FAST COMPANY: When the city of Alexandria, Minnesota, asked community members what they wanted in their new high school to be like, they replied, “like the Google campus.” So they hired John Pfluger of Cuningham Group Architecture to make that a reality. Something that might not be the same size, or even necessarily have the exact design considerations, but that represents the same sense of possibility—the feeling of being adaptable to the future, whatever might come of it. The result is a state-of-the-art facility for more than 1,400 students where the word “classroom” is verboten, and where an hour in algebra class might be indiscernible from kicking back in the quad. (more…)
WIRED: Five years ago, a group of Spanish architects dug a hole on a mountainside in Laxe, Spain. They filled it with hay, covered it in concrete, let it dry and blasted an opening to the mound. Then Paulina moved in. Paulina, a cow, spent the better part of a year eating her way through the hay, and by the time she was finished, all that was left was a hollowed-out bunker, marred with hoof scrapes and imprints of straw. This is the future of architecture. Or, at least, it’s one of the many provocative glimpses Marc Kushner, co-founder of design studio HWKN and the well-known architecture website Architizer, offers up in his new book The Future of Architecture In 100 Buildings. (more…)
E27.CO: With the rising trend of co-working, remote work, and “workation” retreats, entrepreneurial Millennials from around the world are quickly adopting the location-independent entrepreneurship lifestyle because of the prospect of reduced living costs, exciting new environments, and access to a network of other motivated and interesting creatives and entrepreneurs. (more…)
FAST COMPANY: Two of the world’s best-known e-commerce sites for luxury clothing and accessories—London-based online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter and Italian e-commerce clothing company Yoox Group SpA—are merging to create a new monolithic e-retailer with an expected annual revenue of more than $1.4 billion. (more…)
THE NEXT WEB: Amazon may be the go-to place to shop online for physical goods, but it’s not of much use when your sink is clogged and you need a plumber, or want to have your broken iPhone screen fixed. Fret no more, as the company now lets you order a professional to your home with the aptly named ‘Amazon Home Services’, accessible at Amazon.com/services. (more…)
QUARTZ: On March 24, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shared with employees a companywide memo stating that it would more aggressively pursue self-organization and is offering employees severance to quit, giving them until April 30 to opt in or out. Hsieh tells Quartz that “the offer” is a longstanding Zappos practice that gives employees the “freedom of choice” to align with major changes. (more…)
TECHCRUNCH: The West Coast of Michigan is a haven for industrial designers and is home to the world’s most iconic furniture manufacturers: Steelcase and Herman Miller. That’s because Michigan builds things. Soon there will be a new accelerator that will help young companies do just that. The accelerator program, called Seamless, targets early-stage hardware companies and gives them access to capital and, more importantly, experience in the field. Grand Rapid’s early-stage, venture capital fund Start Garden is behind the program and has enlisted the help of the region’s biggest companies.
THE ECONOMIST: Messenger are arguably the most successful smartphone apps. The ten biggest collectively boast more than 3 billion accounts. WhatsApp, the leader, has 700m. The number of WhatsApp messages sent every day now exceeds the number of standard texts. Last year it handled more than 7 trillion messages, about 1,000 per person. But there is more to messaging apps than messages. At an event that starts today in San Francisco, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, is expected to say that it will turn another of its apps—called Messenger—into a “platform”. That means others will be able to develop software and content for it (games; hotel bookings; tickets of all sorts). Facebook is following WeChat, the leading messaging service in China, and KakaoTalk, a South Korean messenger, which are already platforms of sorts. But it is also moving into territory occupied by Apple and Google and their respective smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android. Tech veterans may recall the “browser wars” of the late 1990s—the last time a successful programme, Netscape’s Navigator, tried to oust a dominant platform, Microsoft’s Windows. The messenger wars may be just beginning.
INVEST LITHUANIA: Last year, Lithuania attracted 29 foreign companies. In the next three years the country should have about 2,000 additional jobs thanks to these new investors. A recent report by the “Kapital” program, broadcast on Estonian national television, investigated what Lithuania has that Estonia doesn’t. (more…)
WIRED: Virgin is working on electric cars and could one day take on Tesla, according to company founder Richard Branson. Speaking at a racing event in Miami, Branson said Virgin had “teams of people” working on electric cars but refused to be drawn on specific details. The company’s Virgin Racing team already competes in the all-electric Formula E championship, a high-speed, battery-powered spinoff of Formula 1. Branson has now hinted that Virgin’s involvement could lead to the company selling its own electric cars. (more…)
BLOOMBERG: John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, recently co-authored a paper in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. It is titled “A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians” and apparently includes “a cascadic multigrid algorithm for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the second smallest eigenvalue.” I understand close to none of the words in that sentence, which comes from the paper’s abstract. I probably never will. The rest of the study is similarly accessible. (more…)
MASHABLE: Elon Musk offered a classic example of what journalists call “burying the lede.” He had called a press conference on the subject of a Tesla software update designed to eliminate “range anxiety,” or the fear that your electric car will run out of power before it reaches the next charging station on a long road trip. After he’d dispensed with that subject, Musk dropped in a casual addendum: all Teslas will get an over-the-air update this summer, probably around June, allowing them to drive in “Autopilot” mode. (more…)
WIRED: Following yesterday’s announcement that the UK games industry will receive an £8m boost as part of the latest budget, a group of banks have outlined new plans to improve access to finance for small companies in the creative industries. The British Banking Association, which represents over 200 banks, has partnered with Creative England to put together a “toolkit” in the form of Better Business Finance. The site offers advice on the kinds of funding available and how to apply for it, and is chiefly backed by Santander, Barclays, HSBC, RBS, and Lloyds. Although it has been in operation since 2011, the new partnership sees the notoriously conservative banking industry making a concerted effort to open its coffers to more unorthodox businesses and daring entrepreneurs. (more…)
WIRED: We’ve been saying it for a while and now John Maeda has delivered the data to prove it: Design is more integral to good business than ever before. Maeda himself is further proof of the trend; last year he left his post as president of Rhode Island School of Design to be a design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. This weekend at SXSW, Maeda presented his inaugural Design in Tech Report, a 39-slide presentation that’s both inspired by Mary Meeker’s widely influential annual Internet Trends reports and a continuation of some of Meeker’s findings. Maeda actually contributed a slide to Meeker’s most recent report titled “R.I.P. Bad User Interfaces.” His presentation is essentially a closer look at why exactly that’s true. (more…)