Walter

Jan 302014
 

It’s no secret that I’m a bit obsessive about my news habits and filters, manifested most obviously in constant tweaking of my RSS feeds but also in who I follow on Twitter, what email newsletters I allow into my inbox, etc. The challenge in these adjustments is always to strike a balance between drinking from

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Jan 262014
 
How will humans add value to algorithms?

Last month, I wrote a piece at HBR about how humans and algorithms will collaborate, based on the writings of Tyler Cowen and Andrew McAfee. The central tension was whether that collaboration would be set up such that algorithms were providing an input for humans to make decisions, or whether human reasoning would be the

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Jan 112014
 
iPhones and Income: Does Technology Change the Middle Class Stagnation Story?

One of the most common responses to my post on middle class incomes was to point out the role of technological progress. If the average American family went back in time to 1989, I wrote, they’d make just as much money but work longer fewer hours to do it. But, some responded, they wouldn’t have iPhones.

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Jan 092014
 
Middle Class Incomes: Up, Flat, or Down?

Depending on who you ask, the incomes of the American middle class over the past few decades have either a) risen only a little b) stagnated, i.e. stayed flat or c) declined. When President Obama declared in his State of the Union speech that family incomes had “barely budged” from 1979 to 2007, The Washington

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Nov 202013
 

The most intuitive way to structure a paywall with respect to premium content — like, say, a longform reported magazine piece or a Snowfall-style multimedia feature — is to offer the cheaper content for free and put the premium stuff behind the gate. I say intuitive simply because it costs you more to produce that stuff;

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Nov 162013
 
Average is Over, Robots, and the Minimum Income

I recently read Tyler Cowen’s latest book Average is Over, and I’d recommend it to anyone thinking about technology and the future of the economy. It’s a highly readable vision of what the coming age of ubiquitous intelligent machines will mean for workers and the economy. Here’s a bit from Chapter 1 that captures Cowen’s

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Nov 162013
 
Don't gamify healthcare -- gamify health

There was a piece in Fortune earlier this month with which I strongly disagreed, on the subject of healthcare, technology, and “gamification”. The post centers around a health tech hackathon and, I think, in dismissing the promise of gamification, misses one of the most promising aspects of health IT. Here’s the gist: Several months ago,

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Oct 042013
 
The internet isn't killing the music industry

Contrary to what you’ve heard:   That’s via a report from the London School of Economics, which concludes: The music industry may be stagnating, but the drastic decline in revenues warnedof by the lobby associations of record labels is not in evidence. This isn’t to say all is well in the music industry, and it doesn’t speak

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Sep 022013
 
How to trust economists

The questions of whether we can trust economists and what economics is good for are back, thanks to a New York Times post last week making an outrageous claim: The fact that the discipline of economics hasn’t helped us improve our predictive abilities suggests it is still far from being a science At Bloomberg, economist

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Aug 282013
 

A series of recent blog posts and news items – here, here, here, here – have me worried about how Silicon Valley* and the startup world relate to the rest of culture and society. There’s a reason Wall Street has a bad name; Silicon Valley shouldn’t have to end up like that. Part of it

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