Reservations about Our Choice, and the Push Pop Press vision of tomorrow’s books

Like most people fascinated with the potential that devices like the iPad have to change how we read and learn, I rushed to the App Store to purchase Push Pop Press’s highly-anticipated first interactive book, “Our Choice.”

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Spain not interested in productivity

Spainish president Rodriguez Zapatero has been meeting with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, to discuss reforms necessary to address the battered Spanish economy. One of Merkel’s suggestions, is that Spain adopt policies similar to those in Germany, which tie salary increases to productivity and profit, rather than inflation.

That suggestion, of course, didn’t go over too well in Spain. In particular, I love this quote from Arturo Fernández, vice president of the CEOE:

“Productivity is more a German interest, than a Spanish one.”

Reactions to Paul Graham’s views of future trends.

I really enjoyed watching this video of Paul Graham at the 2009 Business of Software conference, in which he discusses 21 future trends he believes we can bank on. Having grown and sold an early web business to Yahoo, Paul has since become a highly influential writer and participant in the technology industry. Currently, he runs “Y Combinator,” a venture capital company which makes financial and advisory investments in startups.

In his talk, I was excited to hear Paul emphasize the importance of some areas in which I’m invested, both personally and professionally:

  • OS X on the desktop. Paul points out that open-source, while a great model for the development of technical solutions, falls short at the boarder with design, because of the human psychology aspects which are central to good design. For that reason, he believes (as I’ve long believed) that Linux will never have a place on the desktop, and, of the remaining options, Mac OS X is and will continue to be the clear winner. (He also notes that over 50% of his audience was using Macs — perhaps an early indicator of broader future market trends.)

  • The iPhone will be a huge deal. Paul believes the iPhone has no competition, and is unlikely to see any competition in the near future — because it’s the top priority of the world’s best design company. He also believes this is a tragedy for such a hugely important emerging market (i.e. mobile), because of Apple’s application approval process, which is pretty much the anti-thesis of free markets. (Interestingly, he points out that the central thing going against Android is that it belongs to Google — since a firm can only have one top priority, and for Google, that’s search.)

  • Bet on design. As more and more of our daily lives involve interaction with software systems, the scope of design will continue to increase, and the need for good design will become ever more important. He points out the unfortunate curiosity about design — that everybody believes they’re good at it, and in that respect, it’s quite different than, say, the engineering or medical fields. (Nobody, other than trained physicians, feel they’re “probably good at surgery.”)

I strongly agree with Paul on all these points, especially the one about design. And that’s particularly exciting for me, as design is both a personal passion, and a (if not the) fundamental value of my company.

On a closing note, as clever as he is, Paul didn’t get it right on all fronts. At 41:30 in the video, talking about the coming importance of real-time, he says, “I think Google Wave is going to be important.” On that, he must have momentarily forgotten his earlier emphasis on the importance of good design. Oh, well, nobody’s perfect.

Are we entitled to data security?

In a Wall Street Journal article related to Twitter’s settling of a privacy-related case, Consumer Protection Bureau Director David Vladeck states:

Consumers who use social networking sites may choose to share some information with others, but they still have a right to expect that their personal information will be kept private and secure.

If I, as a consumer, choose to create an account with a free social network service like Twitter, why am I entitled to anything beyond the terms of services to which I agreed?