Friday, March 28, 2014

Nikos Tsafos | Why Cheap Energy Won't Spark a U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance

Via Foreign Affairs:



The
boom in shale gas production in the United States has sparked talk
about a U.S. manufacturing renaissance powered by cheap gas. The
National Association of Manufacturers notes on its website that
“abundant domestic natural gas resources can fuel a renaissance in U.S.
manufacturing”; similarly, a 2011 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers
found that “shale gas has the potential to spark a US manufacturing
renaissance over the next few years, boosting revenue and driving job
creation.”
Meanwhile,
in Europe and Asia, where energy prices are still high, leaders worry
about a coming deficit in competitiveness that will threaten their
already fragile economies. Daniel Yergin, the Pulitzer-prize winning
author of The Prize, reported that in Davos this year
competitiveness was “was calibrated along only one axis -- energy.”
Cheaper energy in the United States, he wrote, “puts European industrial
production at a heavy cost disadvantage against the United States. The
result is a migration of industrial investment from Europe to the United
States.” Yet talk of manufacturing renaissances or dark ages is
overblown. Natural gas matters far less than either the optimists or the
pessimists claim.
Energy
competitiveness, the idea that cheap energy can be a source of
industrial strength and competitive advantage, is at once intuitively
appealing and intuitively suspect. It is appealing because we have been
conditioned to believe that energy is terribly important, so big shifts
in global energy must cause big shifts in the economy. It has to be a
huge deal for the United States -- with profound implications for
geopolitics and economics -- if natural gas prices there are a third or a
fifth or a tenth of what they are in Europe and Asia.
At
the same time, the idea of energy competitiveness is suspect. One
rarely associates access to cheap energy with industrial potency (think
Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Venezuela). By an accident of geography, the
countries with advanced industrial sectors -- Germany, Japan, Korea,
Taiwan -- happen to depend on imported and usually expensive energy. If
those countries managed to nurture world-class industrial sectors
without indigenous sources of cheap energy, there must be more to
manufacturing than energy.
Despite low natural gas prices, in other words, spending on energy is hardly out of the historical norm.
The
reality is that energy, although very important for some industries, is
a marginal driver for industrial activity overall. In 2012, Dow
Chemical reported that “expenditures for hydrocarbon feedstocks and
energy accounted for 37 percent of the Company’s production costs and
operating expenses.” No wonder Dow is the name most often associated
with calls to restrict U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from
the United States -- energy is a big cost for the company.
But
there is more to the U.S. economy than chemicals, which accounted for
2.3 percent of GDP and 0.6 percent of full-time equivalent employment in
2012. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) estimates that, overall,
U.S. businesses spent $790 billion on energy in 2012. Energy represented
about 3.7 percent of total costs, similar to the 3.6 percent that
companies have spent on average since 1997. (The low was 2.6 percent in
1998 and the high was 4.6 percent in 2008.)
Despite
low natural gas prices, in other words, spending on energy is hardly
out of the historical norm. In part, the reason is that natural gas made
up only about 15 percent of energy spending by industry in 2011, with
the rest going to coal, oil, and electricity, some of which generated
from gas. Cheap gas has provided only a limited stimulus, on the order
of $32.5 billion in savings for American industry -- a paltry sum
compared to the $6 trillion in total spending by industry on
intermediate inputs and wages.
What
about those industries in which energy is a major cost? Among the 69
individual industries for which the BEA reports data, only eight spent
more than ten percent of overall costs (energy, materials and services,
and compensation of employees). These industries, mostly in the
transportation and logistics sectors, made up less than five percent of
U.S. GDP in 2012. Adding in industries that use fossil fuels for
feedstock would get that total to around ten percent of GDP, of which a
significant portion relates to transportation and logistics.
That
is why it is hard to argue that investment driven by cheap gas will
drive a manufacturing renaissance. In a February 2013 paper that Charles
River Associates prepared for Dow Chemical on U.S. manufacturing and
LNG exports, it identified over 95 projects in the gas-intensive
manufacturing sector that had been announced by various companies since
2010. Together, they comprised some $90 billion in total investment. At
the same time, companies spend around $2 trillion a year in other,
non-residential investments. Given that not all these gas-intensive
projects will materialize and that this investment will be spread over
many years, it is hardly transformative.
Of
course, shale gas brings other benefits. The Boston Consulting Group,
for example, estimates that “the average U.S. household is already
saving anywhere from $425 to $725 a year because of lower energy costs
that can be attributed to domestically recovered shale gas.” Together
with shale oil, shale gas is creating good jobs and yielding tax
revenue, and helping shrink the U.S. trade deficit -- all worthwhile
goals. But shale gas will not trigger a widespread manufacturing
renaissance in the United States, nor will it undermine economies in
Europe and Asia by providing the United States with an energy cost
advantage. Its effects will be narrower and limited to a few industries.
It is time to let go of “energy competitiveness” as a real thing.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SEO is Dead: Long Live OC/DC

SEO is Dead - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger. Via Copyblogger

1. Improve content symmetry

  • Edit headlines 
  • Review in-links
  • Improve calls to action 
  • Convert list posts into individual posts 
  • Revamp keywords


2. Consider mobile responsive design a requirement

3. Target a 3-second load time (max)

4. Don’t ignore author attribution methods beyond Google

5. Repurpose your existing content

6. Create your own research

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

IBM Invests $1 Billion to Grow Watson Supercomputer's Struggling Business

Who needs a super computer from IBM?

Watson's first customers hope to leverage the supercomputer's learning
capabilities. In one case, Watson is working on recommending potential cancer treatments
for specific medical cases based on a confidence percentage. The
supercomputer learns from its mistakes when human physicians correct its
errors during training.



But translating individual customers' business technicalities into
usable software for Watson to process has been rough sledding for IBM
engineers. That has led to delays in one of Watson's biggest client
projects—an effort, involving the University of Texas M.D. Anderson
Cancer Center, to make a version of Watson capable of recommending
leukemia treatments by sifting through medical journals and books.



A similar healthcare application is in the works in conjunction with
the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where
Watson would also serve as an adviser on cancer diagnoses and treatments. Watson has also found work with Wellpoint, the U.S. largest health insurer.



Turning Watson's "Jeopardy" smarts into huge business profits may seem
anything but elementary for IBM at this point. But to the company's
credit, it has continued to back Watson despite the early difficulties
and has enlisted AI researchers to continue improving the supercomputer's capabilities as it reaches out to more potential customers
via IEEE Spectrum

My 43 DOs and 25 DON’Ts of Blogging : @ProBlogger

My 43 DOs of Blogging

  1. Do create a blog that is meaningful to you
  2. Do set yourself some goals and objectives for your blog
  3. Do ‘write’ something every day (note that I didn’t say ‘publish’)
  4. Do as much as you can to get in your readers shoes and understand who they are
  5. Do use surveys and polls to help you understand your reader
  6. Do create content that meets your readers’ needs, answers their questions, and solves their problems
  7. Do write in an engaging voice
  8. Do start an email newsletter
  9. Do pay attention to the design of your blog – first impressions count!
  10. Do communicate clearly what your blog is about into your design
  11. Do spend time ‘off’ your blog engaging in the places where your potential readers gather
  12. Do go to the effort of registering your own domain
  13. Do create visual content
  14. Do model the kind of community that you want your blog to have
  15. Do install analytics and track the results of what you do
  16. Do find some blogging buddies who you can bounce ideas off and have mutual support with
  17. Do make sure you have ‘real life’ friends too – they’ll ground you
  18. Do become hyper-aware of problems (yours and other people’s), and obsessed with solving them
  19. Do create something to sell from your blog
  20. Do think beyond what you’ll write today – develop an editorial calendar
  21. Do set aside time to learn the skills you lack
  22. Do set aside time to brainstorm topics to write about
  23. Do read other people’s blogs – you’ll learn a lot from them
  24. Do share your opinion – it is what often differentiates you
  25. Do share stories – your own and other people’s
  26. Do back up your blog!
  27. Do blog with passion
  28. Do look for ‘win/win/win’ relationships with brands where you, the brand and your reader benefit
  29. Do show your personality – be yourself
  30. Do pay attention to what is energising you and do more of it
  31. Do pay attention to what is energising your readers and do more of it
  32. Do spend time refining and perfecting post headlines
  33. Do think about what ‘action’ you’re calling readers to take in your content
  34. Do make peace with the fact that there will always be more that you can do
  35. Do learn how to prioritise and focus upon activities that take you closer to your goals
  36. Do pay attention to your archives – update and promote them regularly
  37. Do push through bloggers block
  38. Do spend time analysing what types of content are being ‘shared’ in your niche – publish this kind of content semi-regularly
  39. Do use social proof
  40. Do take breaks from blogging – weekends and vacations are important!
  41. Do ask your readers a lot of questions and listen to what they say
  42. Do treat your blog as a business today… if you want it to be one tomorrow
  43. Do create content that Informs, Inspires and Interacts

My 25 DON’Ts of Blogging

  1. Don’t be afraid to hit publish
  2. Don’t feel you have to publish something every day
  3. Don’t publish when angry (or drunk)
  4. Don’t become a comment spammer on other people’s blogs
  5. Don’t publish just for the sake of publishing content
  6. Don’t use other people’s stuff without permission and credit
  7. Don’t focus so much about the readers you don’t have – have a big impact upon the ones you do have
  8. Don’t stretch yourself too thin (too many posts, too much SM) – do what you do really well
  9. Don’t become too promotional
  10. Don’t hit publish without one last proof read
  11. Don’t write purely for search engines
  12. Don’t sell out
  13. Don’t engage in every type of social media – analyse where your readers are and do those mediums well
  14. Don’t look for a ‘blueprint’ for successful blogging – forge your own path
  15. Don’t publish large chunks of text – break it up and make it scannable
  16. Don’t hide your mistakes – be transparent
  17. Don’t feed the trolls – be polite, kind, and firm
  18. Don’t let the negative things people say about you sink in – it’ll pull you down
  19. Don’t let the hyped praise people give you sink in – it’ll over-inflate your ego
  20. Don’t expect to get rich quick
  21. Don’t compare yourself to others – compare yourself to you when you started
  22. Don’t spend all your time ‘learning’ about blogging at the expense of actually blogging
  23. Don’t think there’s just one way to monetize your blog
  24. Don’t become so obsessed with blogging that you forget to have a real life
  25. Don’t give up too quickly – building a blog takes time
@ProBlogger

Resource Roundup: 10 Links you Can’t Live Without : @ProBlogger

 Beginner Week has been jam-packed with tales from the trenches  - from how to set up a blog, to a newbie success story, Darren’s Beginner Dos and Don’ts; and 31 mistakes established bloggers made way back in the early days of their blog.


Today we’re back with even more goodies to take away: our 10 most popular
(and useful!) posts for beginner bloggers. Get ready to Pin, bookmark,
save to Evernote, or however you keep interesting posts for future
reference – you won’t want to leave this one behind!
1. Five First-Year Posts that Led to Over 6 Million Views:
Darren tells the story of the five posts on Digital Photography School
that managed to attract a huge readership in its first year, and why he
thinks they were so successful at driving traffic.
2. Webinar: 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Blogging:
For Darren’s 10th blogging anniversary, he celebrated by sharing a
recording and slides about what he would loved to have known when first
starting out.
3. Crawl Before You Walk: 6 Step-by-Step Instructions for Starting Your Own Blog: A guest contributor leaves nothing to chance and explains the six things you NEED to know.
4. Recommended Blogging Resources: Things Darren uses in everyday blogging that you might find useful.
5. Guest Post: 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started: A guest contributor narrows early blogging down into 10 useful and productive key items for success.
6. How I Make Money Blogging: Darren lays all his cards on the table and explains exactly how it works behind the scenes.
7. 9 First-step Goals for New Bloggers:
So much to do, so little time. The nine goals Darren believes beginners
should aim for if they’re looking for a bit of direction. Then the sky
is the limit!
8. What My  Wife Has Taught Me About Blogging After Just Three Months:
Darren’s wife Vanessa’s blog was an instant hit – and it made Darren
pause and reflect on what she had done differently to his blogger
beginnings that made it such a success.
9. How Much Content Should I Have Ready to Go When I Launch a Blog?Darren sits down with a group of bloggers yet to start a blog and explains how much content should be published on a brand-new blog, versus how much content he actually had when starting. A great lesson to learn!
10. What Mistakes Did You Make When You First Started Blogging? What Would You Do Differently?:
A reader asks Darren to share his top three mistakes made in the early
days. The comments from other bloggers about their beginner blogger
mistakes are also eye-opening.
@ProBlogger

Monday, March 10, 2014

Media Credibility and the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect

You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
Via First Things

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

From Three Mile Island to Fukushima Daiichi

How IEEE Spectrum covered two of the biggest nuclear disasters in history