Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “technology impact”

This is what creative destruction looks like: disruption in the taxi, TV, and retail industries.

If you wish to become obsolete or gain hands-on experience with bankruptcy laws, the above strategy will work well. Cartoon is provided courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Companies and industries that can’t keep up with changes in technology or demographics or the internet are getting hit hard.

A few more hits to the old way of doing things:

  • collapsing price for taxi medallions
  • tricks to hide low TV audiences; gaming the ratings
  • more closures of Sears stores
  • Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy protection

The wide use of Uber and Lyft has affected the taxi industry. As one measure of the technological disruption, consider the price of a taxi medallion in New York. One cannot operate a taxi there without a medallion.

There is apparently a thriving business, or at least there used to be a thriving business, in buying a medallion and then renting it out to someone who wanted to drive a taxi.

The market for medallions has collapsed. Consider the following graph by Mark Perry, described in a tweet on 7/6/17.

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This is what the destructive part of creative destruction looks like. Creativity producing amazing new stuff is the upside.

Creativity” by Sean MacEntee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Amazing new services and products arising from the technology revolution are a delight every day. We are all benefiting from astounding stuff. Tons of entertainment options on the ‘net. Astounding capabilities for our smartphones.

The downside is companies that can’t keep up are getting swept away. The people and space involved in old stuff can be reused in new services. That is creative destruction.

5/31/17 – Fortune – RadioShack’s Tweets Offer a Bleak Look Into the Retailer’s Demise – Over Memorial Day weekend, RadioShack had a liquidation sale at over 1,000 of its retail stores. After closing those locations, there will only by 70 corporate owned stores and 500 dealer owned stores left.

Sales dropped from a peak of $6.3B in 1996 to only $3.5B last year, due to the company not being able to counter the shift to on-line sales.

Consider the missed opportunities, from a comment by Stephen Green at Instapundit:

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Two industries wiped out by creative destruction, two more in process of shrinking, and two nominations for next industries to get disrupted.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

There is a lot of massive disruption from the technology revolution. That is going to continue. What are the threats in your industry and what opportunities might open up?

Consider the turmoil in these industries:

  • Lots of people are cutting their cable connection.
  • Phone lines too – over half of US homes don’t have a landline.
  • Creative destruction: Video rental stores and chain bookstores as illustrations of how fast entire industries can be taken out.
  • Nomination for next industry ready for disruption: Malls? Local real estate agents?

Two shirking industries

5/3/17 – Fast Company – Cord-cutting spikes fivefold in cable TV’s worst quarter ever – Tally of people who cut their cable connection increased by a factor of five in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 2016.

An accelerating number of folks are dumping cable and getting all their entertainment directly from the net. Seems like a person could get whatever entertainment desired from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, specialized sports services, and dedicated on-line channels.

5/4/17 – Live Science – Hanging Up on Landlines: Most US Homes Are Now Cellphone-Only – Survey by CDC during last half of 2016 shows that 50.8% of US households do not have a landline. Those homes use cellphones only.

That is an increase of 2.8% from the previous year. Over half of houses now are without a landline.

Look at the cellphone-only percentages by various demographics:

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More on the downside of technology innovation

Sometimes technology can be a bit scary. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Just like technology is constantly being used in ever more exciting ways, technology is also being used in ever more scary ways. A few articles illustrating the downside:

  • Hotel hacked by ransomware, locking guests in rooms
  • Police surveillance cameras hacked with ransomware
  • Software to help plagiarists evade plagiarism detection software
  • Cloning voice patterns to create voice recordings
  • Insurance companies using social media for background checks

1/28 – The Local, in Austria – Hotel ransomed by hackers as guests locked in rooms – A 4-star hotel got hit hard by cyber crooks, who locked the key-based door system. Every door in the place was locked Guests could neither get into a room or leave.

Hotel paid a ransom in bitcoins  of 1,500 Euros, or about US$1,608.

This was the third hit at the hotel. They successfully defended against a fourth attack.

Oh, the hotel has a plan to prevent future attacks…

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Scratching my head at the geopolitical impact of fracking

That little ol’ thing, along with 500 similar contraptions, is changing the world of oil production. Photo by James Ulvog.

Looks like we are in the midst of radical change in regional and world politics caused by the technological revolution in oil and gas production. I keep trying to wrap my little brain around what is going on. Here are a few articles that may stretch your brain too.

  • Brain stretcher on the shift in geopolitics due to increased US oil production
  • Speculation why the Saudi government’s plan to re-engineer their country’s economy isn’t going to work
  • Three articles on the rapidly increased US shale production undercutting the OPEC production cut

3/12/17 – PJ Media – The Problem of Success – Article raises the unsettling idea that nobody has figured out the impact of dramatically increased production in the US.

Neither the previous US administration, the current US administration, leadership in Saudi Arabia, leadership elsewhere in the Middle East, nor even pundits for that matter, have figured out how geopolitics will change as Saudi Arabia loses its role as dominant oil producer and the decentralized American drillers gain the swing producer role.

It stretches my brain even to understand there is an issue.

American frackers used the dramatic run up in oil prices to $100 as an opportunity to figure out how to frack oil where it could never have been touched before. They then used the collapse in prices as an opportunity to figure out how to frack far more efficiently, far more effectively, with far higher production output from every well. As a result, the break-even price for U.S. shale has shrunk.

The vast network of independent producers are responding to price changes far faster than OPEC could handle or the majors could ever dream of. Prices go up somewhat and in about three months US production is surging.

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Are you richer today than John D. Rockefeller was in 1916? The answer is, um, yes.

Would you trade your place in life today for life occupying the Gould-Guggenheim mansion when it was completed in 1912? Even if a billion dollars was tossed into the trade? Photo by Adobe Stock.

Would you trade your place in life today for life occupying the Gould-Guggenheim mansion when it was completed in 1912? Even if a billion dollars was tossed into the deal? I would not make the trade.  Photo by Adobe Stock.

I suggest you are in fact richer today than John Rockefeller was 100 years ago. If it were possible for Prof. Don Boudreaux to switch places with John Rockefeller’s life and even if he could have a billion dollars after he arrived back in 1916, he would not make the switch. He would rather live as a comfortable professor today than be a billionaire 100 years ago.

I agree.

Here are three posts to explain this strange idea: first, what life was like 100 years ago, why Prof Boudreaux would not make the switch, and then why Coyote Blog wouldn’t either.

(Cross-post from Attestation Update. This post supports my conversation on ancient finances at that blog and also fits the discussion of how much life has improved over the last 200 years here.)

An article in The Atlantic on 2/11/16 describes America in 1915: Long Hours, Crowded Houses, Death by Trolley. The article is drawn from a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: The life of American workers in 1915If you enjoy this brief discussion, I heartily recommend you read the full BLS report. It is a fun read, but then, I am an accountant.

I will update a few of the stats in the Atlantic article where the author took a shortcut. When I browsed through the BLS report, I noticed some sentences which were repeated nearly verbatim in the article, which is okay since the report is a public document.

A few highlights:

Workers in factories averaged 55 hours a week. The fatality rate across the economy was 61 deaths per 100,000 compared to about 3.3 per 100,000 today.

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More illustrations of disruption from technology

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

While tech innovations have opened up new frontiers, innovation is disrupting some fields. Here are a few articles making this point that I’ve accumulated recently:  newspaper circulation continues to collapse, higher ed is increasingly vulnerable to disruptions, and accreditation agencies (which illustrate regulatory capture) show why disruption is needed.

1/20 – Richard Tofel at Medium – The sky is falling on print newspapers faster than you think – Author pulled together circulation numbers from March 2013 and September 2015 for the 25 largest newspapers in the country.

Guess what? Circulation is collapsing.

Here are just a few of the numbers he accumulated: Read more…

With all the radical technology changes over the last few decades, have the essentials remained the same?

Unless you have gunpowder and a delivery system for it, I suggest you not mess with this guy and his buddies. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Unless you have lots of gunpowder or thousands of buddies , I suggest you not mess with this guy and his 6,000 buddies. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

My friend John Bredehoft provides a different perspective on technology change. On 1/22 at his blog tymshft, he asked Do the essentials change?

He discusses a podcast comparing life today to about 35 years ago. For perspective, that puts us in 1981, or the range of the first year of the Reagan administration.

One of many points I draw from the discussion is related to Jon’s last comment:

But the speed of the processing chip in my smartphone is relatively meaningless.

Phrased differently, the smart phone in your hand may have an operating speed that is thousands or millions of times faster than 30 years ago but that increase doesn’t have an impact on your life in proportion to the increase in speed. Increased operating speed in the last decade probably hasn’t affected your life much at all.

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Why I am so optimistic – 3

The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The future is so bright we need sunglasses. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The number of people working in manufacturing has been declining for many years. Those job losses will continue at the same time as technology disrupts other industries causing the loss of more jobs.

This is not a new concept. Technological advances have devastated farm employment over the last 150 years.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Nonprofit Update.)

Prof. Thomas Tunstall pondered Where the New Jobs Will Come From. Sub headline on his 11/4/15 article said:

In 2007 iPhone application developers didn’t exist. By 2011 Apple had $15 billion in mobile-app revenues.

Consider the percentage of the population employed in agriculture over time: Read more…

Time to cross the Atlantic – 500 year history

Replica of a state-of-the-art warship in the 1800s. That is how you could get across the ocean quickly back then. Photo of San Diego Maritime Museum by James Ulvog.

Replica of a state-of-the-art warship in the 1800s. For a couple hundred years, this is the technology you would use to get across the ocean. Photo from San Diego Maritime Museum by James Ulvog.

For a thumbnail overview of the radical reduction in time it takes to travel long distances over the last 500 years, look at the time to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to America, provided by Robert Bryce in his book Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper: How Innovation Keeps Proving the Catastrophists Wrong.

He points out at location 1582 of the Kindle edition: Read more…

Update on the astoundingly wide open and possibly lucrative frontier of publishing. Want to write a book? Anyone can.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

One of the most amazing open frontiers today is the ability of anyone to publish a book and get it on the market. If you have ever wanted to write a book and see in print, you can do so easily and oh so inexpensively. The wide open doors to opportunity are right in front of you.

Lots and lots of people are publishing. No longer are huge New York publishers an insurmountable barrier for unknown writers.

9/15 – The Arts Mechanical – How To Win the Battle and Lose the War – Huge battle last year was between Amazon and Hachette. Amazon wanted to deliver books at prices customers were willing to pay. Hachette wanted to price e-books far higher, near the same level as print.

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The dark side of life…wage theft…nuclear proliferation

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Yet one more illustration of why regulatory agencies need to be fully staffed – employers who rip off their employees…

A person who owns 15 hotels in North Dakota agreed to settle a federal lawsuit claiming he cheated at least 192 employees out of overtime pay and didn’t pay some of them a minimum wage. He apparently is not hurting for money since he paid up $122,871 in back wages and $61,436 in penalties a mere four days after the judgment was issued.

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Thoughts on jumping into cloud computing

Bruce Schneier has a series of articles that ponder the risks and rewards of jumping into cloud computing. That is the concept of storing your data and computing power with an on-line service provider.

(This discussion is cross-posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update, because understanding cloud issues is a major part of keeping up with the massive change around us.)

Some things to consider:

6/10 – Schneier on Security – Should Companies Do Most of Their Computing in the Cloud? (Part 1) – The answer is complicated. The efficiencies and cost savings are real and a major advantage.

On the other hand, there may be legal issues, such as your government creates far higher privacy standards than the country where your data will be stored or another country places severe restrictions on data you store there. Read more…

Downside of cool modern tech: Massive breach of federal personnel systems

The public now knows of two rounds of massive breaches at the federal agency that handles all personnel records. First round looks like it was essentially the basic personnel file of all current and many former federal employees.

Second round is the long forms used to process security clearances. Looks like it was military and spy agency records. Great. Those files list all relatives, making them vulnerable to coercion. Provides lots of ideas on how to turn or compromise employees.

 

Hackers meandered around the systems for a year.

If you want to build a deep profile of military, diplomatic, and spy agency staff for use over the next several decades, this would be a fantastic starting point. Will take a while to process all the files and synthesize with social media and published news reports, but those countries who wish us harm will have a superb database to track and compromise federal employees.

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More good stuff on the open frontier of technology – 3/26

Some fun articles on how pastries are made, a new way of looking at the phrase “Kodak moment”, and there are more challenges to the commercial use of drones than just the new regulations.

How Hostess makes Twinkies and Cupcakes:

3/17 – How’s this for a major change in the way your advertising tag line is interpreted? My friend John Bredehoft sent the following tweet:

kodak tweet

From Read more…

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