This week, start here: We tend not to place a great deal of stock in year-ahead predictions — though one of these days someone is going to figure out mobile ad units and heads-up displays and make 2013’s legion trendspotters look really good. We do, though, have a soft spot for Fred Wilson’s take on broader trends within the technology, VC and communications spaces, so when he laid out his vision for what will happen in 2015 (4 min), we paid close attention. Not to harsh your CES contact high, but:

Eventually, this market will be realized as the personal mesh/personal cloud, but the focus on wearables will be a bit of a headfake and take up a lot of time, energy, and money in 2015 with not a lot of results.

Speaking of the failures of wearables, Rose Eveleth poses a question to the tech marketplace that’s been percolating in the quantified self community for some time: why are the needs of women functionally ignored in the quantified self app and device spaces? (12 min)  From Anne Petersen’s epic January 1 essay on Buzzfeed (26 min), this x100:

..there’s something to be said for the allure and beauty of the mysteries not only of our confusing, previously unknowable bodies, but the intricacies of life…For the pleasure of running without knowing how fast or how long or how many calories but simply because your body could and did move, and that even without a digital trace, a GPS footprint, or way to leverage evidence thereof against friends and co-workers — it nonetheless felt something like being alive.

Google Translate earns valuable UX hit points (1 min) while Citibank gets the required field gas face (2 min). Embedded in the latter is a really important point, namely: now that we’ve got responsive display down to a science, it’s time to put our efforts toward responsive data and systems. This interview with Stacey Bendet of Alice and Olivia (6 min) makes for a compelling read for a number of reasons, but this jumped off the page at us:

I always look at designers and I see that you need this foundation that is really strong, really organised and really powerful in terms of development and production. If you don’t have that foundation, if you don’t have that structure, if you don’t have that ability to produce, then you can’t create the way you want to.

The Voxel 8 3D printer can print conductive inks and materials on the fly, meaning that it’s now possible to 3D print custom circuitry (10 min). This opens up all manner of possibilities.


Utterly fascinating: using the Amazon order test to measure the chain effects of book recommendations and determine which items have the greatest residual value (2 min). This has some rather stunning implications for the merchandising world.

Shockingly, Google says that paid search drives brick and mortar foot traffic (2 min), though we’ll wait patiently for more (and independent) data before drawing further conclusions.

Ma! Pa! Look! — open tools for strategists!

This piece on luxury mobile phone manufacturer Vertu — and the internal systems that allow them to innovate product while simultaneously driving down costs (9 min) — is very, very good.

The relationship between peer respect and patient outcomes (3 min) in the health care world has intriguing lines of thought for anyone in the service space — this, in particular, held our attention:

we should put an end to the premium that the medical establishment places on saving face. This is a hazard. It feeds the egotistical environment that can lead to ignoring input and failing to ask for help. It creates doctors who value looking like they know what they’re doing at all times more than actually doing what is best.

Jason Fried and the Basecamp team are trying out a new internal ritual in which 5 rotating team members get together for an hour each month to get to know one another a bit better (15 min), and then share the output of the session with the rest of the organization. This — like much of 37Signals’ output — has the potential to evolve into something really interesting.

In a win for the broader American culture, if not for retail sales associates, mall stores (and mall landlords) are in dire trouble (4 min). Kevin McKenzie of the Westfield Group believes that the answer might come in the form of additional layers of experience tech (7 min):

In Australia, we have a pilot going on that we call ‘Searchable Mall’, where we aggregate product from over 161 retailers that trade physically in our shopping centres, so when a consumer goes to our website, they can basically find a Westfield and then search not only what stores are in that shopping centre, but what products those stores sell, and then map a journey on a digital map to locate that product in the shopping centre.

We remain unconvinced that findability is at the heart of the #mallproblem, but we’re open to alternatives.

Much more to our liking: converting vacant malls into data centers (2 min).

Flutter is a fascinating idea that explores the use of music composition to help teens deal with the death of a friend or family member (4 min). There’s some really fascinating insights at the heart of it.

Apropos of nothing, Jesse Jarnow’s brief essay on why collecting music matters (8 min) makes for fascinating reading in an era when the dominant format for media is digital.

Until next week, have a great one.