Snapchat Grows Old, Gets Company


Yuko Honda | Flickr

Social media tools keep growing up and looking for a place of their own. Media platforms start by capturing the young and then climb the demographic age ladder: You saw it with Facebook, and now it’s happening to Snapchat (Backchannel). The tool for sharing ephemeral moments and disposable videos is starting to attract Silicon Valley real estate agents, who are there because their clients are, too. Meanwhile, Facebook-owned Instagram has unabashedly cloned Snapchat’s “stories” feature (The Verge) — which keeps photos and videos around for a day for friends to see. Instagram worries that users are too picky about the images they post, and wants to encourage more candid behavior. Everyone’s trying to win fickle users; at the same time, the reality is, no one’s getting any younger — whatever platform we use.

Location, location, location! First we had cubicles, because they were cheap and gave employees a (tiny, gray) space of their own. Then we had an open floor plan because it was even cheaper and (theoretically) encouraged collaboration (and also headphones). Now we may get into office seating based on productivity profiles. According to a new study (Bloomberg), the ideal office pairs people who crank out “just okay” work at a furious pace with those who produce top-notch work more slowly. Presto — everyone gets more done. How could this possibly work? “A combination of inspiration and peer pressure” (Business Insider).

Not even Uber can beat China. The dust is clearing around Uber’s surprise deal to withdraw from China and take a stake in Didi Chuxing (China’s version of Uber) instead. Pundits have been struggling to decide whether it’s a big blow to Uber, which had plowed cash and energy into its China play, or actually a win, since Uber now owns a valuable piece of a de facto Chinese monopoly, and is no longer hemorrhaging cash. But the most important takeaway, as the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo explains, is bigger than any one company’s bottom line. Uber might be the last foreign company to try to challenge China’s determination to maintain its own parallel Internet. That means, Manjoo says, that “a network seen in its early days as a tool to foster financial and political unity across a fragmented planet has irrevocably cleaved into two completely separate spheres.” China is where the mobile future is arriving fastest. Keeping tabs on that wave of change is going to take more work than ever for the rest of the world.

A chip to detect cancer. What if a microprocessor processed blood instead of bits? IBM says it can take the tech it uses to make microchips and produce a “lab on a chip” that filters blood at nanometer scale (Fast Company) to find signs of cancer earlier and more easily. Sounds like Grail, another entrant in the race to bring “liquid biopsies” to a doctor’s office near you. Paging Joe Biden

Also in Newco Shift: Fail Fast, Not Over Decades. Newco founder and editor-in-chief John Battelle talks with Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke on the biggest turnaround of his career — and how Kodak turned over a part of its plant to medical marijuana production.

Wednesday break: Go ahead, watch Wired’s video of a sea pig. “Tentacles for a face and balloons for feet.” No, it’s nothing like a sea monkey. It is real and it is awesome.

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