A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 6, 2015

Rocket Scientists Are Inventing a More Comfortable High Heel Shoe

They're also inventing new ways to find the nearest hamburger and to manage your social life. Which must say something about the market for rockets - and for graduate degrees. JL

Ashlee Vance reports in Bloomberg:

Materials also let us change the distribution load for how the foot sits in the high heel.

Who You Know: Tech, Celebrity, Networks and Networking

It was once considered a sort of truism that you eat what you know. The rise of celebrity capital, especially in Silicon Valley, does not necessarily suggest that you eat who you know, but we can see where this is going. JL

Steven Solomon reports in DealBook:

Snoop Dogg is raising a venture capital fund to invest in the marijuana industry. That's not a headline from The Onion.

Creating a Millennials-Only Work Area in the Office

Is it better to integrate generational cohorts - or to protect Millennials from persistent Woodstock and Watergate allusions, balding, gray-haired male ponytails and references to obscure 60s-era sitcoms?

Lindsay Gelman reports in the Wall Street Journal:

As millennials have become the largest segment of the workforce, companies are seeking ways to make the multigenerational office run smoothly. At one New York City advertising and marketing firm, that means clustering young workers.

The Economics of New Dams and Reservoirs Don't Add Up

The world is running out of potable water. The question is what to do about it.

 There are a number of options, but the standard response, as the following article explains, is to build more 'surface storage' projects - dams and reservoirs - because we know how to build, finance and sell them. 

The problem with the traditional approach lies in the declining efficiency and productivity of the model on which it is based. JL

Chris Nichols reports in the San Diego Times-Union:

Water generated from big new storage projects costs substantially more than water from water use efficiency, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup, and water recycling projects.

Where Are the Text Analytics Unicorns?

Most of the great fortunes have been made by selling to the masses. Public-facing means to desirable ends like Amazon, Apple, Uber, Alibaba or even McDonalds and Walmart enjoy valuations based on a tangible financial and operational performance combined with the intangible value of brand and reputation. There's a reason why there was only one 'Intel Inside.' JL

Seth Grimes comments in Venture Beat:

“Text analytics” is a term for software and business processes that apply natural language processing (NLP) to extract business insights from social, online, and enterprise text sources

How Process Killed Scale

Yes, of course innovation is important. Just count the number of times it's mentioned in the typical CEO's speeches. 

But the reason that so many large enterprises have invested so much in technology and continue to scratch their heads when asked how they measure the benefits they received in return is because so few of them bothered to change their processes in order to optimize the impact of all that creative engineering.

Many managers simply thought that technology would make their work force faster meaning that they would turn out more widgets or contracts per day. Most focused on the way that it would make what they do cheaper by reducing the number of people or plants or offices they would need. But not enough concentrated how changing the way they actually do things - and even whether doing what they had been doing was necessary.

The result, as the following article explains, is that many big companies were - and are - too enamored of what they got for their investment in innovation rather than figuring out how they could get more of it. JL

Greg Satell comments in Digital Tonto:

Upstarts use platforms to access ecosystems and enjoy many of the same capabilities that large firms do.  That’s why big organizations are broken.  They incur many of the same organizational costs as a generation ago, but at the same time their scale advantages have diminished.

May 5, 2015

How Big Data Influences the Pop Song Writing Process

And the beat goes on...and on. JL

David Plantz comments in Quora:

What's the average song length? Intro length? Structure? Start with chorus? Is there prechorus? Most common instrument? Are male vocals or female vocals doing better? How long are echos and reverbs? Digital drums or analog? Acoustic versus electric guitar? Most popular key? Major or minor?...