Six Ideas That Made Us Think

1. Choosing Candidates by Design

Finally, a thorough, uncompromising vetting of all Democratic candidates – based on the design of their websites and campaign material. Some highlights from this critical piece of voter education:

  • Cory Booker: There’s no design concept to speak of (no, “red, white, and blue” doesn’t cut it). The execution is totally inept. Cory, it was nice of you to hire your second cousin. But seek professional help. You’re trailing the pack.

  • Jay Inslee: The typography makes it look like a pharmaceutical ad—Ask your doctor if Inslee™ is right for you.

  • Beto O’Rourke: The monochromatic wordmark and website are a good start. Things go downhill from there. The website seems like it could’ve been made 15 years ago, with its menus of tiny type linking to pages filled with more tiny type.

  • Kamala Harris: I like the display type a lot (Bureau Grotesque). But lordy, the colors are nauseating. It’s apparent Kamala wanted a twist on red, white, and blue, so she ended up with reddish orange, white, and bluish purple. If that wasn’t bad enough, she threw in goldenrod yellow too. Here in California, the knock on Kamala is that she’s always been eager to be seen as all things to all people. “What color do you want in a candidate’s logo? Well I’ve got that color!”

2. How to Make Sense of Huawei and 5G

The LA Times offers an expansive, sympathetic profile of Huawei and its founder and CEO, Ren Zhengei. The piece makes the case that Huawei, which filed twice as many patents as its nearest competitor in the past year, is poised to lead the world in 5G technology. Lawfareblog.com takes a less benign view of Huawei’s potential leadership – and of the hype around 5G:

A country can decide to buy Huawei equipment and save a considerable amount of money in doing so. The risk is simply that every high-level political figure and executive may have their calls monitored by Chinese intelligence. This may actually be a worthwhile trade-off…The second option is to purchase equipment from Huawei’s European competitors, Ericsson or Nokia…The final option is simply to avoid the hype. The claims about 5G being “20x faster” than preexisting 4G are effectively disingenuous marketing as real-world performance rarely reaches the theoretical peak bandwidth but, rather, is limited by the shared communication spectrum.

3. What You See Isn’t What You Get

The most dramatic moment in a criminal trial often comes when an eyewitness identifies the perpetrator of the crime. Most of the time, Jed Rakoff tells us, the eyewitness is wrong:

Inaccurate eyewitness identifications appear to be the single greatest contributor to wrongful convictions. For example, they were introduced as evidence in over 70 percent of the more than 360 cases that the Innocence Project, using DNA analysis, later proved were wrongful convictions. Nearly a third of these cases, moreover, involved multiple misidentifications of the defendant. By comparison, the next-most-frequent contributor to wrongful convictions, misleading testimony by forensic “experts,” was present in 45 percent of these cases, and the third-most-frequent factor, false confession, was present in about 30 percent of them.

4. What Facebook Learned from Microsoft

In advance of Uber’s pending public offering, New York’sIntelligencer translates the company’s IR mumbo-jumbo for the rest of us:

Uber says: “In certain markets, other operators may use incentives to attempt to mitigate the advantages of our more liquid network.”

This means, “Our competitors also sell their products below cost.”

Uber says: “And we will generally choose to match these incentives, even if it results in a negative margin, to compete effectively and grow our business.”

This means, “We regularly get into price wars where we and our competitors vie to see who can lose the most money.”

Uber says: “Generally, for a given geographic market, we believe that the operator with the larger network will have a higher margin than the operator with the smaller network.”

This means, “At least we don’t sell our product as far below cost as our competitors do.”

5. Shinola…or Something Else?

Tom Kartsotis is the branding genius behind Shinola, the watch company known for its roots in gritty Detroit manufacturing. Inc.looks through the homespun, industrial styling and calls it “a $225 million experiment in manufactured authenticity”:

In Shinola, Kartsotis has managed to engineer a brand that feels authentic despite being largely contrived. How he's done that is a study in new-age marketing: a new brand that pretends to be an old brand, built on the promise that it's made in scrappy Detroit by a near-billionaire from a suburb of Dallas.

6. Germany’s Combustible Economy

How profound an impact will the decline of the internal combustion engine be?  Bloomberg Businessweek takes a deep look at Germany, where a recent study suggested that more than one-third of German jobs in engines and transmissions will be obsolete by 2030:

This story will play out across nations that have specialized in auto manufacturing, but perhaps nowhere more acutely than Germany. In the past decade through 2017, according to Accenture, car making accounted for 60 percent of revenue growth at Germany’s top 50 companies. That means the end of internal combustion, combined with a decline in worldwide car ownership, could bring about an overhaul of the world’s fourth-biggest economy.

Websites Worth Reading

Visual Capitalist: Global trends, visualized 

Google Music Timeline: Pop music trends, visualized

The Observatory of Economic Complexity: International trade, visualized

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