This week, start here:
If we’re all working from digital files and silicon, just what is a copy, anyway? A few years ago, we were contemplating the definition of ‘bootleg’ in the context of ‘fake’ Chinese Apple Stores selling ‘fake’ iPhones manufactured on the same lines as their ‘legit’ counterparts. Today, an equally-intriguing question, posed by an art project:

What happens when we apply hi-resolution photography to high-fashion garments, and mass-reproduce them on digitally-printed fabric? ()

Is it a remix, or what McLuhan called a ‘distant early warning’?


The future of recommendation engines may lie in something called subspace clustering problems — aimed at teasing out connections and distinctions between shared accounts (that’s a radical simplification). Basically this: in the future your Netflix recommendations won’t have to suffer just because your daughter can’t get enough Doc McStuffins.

Do take a few minutes with this piece from management consultant James Taylor on common traps of predictive analytics. Among the most-salient, this: Predictive analytics works best on decisions that get made repeatedly, but top executives most often make strategic decisions, which tend to be one-time situations. A somber note from Dark Matter favorite Nicholas Carr this week on measurement:

today’s ethos is simpler, easier to execute: “If you measure it, the meaning will come.”

This strikes a particular nerve here, where we tend to talk about data as a place to find questions worth answering, rather than solely as a source of answers unto itself.

The StyleLikeU What’s Underneath project is a pretty fantastic bit of content designed to tackle questions around the essence of beauty and fashion — none more provocative than this week’s interview with model Melanie Gaydos. Gaydos has fought a lifelong battle with a genetic disorder called ectodermal dysplasia, and a personal life fraught with neglect and abuse. Her essay on self, beauty and the therapy of modeling is a stunning video worth squirreling away for the next twelve minutes you can spare.

On the other end of the spectrum, ethnographer Jan Chipchase published a stunning photo-essay on the ways in which we are and are not connected to networks, and makes a great case that connectivity is not binary. If that all sounds a bit heady, the anecdotes illustrate his point especially well.

Of course, Michael Harris points out that we’re at an especially interesting point in history at which most of us have lived both with and without crowd connectivity. Shane Parrish’s take on Harris’ new book, The End of Absence, is worth reading.

Esoteric, sure, but since the New Aesthetic Tumblr is asking: as machines assume sleep-like behaviors, why are we working so hard to eliminate the human need for sleep?

Oh, and Grant McCracken followed IBM down a rabbit hole and found evidence of steampunk in the Pottery Barn catalog.

We don’t typically dive into global military conflict here, but the smartly-written Small Wars Journal featured a piece this week on the tactical intelligence of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which Marine Colonel Gary Anderson attributes much of the leader’s success to having adopted tactics typically associated with Western forces. Buried within the piece are several great lessons for organizational leaders related to the development of trust within operational units.

A Ruby conference is an odd place to talk about hiring practices, but Kerri Miller’s talk on the topic from Burlington Ruby is fantastic, as she gets to a really critical question for organizations: why, as we become so smart about measuring performance, do interview processes remain so ad-hoc? ()

As usual, Tom Hulme nails it:

Great companies hire by describing the impact the candidate can have.

Speaking of great companies, the Government Digital Service is back at it again with a post on the value of sharing code (and other stuff) across an organization.

Site search still doesn’t really work very well, and Gerry McGovern says that to remedy this we should be thinking about finding, not searching. He’s right, by the way.

Boston Consulting Group posted a good article this week on supply chain imperatives in omni-channel retail, and we were particularly drawn to the idea of maximizing the ‘information value’ of each inventory touch. Great retail experiences are going to be driven more by internal workflows than by technologies, folks.

Nordstrom released an e-commerce experience that’s more like Instagram. Ryanair has an e-commerce experience that’s more like loan sharking.


The Day Google StreetView Stood Still is a web game created by Netro in which users hunt and stalk celebrities in a world generated entirely by Google StreetView imagery and navigation, with heavy reliance on audio cues. Thing is: it’s really quite engrossing for something so very simple. We don’t imagine that it will displace Assassin’s Creed anytime soon, but it’s certainly worth spending a few minutes inside.