It’s a brand new year and time to take stock of what’s happening in our world.
Has Snapchat effectively eliminated the need for all forms of verbal communication? Almost. Do we now spend more time taking selfies than any other activity? Yes. Is Juan Pablo the hottest Bachelor in the show’s 17-season history? Definitely yes.
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The Undercover Ad Man
Of all the “if you build it, they will come,” social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr seemed the most advertising-averse. Floppy-haired founder David Karp memorably betrayed a visceral distaste for the stuff. It “really turns our stomachs,” he said in 2010, following that up with a vow not to become “wildly profitable” by slapping an AdSense ad on the otherwise elegant dashboard of all 80 million Tumblr blogs. But it seems as though the microblogging site’s methodical approach toward making money has paid off—thanks in part to guidance from Rick Webb, a 20-year veteran of the ad industry and co-founder of digital consultancy Barbarian Group, who was attracted to Tumblr for its aversion to the “crap” ads that permeate the web.
Rallying the Robots
When longtime Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson left his post earlier this month, it wasn’t for another Condé title or a sabbatical to write his fourth book. He decamped for a robotics startup. It’s just the latest sign, along with drones appearing on the cover of every magazine from The New Yorker to The Economist, that robotics is no longer relegated to science fiction.
New York has never been known as a robotics capital, unlike Boston, with its MIT hackers, or Pittsburgh, with its Carnegie Mellon engineers. But one Russian oligarch wants to change that.
The Entrepreneurial Egghead
Of all Mike Bloomberg’s many initiatives to turn New York into the Silicon Valley of the 21st century, one stands out as the centerpiece of his master plan: the applied sciences campus. After a battle royale with other schools including Stanford, Cornell emerged the winner with its proposal to build a Roosevelt Island satellite. Now, with classes scheduled to start in January, the city’s techies are left watching and waiting for graduates to fill all their open jobs.
Cornell insists its campus is designed to boost New York’s tech sector, and the school’s choice of open-source advocate Deborah Estrin as its first academic faculty member shows that’s more than mere talk.