Kodak’s First Digital Moment

James Estrin:

Imagine a world where photography is a slow process that is impossible to master without years of study or apprenticeship. A world without iPhones or Instagram, where one company reigned supreme. Such a world existed in 1973, when Steven Sasson, a young engineer, went to work for Eastman Kodak.

Two years later he invented digital photography and made the first digital camera.

Much more on the iPhone photography revolution, here.

Steve Crandall’s homebrew digital camera tale.

Inside an Instagram Bot Farm


People want Instagram followers so much, they don’t care if they’re bots—because when it comes to social media, appearances are reality. The businessmen who are happy to oblige those desperate for fake followers are rolling in the monies but at the same time, they’re locked in a weird arms race of algorithms—one where the bot farmers and social media platforms are constantly trying to outsmart the other.
 The biggest battle right now is over Instagram, and one group of bot farmers is winning.

Who Runs the Fed? (Financialization)

Timothy Canova

Why help Wall Street creditors and not Main Street debtors? Why purchase trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities from banks, but not help the actual homeowners who are upside down on their mortgages? With the QE approach, central banks are picking winners and losers in the marketplace, which should raise concerns about both their social neutrality and their political independence. In criticizing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, Senator Elizabeth Warren has noted that a rigged process inevitably leads to rigged outcomes. It is much the same with the Federal Reserve, which is captured by big banking interests and rigged by design. Not surprisingly, the Fed also fosters rigged outcomes.
 Although the Federal Reserve claims that its allocation decisions are disinterested, a review of its governance structure may suggest otherwise. The public face of the Fed is the chairman of its Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. For nearly two decades that was Alan Greenspan, who came to the Fed through the “revolving door” from Wall Street, where he had been a director at JPMorgan. Ben Bernanke, formerly the chief economics advisor in the Bush White House, was Fed chairman from 2006–2014, during the peak of the financial crisis, and was also the architect of the Fed’s massive lending and asset purchase programs. Janet Yellen, who became Fed chair in 2014, was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco during the bubble and embraced Bernanke’s QE strategies since first becoming the Fed’s vice chair in 2010. In addition to the Fed chairman and Board of Governors, the Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (the NY Fed) make many of the key decisions that have helped Wall Street. This is not at all surprising since the FOMC consists of the seven-member Board of Governors along with the presidents of the twelve privately owned regional Federal Reserve banks. The regional Feds are governed by private boards of directors that are dominated both formally and in practice by the private commercial banks that own the shares in these banks. The Fed’s governance structure, like all “independent” central banks, is not all that independent of private financial interests. Rather, these central banks are captured agencies. The fox is running the henhouse.

What if you could replace performance evaluations with four simple questions?

Jena MacGregor:

Everyone loves to hate performance evaluations, and with good reason: Research has shown them to be ineffective, unreliable and unsatisfactory for seemingly everyone involved. They consume way too much time, leave most workers deflated and feel increasingly out of step with reality. A once-a-year, backwards-looking conversation with the boss hardly fits our forward-looking, instantly updated world. Yet despite all that frustration, many companies do little to change them, thinking there are few alternatives.
 That hasn’t been the case at Deloitte. The new issue of the Harvard Business Review, released Tuesday, unveils a detailed look at the professional services firm’s total redesign of its performance management program. It’s an overhaul the company first started rolling out nine months ago.

Is the Banking Industry Living on Borrowed Time?

Jim Marous:

Based on this research, carried out for a new book called Bye Bye Banks?, written by James Haycock, and co-authored by technology reporter Shane Richmond, despite the fact that banks are spending billions of dollars on digital transformation and innovation activities, changing the entrenched culture within these organizations is very difficult. The extensive qualitative and quantitative research for the book stems from discussions with 110 senior managers, directors, C-Level executives, CEOs and Presidents within the retail banking sector.
 “The financial services playing field has been changed irreversibly in recent years by a new generation of companies and leaders who have torn the rulebook to pieces, adopting new technology, introducing new working practices, and serving customers whose lives are increasingly orientated around their mobile phones”, says the research. Thanks to the expansiveness of the web and the accessibility of the smartphone, digital disruption is happening all around us, breaking dominant business models in retail, entertainment, travel and telecommunications.