Monday, March 31, 2014

Fracking and Retirees Drive U.S. Population Growth (BusinessWeek)

Welcome to 21st-century America, in which population growth trends are driven by baby boomers packing into Florida retirement enclaves and workers chasing the fracking boom from North Dakota to Texas.
That’s the quick sketch, at least, that comes out of new population data from the U.S. Census, which track growth between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. The Villages, a collection of central Florida retirement communities northwest of Orlando, topped the charts as the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan area, with a 5.2 percent gain. That far outpaced the U.S. average of 0.7 percent growth. Midland and Odessa, in western Texas, followed at 3.3 percent each. Both cities have seen an employment boom in recent years amid new techniques to extract oil and natural gas.
Half the top 10 fastest-growing metro areas, in fact, have the energy industry to thank for all the newcomers, and the largest city growth occurred in Houston, a sort of energy capital that has managed to lure 138,000 people over the past year. The shale oil boom in North Dakota and elsewhere has produced even more dramatic growth for what the Census calls “micropolitan statistical areas,” in which 10,000 to 49,999 people live. The top-growing micropolitan area was Williston, N.D., at 10.7 percent, followed by Dickinson, N.D. The Bakken Shale formation has boosted the state’s oil output to nearly 1 million barrels per day.
The boom has also made Williston the most expensive town in America in which to rent an apartment, with a one-bedroom topping $2,000 per month. The population in Williston has doubled since 2010, to more than 30,000 residents. Other quick-growing micropolitans in 2013 due to gas and oil: Andrews, Texas, north of Odessa; Minot, N.D.; Weatherford, Okla.; and Hobbs, N.M.
Here are the 10 fastest-growing metro areas in the 2012-13 period:
1. The Villages, Fla.—5.2%
2. Odessa, Texas—3.3%
3. Midland, Texas—3.3%
4. Fargo, N.D.-Minn.—3.1%
5. Bismarck, N.D.—3.1%
6. Casper, Wyo.—2.9%
7. Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.-N.C.—2.7%
8. Austin-Round Rock, Texas—2.6%
9. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala.—2.6%
10. Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.—2.5%

Bachman is an associate editor for

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Has Been Missing Profits for Years (BusinessWeek)

Malaysia Airlines Has Been Missing Profits for Years

Long before one of its Boeing (BA) jumbo jets vanished into the tropical darkness, Malaysia Airlines was struggling to find its financial footing. The carrier has lost money for more than three years, beset by high costs, a proliferation of unprofitable new flying in its network, and two low-cost rivals at its home airport in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2013, Malaysia Airlines was one of the world’s few unprofitable carriers, returning a negative 4 percent operating margin—worse than every airline in the world save two in India, according to income data compiled by Airline Weekly, an industry journal. Globally, airlines averaged a 5 percent margin in 2013, and U.S. carriers returned 8 percent. Malaysia Airlines has lost more than $1.2 billion over the past three years; this year is likely to produce more red ink.
The financial trouble has been exacerbated by the carrier’s torrid expansion. Seeking to guard its market share from upstarts and capture premium traffic in the region, the airline added 21 new planes last year and boosted its system capacity by 19 percent. It also acquired the massive Airbus A380 superjumbo, a decision analysts criticized as a foolish waste of money given the jet’s size and the company’s inability to turn a profit with its current capacity.
To reduce costs, the airline has sporadically battled its unions and dropped several long-haul routes, including its final U.S. flight, which is ending next month. “They’ve done a lot, but in the end they’re growing more quickly than almost any airline in the world without any evidence that there’s the demand to support it,” says Seth Kaplan, an Airline Weekly analyst.
The carrier is also contending with AirAsia (AIRA:MK), one of Asia’s largest low-cost airlines, and an upstart that began flying a year ago called Malindo Air, a joint venture between Malaysian and Indonesian investors. Both enjoy an immense cost advantage over their larger rival and have introduced low fares into the regional market that have further hurt the 67-year-old incumbent.
The troubled company is also contending with a public relations furor in China, home to most of the 229 passengers on the missing flight to Beijing. Many in China consider the Malaysian response to the investigation inadequate, opaque, and laggardly. Although China accounts for only 7 percent of the carrier’s capacity, compared with 24 percent for Europe, the enormous growth in Chinese tourism could spell trouble for the Malaysian carrier if Chinese travelers choose other airlines for their international trips.
The majority of parent company Malaysian Airline Systems (MAS:MK) is owned by the government’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional. Last month the Business Times of Singapore urged Khazanah to put the airline into bankruptcy court to rectify its enormous cost burdens: a bloated headcount and “lopsided procurement contracts in a range of services from maintenance to catering.” The newspaper suggested Khazanah could follow the path of Japan Airlines (9201:JP), which successfully restructured in bankruptcy four years ago. “Overstaffing, ridiculous union demands, and outlandishly skewed procurement contracts are the financial equivalent of having to fight with one hand tied behind one’s back.”
All the red ink, however, has not dented the quality of Malaysia Airlines’ service. It remains one of only seven carriers given the highest rating by the Skytrax airline ranking firm, along with such companies as Singapore Airlines (SIA:SP), All Nippon Airways, and Cathay Pacific (293:HK).
Bachman is an associate editor for

Monday, March 24, 2014

Apple v. Google: The goliath deathmatch by the numbers in 2014

By                                                                    March 21, 2014,
The challenge in analyzing the Apple v. Google rivalry is deciding which metrics to use. Here are four data points to get a grip on who's winning. 

The showdown between Apple and Google has evolved into the most heated rivalry in the business world and the tech industry. The moment Google announced its entry into the smartphone market in November 2007, tension began to brew between the two tech giants. As the companies engaged in PR and legal fisticuffs, hardcore users took their sides and began spewing venom.
While Apple was originally focused on hardware and Google was all about internet services, the two companies have increasingly infringed on each other's space. Apple beefed up its online services with iCloud and the iWork suite, while Google has refocused resources on smartphones and wearables. While someauthors recommend "promiscuity" when it comes to ecosystems, the majority of fans take a hard stance for one or the other.
And, the battle rages on.
Apple and Google are often compared using a variety of metrics, without a clear understanding of what those metrics mean. Here, we will look at four metrics and how we can use them to draw conclusions about how these two companies really stack up.

Mountains of cash

One of the obvious choices for measuring the success of a company is how much money it is making. The chart above shows the quarterly revenue for Apple and Google from each throughout in 2012 and 2013. It should be noted that while Apple reports revenue on a traditional fiscal calendar (Q1 ending in December and reported in January), this chart reflects calendar year quarters, with Q1 ending in March.
The first thing to note is that while Apple tends to make between three and five times as much revenue as Google does, their revenue is far more volatile than Google's. The first thing that we can infer is Google's revenue strategy is still largely dependent on selling ads. Apple's revenue spikes wildly around the holiday season because of their retail operation, but Google's remains far more stable throughout the year. According to Frank Gillett, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, this is because their physical product offerings have yet to make up a substantial part of their revenue.
"They're not fundamentally a product-driven company. When you sell a physical good you are beholden to seasonal buying cycles," Gillett said.   
Even as Google positions itself to sell more hardware in the coming years, their revenue will probably never reach the level of volatility experienced by Apple. According to Gartner analyst Van Baker, Google is seeding the market with an OS to get more people to use their services, so it can sell more ads. So, it is likely that ad revenue will remain the foundation for Google's overall revenue moving forward.
The challenge for Apple is that it has long been rumored to be working on a television set and a smartwatch, but it hasn't entered a new product category since it released the iPad in 2010.
"The longer it goes without them launching a new product offering, the more people will question their ability to innovate," Baker said.  

Race to the top

When it comes to understanding just how valuable a company really is, many people will turn to that company's stock price. Of course, stock prices are unstable. As I am writing this piece, Apple's stock (AAPL) is sitting at $528.39 and Google's stock (GOOG) is bringing a cool $1,200.93 per share.
But, the price of the stock alone doesn't tell you how valuable a company is. You have to take into account the total number of outstanding shares along with the price, which determines "market capitalization." Apple's market cap peaked most recently in Q3 of 2012 with the announcement of the iPhone 5, then fell quite dramatically over the next year, but it has started to rise again. Apple's run over the last few years has been unprecedented, but it's not clear if it can continue their momentum from the past decade.
"Apple has had such a dramatic run, there is skepticism as to whether or not they can sustain it." Gillett said.
Google, on the other hand, has seen a steady rise in their market cap over the last two years, despite coming under increased scrutiny for their privacy practices. Unlike Apple, whose ability to innovate has come into question in the post-Jobs era, projects like GlassTango, and Ara have shown Google's willingness to take risks.
"Google has certainly shown the ability to lead innovation efforts," Baker said.
Innovation is not dead at Apple, but is has yet to announce another breakthrough, revolutionary product like the iPod, iPhone, or iPad. Both companies have been regularly buying up new, young companies; hopefully to revitalize their product offerings.
Those product offerings will likely fuel the biggest fire between Google and Apple — the war for mobile customers. The battle for mobile OS users is the face of the Apple/Google rivalry, and the numbers behind it are largely misunderstood.

Misunderstanding the market share

"The smartphone market is a basically two-horse race right now."
That's how Van Baker described Android's scrap with iOS in the mobile market. While many people try to equate the iOS/Android with Apple/Google, that is a misguided comparison as each mobile OS does not define its parent company's revenue stream. Still, mobile OS market share does help us to understand how each company is doing. Well, sort of.
The initial problem of measuring success by market share sales is that you are comparing Apple, which created the iOS software and accompanying hardware with Google, who created the Android platform, which is mostly distributed through third-party vendors like Samsung. Baker said that a more fitting comparison of market share by sales might be Apple v Samsung. According to Baker, "In some ways the battles with Samsung are a proxy for battles with Google." Even still, Google is dealing with a bigger issue than just iOS v Android.
"Whose operating system is on the device is not a very insightful metric for what the heck is going on," Gillett said.
If you look at the raw numbers for sales market share between Android and iOS devices, Google seems to be dominating the space. In Q4 2013, Gartner reported that Android had 77.8% worldwide market share while iOS had only 17.8% share. One quarter prior, Android had 81.9% and iOS took second place with 12.1%. It is worth noting that, according to ComScore, iOS market share in the lucrative US market is about 40%, while Android accounts for around 50% of US sales. The problem with these numbers is that the do not take into account the fragmentation that Google has allowed with the Android platform.
Gillett said that when you see these big Android market share numbers, it represents parties who have done one of two things. It represents a party that either grabbed the open source code and created a device that is nominally Android, with no access to the Google secret sauce; or, that is using the Google Play services to create a device that is fully integrated into the Google ecosystem.
Many of the low-end "Android" devices coming from the Asian market are of the open source variety, but even the branded orthodox Android devices have their own challenges. Devices like the Kindle Fire and some of the Lenovo tablets run a version of the Android OS, but push their own proprietary apps above the standard Android apps. For example, some of the Lenovo tablets might encourage a user to use their own proprietary mail client for the device instead of Gmail.
"I'm going to crudely assert that less than one third of Android devices are truly engaged deeply with Google's digital platform," Gillett said.
The fragmentation and confusion we see here are reason enough that we shouldn't be measuring success by sales number alone, but we should also look at how consumers are using these devices.

OS usage and engagement

The chart above shows the percentage of total web traffic worldwide, across all platforms, that is taken up by Android and iOS. While Android's usage percentage is climbing, it only started to climb to a competitive level toward the end of 2013. Apple, on the other hand, has seen consistently higher usage than Android, despite capturing less of the fewer overall shares in 2012 and 2013.
These numbers assert that Apple has more engaged customers than Android does and it sees more mobile usage. While Google may be innovating more than Apple currently and working to make tech integration more seamless with services like Google Now, that's not yet selling point for average customers. The fact of the matter is that Apple has established itself as a trusted brand, it has created a product that is a status symbol to own, and it prides itself on the ease of use of its products.
Another measure of engagement, and possibly a measure of trust, is the number of credit cards that each company has on file. Forrester Research conducted a US survey that found Amazon had 91 million credit cards on file. In second place was Apple with 41 million cards on file, and Google came in a distant third with 22 million cards on file. So, Apple has nearly twice as many customers who trust them with their financial data as Google does.
Bottom line: More people are engaged with their Apple devices, and more people are spending money on their Apple devices.  
"The biggest opportunity for Apple is to dramatically expanding the capabilities and usage of their online services platform," Gillett said. "Google's opportunity is to figure out how to create more of a win-win between Google and the device makers who use Android today."
Google has built more momentum in innovation and product development, while Apple has maintained momentum building a more profitable business. Whether it is Apple or Google at the top of the heap, you cannot deny that they are both building platforms and business models that will shape the next decade in the tech industry.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Janet Yellen's Rookie Mistake: Speaking Too Clearly (BusinessWeek)

Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington on March 19
Janet Yellen, chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington on March 19

Janet Yellen may have just committed the first substantial blunder of her chairmanship of the Federal Reserve. The mistake: being specific when the occasion called for generality. “The more experienced [Ben] Bernanke knew to avoid clarifying deliberately vague statement language,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase, wrote in a client note after the financial markets reacted badly.
Investors are dying to know when the Federal Reserve will start raising its target for the federal funds rate, which has been stuck on the floor at zero percent to 0.25 percent since December 2008. The Fed has repeatedly refused to be pinned down. In its statement today, for example, the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said “it likely will be appropriate to maintain the current target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends [emphasis added].”
At her first press conference since becoming Fed chair in February, Yellen was asked what the Fed meant by “a considerable time.” The correct answer to this question is, “We weren’t specific for a reason. Go away.” Yellen, having been connected with the Fed in one capacity or another for most of the past 20 years, should have known that. Instead, she said, “You know, this is the kind of term it’s hard to define, but, you know, it probably means something on the order of around six months or that type of thing.” That was a bit quicker than markets had been expecting, so interest rates rose and stocks fell. The comment “sent equity markets into something of a tailspin,” wrote Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics.
Michael Wallace of Action Economics in Colorado called Yellen’s specificity a “gaffe.” He wrote that Yellen made “the mistake of ‘taking the bait’ and providing a time reference for the purposefully ambiguous phrase.” It wasn’t the only factor in the market selloff today—new economic projections by members of the FOMC were also a factor—but it did make a difference.
It’s a fair bet that other FOMC members will be suggesting to Yellen that she stick closer to the script next time she addresses reporters.
Coy is Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor. His Twitter handle is @petercoy.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Will the Government Rescue GM Again? (BusinessWeek)

A 2013 Buick Enclave

For more than four years, General Motors (GM) struggled to shed the loser image of a corporation that needed a $50 billion taxpayer bailout in 2009 to survive a self-inflicted near-death experience. Now, in the wake of a February recall of 1.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other discontinued models, GM’s much-derided status as “Government Motors” has unlikely appeal. Company lawyers are counting on its 2009 bankruptcy arrangements as a bulwark against a litigation threat that grows more ominous by the day, following GM’s admission that it knew of faulty ignition switches more than a decade ago and failed to fix the problem.
Whether or not the GM legal strategy holds up, the recall mess has revived the company’s reputation for unreliability and created a crisis for Mary Barra, its new chief executive and the first woman to lead a major auto manufacturer. The carmaker took a $300 million charge in its first quarter to cover the costs of various recalls, including a new one announced on March 17, covering 1.55 million newer models such as the Buick Enclaves and GMC Acadias that have faulty air bags and Cadillac XTS sedans with brake flaws that may result in overheating or engine fires. Detroit has had better months.
For the moment, the balky ignition systems pose the most serious legal threat to GM. If bumped or weighed down by a heavy key chain, the switch can shut off engines and power systems and disable air bags, the company has acknowledged. For drivers, having the car go stone dead in 60-mile-per-hour freeway traffic is nothing short of terrifying. For plaintiffs’ lawyers, the scenario translates to courtroom gold.
The manufacturer so far has linked 31 crashes and 12 deaths to the defects found in certain smaller Chevrolets, Pontiacs, and Saturns made between 2003 and 2007. In cold statistical terms, a dozen deaths over a decade doesn’t sound like a disaster. Some 30,000 people die every year on America’s roads; manufacturers in the U.S. have recalled 38 million cars in just the past two years. None of the defective GM models are in production any more, so the universe of ignition-related fatalities should be limited.
What’s the big deal, then? First there’s the dismaying fact that some GM employees have known about the ignition flaw since 2001 and failed to fix it. “The process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been,” GM has said with exquisite understatement. Having quietly settled a couple of ignition defect lawsuits over the years, GM had already turned over thousands of pages of internal documents to plaintiffs’ lawyers, some of which show worried discussions among engineers about the problematic switches. Combine consumer deaths with an admitted failure to act promptly—the fatality list is bound to grow now that trial lawyers are advertising for cases—and you’re looking at allegations of a coverup: Which top executives knew what, and when did they know it?
GM refuses to answer inquiries about how many suits have been filed since the recall, but you can bet the figure will grow in coming weeks. The Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation to supplement probes by the Department of Transportation and various congressional committees. The dirty laundry will come out.
Not to worry, say Wall Street analysts and attorneys sympathetic to GM. The company’s bankruptcy restructuring buried pre-2009 liabilities, including those related to product defects, in the same grave that contains the remains of the “old” GM. The “new” GM got the productive assets and operations, free and clear. In a March 12 research note, JPMorgan Chase analyst Ryan Brinkman predicted the financial costs of the ignition-related recall would be “de minimus,” a mere trifle. Harvey Miller, GM’s lead outside bankruptcy lawyer, says the liability shield will hold. The time to litigate pre-2009 claims, Miller insists, “has long passed.”
Well, maybe. The prospect of showing corporate deceit—and the accompanying potential of punitive damages—has plaintiffs’ lawyers preparing a frontal assault on the Chapter 11 defense. On March 14, Bob Hilliard, an injury attorney in Corpus Christi, Tex., filed a proposed class action in federal court seeking $6 billion to $10 billion for the lost value of cars affected by the February recall. Hilliard separately represents the families of two teenagers who died in a 2006 crash of a Chevy Cobalt in Wisconsin. He alleges that the company improperly failed to disclose the extent of its potential liability during Chapter 11 proceedings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Women's History Month: Technology Pioneers (TechRepublic)

The first computer programmers and most celebrated mathematicians throughout history were women. In honor of Women's History Month, here are the oft-forgotten, influential tech pioneers. In this photo from 1946, two of the first programmers, Esther Gerston and Gloria Gordon work with the ENIAC computer. 

Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer

Ada Lovelace, born in 1815 to famed poet Lord Byron and his wife, is known as the first computer programmer. When renowned mathematician Charles Babbage began working on his "Analytical Engine," she served as the key interpreter, describing exactly how it worked for the public. Specifically, she explained how the machine used algorithms and sequences--the world's first computer program. Her explanation was published in 1843. In the 70s, the Department of Defense created a combination of computer languages and named them "Ada."

Margaret Knight, famous inventor 

Margaret Knight is considered the most famous 19th century inventor. In 1868, she invented a machine that folded and glued paper, which made the flat-bottomed paper bags still in use today. She built a wooden model, but needed an iron one to apply for a patent. Charles Annan, who worked in the shop with her, stole the design and filed for a patent. She sued, was awarded the patent in 1871, and founded the Eastern Paper Bag Co. She also invented several devices for rotary engines and a numbering machine. 

Knight's paper bag machine patent

Margaret Knight worked in textile mills throughout her young life, and reportedly designed her first invention at the age of 12. Over her lifetime, she received at least 27 patents, the most famous being this paper bag machine. 

Emmy Noether, the master mathematician

Albert Einstein called Emmy Noether the most significant and creative mathematician of all time. She was an extremely influential German mathematician who invented a theorem that explains the connection between symmetry and conservation laws. She also made huge contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. During Hitler's rise in 1933, she was expelled from her position at the University of Gottingen because she was Jewish, so she gathered students at her apartment to discuss mathematics and field theory. 

Grace Hopper, computer programming pioneer

Grace Hopper worked on the UNIVAC in 1960. Hopper was a mathematician and rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. She is perhaps one of the most well-known pioneers in developing computer technology, helping to devise UNIVAC I., the first commercial electronic computer. This led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She also developed the  first complier for a computer programming language, and is known for popularizing the term "debugging." 

"Amazing Grace" Hopper

Here, Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman,  promotes Capt. Grace Hopper commodore with President Ronald Reagan present. The USS Hopper Navy destroyer was named after Hopper. The Cray XE6 "Hopper" computer was named for her as well. She also pioneered the testing for computer systems, advocating for networks of small computers in the 1970s to replace large systems. 

Betty Holberton, first ENIAC computer programmer

Betty Holberton programs the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was one of the original six programmers for ENIAC. She also helped develop the UNIVAC and its control panels, as well as several programming languages with Grace Hopper. 

Bartik's legacy

Jean Bartik, right, and Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, widow of John Mauchly, hold part of the computer he helped design. Bartik was one of the original programers for the ENIAC computer. She later went on to program BINAC and UNIVAC. She was later an editor for Auerbach Publishers, and worked for Data Decisions. 

Top Secret Rosies, female programmers of WWII

During WWII, more than 2.2 million women were working in war industries. The factory workers were dubbed "Rosie the Riveter," which was paired with that iconic image of the strong-armed working woman. But women--including the six original programmers of the ENIAC--were also recruited to be "computers" (programmers) and do ballistic calculations. The programming was done so in secret, so they were not known or adored by the public. The first job for the six women was programming a trigger for the atomic bomb. 

Hedy Lamarr, actress and inventor

Hedy Lamarr was a famous Austrian actress and beauty icon, but she also contributed an important invention: the basic technology for spread spectrum and frequency hopping, which led to wireless communications. The technology manipulated radio frequencies to form an unbreakable code to prevent enemy interceptions. She worked on the invention with composer George Antheil in 1941, and was awarded a patent, but the idea was not implemented in the U.S. until 1962. Reportedly, she wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was not allowed. She was eventually honored for her contributions in 1997. 

Katherine Johnson, first female NASA mathematician

In 1953, Katherine Johnson joined Langley Research Center as a research mathematician for National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which eventually became NASA. At first, Johnson was assigned to an all-male flight division. Her assertiveness earned her a place at the meetings, which were previously only for males. At NASA, she joined the the Spacecraft Controls Branch, where she calculated the flight trajectory for the first American into space in 1959, as well as Apollo 11's flight to the moon in 1969. 

Radia Perlman, inventor of STP

Radia Perlman attended MIT in the 1980s, and was one of a very small number of females in her classes. While working for Digital Equipment Corporation, Perlman invented spanning tree protocol (STP), fundamental for the operation of network bridges, as well as contributions to network design and standardization such as TRILL. She was named an Intel Fellow in 2010. Perlman has often been called the "Mother of the Internet," but she recently opened up to The Atlantic about disapproving of the title. 

Anita Borg, lifelong advocate for women in tech

After returning from a conference that consisted of mostly males, Anita Borg started a mailing list for women in technology called Systers. Borg, a computer scientist with a Ph.D. from New York University, was co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women, a conference held every two years to honor research by women in computing, and eventually founded the Institute for Women in Technology, a nonprofit focused on encouraging women to enter the computer science and technology fields. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Internet tsunami: 8 big insights on what it disrupts next (ZDNet)

Summary: The disruptions that the Internet has unleashed on society have only just begun. Learn what the next stages will bring over the coming decade.
By  |                                                                        

The world wide web remains one of the greatest disruptive forces in human history. On an average day it can give you access to a vast wealth of human knowledge from a simple search box, show you snapshots from the lives of friends and family spread across the planet, provide a world-class education for freecrowdfund solar power in ways that governments can't affordredistribute food that would have been wasted, and sweep corrupt rulers into the dustbin of history.
Not bad for a 25 year-old.
Last week we celebrated the 25th anniversary of when Tim Berners-Lee first proposed the world wide web. While the web technically rides on top of the Internet—which had its origins a couple decades earlier—it was the web that turned the Internet into a world-shaping phenomenon. And today, the two terms are virtually synonymous among the masses.
Throughout 2014, as part of the web's 25th birthday celebration, the Pew Research Internet Project is releasing a series of reports on the impact of the web—as well it's future. This past week, in honor of the anniversary of Berners-Lee's 1989 proposal to create the web, Pew released the report, Digital Life in 2025. It surveyed a group of 2,558 technology experts on their expectations about the future trajectory of the Internet. It then mined that data for patterns and the most poignant comments.
The remarks that Pew highlighted from these experts include a little navel-gazing, fear-mongering, and overly-optimistic blather. But, the interesting insights far outweigh the drivel. While I recommend reading the full report, I've pulled out the most useful insights and listed them below.

1. The end of being online 

"The Internet will shift from the place we find cat videos to a background capability that will be a seamless part of how we live our everyday lives," said Joe Touch, director of the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, "We won't think about 'going online' or 'looking on the Internet' for something—we'll just be online, and just look."

2. A dashboard of your life

"When the cost of collecting information on virtually every interaction falls to zero, the insights that we gain from our activity, in the context of the activity of others, will fundamentally change the way we relate to one another, to institutions, and with the future itself," said Patrick Tucker, author of The Naked Future. "We will become far more knowledgeable about the consequences of our actions; we will edit our behavior more quickly and intelligently."

3. The data-layered world

"We will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers," said Daren C. Brabham, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California. "This will change a lot of social practices, such as dating, job interviewing and professional networking, and gaming, as well as policing and espionage."

4. Dealing with bad actors

"Of course, there will be bad acting by some, taking advantage of organizational vulnerabilities and gaming systems in other ways," said Doc Searls, director of ProjectVRM at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "Organizations in the meantime will continue rationalizing negative externalities, such as we see today with pollution of the Internet’s pathways by boundless wasted advertising messages, and bots working to game the same business. But … civilization deals with bad acting through development of manners, norms, laws and regulations. Expect all of those to emerge and evolve over the coming years."

5. Disruption of the state

"The most neglected aspect of the impact is in the geopolitics of the Internet," said Randy Kluver, professor of communication at Texas A&M University. "There are very few experts focused on this, and yet the rise of digital media promises significant disruption to relations between and among states. Some of the really important dimensions include the development of transnational political actors/movements, the rise of the virtual state, the impact of digital diplomacy efforts, the role of information in undermining state privilege (think Wikileaks), and … the development of cyber-conflict (in both symmetric and asymmetric forms)."

6. Reinventing jobs

"The Internet, automation, and robotics will disrupt the economy as we know it. How will we provide for the humans who can no longer earn money through labor?" said Robert Cannon, Internet law and policy expert. "The good news is that the technology that promises to turn our world on its head is also the technology with which we can build our new world. It offers an unbridled ability to collaborate, share, and interact. 'The best way to predict the future is to invent it.' It is a very good time to start inventing the future."

7. The power to tackle bigger problems

"The problems that humanity now faces are problems that can’t be contained by political borders or economic systems," said JP Rangaswami, chief scientist for Salesforce. "Traditional structures of government and governance are therefore ill-equipped to create the sensors, the flows, the ability to recognize patterns, the ability to identify root causes, the ability to act on the insights gained, the ability to do any or all of this at speed, while working collaboratively across borders and time zones and sociopolitical systems and cultures. From climate change to disease control, from water conservation to nutrition, from the resolution of immune-system-weakness conditions to solving the growing obesity problem, the answer lies in what the Internet will be in decades to come. By 2025, we will have a good idea of its foundations."

8. Sweeping away existing structures

"It is going to systemically change our understandings of being human, being social, and being political," said Nishant Shah, professor at the Centre for Digital Cultures at Leuphana University, Germany. "It is not merely a tool of enforcing existing systems; it is a structural change in the systems that we are used to. And this means that we are truly going through a paradigm shift—which is celebratory for what it brings, but it also produces great precariousness because existing structures lose meaning and valence, and hence, a new world order needs to be produced in order to accommodate for these new modes of being and operation."