Well researched and reasoned Economist piece on the failures of democracy — and what can be done to support it worldwide. Also take note of its beautiful web-friendly, multimedia layout:
"All this has demonstrated that building the institutions needed to sustain democracy is very slow work indeed, and has dispelled the once-popular notion that democracy will blossom rapidly and spontaneously once the seed is planted. Although democracy may be a “universal aspiration”, as Mr Bush and Tony Blair insisted, it is a culturally rooted practice. Western countries almost all extended the right to vote long after the establishment of sophisticated political systems, with powerful civil services and entrenched constitutional rights, in societies that cherished the notions of individual rights and independent judiciaries."
From the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “Hot Spots 2025” report on the future of city competitiveness: “1) New York is the most competitive city today and will remain so in 2025. The city makes gains in almost all major categories. It tops the ranking in terms of ﬁnancial maturity and is among the most competitive on institutional character (2nd) and economic strength (3rd). While building on its strength as the world’s ﬁnancial capital and a magnet of opportunity for people from America and beyond, the city owes its competitive edge in 2025 to improvements in other areas. New York environmental governance still lags behind other cities, but its NYC 2030 plan sets out a credible blueprint for improvement. The quality of healthcare, although not among the best globally, improves in 2025, pushing up the city’s ranking in the human capital category by 20 places to 27th”
The Economist tweeted a link to a wonderful archival article this morning. “The week, to which we are all enslaved, has a strange and erotic history”, which first appeared in print in 2001, recounts the origin of our 7-day week.
Why does The Economist appear every seventh day? The answer is because we, like you, still regulate our lives by a septimal law that Mesopotamian star-gazers framed, and local warlords imposed, more than 40 centuries ago.
The article is a fascinating look into aspects of our lives — time, calendars, weeks, hours, months — so commonplace that we often take them for granted.
And the archival Tweet itself is a great way for publications help readers discover older, yet still relevant, content. Love it.
Here’s an interesting video on how high-frequency, real-time data can be used to take the pulse of the economy. For example, Google noticed that an increase in Google search queries for “coupons” or “discounts” was highly correlated with the onset of the 2008 recession. As Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist explains, Google is now working to uncover more of these correlations and monitor economic shifts as they happen.
I’d love to see more of these instantaneous relationships used for social good. How might digital data predict food shortages or unrest in a community? See the UN’s Global Pulse initiative for further possibilities on how data can be harnessed for social good.
As has been suggested on the blog before, we’re witnessing a flourishing of the “mass intelligent.” Podcast lovers, computer science devotees and people who thrive on big ideas are coming out of the closet, proudly proclaiming their allegiance to all things a little nerdy. And now a new YouTube channel, THNKR, has come along, designed to set the hearts of the mass intelligent aflutter.
As The Economist notes, “Interestingly, the correlation between food security and EIU’s Democracy Index was only 0.77, a much weaker link than with women’s labour equality. This suggests that what happens in the political sphere is a bit less important than what happens on the social sphere, in terms of food.”
My post today for The Economist’s Lean Back 2.0 blog:
In an attempt to stay up-to-date on the constant evolution of digital media, I follow a lot of media blogs and Twitter accounts. Lately, I’ve noticed an upswing in the use of the word “everywhere” to describe some media brands’ digital philosophy.
There was Time Warner’s “TV everywhere” strategy, first introduced two years ago as “a framework to provide TV subscribers with their favorite shows, on demand, on a wide variety of devices – the TV, the PC, tablets, mobile devices – at no extra charge.” In a recent post on the Lean Back 2.0 blog, Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes detailed a similar platform-agnostic perspective for Time Inc.’s magazine titles.
Now, the New York Times has adopted similar language, kicking off their “NYT Everywhere” campaign. On Monday, the New York Times announced a partnership with Flipboard, the popular social magazine app, marking the first time New York Timescontent will be available to subscribers on a third-party app. “With the launch of NYT Everywhere, with Flipboard, we are continuing our effort to extend the user-experience across a variety of platforms to reach readers where they want to access our journalism,” said Denise Warren, general manager of NYTimes.com and senior vice president and chief advertising officer of The New York Times Media Group.
A Google search of media brands plus the word “everywhere” turns up several more instances of this combination. There’s “Watch Showtime. Everywhere.” There’s also this description of Pulse, the news reading app: “Your News Everywhere.” Then, there’s the Wall Street Journal’s burgeoning video programming, with the slogan “Watch the Wall Street Journal Everywhere.” (I’m on the hunt for more examples, so please add any you’ve seen in the comments section below).
Okay, so maybe a few instances don’t constitute a trend. But the frequent use of the term does seem indicative of a general move toward platform-agnostic media companies. Media companies are slowly realizing that making content scarce in the age of the Internet is impossible. If people can’t access your articles or videos on their chosen device, they may not access your content at all.
This blog is guilty of tacking on its own bit of jargon to its title: Lean Back 2.0, the 2.0 symbolizing a rebirth in how we read. If paper was version 1.0, tablets are version 2.0. We were, of course, not the originators of the term 2.0. The original, Web 2.0, was meant to suggest a new version of the Web that took advantage of its networked properties, creating a more social, user-friendly experience. Wikipedia lists education 2.0, philanthropy 2.0 and publishing 2.0 as subsequent, derivative versions.
Similarly, it appears the media industry is trying to reinvent itself with a new tacked-on term: “everywhere.” We’re the New York Times (read: a venerable print publication), but we’re everywhere (read: a hip digital experience). We’re your cable company (read: we make you pay $150 per month for channels you don’t want), but we’re everywhere (read: enjoy those 800 channels on that new iPad of yours).
With the direction we’re headed, this blog might soon rebrand itself as “Lean back everywhere.” Enjoy it on the Web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Samsung Galaxy, Nook, Kindle Fire, Google Nexus 7, Flipboard, Zite, Zinio and our native app.