Who Says the Internet Isn’t Making Life Better?

A standard trope these days is that we in the middle class have been slogging through a couple of decades of woe. Wages are stagnant. Our standard of living isn’t improving. The grand forces of our time—the Internet and globalization—are failing to better our lives, and may be making things worse. The numbers prove it. But here’s the problem: the traditional numbers used by the government and economists measure the wrong stuff for the twenty-first century.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech Opinion

Alibaba Dips Toe in Developing Markets

Finally there are some interesting news bits on e-commerce leader Alibaba that don’t involve its highly anticipated IPO, including a push into developing markets and a new tie-up with global payments giant MasterCard. Of the two bits, the former is more intriguing because it represents a major move for the company outside the Chinese-speaking world for its highly successful consumer-oriented e-commerce services. The latter tie-up is interesting because it involves a big name like MasterCard, even though actual details are scarce and probably won’t get worked out until some point in the future.   More

Cities Opinion

Shanghai Street View: Garbage Disposal

What started as local news of hundreds of dead pigs found floating in Shanghai's Huangpu River has suddenly morphed into a major story, captivating global audiences with its graphic images and air of mystery about where the corpses came from. The news has now traveled to much of the world, including the U.S. city of Denver, prompting even my brother to take notice and send me an email warning not to drink the Shanghai tap water.   More

Jobs Opinion

The Real Key to Innovation: A Great Place to Work

In the echo chamber of discussion since Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ordered her employees to end telecommuting and move back into the office, there’s been a general consensus that telecommuting may make employees happier, but it’s not always good for the company or—especially—innovation at a company.   More

Business Opinion

Alibaba Dresses Up With New CEO

The Internet world is buzzing this week with word that Alibaba founder Jack Ma will hand over his CEO title to another company executive, ushering in a new generation of leadership for China's leading e-commerce firm. But this change looks largely superficial to me, and is most likely designed to please investors as the company gets set for its multibillion-dollar IPO that could happen later this year. Instead of chief executive officer, the title of chief administrative officer would probably be more appropriate for the role that Alibaba's incoming number-two man Jonathan Lu will play.   More

Jobs Opinion

How Technology Has Failed Remote Workers

A 94-second Walter Cronkite video from 1967 has been making its way around Facebook and Twitter. Cronkite stands by a desk bristling with a half-dozen computer-ish devices and talks about the “home office of the twenty-first century.” We’ll be connected by video. It will almost match being in the office. “We may not have to go to work—work will come to us,” the newsman tells us. Well—here we are, still waiting. The home office experience doesn’t replicate the actual office experience. Like flying cars and refrigerators that order more milk on their own, the technology has so far failed to meet the vision.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech Opinion

Regulation Could Mean E-Commerce Slowdown in China

China's unruly e-commerce sector could be set for some big changes in the year ahead, with executives from both inside and outside the industry calling for moves to bring order to an unruly space that has been plagued by cutthroat competition. Perhaps most significantly, a top executive from the traditional retailing sector is calling for e-commerce firms to pay more taxes, a move that could make online purchasing more expensive and less attractive to cost-conscious consumers. Other executives are calling for tighter regulation of the sector, which has evolved into a free-for-all due too much investment and lack of government oversight.   More


Working at Home: Mayer May Be Right

Does proximity matter for innovation? Marissa Mayer thinks it does, and has been getting chastised for it. The Yahoo CEO recently ordered her fellow Yahooligans to stop working from home and come into the office. She believes that proximity creates a better atmosphere for innovation. Yahoo’s human resources chief Jackie Reses explained in a memo: “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.” But that’s not where we’re supposed to be heading in the age of the Internet.   More

Learning Opinion

MOOC Mania and the 99%

Are these new Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) the silver bullet to improving higher-education? They certainly are getting plenty of hype. I can understand the fascination with MOOCs, as they are a romantic idea: millions of people in India learning calculus in their pajamas. But while MOOCs are a positive innovation, they are not the solution to making education more affordable or improving learning outcomes.   More