Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

Big Data, continued

“In 15 years, if you don’t have a solid quant background, you might have a permanent pink slip’. Sobering words, from the Wall Street Journal article Big Data, Big Paycheck. Author Nikki Waller warns that Big Data is here to stay, and that if you are not a quantitative expert, you’d better brush up. According to Linda Burtch of Burtch Works, MBAs in midcareer have returned to school to up their quant skills, while young people today will be honing in on quantitative programs as undergrads and grad students. ”Someone who’s 40, they should be concerned,” opines Burtch. “Hopefully their organization will help, recognizing them as a leader and sending them back for training.” So where do you see yourself in relation to Big Data today?

Staggering stats

Article in the March 31 New Yorker cites French economist Thomas Piketty and his new book Capital in the Twenty-first Century, being hailed as a major intellectual event. While Piketty himself is interesting, I was drawn to the economic portrait described in the article. These statistics would be utterly astonishing … were it not for the fact that I’ve read something like them before. For example, author John Cassidy writes that in 2010 the richest 10% of American households owned 70% of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 50% owned a mere 5%.  The top 1%  alone owned 35% of the wealth. According to Piketty, 95% of all the income growth in the U.S. economy between 2010 and 2012 accrued to the top 1%. Piketty avers that, in the level of inequality in terms of income generated by work, America is “probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.”  I will leave that for economists to decide. No doubt Piketty has his critics — and Cassidy himself offers a critique — but the article is still a sobering read. (This New Yorker issue is on the Library’s magazine rack on the entry floor.)

The Pope and Poverty

Pope Francis has issued Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), particularly notable for its strong opinions about capitalism. Standing in the tradition of Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII and Pacem in Terris of John XXIII, the Pope has offered a vigorous critique of capitalism, peppering the document with calls to conscience. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” he asks, as the 84-page letter denounces the ‘idolatry of money’ and calls for financial reform by world leaders. “Money must serve, not rule!” The Pope goes on to urge governments to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare.” Of course the document also addresses other eccelesial matters as well, setting the tone for his papacy  – “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”  This is the latest foray of the Pope into world thought, and will no doubt cement his image in the popular imagination as a force to be reckoned with. Should we expect anything less from a Pope who took his name from Francis of Assisi?

Top o’ the Tube

As you curl up this season in front of a roaring TV, you might be interested in the Top 10 programs of 2012. Nielsen has put out the list for your entertainment pleasure. Super Bowl won again (no surprise), even beating the Olympics.

Free Dinner? Google that… or like it at Facebook

Checking your work e-mail from home – again?  New perks offered in Silicon Valley (and Stanford Med School) might leave your loved ones more inclined to forgive the time. The New York Times reports that breaking trends in employee compensation address work life balance in new ways, with options like housecleaning, family dinners, and vacation funds.  As the article notes, “Now that technology has allowed work to bleed into home life, it seems that companies are trying to address the impact of home life on work.”

Want to know more? The library can help.  Check the Business FAQ tab on our home page to search for info on employee tenure, compensation, best companies to work for, and even where GSB alumni work.  Our catalog will point you toward books on work life balance, or select the Articles tab in our Databases by Topic for the latest research, including the NYT article above.

Education, Libraries, and the Digital Revolution

“Just as high fidelity failed to kill concerts, and movies failed to kill live theater, and high resolution photos failed to kill museums, so the ability to audit a college course in one’s bedroom will not kill the desire to rub shoulders with other students and a professor. Somewhat paradoxically, by drawing millions more people into serious reading and learning, the digital revolution has in fact created the need for more spaces of physical interaction,” writes David A. Bell in a thought-provoking article in The New Republic.  He makes a compelling argument that libraries are, for several reasons, well-positioned to provide that – and will be needed for this purpose and for knowledge curation for many years to come.

“If Facebook were a country…” – business environment, sociology & ‘contagious’ info

MIT’s Technology Review recently wrote an interesting article on What Facebook knows. Touching on human social behavior, data collection and mining, the article also goes into how Facebook is under increased pressure for new sources of profit. Check it out to see what you’re really sharing (and not just with your friends)…


The Book “Ark”

As a person who still has a fondness for the printed page, I was perhaps shocked to read that the founder of the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle, has been collecting books in the event of a “digital disaster” since June 2011. The collection site is called, Physical Archive of the Internet Archive.

Mr. Kahle is quoted in the article as saying, “We want to collect one copy of every book. You can never tell what is going to paint the portrait of a culture.”

In this Kindle age, do we need to worry about the printed book?

Stay current

Feel the need to ramp up fast on cleantech or the housing crisis?  Check out the Library’s Hot Topics  page (it’s under Resources on our home page.)  There you will find an instant assortment of articles, books and great websites in areas like healthcare, cleantech, corporate social responsibility (CSR), women executives, and the financial crisis.  On the CSR page,  for example, notice our list of 22 websites that can boost your learning curve on the topic. Or review a quick list of books about women in the boardroom on the Women Executives and Career Tracks page. We can give you everything you need to be conversant at the next cocktail party  –  except the martini.

Do we hate to love Google?

According to a recent Pew Research report, Google continues search domination. 83% Americans cite it as their most used search engine & satisfaction with search result quality tops the charts. However, our anxiety is climbing.

Conducted in January & February, the study also finds that 68% of respondents are “NOT OKAY” with targeted advertising – we dislike having our online behavior tracked and analyzed. Furthermore, 73% consider the collection of info in order to personalize future search results to be an “invasion of privacy.”

Did you know that Google’s privacy policy changed on March 1st? It can now record your search history. Will our disapproval demand change or will we just learn to cope?

Check out our Internet Business Websites for links to Pew & other reports on digital society.


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