The career of M. Night Shyamalan in Rotten Tomatoes data, visualized. 

Source: Slate

Wonderful news, if true.


This week’s cover: thirty years on it looks as though AIDS can be beaten, if the world has the will to do so.


This video is bonkers.


Short logic: Groupon IPO: Pass on this deal


Groupon has filed its S-1 and hopes to raise $750M in its initial public offering. Given they’re currently losing a staggering $117M per quarter, despite revenues of $644M, they’ll be burning through that cash almost as soon as it hits their account.

At the moment, it’s costing them $1.43 to…

(via cnnmoneytech)

Source: shortlogic

From my latest Neon Tommy story

The Echo Nest might be one of the few companies to have figured out how to cash in on the music business. Only it has little to do with selling music. Instead, it gives developers the tools to create the next brilliant music discovery app.

Jim Lucchese, Echo Nest’s chief executive, believes on-demand apps are the future of the music industry. They let consumers discover their next favorite band with the push of a button. Apps, he says, “are the new Tower Records or the new college radio DJs.” He wants the two-year old company, which was launched by a couple of MIT PhDs, to be the glue that connects app developers with listeners.

Echo Nest’s application programming interface, or API, compiles enormous amounts of internet data on how people are talking about music and what songs and artists are popping up on the web. It automatically analyzes everything from the beats-per-minute of 17 million tracks, to which artists are trending across hipster music blogs, to which drummer is described as “funky” the most times. It uses that data to make recommendations.

The platform is the “special sauce” that makes new app ideas possible, said Echo Nest operations director Elissa Barrett.

This heralds a new phase in the music industry’s evolution. Consumers are becoming less interested in owning music than in having access to as much of it as possible. Plus, they want to hear bands they’ve never heard. Echo Nest apps help music fans do both.

Echo Nest’s API is like steroids in the hands of developers, allowing them to create apps that they never would have had the power to pull off on their own.

We Are Hunted, an Australia-based development house with about a dozen employees, had already created innovative apps before hooking up with Echo Nest. But after the two companies met, Hunted knew it had found a worthy partner.

Hunted also ranks new music on its own site by analyzing what people are reading and saying online and what people are streaming and downloading by analyzing tens of thousands of blogs and torrent sites and millions of tweets a month. Its slick mainstream iPad app Music Hunter, produced with the Echo Nest platform, stayed in the top five of music apps in almost every country for weeks after it launched in late April.

The app is the Australians’ second attempt to bust into the music app business through the Echo Nest. Its earlier effort, the Pocket Hipster app, features snarky cartoon characters who sneer at users’ music and suggest other bands. “A lot of people didn’t get the joke,” said Stephen Phillips, We Are Hunted’s chief technical officer. “People were clearly offended by a cartoon criticizing their music taste. We got a lot of angry emails from people who thought their music tastes were superior and that these cartoon characters were full of shit.”

They started with Echo Nest in October 2010 and signed a three-app deal, of which Pocket Hipster was the first. Hunted had a large audience and a savvy design team, but they were light on the technical side. Echo Nest had a powerful tech side but no audience. The partnership was natural, said Phillips. The Echo Nest makes money by taking a cut from developers’ sales.

The biggest risk of such sites is that some of them exist in a tricky legal grey area. But, Phillips said, they are all in the same boat of figuring out how to make money in music. “If you’re on the team of trying to solve this problem that everybody’s got, you’re going to be okay.”

A Scattered Industry

Echo Nest creators Brian Whitman and Tristan Jehan met in the PhD program at the MIT Media lab. The Echo Nest has been actively tracking data on the web since 2005 and has amassed acoustic data for over 10 million tracks. Pandora’s Music Genome Project has taken over 10 years to manually curate 1 million tracks.

The company works with 7,000 independent developers, as well as large companies like the BBC, MTV and MOG. So far, the company has produced 160 apps through its platform. The company would not disclose its revenue figures, though it received $7 million in second-round funding orchestrated by Matrix Partners in Oct. 2010.

Accessing licensed music can be a roadblock for developers. The Echo Nest’s partnership with Rdio, announced May 3, 2011, gives independent developers access to fully-licensed content, giving them the tools to create commercially viable apps. Consumers must subscribe to Rdio for the content, however. Other licensing partners include 7digital and Island Def Jam. These deals provide a legal way for apps to access a vast catalog.

The industry is still looking for effective ways to make money from music, and there have been many false starts. Record companies once thought ringtones would be their saviors. “Freemium” models from online music services like Pandora and Spotify are popular, but they’re unproven as money makers. The music industry is looking for something - anything - with traction in this ever-shifting market. 

By chasing app developers, The Echo Nest hooked into a valuable niche, said Eric Garland ofBig Champagne Media, which analyzes online trends. The company has staked territory for which few others compete. “I think they made the fundamentally smart move by becoming a platform for solutions for the market of developers rather than just being focused on interior market strategy,” he said.

They’ve also latched onto a market that may be poised to dominate digital music consumption. U.S. music transactions numbered 1.5 billion in 2009, according to Neilsen. Compare that with the number of times top-charting artists’ music videos have been streamed on YouTube: 25 billion. The 200 most popular official music videos have been streamed almost 11 billion times. Streaming is becoming an essential way for people to consume music. The problem is monetizing it.

“The sector they serve is now responsible for the overwhelming majority of impressions in the online music market,” Garland said.

Though they’ve staked out unique territory, The Echo Nest exists in a fast-moving economic space where a competitor could come out of nowhere.

Also, some predict that the group of startups changing the industry will soon be swallowed by larger corporations entering the market, such as Google, Amazon and Apple, which have made moves toward a cloud-based system of digital content. Smaller companies like Facebook could make such moves, too. Still, the Echo Nest is well-positioned, Garland said.

The digital music industry is fragmented between content providers, recommendation services, license holders, etc. APIs are one possible solution. The question, says Michael Papish, product developer at Rovi Corporation, a company that specializes in APIs for the entertainment industry and sometimes competes with the Echo Nest, becomes “how do you create a single layer where all those things come together for the consumer?”

Papish has seen multitudes of startups rise and fall, largely because of fundamental problems in the music economy. If the industry isn’t making money in the first place, it becomes hard for anyone to succeed in that “ecosystem,” he said. “If Echo Nest succeeds, we all succeed, because someone has turned music into a money-making enterprise.”

Source: http

"Something will eventually replace the Internet. But is that in 10 years, 100, or 500? It’s incredibly hard to imagine. It’s like asking our ancestors on horses to imagine a car."

- Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ comments at D9 (via cnnmoneytech)


(via neontommy)

Source: cnnmoneytech

—By Brian Stelter


I’m going to write this in a stream of consciousness, the same way I experienced Joplin.

It was my first time covering — more accurately, trying to cover — a disaster. The National desk knows I am a weather geek, so I came close to covering the tornadoes in North Carolina in April, and then the tornadoes in Alabama earlier this month. But the timing wasn’t right in either case.

This time, it was. I happened to be awake at 2 a.m. for a 6 a.m. ET flight to Chicago on Monday morning, just 12 hours after the tornado struck in Joplin. While in the air, I wondered if I should volunteer to go there. When I landed, I looked at the departure board and saw that a flight was leaving for Kansas City in 45 minutes. On a whim, I walk-ran to the gate and asked if I could buy a standby ticket. The agent said yes.

Two calls to New York later, I booked the 8 a.m. CT flight. I told the National desk that I’d be in Joplin at noon local time. I had no maps, no instructions, no boots. I had a notebook but no pen.

What I learned: always carry extra pens.

My cell phone was dying, but I reserved a car online before take-off. On the flight, I wrote a blog post about Oprah.

I was in the rental car at 9:45 and on the highway three minutes later. 176 miles to go, fueled by granola bars purchased at Whole Foods the day before. On the way, there was a conference call with the National desk. I was to travel to the ruined hospital and try to interview doctors, patients and other survivors. My worry, of course, was that the survivors would be far away from the hospital.

Monica Davey, a Times correspondent in Chicago, texted me the hospital address. My iPhone, now charging through my laptop, showed the way ahead. But as I approached Joplin, cell service began to degrade dramatically.

I’m aware that what I’m going to say next will probably sound petty, given the scope of the tragedy I was witnessing. But the lack of cell service was an all-consuming problem. Rescue workers and survivors struggled with it just as I did.

What I learned: It’s easy to scoff at the suggestion that satisfactory cell service is a matter of national security and necessity. But I won’t scoff anymore. If I were planning a newsroom’s response to emergencies, I would buy those backpacks that have six or eight wireless cards in them, all connected to different cell tower operators, thereby upping the chances of finding a signal at any given time.

This is my first time coming upon a natural disaster as a reporter. I suppose my instinct should be “first, do no harm.”

Entering Joplin, I drove along 32nd Street, the south side of the devastated neighborhood, getting my bearings, wondering if it was safe to drive over power lines, looking for a place to leave my car. I parked a block from the south side of the hospital and approached on foot, taking as many pictures as possible, knowing I’d need them later to remember what I was seeing.

I tried to talk to a couple of nurses. They said they were not allowed to.

I started trying to upload pictures to Instagram. It sometimes took what seemed like ten minutes of refreshing to upload just one picture.

A view of the north side of the hospital in Joplin.

What I learned: In areas with spotty service, Instagram and Twitter apps need to be able to auto-upload until the picture or tweets gets out. (I’m sure there’s a technical term for this.)

I walked to 26th Street, north of the hospital, where the satellite trucks had piled up, and found The Weather Channel crew that had arrived in Joplin just after the storm. After interviewing the crew, we watched the search of a flattened house. That’s when I was able to see the extent of the damage to the neighborhood for the first time.

I’m speechless.

Part of me thought, “This is a television story more than a print story.” It was an appeal to the heart more than the brain.

I started trying to tweet everything I saw — the search of the rubble pile, the sounds coming from the hospital, the dazed look on peoples’ faces.

Read More

Source: thedeadline

Once again, The West Wing was right about everything. Thanks to Donald Marron for reminding me of the scene in which the characters discuss the debt ceiling and why it’s always a crisis.