The Hub Cool News

SheTaxis

shetaxiDemand is so great for women-only taxis that SheTaxis "has had to decelerate its launch," reports The Economist (9/27/14). SheTaxis is "an app that lets female passengers insist on female drivers, and vice versa. It will be available in New York City (where it will be called ‘SheRides’), Westchester and Long Island, and the firm plans to expand into other cities." Founder Stella Mateo says it is for women who "are nervous and weary of getting into cars driven by men" or "those whose religious beliefs forbid them to travel with unrelated men."

The SheTaxi concept has proved so popular that the company is currently recruiting some 500 drivers, who wear pink pashminas. Such service is nothing new "in India, South Africa and several Middle Eastern cities. Some Brazilian and Mexican cities offer women-only public-transport programs known as ‘pink transport.’ Japan has had women-only railway carriages on and off since 1912, Known as hana densha (flower trains), they offer a haven from the gropers who make rush hour in Tokyo so disagreeable."

Other than too much demand, the other obstacles for SheTaxi include other cabbies, who already "are furious at the growth of online taxi firms such as Uber." There is a legal question of discrimination, as SheTaxis will only hire women and will not do business with men. That "its drivers are all independent contractors" is one possible defense. Another defense is that the service is in the public interest, and not unlike all-women colleges. However, men may also feel safer with female drivers: A 2010 study found that women get into fewer car accidents.

Bland Sedans

impalaYou can rent any car you like, so long as it is a Chevy Impala, reports Josh Barro in The New York Times (10/14/14). "National tries to address the issue of rental car roulette by just letting you pick your own car," says Chris Ladd, a frequent renter. "Unfortunately, what that means is you can pick absolutely any vehicle out of their vast collection of Chevy Impalas — even one of the fancier shades of gray." Chris may be exaggerating, but "57 percent of all new Impalas sold in the United States last year became rental cars," according to Polk Automotive.

It’s true that National and others also rent plenty of Chevy Malibus and other cars, but "blandness is one of three themes that emerge in defining the vehicles that depend so heavily on the rental market." The other two are "large SUVs and full-size vans, which users are disproportionately likely to want on a temporary basis," and "subcompact cars, like the Toyota Yaris, that don’t sell well in the American market," and are offered at deep discounts. The Malibu and its like are simply "bland sedans nearing the end of their product cycle."

The Chevy Captiva, a "compact SUV" and "the last vestige of the shuttered Saturn brand … has 96 percent of its sales go to the rental market." "Some cars, such as the Nissan Altima and the Toyota Camry are big sellers into the rental market because they are big sellers, period." The missed opportunity may be that people reportedly tend to buy cars that they’ve rented. To that end, Chevrolet has redesigned the Impala so it has more consumer appeal, and is teaming up with National for a free "test-drive" rental with every paid rental.

Uncontained Compensation

container-storeKip Tindell thinks paying store staffers "nearly $50,000 annually" is a key to success, reports Rachel Feintzeig in The Wall Street Journal (10/15/14). Kip is CEO of The Container Store and says the higher pay produces better productivity. "One of our foundational principles is one equals three: one great person can easily do the business productivity of three good people," he says. "If you really believe that they can do three times the productivity, then you can pay them 50% to 100% above industry average."

By the way, Kip’s college roommate was none other than Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. He also believes in keeping the most productive workers "tickled" by giving them sizeable annual pay increases commensurate with their contribution. The goal, for example, is to ensure that the "17th greatest contributor gets the 17th largest piece of the pie." This requires "a highly evolved review structure," says Kip — "a formal written review" that takes employees and their supervisors up to eight hours to complete.

The two parties "then take another four or five hours to go over it with each other," Kip says. "It’s really now getting to where you and the person who reports to you actually agree on their compensation." Meanwhile, Kip doesn’t believe in having a Human Resources department, and instead relies on employees to recruit new hires. This can include hiring family members. "People know which of their cousins are great and which aren’t," says Kip, adding: "It can be as simple as recruiting a waiter at a restaurant that you think is just the best you ever had."

Operations Innovations

jcpMore CEOs discover that strong operations trump flashy merchandising, as reported in The Wall Street Journal (10/14/14). Target CEO Brian Cornell, for example, and incoming Gap CEO Art Peck, "are valued more for their ability to run large organizations than for their gut instinct about the next hot trend." The same could be said of Marvin Ellison, who is slated to take over as CEO of JC Penney, in the aftermath of the Ron Johnson debacle, in which efforts to "make the chain more hip … ended up blowing a $4 billion hole in company sales."

This trend toward "detail-oriented operators over executives mainly lauded for brilliance in merchandising" comes "as the industry faces giant new challenges in managing its supply chains and keeping customers from defecting to the web." Penney is particularly vulnerable in "the discount-driven apparel business, the traffic-challenged world of shopping malls and the beleaguered middle-class consumer." Marvin sees beauty in stability: "The last 18 months have proven that turning the company upside down and shaking it … was not necessary."

Marvin joined Home Depot 12 years ago, running "areas including loss prevention and global logistics." As executive vice-president of stores, he "helped lead Home Depot’s transformation from a cluttered big-box store with antiquated operations and employees who spent the majority of their time unpacking boxes and restocking shelves, to a retailer that devoted nearly two-thirds of its labor hours to serving customers on the sales floor." He also "made sure items stayed in stock" and the stores were "easier to navigate."

Infra Eco Logi

Infra-Eco-LogiThe future of urbanism may include buildings the size of cities, reports Julie V. Iovine in The Wall Street Journal (10/14/14). At least that’s the view of a group of architects — Geoffrey Thun, Kathy Velikov and Colin Ripley of RVTR — who see the world "as composed of networks and systems … rather than being studded with something so limited and finite as individual buildings." They see "vast megalopolises blooming across the landscape," in some cases stretching across multiple cities, states, and even countries.

For example, the Great Lakes Megaregion would encompass "two countries, eight states, two provinces, 12 major metropolitan areas and the five watersheds of the Great Lakes," involving the cities of Detroit, Chicago and Toronto. Infra Eco Logi Urbanism, as this concept is known, considers this region in terms of "natural resources, overlapping transportation and distribution systems, shifting employment demands and environmental threats, among other issues." The goal is "to uncover design possibilities within the system."

"Orphaned parcels" in and around highway interchanges would "be used for the footings of supersize buildings straddling the highway." Toronto would become a "modern acropolis," with "a great arrivals hall surrounded by Olympic-size sporting venues as well as megachurches and research facilities." Chicago would repurpose "underused parking garages, air rights and barren lots" to weave together new transportation systems, and Toronto would be home to assembly halls, where megaregion citizens could discuss their shared concerns.

Southdale Center

one-southdaleA Minnesota city hopes to attract Millennials by "asking them to live at the shopping mall," reports Robbie Whelan in The Wall Street Journal (10/14/14). Edina, Minnesota "has long been considered the quintessential American suburb," but is seeking to refresh its aging population. "Edina is a first-rate suburb, but right now we’ve got as many people over 65 as under 18," says Jim Hovland, the town’s mayor. "We like it, but you want to make sure your town is regenerating itself so that it remains vibrant and healthy."

The answer is One Southdale Place, "a 232-unit luxury apartment complex built on the site of a former parking lot at the corner of" the Southdale Center mall. This is just the beginning, as "One Southdale is part of a broader effort to develop ‘a village unto itself’ around the mall. The city is in the midst of expanding a mile-long promenade project that will eventually connect the mall to a nearby park with footpaths and biking trails lined with sculpture gardens. Three more apartment buildings are planned for locations along the promenade."

The concept actually echoes the original vision for Southdale Center, as imagined by architect Victor Gruen in 1956. "Gruen’s original vision was to foster community," says architect D. Jamie Rusin. "He originally saw the mall as a place you could go to shop, eat, see a doctor, have an office — a community center for people who didn’t have one." That idea resonates with Southdale resident Tom Bymark, 25, who sees it as an attractive alternative to city life, "where it’s claustrophobic and you’re shoulder to shoulder with all these people."

Data Vapor

green-eyeshadeBig Data is a big deal, but "no one really knows what all that information is worth," reports Vipal Monga in The Wall Street Journal (10/13/14). "It’s flummoxing that companies have better accounting for their office furniture than their information assets," says Douglas Laney of Gartner Inc. The "lack of standards for valuing data leaves a widening gap in our understanding of the modern business world." Kroger, for example, sells $100 million worth of data on what its shopper buy, but places no value on the data as an asset.

That’s because doing so would violate "generally accepted accounting principles, which prohibit companies from treating … the data as investments instead of costs. The Financial Accounting Standards Board … has struggled to update its rules," including issues such as "how to account for time employees spent gathering data — as an expense or a capital investment? Companies would also have to estimate the shelf-life of their data, figure out its future worth, and track and report any changes in its value."

Such questions are prickly for Facebook, eBay and Google, "which rely on the data they collect for the bulk of their revenue." For now, they rely "on the collective wisdom of the market" and the stock price, to place a value on "prize assets" like data. So, little has changed since the "dot-com bust of 2000 … fueled by the widespread belief that traditional metrics for value and risk didn’t matter in the ‘new economy’." Alex Poltorak of General Patent Corp. says "the accounting profession … has completely failed modern business."

Advertising Neutrality

shineAn Israeli tech startup is poised to disrupt the way ads are served online, reports Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal (10/13/14). Shine Technologies has developed software that can "determine how much ad providers are making on advertising using carriers’ delivery systems." Called AdSight, it allows "wireless carriers to monitor what ads are being delivered through their networks, and from whom, all the way down to the level of individual ad impressions." They can also use the information to block ads.

This is highly interesting to the carriers. "You should see the faces of the CEOs seeing these reports on how much of their traffic is used by ad tech," says Shine CEO Ron Porat. Some carriers "in Europe, South America, Asia and the US … plan to use the technology to block certain ads as a way to bring the ad providers to the negotiating table to win a cut of the fees." "The ad blackouts will come without warning," says Roi Carthy, also of Shine, who also says at least one unidentified US carrier is on board with the idea.

This has also gotten the attention of net-neutrality advocates, who argue that "blocking content, even ads, is a direct violation of the principle of net-neutrality." They suggest that the telcos "would end up battling regulators in both the US and Europe." While the rules are under review in the US, in Europe they clearly prohibit discriminating between types of online traffic. Ron Porat denies that Shine is about taking hostages. "Everyone is taken hostage already," he says. "You as the user are taken hostage, because some of your data is taken for ad tech."

Mustang Muscle

mustang-ecoboostFuel-economy rules are breathing new fire into American muscle cars, reports Dan Neil in The Wall Street Journal (10/11/14). One might think that "tighter-emission standards" would "mean the end of muscle cars, or at least affordable ones. But, pleasant surprise, cars have actually gotten stronger, quicker, faster. Overall, performance is cheaper, more efficient and reliable than ever." The key is "forced induction … through spooling, high-velocity turbines" and "the effect is like turning a leaf blower on a bonfire."

The surprise is most evident "in the Ford Mustang, with its 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine … a turbocharged 4 cylinder." The idea of "a four-banger in a muscle car" might sound preposterous, although Ford had produced many 4-cylinder Mustangs in the past. The difference is that the EcoBoost offers "310 hp and 320 pound-feet of torque." It may be "less than half the size of a V8 like the Boss 351, but it is exactly as quick … within the same 0-60 mph and quarter-mile times," while "delivering roughly three times the fuel economy."

The EcoBoost also "weighs 181 pounds less than the V8 GT, and most of that weight loss is in the front of the car, improving the weight distribution and handling." As a modern car, it offers better "steering, breaking and chassis control." The only real issue is that the engine "doesn’t sound quite as satisfying," having sacrificed "the percussive cadence of a free-breathing V8 at idle … the wondrous, primal sound." But 50 years later, the Mustang still delivers "an affordable, sporty compact with great style and good mileage."

Lincoln Futura

futuraThe Lincoln Futura was an "avatar of a future that never arrived," reports Michael Beschloss in The New York Times (10/12/14). Designed in the mid-1950s, "the dawn of the space age, of speed and streamlining," the Futura was "a flamboyant advertisement for America’s post-World War II affluence." Measuring 19 feet long, but with room for only two people, it featured "aggressive fins" inspired by the "mako sharks and manta rays" its chief designer, Bill Schmidt, had seen "while scuba-diving in the Bahamas."

Painted in "Pearlescent Frost-Blue White," the Futura cost "about $250,000," or "more than $2 million" in today’s dollars, to build. It was promoted as "revolutionary," and "an exciting peek into America’s automotive future." It even made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. However, as a "punishing recession" arrived in 1957, "sales of automobiles dropped by one-third." Americans clamored for compact cars, and the future looked more like Ford Falcons and Volkswagen Beetles than Lincoln Futuras.

The Futura did rise again, though, in 1965, when "ABC Television greenlighted a new series called ‘Batman,’ and its producers needed a Batmobile — fast … using blowtorches and saws, the automobile customizer George Barris transformed the Futura’s deteriorating concept car — which he had bought from Ford for a dollar," repainting it "in black and fluorescent red; its tail fins were expanded into batwings, and its grille retooled to resemble a bat’s face." In 2013, a collector purchased the Batmobile "for more than $4 million."

Zappos & Omni-Values

daryl-travisThe best omni-channel brands look more like a cause than a business. A book excerpt from Daryl Travis of Brandtrust. There is a heightened focus today on how to align touch points in every channel to create a powerful and seamless brand experience. However, despite all the talk about marketing and IT converging, Big Data and the like, there is one inescapable fact that must be considered in order to create a truly meaningful omni-channel experience.

Companies can invest millions and concentrate their intellectual capital until the cows come home in an attempt to integrate or merge the online experience with the brick-and-mortar, but until their organization lives by a set of omni-values, it’s all just an exercise in futility. Only when there is an internal buy-in to an organizationally embraced sense of purpose will an environment be created in which a meaningful brand experience can truly thrive. Read The Rest of The Excerpt.

Plant Blood

impossible-burgerA new kind of veggie burger leaves a residue "of what looks like blood," reports Evelyn M. Rusli in The Wall Street Journal (10/8/14). It also "has the same distinct metallic taste." When raw, "it looks like a jumble of tissue with some lighter fat-like pieces mixed in," and when it hits a hot pan it sizzles and gives "off the aroma of meat cooking." Take a bite, and "it is distinctly pink in the very center … The texture is slightly lighter, perhaps fluffier than a typical burger, and it tastes less bloody. But the bites still have the consistency of animal tissue."

Patrick Brown, founder of Impossible Foods, has backing from Bill Gates, among others, and his goal is to "create a more sustainable source of food." "Livestock is an antiquated technology," he says. At his lab, "technicians dump large vats of fresh spinach leaves and other plant matter into a giant blender that breaks down the greens into plant proteins. Elsewhere, machines rapidly cook raw ground meat and send blasts of smells to scientists, who carefully log the characteristics and strength of each smell."

They’re reaching for "the fundamental, molecular reasons why meat tastes like meat" by deconstructing "the hundreds of basic flavors and smells of cooked ground meat." The goal, says Patrick, is not to improve veggie burgers as we’ve known them, but to get "the hard-core beef lovers" who otherwise wouldn’t eat anything but the real thing. The burgers may appeal less to vegetarians, who may not want to be reminded of meat, or avoid processed foods. Currently testing the burgers via food trucks, Patrick hopes his burgers will be in stores next year.

Maple Water

maple-leafMaple may be the new coconut when it comes to "low-calorie, natural" drinks, reports Gloria Dawson in The Wall Street Journal (10/8/14). Sap from maple trees "may call to mind a sticky substance like syrup, but it is actually a sweet water tapped from trees — similar to coconut water, a beverage that is flying off shelves." Maple farmers have been drinking the stuff "for years" and maple water "is popular in South Korea." The drink contains "about 2% sugar and tastes faintly of syrup."

Two companies — Vertical Water and Happy Tree — hope that maple water will join the mainstream of beverage choices. After all, coconut water had US sales of about $400 million last year, "up from basically nothing a decade ago, according to Euromonitor." "There’s no reason maple water’s rise can’t be quicker than that because it’s right here in our backyard," says Happy Tree founder Ari Tolwin. Coconut water, by comparison, mostly "comes from Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines."

Maple water typically sells for "about $3 for 16 ounces." Vertical Water, based in New York’s Catskills, is already "sold in 40 states in stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts." Happy Tree, out of Grahamsville, New York, "is sold in Whole Foods in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, at yoga and health studios around New York City, and is served in a cocktail at the restaurant BLT Prime." There is certainly no shortage of potential supply, as currently only "about one percent of the usable maple trees in New York state are tapped."

Headis

headisA cross between ping-pong and soccer is gaining popularity in Germany, reports Shirley S. Wang in The Wall Street Journal (10/1/14). Known as Headis, Rene Wegner, hit upon the concept in 2006 "as a university student, when he would want to play soccer but found the fields too crowded. Public ping-pong tables, on the other hand, sat abandoned … fed up, he and a friend borrowed a child’s small rubber ball and started heading the ball back and forth." He put a video of the game on YouTube, "and the video became a hit."

"In the beginning, people were like, what are you doing, you idiots?" says Rene. However, Headis "is now played in 20 universities — and is growing in popularity in other parts of Europe as well, particularly among soccer players and skateboarders. About 2,000 Headis balls, which are softer than soccer balls, have been sold so far this year compared with a total of 1,300 last year, according to Rene, who sells them," and "is trying to build the game into a business and a lasting sport." Rene is "getting a PhD in strategic sports marketing."

The game’s quirkiness suggests a laid-back personality, "but it seems to bring out the inner fighter in players, who adopt nicknames (e.g., Headonis, Headi Potter and Sunhead) and different styles of play." In addition to tournaments and "weekly informal league matches … the game has become popular on playgrounds of primary schools in Germany." It has also spawned "an offshoot known as Street Headis, where people play in city settings and head the ball into basketball hoops and trash cans."

Central Park Horse Show

centralparkhorseMark Bellissimo "is redefining the landscape of equestrian sports," reports Pia Catton in The Wall Street Journal (9/20/14). Key to this re-definition is to make the sport less elitist and central to it is a horse show in New York’s Central Park. The latter hadn’t happened previously because other would-be organizers imagined the show on the park’s Great Lawn. This never happened because of the "potential damage to grass and private use of public space." Mark’s workaround was to place the show in the Park’s skating rink.

The Trump Rink was perfect because it offers "33,000 square feet of grass-free ground that goes unused during the early fall." The "pop-up venue" can accommodate 2,000 people and host "demonstrations including dressage, Shetland pony racing and even vaulting, a form of gymnastics on horseback." The Central Park Horse Show builds on Mark’s acquisition of a magazine "to leverage the sport’s fan base." He is also building a resort in Tyron, NC, anchored by a new equestrian center including "several riding arenas."

Mark has also turned the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, "into a more accessible event, with attractions such as tiki bars and event tents." He also hopes to turn his Central Park event into "a major fundraiser for charities." While tickets to evening events are set at about $270, daytime tickets go for $30 and tickets for "charities focusing on children are free." Mark says the sport may be niche, but can be inclusive: "It’s not a private party for an elite group of people in the park," he says.

Women in Clothes

womeninclothesFor most women, "dress is a tool they learn to deploy around the same time they are taught to use a knife and fork," writes Sasha Weiss in a New York Times review of Women In Clothes, by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others. Based on a survey of "more than 600 women," the book "is part advice manual, part anthropological study, part feminist document." It also features interviews with young girls, old women and famous women, and "contains hundreds of stories."

"A silky thread that links the stories is clothing as an expression of private waywardness. Dressing is a way to live doubly: There is a self-assembled for the public, and then there are the secrets kept and marked with clothes." For example: "Molly Murray talks about subtly altering every article of clothing she has ever bought, cutting off embellishments, changing a hemline, ripping out labels … Clothing is as much a means for defiance and privacy as it is a vehicle for pleasing and self-presentation."

Monica Bill Barnes, a choreographer comments: "As soon as you present yourself as really pretty onstage, you lose a certain amount of power. You’re safer. You’re admired. And then people feel comfortable with you." This, and the book’s other observations, give "women permission to improvise, to show their mistakes, to share information. Pushing against the prevailing rules that have governed women’s self-presentation for thousands of years, they say: Be voluble, grandiose, experimental, wild. Be imperfect."

Topless Cellist

charlotte-moormanCharlotte Moorman, "the topless cellist, proclaimed that music should be fun and free," reports Norman Lebrecht in a Wall Street Journal review of Topless Cellist by Joan Rothfuss (10/4/14). Ms. Moorman, who died in 1991, "won a beauty prize before she took up the cello in earnest … a run of successful auditions got her regular concert work," but she "was never going to settle with being orchestral rank-and-file." Everything changed when she met Yoko Ono (before Yoko met John Lennon), along with John Cage and other avant-garde artists.

In 1963, Charlotte rented a hall in New York City "to put on an avant-garde festival at her own expense." The festival became "an annual fixture for the next 15 years," and gained special notice when Charlotte "took off her dress before playing her cello. She also played wearing see-through cellophane … heady, crazy events, harbingers of a new concept of public performances." In 1967, she was arrested for performing in nothing but electric lights, and "her air-brushed image raced around the world’s press."

Her collaborations with Yoko Ono had her playing cello while seated on a toilet bowl, and sitting "impassively on the floor while audience members cut off her clothes." Charlotte continued to play throughout her life, and "confronted the onset of breast cancer full-on in 1979 with a set of post-mastectomy photographs." She was not "an outright feminist," but "applied herself to the liberation of the female body from clothes, of music from old rules and of a performer’s life from the dull realities of having to earn a living."

Elements of Wit

elementsofwit"Unlike humor, wit is a speed game," writes Benjamin Errett in The Elements of Wit, reviewed by Dave Shiflett in The Wall Street Journal (10/4/14). Humor "is often nothing more than regurgitating stale jokes or spewing sarcasm and glibness." Wit, however, is "spontaneous creativity" that connects "disparate ideas to create delight." It is a product of accumulated knowledge and sometimes a whiff of alcohol. As Mark Twain quipped: "I find that about two glasses of champagne are an admirable stimulant to the tongue."

Quick wits do have their tricks, "stocking their mental file cabinets with material that can be retrieved at clutch moments." For example: "Lady Astor once told Winston Churchill that if she were married to him, she would poison his coffee. ‘If I were married to you,’ he responded,’I would drink it." The secret is that Churchill’s response was based on something he’d read in a joke column. "Sir Winston grasped the essential truth that quoting without attribution can make one seem all the cleverer."

Benjamin’s favorite wits include not only Twain and Churchill, but also "Groucho Marx, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Levant, who said of a politician that ‘he’ll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it’ and of a banker: ‘He’s a self-made man. Who else would help?" The author favors "a softer, gentler wit" that simply makes people more interesting, without being mean. Of course, it’s often the dark streak that cuts through, as "a sharp tongue bites like a smiling serpent," as Lady Astor discovered, to "wit’s eternal glory."

Sources of Slang

stream"Much of today’s slang has older and more venerable roots than most people realize," writes Kory Stamper in The New York Times (10/4/14). For example, "swag … sounds new, but the informal use goes way back. It’s generally taken to be a shortened version of swagger" and its use has been documented back to the year 1589. Swag, as slang, "evolved out of standard English, but there’s also slang that is slang born and raised. As it moves through successive generations, it may morph — but without losing its cred."

‘Hipsters’ has been in use since 1941, and ‘dude’, "predates the Dude of ‘The Big Lebowski’ fame by over 100 years. Cops have been ‘nailing’ suspects since the early 1700s. Even the seemingly up-to-the minute ‘bae,’ a word that means babe or baby … has a print trail back to the early 2000s … Slang often falls prey to what linguists call the ‘recency illusion': I don’t remember hearing or using this word before, therefore the word is new."

"At the heart of the illusion lies a misbegotten belief that English is a static and uniform language, a mighty mountain of lexical stability," Kory writes. "Upon this monument, slang falls like acid rain, eroding and degrading the linguistic landscape. It’s the wrong metaphor," he continues. "English is fluid and enduring: not a mountain but an ocean. A word may drift down through time from one current of English … to another. Slang words are quicksilver flashes of cool in the great stream."

The Innovators

innovatorsThe digital age was invented by an unlikely ecosystem of "hackers, hippies, hobbyists" and the military, suggests Steven Shapin in a Wall Street Journal review of The Innovators by Walter Isaacson (10/4/14). "The Pentagon and the anti-Vietnam War radicals had different visions of how digital technology should develop, but they were oddly coupled together in inspiring the Digital Revolution." This odd fact makes a large point about the genesis of modern technology, and the collaborative nature of innovation itself.

Indeed, Steve Jobs told Walter that his "role model" was "Robert Oppenheimer, who at wartime Los Alamos so effectively found ways of getting scientists with radically different skills and personalities to work together in designing the atomic bomb." Walter Issacson "reckons that the biographical genre exaggerates the contributions of individuals and vastly underestimates incremental improvements over time and the creative interactions that individuals have with each other."

It is "creative teams — groups whose ideas arose from exchanges among its members and whose inventiveness flowed from their differences in knowledge, skills, styles of working and temperament" that ultimately made the difference. The digital ecosystem also extends to the venture capitalists and universities — as well as the designers who determine the aesthetics of digital devices, the researchers who predict "what consumers did not yet know they wanted" and the marketers who "make them want those things."