It’s Always Sunny in Silicon Valley

23. December 2011

Date: 23-12-2011
Source: Businessweek

The Valley’s techies live in a bubble of prosperity. Optimism has its advantages, but some worry the region may lose touch with the rest of the world

Every so often, the best parties come to represent moments in time. Think of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in 1966, the celeb-studded Liberty Island launch of Tina Brown’s ill-fated Talk magazine in 1999, and private equity maven Stephen A. Schwarzman’s 60th birthday bash in 2007, which featured Rod Stewart. Sean Parker’s bacchanal for the streaming music service Spotify on Sept. 22 in San Francisco may well join the ranks of these epic affairs.

The Facebook billionaire—portrayed by Justin Timberlake as a swaggering lush in The Social Network—turned an abandoned warehouse in the city’s Potrero District into a couch-filled pleasure palace. Waiters served piles of lobster, sushi, and roast pig, while journalists each were presented their own $300 bottles of DeLeón Tequila. As Mark Zuckerberg, Apple (AAPL) designer Jony Ive, author Danielle Steel, and other guests mingled, acts including Snoop Dogg, Jane’s Addiction, and the Killers—flown in on private jets—performed for the well-lubricated crowd. “All the recording artists here might not have shown up if they knew I was a nerd,” said an exuberant Parker from the stage. Read the rest of this entry »

The Chinese Solar Machine

21. December 2011

Date: 21-12-2011
Source: Technology Review

Chinese manufacturers have ­dominated the international ­market for conventional solar ­panels by building bigger ­factories faster. Now they will need to ­innovate to maintain their lead.

Ten years ago, solar panels were made mostly in the United States, Germany, and Japan. Chinese manufacturers made almost none. But by 2006, the Chinese company Suntech Power had the capacity to make over a million silicon-based solar panels a year and was already the world’s third-largest producer. Today Chinese manufacturers make about 50 million solar panels a year—over half the world’s supply in 2010—and include four of the world’s top five solar-panel manufacturers. What makes this particularly impressive is that the industry elsewhere has been doubling in size every two years, and Chinese manufacturers have done even better, doubling their production roughly every year. Read the rest of this entry »

“Tectonic Shifts” in Employment

21. December 2011

Date: 21-12-2011
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Information technology is reducing the need for certain jobs faster than new ones are being created.

Things Reviewed:

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution ?Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

October 2011

“The Growth of Low Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market”

David Autor and David Dorn

June 2011

The United States faces a protracted unemployment crisis: 6.3 million fewer Americans have jobs than was true at the end of 2007. And yet the country’s economic output is higher today than it was before the financial crisis. Where did the jobs go? Several factors, including outsourcing, help explain the state of the labor market, but fast-advancing, IT-driven automation might be playing the biggest role. Read the rest of this entry »

Why large firms are often more inventive than small ones

18. December 2011

Date: 15-12-2011
Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
Subject: Big and clever

Why large firms are often more inventive than small ones

SOME people say it is neither big nor clever to drink. Viz, a British comic, settled that debate with a letter from a reader who said: “I drink 15 pints a day, I’m 6 foot 3 inches tall and a professor of theoretical physics.” However, another question about size and cleverness has yet to be resolved. Are big companies the best catalysts of innovation, or are small ones better?

Joseph Schumpeter, after whom this column is named, argued both sides of the case. In 1909 he said that small companies were more inventive. In 1942 he reversed himself. Big firms have more incentive to invest in new products, he decided, because they can sell them to more people and reap greater rewards more quickly. In a competitive market, inventions are quickly imitated, so a small inventor’s investment often fails to pay off. Read the rest of this entry »

Power in Numbers: China Aims for High-Tech Primacy

6. December 2011


Date: 06-12-2011
Source: The New York Times

BEIJING — In an otherwise nondescript conference room, Wu Jianping stands before a giant wall of frosted glass. He toggles a switch and the glass becomes transparent, looking down on an imposing network operations center full of large computer displays. They show maps of China and the world, pinpointing China’s IPv6 links, the next generation of the Internet.

China already has almost twice the number of Internet users as in the United States, and Dr. Wu, a computer scientist and director of the Chinese Educational and Research Network, points out that his nation is moving more quickly than any other in the world to deploy the new protocol.

IPv6 — Internet Protocol version 6 — offers advanced security and privacy options, but more important, many more I.P. addresses, whose supply on the present Internet (IPv4) is almost exhausted.

“China must move to IPv6,” Dr. Wu said. “In the U.S., some people don’t believe it’s urgent, but we believe it’s urgent.”

If the future of the Internet is already in China, is the future of computing there as well? Read the rest of this entry »