As a child, one might have imagined counting to ten billion in the course of reckoning with the seeming infinitude of enormous numbers. This is actually impossible to do in a human life time, since it would take over three hundred years. But, as an adult, one might discover that he can simply will himself from zero to that number, or even more—at least as long as he is counting in dollars, as the founders of Snapchat and Uber have discovered, whose companies are now valued at more than ten billion dollars. A lingering question: now that the ten-billion-dollar frat has become a little less exclusive, who will be [...]
In 1969, a psychologist named G. Harry McLaughlin published the results of a number of experiments he’d made on speed readers in the Journal of Reading. His fastest subject was Miss L., "a university graduate with an IQ of 140" who had taken a speed reading course and claimed to have achieved speeds of sixteen thousand words per minute "with complete comprehension." He hooked her up to the electro-oculograph, a device that measures eye movements, and let her rip.
Miss L. read Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust at 10,000 words per minute [...] When she was half way through I asked her for a recall [...] Miss L. recalled [...]
The two-way path between government, politics, and private industry, densely shaded by lush money trees, is so well-worn it seems to have been carved by the finger of God, a well-known capitalist, long ago. And yet, fresh trade routes establish themselves all the time. David Plouffe, the man who successfully convinced a majority of the United States in 2008 that Barack Obama would change the country for the better, is now going to make the same argument for Uber, a service that seeks to deeply weave itself into the infrastructure of cities in order to make as much money as possible. Meanwhile, Kara Swisher notes, former Obama press [...]
The Times has published its third or so major piece on the part-time and gig economy in nearly as many weeks—this one focussed on those employed by apps, commonly known as members of the "sharing economy." Predictably, the founder of a car-sharing marketplace that will be crushed by Uber, called RelayRides, describes it as "transformational.” And yet:
“On average, you’re going to make $7 per favor,” [Kelsey Cruse] Cruse explained, using the company’s euphemism for a delivery. “If you are running two favors in an hour, that’s $14 an hour. It’s pretty awesome.” She hadn’t yet racked up enough “favors” to earn that much consistently. So far [...]