The Japanese Zoning System

Alex Tabarrok

In Laissez-Faire in Tokyo Land Use I pointed to Japan’s constitutional protection of property rights and it’s relatively laissez-faire approach to land use to explain why housing prices in Japan have not risen in past decades, as they have elsewhere in the developed world. A very useful post at Urban kchoze offers more detail on Japan’s zoning system. Here are some of the key points.
 
 Japan has 12 basic zones, far fewer than is typical in an American city. The zones can be ordered in terms of nuisance or potential externality from low-rise residential to high-rise residential to commercial zone on through to light industrial and industrial. But, and this is key, in the US zones tend to be exclusive but in Japan the zones limit the maximum nuisance in a zone. So, for example, a factory can’t be built in a residential neighborhood but housing can be built in a light industrial zone.

The world’s most liveable cities

The Economist:

Those that score best tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries. Melbourne tops the list for the sixth year in a row (see chart, right), and six of the top ten cities are in Australia or Canada. But Sydney, Australia’s largest city, drops out of the top ten due to fears over terrorism.
 
 Damascus is the lowest-ranked city with a rating of just 30.2 out of 100, scoring poorly in all categories (understandably, due to Syria’s ruinous civil war). Kiev, the only European city in the bottom ten, performs better for health care and education but has a low stability score due to Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

Nightmare on Main Street: America’s housing system lacks reform

The Economist:

WHAT are the most dysfunctional parts of the global financial system? China’s banking industry, you might say, with its great wall of bad debts and state-sponsored cronyism. Or the euro zone’s taped-together single currency, which stretches across 19 different countries, each with its own debts and frail financial firms. Both are worrying. But if sheer size is your yardstick, nothing beats America’s housing market.
 
 It is the world’s largest asset class, worth $26 trillion, more than America’s stockmarket. The slab of mortgage debt lurking beneath it is the planet’s biggest concentration of financial risk. When house prices started tumbling in the summer of 2006, a chain reaction led to a global crisis in 2008-09. A decade on, the presumption is that the mortgage-debt monster has been tamed. In fact, vast, nationalised, unprofitable and undercapitalised, it remains a menace to the world’s biggest economy.

“All of the growth is coming from the technology that we’re rolling out,”

Leslie Shaffer:
 

The tech investments can be seen in the earnings: Australia-listed Domino’s Pizza Enterprises reported on Tuesday that net profit for the year ended June 30 jumped around 29 percent to A$82.4 million ($63.32 million).
 
 Meij cited explosive growth in online ordering, which outstripped like-for-like store sales.
 
 “Japan was 31 percent online order growth, all the way up to parts of Europe, where we had over 120 percent order growth,” he said. “We continue to digitally expand.”

Can Tech Tools Make Apartment-Hunting in New York Affordable?

Patrick Clark:

“That’s the way the rental brokerages operate,” said Ori Goldman, a cofounder at Loftey, a year-old startup that promises to save renters money when they move. The tactic, Goldman said, is commonplace in a city where about 30,000 brokers—many part-time—compete to help renters sign about 5,000 or so leases every month. “The only way they know how to get clients is to bait and switch.”
 
 Obnoxious as it may be, sorting through fake listings is only the beginning of the ordeal for renters, who often parade through other people’s apartments at odd times of day in a high-pressure race against their own expiring leases. At the hunt’s end comes one last indignity: paying the broker, who in New York typically collects 15 percent of the annual rent on the apartment. That works out to an average broker fee of $5,600, according to Julia Ramsey, chief executive officer at Joinery, another startup tackling apartment-hunting pains.
 
 “There are a couple ways that renters are getting screwed,” Ramsey said. “The sheer amount you’re paying a broker is probably the biggest one.”

The 2015 Ad Blocking Report

pagefair:

In this report we drill into geographic detail, providing per-country and per-state information on ad block usage rates, monthly active user counts, as well as estimates of the total cost to publishers in many regions. We find that not only has ad blocking continued its fast growth on desktop, but it has also leaped onto mobile in Asia, and will soon go mobile in the West with the upcoming launch of content blocking on iOS.

Mimesis, Violence, and Facebook: Peter Thiel’s French Connection

Cyborgology

As we saw previously, Thiel was ruminating on Strauss, Schmitt, and Girard in the summer of 2004, but also on the future of social media platforms, which he found himself in a position to help shape. It is worth adding that around the same time, Thiel was involved in the founding of Palantir Technologies, a data analysis company whose main clients are the US Intelligence Community and Department of Defense – a company explicitly founded, according to Thiel, to forestall acts of destabilizing violence like 9/11. One may speculate that Thiel understood Facebook to serve a parallel function. According to his own account, he identified the new platform as a powerful conduit of mimetic desire. In Girard’s account, the original conduits of mimetic desire were religions, which channeled socially destructive, “profane” violence into sanctioned forms of socially consolidating violence. If the sacrificial and juridical superstructures designed to contain violence had reached their limits, Thiel seemed to understand social media as a new, technological means to achieving comparable ends.
 
 If we take Girard’s mimetic theory seriously, the consequences for the way we think about social media are potentially profound. For one, it would lead us to conclude that social media platforms, by channeling mimetic desire, also serve as conduits of the violence that goes along with it. That, in turn, would suggest that abuse, harassment, and bullying – the various forms of scapegoating that have become depressing constants of online behavior – are features, not bugs: the platforms’ basic social architecture, by concentrating mimetic behavior, also stokes the tendencies toward envy, rivalry, and hatred of the Other that feed online violence. From Thiel’s perspective, we may speculate, this means that those who operate those platforms are in the position to harness and manipulate the most powerful and potentially destabilizing forces in human social life – and most remarkably, to derive profits from them. For someone overtly concerned about the threat posed by such forces to those in positions of power, a crucial advantage would seem to lie in the possibility of deflecting violence away from the prominent figures who are the most obvious potential targets of popular ressentiment, and into internecine conflict with other users.

How did Facebook get my number? And why is it giving my name out to strangers?

Cara McGoogan:

data, prodding users to provide it with their memories, cherished moments and relationships. And for years, it has badgered users into handing out their phone numbers.
 
 More recently, however, it has taken a different tack – taking mobile numbers from other, less direct, sources and adding them to profiles. Users who don’t willingly give the company their mobile number are now asked to verify one that Facebook “thinks” is yours.
 
 This has shocked some users who, having not given the app permission to see their contacts, wondered how it had got hold of their numbers.

The Future of the Internet Isn’t the Web

Dillon Baker:

The app-centric internet seems to be winning—as of 2015, 85 percent of the time users spend on mobile is in apps.

As Chris Anderson argues in a 2010 Wired feature called “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet,” “As much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work.”

As that 2010 article from Wired suggests, media analysts have seen this change coming for a while. John Herrman, formerly of The Awl and now a fellow at The New York Times, wrote a series of articles called “Content Wars” in which he outlined the implications of a consolidated, platform-centric internet.

The most widely regarded of those articles is titled “The Next Internet Is TV.” In it, Herrman argues that the internet is increasingly taking the form of TV, in which users surf from “channel to channel.” In this case, the channels are platforms like Facebook and Snapchat. The subheading of the piece sums up his argument well: “Websites are unnecessary vestiges of a time before there were better ways to find things to look at on your computer or your phone.”

This transformation accelerated in 2015 and 2016. Facebook’s Instant Articles and its native video player have begun to subsume news and video, respectively. Apple has gotten into the news game with Apple News. And Snapchat’s Discover works with publishers and brand partners to produce platform-exclusive content.

Even Google has tried to adapt to the trend, releasing “accelerated mobile pages” in February in an attempt to match the speed and superior user experience of Facebook Instant Articles while sacrificing some of its commitment to a (relatively) open web. AMP is open to anyone (including brands), and became the default result for mobile search earlier this month—one of the biggest SEO developments in years.

The Case Against Everyone’s Favorite Tax Break: The Mortgage Interest Deduction

Massive new study lifts the lid on top websites’ tracking secrets

Bill Camarda:

So… according to the Princeton review, who tracks most? That’ll be news, arts, and sports sites, which typically provide content for free and “lack an external funding source, [and] are pressured to monetize page views with significantly more advertising.”
 
 And who tracks least? “Mostly sites which belong to government organizations, universities, and non-profit entities… websites [that] may be able to forgo advertising and tracking due to the presence of funding sources external to the web.” Oh, and adult sites, too.
 
 Next, Englehardt and Narayanan turned to fingerprinting: techniques for individually identifying anonymous site visitors based on the unique characteristics of their hardware and software. (Check out our detailed primer on fingerprinting here.) The researchers wanted to know: Is it really being used in the wild? How widely? Which techniques?
 
 They began with HTML Canvas fingerprinting, reflecting subtle differences in the way browsers and devices render HTML5 Canvas-based images. Canvas fingerprinting showed up on 14,371 sites – far more than a similar measurement in 2014.

DEFINING THE HIPPEST U.S. CITIES

Infogroup:

expensive coffee and the skinny jeans/plaid shirt combo. True hipsters, however, identify themselves not only by a certain look but also by a set of ideals. According to UrbanDictionary.com, hipsters are mainly men and women in their 20s and 30s who dislike anything ‘mainstream,’ have progressive political ideas and enjoy indie rock and art.
 
 Whether you are intrigued by this subculture or would like to avoid it altogether, you need to know the cities where hipsters gather. And as we should all recognize, there’s more to hipsters than just the look. They are a group that frequents certain types of businesses, and whose communities share particular characteristics.
 
 From the perspective of a marketer or business owner, there is a competitive advantage to leverage when you know where your target market lives and the main characteristics and interests of their community.
 
 Infogroup, the leading provider of innovative marketing and data solutions, found which U.S. metros are more “hip” than others using its verified business database of more than 15 million records. The business data identified the metro areas which most closely identified with businesses providing products and services that appealed to hipsters.
 
 The types of businesses targeted as being closely related to “hipster” culture were microbreweries (manufacturers), records/tapes/CD (retail), music dealers, coffee shops (non-chains only), beer & ale (retail), thrift shops, bicycle dealers, tattoo parlors, and music and live entertainment.

Alphabet’s Earnings & Revenue Per Click/Tap

Richard Waters:

The lower pricing on mobile ads continued to weigh on its average cost per click, though the pressure moderated from the preceding quarter, with a decline of 7 per cent compared to 9 per cent in the first months of the year.

Recent efforts to cap its fast-growing expenses also continued in the latest quarter, lifting the company’s pro-forma operating profit margin by a percentage point, to 35 per cent.

Let’s Compare II

eight lessons we learned Social media team: one year later

Denise Law:

placed a big bet on social media. We expanded our editorial social-media team from two to ten people with the aim of delivering our journalism to more globally curious people around the world.
 
 The decline in print advertising — accelerated by the rapid rise of digital media — has prompted us to focus more on building a sustainable subscriptions-based business. We have long believed in the paywall model; that readers should pay for well-researched journalism they can’t get elsewhere. To expand our subscriber base, we need to find new subscribers, which is why we invested in a social-media team.

Let’s Compare

Summary:

  1. MLS App is Slow, very un app like in 2016. Supports yesterday.
  2. Virtual Properties’ Agent App provides agents with useful tools in one tap. Consider the training, recruiting and retention benefits.
  3. Agent meets or talks with a prospect. Tap stats and immediately shares live trends and statistics on ALL searches, including your entire market.
  4. Modern sharing: immediately capture the client’s contact information AND provide them with something unique and useful.
  5. Agent and Broker Branding
    • Trends and statistics include:
      1. Market Absorption
      2. Days on Market
      3. List to Sale Price Ratio
      4. Live Ranges: Low, Median, Average, High Sale and List Prices (sales power for your agents – on the fly)
  6. Every screen and filter displays a live count. This allows your agents to immediately share data with clients. This is useful for pricing and location discussions.

    The MLS app only displays 75 properties at a time….Slow and incomplete. Yesterday.

    For example, what is the price/inventory difference between three and four bedroom homes or other filters? Your agents can answer these questions immediately.

    They are on top of the market with the Virtual Properties’ Agent App.

Call 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io for quick demonstration.

PANTONE Releases Its Color Forecast Report For A/W 2017-2018

Dorothy Tan:

Mauve shades gather in strength and focus.”
 
 
 In the context, colors play a distinctive role in “transforming appearance and fulfilling a fundamental desire for change”.
 
 Head over here to read more about PANTONE’s color report, and find out which colors it predicts would be trending next year.

Recruiting Win: Tap to Capture, Connect and Close

Grow your business and stay connected with today’s buyers and sellers.

An executive at a very large firm recently mentioned these factors when considering customer experiences and market share:

  1. 71% of internet time is now mobile [Link].
  2. Unlock your room with the Hilton app. Order room service. [Link]
  3. Unlock your rental car doors & flash the headlights using the Avis App [Link]
  4. Snapchat, a very fast growing app only experience [Link]
  5. Turkey’s President Erdogan communicated via iPhone FaceTime recently [Link].
  6. The old and new: [Link]
  7. Pokemon Go, a very popular “AR” (augmented reality) app [Link news]

Does your brokerage have the right tools for today and tomorrow?

One app, one system from leads to closings.

1. Capture

2. Connect

Close

One app, one system from leads to closings.

These quick comparisons are useful for recruiting and retention discussions along with ongoing sales training.

Reply if you’d like a detailed comparison.

Call 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io

Money as Message How WeChat got users to adopt payments as a way to grow its network

Connie Chan:

Network effects — where a product or service becomes more valuable to its users as more people use it — are one of the key ways software businesses maintain a better product and more defensible market position. This is especially true of messaging apps like WeChat — which, as I’ve argued before, is not just a messaging app but is actually more of a portal, a platform, and a mobile operating system. However you label it, WeChat is an entire ecosystem in and of itself, especially as it’s used in Asia. This is largely enabled by the sheer amount of payments credentials attached to user accounts, which significantly reduces friction in transacting across the marketplace, both online and offline.

Criminal Advertising Fraud

Bob Hoffman:

we mentioned last week, there are many types of online ad corruption. Here is what the FT had to say about bots:

“The most pernicious and common variety of ad fraud involves computer programs, or “bots”, that simulate the activity of a real person browsing the web or using an app. Hackers build an army of bots, known as a botnet, by sneaking the software on to vulnerable household computers.

The malicious software runs quietly in the background of the infected computer without making its presence known to the owner. Then, under the hacker’s remote control, the botnet — which can be rented through black-market internet forums — is directed to visit certain websites. The most sophisticated bots are programmed to click from one website to another, watch videos for their duration, and even add items to an online shopping basket.”

In other words, it is not impossible that you are running a criminal enterprise from your laptop without knowing it. And the criminal portion of your laptop may be on sale right now on the online black market.

Of course marketers, who always think they’re smarter than everyone else, believe they know how to protect themselves. A big shot media exec at Unilever — a company that spends 2 billion Euros a year on online advertising — thinks he knows the solution, “You need to do the homework and go to the highest level of granularity to understand what’s going on.”

The Majority Illusion in Social Networks

Kristina Lerman, Xiaoran Yan, Xin-Zeng Wu:

Social behaviors are often contagious, spreading through a population as individuals imitate the decisions and choices of others. A variety of global phenomena, from innovation adoption to the emergence of social norms and political movements, arise as a result of people following a simple local rule, such as copy what others are doing. However, individuals often lack global knowledge of the behaviors of others and must estimate them from the observations of their friends’ behaviors. In some cases, the structure of the underlying social network can dramatically skew an individual’s local observations, making a behavior appear far more common locally than it is globally. We trace the origins of this phenomenon, which we call “the majority illusion,” to the friendship paradox in social networks. As a result of this paradox, a behavior that is globally rare may be systematically overrepresented in the local neighborhoods of many people, i.e., among their friends. Thus, the “majority illusion” may facilitate the spread of social contagions in networks and also explain why systematic biases in social perceptions, for example, of risky behavior, arise. Using synthetic and real-world networks, we explore how the “majority illusion” depends on network structure and develop a statistical model to calculate its magnitude in a network.

Pokémon Go Shatters Apple App Store Record

Jonathon Vanian:

Whereas Angry Birds 2 and Candy Crush Jelly Saga brought in 2.2 million and 1.8 million downloads respectively during their first week on the App store, Pokémon Go had a whopping 7.2 million downloads, according to the Sensor Tower data.
 
 Additionally, Sensor Tower’s mobile insights head Randy Nelson told Fortune that since being released, Pokémon Go has been downloaded on both the App store and Google Play over 40 million times “and has earned more than $45 million in net revenue worldwide” from the two app store services.
 
 “[Pokémon Go] is still being played an average of 30 minutes per day in the U.S. on iOS, which is more than Facebook’s average of 22 total minutes per day in the country,” wrote Nelson in an email.

The 24 ways we’re tracked on a regular basis reveal something disturbing about the future

Kevin Kelly:

This list, instead, tallies the kind of tracking an average person might encounter on an ordinary day in the United States. Each example has been sourced officially or from a major publication.
 
 Car movements – Every car since 2006 contains a chip that records your speed, braking, turns, mileage, accidents whenever you start your car.
 Highway traffic – Cameras on poles and sensors buried in highway record the location of cars by license plates and fast-track badges. Seventy million plates are recorded each month.
 Ride-share taxis – Uber, Lyft, and other decentralized rides record your trips.
 Long-distance travel – Your travel itinerary for air flights and trains is recorded.
 Drone surveillance – Along U.S. borders, Predator drones monitor and record outdoor activities.
 Postal mail – The exterior of every piece of paper mail you send or receive is scanned and digitized.
 Utilities – Your power and water usage patterns are kept by utilities. (Garbage is not cataloged, yet.)
 Cell phone location and call logs – Where, when, and who you call (meta-data) is stored for months. Some phone carriers routinely store the contents of calls and messages for days to years.

Tons of data, not an ounce of sense

Ad Contrarian:


 One of the great advantages of online advertising is that it generates lots of very valuable data. This data helps us make excellent media and marketing decisions. Or so I’m told.
 
 But I’m afraid I may be suffering from that ailment called “cognitive dissonance” because from what I can see we have lots of data about online advertising and we’re making astoundingly dumb decisions.
 
 Let me give you an example.
 
 Google tells us that here in the U.S. the average click rate for an online banner ad is about .07%. That means for every 10,000 ads we run we get 7 clicks. This is beyond alarming.
 
 But we also know that about half of those clicks are accidental. So that gets us down to 3.5 real clicks per 10,000 ads served.
 
 Then we have to account for fraud. Now nobody knows how much click fraud there is, but there is responsible research that estimates it as high as 90%. I’m frankly skeptical that it’s that high, but I think most knowledgeable people agree that it’s probably no less than 35%. So let’s go with that more conservative number.
 
 Now we’re down to an effective click rate of about .02%.
 
 Since all the amazing data we have at our fingertips has allowed us to target only highly worthwhile consumers, we can assume that those 2 people we have induced to click with our “precisely targeting” compelling message are really valuable to us.
 
 But wait a second…
 
 We also know that 85% of clicks are generated by 8% of the population. The probability of inducing a click is not so much related to the preciseness of our targeting or the relevance of our message, it is related to the likelihood of having reached a click maniac.
 
 So it’s unlikely that the two measly legitimate clicks we’re getting are even prospects.

Why Land and Homes Actually Tend to Be Disappointing Investments

Robert Schiller:

But over the long run, it hasn’t been. Despite solid price increases over the last few years, land and homes have actually been disappointing investments. It’s worth considering why.
 
 Let’s start by looking at the numbers. The best long-term data on land in the United States is for farmland, which is valuable in its own right and can also be considered a great reservoir that can be converted to housing and other purposes at opportune times.
 
 Over the century from 1915 to 2015, though, the real value of American farmland (deflated by the Consumer Price Index) increased only 3.1 times, according to the Department of Agriculture. That comes to an average increase of only 1.1 percent a year — and with a growing population, that’s barely enough to keep per capita real land value unchanged.
 
 According to my own data (relying on the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which I helped create), real home prices rose even more slowly over the same period — a total increase of 1.8 times, which comes to an average of only 0.6 percent a year.

The ‘Uber Effect’ on the Property Market

Sam Lessin:

Real estate is one of the few industries in the world that’s bigger than transportation. But in the coming decades, companies like Uber and Lyft—eventually super-charged by self-driving cars—are likely to change living patterns and upend property markets in ways that we’ve only begun to understand.

The most interesting thing to me is that the shift is already beginning to happen in some urban areas, and I expect that residential and commercial real estate values are going to start adjusting much faster than people expect.

Google’s ad business “breaches” EU rules, says antitrust chief

Kelly Fiveash:

Google has been hit with a brace of fresh charges in the European Commission’s long-running antitrust case against the search and ad giant.
 
 Brussels’ competition chief Margrethe Vestager confirmed that her office would “reinforce the first Google case on search” relating to price comparison, by issuing—as rumoured earlier this week—a supplementary statement of objections against the company.
 
 Google also faces another round of charges against its dominant business practices in Europe relating to its ad placements on its own sites, and that of third party websites. The commission said, in a preliminary decision, that Google’s AdSense had breached EU antitrust rules in relation to its exclusivity contract with a limited number of the largest third party websites—so-called direct partners.
 
 

We now know exactly when ‘peak PC’ happened

Matt Rosoff:

to get online and run apps was with a personal computer — a box with a keyboard and mouse or trackpad. Most of those computers ran Microsoft Windows. That old definition of a “computer” is outdated. Most computing these days is done on phones, or on computers with touch screens and simpler but less sophisticated operating systems from Apple (iOS) and Google (Android or Chrome).
 
 But how outdated? This chart from Statista, based on the latest quarterly global sales data from Gartner, shows that the PC market peaked almost exactly five years ago — in Q3 2011. (Gartner excludes iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks from its measurements.)
 
 

The Sun Will Set on Electric Utilities

Leonard Hyman and William Tilles:

Why do electric companies spend so much on new plants when consumers show so little inclination to buy more of the output?
 
 From 2000 to the present, investor-owned utilities doubled their equity base while kilowatt-hour sales rose less than 10%. The more they invest, the more they can earn, so they have an incentive to invest when regulators allow them to earn more than the cost of capital.
 
 If sales do not increase, how will they earn additional profits to cover the cost of the new investment? They can cut costs or raise prices, of course. They have cut costs for two decades. Now it looks as if they will have to raise prices, working through the slow state-regulatory process.
 
 They might have to raise prices for a kilowatt-hour just as the introduction of disruptive technologies might give consumers an alternative to the legacy electricity provider. That’s the death spiral: Utilities raise prices, making an easier entry for competitive products, then utilities lose sales and must raise prices more to pay for all of the overhead they installed unnecessarily, and competitors take still more of the market.
 
 That brings up the electric company’s peculiar relationship with its customers. Electricity consumers do not line up the night before to buy power. They have no thoughts about the electric company while the lights are on and only the worst thoughts when the lights go out. They may stick to the local utility’s electricity retailer—but largely out of inertia, or because they never heard of the competitors, or they don’t believe any action offers anything worth the effort of switching.

Analyzing the Facebook News Feed

Wall Street Journal:

Facebook’s role in providing Americans with political news has never been stronger—or more controversial. Scholars worry that the social network can create “echo chambers,” where users see posts only from like-minded friends and media sources. Facebook encourages users to “keep an open mind” by seeking out posts that don’t appear in their feeds.

Browsers’ bid for relevance is turning them into time-bombs

Cory Doctorow:

It gets worse: one of the DMCA’s major targets is security researchers, who face legal threats when they disclose defects in DRM (because knowing a defect makes it easier to break the DRM), and security researchers report that they are routinely prevented from disclosing grave defects in everything from medical implants to critical software because of this threat.
 
 The W3C’s strategy for “saving the web” from the corporate-controlled silos of apps is to replicate the systems of control that make apps off-limits to innovation and disruption. It’s a poor trade-off, one that sets a time-bomb ticking in the web’s foundations, making the lives of monopolists easier, and the lives of security researchers and entrepreneurs much, much more perilous.

The Home Buying Map

HSH:

released an article comparing 27 metropolitan areas and the salary someone would need to earn in order to afford the principal, interest, taxes and insurance payments on a median-priced home. According to pricing data collected by the National Association of Realtors, a single family home in the U.S. will cost you approximately $223,900 as of 2015 median estimates. The median sales price of existing single-family homes in the U.S. has increased steadily since 2013 ($197,400) and 2014 ($208,900). That equates to a 13% increase over two years! Below is a breakdown of the median home prices for 2015 across four U.S. geographical areas:
 
 

Why Lawns Are Shrinking in the U.S. as Homes Get Bigger

Andrew McGill:

growing. These days, the average new home encompasses 2,500 square feet, about 50 percent more area than the average house in the late 1970s, according to Census data. Compared to the typical house of 40 years ago, today’s likely has another bathroom and an extra bedroom, making it about the same size as the Brady Bunch house, which famously fit two families.
 
 This expansion has come at a cost: the American lawn.
 
 The first diagram below shows what the average house looked like in 1978, when it measured 1,650 square feet and sat on 0.22 acres. The second shows its counterpart from 2015.

Surveillance: Google collects meta data (phone calls, SMS) from Android phones

Born’s Tech:

Today’s Renters Really Are Worse Off Than Their Parents

Laura Kusisto:

Inflation-adjusted rents have risen by 64% since 1960, but real household incomes only increased by 18% during that same time period, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data released by Apartment List, a rental listing website.

Ghost in the machine: Snapchat isn’t mobile-first — it’s something else entirely

Ben Basche:

But we are beginning to see some cracks appear in both Facebook and Instagram. Earlier this year (ironically?) the Twittersphere was abuzz over a report in Bloomberg about sinking original (i.e. user generated) sharing on Facebook in what the company refers to internally as “context collapse.” Anyone who has been on Facebook for long time probably didn’t need numbers to back up the general feeling that they and their friends weren’t posting big photo albums from the weekend’s events anymore, let alone sharing a cool song on someone else’s wall. VentureBeat reported around the same time that Instagram engagement had dropped a whopping 40% in 2015. The Instagram numbers I take with a bit of a grain of salt as they don’t entirely pass the sniff test, but I think that while Instagram continues to grow (recently passed Twitter in a big way) and maintains a very privileged place in mediating our social hierarchies, people (especially young people) seem to be posting less frequently and are starting to spend their time elsewhere. It remains to be seen if Instagram’s algorithmic feed will fix this. To be sure, Facebook and Instagram are still part of people’s hourly (ok — every 15 minutes) routine of “checking your phone,” but I don’t think anyone can deny that their apparent evolution into more passive consumption experiences doesn’t raise a few red flags.

Ghost Boxes: Reusing Abandoned Big-Box Superstores Across America – 99% Invisible

Kurt Kohlstedt:

Big-box stores promise convenience and jobs for suburbs and small towns, but have a mixed reputation with designers and citizens. Many see big boxes as icons of unsustainable sprawl, reinforcing car culture with highway-oriented access and expansive parking lots. These boxy buildings not only take up vast amounts of land but often also require infrastructure around them to be overhauled. Later, when their super-sized occupants leave: a giant empty structure is left in their wake, which can be difficult to reuse unless a similar retailer takes its place.

A Young Lady’s Primer to Technical Decision Making

Charity Majors

Software is eating the world and probably your brain.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen an explosion of complexity in areas like polyglot storage, composable infrastructure, containerization and microservices, and coupling platforms (*aaS). Even five years ago, there were a set of fairly widely accepted best practices (virtualization, config management, RESTful services, and DBMS), but now every element of your stack is a never-ending rabbit hole of possibilities and questions.

Solid technical judgment is more important than ever. You can’t anticipate every problem, but you can identify and head off many of them in advance.

Technology Serves the Mission

Reuse Solutions

Have a Process for Major New Components

Choose Boring Technology, When You Can

Spend Your Risk Tokens on Key Differentiators

The Longer You survive, The More Operational Impact Trumps All

How Housing’s New Players Spiraled Into Banks’ Old Mistakes

MATTHEW GOLDSTEIN, RACHEL ABRAMS and BEN PROTESS:

But much of this investment has not benefited poor neighborhoods. Banks are expected, under the Community Reinvestment Act, to help meet the credit needs of low-income neighborhoods in areas they serve. Private equity has no such obligation.
 
 The idea is that banks should follow an implicit social contract: In return for government loans and other support, they are expected to serve a community’s needs. Private equity, which unlike the banks does not borrow money from the government, is answerable to its investors. Those investors include some of the nation’s largest pension plans, whose members — teachers and police officers among them — may support improvements to such lower-income areas.
 
 Times found, private equity has focused on buying newer homes in middle-income areas like the suburbs of Tampa, Fla. They have largely avoided more urban communities with older homes, because doing so would be less lucrative for their investors.
 
 “There has been a missed opportunity here,” said Dan Immergluck, a professor of city and regional planning at the Georgia Tech College of Design, who has studied the effect of the financial crisis on housing. “They are pushing the market up at the top end and neglecting the bottom end.”
 
 Government officials are also concerned that private equity’s mortgage firms face less scrutiny than banks. While banks are examined by regulators for financial soundness, no similar testing occurs for private equity’s companies.

‘Be aware of context, and maybe start using Google AdWords’

Danny Page:

They note that searches about the EU tripled. But how many people is that? Are they voters? Are they eligible to vote? Were they Leave or Remain? Trends doesn’t tell us, all it does is give us a nice graph with a huge peak. More likely, it’s a very small number of people, based on this graph that puts it in context with other searches in the region:

Dispelling the myth that “business leaders don’t need to be technical”

Andrea Coravos:

We expect our executives to have a strong understanding of the financial performance of their companies. Shareholders would find it strange – or more likely, unacceptable – if a CEO said, “I’m not financially-inclined” and passed along financial performance inquires to his or her CFO. Similarly, CEOs in an increasingly digital world will struggle to say, “I’m not technical” and hand over mission-critical business questions for the engineers to answer.
 
 Would you, as an employer, hire an MBA who graduated from a program that taught strategy, marketing, leadership, and operations — but did not teach finance or accounting? An MBA program that lacks a computer science curriculum is like a program that lacks finance or accounting.

Who owns the news consumer: Social media platforms or publishers?

Emily Bell:

The relationship between news organizations and platform companies has become far closer far more quickly than anyone predicted. The increasing influence of a handful of West Coast companies is shaping every aspect of news production, distribution, and monetization.
 
 In the past 18 months, companies including Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google have moved from having an arm’s length relationship with journalism to being dominant forces in the news ecosystem. By encouraging news publishers to post directly onto new channels, such as Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover, tech companies are now actively involved in every aspect of journalism.

“location-related searches are growing 50% faster than all mobile searches”

Linda Kinstler:

Of all Google searches, says McClendon, approximately 30% are local in nature, and 10% are maps- related. These days, the company reports, location-related searches are growing 50% faster than all mobile searches. In 2013, a report commissioned by Google estimated that the value of Geo services is between $150 to $270 billion in revenue annually—in addition to 1.1 billion hours saved per year by keeping people from getting lost or “avoiding wasted journey time.”

Toyota to build artificial intelligence-based driving systems in five years

Google’s stock slid today and it might be because of this report on a search ad decline

Volkswagen to Boost Electric Vehicles, Pursue Self-Driving Cars

William Boston:

Shortly after he took command, Mr. Müller hired an Apple Inc. executive, Johann Jungwirth, as the company’s new Chief Digital Officer. Mr. Jungwirth is building a team that will have about 100 members tasked with redesigning the interior of the car to improve the passenger experience in an age of digital services and self-driving cars.

All LinkedIn with Nowhere to Go

Ann Friedman:

Of course it has. If you click over to Kerpen’s all-time most commented post, you see yet another listicle culled from the chapter headings of his book Likeable Business. There’s this comically self-deconstructing morsel from Oprah Winfrey, for instance: “I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” Or perhaps you’d prefer something more aggressive and imperial in the way of business advice, such as this Navy SEAL mantra: “Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” Not quite spiritual enough? All right, how about G. K. Chesterton, reminding you that “gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder”?

Spotting bots in Google Analytics

Insights & Metrics:

92% of my traffic was bots. Historically, I used to create a segment where in I would exclude all bot traffic with the referral data, but it was a tedious task. More importantly, you can’t trust “google/organic” too. You will see bot traffic coming from “google/organic” but with spammy keywords, here is an example

New Energy Outlook 2016

Bloomberg:

Cheaper coal and cheaper gas will not derail the transformation and decarbonisation of the world’s power systems. From today until 2040, $11.4tn will be invested in power generation. Of that, $2.1tn will be spent on fossil fuels. But an astonishing $7.8tn will be invested in renewable energy.

The Great Facebook “Boost”: How Click Farms Make Facebook’s Paid Promotion a Scam

Grey Squall:

After about three weeks worth of advertising on Facebook, which included reviewing and applying Facebook’s Blueprint guide, as well as multiple email correspondences and an actual conversation with a Facebook advertising specialist on how best to improve my targeting, I’ve come to the conclusion that 1) click/like farms help Facebook siphon money away from unsuspecting Facebook page owners who are lured into pressing one of Facebook’s “Boost Today” or “Promote your Page” buttons thinking that they can easily promote their page or post to their target audience, but instead have their ad money misappropriated towards ad placements on fake or garbage accounts that won’t yield any further action or engagement, and 2) Facebook doesn’t want to do anything about it.