Here goes our weekly magazine of stories curated from around the world. In this edition: When workers dream of a life beyond the factory gates. A Political Brawler, Now Battling for Microsoft. Robot Workers: Coexistence Is Possible. The web we lost. The startup which sold for $176 million two days after launch and more beautifully written stories.
When workers dream of a life beyond the factory gates: Can Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, keep growing and improve its margins now that cheap and willing hands are scarce? asks The Economist. TO GET some idea of the scale of Foxconn’s Longhua campus in Shenzhen, in southern China, a visit to its massive central kitchens is all that is needed. They lie at the heart of this sprawling complex of factories, dormitories, sports facilities, banks and stores built by the secretive Taiwanese-owned firm. The food-preparation centre, spread over 12,500 square metres on four storeys, goes through three tonnes of meat a day as it prepares grub with military precision. More here.
A Political Brawler, Now Battling for Microsoft: Mark Penn made a name for himself in Washington by bulldozing enemies of the Clintons. Now he spends his days trying to do the same to Google, on behalf of its archrival Microsoft. Since Mr. Penn was put in charge of “strategic and special projects” at Microsoft in August, much of his job has involved efforts to trip up Google, which Microsoft has failed to dislodge from its perch atop the lucrative Internet search market. While we try to understand the basics of lobbying here in India, this profile tells you what it means to be a lobbyist in the tech world. Read more here.
New new world
Whats the big problem with Big Data? NS Ramnath of Forbes India looks for some answers in Nate Silver’s book “The Signal and the Noise: Why Most predictions Fail but some Don’t.” Nate Silver is the nerd who changed political reporting forever. That’s after changing Baseball predictions and poker…The problem with Big Data could exactly what its name suggests, big data. To separate signal from noise, to deal with false positives, and to test hypothesis – all these will be difficult, because more data will also produce more noise. Read more.
Robot Workers: Coexistence Is Possible Sam Grobart talks about the relentless march of automation which is causing economic upheaval. As time goes on, companies will become more productive and more efficient, but the amount of human labor required will decrease and the pay will be less. The sentient worker will be reduced to a relic of a simpler age. This is what we’ve been told, anyway….Yet the robot revolution doesn’t have to cause panic. While robots can claim some technological superiority over humans, even the most sophisticated machines have limitations. Read more here.
Dear Facebook: Without the Commons, We Lose the Sharing Web: Read why Ryan Singel of Wired thinks that without creative commons, we lose the sharing web. It’s what made the web a place where individuals were not just creators, but part of communities that valued sharin, he writes. Today Creative Commons isn’t as easily accessible in our most popular social networks. And that means we’re at risk of losing much more than the web we have already lost. More here.
The web we lost: The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we’ve lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be, writes Anil Dash before he talks about what we lost of the old web. This piece was massively popular last week and a must read. More here.
The startup which sold for $176 million two days after launch: On Monday, tiny startup Contrail Systems was in stealth mode. On Tuesday it officially launched. Today, Juniper Networks bought it for $176 million. Contrail’s founders, employees, and investors are sharing $57.5 million in cash and almost 6 million shares of Juniper stock. Not bad for two days on the market.Juniper has had its eye on the company for a while. The networking-equipment maker kicked in some of the $10 million Contrail raised in July, in a round led by Khosla Ventures.Read more.
Chuck Feeney is the James Bond of philanthropy. Forbes writer Steven Bertoni has written a fitting profile of the 81 year old Billionaire who is “trying to go broke.” The man who made a fortune selling cognac, perfume and cigarettes in his empire of duty free shops is on a clandestine mission to give away his $7.5 billion, writes Bertoni. While the business world’s titans obsess over piling up as many riches as possible, Feeney is working double time to die broke. Read the full story here.
State of the world’s science: The pursuit of knowledge is now a global enterprise. Scientific American and Nature have teamed up on this special report on how this trend is changing the way science is done, and how it informs the world. Scientists are collaborating across borders to an unprecedented degree, broadening opportunities in Big Science and Big Data projects and helping bridge the gulf between nations. Read the whole series here.
The Hobbit: An unexpected failure: Laura Hudson writes why The Hobbit is an unexpected failure. If expanding one rather modest book into three epic movies sounded like a bad idea the first time you heard about it, that’s because it was, she writes. The problem with The Hobbit isn’t that it fails to be Lord of the Rings; it’s that it tries so unbelievably hard to be when it isn’t, not in its style, characters, or scale. More here.
How to Make Your Site Look Half-Decent in Half an Hour: Anna Powell Smith, a freelance web developer writes on 24ways.org about how you could use Bootstrap, great Fonts, textures, Icons, CSS3 and a bunch of other things to make your site look awesome in half an hour. Well, half hour might be an exaggeration but this article is definitely a good read for anyone who wants to make their website look good. Read more here.
The Linux 3.7 Kernel was released last week. This Linux release includes support for the ARM 64-bit architecture, ARM support to boot into different systems using the same kernel, signed kernel modules, Btrfs support for disabling copy-on-write on a per-file basis using chattr and faster fsync(), a new “perf trace” tool modeled after strace, support for the TCP Fast Open feature in the server side, experimental SMBv2 protocol support, stable NFS 4.1 and parallel NFS support, a new tunneling protocol that allows to transfer Layer 2 Ethernet packets over UDP, and support for the Intel “supervisor mode access prevention” (SMAP) security feature. Many small features and new drivers and fixes are also available. All about the new release here.
Why the stupid network isn’t our destiny after all: In the early days of the web, David Isenberg famously predicted the rise of a so-called stupid network with smart endpoints. Joe Weinman, of Telx, argues that instead the network has become “pervasively intelligent” and will only get smarter. Read more here.