Tag Archives: Washington Post

Why Not Grant Visas To Promote Startups in the US?

Vivek Wadhwa’s column on the Washington Post site is titled America’s Irrational Immigration Fear. He goes into the background about visas for entrepreneurs and technology innovators, and some of the problems involved. It’s good background information, based on a July 18 report from the Brookings Institution. Here’s a summary of the findings:

Report authors, Neil Ruiz, Jill Wilson, and Shyamali Choudhury, concluded that the government could be stifling innovation by limiting H-1B visas and not taking into account local demand for highly-skilled workers. Demand for these visas has far exceeded supply nearly every year for the last decade. Additionally, the government has been indirectly taxing U.S. R&D and innovation by imposing hefty visa fees, which range from $1,575 to $4,325 depending on employer size — plus $1,225 for expedited (read: timely) processing, according to the report.

The short video here (Vivek in the middle) talks specifically about the H1-B visa, but the high point is Vivek suggesting we should have a “startup visa” that allows entrepreneurs to come into the country. I second that motion. 

(In case you don’t see the video, click here for the source)

Was it Social Media That Defeated that Bad SOPA/PIPA Bill?

I was delighted to read Vivek Wadhwa’s take on Social media’s role in politics on the Washington Post:

vivek_on_wapo.jpg

To frame this battle properly, a loosely organized group of Internet leaders outwitted a well-funded lobbying organization. And they did so in grand style, convincing dozens of lawmakers to reverse their votes virtually overnight.

he goes on to liken this phenomenon to the voice of the people in Egypt and then the rest of the Middle East last Spring. But also something else altogether, this:

A sleeping giant — the technology world — finally rose. Google, Mozilla, Reddit, O’Reilly Radar, Wikipedia, and thousands of other Websites rose up to protest PIPA and SOPA.

I like the idea that the defeat of SOPA/PIPA are, like the political changes in the Middle East, due to changes in possibilities and the way people work together. I’d like to think that in this case technology is in a broad scope it’s like what happened a generation or so ago when Mahatma Gandhi, and a few years later Dr. Martin Luther King, changed the relationship between individuals and governments by establishing the power of the public non-violent protest. Isn’t that similar? Disenfranchised, silenced people discover a voice.

Was it social media that defeated SOPA/PIPA, or people suddenly getting annoyed and complaining?

Mine isn’t the greatest analogy, either: It works way better with the Arab Spring than with SOPA/PIPA, because in the first case it did seem like a collection of voiceless individuals; but in the second, that so-called sleeping giant was hardly voiceless. Just distracted, perhaps. Looking in the other direction, and then suddenly confronted with a threat.

Either way: hooray!

Top 10 Unconventional Recession Indicators

I found this on the Huffington Post over the weekend: Top Ten Unconventional Indicators Of The Recession. It’s a slide show, more fun there than here, but in case you’re interested:

  1. Home movie rentals: up during recession. Netflix, Redbox and others are way up over last year. From The Atlantic.

    Flickr by Jeff Gunn
    Flickr by Jeff Gunn
  2. Urban farming: More people grow their own food during recession. “The National Gardening Association has found that 19 percent more people will grow their own fruit, berries, vegetables and herbs this year than last, and 54 percent say they are motivated by the prospect of saving money on groceries.” From Kiplingers.
  3. McDonald’s sales: apparently cheap meals do better during recession. McDonald’s same-store sales are up 7.1%. From the Washington Post.

    Flickr by pointnshoot
    Flickr by pointnshoot
  4. Going to the movies: normally up during recession. Up 9% for the first quarter of this year, compared to 2008. Kiplinger.
  5. The underwear index: sales of men’s underwear go down during recession. Economizing? They’re down 2.3% for 2009. Huffington Post, quoting Alan Greenspan.
  6. Dating increases during a recession: Match.com is way up. Kiplinger.
  7. The necktie index: sales go up during recession. Job interviews? They’re up 50% this year. From The Telegraph.
  8. (Ugh, I don’t like this one) New York Magazine proposed the hot waitress index: “the worse the economy, the hotter the waitresses.” That’s dumb. It shouldn’t have been included.
  9. Lipstick index: supposedly lipstick sales go up in recession. Affordable luxury? But they’re down this year. The Economist.
  10. The Bed Bath and Beyond Barometer. Proposed by Time Magazine. The explanation is that consumers who can’t go out or away upgrade their home. Ho-hum.

Investigative Journalism Under Siege

Do you want to make meaning? Solve a problem? Disrupt the status quo? Then solve this problem: figure out a way to monetize investigative journalism. In the new media world.

No, not just journalism, thanks, but investigative journalism. By that I mean the product of professional journalists paid to dig for (relatively) objective truth, like facts. To uncover the hidden scandals, expose the corruption, clear up the misconceptions, and look beyond the spin.

Don’t confuse investigative journalism with breaking news, gossip, politics, expertise, and opinion. Maybe — just maybe — citizen news and crowd sourcing will compete with straight news media. We’ve got Twitter, news blogs, political blogs, and self-styled expert and personal blogs, among other new media, supplying breaking news and opinion. You’ve probably read the arguments along those lines. I’ve posted about it on this blog here.

Watergate: Flickr image by dbking

The problem is that investigative journalism is real work. It takes digging, research, interviews, and more digging, and more work. Volunteers don’t do it; professionals do it. And the organizations that pay those professionals depend, traditionally, on advertising revenues. And we’re in the midst of a rapidly changing media landscape, in which big audiences seeking impartiality are growing harder to find. The audiences are splintering, dividing into finer groups, getting lost in the long tail.

Breaking news? We get that in the new media world. In-depth reporting? Not so much. New York Times online? Washington Post online? Maybe. But your local town government? Who covers that? And are a few online sites of former great newspapers enough? Will the Huffington Post and the Drudge Report generate budgets and credibility for proactive in-depth reporting? What do you think?

So, in this new world, is somebody going to sponsor true investigative journalism? Will the Watergates of the future  be uncovered? For that matter, who’s going to go to those town council meetings?

So there’s a problem; a need. Do you have a solution?