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On December 1, 2017, hedychen commented on Re-inventing NYT: Impact of digitalization on news media :

Shruti, thank you so much for writing this fascinating piece! I’m a huge NYT lover and long-time subscriber, so am definitely invested in its future.

I see a lot parallels between disruption in the print industries compared to media and entertainment, and it really centers around shifts in distribution methods. I believe the future of NYT really depends on its ability to build stickiness with consumers. The focus should be on quality, and high quality will lead to loyal relationships which will subsequently lead to increased revenue. As the ability to monetize ads diminishes, this focus on quality becomes crucial. I would draw a comparison to Netflix, which does not have any ad revenue, but generates high loyalty among its consumers.

I believe NYT can build this by strengthening its community – I love the articles on NYT that ask for reader comments and engagement. The more readers engage with the material, the more likely they are to remain subscribers, whether they are getting their information from Alexa or from the web.

I do think that NYT should focus on subscriptions – there is more pricing flexibility in a subscription service and consumers are lazy. If a subscription price is low, they typically do not cancel it and are price insensitive. We’re living in a subscription world – what’s one more? There is an argument for subscription fatigue, but I think when you have a brand as strong as NYT, that becomes less of a concern.

Distribution is the “easier” part – NYT can figure out how to get its news across different platforms and hardware and technology. It’s more crucial to build a loyal base first.

Thank you so much for writing about this important topic! As a consumer of Patagonia, I had limited knowledge of the sustainability initiatives they have taken on as a company and appreciate your essay in helping educate me personally.

Patagonia is definitely taking tremendous steps in the right direction, and I commend all the initiatives they have. I believe they are lagging relative to their counterparts partly because the U.S. has not adopted the same standards as European corporations and there is less industry pressure overall in apparel versus oil and gas. When I think of fighting climate change, I often immediately think of automobiles and manufacturing plants, not t-shirts and fleeces. I think that to pressure corporations to speed up change, consumers need to do their part to focus on the apparel industry and make that a criteria in their buying choices.

There is nothing tangible preventing Patagonia from leveraging its leadership to shape policy for apparel firms, but I think a lot of it can be drilled down to lack of consumer education and marketing of its efforts. If consumers better understand Patagonia’s efforts and credit them with purchases, competitors will take note and follow suit.

Thank you for writing about this! It’s such an important and relevant topic and as an immigrant myself, I appreciate you starting this conversation.

I completely agree that the world is changing – there are shifting political dynamics that have very real implications for people’s livelihoods. I do believe Facebook and other companies have influence in shaping some of these regulations. Although the U.S. may be shifting towards a more isolationist stance, not every country in the world is and I think that overall, there are some very positive trends to look towards globally. Facebook and other large companies are hugely beneficial to the U.S. and global economy, and I would like to believe that the U.S. will make rational decisions for the economy, and that means understanding the importance of immigrants to the economy.

There is definitely merit in competing more aggressively for the best labor, both from an social and economic perspective. If the U.S. wants to remain a global leader, it needs to be a moral leader and an innovator, and we cannot do that without immigrants, who are so important to the foundation of our country.

On December 1, 2017, hedychen commented on Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Digital Education. :

Thank you so much for writing this piece! Education is a hugely important global topic and the growth of online education has tremendously increased access for people.

First, I think the proliferation of online education programs has a net positive benefit. As you mentioned, it provides access to many people, some of which would not have access to traditional education systems, and it also allows people to explore new topics and subject areas at a relatively low cost, and without significant disruption to their day-to-day lives. Online education provides significant global opportunities for people to build skills without going through admissions processes that can be off-putting and oftentimes, very tenuous.

I believe, however, that it would be difficult for these programs to offer degrees without implementing strict guidelines, testing methods and more rigorous structures. In essence, these programs would need a standardized curriculum and a way to monitor performance in order to offer degrees. Beyond that, there is a question of academic integrity that is difficult to regulate over the Internet. I think there is the potential to offer degrees, but it would not be feasible without changes. I also feel that offering degrees would defeat the purpose of online education for some people. Some people would definitely value the degree, but others believe online education is a convenient and accessible way to cherry pick what they want to learn. To offer a degree, you would need to implement standards that may drive people away.

In the short term, I don’t believe that digital education is viewed in the same way as a degree, but it does serve as an important signal of passion, dedication and effort. As you cited, there are constraints to traditional education that prevent access, but pursuing online education demonstrates commitment to learning, which is very important.

On December 1, 2017, hedychen commented on Saving Winter Wonderland? :

Jenny, thanks for writing this great piece! As a skier, this topic is near and dear to my heart, and it saddens me to learn about not only how ski resorts are impacted by climate change, but also how their methods to fight against climate change have negative implications.

Given the negative impact that creating artificial snow has on the environment, I do not believe resorts are justified in using these methods to combat climate change. However, the issue here is squarely a game theory dilemma. This is a competitive market. If Vail Resorts stops creating artificial snow, that is great and can positively impact the environment, but does it mean that everyone else will stop these operations? Probably not. Other ski resorts may see this as a competitive opportunity to provide more snow for visitors, even if it does impact the environment. It’s a challenge to convince business in a free market to suffer short-term losses for a benefit that requires industry participation.

I want to believe that the skiing industry should survive, but I’m probably a bit biased as a skier. However, I believe that if the industry contributes to fighting climate change and supporting the local ecosystem, it can still survive.

On December 1, 2017, hedychen commented on Apple: a homecoming from abroad? :

Maddy, thank you for writing this piece! It was a great read. It’s a complex and politically-charged topic, but an important one, so I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the issue.

I agree with much of what you said, but I don’t think that Apple’s actions will necessarily be viewed as disingenuous or pandering to political pressure. At the end of the day, Apple is a major corporation that will last beyond presidential terms, and making decisions based on current political trends is risky as legislation may change as presidencies come and go.

I do believe, however, that creating U.S. jobs should be incorporated into Apple’s long-term strategy. This not only helps them strengthen their brand in the U.S., but it also is good for business. As you correctly mentioned, there is a dearth of technological talent and as Apple continues to innovate, it will need to have the right people in its organization. Therefore, investing in technological education and training will help the company’s future. Some jobs do not need to be reshored. There are some jobs in manufacturing that may be better off overseas because of shipping and logistics. Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and each job type will need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Because investing in education and training is mutually beneficial for Apple and for U.S. citizens, I don’t believe that Apple is conceding to demands that will make it less efficient. Rather, I see this as an investment for the long-term, and investments usually require substantial upfront cost.