e-mailed for new products, processes and improvements in the company. The idea must be passed through a qualification process. Changes can be made very effectively and quickly.  Every employee can comment also on these ideas. This makes the approach of the innovation very improvisational.  The employees have a certain influence to create, to change, and to develop an idea.

Cultivate a taste for failure and chaos is a strategy which Google implements. The more products, the better even if it confuses.  Many products are bound to fail, the company wants to run and move too quickly instead of being cautious and do little. The creativity of the products comes out of people bumping into each other and not knowing where to go. That is where chaos comes when reflecting on innovation at Google. These aspects makes Google standing out and successful as an innovator where the costs are hard to emulate. Other aspects can be easily used by almost every business.

Arvin Moensi – 349430

 

Iyer, B., and Davenport, T.H. 2008. Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine. Harvard Business Review 86(4) 58-68.

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp: The true reason for this deal – Synergy

Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp is one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech industry. The numbers don’t lie; the price was $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock (8.5% of Facebook’s stock) plus $3 billion in restricted shares. This adds up to a staggering $19 billion dollars.

The numbers don’t add up though. WhatsApp was founded in 2009 and already it acquired 450 million users, which is three times more than Facebook had acquired in the same period of time. Now these numbers are impressive, you might think. Note that Facebook paid $19 billion for 450 million users, which is $42.22 dollar per user. That seems quite expensive. The cash flow isn’t too impressive either. This 450 million user and $19 billion company has a revenue of no more than $20 million dollar.

WhatsApp’s co-founder and CEO Jan Koum had been pounded often by investors who wanted a piece of his company. He turned them all down, as he knew that WhatsApp was worth more. And besides, why would a CEO ever leave a company when it is still growing at this pace?
The truth is that no company before had ever bid the amount that Facebook offered. We just did the math, it seems highly overpriced. So what is the reason for Facebook to pay this amount?

Monetising

It won’t be monetising the app further than the yearly dollar subscription fee. Many of WhatsApp’s competitors have monetised their apps through stickers, sponsor channels, ads and in-game purchases. This doesn’t stroke with the believes of Facebook however, who have always wanted a clean appearance for their users. Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg himself told the WhatsApp ‘zero pressure’ to make money. All Mark Zuckerberg was interested in, as history made clear, was user numbers.

User volume

The user volume of WhatsApp is growing faster than Facebook. Also, the engagement number of WhatsApp is the only app which beats Facebook, claimed Mark Zuckerberg.

Fill global gaps

If you consider that Facebook’s growth is holding back, because it is hard for them to enter Asia and Latin America it all starts to make sense. While not in China and Japan, WhatsApp is the clear leader across most of Asia and Latin America. So Facebook was struggling with the shut door they found in these countries. WhatsApp could be the back entrance they need. How will Facebook profit from WhatsApp’s presence through?

Integration

Facebook
Click for enlarged view

Facebook is already trying options to merge WhatsApp in their services and vice versa. Even though Facebook already has Messenger, a merging with WhatsApp seems very logical. Messenger is actually quite a big texting app by itself, even leader in the US and France. This could mean that if they can merge these two massive networks, the impact on network effects would be huge.

User Tracking

Ever noted that Facebook wants your number for security reasons? Guess what other phone number they already have of you in which app? That’s right. Could these be linked together? They sure can.

Every time you are sending messages through WhatsApp, Facebook identifies valuable relationships of you with these persons. This is all input for your Facebook news feed.

So others don’t buy it

Other tech giants such as Microsoft and Apple were luring on WhatsApp too. Facebook saw their growth numbers decline and realised they could make better use of the app than most of these others. Besides, Facebook probably would rather not compete with companies of that size, which have proven to be aggressive players in their own rights.

Conclusion – Synergy

There is no one real reason why WhatsApp was worth this amount of money. There are actually many. All we know is that for Facebook to buy WhatsApp makes more sense than other potential deals. There is actually a natural synergy, as it seems that WhatsApp is able to fill some of the gaps Facebook couldn’t fill themselves. Truth be told, I don’t think that Facebook knows all the potential benefits. Only the future will tell if these companies merge together well and if WhatsApp was worth all this money.


Clark, J & Sataranio, A. (2015) Apple Acquires Startup Developing Advanced AI for Phones, Bloomberg.com, October 8, 2015.

Olson, P. (2014) Inside The Facebook-WhatsApp Megadeal: The Courtship, The Secret Meetings, The $19 Billion Poker Game Forbes, March 24, 2014

Kelly, G. (2014) 5 Key Reasons WhatsApp Is Worth $19 Billion — To Facebook Forbes.com, Feb 20, 2014

Berman, D. K. (2014) I Thought Facebook’s WhatsApp Deal Was Crazy. Then I Did Some Math. Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2014

Watts-Jones, M. (2013) 10 ways that messaging apps monetize – a guide to monetization Linkedin, September 13, 2013

Triggs, R. (2015) Facebook begins testing WhatsApp integration Android Authority, April 6, 2015

 

Women pay beer with boobies

Yes, you read the title properly and yes, this partially turned out to be a hoax. The introduction of the Titcoin generated a lot of publicity when news channel AT5 reported that Pornhub created and implemented the Titcoin as the official digital currency of the porn and adult entertainment industry (at5.nl, 2015; titcoins.biz, 2015). A cleverly animated movie clip explained that the adult entertainment market has been one of the most stable markets over the last few decades, which created a revolutionary opportunity for woman all over the world. Most importantly, a world where everybody who is involved, would win.

titcoins                                 Click here to see how Titcoins work!

For example, a woman could now order a beer at a Titcoin-subscribed bar and ‘pay with her boobies by flashing the bartender, who makes a picture of said boobies via the Titcoin-app’. These pictures would then become user generated erotic content on pornhub.com, where everybody on earth would be able enjoy from a huge selection of amateur breasts, the most demanded content of the Internet (clip). The bar in question would be paid in Titcoins, which could be exchanged for real money. The news article then continued with the first bar proudly saying they would accept the use of Titcoins from the start of November. In reality, the Titcoin movie clip is a spoof and one of the entries to the creative director campaign of Pornhub.com (Stoffels, 2015). The Titcoin itself does really exist and is a proper extension of the Bitcoin protocol, intended to be used for online porn and adult entertainment transaction (titcoins.biz, 2015). However, Pornhub has no partnership with Titcoin and will not start one in the future (Stoffels, 2015).

Even though this may be sad news for some people amongst you, the spoof did provided us with an insight into a clever business model. The creators of the spoof used the partnership with Pornhub to deliver an interesting value proposition for the customer and the supplier, a.k.a Pornhub’s viewers and in this example, women wanting beer. The supplier would be ‘paid’ with a beer to supply the erotic content on Pornhub’s website, where after Pornhub would generate revenue from viewers wanting to access these pictures. The only thing Pornhub would have to pay for is an amount of Titcoins to the particular bar the picture was made. The free online language course provider, Duolingo, employs the same business model by offering free language courses to users, whereby the users translate documents that are provided by companies who pay Duolingo for these translations. Duolingo is signing more and more big companies such as Buzzfeed and CNN and are growing at an incredible rate, indicating the success of the business model (Olson, 2013; Duolingo.com, 2015).

So, hypothetically speaking, could this business model work as well for Titcoins as it does for Duolingo? Or would the explicit nature of the supplier’s ‘input’ prevent the success of this revolutionary idea? Unfortunately there is no way of finding out, but at least you have a fun story to tell when drinking beer in a bar and who knows, you might even be able to persuade someone to buy you a beer by using Titcoins!

References:
– at5.nl (2015) Vrouwen betalen bier met borsten, http://www.at5.nl/artikelen/147421/
vrouwen-betalen-bier-met-borsten, 02-10-2015
– Duolingo.com (2015) Duolingo About, https://en.duolingo.com/press, 06-10-2015
– Olson, P. (2013) Language App Duolingo To Translate More Sites After Buzzfeed And CNN, http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2013/11/13/language-app-duolingo-to-translate-more-sites-after-buzzfeed-and-cnn/, 06-10-2015
– Stoffels, T. (2015) Je kunt helemaal niet je tieten laten zien voor gratis bier, http://www.vice.com/
nl/read/je-kunt-helemaal-niet-je-tieten-laten-zien-voor-gratis-bier-294, 07-10-2015
– titcoins.biz (2015) Titcoin Cryptocurrency, http://www.titcoins.biz/, 02-10-2015

Overview and Future Development of the Ride-Sharing Market: BlaBlaCar and Uber

BlaBlaCar and Uber are two comparable examples of platform-mediated networks that have revolutionized parts of the transportation industry by connecting drivers with passengers for travel purposes without owning a car fleet. In essence, the platforms offer means of communication between the drivers and co-drivers to agree on transportation activities. Thus, positive cross-side network effects are predominant, when considering that passengers benefit from a higher participation of drivers, since it increases the number of possible rides. Hence, an increased user base helps the companies to set themselves apart from competitors. Nevertheless, switching costs are considered to be very low if rivals enter the market. Overall, the platform’s value is exchanged in a triangular set of relationships between demand-side users, i.e. passengers; suppliers of the service, i.e. drivers; and the platform itself. The platform hence takes a role of network orchestrator bringing together supply and demand for car rides.

12166857_10153065429796610_1118393354_n

BlaBlaCar Logo

To the present day both companies have mainly build on word-of-mouth and social media advertising.

They focus on offering low transportation costs when compared to other travel services and have gained high media attention in the relative recent past. This was mainly brought about by vast financing rounds as well as their current company valuations.

Nevertheless, the companies’ offerings differ with regard to their users’ transactions. On the one hand, BlaBlaCar connects drivers to share their pre-planned long-distance rides with fellow passengers in order to share their costs. In general, BlaBlaCar benefits from the growing trend of sharing between private individuals. On the other hand, Uber offers a platform connecting drivers with passengers who wish to be transported from A to B.

These differing models entail divergent legislative and competitive environments. Since BlaBlaCar circumvents legal issues by not allowing drivers to make a profit, competition is increasing in this field. This will in turn lower the firm’s margins in markets, where it charges service fees, if it cannot outperform its rivals by an unbeatable user base or other valuable features. In contrast, Uber has faced various legislative issues up to the present. In particular, it has faced ongoing protests and legal actions against it operations. Among the main arguments against its service offering are: unsafe conditions for customers, unfair competition, uninsured drivers and non-transparent operations. Consequently, the future of the market highly depends on how the legal framework is shaped by governmental institutions. Moreover, competition arises in those countries and cities, where no legal constrains exist. Hence, the future development of Uber depends on the company’s ability to maintain a high-quality service offering that provides value added in comparison to cheaper copycats. Once competitors strengthen their position in Uber’s markets, the company will have to adjust its margins in order to stay price-competitive in the long run.

Technology of the week, Team 44


Bibliography

Pommereau, I. d. (2014, August 13). Move over Uber: BlaBlaCar brings a different kind of ride-sharing to Europe. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from The Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/

Kasanmascheff, M. (2015, January). Uber, Blablacar und Co: Apps für Mitfahrgelegenheiten, Social-Taxis und Carsharing. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from Softonic Technology: Top-Apps: http://artikel.de.softonic.com/uber-blablacar-und-co-apps-fur-mitfahrgelegenheiten-social-taxis-und-carsharing

Ahmed, M. (2015, September 16). BlaBlaCar zooms ahead with $200m investment valuing it at €1.4bn. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/24d1ac00-5c74-11e5-9846-de406ccb37f2.html#axzz3nzcTVEBD

Schechner, S. (2015, September 16). BlaBlaCar Valued at $1.5 Billion After New Funding Round. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from The Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/blablacar-joins-ranks-of-billion-dollar-venture-backed-startups-1442433577

Gandel, S. (2015, July 31). Uber just beat Facebook’s $50 billion record. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2015/07/31/uber-valuation-funding-round/

Your Strategy to Information part 2

Staying up-to-date on what is going on in Tech world: Time Management!

Thank you very much for your enthusiasm and responses to my previous blog post, in which I asked you to share your sources of information on the world of Technology. As promised, here is a second post in which I would like to summarize the results for you.

Favorite to one of the commenters, and also to me at the moment, is TechCrunch. Especially for the ones among us who do not have much time to explore the whole web for interesting news, the CrunchReport gives you a quick summary of about five minutes on the main tech news of the day. Here is an example of a few days ago (Thursday), in which among others the development of Facebook Emoji’s is discussed: http://techcrunch.com/video/crunchreport/#.qiir4i:POct

However, in case you are more interested in the way companies use technologies in their day to day operations (National as well), signing up for a specific newsletter from webpages such as Emerce can be recommended.

In order to get news from more websites at once, use Feedly! This website/app enables you to ‘’check’’ the websites that you enjoy following, and their news will than all appear in your Feedly newsfeed.

The commenters do very much agree on that there is a massive load of information coming from various sources; each News Page provides its own newsletter. There is so much to read, that a little organization in keeping up with what you would still like to read later on may be useful. The tool Pocket will help you out in situations in which you come across an interesting article but you just do not have the time to read it at that very moment; this tool enables you to easily save the article for later so you can read it in the train or at any other moment.

To summarize, if your life is just as busy as mine is, just find five minutes a day to view the CrunchReport, add the News Pages you are interested in to your Feedly and save interesting articles in your Pocket for moments at which you do have time!

Colin van Lieshout
414788cl

Tech will finally show empathy

NewFBEmojis

Recently, Apple announced that they acquired Perceptio. Perceptio is a company that is using artificial intelligence to classify photos on smartphones (Clark and Sataranio, 2015). The revolution in here is that the application does not require a lot of data of the users, so it is very customer friendly. The idea is that objects and emotions will be recognised using Artificial Intelligence. This way if people search for “dog” they will automatically be shown photos that a dog is in.

Also, Facebook announced this week that, instead of the “dislike” button, it is working on reactions feature that allows you to express emotions, such as “love, laughter, cheeky smiles and shock anger” (Trew, 2015). This will change the dynamic of “liking” things on Facebook. As we can now express our emotion with the use of emoticons it will change the perception of social media. Spain and Ireland will the first countries that get to test this new feature by Friday. This way Facebook is trying to resolve the problem that is mentioned by Mark Zuckerberg in an interview:

“What people really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment (The Guardian, 2015).”

These new features will have an effect on the way we use and understand social media. For a long time social media was a difficult medium to show empathy. An emotional tone online is often lost in translation or is misinterpreted. Despite the introduction emoticons and the textual emotions, it has always remained difficult for computer to recognize and process emotions.
The collaboration between Apple and Perceptio can create interesting features in the future. The use of artificial intelligence for understanding empathy in photos will be revolutionary. It will change how photos are interpreted and analysed. Also, the emoticons used on Facebook will enable users to show more empathy and therefore reduce conflict due to misunderstanding.
However, the emojis might add some empathy to the community, it is not the most revolutionary improvement. Users are still limited in their options and by commenting on the post they will have a more varied choice of emoticons.
So what do you think? Will this new feature bring extra value to Facebook? And will the collaboration between Apple and Perception create something that is truly revolutionary and useful?


Clark, J & Sataranio, A. (2015) Apple Acquires Startup Developing Advanced AI for Phones, Bloomberg.com, October 8, 2015.

Trew, J. (2015) Facebook tests ‘Reactions,’ a Like button with more emotions, engadget.com, October 8 2015.

The Guardian (2015) Facebook ‘Reactions’ Social Network Adds Emoji to ‘Like’ Options,

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/08/facebook-reactions-social-network-adds-emoji-to-like-options, October 12 2105.

6 Sources to be Informed About the World

I am an information geek and I’m here to share the best of it. 

In this Internet age, it is extremely difficult to find the useful information which is of high quality and caters to your preferences. That is why I wanted to share with you the best information sources around. I believe in Dave Pell’s idea, that the best algorithm is human. Therefore, most of these sources are newsletters or individuals, who are passionate about knowledge.


The Next Draft
 Everything you need to know on the internet

The Managing Editor of the Internet Dave Pell daily sends a digest with 10 days most fascinating news. If I would need to choose only one source that I could read, this would be the one! All media people read it. Just name it: The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker
And you should too!

 


Mattermark Daily
 All you need to know about start-ups

Mattermark has the most successful content marketing I’ve ever seen. I actually only started because my work in a start-up required to do so. If you ever think about being knowledgable about start-ups, then this is a go-to place.  



VOX.com

Explain the News

The best news site that I have ever encountered. They write about all the important affairs. And explain them. Only caveat is the fact that they are US news portal and as well coverage is focused more on their issues.
Still marvelous journalism.

 


Farnam Street Blog
 Learn to think

I obsolutely love that this guy is trying to talk about literally everything on how we can improve our thinking. He has mapped more than 100 mental models, starting from creative thinking and ending with Biases.
Just check it out, if you want to become smarter. 

 


Kottke.org
 Random highbrow cool stuff

I guess that this is already slightly specific to ones taste in the entertainment. Basically, this guy posts everything starting from slideshow on how mobile internet is changing developing countries, and ending with cool movie trailers.
Uhh… Just check it out. Love it or.. ignore it.

 


Andrew Chen
Understand what is happening in the Silicon Valley

Great essays on Tech-related start-up industry. He has written 650+ essays for The New York Times, WSJ, Wired, Fortune etc. The best guy to have the real insights from.


Here are some more nice channels definitely worth checking out:

Evergreen – gives really in-depth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.

Quartz – more finance related Europe centered, high quality news source

Barking up the Wrong tree – self-development advises backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist

Buffer – everything about social media strategy you need to know

Direkt Fast News – all crucial news explained in three sentences

Delve – receive movie of the week, nicely presented

lsm.lv – nice source for Latvian speaking audience

Delve – my own information dissemination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English] 

Still. Don’t trust media, and don’t be ignorant about the world. [MARVELOUS VIDEO]


P.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.  

 Written by: Gustavs Upmanis

<p style=”color: #000000;”><a href=”https://medium.com/evergreen-business-weekly”>Evergreen</a&gt; – gives really indepth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.</p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”/admin/modules/categories/quartz.com”>Quartz</a> – more finance related Europe centred, high quality news source</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”http://www.bakadesuyo.com/blog/”>Barking up the Wrong tree </a>- self-development advices backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”https://blog.bufferapp.com/”>Buffer</a&gt; – everything about social media strategy you need to know</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”http://www.direktfastnews.com/index.html”>Direkt Fast News </a>- all crucial news explained in three sentences</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”http://delveweekly.com/”>Delve -</a> receive movie of the week, nicely presented</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”http://www.lsm.lv”>lsm.lv </a>- nice source for Latvian speaking audience</span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”line-height: 1.2;”><a href=”https://www.facebook.com/delveLV”>Delve -</a> my own information dissamination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English] </span></p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”>Stil. Don’t trust media, and <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm5xF-UYgdg”>don’t be ignorant about the world.</a> [MARVELOUS VIDEO]</p>
<p style=”color: #000000;”><span style=”font-size: medium;”>P.s. If you are an information geek the same as I am, then bookmark this article and enjoy without hurry. And share.
P.s.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.  </span></p>

Evergreen – gives really indepth information regarding the business related topics. I wanted to put it in TOP 5, but forgot.

Quartz – more finance related Europe centred, high quality news source

Barking up the Wrong tree – self-development advices backed up in science from a guy, who writes to the Economist

Buffer – everything about social media strategy you need to know

Direkt Fast News – all crucial news explained in three sentences

Delve – receive movie of the week, nicely presented

lsm.lv – nice source for Latvian speaking audience

Delve – my own information dissamination platform. Exactly my work on sourcing high quality news for it, has resulted in me knowing so many great sources that can be useful for life. [Yes, it is in Latvian, however, almost all the articles are in English] 

Stil. Don’t trust media, and don’t be ignorant about the world. [MARVELOUS VIDEO]

P.s. If you are an information geek the same as I am, then bookmark this article and enjoy without hurry. And share. P.s.s. I consciously tried to escape from more obvious sources like The Economist, Financial Times, The Atlantic etc. I still believe in them being high quality news sources.