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I love WhatsApp! It’s really funny though – WhatApp has simply not taken hold here in the US as it has internationally. WhatsApp at this point is 1 of 6 messaging apps I use, but I use it almost exclusively for communicating with friends and family who are either currently based outside the US or used to live abroad.

I think one of the reasons it was adopted more quickly abroad that here in the US is because people also just did not get that hooked on SMS as we do here in the US. Texting is the normal form of communication here, and once the iPhone came out, all iPhone users could communicate via iMessage over data networks. I guess the rest of the world is more diverse in its phone choice (many more Android users) and WhatsApp, or other data-based communication services, helps fill that need better.

On November 20, 2016, S commented on Do Android Phones Dream of Electric Sheep? :

Thanks for the post! I remain pretty skeptical of sleep-tracking apps and devices, at least until as mc23 and cranberryfarmer8 pointed out, there is value beyond basic data tracking. I used to have a Fitbit that monitored my sleep…and it was useless. Whether or not I believed in the quality of the data (sounds like Beddit would be more accurate), I wasn’t sure what to do with my results. Great, I slept for 7 hours and woke up 4 times…how am I supposed to fix that? Is waking up 4 times normal? If I don’t remember waking up, does it actually matter?

I agree that sleep is one of the next big health areas tech companies are trying to “hack”, but I just don’t see how many of them can offer actionable steps to improve sleep quality. I’m not sure gameification is the way to go, but I think getting some feedback on the physiological elements of body position during sleep could be useful. Maybe there are devices that can address that!

It’s a big scary how engineered everyone’s individual Netflix experience is! I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Netflix keeping an eye on which cover image of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is most effective on me…

But on the other hand, this is nothing new. Digitization offers a faster, more efficient, and far more thorough way for companies like Netflix to keep a tab on consumer preferences, but the music industry has been doing this for a while. Hitmaker lyricists know which formulas to fall back on when penning new songs for the likes of Rihanna and Britney – and as a result, so much of top 40 radio sounds the same (and, the millennial whoop is partly to blame: https://thepatterning.com/2016/08/20/the-millennial-whoop-a-glorious-obsession-with-the-melodic-alternation-between-the-fifth-and-the-third/). Where I think Netflix’s handle on data will provide the most value is in the ability of their algorithms to identify very minor or almost imperceptible consumer preferences (the beginnings of a new trend) and invest in innovative, creative content that breaks norms away from existing mainstream content but gets credit for tapping into yet-unrealized content preferences.

Or, you know, I’d be happy with more Arrested Development, too.

On November 20, 2016, SM commented on Omada Health: A Leader in the Digital Health Revolution :

I didn’t know how developed and effective Omada’s solutions are – great to learn about how they have been able to integrate more evidence of the effectiveness of their program into their value proposition!

I 100% agree there is a big need for these types of services in the mental health space. It’s unfortunately still a taboo subject in many parts of the world and something that individuals can be very hesitant to obtain care for. You highlighted a few concerns about this market (revenue model, meausuring effectiveness of program) that I agree with – but I also think the larger question is how to drive engagement with the platform. For something widespread with relatively standardized care like diabetes, a platform like Omada works well. Patients hear diagnoses from their doctors and can take very concrete actions guided by Omada and others. For more nuanced mental health conditions, I still think there is a very high barrier to downloading and consistently using an app or program. Maybe there is a way to expand the solution so it touches more stakeholders (“influencers” in a patient’s life?) and helps drive engagement? I don’t know much about the various apps already entering the market, such as Lantern, but I suspect this is the central issue they are focused on.

There was a really scary sensationalist headline on Facebook sometime last year that said something like “Boston: The Venice of the West” but I think it was completely untrue. Basically focused on the fact that Back Bay is technically a man-made neighborhood and below sea level.

Very scary projections in this post! I’ve never been to the Maldives, but I certainly dream of doing so one day and it’s sad to think that this might not be possible in the future. You make a good point about a big obstacle being the lack of locally available skilled resources. The Maldives is not the only island nation facing these issues; so are many other island nations in Oceania. The Solomon Islands in particular have already had 5 or 6 islands become partially or completely submerged. I wonder if there can be a global task force that develops specialized knowledge on how to stave off this disaster – and can serve as a centralized knowledge base for many island nations to rely on? That could potentially address the lack of skilled resources to address what are likely many similar concerns across these island nations.

Interesting topic of choice, and one that brings to mind many magical memories or images of Venice to most of us! Since I was a little kid, I have been hearing how “Venice is sinking, Venice is sinking” – it is great to finally read about how the Italian government has taken steps to implement MOSE and take back control.

I fully agree with your suggestions – especially #3. Venice benefits from holding a key place in much of the world’s cultural identity, and as such it can really leverage many types of marketing and fundraising campaigns to help its cause. The structure of the lagoon next to the sea seems like a pretty interesting engineering problem to work on, so hopefully the government could also implement additional campaigns to attract more top engineering talent on solving this issue.

On November 6, 2016, SM commented on Amazon Web Services: Greenhouse Gases in the Cloud :

Super interesting post, Alex. AWS is indeed a huge part of Amazon’s growth story going forward, and it’s also the main driver for the surge in AMZN’s stock price over the past few quarters. Great to see that Amazon is addressing its climate change implications upfront today.

Frankly, I was very surprised to read that 15 customers actually went back to Amazon and demanded changes following the Greenpeace report. I wonder if this is because those customers have internal controls and sustainability standards that are now forcing them to pressure suppliers, including Amazon.

What I find most interesting for their datacenter strategy going forward is the geographic location of these datacenters over time. Like you mentioned, they use an incredible amount of energy to maintain cool temperatures, and I find it very telling that Amazon’s newest regions for planned datacenters seem to be progressively moving farther north…to naturally cooler climates where less power is needed? 🙂
See the green circles at the site above.

On November 6, 2016, SM commented on Creepy Crawlies & Climate Change at the CDC :

Hi Tatiana – great post! I really like your idea of leveraging technology to build apps and other consumer-facing platforms that can help track infections and mosquito outbreaks real-time. Everyone loves to hate on mosquitos during the summer, so tying a “mosquito counting” app into general summer announcements about wearing sunscreen, etc. could be a pretty easy way to get the app out.

Your post reminded me of a tactic that some countries are using to combat Zika: building mosquito armies that have been infected with a different bacteria that reduces their ability to spread viruses among human populations. The CDC could also (with appropriate funding) look into developing low-cost and efficient processes to build these mosquito armies quickly in response to new infections that might come to the U.S. Now is the time to figure out how to develop these armies efficiently and quickly so that as infectious disease trends begin to change more in response to climate change, the CDC is ready.

(see Zika article here: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37773274)

On November 6, 2016, SM commented on Cashmere Catastrophe :

Really interesting post. Also reminds me of some cashmere sweaters I recently bought for 90% off…I guess JCrew is not really thinking about option 1!

Until I read your post, I wasn’t completely aware of the complexities involved with raising cashmere goats and why exactly their wool is so special and rare (other than it is soft and warm). Options 2 and 3 are definitely interesting from scientific and business points of view, but cashmere is a luxury good and I can’t help but think that traditional cashmere customers will not be happy about new products from these options. Producers might be able to get away with option 2: it’s still a cashmere goat at the end of the day, and consumers likely won’t perceive any differences. How would implementation of this option work? Do you think Kering would be the one to partner with labs and research organizations and invest in their genetics programs? Reading The Atlantic article you referenced, I feel they could also run into some troublesome regulatory issues with the Chinese government. Meanwhile, Option 3 feels like the cubic zirconia vs. diamond issue. Cashmere is cashmere at the end of the way, and while Kering and others may be able to develop new product lines with other fabrics, I don’t really see this as a viable option.

Interesting read!