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Your name can keep you on top of society for 28 generations

Thomas Piketty got a lot of attention, both good and bad, for his latest book. If you’ve never read it (admittedly, I have not either), the central idea is that, in capitalist economies, wealth will naturally concentrate in the hands of a few people because the return on capital investments typically exceeds standard economic growth. Because visuals are always good, here’s one of the many charts he uses in making his point: Read more

For businesses, the value of social media is hard to prove

Personally, I understand the value of social media — even if 80 percent of people using it are “me-formers” — because it connects family and friends in a new way. It’s always remarkable to me when I can know exactly where someone is (at church!) or what they’re doing (baking!) because of an instant photo share. That basically wasn’t possible even 10 years ago.

For businesses, though, it’s a different picture. Read more

Stop using Facebook as a marketing strategy

You may have seen some of these new data sets about Facebook and usage. Basically, Forrester went out and told people that it was a bad marketing strategy. (Concur.) Organic reach has been dying forever, and large-brand Facebook posts are only reaching 2 percent of their fans – as well as getting terrible interaction numbers (0.07% engagement). Fast Company is going out and saying that brands might be “wasting their time” on Facebook. (Interestingly, the best day to get engagement is Fridays, probably because everyone is slacking off at work.)

Forrester goes out and says to stop making Facebook a major part of your marketing strategy, and I agree. Here’s why.

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As millennials move to cities and have kids, will soccer become popular in the U.S.?

Follow the bouncing ball here: Read more

David Lobell and what we’re eating in 20 years

It’s pretty fashionable to rail against the current food production system in the world, but it turns out there are agricultural data scientists out there — guys that work with Google on data sets and get Genius Grants and teach at Stanford — who believe the current structure is just fine, thank you very much:

Lobell, 36, says his students get upset upon learning their teacher supports the current food production system. Lobell explains that things like farmers markets, organic foods and buying local have little-to-no impact on whether someone in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to eat 20 years from now.

“The students are very interested in the topic and they’ve got very critical thinking, but when I give talks to general audiences the questions are sometimes from people with agendas, such as, ‘Aren’t you perpetuating the current system?’ and ‘Shouldn’t we all be farmers?’”

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I wrote Mike Nichols a letter once. He wrote back. Kinda cool, no?

Mike Nichols passed away today, as you’ve probably heard. I don’t have a lot to contribute to this discourse because I’m not exactly a film buff or even a very good viewer of films — I saw most of the Twilight movies by myself on their opening weekend, for example — but I do have a cool story about him.

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Being happy: shift away from money, towards time

Research on happiness is always somewhat interesting to me. After all, that’s pretty much the basic human emotion we’re all seeking, right? People are always trying to be happy. There are entire industries that spring up around trying to make people happy. We know that only about 1 in 10 Americans can balance “being busy” and “being happy,” and now we may have a little bit more context on those findings.

Thing is, happiness changes a lot over time — as you age — and most people go looking for it in the wrong place.  Read more

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