If you pay attention to nothing else:
Spend some time pondering two different directions undertaken by organizations under siege — Target in the consumer retail space and the failed Publicis-Omnicom merger. In a well-circulated piece, Target CMO Jeff Jones’ open letter to employees is a stunning, thoughtful admission (and admonition) that the organization can do much better than it has in recent times and that even the greatest organizations face troughs and peril. From the same piece:

We are exploding cultural symbols of bad behavior.

That’s an enormously intriguing statement.

Contrast that with a wonderful post by cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken on the failed Publi-com merger, and the inability for two organizations with stated goals in new media to identify old media’s most profound truth: television is back. A reasonable question: aren’t advertising agencies, purveyors of tapped-in insights, supposed to see these sort of macro trends coming? Perhaps they needed more anthropologists, and fewer attorneys.

Good stuff this week in the MIT Technology Review on superspreaders — a clever name for those whose behavior and influence make them especially adept at propagating content online. At heart, the piece is about the capacity to spot power law distributions in networks.

How to prove that you’re a marketing hack: build a PowerPoint slide outlining a strategy of seeding branded content with superspreaders. Gratuitously reference MIT. Drop mic.

Speaking of power law distributions, turns out that PDFs aren’t particularly great places to store information you want people to read.

As the bill comes due on free, it’s going to be ugly. Nicholas Carr had a poignant piece this week on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which promised brilliant access to education to everyone, but are increasingly (and probably necessarily) migrating to paid service models. The rub comes in how these transitions from free to paid are articulated, as Carr is rightly skeptical of

The poor get the “lousy.” The affluent get the “magic.”

There is a wonderful, critical read this week in The Society Pages, in which Matt Rafalow explores the betrayal that is exposing the research into youth behavior to adults. More precisely: how can we gain insights into what kids do if they believe that we’ll betray their privacy to those from which they most fiercely guard their behaviors?

Everyone has an opinion on Apple’s rumored acquistion of Beats. Here are two of the best: David Jacobs views the deal through a fashion lens — effectively the idea that Beats’ products provide a high-gloss, lower entry price onramp to Apple’s premium hardware offerings (he also circulates the appealing idea that Ian Rogers could help rethink the iTunes experience). Andrea Nastase, in an equally compelling piece, views the marriage through the lens of location and preference data.

Filmmaker and designer Timo Arnall has a lovely post this week looking at Internet Machine — a film he co-produced that examines the world of server farms and the hardware that forms the backbone of the Interwebs. Watch the trailer, for sure, but take a few minutes to read his explanation of the web infrastructure, as it’s alien to all but of a few of us.