A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 27, 2017

The 500 Year Old Reason Why You Answer Work Emails On the Weekend

It isn't just financial or commercial, it's moral. Humans feel guilty about being idle. At least some of the time. JL

Stephanie Buck reports in Timeline:

Before the 15th century, management and appraisal of time was personal. Time and productivity ebbed and flowed according to a natural rhythm. With mercantilism, time, if not spent at work, was a waste.“Lending and borrowing money changed the value of time." It’s why we bring our phones to yoga class, eat at our desks, stack our weeks with gig after gig, and have little regard for a “weekend.”

Data Reveal That Companies Whose CEOs Play a Lot of Golf Perform Worse

Leaders need to keep their eye on the ball. But knowing which ball may be even more important. JL

Jeff Cox reports on CNBC:

In companies where the CEOs played more than 22 rounds of golf a year the return on assets was about 1.1 percentage points lower than firms where the top executives played less. That's significant because the average ROA for the sample was about 5.3 percent, so the performance was equal to about 20 percent lower. "The highest levels of leisure are associated with lower firm operating performance,"

How Wiping Out Net Neutrality Only Helps One Group: Big Telecom

The elimination of net neutrality makes it  harder for innovators and disrupters to offer new options to consumers. The costs of access will become so high that only the telecoms - all of which are now in the process of buying content providers - will be able to compete, cementing their hold over the market.

Since the public appears confused by the complexity of the issues involved, the question is at what point the politicians enabling this transformation will feel threatened enough by it to insist on changes. JL

Dante Ramos reports in the Boston Globe:

The broadband giants leveraged 20th-century cable and telephone monopolies into dominance over Internet service in the 21st. If nobody but your cable provider offers broadband on your street, you can’t just take your business elsewhere if the company slows down your favorite websites.

Angry About Zillow Home Price Estimates? Win a Prize For Improving Them

Which might even provide you with enough for a down payment on a house in a hip, tech-savvy urban market. JL

Nick Wingfield reports in the New York Times:

Zestimate, from the online real estate website Zillow — began on the internet 11 years ago and has amassed a huge audience of homeowners, shoppers and nosy neighbors. Sellers say unfair Zestimates can kill offers on their homes.171 million people visit Zillow each month. The Zillow Prize, (is) a $1 million award to the individual or team that can most improve the Zestimate algorithm.

More Uber and Lyft Riders Are Giving Up Their Own Cars: Polling Data

The overriding implication is that the ease of use and relative cost of cars services, ride sharing et al is evidence of a significant change in lifestyle driven by technology. This portends potential acceptance - and even embrace - of even more radical shifts as self-driving technology matures. JL

Peter Henderson reports in Reuters:

A quarter of Americans gave up their car in the last year, and 9% of that group turned to  Lyft or Uber to get around, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll. 39% of Americans had used rides services and that 27% did so several times per week. A significant number of people have changed their lifestyle and are now relying more on ride services than their own car. Auto makers believe fast adoption of ride services bodes well for self-driving car technology

How Best Buy Is Defying Amazon and Generating Higher Sales

The strategy hinges on Best Buy's re-imagination of the store concept, turning it from a low margin source of do-it-yourself sales into a high margin  repository of convenience and speed via consumer information, logistics and customer service. JL

Khadeeja Safdar reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Best Buy operates 1,600 locations and is increasingly able to use them to build its e-commerce business. Half its online orders are now shipped or picked up from its stores. “They’re a great asset f(or) the customer experience on the more complex categories or experiences, and from a shipping and logistics standpoint.” The company eliminated floorspace dedicated to DVDs, giving it to brands such as Samsung and Microsoft , which pay rent and provide staff expertise.

May 26, 2017

The Disappearing Computer: How Tech Will Soon Be Invisible

Not only are you now the data; soon, you will be the computer. JL

Walt Mossberg reports in Re/code:

Technology, the computer inside all things, will fade into the background. It may disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion, maybe just a thought. This is ambient computing, the transformation of the environment around us with intelligence and capabilities that don’t seem to be there. The last few decades, it’s been about objects and processes. This time it’ll be about experiences.