Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
What if I told you that the march of human progress could be traced in a direct line from the Epicureans of Ancient Greece… through the 18th Century’s cure for smallpox… to where Steve Jobs and Bill Gates found inspiration as scrappy teenagers… to the flying car of tomorrow?Stay with me and I’ll show you […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
What’s the #1 reason a start-up fails?It runs out of money!And why would it run out of money?Because nobody wants the product it’s selling!For early-stage investors, this presents a bit of a conundrum:If a product doesn’t exist yet, how do you figure out if there’s demand for it?And how do you figure it out before […]
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
Every time Bitcoin crashes, it winds up at a price greater than it’s previous high. Yet the experts still call it a currency fad that will fade away. But a little over a year since it really took up, the digital currency is still going strong, and is once again seeing its price rise. But is there another reason why people are buying Bitcoins.
According to some estimates, one man - whose name you're probably not familiar with - has saved over a billion lives. Who is he? And how has he influenced the current crop of innovators? Josh Grasmick explains...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
Biotech breakthroughs and other transformative innovations are a few of the brightly shining spots in the U.S. economy. In fact, Paul Mampilly believes this is the golden age of biotech investing, and that you can earn massive returns while investing in companies with drugs that benefit all of humanity. Read on for his latest example...
Harold Hamm isn’t your typical entrepreneur. His life’s story shows you success in America doesn’t always depend on a fat checkbook
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
Does owning a gun mean you’re guilty until proven innocent? Considering what happened to one man from Florida, that might be the case. But there’s more to this story than just a case of police overreach. Police departments across the nation could be implementing a new technology that puts the burden of innocence squarely on your shoulders.
American ingenuity. It’s the stuff of lore and legend, and it’s what drives the global economy. We literally bank on the next disruptive entrepreneur — and innovative new technology — to completely redefine or create new industries. It’s what America does really well, our goose that continues to lay golden eggs.And yet, maybe not.The truth […]
When Michael Lewis’ new book Flash Boys came out, the author caused a stir while making the media rounds to promote it. “The stock market is rigged,” he told 60 Minutes flatly. His comments set off a firestorm of debate as to whether sharp techies and their fast computers are screwing small investors.As titillating as […]
Last November, when the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) proposed moderating years of escalating mandates by reducing the amount of ethanol that must be mixed into gasoline, a top ethanol lobbyist seemed perplexed. “We’re all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a […]
Why Is U.S. Health Care So Much More Expensive?After years of research and many conversations with health policy experts, I see three key culprits of expensive health care in the U.S.In no particular order, they are the third-party payer system (i.e., employer-provided health care), malpractice suits, and administrative support costs/paperwork.The unintended consequence of institutionalized employer-provided […]
At the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian security officials used state of the art facial recognition software to identify potential terrorists. Today, Byron King takes a closer look at this sophisticated new technology and what it means for the future of national security. Read on...
Back in the 1980s, John Nestor became infamous for single-handedly causing massive traffic jams on the Capital Beltway. But in his professional life, he created a completely different kind of traffic jam... one that may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Juan Enriquez has the full story. Read on...
Entrepreneurs innovate. Bureaucrats regulate. It’s the eternal struggle that exists in our modern economy/government. The people in power try to make the playing field as even and fair as possible. While innovators buck the rules and push the world toward a better tomorrow.
Technological progress moves the world forward. It finds ways to do things better, for less money, while using fewer resources. And if you ask any politician, they’ll tell you that’s the way to grow the economy and get America back on track. But if that progress threatens one of the government’s sacred programs, then that’s a different story. One that results in a crackdown on progress, and protection of the status quo.
“I’ve got better things to do than broadcast a message to the world about my lunch.”
An uncountable number of people have said this or something similar to me about Twitter. I’ve stopped responding. It’s the same kind of faux snobbery that causes people to look down on Facebook, YouTube, Angry Birds, smartphones and the whole of digital life generally.
Of course, these days, hardly anyone puts down the Internet in total, but this was common 10 years ago. Today, it is more common to put down popular applications of one sort or another, always with the message that my time is too valuable, I’m too serious for this kids’ stuff, I don’t go for the superficial fripperies that have enchanted Generation Mindless.
I’ve already discussed Facebook, LinkedIn and Pandora, and why their popularity is not only justified, but they have also made gigantic contributions to human well-being. They all use the power of individual volition and the self-organizing dynamic of free association to offer services, methods of learning and means of connecting with others that break through barriers that have existed since the beginning of time.
Let’s take on Twitter, the service that people love to hate the most. Among the nonusers, the word alone is almost always said with a sneer. It is the most transparently easy of all the popular social applications, but also the hardest one to integrate into your life if you are not already part of a set people using it.
Adults sign up to it and then sit and stare at it. Having no followers and following no one, the thing looks and feels as dead as Marley’s ghost. Of course, you could always send out news of the sandwich you ate for lunch, but what’s the point? In this sense, Facebook provides that much-more-immediate satisfaction that adults (ironically) demand from websites. Twitter is an application that has to be built by you.
But consider… when the unemployment numbers come out, I usually get an email from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This most recent time, even before that email arrived, I knew the numbers before. I knew the grim truth behind the numbers. I had a sense of how several major newspapers were spinning the numbers. I had access to charts that were being posted, showing how labor trends interact with other trends. And I was able to react to the news myself by reposting what I appreciated and then adding my own thoughts. Then, finally, the email arrived from the Bureau.
This is an example of an everyday use of Twitter. But it is only one of an infinite number of possible uses. And once you start and get the hang of it, downloading the app and following things you care about, you begin to realize something absolutely astonishing about this seemingly superficial thing. Twitter has radically individuated, democratized and universalized the consumption and production of all forms of information, turning the whole world into a customizable communications bazaar like no generation in history has ever seen.
This customizability is what gives rise to the caricatures of the tweeter as a superficial twit, wasting time blabbing on about nothing to other similar types. But when you see people in revolutionary political situations organizing themselves, using tweets and evading the boot of the dictator by using Twitter to communicate, strategize and outmaneuver the most-powerful armies, it should make you stop and think.
As a means of producing of information, every user has potentially the same influence as every other user. The only possible difference concerns the number of followers you have (I have 700, while Lady Gaga has 20 million), but even that is not really a final determinant, since every message can be re-tweeted and a message sent to one person can turn into a message sent to 140 million people in a split second.
What this means that is The New York Times and White House have exactly the same technical power to influence as the person who just took my order for beer at the pizza shop. The difference in the reach of messages is entirely determined by other users of Twitter, thus resulting in a crazy meritocracy of distribution.
As a means of consuming information, you have access to the instant thoughts of every star, mogul, institution, official or whomever and to the exact same extent as the big-time reporters or other institutions. And it turns out that people like Lady Gaga really like this. Every public figure does, except perhaps the dictators threatened most by this powerful means of instantaneous truth telling.
Currently, Twitter is handling 1.6 billion search queries per day and being used to send some 340 million tweets in the same period. It’s consistently in the top 10 most-popular websites. The service is offered to every person on the planet at no charge. The revenue model is to charge companies for promoted tweets in search results, as well as to charge large Internet companies for the use of applications that display Twitter feeds on their websites.
There’s a rude awakening, however, for anyone who thinks he or she can jump onto Twitter and make a splash. You cannot invite others to follow you. People have to reach out to you, and therefore, in this sense, Twitter can be a more-difficult nut to crack than Facebook.
Your first step should be to follow institutions or people you care about. They will be notified that you have followed them. One hopes, then, that they will respond by following you, but there is no way to make them do so. If you seek followers, your best approach is to find someone who is already deeply embedded in this world to recommend you to their followers. But even then, it is a long haul to get to the point that you have a substantial number of people caring about what you are saying.
Why should you bother at all? There might be someone who has no interest in what anyone has to say and also has nothing to say himself, and plans to maintain this attitude from now until death. That person has no use for Twitter. For everyone else, it is great source for acquiring and relaying information on anything and everything, and therefore, there are few people on the planet who would not benefit.
For career builders, a war chest of Twitter followers is part of the personal capital that you accumulate and carry with you wherever you happen to live or work. In this sense, this can be an essential part of your freedom and personal empowerment. It reduces your reliance on institutions and helps you gain control of your life.
For public personalities, it is obviously rather indispensable. But the same is true for any business. If you assemble followers (I love to follow businesses!), you can immediately reach them with special deals and announcements and do so at zero cost. What could be better than that?
For any individual, there are always times when you need others and it becomes important to get information to them. You might be in danger. You might have amazing news. You might need to send for help. In those times, you will be glad that you have prepared by assembling a valuable network of people who care whether you live or die. Certainly, the state doesn’t much care, so it is up to us to form associations that do.
This is why I’m most interested in Twitter, in its uses of building a global movement for human liberty against the despotism of the state in every nation. Twitter disregards borders. It disregards states and their pretensions. It follows no one’s plan. It obeys no authority. It proves the capacity of free people to be self-ordering. Even the company deserves congratulations for not even into pressure from government authorities to cough up user information.
Twitter enables individuals to be self-governing units with an important element of empowerment in their hands: the ability for one person to reach the globe in any instant in time with the most-valuable commodity in existence — namely, information.
That’s why Twitter is amazing.
By the way, follow me @jeffreyatucker