The End of Asymmetric Information

By Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen:

Might the age of asymmetric information – for better or worse – be over? Market institutions are rapidly evolving to a situation where very often the buyer and the seller have roughly equal knowledge. Technological developments are giving everyone who wants it access to the very best information when it comes to product quality, worker performance, matches to friends and partners, and the nature of financial transactions, among many other areas.
 
 These developments will have implications for how markets work, how much consumers benefit, and also economic policy and the law. As we will see, there may be some problematic sides to these new arrangements, specifically when it comes to privacy. Still, a large amount of economic regulation seems directed at a set of problems which, in large part, no longer exist.

“Weaponization of information”

The Economist:

Countries in the front line of Moscow’s “weaponisation of information”, in the words of Peter Pomerantsev and Michael Weiss, two analysts, have long sought to draw attention to the problem. The European Union is at last listening. Heads of government, meeting in Brussels as we went to press, were expected to ask Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, to produce a plan to counter Russia’s “disinformation campaigns” by June. Before that the EU will launch a task force (working name: Mythbusters) charged with monitoring Russian media, identifying patent falsehoods and issuing corrections.

PageRank Approach to Ranking National Football League Teams

Verica Lazova & Lasko Basnarkov:

The Football World Cup as world’s favorite sporting event is a source of both entertainment and overwhelming amount of data about the games played. In this paper we analyse the available data on football world championships since 1930 until today. Our goal is to rank the national teams based on all matches during the championships. For this purpose, we apply the PageRank with restarts algorithm to a graph built from the games played during the tournaments. Several statistics such as matches won and goals scored are combined in different metrics that assign weights to the links in the graph. Finally, our results indicate that the Random walk approach with the use of right metrics can indeed produce relevant rankings comparable to the FIFA official all-time ranking board.

How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation

American Press Institute:

Much of the concern has come from data that suggest adults age 18-34 — so-called Millennials — do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch television news, or seek out news in great numbers. This generation, instead, spends more time on social networks, often on mobile devices. The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.
 
 A new comprehensive study that looks closely at how people learn about the world on these different devices and platforms finds that this newest generation of American adults is anything but “newsless,” passive, or civically uninterested.

A day in the war between the city and its mountains.

Justin Nobel:

The San Gabriel Mountains are waging war on Los Angeles and Ed Heinlein’s chainsaw is screaming in the late afternoon sun. It’s January 2015 and Heinlein, who has a friendly paunch and paws sheathed in mud-stained work gloves, is carving up avocado trees. They were drowned the previous year when a series of mud freight trains roared out of the hills above his house. “Welcome to mud central,” says Heinlein, “The assistant fire chief tells me it’s the most dangerous property in L.A.”
 
 Heinlein is a retired elementary school teacher, current Christian minister, and has a preacher’s tendency to speak in terms of fire and brimstone. He lives in Azusa, a scenic nook in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, which rise 10,000 feet above the city of Los Angeles. Aware that the mountain range’s mud war is far from over, Heinlein has spent more than $100,000 to protect his property behind a trio of steel and concrete walls. Immediately surrounding his home is a final barrier, consisting of about 400 sandbags, 60 sheets of plywood and heavy plastic sheeting. It is a mighty fortification, so complete that Heinlein and his family cannot even exit their backdoor.

“This isn’t a supply chain, it is a ritual Apple is performing to bring themselves up to the standards necessary to compete against companies with centuries of experience.”

Atomic Delights:

Jonny Ive often speaks of care. It is an odd word to use as it doesn’t imply the traditional notion of “craftsmanship” in the classic, handmade sense. Nor does it imply quality or precision in the way a Japanese car manufacturer or German machine tool maker would. “Care” implies a respect for the raw materials and end result, with little concern about what it takes to link those two ends of the production chain together, and we see that highlighted with the Watch. Apple could very easily have forgone forging to create stainless steel cases, just like everyone else. Hardening gold alloy with cold working could have been eliminated, putting them on par with the rest of the industry. Nobody will see or feel the inside pocket for the microphone on the Sport, yet it has been laser finished to perfection.
 
 I see these videos and I see a process that could only have been created by a team looking to execute on a level far beyond what was necessary or what will be noticed. This isn’t a supply chain, it is a ritual Apple is performing to bring themselves up to the standards necessary to compete against companies with centuries of experience.

In Defense of the Midwest

Nicolas Tietz:

As an undergraduate, I always imagined that I would someday move to the SF Bay Area to live in the heart of the software industry. With this in mind, in my final semester at Kent State, I joined a Silicon Valley startup as their third engineer1. The staff at that time was split: one founder and one engineer were in Mountain View, CA; one founder and one engineer were in Ohio; and one engineer was remote. Nearly every month in the first year, I flew out to the Silicon Valley office to work with the engineers out there.
 
 Since then, we have grown to have a technical staff of about 20 people. We are split pretty evenly between the Silicon Valley office and the Ohio office. I spend most of my time in the Ohio office, but I do commute to the Silicon Valley one occasionally.
 
 Nearly every time I go out to California, my coworkers ask me the usual question: “so, when are you moving to California?” It seems like for people in the Valley, moving to California is such an obvious choice that it isn’t even a question of if I’ll move, but when. However, I truly love the Midwest and that I want to stay here for as long as I can. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me and maybe it is for you.

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders

William Dalrymple:

One of the very first Indian words to enter the English language was the Hindustani slang for plunder: “loot”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was rarely heard outside the plains of north India until the late 18th century, when it suddenly became a common term across Britain. To understand how and why it took root and flourished in so distant a landscape, one need only visit Powis Castle.
 
 The last hereditary Welsh prince, Owain Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn, built Powis castle as a craggy fort in the 13th century; the estate was his reward for abandoning Wales to the rule of the English monarchy. But its most spectacular treasures date from a much later period of English conquest and appropriation: Powis is simply awash with loot from India, room after room of imperial plunder, extracted by the East India Company in the 18th century.