The secret to the Uber economy is wealth inequality

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Originally posted on Quartz:

Of the many attractions offered by my hometown, a west coast peninsula famed for its deep natural harbor, perhaps the most striking is that you never have to leave the house. With nothing more technologically advanced than a phone, you can arrange to have delivered to your doorstep, often in less than an hour, takeaway food, your weekly groceries, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs (over-the-counter, prescription, proscribed), books, newspapers, a dozen eggs, half a dozen eggs, a single egg. I once had a single bottle of Coke sent to my home at the same price I would have paid had I gone to shop myself.

The same goes for services. When I lived there, a man came around every morning to collect my clothes and bring them back crisply ironed the next day; he would have washed them, too, but I had a washing machine.

These luxuries are not new. I took advantage of them…

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20 years later, Sask. teacher mails student-penned letters – Saskatchewan – ©[cbc.ca]

A retired Saskatchewan teacher is fulfilling a promise he made to his students 20 years ago — sending letters written by teenagers to their current selves.In 1994, as part of an English assignment, Fort Qu’Appelle’s Bruce Farrer had his Grade 9 students at Bert Fox Community High School write letters to their future selves.

Promise kept

He hung on to the letters for two decades, tracked down where they lived, and then, as he said he would, he mailed the letters out.

via 20 years later, Sask. teacher mails student-penned letters – Saskatchewan – CBC News.

The Problem With International Development—and a Plan to Fix It • ©[newrepublic.com]

The Problem With International Development—and a Plan to Fix It | The New Republic

It seemed like such a good idea at the time: A merry-go-round hooked up to a water pump. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, where children are plentiful but clean water is scarce, the PlayPump harnessed one to provide the other. Every time the kids spun around on the big colorful wheel, water filled an elevated tank a few yards away, providing fresh, clean water anyone in the village could use all day.

PlayPump International, the NGO that came up with the idea and developed the technology, seemed to have thought of everything. To pay for maintenance, the elevated water tanks sold advertising, becoming billboards for companies seeking access to rural markets. If the ads didn’t sell, they would feature HIV/AIDS-prevention campaigns. The whole package cost just $7,000 to install in each village and could provide water for up to 2,500 people.

via The Problem With International Development—and a Plan to Fix It | The New Republic.

You Need an Algorithm, Not a Data Scientist • ©[hbr.org]

Consider a company that is selling electronic devices. Let’s say that historically they have been selling well to companies that value their fast delivery and the quality of their product. As time passes, the competition grows and a global trend for green products arises. The profile of the company’s perfect customer slowly shifts and could go unnoticed by manually examining the market. However, those small shifts are identifiable by algorithms that continuously monitor the historical sales cycle of the company, cross-referencing it with external sources, like social media posts and newspaper articles discussing these trends, and finding correlations with the propensity to buy. Due to the size of this information base and its unstructured nature, monitoring all those delicate changes in real time becomes an almost impossible task for a human analyst.

via You Need an Algorithm, Not a Data Scientist.

Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain | ©[theguardian.com]

Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain | Business | The Observer

The graph […] may resemble a mountain range, all plunging valleys and soaring peaks. In fact, it tells a remarkable story of social and economic change, a story that ends bleakly for millions of medium and low-paid Britons – one of relentless forces cutting deep into occupations that have traditionally made up our economic landscape, and driving ever lower the real wages of all but the most fortunate and best-paid of the country’s employees.

via Bleak figures show a relentless slide towards a low-pay Britain | Business | The Observer.

Intellectual property in China: Patent fiction | ©[economist.com]

WHAT has long been predicted has now become a reality: China is leading the world in innovation.” So declares a press release promoting a new report by Thomson Reuters, a research firm, called “China’s IQ (Innovation Quotient)”. The report highlights the astonishing increase in patents filed in the country. In 2010 Chinese firms filed roughly the same number of applications for “invention” patents (the most rigorous sort) as their counterparts in Japan and America. By 2013 the Chinese figure had nearly doubled even as the rates in the other two countries held steady (see chart).

via Intellectual property in China: Patent fiction | The Economist.

How did Nick Hanauer get onto TED’s home page?!

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Originally posted on TED Blog:

Nick Hanauer and TED Curator Chris Anderson are both "really bad at holding grudges." Here, the two talk before an in-office event. Photo: Ryan Lash

Nick Hanauer and I are both really bad at holding grudges. Here, we talk before an in-office event last week. Photo: Ryan Lash

There’s a bit of a back story behind today’s TED Talk, in which Nick Hanauer issues a powerful warning to his fellow zillionaire ‘plutocrats’ that it’s time to take the inequality issue seriously, and makes the case to dramatically raise the minimum wage. Some of you may remember that two years ago there was an online spat between Nick and TED over a prior talk of his, also about inequality. We liked the talk, and agreed with its sentiments, but saw a few key problems with it that kept us from posting it on our home page (though we did post it on YouTube.) We were accused of censoring him, and the row generated an extraordinary level of heat.

Roll the clock forward two years, and worries about growing economic inequality have only increased. Nick has become…

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