Archive for the ‘American’ tag
We are witnessing an energy revolution, Walter Russell Mead, professor at Bard College and editor-at-large of The American Interest, recently proclaimed in a series of blog posts (parts one, two, three, and four); a revolution “much bigger, and more consequential than the Arab Spring;” a revolution, moreover, that will result in “a powerful boost to American power.” Mead sees a “new age of abundance for fossil fuels” in the making which proves peak-oil theories wrong and renders chatter about American decline irrelevant. Due to now extractable resources in tar sands oil in Canada and shale oil & gas in the U.S. the “center of gravity of the global energy picture is shifting from the Middle East to … North America.” This energy revolution will consequentially bring about a new American century.
That, in a nutshell, is Mead’s bold thesis at which I will have a closer look in this first installment of my e-Ideas series. And just to state the obvious: the series is going to evolve around discourses, books, and studies, i.e. the impact of energy trends and innovations on society and politics adn vice versa, rather than technological innovations of which I would only have very limited understanding.
Mead’s energy revolution is driven by unconventional oil and gas resources that recently have become technically and economically extractable and/or have been discovered. These resources make Canada and the U.S. “each richer in oil than Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia combined.” Israel and China also have such resources and will profit accordingly.
According to Mead this new fossil fuel reality has four major consequences:
1. New Geopolitical Fundamentals
The energy revolution will substantially shift the fundamentals of geopolitics by creating “winners and losers”; namely the U.S., Canada, Israel, and China as winners, and Russia, the Middle East, and petro states such as Venezuela as losers. The economically most advanced countries of the West will become less dependent on energy imports from autocratic regimes and unstable regions such as the Middle East, Mead argues, and can shift political attention and military resources to other areas. Shale oil will also make China more independent from imports and therefore less aggressive in its drive to secure energy resources overseas. Russia, on the other hand, will lose leverage because Europe will have alternative sources of supply. The Middle East will lose its prominence on the world stage, because its resources are not as relevant any more.
2. A New American Century
This geopolitical shift will stabilize the liberal global order, stimulate global economic growth, and allow the potential rivalry between the U.S. and China to become ever more cooperative. Because energy was critical to the first American century, Mead continues, and since the energy abundance that propelled the U.S. to global leadership is back, a new American century is in the making. A less Middle East-centric foreign policy will allow the U.S. to become more of the benevolent hegemon it has been after World War II, securing the liberal capitalist global order, rather than fighting wars in the sands Iraq.
3. The Reincarnation of the American Dream
The new fossil fuel resources in the U.S. will dramatically alter the domestic situation as well, Mead claims. For the first time in decades, new well-paying blue-collar jobs are created, a second coming of the American Dream. Demand for skilled labor will change the immigration debate. Manufacturing may return to the U.S. because cheap energy will be a major competitive advantage. A new geography of power will alter politics: A shift to the Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri river system and the Midwest, where most of the new resources are located, will strengthen a pragmatic moderately conservative ideology and weaken liberals and ultraconservatives. And more of American prosperity will actually remain in the U.S., because less energy imports will significantly cut the trade deficit.
4. A Cleaner Planet
Somewhat counter-intuitive, Mead claims that the new abundance of fossil fuels will also help protect the climate and strengthen environmentalism. In his final, and most polemic, blog post he argues that cheap shale gas will accelerate the switch from coal to gas, resulting in less carbon emissions. The newly accumulated wealth will help fund more environmental initiatives. And until these resources are dried up later in the twenty-first century, the wind and solar industries can mature, become more competitive and more reliable. This will all help the transition to a cleaner, low-carbon economy.
Mead’s argument is conclusive and well thought through, even if his polemic against green energy seems widely overstated. He somewhat underestimates, however, the political risks that come with the production of unconventional oil & gas. Hydraulic fracturing increasingly becomes a major concern not only for environmentalists in the U.S., while in Europe this extraction technology is stigmatizing as dirty and risky. The same is true for Canadian oil sands. Consequentially, American pundits such as Thomas Friedman, the NY Times columnist, are much more skeptical of a golden age of gas in the U.S. While its economic and geopolitical benefits are obvious in the short term, Friedman states in an opinion piece, the shale gas boom may delay renewable energy production. “That would be reckless,” he writes because in light of recent droughts in the U.S., climate change becomes ever more apparent, and dangerous. A warning, Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, already voiced earlier this year, reacting to the EU’s labeling of natural gas as “green energy”.
But Friedman pushes further and specifically targets unconventional gas. “Extracting it can be very dirty,” he writes, essentially demanding a life cycle analysis of all energy sources. While he concludes with proposing a carbon tax, which in his eyes will level the playing field for renewables and also allow raising more taxes to tackle the U.S. federal budget deficit, his article that has been duly refuted from conservative side, shows that unconventional gas is highly politicized.
Politics may thus derail Mead’s energy revolution, if not managed professionally. A good start would be sound energy policies. As The Economist recently noted, neither presidential candidate appears to have, however, “the vision now required in energy policy.”
Reich took a vacation — lucky guy — and had a brainstorm:
Robert Reich, Back from Three Weeks Vacation with a Bold Proposal
Here’s a bold proposal I offer free of charge to Obama or Romney: Every American should get a mandatory minimum of three weeks paid vacation a year.
Most Americans only get two weeks off right now. But many don’t even take the full two weeks out of fear of losing their jobs. One in four gets no paid vacation at all, not even holidays. Overall, Americans have less vacation time than workers in any other advanced economy.
This is absurd. A mandatory three weeks off would be good for everyone — including employers.
Studies show workers who take time off are more productive after their batteries are recharged. They have higher morale, and are less likely to mentally check out on the job.
This means more output per worker — enough to compensate employers for the cost of hiring additional workers to cover for everyone’s three weeks’ vacation time.
Sounds good, but Reich never mentions what the so-called self-employed are supposed to do. I guess this is another way that the government could screw us over, like having to pay both halves of social security taxes.
Here’s a thought. Since Freelancers are at least 30% of the professional and creative workforce in the US now, so if Reich’s vacation idea becomes law (as if) maybe the laws could have a clause granting a tax rebate that is equivalent to 3/52’s of our freelance income, each year. That way we could receive ‘paid’ vacation each year.
But his proposal will go nowhere in this ideologically charged political environment. Who is going to stand up for the average worker, after all? No one.
And Dr. Reich? Please don’t forget the freelancers. You were the Secretary of Labor once, so it looks bad for everyone.
Miles Fisher may not be a household name, but chances are, you may have already seen his work. Perhaps you’ve seen his Tom Cruise spoof in Superhero movie or the clip that’s still making the rounds on the Web. Or maybe you’ve seen his clever rendition of “This Must be the Place” by the Talking Heads shots as a video homage to American Psycho.
While many hopeful souls move to Hollywood with dreams of getting discovered and becoming the next “it” person, Miles Fisher had another idea. His plan was simple, but far more complex. His goal was to make Hollywood come to him. Viral hit after Viral hit, Fisher earned the attention of TV executives, movie producers while also build a loyal community along the way.
In just the past few years alone, Fisher has appeared on Gossip Girl, Mad Men and also earned roles in J. Edgar and Final Destination 5. It was Final Destination 5 where Fisher was given a unique opportunity to create one of his trademark videos as a social marketing vehicle for the movie. He recorded “New Romance” as a parody to the movie but set in a perfect recreation of the popular late 80s early 90s television series Saved By The Bell.
I’ve followed Miles work over the years and while in Los Angeles, I invited him to the Revolution set to share his vision for the future of social production and how it differs from traditional media development. More importantly, we review how to bring the two together to inspire a new genre of engaging and shareable content production and marketing.
Great content = engaging + discoverable
Great social content = engaging + discoverable + shareable
The End of Business as Usual is officially here…
Someone took it upon themselves to experiment with a redesign for American Airlines with an interesting retro approach. After filing bankruptcy protection in 2011, reinventing themselves could potentially help the airline. The question now is, would this design persuade you to travel with them?
The New Yorker has finally landed on the iPhone.
The app is essentially identical to its iPad counterpart, offering subscribers access to each issue’s content in digital form. The app also offers access to video, audio, and article selections from the New Yorker’s website.
What’s changing, as AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka points out, is that the newer versions of the magazine are much lighter than their iPad counterparts– 23MB compared to an average 100MB. Not only will this make downloading issues far easier; it should also make doing so less taxing on the average data plan.
The app announcement comes on the same day the American Bureau of Circulations (ABC) released its first digital-replica magazine circulation figures, which found that magazine publishers are still moving away from just duplicating print content in their web editions.
Because a simple announcement is not enough in 2012, the New Yorker got Girls wunderkind Lena Dunham and Mad Men star Jon Hamm to do an off-kilter advertisement for the new app, which you can find below.
Filed under: mobile
Last week, John Jantsch hosted an awesome video debate called Media Manipulation – fact or fiction – a frank conversation.
The discussion featured Ryan Holiday, author of Trust Me I’m Lying – Confessions of a Media Manipulator debating Peter Shankman, VP, Small Business Evangelist at Vocus (and founder of HARO). I was also on hand together with Shel Holtz to jump in now and then with comments and questions.
It was a very lively discussion!!
PR Stunts for fun and profit
Here’s some backstory: Earlier this month Ryan released his book which received a great deal of coverage mainly because of the clever PR stunt he pulled to get attention. He used HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to respond to queries from journalists about such things as being an insomniac, a vinyl collector, a boating expert, and so forth, (none of which he actually was) and getting quoted by ABC News, CBS, The New York Times, and other news organizations.
Here is a good article on Poynter that provides background on the stunt: Telling the truth about media manipulator Ryan Holiday.
Here is our debate, which is well worth taking 45 minutes to watch.
Direct link to Media Manipulation – fact or fiction on YouTube.
In the debate, Peter was very critical of Ryan’s use of HARO because he misused the service. In turn Ryan argued that HARO should vet the reporters and PR people who use HARO. I have to disagree with both Peter and Ryan. I think the way Ryan used the service certainly did prove a valuable lesson. However, having used HARO myself to find sources for stories I’ve written, of course I am going to vet the source. As I said in the debate, HARO shouldn’t get involved in fact checking its users any more than Monster.com should fact check the millions resumes on its platform.
That reporters from A-list media like ABC News and the New York Times didn’t do a simple Google search to learn that the “Ryan Holiday” who they were about to quote in a story wrote a book called Trust me I’m Lying is strange!
Trust Me I’m Lying
I’ve read some of Ryan’s book Trust me I’m Lying (but not all because I wanted to get this post out). I find the book to be a valuable resource for PR people and journalists alike because he has clearly found some details about how today’s media works that you should know.
If you’re engaging in Newsjacking (and I hope you are) there are some insights in Ryan’s book that will help. But note that unlike Ryan’s techniques, Newsjacking does not rely on manipulation. It works because of a knowledge about how today’s real time media operates and that’s what Ryan outlines in his book.
However, I do not agree with Ryan’s techniques. Lying about who you are just to prove a point is not appropriate for anyone who wants to do business in the future. Now and forever, whenever anyone Google’s Ryan Holiday, they will learn he is a liar. Would you hire him? Would you work for him?
Sometimes Ryan used a fake name and sometimes his real name to alert the media to stores, which he himself planted. All of this was to expose how online media really works and I think it was largely successful in proving his point and generating interesting anecdotes that we can learn from.
While he was pulling off his media manipulation that he talks about in the book, Ryan was director of marketing at American Apparel (where he still works today). American Apparel is a public company listed on the American Stock Exchange. When I asked Ryan if his employers had knowledge of his stunts, he said yes. I find this fascinating.
An aspect of his manipulation was that he not only seeded (sometimes false) stories to online media outlets, those outlets also carried his company’s advertising. It was a surprising revelation about the porous wall between the business side and the advertising side of online media.
Watch the 45-minute debate and if you want to learn more, read Ryan’s book. Sure, there is a lot of manipulation going on here, but there are also lessons to learn for those of us who don’t lie.
What do you think?
Last night, I watched Ryan Seacrest review the popularity of the American swim team by comparing their Facebook followers and comments. Even though I spent much of my day involved in social media, this still struck me as odd; several minutes of every broadcast, completely devoted to Facebook and Twitter. It’s unheard of, but you can bet it will continue to expand to news broadcasts of every kind as we move forward. Just imagine how it’s going to play into upcoming elections. . .
But social media isn’t one big love-in. Many people take to it with resigned acceptance. Steve Olenski of Forbes magazine knows this all too well. He conducted a very unscientific study into our thoughts on social media and came up with a very creative infograph detailing our love / hate relationship with the phenomena.
The infograph compares feelings from 2010 to 2012. Even though more people than ever are using social media, we’re still as conflicted as we were two years ago. On the downside, responders said that social media was so much noise, that it was a waste of time and it was reminiscent of the popularity contest in high school.
On the upside, they felt that it was a good tool for communication, a way to make new friends, and that it’s making the world a smaller place.
When asked, “what’s the first thing you think of when you hear Social Media,” the most common response was “Facebook.” (32%)
But as much as people complained about it being a brain and time drain, the overwhelming majority believe it will continue to thrive.
That’s both sad and encouraging. Social media is bringing us closer together. It’s elevating the comments of the everyman to that of a reporter and that’s how it should be. This week, it’s making the Olympics even more of a global experience than ever before.
I grumble about Facebook all the time, but I believe in the power of social media. I just think it needs a little more tweaking in order to get the love side of the meter to rise up higher than the hate.
To see the full infograph, just click here.
I no longer have a landline. In fact, I haven’t for years, and that means I am part of a growing segment of the US population, and one with interesting political impact. It turns out that cell-only Americans are more likely to be, according to John Harwood’s inquiry in today’s NY Times,
disproportionately urban, African-American, on either the high or low end of the economic ladder, and Democratic.
And, as this ‘telographic’ group grows (yes, I said telographic), most of the conventional polls are under-representing them, as the NY Times piece shows:
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, and Peter Hart, his Democratic counterpart, who conduct the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, proved the point in their latest poll, conducted July 18-22, when they increased the proportion of respondents who rely exclusively on cellphones to 30 percent from 25 percent. To home in on them, the pollsters ended calls answered on cellphones if the respondents said they also had land lines.
Their findings affirmed arguments that “cell only” Americans have significantly different, and more Democratic, political views than those with land lines. Over all, the poll showedMr. Obama leading Mr. Romney by 49 percent to 43 percent — providing a confidence-boosting talking point for Democrats and provoking sharp criticism from Republicans.
Scott Rasmussen, who owns an independent polling firm, approaches the “cell only” problem differently, as he must by law. His Rasmussen Reports conducts surveys through automated dialing, which under Federal Communications Commission rules is permitted for land lines but not cellphones.
So in Mr. Rasmussen’s polls, online interviews account for 15 percent to 20 percent of each survey, which he figures helps him reach the same kinds of voters, especially younger ones, in the “cell only” category. The result he reported the morning of July 25, a few hours after the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was released, was strikingly different: Mr. Romney had 47 percent, and Mr. Obama 44 percent.
So, with around 1/3 of the population without landlines, I bet that there is a skew in the polls. On the other hand, it’s known that older folks — with land lines — are more likely to actually vote in elections. Still, we have to take these polls with a large grain of salt, obviously.
Yesterday, American Express came out and said that it wasn’t associated with Google Wallet. Today, PayPal is slamming the service, saying, essentially, that Google Wallet is a lousy idea.
“In our opinion, this is just another validation of PayPal’s approach,” said Anuj Nayar, senior director, global communications. “We’ve had a cloud-based digital wallet for well over a decade that’s already regularly in use by over 113 million people. The debate about NFC has been raging for over a year now, but we’ve always had a different vision that isn’t tied to any single technology or method of payment. We don’t build products based on hope or hype; we focus on providing the best consumer and merchant experience possible both today and in the future. Payments is very complex and actually running a successful global payments business is very different from announcing one.”
Google seems to be desperately trying to make something work with NFC. It’s a backwards approach — instead of trying to figure out a consumer problem and solve it, Google seems to be taking a technology (NFC) and figure out how to shove it down consumers’ throats. The new Google Wallet product is just stupid.
That doesn’t mean Google is out of it for the long term. It’s ownership of the Android platform is a challenge for any player in the mobile payments space. But Google isn’t in nearly as strong a position as Apple. Apple has always been able to dictate the entire experience on its phones. In the United States, only Sprint has allowed Google Wallet’s NFC implementation onto phones it sells.
I sat down with the president of PayPal on Wednesday to talk about the future of mobile payments. Look for that piece on VentureBeat on Monday.
[Top image credit: Simpsoncrazy.com]
It’s 7 o’clock on a Tuesday night, you are watching your favorite TV sitcom. You are laughing and enjoying yourself… then it cuts to a commercial. There is nothing more annoying than commercials, right? So to pass the three-minute interval, you pick up your smartphone to check your email or play your turn on Words with Friends. Does this sound familiar? Maybe you are more of a Draw Something fan, but more and more TV viewers are becoming what Pew Research calls connected viewers.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project recently conducted a survey to find out just how engaged cell owners are when watching a program on TV. Here’s what they learned: