Evolve or Die: How Words Make It In this World

Whether a word lives or dies depends on laws of natural selection much like those that shape the fate of living species, a new study shows. Researchers analyzed more than 5 million books, written over the last two centuries in English, Spanish, and Hebrew, that had been scanned into Google’s vast database.

They found that while the English language is still growing at a rate of about 8,500 words per year, the birth rate of new words is slowing—and the death rate increasing. Newly coined words tend to achieve widespread circulation faster than they used to, because they are more likely to describe major innovations such as “Twitter” and “iPod.”

Meanwhile, in the “inherently competitive, evolutionary environment” of languages, dying terms are losing a Darwinian battle against more popular “synonyms, variant spellings, and related words,” study author Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University physicist, tells The Wall Street Journal. The catchier term “X-ray,” for instance, put its synonym “roentgenogram” out of business; “persistency” has been choked off by “persistence.” Once a word is born, Tenenbaum found, it has between 30 and 50 years to either take hold or disappear.

- As seen in The Week
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Why Google Will Abandon Android

According to Charlie Kindel, at cek.log, Google will abandon Android. Keep in mind this article is the opinion of the author. Google has not actually decided to abandon Android (yet). Why will Google abandon Android? In short order, Google will launch their tablet. And in doing so they will start down the path of abandoning Android. Here's what he means...


The Google tablet will be called the “Google Play”. Brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services. Google will distance itself from the Android brand; instead they will invest heavily in the Play brand. Fragmentation of Android will accelerate.

As he explained in his article on how to think about Android fragmentation, fragmentation is not the end of android, but means Google has lost control of Android. Google has lost control of both the Android platform and the Android brand.

Google is desperate to compete in the phone and tablet spaces (not to mention social networking). Android is a perfectly suitable technical platform to build on, but as a brand it is atrocious. In that article he suggested one of the tactics Google will try to use to regain control of Android would be to “Invest in the Nexus brand”.

Nexus is Google’s pure play. The idea is a phone with a more rigidly defined user experience, more consistent hardware, the latest OS with a consistent upgrade policy, a single marketplace, and consistent (Google-endorsed) services. Charlie loves this strategy from an end-user’s perspective. Nexus phones will sell fairly well. But the numbers will pale in comparison to the non-Nexus phones sold. But Nexus will only be “fairly” successful because it is counter to what the carriers want and every dollar Google spends on advertising it incents the device manufactures and carriers to spend more on advertising their differentiated products. Nexus actually worsens fragmentation along most axes by introducing yet another “Android model” into the mix.

Charlie no longer believes Google will invest in the Nexus brand (at least for tablets). Instead he's betting the Google tablet will be called the “Google Play”. This makes perfect sense given Google’s recent rebranding of the Android Marketplace and consolidation of apps, music, books, and movies into a unified Google Play.

Moving forward, Google will invest heavily in the Play brand. To effectively create new brand you have to mute your usage of other brands in the same space. At the most, any further use of the term “Android” in consumer marketing and branding will be relegated to “ingredient brand” status (“Certs with Retsin!”). Google will start distancing itself from the Android brand completely.

Why?

Because Android has become an ill-defined mess of a brand that Google does not control. If Google wants to create a phenomenal end-to-end user experience that has a chance of competing with the iPad juggernaut in the tablet space they need to control all aspects of the experience. If they are smart (and Charlie thinks they are) they will recognize that brand is as much a part of the end-to-end experience as the user interface, device, OS, apps, and services.

Remember how much power the mobile operators and device manufacturers/OEMs are in the mobile space? For the same reasons Windows Phone 7 struggles, so do Google’s Nexus branded phones. But tablets are not phones and the power of the MOs and OEMs is muted in the tablet space. A tightly controlled user experience, device, OS, and services model built around the Google Play brand can be successful even in the face of MOs and OEMs.

He predicts Google will go so far as to push the Play brand over Android even with developers. They’ve already started this with marketplace submission and you can bet there will be a new, more stringent, app certification program under the Google Play moniker in an attempt to raise the quality of apps for the new Google Play tablet. Watch for Google Play specific APIs and services as well.

Don’t believe, for one second, Google building it’s own tablet and getting behind a cohesive brand strategy will reduce Android fragmentation. It won’t. It will accelerate fragmentation across all axes. Google knows this; which is all the more reason they will abandon the Android brand and focus on something they can control.

The tablet space is going to be hugely entertaining in the next 6-9 months as Google makes this transition, other Android-based tablet makers continue what they are doing, the iPad continues to sell like gangbusters, and we see how successful Microsoft is with Windows 8 ARM based tablets.

As seen here: http://ceklog.kindel.com
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Will the iPad kill the PC?

Even if the desktop doesn't disappear, “its glory time is over.” Your personal computer is headed for the recycling bin, said Dan Farber in CNET.com. With the unveiling of Apple’s latest iPad last month, it’s clear that tablets will soon replace the “desktops and clunky laptops that were the face of computing for decades.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who called the iPad the “poster child for the post-PC world,” said that the company sold 15.4 million of the devices in just the last quarter of 2011, more than the number of PCs sold during the same period by any one of the leading manufacturers, such as Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Dell. And as competition among tablet makers heats up, computer sales will stay flat or slide, said Patrick May and John Boudreau in the San Jose Mercury News. Nearly 120 million tablets are expected to be sold worldwide this year, and Apple, which already commands more than half of the market, is expected to remain top dog. “Essentially anything we once thought of as pen-and-paper activities can now be supplemented by a tablet,” says technology analyst Gene Munster.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, said John Naughton in the London Observer. Tablets may be flying off the shelves, but consumers, not businesses, are buying them. Many companies are simply not about to make “radical changes in their IT infrastructures” in the current economic climate. And while I love my iPad, it’s basically useless for a great number of tasks. I suppose you could “write a book, edit a movie, or build a big spreadsheet” on it, but it would be a bit like digging in the garden “with a teaspoon.” I was just finishing my obituary of the PC, said Daniel Nye Griffiths in Forbes.com, when I looked down and noticed…my keyboard—“with a wire coming out of the back.” You can be sure that the “vast majority of the technology journalists” trumpeting the post-PC era are doing so on, ahem, a PC.

You’re missing the point, said Kit Eaton in FastCompany.com. The PC isn’t going to disappear—millions of pocket calculators are still sold each year—but “its glory time is over.” There’s “nowhere really novel” for the laptop or desktop to go. It doesn’t matter that an iPad’s uses don’t neatly sync with those of a traditional computer, because over time, “new ways of using tablets will replace the old ways of using PCs.” These are exciting days. “We’re right at the beginning of the tablet computing era, with bigger and better things yet to come.”

- As seen in The Week
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Project Glass: Google's 'terribly cool' augmented-reality glasses

Imagine having directions and calendar reminders beamed directly in front of your eyeballs. Google's Star Trek-inspired frames promise to do just that!

Google's sci-fi plan to transform a pair of glasses into a wearable personal computer has long threatened to become a reality. On Wednesday, the rumors were confirmed, and the initiative was finally revealed as "Project Glass." The search giant's Star Trek-inspired, augmented-reality specs — which promise to beam data from Google's vast trove of information right in front of your eyes — are slimmer and sleeker than initial reports indicated. According to a demo video (watch the video here!), wearers, apparently through vocal commands alone, can send instant messages, look up directions, snap photos (and share them with Google+ circles), add events to calendars, and video chat with friends. You can't buy these specs yet, says Nick Bilton at The New York Times. "Google, however, will be testing them in public very soon."

The reaction: We all know Google is cool, says Ami Efrati at The Wall Street Journal, but Project Glass also reflects newly reinstated CEO Larry Page's goal of narrowing "the company's overall focus around a few core initiatives, including search, mobile, and social networking." Perhaps, says Dan Frommer at SplatF. Still, I'm not sure this wearable technology would really catch on. "Between the added bulk, looking ridiculous, and the inevitable cost, it's on the road to becoming the Segway of optics." Are you kidding? asks Chris Velazco at TechCrunch. This technology is "terribly, terribly cool stuff" — at least if the final headset lives up to the simulation in Google's demo.

- As seen in The Week
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News from the Online Dating Front

One in five couples now reports having met on the Web. Are they any more likely to be compatible than couples who came together in traditional ways? Based on his analysis of 400 studies of dating sites and their methods for matching people, University of Rochester psychologist Harry Reis says no.

“There is no reason to believe that online dating improves romantic outcomes,” he tells Time.com. Matchmaking sites like Match.com promise to analyze user data to increase everyone’s odds of finding their “soul mates.’’ But Reis and his colleagues found that Internet dating actually makes long-term bonding less likely.

Scrolling through hundreds of profiles encourages people to compare dozens of prospective dates to one another, like consumer purchases, as opposed to considering them as individual human beings and potential life partners.

Online profiles also tend to link people based on superficial qualities—whether they like scuba-diving or romantic movies, for instance—that end up being poor predictors of lasting relationships. How couples communicate and how they cope with external stresses they face, such as job loss or illness, have far more impact on compatibility. You can’t look at an online profile “and know what it’s like to interact with someone,” says Reis. “Picking a partner is not the same as buying a pair of pants.” (That's like something I've always said, it's like shopping for shoes.)

But one in five couples are finding love online. Hey, as Dolly Parton so aptly says "I think everyone should be free to love who they want, there's not enough love in this world, so find love where you can. And if you find it, consider yourself lucky."

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