Tim Mcdonald, Huffinton Post’s director of community, has announced that posting comments on HuffPo henceforth will require a Facebook identity, unless you apply for permission to post anonymously:
Now, as Arianna Huffington announced earlier this year, we’re going a step further to evolve our platform — which has always been about community and engagement — to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet. On December 10, after weeks of fine-tuning our commenting technology and platform, we are pulling the switch in a way that will keep the best parts about commenting on HuffPost while bringing more civility and accountability to the experience.
Here’s how to get started under this new system. When you log in to your account and go to make a comment, you will be prompted to link your commenting account to your verified Facebook account. Then, choose how you’d like your name to be displayed. You can either display your first and last names, or your first name and last initial. This is the only information that will be viewable to the community at large, and you will have control over your private information via Facebook’s privacy settings.
If you do not want to link your Huffington Post account to Facebook, you can still log in to your account and fan and fave other users and their comments. And if, for whatever reason, you fear posting a comment under your name — if you are a whistleblower, or fear harassment, or any other reason — you can apply for the right to comment anonymously by filling out this form.
Oh, yes, how very grown up! You must use only this one identity, and at all times and in all contexts, and we’ll put that power in the hands of a company — Facebook — that has proven itself incapable of putting the interests of people ahead of corporatism.
Now that Zuckerberg and co. are turning the Facebook news feed into a daily newspaper, maybe Facebook will acquire AOL and integrate HuffPo into the user experience directly.
Hamish McKenzie noted that Medium had become significantly more of a curated experience in its recent facelift. But I think in his positioning of Medium and Flipboard as two competitors for our attention, he misses something important. He wrote,
Medium rearranged the furniture yesterday and in doing so changed the way we should look at the whole house.
It’s not just that founder and CEO Evan Williams has finally declared Medium to be a “platform not a publication” – an important distinction that was revealed in a correction note on a Fast Company article. And it’s not just the fancy new clothes that “Medium 1.0” comes dressed in, which include full-bleed cover photos and new layout options. It’s also that Medium now has more emphasis on user-curated “Collections,” such as one called “Human Parts.”
That shift puts Medium squarely in competition with Flipboard, a smartphone and tablet-focused reading app, which in March gave its users the ability to curate their own collections, which it calls “magazines.”
Medium’s further additions of a “Top 100” leaderboard and a “Reading List” feed of suggested stories hammer home the message that “This is a place you come to read, and, please, stay a while.”
But Flipboard is often used as simply as a reading tool for feeds: like the way I access my Twitter stream, or updates from Wired. In that way Flipboard is more like the successor to Google Reader.
No, the product to compare to Medium is Tumblr, where the curated topics pages collated the most interesting and compelling content, as judged by a battery of editors, and each with its own ‘top contributors’. (See me down there at the right?)
I find it interesting that Tumblr seems to be changing so slowly — hardly at all — since being acquired by Yahoo. And one of the obvious ways to draw more interest to Tumblr would be the simple avenue of making the curated topics a/ public and b/ better looking. Right now they look like the (relatively unappealing) Tumblr dashboard, and there is little or no room for advertisements.
But I have made several of the curated topic feeds — like Tech and Design — a part of my central daily practice. I have not done that with Medium, although I do use Flipboard every day, too.
Kara Swisher comments on Marjorie Scardino joining Twitter’s board, but notes that there’s still a huge underrepresentation of women in tech at all levels, and especially in leadership roles.
The tech industry — and, more specifically, Silicon Valley — continues to stumble forward in earnest about how few women are represented in its top ranks of management and on its boards. This, despite the enthusiastic embrace of tech products by many women.
This is not a new problem, of course, but one that rears its head periodically as it becomes clear that the ground gained by women in this perhaps most important sector of the economy — a sector more amenable than most to more tolerance and diversity, too — is being lost rather than gained.
Any gander at the variety of studies, and even a not-very-scientific look at the subject, will show that fewer women are starting companies, are being promoted at companies, are funded, are funders, are on boards, are being rewarded in the same way. At a high-profile party I attended last night, for example, the small handful of women in attendance all seemed to notice and comment on the massive sea of men, though the men appeared blissfully unaware of the imbalance.
“They have no idea at all,” one prominent woman said to me, recounting a story about her visit to an advisory meeting of a tech bank board, where she was the single woman in a room full of men. When she brought it up there — not an easy thing for her, since she was the only woman — she was met with a lot of genuine concern when the penny dropped, but few ideas for action.
• Moreover, given her [Sheryl Sandberg’s] positions first at Google and now at Facebook, it is hard not to notice that her narrative is what corporate America wants to hear. - Anne-Marie Slaughter •
The individualistic, libertarian-leaning Silicon Valley types have absorbed the credo that tech is a pure meritocracy, and if there is an imbalance in the number of women in the industry it is a flaw in society as a whole, education, or women’s ambitions. To some extent that is the message of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which characterizes the barriers to women’s advancement to senior roles as their unwillingness to ‘lean in’ — to be more ambitious, aggressive, and to take on more difficult work.
As Anne-Marie Slaughter put it in a review of Lean In,
Sandberg’s approach, as important as it is, is at best half a loaf. Moreover, given her positions first at Google and now at Facebook, it is hard not to notice that her narrative is what corporate America wants to hear. For both the women who have made it and the men who work with them, it is cheaper and more comfortable to believe that what they need to do is simply urge younger women to be more like them, to think differently and negotiate more effectively, rather than make major changes in the way their companies work.
So is the dearth of women in top jobs due to a lack of ambition or a lack of support? Both, as Sandberg herself grants, proposing that women should “wage battles on both fronts.” Yet she chooses to concentrate only on the “internal obstacles,” the ways in which women hold themselves back. This is unfortunate. As a feminist and a corporate leader, Sandberg seems ideally placed to ask the question that all too often gets lost amid the welter of talk about what women should do, what they should want and how they should behave. When it comes to ensuring that caregivers still have paths to the corner office, how can business lean in?
The future of tech is looking… human
Pleased to say that I’ve been added to Zemanta’s Tech Circle, in a short list with folks like Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Hunter Walk, Albert Wegner, and Howard Lindzon.
For no particular reason, I am reminded of the Groucho Marks line,
I would never join a club that would have me as a member.
Google released transit locations on Google Maps today. (Seems to include a lot of museums in the US.)
Here’s Mexico City’s airport:
I hope they are going to show where the power outlets are.
The chart above, created by Nicholas Felton of the New York Times, shows how long it took various categories of product, from electricity to the Internet, to achieve different penetration levels in US households. It took decades for the telephone to reach 50% of households, beginning before 1900. It took five years or less for cellphones to accomplish the same penetration in 1990. As you can see from the chart, innovations introduced more recently are being adopted more quickly. By analogy, firms with competitive advantages in those areas will need to move faster to capture those opportunities that present themselves.
At Dreamforce, Sheryl Sandberg was flogging her oddball high-tech, low-substance feminism, which led Marc Benioff to blurt ‘I want to have more women leaders at Salesforce. I want to have more balance between the men and women leaders on my team’.
Some diversity is called for, obviously. Aside from the four women in management roles or on the board, it’s 90% white guys. But it’s ok, because US tech is a meritocracy, right?
By the way, about ‘comprise’? Salesforce is using it wrong. The sentence should read ‘The current board of directors at Salesforce.com comprises the following:’. A company worth billions and they can’t write a grammatical sentence.
The Sunday papers are full of spun-up commentators arguing that cell phones shouldn’t be allowed on airplabe flights, in that name of all that is holy. Here’s one:
Vikas Bajaj, No Phones on My Plane, Please
Unless you are in business or first class, flying has become increasingly dreadful. There is less room between the seats. The lousy food and wine cost extra. You often have to pay to check your bags. And it can be harder to score space in an overhead bin than a seat at a Manhattan bar. Why would anyone want to add overcaffeinated road warriors jabbering away on their phones to this already foul environment?
Ok. Let’s step back a minute. What about the overcaffeinated road warriors in the bar at the airport before you get on the plane, or in the shuttle bus, or the hotel lobby?
You could make the case that no one should be able to talk on a phone when other are trapped in a closed environment — like a plane, airport, bus, or while waiting for a train — but we don’t regulate phone use in those places. In fact, we accept the necessity and convenience of cell phones in basically every possible place that they can be used.
Flying on an airplane is not some weekend escape at a spa where we place hot rocks on our chakras and seek enlightenment. It’s just another mode of transit.
Yes, air travel has gone downhill, like most things in the postnormal. And yes, airlines will exploit this opportunity to gouge another pound of flesh from the meat that waddles on and off their planes. That’s the way things work.
But to hold to some quaint, antiquated notion of peace and quiet in the air is laughable. Airplanes are loud in the first place — 60-90 decibels — so anyone with any sense will bring earplugs, hearing protection earmuffs, or noise cancelling headphones. This is especially true of road warriors, who otherwise can get cumulative hearing loss.
So get over your antiquated, 1970s attitudes about phones on planes. In a connected world, people will naturally use whatever technologies they can to remain connected: their livelihoods and relationships are at stake.
Researchers at Duke have built a metamaterial array that harvests free energy sources like ambient wifi and microwave radiation:
The device wirelessly converts the microwave signal to direct current voltage capable of recharging a cell phone battery or other small electronic device, according to a report appearing in the journal Applied Physics Lettersin December 2013.
It operates on a similar principle to solar panels, which convert light energy into electrical current. But this versatile energy harvester could be tuned to harvest the signal from other energy sources, including satellite signals, sound signals or Wi-Fi signals, the researchers say.
The key to the power harvester lies in its application of metamaterials, engineered structures that can capture various forms of wave energy and tune them for useful applications.
Undergraduate engineering student Allen Hawkes, working with graduate student Alexander Katko and lead investigator Steven Cummer, professor of electrical and computer engineering, designed an electrical circuit capable of harvesting microwaves.
They used a series of five fiberglass and copper energy conductors wired together on a circuit board to convert microwaves into 7.3V of electrical energy. By comparison, Universal Serial Bus (USB) chargers for small electronic devices provide about 5V of power.
"We were aiming for the highest energy efficiency we could achieve," said Hawkes. "We had been getting energy efficiency around 6 to 10 percent, but with this design we were able to dramatically improve energy conversion to 37 percent, which is comparable to what is achieved in solar cells."
An incredible breakthrough that could lead to ambient charging of mobile devices, simply through the addition of a small array circuit. Carried to a logical conclusion, we could potentially do away with wires, and items as basic as light bulbs could be powered by wifi or cell signals. The communication medium can become the power supply, as well.