The End of an iEra

Love this piece by Mat Honan:

In all likelihood we’re not just seeing the death of the iPod Classic, but the death of the dedicated portable music player. Now it’s all phones and apps. Everything is a camera. The single-use device is gone—and with it, the very notion of cool that it once carried. The iPhone is about as subversive as a bag of potato chips, and music doesn’t define anyone anymore. Soon there will be no such thing as your music library. There will be no such thing as your music. We had it all wrong! Information doesn’t want to be free, it wants to be a commodity. It wants to be packaged into apps that differ only in terms of interface and pricing models. It wants to be rented. It wants to reveal nothing too personal, because we broadcast it to Facebook[…]

On Death and iPods {wired}

When Free Data Ain’t Free

Wired has a smart take on an idea that sounds good at first: unlimited data usage on your phone for certain apps.

T-Mobile has announced plans that allow access to Twitter, Instagram, and others for free. (Well, included with your monthly charges.)

Virgin Mobile has plans with unlimited access to just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest for a flat monthly fee.

But like net neutrality, this bundling/unbundling (depending on how you look at it) could stifle innovation:

In [Fred] Wilson’s comparison, zero rating makes apps more like TV by effectively turning specific services into channels. Under the Sprint deal, you get the Facebook channel, the Twitter channel, and so on. To get the full-on open internet—which we used to simply call the internet—you must pay more. For Wilson, this amounts to a kind of front-end discrimination analogous to efforts to undermine net neutrality on the back-end. Some apps or services get preferential treatment, while others are left to wither through lack of equal access.

As Wilson explains, this makes zero rating an existential threat to what he sees as a period of more egalitarian access that allowed the internet economy to flourish. “There was a brief moment in the tech market from 1995 to now where anyone could simply attach a server to the internet and be in business,” Wilson writes in response to a commenter. “That moment is coming to an end.”

Free Mobile Data Plans Are Going to Crush the Startup Economy {by marcus wohlsen; wired}.

Resolution Check in

Another post about willpower and resolutions, this one from Jonah Lehrer’s fantastic Frontal Cortex blog.

The reason our resolutions end in such dismal fashion returns us to the single most important fact about human willpower — it’s incredibly feeble. Consider this experiment, led by Baba Shiv, a behavioral economist at Stanford University. He recruited several dozen undergraduates and divided them into two groups. One group was given a two-digit number to remember, while the second group was given a seven-digit number. Then, they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad.

Here’s where the results get weird. The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Shiv, is that all those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain — they were a “cognitive load” — making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the conscious mind is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before it becomes impossible for the brain to resist a piece of cake.

Jonah continues with more fascinating studies, and concludes with some potential strategies for boosting your own willpower.

From The Willpower Trick {wired}.

Nice Guys Finish Last

A new study — Do Nice Guys Finish Last, by Jonah Lehrer {wired} posits that agreeable men have less successful careers (measured in U.S. dollars, of course) than their un-nice counterparts.

In a series of follow-up studies, the researchers replicated their results, showing that agreeable men earn less even after controlling for a long list of variables, including other personality traits and the possibility that nice people choose less lucrative professions…

I think my place in this race would depend on who you ask. But I am heartened by the conclusion to Jonah’s article…