Sunday Seven: podcasting, security, and the evils of email

Plus the conflicted relationship between media and technology, an uplifiting comic, wild biking and a new way to air travel.

It’s way too easy to hack the hospital – via Bloomberg Businessweek

Another brilliant, deep article from Bloomberg Business, with far-out gifs that deserve a prize of their own. This will make you think twice before going for any hospital tests, though, but if I had to recommend one article from the week, it would be this one. The more we realize how seriously we should take security vulnerabilities, the sooner we can start to enjoy the efficiencies that inter-connected systems can deliver.

“Last fall analysts with TrapX Security, a firm based in San Mateo, Calif., began installing software in more than 60 hospitals to trace medical device hacks. … After six months, TrapX concluded that all of the hospitals contained medical devices that had been infected by malware.”


(gif from Bloomberg Businessweek)

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The biggest cybersecurity risk is not identity theft – by Jeff Kosseff for TechCrunch

Sticking with the cybersecurity theme (I’m not getting obsessed here, it’s just all pretty relevant), one on the potential impact on media, and through that, society…

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Tech is eating media – via Medium

Cybersecurity concerns are even more relevant when you realize how technology controls today’s media. Which sounds like a very obvious thing to say, and at the same time debatable (what do you mean, “controls”?), but the main point is that a company’s category should have a lot to do with the company’s objective, right? Transport companies make or provide transport. Healthcare companies provide healthcare services. Tech companies make technology. Media companies display content. So when media companies become tech companies and vice versa, what does that say about their objectives?

“online media companies — and in particular news operations — are, in some cases intentionally but in most cases not, losing a degree of ownership over their audiences. On one hand, the number of people they reach is potentially greater than ever; on the other, they’re reaching these people, as well as much of their old audience, through much larger third parties.”

Media uses technology – increasingly in the form of social media platforms – to reach larger audiences. The priority becomes less the quality of the read than the ease of access. Tech – especially when it comes to media – tends to be about ease, not about quality. How will this affect consumption? And understanding?

Author John Herrman believes that we are seeing an incestuous and provocative merging of the two sectors:

“the same media that has told, or assisted in telling, the story of the internet over the last two decades, and the epochal companies that are rising through it, is being absorbed by its subject, which needs it less and less. In some ways, this change has been surprisingly seamless: an industry supported by one set of advertising models is simply finding support from another. But the ways in which this has altered the relationship between the news media and its subject — the remaking of industry, the resultant rise of a new class of industrialists, and the innumerable social, cultural and political consequences of this change — are becoming less subtle.”

I don’t think that tech is absorbing the media. Tech is not all the media focusses on, as the millions of selfies and food pics cluttering Instagram attest. Media uses tech to reach us, but it always has – the printing press was the original disruptive technology. I think that new platforms and possibilities are changing the way we access media – but media is above this. Media is about the content, not the delivery.

So the current tension between the technology sector and the content sector is nothing more than a bruise on a violently shifting landscape. We eagerly consume media about the evils of technology, while we happily use technology to do so. Yet we also feed media that talks about the hope and promise of a tech future. Conflicted? Not at all. It’s just show business.

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3 radical ideas to totally disrupt air travel – via Fast Company

Yes. Even the no hand-luggage rule, and I always travel with hand-luggage. Yes.

(image via Fast Company)

(image via Fast Company)

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Is email evil? – via The Atlantic

We all hate email, yet we still use it so much more than we need to. Why has technology not solved this problem yet?

“… a psychological disconnect between the writing of an email and the receiving of one, a paradox that Johnson told me he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about since: Reading email is correlated with stress, actually typing and sending email is not.”

Actually, it’s working on it. I use Slack now for what was a very email-intensive project. MUCH less email. Most of the team seem to agree that it’s better, but “letting go” of the e-mail habit was (and still is for some) hard.

And, the young email so much less than we do. True, they probably have less need to, until they get involved in team coordination, sales processes and other work-related email-intensive life situations. But, their lives revolve more around messaging services and apps than around typing, sending, receiving, answering.

Plus, there’s the whole etiquette dilemma. Is it ok to not sign off with “yours,” or whatever on each email? Would that not convert more into a type of messaging service? Is that a bad thing?

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It’s going to be OK – via The Oatmeal

This is… mesmerizing is the closest I can come up with. But it doesn’t do it justice. Charming should be in there somewhere. So should sobering, uplifting and inspiring. Take a look.

from The Oatmeal, by Matthew Inman

from The Oatmeal, by Matthew Inman

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Podcasting: past and future – via Nieman Lab

“I remember that time well. I remember the excitement I felt that finally, finally, more people were beginning to ask the right questions, inching closer toward something that I had believed for awhile: That this medium with a stupid-sounding name, this historical aberration of a content distribution funnel, podcasts — that there was something here, that a unique little listening culture had been slowly fomenting for years, that a new frontier of experience had curdled quietly, unobserved, into existence.”

A beautiful meander down podcast memory lane, summarizing the recent history of what has now become a booming media format.

“…the shift to digital audio is inevitable; with the coming full connectivity of cars, the continuing shift toward mobile devices, and the increasing presence of the Internet in daily life, it simply boggles the mind to imagine a future where traditional radio infrastructures and power structures remain dominant.”

Nick Quah writes the wonderful newsletter Hot Pod, all about – you guessed it – podcasts. What’s new, what’s old, what’s up, what’s down, and where it’s going. Good writing, a great subject and a stubborn passion for his subject.

“For as long as I’ve been writing this newsletter, I’ve been struck by a tension within the format: On the one side, you have podcasts-as-the-future-of-radio, and on the other side, you have podcasts-as-an-extension-of-blogging.”

I love podcasts, I’ve been a fan for years, now, which gives me a sort of I-was-there-at-the-beginning smugness. But, actually, I wasn’t, podcasting had been showing exuberant signs of life for a couple of years before I came on the scene. It just feels like it was the beginning, because of the stunning growth since then. Podcasts are springing up all over the place: most newspapers and magazines have one, even stodgy businesses (no disrespect meant!) like Goldman Sachs have one. And now Spotify and Google are getting into the act. Oh, and let’s not forget the growing sub-genre of podcasts about podcasts.

“Certainly, I’d love to see more diversity in terms of demographics — race, nationality, gender — which will most definitely stretch the limited range of sensibilities wide open to accommodate a grander universe of stories, but also, I’d love to see more diversity in terms of creative tradition. I hope to see more writers, creators, and auteurs begin to view podcasts, or spoken audio more generally, as a legitimate choice among the many mediums they can pursue, aside from television and film and blogs and magazines and the stage.”

It’s a great medium. And it looks like it’s going to get even better.

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You ain’t seen biking like this… Via My Modern Met

Totally wild. Definitely don’t try this at home.

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