“When you try to change a little, your old mindset still has its old values and attachments, and you inevitably slide back into your old groove. But when you change enough to create a new mindset, you can free yourself from your old way of looking at things and create a new groove.”—Jonathan Tran
Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn’t begin until 2001. Do we really care?)
But from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true. It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened. It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged “Bush boom,” in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next. It was a decade of zero gains for homeowners, even if they bought early: right now housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are roughly back to where they were at the beginning of the decade. And for those who bought in the decade’s middle years — when all the serious people ridiculed warnings that housing prices made no sense, that we were in the middle of a gigantic bubble — well, I feel your pain. Almost a quarter of all mortgages in America, and 45 percent of mortgages in Florida, are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth. Last and least for most Americans — but a big deal for retirement accounts, not to mention the talking heads on financial TV — it was a decade of zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account.
Remember the excitement when the Dow first topped 10,000, and best-selling books like “Dow 36,000” predicted that the good times would just keep rolling? Well, that was back in 1999. Last week the market closed at 10,520. So there was a whole lot of nothing going on in measures of economic progress or success. Funny how that happened.
“We start with the customer and we work backward. We learn whatever skills we need to service the customer. We build whatever technology we need to service the customer. The second thing is, we are inventors, so you won’t see us focusing on “me too” areas. We like to go down unexplored alleys and see what’s at the end. Sometimes they’re dead ends. Sometimes they open up into broad avenues and we find something really exciting. And then the third thing is, we’re willing to be long-term-oriented, which I think is one of the rarest characteristics. If you look at the corporate world, a genuine focus on the long term is not that common. But a lot of the most important things we’ve done have taken a long time.”—Jeff Bezos: Why Bezos Was Surprised by the Kindle’s Success - Newsweek.com
In a few days, the first decade of the 21st century and of the third millennium will come to an end. It was a decade that began, not with a smooth transition into a new era but with a bang. It was a decade filled with crisis years: the 9/11 crisis, the climate crisis, the financial crisis and the crisis of democracy. Taken together, they represent a general crisis for the West.
As the year 2009 concludes, Jason Goldberg, currently Chief Product Officer at XING and founder of Jobster and socialmedian, will set sail for New York again. Amidst the Christmas and pre-moving buzz, XING’s communications team took the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about an eventful year, about coming to Germany, and the future of the web.
“Many people have assumed that Twitter is just another social network, some kind of micro-blogging service, or both. It can be these things but primarily Twitter serves as a real-time information network powered by people around the world discovering what’s happening and sharing the news. The Iranian election was the most discussed issue on Twitter in the final year of a decade defined by advancements in information access. In the new year, Twitter will begin supporting a billion search queries a day.”— Why we can never rest: a year in the life of Twitter - Times Online
“In a way, seen through a long enough lens, everything is eventually a failure. Every innovation will ultimately be usurped by something that does the same thing more cheaply or more effectively or more elegantly. Everything is failing all the time; it’s just a matter of how quickly and how devastatingly.”—Time Your Attack: Oracle’s Lost Revolution | Magazine
Awesome post by Simon Willison on lessons learned building the latest crowd-sourced document tagging system for The Guardian. They system turned the problem of classifying 400,000 documents related to MP expense reports over to the people.