Filed under bittersweet: Aaron Swartz’s legacy carries on this week with the New Yorker’s launch of Strongbox, the open-source, anonymous inbox Aaron helped build last year. The idea is to let tipsters and leakers share information with journalists anonymously without fear of being traced, a crucial element of news-gathering that’s been put to the test in our data-driven age. We’re betting the AP, recent victims of the Obama administration’s leak hunt, will be booting up a Strongbox of their own pretty soon. Read Kevin Poulsen’s story in the New Yorker about how Strongbox came to be.
Acqui-happy: Yahoo looking to acquire Tumblr. Facebook and Microsoft may be kicking the tires too. Prepare for a sweepstakes.
“Advertisers are users too.” One year after the Facebook IPO, the company has gotten serious about making hay, but the stock is stuck.
Google wants to go toe-to-toe with Spotify. Here’s how the tech giant beat its rival, Apple, to the punch with a streaming music service.
Well that didn’t take long. Barely a half-year since re-election, reports of the demise of President Obama’s second term are circulating far and wide. D.C. turns on Obama, wrote Politico. While the three proto-scandals—IRS, Benghazi talking points, and DOJ seizure of AP phone records— may be fledgling and seemingly unrelated, there’s no denying it. Washington has scandal fever. Turns out pairing up your administration’s first serious scandal with an unprecedented intrusion into the privacy of the fourth estate is a great way to guarantee a shellacking in the press.
Margaret Sullivan at the Times denounced the administration for “unprecedented secrecy” and “unprecedented attacks on a free press.”
All this bad press for Obama has Brendan Nyhan at CJR asking how journalists should balance coverage of facts versus ‘narrative’.: “As I argue in my academic research, media scandals are a “co-production” of the opposition party and the press. It takes two to tango.
And what of Bloomberg News’ own little scandal? The organization apologized this week for letting its reporters snoop on users of the Bloomberg financial terminal. Yes, Bloomberg’s culture is all about omniscience, down to the last keystroke.
What does the quiet death of NewsRight, promoted as a way for the newspaper industry to monetize through smart licensing and piracy detection, say about the changing content landscape? A lot. And a lot of it’s optimistic.
There’s one word that shouldn’t exist in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary, writes Mark Suster. Guess what it is.
Bad Sign: Scientists warn we’ve officially passed a long-feared climate change milestone: the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached an average daily level of 400 parts per million.
Tip of the week: Tech elites are turning their devices off and cultivating analog lives. You should too.
It’s 2013, and if you don’t have Big Data, your business is toast. Right? Wrong, says Christopher Mims in Quartz. Tech pundits have conflated big data with ‘data analysis,’ a counterproductive and potentially costly switcheroo. According to a Microsoft Research study, even data-driven companies like Facebook and Yahoo aren’t dealing with big data in the classic sense. Turns out looking at the right data matters more than quantity; or as the old saying goes, size matters less than you think.
MG Siegler, of Techcrunch and ParisLemon renown, decided he likes writing checks so much that he’s joining Google Ventures as a general partner.
What really went down with the sale of Instagram to Facebook? Kara Swisher took to Vanity Fair to tell the tale.
Odds are, you’ve seen a few Google Glass reviews in the past few weeks. Business Insider says the final verdict is in. “Nobody Likes Google Glass.”
Margaret Sullivan, the fifth public editor at the New York Times since the Jayson Blair scandal made the position a necessity, asks could a similar episode - or something as damaging - happen again?
Don’t miss Google Earth’s new Timelapse project. How much can humans change the face of the planet in 28 years? A lot, as animated gifs of the Brazilian Amazon and shrinking glaciers aptly demonstrate.
The Heritage Foundation made a splash with a study saying that immigration reform will cost the public trillions. We’re not ones for ad hominem attacks, but it is noteworthy that past academic work by Jason Richwine, one of the study’s co-authors, asserts that there are persistent IQ differences between whites and hispanics. The Heritage Foundation says Richwine’s past work does not reflect the organization’s positions.
One hospital charges $8,000—another, $38,000. No joke. And we know it because the federal government is releasing pricing data from the 100 most common inpatient procedures. Is public shame a new cost control tactic?
For Fun: The Atlantic asks, why do NPR reporters have such great names? Is it the names themselves? Or the medium?
If you’ve been anywhere near a tech conference or the internet in the past year, you’ve come across the word “disrupt.” You might’ve heard of a few conferences bearing the name. (Kudos to Enigma by the way, awesome endeavor). Or perhaps the last 10 startup pitches you’ve heard have promised disruption when they deliver anything but. Cut it out, writes Slate’s Matt Yglesias. Disruptive innovation actually means something, and it’s a pretty damn useful concept too: “Turning disruption into an all-purpose tech buzzword obscures its importance while simultaneously distracting innovators from real opportunities.”
Big week for Facebook. Despite a modest stock bounce, Quartz called its earnings the worst report the young company has ever issued, citing a spending race with Google for engineering talent and a quarter-over-quarter decline in global revenue per user. And while user growth in the developing world continues, usage may have peaked in developed markets. Some, like Henry Blodget, aren’t worried: Facebook is doing exactly the right thing: ignoring Wall Street and investing aggressively.
As for what they’re doing with all that talent? Here’s an awesome read from Alexis C. Madrigal on their design philosophy.
White spaces are in. Reuters has a preview of its site redesign up and, logically, given its newswire roots, it scrapped the home page concept for a ‘river-of-news’ approach. It reminds us of a preview of another news site’s mobile-friendly redesign: the New York Times.
Maybe you’ve heard that the Koch brothers want to buy the LA TImes to play some media offense for the conservative movement. Turns out the staff wouldn’t like it: about 1/2 said they’d resign if the brothers succeed.
Betaworks bought Instapaper. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you should. They’re buying up all the key pieces in the online ecosystem.
We hope this doesn’t surprise you, but, fracking won’t get the U.S. out of the Persian Gulf, Steve LeVine points out in a writeup about Michael Levi’s new book Power Surge. “Even if the US buys not a drop of oil from the Middle East, Levi said, it is likely to retain long-term interest in Israel’s security.”
And you’ve heard a lot about the pernicious effects of the sequester. Another one to keep tabs on: millions in budget cuts for regional climate research centers. Because a blindfold is exactly what we need as we go over the climate cliff.
Term of the week: “Deviant Globalization”: “a hidden and powerful underground economy that is growing globally at twice the rate of the legal economy. This vast commercial underworld rewards those who combine traditional business skills with the ability to operate in the spaces between the laws and enforcement agencies of various countries. Those who succeed can make enormous profits off of such illicit activities as trafficking in drugs, weapons and humans, money laundering, intellectual and physical piracy, sex tourism and even organ trading and cross-border waste disposal.” Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera is a meastro.
Great read from Ezra Klein that cuts to the heart of our flawed healthcare system. Turns out home care for complex illnesses improves quality and cuts costs, yet Medicare may shut it down.
How I Became a Hipster. “You know you’re in hipster Brooklyn when someone who looks like a 19th-century farmer tells you that his line of work is “affinity marketing.”“
This man gave up the internet for a year, but came back because it’s something we do with others.
What’s the lesson of the AP twitter hack, on the heels of misinformation after the Boston tragedy? Dan Gillmor says we, each one of us, the former ‘audience,’ must get it in our heads to trust nothing at first glance, to use judgement with each new story. Call it a slow news approach.
As for those Wall Street algorithms making crappy trades by the microsecond after the AP hack? They’re making it awfully hard to get a job in finance in Wall Street. This chart shows a decline of more than 30% since Dec. 2000.
There’s an old adage in journalism that news is what someone, somewhere wants to suppress. Everything else is just advertising. Our new favorite tool, churnalism, helps answer that question: Is it Journalism? Or just a repackaged press release?
And as a follow up, remember, never pay for twitter followers kids. As these celebs found out, it doesn’t look pretty.
In media biz news, the New York Times reverted back to a revenue loss in the first quarter of 2013 after chalking up a hopeful, if slim, gain for 2012. They followed the news by lifting its industry-heralded paywall for videos, and promised to build video ‘franchises’ around popular columnists.
Finally, the Koch brothers are trying to buy Tribune Company’s 8 regional papers, including the Chicago Tribune and the LA Times.
What does it take to create a startup community? Or is that even possible? With ‘Silicon’ alleys, beaches, and hills popping up around the country, there’s no lack of people trying. Dealbook digs in.
Ray Kurzweil is helping Google make the ultimate AI brain. Oh, and he thinks we’re only 15 years away from the tipping point toward beating death (or at least serious longevity).
Young Americans are driving a whole lot less. Why? A return to transit-rich cities and the national love affair with all things digital play key roles.
The toll of pollution on China’s youth is going to be staggering, reports Edward Wong at the Times. What appeared to be externalities end up as real internal costs.
Meanwhile, the uninsured population in the US keeps growing ahead of Obamacare implementation, accounting for almost half of working-age adults last year.
Oh, and in case you saw that Politico story making the rounds: No, Congress isn’t trying to exempt itself from Obamacare.
Laughs: Majority of Americans not informed enough to stereotype Chechens via The Onion.
Boston follow-up: The American dream isn’t for everyone, writes New Yorker’s David Remnick on The Brothers Tsarnaev.
Wonk of the Week: We interviewed Doximity’s Nate Gross, a bona fide Silicon Valley optimist, who says social curation of clinical findings and medical research could speed the adoption of new medical knowledge from a matter of decades to a matter of months.
It would be an understatement to call this a dark week in the news. Our thoughts remain with those in Boston and Texas.
Here are a few of the reads that helped us make sense of what happened or that took our minds off the tragedies.
First, the good news. The roster of Pulitzer winners announced this week is a testament to the diversity and strength of journalism in the digital age. Heck, newcomer InsideClimate News landed its first Pulitzer before it even had a newsroom.
Unfortunately, the tragedy in Boston brought the worst out of some of America’s most established newsrooms. NBC’s Pete Williams stood out for his prudent and accurate reporting while CNN and others again jumped the gun reporting arrests. Meanwhile, the New York Post’s week of Boston coverage was a “black mark in the annals of newspaper history,” according to the Columbia Journalism Review. The Onion took them to task.
In his piece Why Boston Hospitals were ready, Boston-based surgeon and journalist Atul Gawande says our collective savvy in the face of crisis is part of the sad cultural legacy of 9/11. “We’ve learned, and we’ve absorbed. This is not cause for either celebration or satisfaction. That we have come to this state of existence is a great sadness. But it is our great fortune.”
And now, a few items from beyond New England.
A war in the ivory tower has some real repercussions in Washington and for our public debate. A new UMass study found serious problems—including a spreadsheet error!—with a Harvard study that served as the intellectual underpinning of the deficit hawk movement in Washington. That in turn prompted an pointed online debate about the perils of “wonk journalism,” the latest iteration in American journalism’s search for the objective center.
And if you missed former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords op-ed on the Senate’s failure to address gun violence, it’s worth a read. She pulls no punches.
And to finish with some happy news for the human race, we turn to NASA. Astronomers announced they’ve found Two Promising Places to Live, 1200 Light Years from Earth. And as telescope technology advances, scientists say they expect to find a whole lot more such planets. Hope!
In a conversation with Foreign Affairs, former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd looks at the current North Korea sabre-rattling and asks, what’s new here? Answer: relatively untested leaders with limited political capital in North and South Korea.
Maryn McKenna at Wired has some good guidelines on The New Bird Flu, and How to Read the News About It, including a helpful list of journalists and organizations who know their stuff when it comes to this complicated issue. Updating the figures in that story, CNN reported Friday that 11 of the 43 people infected in China have died.
Jonathan Van Meter and the NYT Magazine have the story you want to avoid but you know you can’t: the Anthony Weiner comeback story. He’s angling for NYC mayor. Insert * joke here.
And that breakthrough on gun legislation in the Senate? WonkBlog reports it will still leave majority of private gun transfers unregulated.
Goodbye free TV? Newscorp. threatens to take Fox News to cable if U.S. courts don’t put a stop to startup Aereo.
On the heels of the SEC giving companies the OK to announce financial info on Twitter and Facebook, Bloomberg decided it was high time to bring the little blue bird into its terminal. While users can’t yet tweet from the terminal, they can see 140-character musings from a vetted, VIP list of handles. Kevin Roose at NY Mag was nice enough to include a crowdsourced list of the VIP handles he’s seen so far. Welcome to the scrum Wall Street.
California approved a Kickstarter for solar, which will bring $100 million to bear for solar roofing projects. Things still look dire on the panel production side, as GreentechMedia’s RIP list of deceased solar companies makes clear.
And we’ve only begun to see what terrifying wonders carbon pollution will bring to our seas. What we can see already spells trouble for the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere: supersized crabs and shrinking oysters.
Remember back in high school when you skimmed, googled cliff notes, swapped outlines, and did anything else you could to dodge actually cracking open The Scarlet Letter? It’s a brave new world amigos. As the Times reports, Teacher Knows if You’ve Done the E-Reading.
For fun: Buzzfeed’s got the best commercials from the Mad Men era. Volkswagon takes top 2 spots.
Ever wonder how a bitcoin transaction works? Inquiring minds also want to know.
Talk of a Bitcoin bubble spread across the interwebs this week, as those in the know commented on the tripling of their value since mid-March.
Felix Salmon’s primer is a good starting point.
The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency
And if, like Jay, you’re still lost about that tricky mining bit, head over here:
Explaining Bitcoin to the Man in the Street, sort of
Or dive into this infographic:
Here’s the rest of the Delve community’s favorite reads. Follow us on Twitter @Delvenews and be sure to share your top work reads with us at #DelvePick.
Jordan Weissmann / ATLANTIC / The Simple Reason Why Goodreads is So Valuable to Amazon
Useful look into how FT is using data to help turn its paywall into a way to retain, rather than turn away users:
Lauren Indvik / Mashable / The Financial Times’ Secret Weapon: Data
Somini Sengupta / New York Times Bits Blog / Facebook Software Puts it Front and Center on Android Phones
Evgeny Morozov / The Baffler / The Meme Hustler: Tim O’Reilly’s Crazy Talk or, as i09.com calls the essay: “a story about the future the Silicon Valley pioneers want to build for the world, using corrupt memes that could wreck democracy.”
Tom Agan / New York Times / Why Innovators Get Better With Age
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Long-time Climate heavyweight James Hansen steps down:
Justin Gillis / New York Times / Climate Maverick to Retire from NASA
Employee’s can’t take time for stress relief and wellness because - wait for it - they are too busy at work:
Karsten Strauss / Forbes / Employees don’t have time for wellness initiatives
Barbara Ray / KQED Mindshift / Combining Robotics With Poetry? Art and Engineering Can Co-Exist
Wonk of the Week: We do ocasional interviews with thought leaders about how they process the news. This week we caught up with Dan Pink, the man who says the key to selling is listening. Here’s what has his ear now.
For Fun: Ezra Klein v Matt Yglesias, Twitter throwdown: Ezra Klein’s article The Problem With Twitter got love from journalists who love to hate twitter and hate from those who think living life offline is a waste of time, like Slate’s Matt Yglesias: The Case for Twitter Snark.
Right, and in case you somehow missed it, Roger Ebert has left this world. Godspeed.
On April 4, Yammer is trimming their fat - lean & agile - and shutting down their RSS app. And they recommend you turn to us as a replacement!
You can find Delve in Yammer’s App Directory.
May finding and sharing news with your coworkers be ever in your favor.
Here’s what Delve’s reading this week. Be sure to follow along and share your reads at #DelvePick
GigaOm / Om Malik / Uber, Data Darwinianism, and the future of work
PaidContent / Jeff John Roberts / Massive bot network is draining $6 million a month from online ad industry, says report
Business Insider / Joe Weisenthal / Twitter Just Crushed Wall Street After The Cyprus Bailout
Pew: State of the Media
Allyson Bird / Why I left News
Washington Post / Steve Mufson / The Washington Post to charge frequent users of its website
Greentech Media / Shyam Mehta / GTM Research on Suntech’s bankruptcy: An Optical Illusion
Guardian / Juliette Jowit / Climate debate cut from national curriculum for children up to 14
Scientific American / Brian Bienkowski / Fish Cannot Smell in Polluted Waters
NBC News / Alastair Jamieson / War Crimes Suspect The Terminator Surrenders At U.S. Embassy in Rwanda
Slate / Matthew Yglesias / Rob Portman and the Politics of Narcissism
Washington Post / Eli Saslow / Food Stamps Put Rhode Island Town On Monthly Boom-and-Bust Cycle
New York Times / Reed Abelson / The Face of Future Health Care
The Health Care Blog / Elaine Waples / Truth At the End of Life
NPR /Julie Rovner / As Health Law Turns Three, Public Is As Confused As Ever
Chronicle of Higher Education / Steve Kolowich / The Professors Who Make the MOOCs
New York Times / David Leonhardt / Better Colleges Failing to Lure Talented Poor
ProPublica / Nikole Hannah-Jones / A Colorblind Constitution: What Abigail Fisher’s Affirmative Action Case is Really About
GOOD CHUCKLE: Find the Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights and Weekends for the Rest of Your Life
For the Entrepreneur: Our CEO Sandeep has some advice for nailing that crucial meeting: have an ask.
Wonk of the Week: Mark Coatney, Tumblr’s in-house evangelist, explores the competing axes of value for content on Twitter v Tumblr
You walk into the coffeeshop with a pop in your step. This is the meeting you’ve been waiting for all week. The guy whose blogs you’ve been reading for months, who you’ve tried to get three separate intros to, who finally took one and agreed to get coffee with you. You click instantly, you sit down, your sentences falling into the others at such a pace that you don’t even have time to jot down a single word in your notebook. You’re completing each other’s thoughts, you’re sharing the same world views, you’re swapping stories of people you both know. And then, with total nonchalance, he pops the question: “So, how can I be helpful?” And you wonder what it possibly was in that coffee that’s causing this giant lump in your throat.
Asking for something of value, especially of those whose accomplishments and time we respect the most, is a very difficult thing for most of us to do. There’s a natural selfishness in the act that arouses every bit of the shyness that you thought you’d overcome. Who am I to request a favor of you, we wonder. Isn’t it enough that you’ve given me the past hour of your time? How can I be greedy enough to want more?
But here’s the truth: the person on the other end of the conversation likely took the meeting because they believed you’d be someone they’d like to get to know. They may have appreciated what you’re working on or who you knew in common. They very likely had a number of people who helped them become successful, and in you they might see an earlier version of themselves. So don’t be shy – you’re there for a very good reason, and now’s the time to make the most of the opportunity.
Four thoughts that will help you nail the ask:
1. Do your research: Even before you initially reach out to this person, you should be familiar with who they are and how they could be helpful to you. What’s their current role and primary occupation? Where were they before? What sorts of career shifts have they taken and what might that say about them? What networks do you share? What have they recently blogged about/tweeted/said in public appearances?
All of these points come together in some form of a story (though be careful not to create your own narrative on someone else’s career), and being able to casually make the point that you respect your subject enough to have done your homework on them goes an exceptionally long way in impressing them. After all, any of us who make such information public – our LinkedIn profile, our tweets, our blog – expect that someone doing the work to reach out to us will have taken five minutes to look at them.
Keep in mind that their previous meeting could’ve been with someone who did a ton of homework and came extraordinarily well-prepared, and if you haven’t, you can guess which of the two follow-up emails they’ll put more effort into.
2. Know what you’re asking for: In business, help can pretty much be defined within three categories:
a. Advice: on product, on strategy, on recruiting, on management, etc.
b. Money: usually just investment or sales.
c. Introductions: usually to other people who could provide one of the above.
3. Be shameless but be realistic: There are two failure scenarios at the end of a successful meeting (one way to measure it is by how hard either party is trying to wrap it up – if your subject is delaying their next one to wrap up yours or running beyond your budgeted time, you’re in great shape). One is having an ask that is so broad that they have no idea how to actually help you, and the other is stumbling your way through the ask that it’s clear you lack the confidence to act upon whatever they might offer (not having an ask at all = you’re a rookie). If you’re an entrepreneur, you probably have a number of areas where you could use help. Narrow down your list to the five where you need the most help, and overlay that with the five where you think they’d be able to offer the most help. Across those sets of five, you’ll likely find a couple of areas of overlap. Go into the meeting with one primary area where you have a couple of concrete action items for them: intros to people that you know they know, an investment, or product feedback on an area that you know they’re good at. And then have a couple of other areas that you could mention and see whether they pounce. If you think you’ll be too hesitant or shy to make the ask, keep it simple and practice it a couple of times. And don’t ask for something too audacious – taking a junior manager at Salesforce out for coffee doesn’t make it likely that they’ll introduce you to Marc Benioff.
4. Be gracious and return the favor: While you may think of yourself as a lowly entrepreneur who couldn’t possibly be helpful to someone like who you’re talking to, you probably have a number of potential introductions to offer them. If they’re an investor, you could introduce them to amazing entrepreneurs you know, a great Meetup to check out, or the incredibly helpful app you just found. You might know of a good workspace or class or even a coffeeshop or wine bar they might like. You can always send them an interesting article that you recently read that speaks to some part of your conversation. As you build your network, you’ll find that some of the people you know might be ones you can introduce them to as well. At the very least, the follow-up email, the LinkedIn connection, and the Twitter follow (and occasional retweet?) go a long way, especially when done with genuine respect and in good faith. After all, you should be looking to build a long-term professional relationship with your subject, and not just looking for a quick connection to someone else. That may not materialize – we’re all busy – but the intent counts for a lot.
If you keep the thoughts above in mind, you’ll ace your next ask, and you’ll soon be hearing people’s asks more often than you’re delivering them!
- Sandeep Ayyappan, Founder & CEO
(Cross-posted at Orrick Total Access Resources Blog).