Lifting the curtain on digital advertising

When you go to a website and load a page, in the milliseconds that it takes for that page to load, there are real-time auctions running in the background that determine which ads to load on your page. Almost all online ads are delivered in this way, where highly complex auction markets make their money by competing on who can better track users and invade their privacy more thoroughly.

American Prospect, full text here

Screen Size: The new generational divide

Always interesting perspective from George Mason economist Tyler Cowen:

In a nutshell, younger people today are very comfortable with a small screen and older people are not. Both younger and older people can be found staring at their phones for texts or email or directions, but the big difference comes in cultural consumption. According to one study, the median age of an American television viewer is about 56, whereas for mobile and computer video viewers the median age is 40. Forty percent of those viewers are between 13 and 34.

Full Bloomberg text here Three years inside Google

To all the world it looked as if Google—one of the most powerful, pro-immigrant, and ostensibly progressive corporations in the United States—was taking a unified stand. But that appearance of unanimity masked a welter of executive-level indecision and anxiety. It probably would have been more apt if Pichai had said that, over the previous 48 hours, he had been backed into a corner by thousands of his employees.

full article here

Elites hand-wring about the internet

person holding sand

Photo by Eugenio Felix on

Highly interesting notes from a conference attended by elites who worry about their loss of control over society. From a newly discovered (by me) blog: the fifth wave

Sometime this year, I found myself at a conference centered around the theme of “regaining trust.”  For obvious reasons, I won’t name names, but it was a professional gathering of the old regime:  the industrial elites.  In their hundreds if not thousands, I was swarmed by people of good will who were also smart, articulate, and hyper-educated.  They craved, sincerely, to help the disadvantaged and save the earth.  The words “science” and “reason” were perpetually on their lips, as if they held the copyright for these terms – which, in a sense, they did.  And if they were a bit defensive, a tad obtuse, their intentions were the purest I could imagine.

Learn like an athlete

Ask LeBron about his off-season training regimen, and he’ll share a detailed run-down of his workout plan and on-the-court practice routine. When he entered the NBA, LeBron wasn’t a strong shooter. I’d bet the house that early in his career, LeBron built his off-season training regimen around his weak jump shot and disappointing 42% field goal percentage during his rookie season. As his Instagram posts reveal, LeBron worked for his strength, agility, impeccable history of injury avoidance, and an outstanding 54% field goal percentage during his 14th NBA season.

From David Perell who explores how knowledge workers should train themselves to learn like athletes train to improve their physicality.

Having a responsible, productive relationship with technologies- Digital Minimalism- Cal Newport’s new book

Cal Newport’s new book, Digital Minimalism: Choose a Focused Life in a Noisy World, builds on his previous work of offering arguments as to why we should moderate our use of technologies. Newport, a computer scientist at Georgetown University, stitches together the ways that we open ourselves to constant distractions. And as a result, we are ill-suited to perform well in our lives. The ability to focus and do “deep work” is the more valuable today than IQ, according to Newport.

Learn more about the book and Cal at his website here.

And listen to is interview on WBUR here.