The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms | Autor, Dorn, Katz, Patterson, Van Reenen

David Autor (MIT) David Dorn (Zurich) Lawrence F. Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), John Van Reenen (MIT); The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms; In Some Venue Surely, <sour>or maybe this is one of those half-decade duration “working papers” that the social scientists meditate upon before reporting out a “completed work” long after the effect has dematerialized <advice>give it a DOI number and be done with it, everyone else has already used or ignored the implications for policymakers concepts in the remediatory nostrums</advice></sour>; 2017-05-01; 74 pages.

tl;dr →The rise of superstar firms and decline in the labor share also appears to be related to changes in the boundaries of large dominant employers with such firms increasingly using domestic outsourcing to contracting firms, temporary help agencies, and independent contractors and freelancers for a wider range of activities previously done in-house, including janitorial work, food services, logistics, and clerical work.</quote>


Proven (shown with the evidence available at the time).

  1. industry sales will increasingly concentrate in a small number of firms.
  2. industries where [industry sales] concentration rises most will have the largest declines in the [unweighted mean] labor share.
  3. the fall decline in the [unweighted mean] labor share will be driven largely by caused by between-firm reallocation
    the fall decline in the labor share will be independent of (primarily) a fall decline in the unweighted mean labor share within firms.
  4. the between-firm reallocation component of the fall decrease in the [unweighted mean] labor share will be greatest in the sectors with the greatest increases in market [industry sales] concentration.
  5. the effect is pervasive, always and everywhere <quote>such patterns will be observed not only in U.S. firms, but also internationally<quote>.


The fall of labor’s share of GDP in the United States and many other countries in recent decades is well documented but its causes remain uncertain. Existing empirical assessments of trends in labor’s share typically have relied on industry or macro data, obscuring heterogeneity among firms. In this paper, we analyze micro panel data from the U.S. Economic Census since 1982 and international sources and document empirical patterns to assess a new interpretation of the fall in the labor share based on the rise of “superstar firms.” If globalization or technological changes advantage the most productive firms in each industry, product market concentration will rise as industries become increasingly dominated by superstar firms with high profits and a low share of labor in firm value-added and sales. As the importance of superstar firms increases, the aggregate labor share will tend to fall. Our hypothesis offers several testable predictions: industry sales will increasingly concentrate in a small number of firms; industries where concentration rises most will have the largest declines in the labor share; the fall in the labor share will be driven largely by between-firm reallocation rather than (primarily) a fall in the unweighted mean labor share within firms; the between-firm reallocation component of the fall in the labor share will be greatest in the sectors with the largest increases in market concentration; and finally, such patterns will be observed not only in U.S. firms, but also internationally. We find support for all of these predictions.


In this paper we have considered a new “superstar firm” explanation for the widely remarked fall in the labor share of GDP. We hypothesize that markets have changed such that firms with superior quality, lower costs, or greater innovation reap disproportionate rewards relative to prior eras. Since these superstar firms have higher profit levels, they also tend to have a lower share of labor in sales and value-added. As superstar firms gain market share across a wide range of sectors, the aggregate share of labor falls. Our model, combined with technological or institutional changes advantaging the most productive firms in many industries, yields predictions that are supported by Census micro-data across the bulk of the U.S. private sector. First, sales concentration levels rise across large swathes of industries. Second, those industries where concentration rises the most have the sharpest falls in the labor share. Third, the fall in the labor share has an important reallocation component between firms—the unweighted mean of labor share has not fallen much. Fourth, this between-firm reallocation of the labor share is greatest in the sectors that are concentrating the most. Fifth, these broad patterns are observed not only in U.S. data, but also internationally in European OECD countries. Notably, the growth of concentration is disproportionately apparent in industries experiencing faster technical change as measured by the growth of patent-intensity or total factor productivity, suggesting that technological dynamism, rather than simply anti-competitive forces, is an important driver of this trend.

The work in this paper is of course descriptive and suggestive rather than the final word in this area. Future work needs to understand more precisely the shocks that lead to the emergence of superstar firms. We have presented our model as one where productivity (or quality) differences between firms are magnified when the competitive environment changes, turning leading firms into dominating superstars. One source for the change in the environment could be technological: high tech sectors and parts of retail and transportation as well have an increasingly “winner takes all” aspect. But an alternative story is that leading firms are now able to lobby better and create barriers to entry, making it more difficult for smaller firms to grow or for new firms to enter. In its pure form, this “rigged economy” view seems unlikely as a complete explanation. The industries where concentration has grown are those that have been increasing their innovation most rapidly as indicated by patents (Figure 14). One might be concerned that these patents are designed to thwart innovation and enshrine monopolies (e.g., Boldrin and Levine, 2008). However, we also observe similar relationships when measuring innovation by citation-weighted patents or TFP growth.

A more subtle story, however, is that firms initially gain high market shares by legitimately competing on the merits of their innovations or superior efficiency. Once they have gained a commanding position, however, they use their market power to erect various barriers to entry to protect their position. Nothing in our analysis rules out this mechanism, and we regard it as an important area for subsequent research.

The rise of superstar firms and decline in the labor share also appears to be related to changes in the boundaries of large dominant employers with such firms increasingly using domestic outsourcing to contracting firms, temporary help agencies, and independent contractors and freelancers for a wider range of activities previously done in-house, including janitorial work, food services, logistics, and clerical work (Weil, 2014; Katz and Krueger 2016). This fissuring of the workplace can directly reduce the labor share by saving on the wage premia (firm effects) typically paid by large high-wage employers to ordinary workers and by reducing the bargaining power of both in-house and outsourced workers in occupations subject to outsourcing threats and increased labor market competition (Dube and Kaplan, 2010; Goldschmidt and Schmieder, 2017). The increased fissuring of the workplace has been associated with a rising correlation of firm wage effects and person effects (skills) that accounts for a significant portion of the increase in U.S. wage inequality since 1980 (Song et al., 2016). Linking the rise of superstar firms and the fall of the labor share with the trends in inequality between employees should also be an important avenue of future research.




The “superstar firms” are “winner take most”

  • AirBNB
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Federal Express
  • Google
  • Uber
  • Walmart


  • But not for Sears (giggle)
  • But not for coal (mining)
  • But not for oil (end-to-end)
  • But not for autos (design, integration, assembly)
  • But not for airlines
  • But not for bulk steel
  • But not for shipbuilding
  • But not for furniture making
  • But not for semiconductors
  • But maybe for (mobile) CPU chips; e.g. Samsung of ARMdroid.
    But maybe for (desktop) CPU chips; e.g. Intel of Wintel.

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider these Exemplary Janitors at Kodak & Apple Companies, Then and Now | NYT

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now; Neil Irwin; In The New York Times (NYT); 2017-09-05.
Teaser: Focusing on core competence and outsourcing the rest has made U.S. companies lean, nimble and productive. It has also left lots of people worse off.

tl;dr → Rochester Model, the Golden Age, was good. Cupertino Model, the Modern Age, is bad.


Gail Evans
Age ??. Staff, “$16.60/hr” in 1980 dollars (maybe). (ex-)janitor, Building 326, Eastman Kodak, Rochester NY, circa “the 1980s.” (thirty five years ago)
Currently: Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Mercer (outsourced HR, staff 20,500, 40 countries, Jimi Wales Wiki).
c.f. Gail Evans’ Unconventional Journey to the C-Suite; Anita Borg Institute.
Marta Ramos
Contractor, $16.60/hr, servicing Apple, Cupertino CA, contemporaneously.
Claim: Marta Ramos can only aspire upwards to be a supervisor of her “team,” which pays but $17.10/hr = 0.50/hr + $16.60/hr


  • Core Competence, a theory of business operation.
  • Community, a theory of business obligation.


  • Kodak was the Apple of its day.
  • Kodak gave back to the community of Rochester.
  • Kodak was “middle class,” a salubrious intersectionality.
  • Apple, is the Apple of its day.
  • Apple does not give back to the community of Cupertino, not really.
  • Apple is “average salary comfortably in the six figures,” whatever that means, it was intended as an epithet.
  • Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection 2012-01-19, aged 131 years.


Old, Northeast
…and were good
  • Kodak, bankruptcy 2012.
  • IBM, consent decree 1956; near death experience, starting in the 1983, continual downsizing, shedding lines-of-business; reoriented as a service bureau, under the Watson brand.
  • AT&T, breakup 1982-01-08; various downsizings, divestures, dis-synergies, etc.; reorganized, & reconstituted.
New, West Coast
…and are bad.
  • Apple
  • Alphabet
  • Citigroup [east coast]
  • Facebook
  • Federal Express [east coast]
  • Google
  • JPMorgan [east coast]


  • George Eastman
  • Steve Jobs


  • Some staff worker, a specimen, at Kodak, drove forklifts, now retired; ex-Navy
  • Some contract worker, a specimen, at a supplier to Apple, doing Quality Assurance on maps <ahem?>executing test plans?<ahem?>, currently employed; no education cited.
  • Someone from an HR firm.
  • J. Adam Cobb, the Wharton professor.
  • Rick Wartzman, senior adviser at the Drucker Institute and author of “The End of Loyalty,” sa
  • Someone from an HR firm.


<quote>But a generation ago, big companies also more often directly employed people who installed products, moved goods around warehouses, worked as security guards and performed many of the other jobs needed to get products into the hands of consumers.
In part, fewer of these kinds of workers are needed in an era when software plays such a big role. The lines of code that make an iPhone’s camera work can be created once, then instantly transmitted across the globe, whereas each roll of film had to be manufactured and physically shipped. And companies face brutal global competition; if they don’t keep their work force lean, they risk losing to a competitor that does.</quote>

<quote>But major companies have also chosen to bifurcate their work force, contracting out much of the labor that goes into their products to other companies, which compete by lowering costs. It’s not just janitors and security guards. In Silicon Valley, the people who test operating systems for bugs, review social media posts that may violate guidelines, and screen thousands of job applications are unlikely to receive a paycheck directly from the company they are ultimately working for.</quote>

<quote>Firms in the United States are legally required to offer the same health insurance options and 401(k) match to all employees — meaning if those programs are made extra generous to attract top engineers, a company that doesn’t outsource will have to pay them for everyone.</quote>

<quote>There is plenty of logic behind the idea that companies should focus on their core competence and outsource the rest. By this logic, Apple executives should focus on building great phones and computers, not hiring and overseeing janitors. And companies should outsource work when the need for staff is lumpy, such as for software companies that may need dozens of quality-assurance testers ahead of a major release but not once the product is out.</quote>


  • An Opinion-Editorial; Larry Summers; In The Washington Post; 2011-11-20.
    Larry Summers, faculty, Harvard.
  • Study. That. Shows. Michael Mandel, Progressive Policy Institute. 2017-09.
  • Arindrajit Dube (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), Ethan Kaplan (Stockholm University) Study. That. Shows.. working paper? 2010.
  • J. Adam Cobb (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), Ken-Hou Lin (University of Texas); Study. That. Shows.; In Their Blog; 2017-02.

Tech is Public Enemy #1. So Now What? | John Battelle

John Battelle; Tech Is Public Enemy #1. So Now What?; In His Blog, white-labeled as NewCo, centrally-hosted on Medium; 2017-09-10.
Teaser: If tech wants to reverse the crushing tide of negative public opinion, it must start creating public good commensurate with its extraction of private profit.

tl;dr → Agree, perhaps. But it’s not clear to what one is agreeing at all; whereas the lede is buried. That being promotion of Richard Florida’s book The New Urban Crisis.
and → Unto the hook of the title: For the sin.

  • Enumerate.
  • Confess,
  • Repent,
  • Restitute, reparate.
  • Return.


John Battelle interviewed Richard Florida towards a book promotion.


Richard Florida The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class—and What We Can Do About It 1st Edition ; Basic Books; 2017-04-11; 336 pages; ASIN:0465079741: Kindle: $18, paper: $12+SHT.


  • Where “tech” is Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and maybe Netflix (rly?).
  • And JB foresaw it in a vision of 2017-01; fair. he also “saw” it in 2011-12, had Microsoft in the cohort, and pitched “The Internet Big Five” as a gushing chronicle-of-the-times, only-time-will-tell honorific of boosterist veneration. It’s okay to change one’s mind.
  • Richard Florida is granted 191 words at the end to speak as a threat.
    Whereas Richard Florida has a direct line to Congress.
    Unless his demands are met … something will happen
  • Google Apple Facebook Amazon (GAFA),
    Google Amazon Facebook Apple (GAFA)
  • Facebook Amazon Netflix Google (FANG),
    Facebook Apple Netflix Google (FANG)
  • No Wintel
    • No Microsoft?
    • No Intel?

Separately noted.


Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture | The New Yorker

Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture, also appearing in non-clickbait non-machine readable settings (i.e. in paper-print) as “The Content of No Content”; Elizabeth Kolbert (bio); In The New Yorker; 2017-08-28.
Teaser: What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean for our culture.

tl;dr → a paean to the two jeremiads.


Book Promotion


Each reference in the original article points at Amazon.
Because she can; because it is easy. And, most importantly: what else could she do?

Does this obviate the argument presented?
Of course.


GAFA, attributed to “the Europeans”
  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Apple


The Victorian Internet

By way of convention in these things, requisite throat clearing: a story, a parable, concerning the election of 1876 wherein the Republicans, once before had lost the popular vote but “stole” the election with subtrefuge, misdirection, technical trickery and outright dishonesty. To wit:

  • 1876-11-07,
  • Lucy Hayes, Mrs. Rutherford B Hayes.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Samuel J. Tilden, Democrat, candidate for President (he lost).
  • Electoral College.
  • William Henry Smith
    “ran” the “western arm” Associated Press
  • Collusion, there was.
  • Western Union
    a “monopoly” over telgraph lines
  • The election is thrown into dispute.
  • “Hayesociated Press”
  • 1877-03-05, the New York Sun appeared with a black border on the front page.
  • 1877-03-07, Rutherford B. Hayes is inaugurated.
  • <quote>History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.</quote>, attributed to Mark Twain.


  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Facebook
  • Google
    • Google Books
    • YouTube
  • Napster, deceased


  • Jeff Bezos
  • Dale Andrew Carnegie
  • Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook.
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Judy Collins
  • Bob Dylan
  • Levon Helm, drummer, The Band
  • George Harrison, sponsor, The Concert for Bangladesh.


  • Digital Media Copyright Act
  • Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)
    • Jimi Wales’ Wiki
    • 2011-Fall
    • Sponsors
      • Senator Marco Rubio, FL
      • Someone else
    • Backers
      • National District Attorneys Association
      • National League of Cities,
      • Association of Talent Agencies
      • International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    • 2012-02, Google acts: the black search page.


  • “The Koch brothers” are bad, per Jonathan Taplin.
  • Google is bad, like “The Koch brothers”, per Jonathan Taplin.
  • The Huffington Post (a.k.a. HuffPost) stands accused of pilfering aggregating “content” by Franklin Foer.
  • Newspapers are good,
    exemplars of such goodness:
  • The Washington Times
  • The Washington Post.
  • Big Tech
  • Facebook, is bad
  • paywalls, are good.

Stolley’s Law

  • Attributed to Dick Stolley, in “the nineteen-eighties.”
  • Dick Stolley, was founding editor of People
  • A formula for magazine cover images
    • Young is better than old.
    • Pretty is better than ugly.
    • Rich is better than poor.
    • Movies are better than music.
    • Music is better than television.
    • Television is better than sports.
    • And anything is better than politics.

On “Virality”

  • Chartbeat,
    automates Stolley’s Law.
  • Cecil The Lion, 2015, shot, arrow, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, a dentist, from Minnesota.
  • Donald Trump
  • <quote>Trump began as Cecil the Lion, and then ended up president of the United States</quote>, attributed to Franklin Foer.


  • Stewart Brand
  • Ken Kesey
    dropping a lot of acid
  • The Whole Earth Catalog
  • Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link (WELL)
  • Rolling Stone, 1972
  • a prediction of “no more [need for] editors”, attributed to Stewart Brand
Vignette on the “Virality”
Something about politics and money…
  • Silicon Valley
  • Hillary Clinton.
  • Democratic National Committee
  • e-mails (But her emails? No, their emails, via Russia)
  • Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook.
  • John Podesta, campaign chairman, Hilary Clinton 2016.
  • listicles
  • fake news
  • Beqa Latsabidze
    • age 22
    • undergraduate, computer-science
    • Tbilisi
  • A traffic generation scheme
    • Pro-Hillary Clinton generates revenue.
    • Pro-Donald Trunp generates revenue.
    • <quote>For me, this is all about income<quote>, attributed to Beqa Latsabidze.

Anti-Trust Action

  • European Union
  • Google
  • $2.7-billion fine.
  • United States, Department of Justice
  • A.T. & T.,
  • Alleged
    Violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
  • Result
    • Consent decree
    • Signed 1956
    • A.T. & T. to license all the patents of Bell Labs, for a small fee.
  • The transistor.
  • The salubrious effect.

Google in 2016 is like A.T.&T . in 1956.


  • The craft workers must seize the means of production, attributed to Jonathan Like.
  • The parable of the artisanal cheesemakers, <quote>The culture industries need to present themselves as the organic alternative, a symbol of status and aspiration. Subscriptions are the route away from the aisles of clickbait. <snip>admonition to read a book</snip> If the tech companies hope to absorb the totality of human existence, then reading on paper is one of the few slivers of life that they can’t fully integrate”, attributed to Franklin Foer.


  • Magnum Photos
    • founded 1947
    • Robert Capa
    • Henri Cartier-Bresson
    • and others.

Contra Getty Images and Corbis.


In The New Yorker


He’s at that awkward age—too old to be cute, but not dead yet.

“He’s at that awkward age—too old to be cute, but not dead yet.”


Boston Red Sox Used Apple Watches to Steal Signs Against Yankees | NYT

Boston Red Sox Used Apple Watches to Steal Signs Against Yankees; Michael S. Schmidt; In The New York Times (NYT); 2017-09-05.

tl;dr → The Red Sox steal signs, of the Yankees, with an Apple product, namely a watch.
and → a whole lotta cheatin’ goin’ on up Boston way; with the Football team too, one hears tell of stories.

What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean | Book Forum

What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean; Staff; Book Forum; 2017-08-31.

tl;dr → It is all very bad. Others opined; they recite. Pointers are given (Book Forum actaully is a book review meta-site, after all)


  • You Are The Product; John Lanchester; In London Review of Books; WHEN?
    (book) promotion

    • Tim Wu; The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads From the Daily Newspaper to Social Media, How Our Time and Attention is Harvested and Sold; Vintage, reprint; 2017-08-19; 432 pages; ASIN:0804170045: Kindle: $14, paper: $12+SHT.
    • Antonio Garcia Martinez; Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine; Harper; 2016-06-28; 528 pages; ASIN:0062458191: Kindle: $15, paper: $7+SHT.
  • Who Owns The Internet: What Big Tech’s monopoly powers mean for our culture; Elizabeth Kolbert; In The New Yorker; 2017-08-28; separately filled.
    (book) promotion

    • Jonathan Taplin; Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon have Cornered Culture and What It Means for All of Us; separately filled.
    • Franklin Foer; World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech; separately filled.
  • Will Amazon take over the world?; Frank Pasquale; In Boston Review; WHEN?
    (book) promotion

    • Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism, (series) Theory Redux, Polity; 2016-12-27; 120 pages; ASIN:1509504877: Kindle: $8, paper: $11+SHT.
    • Trebor Scholz, Nathan Schneider; Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet; OR Books; 2017-08-15; 252 pages; ASIN:1944869336: Kindle: $12, paper: $13+SHT.
  • On the kerfluffle at New America vs Google vs Open Markets;
    a.k.a. patronage is a wonderful thing when it is given; patronage is mean and nasty suckage when it is withdrawn
    <advice>Don’t bite the hand that feeds ya!<advice>

  • The hated ones: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google (AAFG)
    • Nationalise Google Facebook Amazon Data Monopoly Platform Public Interest; ; In The Guardian; 2017-08-13.
      Teaser: A crisis is looming. These monopoly platforms hoovering up our data have no competition: they’re too big to serve the public interest
      Riposte: let’s walk before we run; how about we nationalize The Guardian and see how that pans out before moving on to digest an organization that is run by adults?
      (book) promotion

      • Nick Smicek is a lecturer in digital economy, King’s College London.
      • Nick Srnicek, Platform Capitalism, Theory Redux, Polity; 2016-12-27; 120 pages; ASIN:1509504877: Kindle: $8, paper: $11+SHT.
    • Should America’s Tech Giant’s Be Broken Up?; Paula Dwyer; In Bloomberg; 2017-07-20.
      Teaser: Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook may be contributing to the U.S. economy’s most persistent ailments.
      tl;dr → Betteridge’s Law. Yes. Break ‘em up! Break ‘em up! Break ‘em up!
      (book&paper) promotions

      • Jonathan Taplin, age 70; Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy
      • David Autor (MIT) David Dorn (Zurich) Lawrence F. Katz (Harvard), Christina Patterson (MIT), John Van Reenen (MIT); The Fall of the Labor Share and the Rise of Superstar Firms; In Some Venue Surely, <sour>or maybe this is one of those half-decade duration “working papers” that the social scientists meditate upon before reporting out a “completed work” long after the effect has dematerialized <advice>give it a DOI number and be done with it, everyone else has already used or ignored the implications for policymakers concepts in the remediatory nostrums</advice></sour>; 2017-05-01; 74 pages; separately filled.
  • Trump damaged democracy, Silicon Valley will finish it off; Some Cub Reporter (SCR); In The Daily Beast; WHEN?
    Teaser: Donald Trump’s rise is, in a sense, just one symptom of the damage the are doing to America.

Mobile is eating the world | Benedict Evans

Benedict (Ben) Evans (A16n); Mobile is eating the world; In Their Blog, His Blog; 2016, and yearly,


  • GAFA contra Wintel
    Wintel contra IBM
  • GAFA (something like)
    • Google
    • Apple
    • Facebook
    • Amazon
  • All charts up-and-to-the-right.
  • It’s just phenomenal!
  • S-curves, mini S-curves.
    • Augmented Reality
    • Machine Learning
  • Netflix
    not a “threat” to anyone
  • Hardware
    • Google TPU FPGA for machine learning
    • Amazon Annapurna ASIC for networking
    • Apple A10 SoC, a CPU “for mobile”,
      also chips for Touch Id Airpods, etc.
  • Machine Learning
  • Alpha Go
  • Cameras → “Cameras everywhere, except in cameras”
  • Complexity contra abstraction
  • Apps
    • obvious but boring (and what is that?)
    • Facebook
    • something about live video and (vertical) 16:9 or 16:8 screens
  • Frictionless computing
    a.k.a. is e-commerce by Amazon
  • Something about sensors
  • “Who owns the customer?”
  • Retailers as (metaphoric) newsppers
    old, dirty, falling revenues, ugly business model.
  • Claim-in-Theory
    • Amazon is “Google for buying”
    • missing demand generation; a.k.a. the “discovery” concept
      • “Buzzfeed for shopping”
      • “Facebook for shopping”
      • <ahem>Uber for shopping</ahem>
  • Aphorisms-as-Theory
    • The Channel is the Product
    • YOU are the Product
    • Computer should never ask what can be autodetected, copied, deduced, attributed to Eric Raymond.
  • Cars (electric, autonomic, flying)
    • Electric motors are commodities, and simple.
    • Pattern-as-Theory
      • Nokia 2001 felled by Apple 2016
    • Something about how mapping software is “the moat” nowadays, not physical command of powertrain, dynamics, safety via metal shaping, bending, coloring.
  • <quote>The biggest changes are unknownable.</quote>
    <ahem>Only time will tell.</quote>


In 10 Years, Your iPhone Won’t Be a Phone Anymore | WSJ

In 10 Years, Your iPhone Won’t Be a Phone Anymore; Christopher Mims; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2017-06-25.
Teaser: Siri will be the conductor of a suite of devices, all tracking your interactions and anticipating your next moves

tl;dr → <gee-whiz!>Apple. Apple.  Apple.</gee-whiz!>


  • 2027
  • Apple
  • Siri
  • iPhone
  • foldable phones
  • body area network
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • iOS11
  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
  • Acquisitions
    • Lattice Data
    • Turi
    • Perceptio
    • Primesense
    • Metaio.
  • HoloLense, Microsoft
  • Products
    • HealthKit
    • CarPlay
    • Apple Pay
    • GymKit, with StairMaster
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • flying car


  • Ryan Walsh
    • newbie partner Floodgate (venture capital)
    • ex-Apple, product management for media, who from 2014 to 2016.
  • Jonathan Badeen, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Tinder


  • <quote>Trying to predict where technology will be in a decade may be a fool’s errand, but how often do we get to tie up so many emerging trends in a neat package?</quote>
  • <quote>All these technologies—interfacing with our smart homes, smart cars, even smart cities—will constitute not just a new way to interact with computers but a new way of life. And of course, worrisome levels of privacy invasion.</quote>
  • <quote>By 2027, Apple and its competitors will also have cemented a world of tradeoffs: If you want your life enhanced by AI and all the rest of this tech, you’re going to have to submit to constant surveillance—by your devices or, in many cases, by the tech giants themselves. Apple’s bet is that you will trust it to do this: The company’s privacy stance is that it isn’t going to look at or share your data, and it will be encrypted so others can’t look at it, either.</quote>

The Rise of the Publishing Platform Specialist | WSJ

The Rise of the Publishing Platform Specialist; Jack Marshall; In The Wall Street Journal (WSJ); 2016-03-25.
Teaser: Publications are hiring a point person to coordinate with new platforms like Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover


  • Exemplars
  • Condé Nast International
  • Previously (Vox Hires Choire Sicha)
    • Choire Sicha
    • Vox Media
    • Melissa Bell, vice president for growth and co-founder of, Vox Media


  • Wolfgang Blau, chief digital officer, Condé Nast International.


Smartphone Sensing | Emiliano Miluzzo

Emiliano Miluzzo; Smartphone Sensing; PhD. Dissertation; Dartmouth College; 2011-05; 147 pages.


The increasing popularity of smartphones with their embedded sensing capability and the availability of new application distribution channels, such as, the Apple AppStore and the Google Android Market, is giving researchers a unique opportunity to deploy mobile sensing applications at unprecedented scale and collect sensor data way beyond the boundaries of traditional small-scale research laboratory deployments. This thesis makes a number of contributions to smartphone sensing by introducing new sensing models, algorithms, applications, and systems.

First, we propose CenceMe, the first large-scale personal and social sensing application for smartphones, which allows users to share their real-time “sensing presence” (i.e., activity and context) with friends using the phone, web, and social network sites (i.e., Facebook, Myspace, Twitter). CenceMe exploits the smartphone’s onboard sensors (viz. accelerometer, microphone, GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, camera) and lightweight, efficient machine learning algorithms on the phone and backend servers to automatically infer people’s activity and social context (e.g., having a conversation, in a meeting, at a party). The development, deployment, and evaluation of CenceMe opened up new problems also studied in this dissertation.

Sensing with smartphones presents several technical challenges that need to be surmounted; for example, the smartphone’s sensing context (i.e., the position of the phone relative to the event being sensed varies over time) and limited computational resources present important challenges that limit the inference accuracy using phones. To address these challenges, we propose an “evolve-pool-collaborate” model that allows smartphones to automatically adapt to new environments and conduct collaborative sensing among co-located phones resulting in increased robustness and classification accuracy of smartphone sensing in the wild. We call this system, Darwin Phones.

The final contribution of this dissertation explores a new mobile sensing application called VibN, which continuously runs on smartphones allowing users to view live feeds associated with hotspots in a city; that is, what is going on at different locations, the number of people and demographics, and the context of a particular place. VibN addresses a number of critical problems to the success of smartphone sensing, such as, running continuous sensing algorithms on resource limited smartphones, resolving privacy issues, and developing a sensor data validation methodology for applications released via the app stores (i.e., validating sensor data and identifying patterns without any notion of ground truth evidence). Such a methodology is crucial to the large-scale adoption of smartphone sensing in the future.

Smartphone sensing is an emerging field that requires significant advances in mobile computing, machine learning, and systems design. It is an exciting area of research that is cross-disciplinary and likely to touch on many application areas and scientific domains moving forward. The work presented in this dissertation identifies new problems and solutions that help advance our understanding in what is now a fast-moving area of research.