Alec S.

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Very interesting post, Chris. As someone who worked for an online gaming company that primarily focused on more “casual” games, I have similar concerns to what Jordan mentions above. While some games already have loyal followers that will continue to purchase similarly branded games (Warcraft, FIFA, etc.), developing new games is a very “hit-or-miss” proposition as Jordan mentions. I’ve seen first-hand millions of dollars be dedicated to the development of a game only to see the game abandoned shortly before launch. Similarly, I’ve seen games with stunning graphics, great gameplay, and positive reviews fall completely flat. Online and social gaming is very much a “hits-driven” industry, but the biggest problem is identifying what the next “hit” will be. Candy Crush was a massive success, however its gameplay mechanics and graphics were no better than its competitors. So what made it so successful? Similarly, why did its popularity decline so quickly?

Mobile gaming is a massive market opportunity. However, I’m very skeptical that there is an easily replicable process to develop hit games and maintain a pipeline of future hits.

On November 20, 2016, Alec S. commented on Bigbelly’s Talking Trash Cans :

This is a very interesting post, Alex, especially since we see these smart bins over campus (I had no idea where they came from.) My biggest concern is something you raise in your post (“The challenge for Bigbelly in successfully implementing its subscription strategy will be convincing its government and municipal customers, with notoriously bureaucratic procurement processes, to get onboard.”) I feel like anytime a company tries to “disrupt” the existing system, it faces significant pushback from the entrenched systems. Government is particularly fickle when it comes making change. Administrations change, budgets tighten, constituencies wonder why so much money is being invested in trash cans, or any other number of potential issues exist for the long-term stability of Big Belly’s products within a specific locality.

Do you think Big Belly’s biggest problems moving forward will be technology related (ie. improving their product) or sales-related (getting and maintaining adoption by local governments)? I guess I’m not sure if the US at large is ready for “smart cities”, especially because many people may feel it is a waste of resources. Places like San Francisco or Portland, Oregon may find it easier to adopt programs like this, but I can’t see wide-scale adoption anytime soon.

On November 20, 2016, Alec S. commented on Football 2.0 :

Great article, Chris. I’m always interested to see how sports teams are using technology to improve their performance. Lots of teams have begun to invest heavily in data analytics in order to optimize the performance of individuals and the team as a whole. I think as teams continue to develop their analytics departments, the natural extension of that is an improvement in the technology used to capture this data. The more accurate the inputs are, the better the data can be analyzed. I think Zebra is a very interesting technology that allows teams to have more accurate data when analyzing the performance of their players and the team as a whole. As you said, however, there is always room for improvement and the difference of six inches can be very important.

I also agree with other commenters that there is the potential for this technology to be used to better diagnose player safety issues such as concussions. However, I also wonder if that potential might make the NFL shy away from using this technology to its full potential. While the NFL knows there are concussions issues, it seems like they would prefer to brush these issues under the rug instead of fully addressing them. Do you think the NFL’s hesitancy regarding concussions could hinder Zebra’s adoption? While it might be fun for viewers to know how hard someone was tackled, I can’t imagine the NFL would want each concussion to be publicly acknowledged on TV.

On November 20, 2016, Alec S. commented on There ain’t no such thing as free Internet :

Great article, Sid. I wrote about the same topic and I believe we generally have the same opinion of and Free Basics. However, having worked at Facebook and knowing many people that work at Facebook, part of me believes that Facebook initially had good intentions when launching I actually believe that Zuckerberg’s initial goal may have been altruistic. However, in order for other companies to get involved, they needed to see a good business reason to do so. Additionally, Zuckerberg and Facebook probably didn’t realize the scale and scope of money and resources required to complete their mission.

I guess my question to you is this: Do you think was always a money-making, user acquisition scheme? Or do you think it may have originally had altruistic intentions, but the reality of business forced Zuckerberg and Facebook to turn it into a money-making scheme for itself and its partners? I am still unsure how I feel about this myself.

On November 20, 2016, Alec S. commented on Football on your phone :

Good post, AJR. While internet-streaming offers fans more options to watch football, the traditional NFL networks (CBS, FOX, ESPN) are incentivized to keep viewers watching the NFL on their TV due to the large amount of revenue brought in by traditional TV advertising. Additionally, the NFL makes a significant amount of money both from sponsors and from the actual TV contracts themselves. As viewership on TV goes down, will the NFL lose money because future TV contracts will be smaller than before (since there are fewer people watching on TV)? Similarly, will networks like ESPN, CBS, and FOX be negatively impacted by the fact that advertisers will be less-willing to spend big money on TV advertising?

Personally, as a viewer, I’m glad that watching the NFL is becoming more accessible and available through other media than network TV. However, these new platforms are still very new for the NFL and I wonder what the impact will be on the TV networks and the NFL as viewers shift their viewing habits towards these new platforms.

On November 7, 2016, Alec S. commented on Oysters: Climate Change Served Raw :

As someone who has been to the Hog Island Oyster farm in Tomales Bay numerous times, this is of great concern to me. I agree with “climatechangewoes” that Hog Island does not have the necessary resources itself to perform the R&D that might result in new types of oysters that might be resistant to some of the environmental impacts Hog Island has seen. I also think it is unlikely that a collective of oyster companies would have the necessary resources.

Unfortunately, Hog Island will likely be forced to expand their farming practices that isolate their oysters from the ocean. I’m sure that this will have the unfortunate side effect of reducing the quality and variety of oysters they farm, as well as increase the prices for their oysters.

I do think that “J2G18” brings up a good point that could potentially help Hog Island acquire funds from the government to perform some of the research that they would otherwise be unable to do. In addition to the filtering that oysters perform (that J2G18) mentions, oyster beds have also traditionally helped prevent erosion. While many large, natural oyster beds have been decimated (either by harvesting, climate change, or other means), local and federal governments would be wise to look into oyster beds as a way to help address other impacts of climate changes caused by rising sea levels. The Oyster Restoration Workgroup has some interesting information about the efficacy of oysters in preventing erosion:

On November 7, 2016, Alec S. commented on HOW DIRTY IS YOUR DATA? :

This is an interesting topic because I don’t think many people realize that “the cloud” is actually a set of massive server farms that require a lot of energy to run (and to keep cool.) Essentially, the cloud is just a lot of computers clustered together.

What do you think could incentivize Amazon to make their data centers more energy efficient? Unlike some companies (car companies, oil companies, etc) that clearly impact the environment, I do not think that many people are aware of the footprint caused by data centers. Do you believe there is a way to put social pressure on Amazon to try to be more energy efficient.

Additionally, I’m aware of some companies trying to be more energy efficient with their data centers. For example, Facebook has a data center in Sweden in order to help reduce the costs required to cool down the physical servers. Do you know of any other examples like this? Could a company like Amazon (which has a larger data center footprint that Facebook) could follow similar techniques?

On November 7, 2016, Alec S. commented on Floating Our Concrete Jungles :

I had no idea floating concrete existed! While this is a very interesting topic and there is a certainly a lot of potential for floating concrete in specific use-cases, I unfortunately cannot envision a scenario in which there is a large-scale transition to floating concrete across the world (or even within one individual city.) The amount of capital required and political coordination necessary to allow floating concrete to have a meaningful impact on climate change simply makes the task impossible.

I also agree with Ranj that the technology does not seem to be perfected quite yet, making implementation even more difficult. Given the projected timelines for rising sea levels, I’d guess that we see large scale impact from climate change before floating concrete would be ready for large-scale deployment (not to mention the more practical implementation issues I mentioned above.) As much as I’d like to see a real-life Waterworld – but with floating cities – this seems like a conceptually good idea but simply impossible to implement.

On November 7, 2016, Alec S. commented on Boston Steps Up Fight Against Climate Change :

I’m always interested in how cities or countries that will be most impacted by climate change decide to take steps to mitigate its impact. Unfortunately, no matter how much Boston reduces its own greenhouse emissions, these steps will ultimately do very little to slow down rising sea levels. While it is commendable that Boston is putting forth a great effort to reduce its own carbon footprint (and it should continue with these initiatives), I think it is far more important for Boston to start planning for the inevitable reality that will face it in the future. Unfortunately, I do not have enough expertise to know what types of practical steps can be taken to help mitigate the impact of climate change and rising sea levels will have on Boston. However, I do think that a majority of resources should be dedicated to planning for the inevitable future instead of focusing so heavily on reducing its own carbon footprint. (To be clear, I think Boston should continue to do its part to reduce its impact on climate change. However, its primary focus should be on planning for rising sea levels and what can be done to the cities infrastructure to mitigate the impact from climate change.)

I agree with Mike (and J2G18) that the proposal put forth by Trump Int. Golf Links and Hotel is simply a band-aid that does not actually address any of the causes of climate change, nor does it provide a template that could be used in other areas that are impacted by rising sea levels. We cannot simply build a sea wall around every part of the world that is susceptible to rising sea levels. While Trump Int. Golf Links and Hotel may have the resources to create a 1.7 mile long wall made out of 200,000 tons of boulders, this is not a model that can be replicated by other communities (particularly poorer communities) to mitigate the impact of climate change.

I’m curious if low-laying land in Ireland (and elsewhere) can adopt strategies used in the Netherlands to maintain land that is below sea-level. While creating a system of dykes and channels similar to the Netherlands would be significantly more capital intensive, it also has a higher likelihood of being a more sustainable solution moving forward. Building a sea wall is unsustainable as it would need to be regularly replenished in order to remain effective.

While seemingly untenable to Trump Int. Golf Links and Hotel, the ultimate solution may be to simply abandon the golf course and hotel completely.