Weekend Link Roundup

October 27, 2017

Free People Magnolia Coat in size XS
▪ I am not someone who gets creative for Halloween. I wore the same bear suit for about five years before it fell apart in a way that my second-rate sewing ability can't salvage. Before I purchased its replacement (see on me), I seriously contemplated buying the Free People coat from above to try to pass myself off as Cookie Monster for Halloween (the plan also included toting around several packages of Chips Ahoy! to snack on. It was genius).

You'll Wear What They Tell You to Wear (The New York Times): "Clothing subscriptions provide a utilitarian uniform for cubicle-bound automatons, people said. They enforce a kind of fascistic conformity, like Mao suits but more cheaply made and less chic. They infantilize us in the same way that meal kit delivery services do: by replacing labor done by someone who might care how we’re fed or what we’re wearing (say, a loving parent) with labor done by workers at the bottom rung of a start-up, or even maybe by an algorithm designed to take key words and turn them into outfits."

When Working From Home Doesn't Work (The Atlantic): "According to Gallup, 43 percent of U.S. employees work remotely all or some of the time ... The communications tools that were supposed to erase distance, it turns out, are used largely among people who see one another face-to-face. In one study of software developers ... researchers from IBM, found that workers in the same office traded an average of 38 communications about each potential trouble spot they confronted, versus roughly eight communications between workers in different locations. The power of presence has no simple explanation. It might be a manifestation of the 'mere-exposure effect': We tend to gravitate toward what’s familiar; we like people whose faces we see, even just in passing ... Whatever the mechanisms at play, they were successfully distilled into what Judith Olson, a distance-work expert at UC Irvine, calls 'radical collocation.' In the late 1990s, Ford Motor let Olson put six teams of six to eight employees into experimental war rooms arranged to maximize team members’ peripheral awareness of what the others were up to. The results were striking: The teams completed their software-development projects in about a third of the time it usually took Ford engineers to complete similar projects. That extreme model is hard to replicate, Olson cautions. It requires everyone to be working on a single project at the same time, which organizational life rarely allows ... Today, in the age of the never-ending software update, business is more like a series of emergencies that need to be approached like an airplane’s fuel leak. You diagnose a problem, deliver a quick-and-dirty solution, get feedback, course-correct, and repeat, always with an eye on the changing weather outside."

Abercrombie & Fitch Puts Its Clothes Back On (Bloomberg): "After years of declining sales, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is reinventing its namesake brand and shunning the exclusionary preppy stereotypes that made it a powerhouse of teen clothing. Its new merchandise and the accompanying campaign portray a more mature version of Abercrombie, pushing adventure and playfulness over exclusivity and sex appeal. They hark back to the original brand motif, an outfitter that catered to adults going fly fishing or mountain climbing, not high school kids amped-up on pheromones. "

Is $100,000 middle class in America? (The Washington Post): "There is no exact definition of middle class, and a deep look at the data shows a wide variety of individuals could be part of it, depending on where they live and how big their family is ... $100,000 is on the middle-class spectrum, but barely: 75 percent of U.S. households make less than that."

Tony Fadell, Coinventor of the iPod, Gets Back at Silicon Valley—From Paris (Wired): "Fadell is a drama king: The more drama, the better. In fact, Fadell’s PR person is a specialist in what has come to be called crisis PR ... Fadell never misses a chance to pooh-pooh the Valley. Fadell made a fortune in Silicon Valley and now has left it for good. He’s putting down roots in Paris ... Look past the big wallet and the big ego and you see a guy who has been grievously hurt by the Silicon Valley system—exploited and then betrayed, twice. First by Steve Jobs, who squeezed Fadell for all the juice he had and then publicly tossed him aside. The second time it was the same shit, different company—Fadell was again sucker-punched on the way out. The wave of bad publicity while he was at Nest—the Recode memes, the Information exposé—came after Fadell told Page he wanted to leave Google ... what I see is a guy trying to prove to Silicon Valley that his way was the right way all along—with the irony that he’s trying to make that case in a high-tax country that has, so far, produced very few high tech companies of note. But who knows? It might just work." 

The Comic Sans Index: What Kind of Fonts Do Americans Use? (Priceonomics): "... the most playful state in the US–Nevada, home of Las Vegas–tops the list of places where the highest percentage of people use script fonts. A surprisingly high 10.34% of all Nevadans who make posters, infographics and other visuals on Venngage choose fonts like Comic Sans."

Snap's 'Shockingly Low' Internal Data Reveals Why Its Spectacles Glasses Flopped (Business Insider): "Snap's much-hyped Spectacles glasses are, by commercial standards, a total flop. Besides selling only 150,000 pairs in the past year ... Snap's internal data showed that well under half of Spectacles owners continued to use the camera-equipped sunglasses after just four weeks ... and ... a sizable percentage of owners would stop using the glasses after just one week."

The Wonder Drug for Aging (Bloomberg): "Botox is derived from a toxin purified from Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that thrives and multiplies in faultily canned food ... The botulinum toxin is so powerful that a tiny amount can suffocate a person by paralyzing the muscles used for breathing ... A baby-aspirin-size amount of powdered toxin is enough to make the global supply of Botox for a year ... The drug works like this: A person’s muscles are controlled by motor nerves, which release a chemical that instructs the muscles to contract. Botox blocks the release of that chemical. Today it’s approved for nine different medical uses—including treatment for chronic migraines, overactive bladders, and severe muscle spasms—and is in trials for use in treating depression and is being studied for atrial fibrillation, or AFib. Cosmetic uses are likewise expanding: The next frontier is the saggy neck and the too-square jaw ... Part of what protects the Botox empire is the sheer complexity of the drug. The recipe isn’t patent-protected—it’s a trade secret, like the formula for Coke ... Brin likens Botox manufacturing to making a fine wine—a winemaker can’t necessarily replicate a rival’s vintage. 'The fundamental process is an anaerobic fermentation process,' he says. 'The amount of time, the purification process, the reagents that are used with it, these are very, very important, and they’re heavily controlled.'"

Can Rent the Runway Replace Fast Fashion? (Racked): "You could say that Rent the Runway is trying to compete with Net-a-Porter and Barneys, both of which offer same-day delivery in parts of New York, or that it’s trying to get a slice (a sliver, really) of Amazon’s Prime Now action. But Hyman (RTR's CEO) says that it’s mainly looking to cut into fast fashion’s stranglehold on day-of purchases. For women who work and live within subway distance of a Zara, it’s all too easy to put off buying something for a nice event until the very last minute, because you know that when you walk through those doors you’ll be able to find something that’s on-point and inexpensive, fast."

This Is What Really Happens When Amazon Comes to Your Town (Politico Magazine): "When outsiders gaze covetously at Seattle’s Amazon boom, what they’re really seeing isn’t the effect of a single company, but of a chain reaction... cities hoping for their own transformational event should keep several caveats in mind. Most obviously, Amazon isn’t the only reason Seattle has been attracting all the firms, talent and capital ... long before Amazon was even a business plan, Seattle had developed what urban geographer Heike Mayer calls the 'entrepreneurial ecology'—a potent mix of talent, institutional expertise and networks that startups like Microsoft and later Amazon were able to plug into."

The Rumor That Amazon Will Sell Prescription Drugs Just Got Serious (Gizmodo): "... Amazon has already received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least 12 states and has at least one application pending. The Dispatch discovered records for the licenses in Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee. Amazon’s application in Maine is the one that’s still pending."

Why The Athletic Wants to Pillage Newspapers (The New York Times): "The Athletic is a subscription sports website and app featuring pages of local articles that roughly replicate newspaper sports sections ... They have raised almost $8 million in venture capital funding and have recurring subscription revenue, ensuring the site won’t shutter soon. But the question everybody in sports media is asking is, What happens in three, five, seven years? Will The Athletic’s business model allow it to survive that long?"

▪ Recently ordered: Leith Blouson Sleeve Cardigan, Topshop Balloon Sleeve Turtleneck Sweater, Topshop Puff Sleeve Ribbed Sweater, and J. Crew Edie Full-Length Trouser in Four-Season Stretch.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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