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  1. kalenjin shared this story from Visual Capitalist.

    How Long Does It Take to Hit 50 Million Users?

    How Long Does It Take to Hit 50 Million Users?

    The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

    Imagine it’s the year 1960, and you’re an entrepreneur that’s about to launch the next big thing.

    Let’s assume that your product is actually pretty revolutionary, and that you’re going to receive widespread buzz and word-of-mouth traction. How quickly do you think it could be adopted by millions of users?

    Before the internet and consumption of digital goods, the use of a product could only spread as fast as you could manufacture the physical good. You would first need many millions of dollars in capital, a plant, a workforce, and inventory. Then, once the product is ready for distribution, you’d need mass advertising, word-of-mouth, sales channels, and press coverage to stand a chance.

    Even then, if the product is really revolutionary, you’re looking at a decade or more for it to get widespread adoption.

    Atoms Versus Bytes

    Automobiles took 62 years to be adopted by 50 million users. The telephone took three years just to be in the homes of 50,000 people.

    But these are both physical goods that need raw materials, skilled workers to produce, and economies of scale. They are made of atoms – and atoms must abide by the laws of physics.

    In the modern era, you don’t have to produce a physical good. All you need to do is produce a useful piece of code that can be replicated indefinitely at a marginal cost near zero. Today’s chart shows how the transition from physical to digital has affected adoption rates, and it also further demonstrates the power of network effects.

    Product / TechnologyTime it Took to Hit 50 Million Users
    Airlines64 years
    Automobiles62 years
    Telephone50 years
    Electricity46 years
    Credit Cards28 years
    Television22 years
    ATMs18 years
    Computers14 years
    Mobile Phones12 years
    Internet7 years
    Facebook4 years
    WeChat1 year
    Pokemon Go19 days

    Metcalfe’s Law

    Metcalfe’s Law states the effect of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).

    Within the context above, it simply means that each additional user of a good or service adds additional value to others in that network. New goods or services in the digital realm can harness this network effect to gain users at unprecedented rates. It’s why social media, apps, and the internet were able to take off so quick.

    It’s also why the augmented reality game Pokémon Go was able to reach a mind-blowing 50 million users in just 19 days.

    And now, with unparalleled connectivity and more than four billion internet users globally, the next big thing could hit that milestone even faster than Pokémon Go. Instead of almost three weeks, it might do so in a few days – or even a few hours.

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    The post How Long Does It Take to Hit 50 Million Users? appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

  2. kalenjin shared this story from The Big Picture.

    The post The Demographics of Wealth appeared first on The Big Picture.

  3. kalenjin shared this story from The Big Picture.

      The transcript from this week’s MIB: Dr. Ed Yardeni is below. You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Bloomberg, Overcast, and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher and Bloomberg. ~~~   ANNOUNCER: Masters in Business is sponsored by Harvard Business School Executive Education offering four comprehensive leadership programs that transfer rising executives…

    Read More

    The post Transcript: Dr. Ed Yardeni appeared first on The Big Picture.

  4. kalenjin shared this story from Balding's World.

    The never ending question about China is simple: is China deleveraging? A couple of pieces recently argued that China had reached a tipping point that yes, China was in fact deleveraging.  Just as a general point I think it is … Continue reading
  5. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    A file picture dated 22 September 2015 shows a view of Didi Kuaidi's smartphone app for customers shown on a mobile phone along a road in Beijing, China. US technology giant Apple has invested 1 billion US dollar in the Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi), a rival of Uber in China, the company said in a statement on 13 May 2016. Apple's investment is the largest received by the Chinese company, a leading ride-sharing company in the local market with a share of 87 percent owing to its 300 million users, who hire 11 million rides daily.

    Imagine a decentralized version of Uber that connects drivers and commuters, letting them negotiate fares directly.

    That’s one possibility with a ride-hailing service powered by the blockchain. An “Uber on the blockchain” might sound like a clumsy attempt to mash together two tech buzzwords, but Chen Weixing, who is building such a service, is a sharing-economy veteran who helped shape the world’s largest ride-hailing market, China. His company Kuaidi Dache merged with its arch-rival Didi Dache in 2015 to become Didi Chuxing, which a year later merged with Uber’s China unit and now dominates ride-hailing in the country.

    “Ride hailing is the first time blockchain will be tested on a social application on mass scale,” Chen reportedly said on the sidelines of a tech conference in China (link in Chinese) on May 27.

    Chen, CEO of an app-development firm called Fun City, is a known blockchain enthusiast, having invested in a long list (link in Chinese) of Chinese blockchain projects, including Qtum and Tron, and exchange operators such as Binance and Huobi.

    Though he hasn’t revealed a timetable for his blockchain-powered ride-hailing service, Chen shared some details in a WeChat post, according to Chinese media (link in Chinese). In it, he said the decentralized platform wouldn’t be controlled by “capitalists” but instead would be shared between “laborers” and “consumers.” Billing it as a “great, Nobel Prize-level social experiment,” Chen said the project will be a collaboration between him and Yang Jun, co-founder of Chinese group deals app Meituan. Quartz has reached out to Fun City for more information about the project.

    This won’t be the first foray into blockchain-based ride-sharing. Arcade City, for instance, launched in Austin, Texas in 2016 as an ethereum-based ride-sharing app. But the controversial project split into two brands last year after its leadership engaged in a public spat over management issues.

    Chen does seem to sense an opening in the Chinese market. Whereas Didi once held a monopoly in China, it appears the country’s ride-sharing wars have reignited after Tencent-backed Meituan announced it was expanding into the business. As Didi recovers from a PR nightmare after a female passenger was murdered, smaller players like Dida also see an opportunity to win over more users.

  6. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    Apple iPad with the latest operating system

    A great many companies allow their employees to work from home now, but few are as committed to the concept at Automattic, the software company behind WordPress.

    Automattic’s more than 700 employees are spread across the globe in 62 countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Last year, it closed a San Francisco office because not enough employees were showing up. Instead of offices, Automattic provides workers with a $250 a month stipend to spend at co-working spaces, or in a Starbucks.

    Matt Mullenweg, the company’s founder (his first name gives Automattic its two Ts) argues that a distributed workplace, as he calls it, is not just good business but is more ethically responsible, as well. Offices he said, “are very exclusionary environments, by definition, and the only people who can contribute are people who can physically be at the office and at certain hours of the day.”

    One one level, that excludes anyone who’s life circumstances mean they can’t commute to work in a conventional office, Mullenweg said. “At a larger level, there’s the 99.9% of the world that isn’t physically located in a place where they can make it to that office,” he said.

    The Grand Meetup

    Paradoxically, a critical part of making the employees of a distributed company work effectively on their own is occasionally bringing them together. Automattic flies team members to meet in small groups, and once a year it brings the entire company together in a gathering called the Grand Meetup.

    The Grand Meetup is where new employees are brought into the fold and make face-to-face connections with their colleagues from around the world. Using data visualization on the company blog, Boris Gorelik demonstrated what the company looked like on the eve of the 2016 Grand Meetup at Whistler, British Columbia.

    In the image, each dot represents an Automattic employee, and the lines between them indicate if they’ve ever met in person. The colors represent broad clusters of people who have more ties between each other than with those outside the color . New employees, who had only met a few others, are on the periphery of the denser employee networks. But after the Grand Meetup, the map looked like this:

    Most of new employees had been closely drawn into the network. The secret, Gorelik says, is carefully planning the seating assignments at meals. No one sits wth the same co-workers more than once, forcing even the most reclusive new hires to make dozens of connections. “You may think that such an arrangement would be emotionally exhausting,” Gorelik writes. “You are absolutely right. However, in the long run, this exhaustion pays.”

    Mullenweg launched WordPress 15 years ago and now the open-source platform is used by about 30% of all websites, and 60% of content management systems (including ours at Quartz). His goal is to serve 85-90% of the web, and expects Automattic to grow as well. That could make future Grand Meetups much more elaborate and costly undertakings, but Mullenweg is unfazed by the prospect. Any gathering beyond five employees is already complicated, he said.

    “You can take five people out for dinner anywhere in the world, but when you get to 10-15, you need a reservation,” he said. “The jump from five to 15 is a bigger jump than 200 to 2,000.”

  7. kalenjin shared this story from Feed: All Latest.

    A flock of little guys is less vulnerable to attack than one big bird. Also, you could maybe send them up with space balloons.
  8. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    the americans

    When FX’s Cold War-era spy drama The Americanspremiered in January 2013, Donald Trump was still hosting The Celebrity Apprentice. US-Russian relations were tense, but not particularly eventful. Netflix had yet to begin producing original content.

    As the show about Russian spies posing as Americans in the 1980s airs its final episode tonight (May 30), five years and six seasons later, reality has become far wackier. Trump, as president of the United States, finds himself embroiled in a wide-ranging FBI investigation into his campaign’s canoodling with Russian operatives. And in the so-called “golden age of TV,” the supremacy of cable TV drama has been usurped by streaming upstarts, as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu flood the market with every conceivable series imaginable.

    But, through all this political and cultural upheaval, The Americanshas remained every bit as fierce and as captivating as when it began. Tonight’s finale (which I have seen but dare not spoil) cements the drama as one of the greats, firmly in the pantheon with Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and Mad Men.

    The penultimate episode leaves Phillip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) without a country. After going rogue, and choosing to not only not follow through with a mission to disrupt nuclear talks between the US and Russia, but also actively damage those efforts, the faux American couple lose the trust and support of their KGB comrades. As this is all happening, the Jennings’ neighbor, FBI agent Stan Beeman, seems to have figured out the truth (finally!) about his best friends.

    Albeit unintentionally, The Americanstapped into a very real existential crisis for many Americans (and maybe, for some Russians too) reeling in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, living in a nation that no longer resembles the one they thought they knew.

    Phillip and Elizabeth—born in, and molded by, Russia—are not really Russian. How could they be? They’re raising two teenage children who know no life but American suburbia. Phillip has lost his stomach for the violence and grown disillusioned with the efforts by some in Russia’s government to prevent a more progressive society. That distance between Phillip and his people becomes the source of greatest friction in his sham-turned-true marriage to Elizabeth, who still clutches to the Russian paradigms that shaped her—until she too rebels against her orders.

    Neither are they wholly American. Given all the unspeakable things they’ve done in the name of Russia (a list of crimes that includes countless murders), living happily ever after in the United States as Americans has long been off the table. The show asks what it really means to even be an American—is it a set of ideals? A lifestyle? A history? Is that distinction decided, given, or earned? Does any of this even matter?

    Not your average American suburban wife.

    The Americanscreator Joe Weisberg, a former CIA officer, has maintained that the show has nothing to do with Trump, or more specifically the current US-Russia debacle. It was all one big, weird accident that the show, based on a real-life Russian spy ring busted in 2010, premiered just a few years before Russian meddling in US elections thrust it all into a new context.

    But great TV shows are rarely actually about the things that they’re about. Breaking Badwasn’t about selling drugs. The Sopranoswasn’t about being in the mob. Mad Menwasn’t about making commercials. The Americans, similarly, isn’t about the Cold War, except the one waged between a husband and a wife.

    It’s not even about spies, or politics, or dead-drops, or funny wigs. It is a profound depiction of a marriage that uses the physical and emotional isolation of the Jennings family—and their high-stakes occupation—to tell a universal story. “There are subtleties about the Jennings’ relationship when we first encounter it that make it a more interesting and important portrayal of marriage than would, say, one characterized by the extremes of falling in love or divorce,” my colleague Annaliese Griffin wrote. “They are at a turning point that happens in many marriages, when it is not quite right, and must flex and shift to accommodate change, in circumstances, in the world around us, and in each other.”

    The Americans is a rare show that’s both thrilling and also deeply perceptive about the inner lives of humans. For that, and for having some of the best montages in TV history, The Americansis an all-time great—and worth celebrating as a relic from the now-bygone era of 2000s prestige television.

  9. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    It’s not just poets. Chemists also like to wax lyrical about water, because there’s nothing like it. You probably already know some of the cool stuff about water: unlike all other chemicals, water becomes less dense when you cool it from a liquid state to a solid state (that’s why ice floats on water); it’s among the few chemicals not containing carbon that is liquid at room temperature; and, of course, life as we know it wouldn’t exist without water.

    But then there’s odd stuff that you likely don’t know about it. For example, this new discovery: not all water molecules behave the same way. To understand why, let’s revisit some of those dreaded high-school chemistry lessons.

    Water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, linked to form a broad V-shape. Each of those atoms has at its center a rotating nucleus, which can move in one of two direction. When the rotations of the two hydrogen atoms are in the same direction, it’s called ortho water. When the rotations are in opposite directions, it’s called para water.

    At room temperature, the two types of water exist in equal amounts. That’s because there’s enough energy in those molecules—room temperature is quite warm, chemically speakingfor each of them to swap back and forth between the different states.

    But cool those molecules down (to near absolute zero, −273°C or −459°F), and each molecule stabilizes as either ortho or para, and then you can learn the differences between the two types of water. In a study published in Nature Communications, Ardita Kilaj of the University of Basel and her colleagues have done just that.

    Kilaj first used a very sensitive instrument to separate the two types of water molecules at extremely low temperatures. Ortho and para water are are physically almost identical. But because of their different spins, they vary slightly in the electrical fields they generate. The instrument allowed Kilaj to spit out a molecular beam containing both types of water, which, when exposed to an electric field, split in two streams, because of deflections in different directions.

    Once separated, each stream of water molecules was pushed into a chamber containing specialized ions called diazenylium, which is a positively charged molecule containing two nitrogen atoms and one hydrogen atom. The ion was chosen because it is among the few types of molecules that can react at all at such a low temperature.

    The results showed that para water reacts faster with diazenylium ions than ortho water does, by about 25%. That’s likely because para water’s electrical field is able to attract those ions faster than ortho water’s can. The study is the first known example of how the two types of water can differ in their chemical behavior, according to Kilaj.

    What’s the practical use of this knowledge? Not much. “We did the study to understand the basics of chemical reactions,” Kilaj said. “The better one can control the states of the molecules involved in a chemical reaction, the better the underlying mechanisms and dynamics of a reaction can be investigated and understood,” added her PhD supervisor Stefan Willitsch in a press release.

    If nothing else, chemists have another oddity for the already long list of odd properties of this life-giving chemical. Not convinced? Try listening to Alok Jha, a science writer who wrote a whole book on water’s oddness:

  10. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    runs into the Pacific Ocean in a Jewish ritual to cast away sins on Rosh Hashanah.

    Scientists seek to quantify everything—even the ineffable. And so the human search for meaning recently took a physical turn as Columbia and Yale University researchers isolated the place in our brains that processes spiritual experiences.

    In a new study, published in Cerebral Cortex (paywall) on May 29, neuroscientists explain how they generated “personally relevant” spiritual experiences in a diverse group of subjects and scanned their brains while these experiences were happening. The results indicate that there is a “neurobiological home” for spirituality. When we feel a sense of connection with something greater than the self—whether transcendence involves communion with God, nature, or humanity—a certain part of the brain appears to activate.

    The study suggests that there is universal, cognitive basis for spirituality, as opposed to a cultural grounding for such states. This new discovery, researchers say, could help improve mental health treatment down the line.

    Previous studies have examined the brain activity of Buddhist monks or Catholic nuns, say—people who are already spiritually inclined and familiar with the practice of cultivating transcendent states. But this research analyzed subjects from different backgrounds with varying degrees of religiosity, and totally different individual notions of what constitutes a spiritual experience.

    “Although studies have linked specific brain measures to aspects of spirituality, none have sought to directly examine spiritual experiences, particularly when using a broader, modern definition of spirituality that may be independent of religiousness,” the study explains. Because there are many types of transcendent moments with varying degrees of meaning to different people, it’s been difficult to test the general effects of spirituality, as opposed to religiosity. So for this study, the researchers generated individual scripts that put each subject in their own relevant transcendent state.

    With each of the 27 subjects—all healthy young adults—the researchers created a personal script based on each person’s self-reported previous spiritual experiences. The scientists then scanned brain activity when generating such a state in the subjects.

    During their varied transcendent states, all subjects showed similar activity patterns in the parietal cortex, which processes sensation, spatial orientation, and language, and is thought to influence attention, among other functions. In other words, whether the thing that makes a person feel connected to something greater involves church, trees, or a stadium full of sports fans, it appears to have the same effect on the brain.

    The effect on the brain is distinct from the effect of other forms of relaxation, according to researchers. “We observed in the spiritual condition, as compared with the neutral-relaxing condition, reduced activity in the left inferior parietal lobule (IPL), a result that suggests the IPL may contribute importantly to perceptual processing and self-other representations during spiritual experiences,” the study explains.

    These changes in the brain may help explain why, during spiritual experiences, the barrier between the self and others can be reduced or even eliminated altogether. Although we need some separation between ourselves and everyone else for protection and to manage reality, removing the barrier every so often is also valuable.

    Spiritual experiences are robust states that may have profound impacts on people’s lives,” explains Yale psychiatry and neuroscience professor Marc Potenza, in a statement about the work. “Understanding the neural bases of spiritual experiences may help us better understand their roles in resilience and recovery from mental health and addictive disorders.”

    Spiritual experiences involve “pronounced shifts in perception [that] buffer the effects of stress,” the study says. The findings suggest that those experiences can be accessed by everyone, and that transcendence isn’t dependent upon religiosity. That makes studying spiritual experiences and figuring out how to use such states for improved mental health easier for scientists.Next, the researchers hope to test a bigger group of subjects of all ages.

    Beyond mental health, scientists study spirituality because the human quest for meaning is timeless and universal. By cultivating spiritual experiences in addition to strengthening our intellectual abilities, people can lead emotionally richer lives and develop more open minds, scientists say.

    As Tony Jack, director of the Brain, Mind and Consciousness lab at Case Western Reserve University—who was not involved in this study—explains to WKSU, analytical thinking and spiritual, empathic thinking rely on different neural pathways and processes. They don’t happen simultaneously in the brain, but both modes are necessary, like breathing in and breathing out. “You can’t do both at the same time, but you need both to stay healthy and well,” he says.

    Read next: Scientists studying psychoactive drugs accidentally proved the self is an illusion