Can the World really afford more empty cities?
According to the BBC, this residential development has been constructed by the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) and includes a massive swath of eight-storey apartment buildings – 750 in all – plus a dozen schoola and more than 100 retail units.
Built to accommodate a population of 500,000, the city is currently largely empty.
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Over at GQ.com, our correspodent Amy Wallace posted some of her favorite bits with the soul singer that didn’t make the final story. They’re all worth reading if you’re a D’Angelo fan, but we re-read this one a couple times:
Even his first album, Brown Sugar, had been audacious—with its references to “Chocolate Thai,” has often been presumed to be an ode to the powers of good weed, while “Shit, Damn, Motherf*cker” was as dark and ominous as anything since Sly & the Family Stone’s “There’s a Riot Goin’ On.” But D’s onstage persona was more muted—it simmered, but didn’t burn. D’Angelo looks back on that time with some discomfort. A perfectionist, he wishes he’d had more of an active interplay with the audience. But it all took off so fast, he says. He was confused, he says, by his sudden notoriety, even as he, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and others were credited with launching the “neo-soul” movement (a label he hates). “It counteracts the very fucking idea of what it was in the first place,” he says. “It’s black music thinking — it’s black music manifested outside of the box. And when you label it neo soul, you’re putting it right back in the box. How about you just call me soul music?”
That argument was just one of many D was having in his own head. “I tried to fight, I guess, what typically fame quote-unquote does to people,” he says. “I didn’t want to stop being, you know, the rambunctious mug that I was, because that’s what made my music what it was. It happens to the best of them, you know: At some point in everyone’s career, it was like the music lost its bite. I’m like, ‘Well, how do you avoid that?’”
“You’re some kid from wherever, you get signed, you come out with a record, and boom, you’ve got money and instant success and there’s really no template to follow,” he says, recalling how Gary Harris, the EMI exec who’d signed him, gave him a copy of Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, David Ritz’s commanding biography. Hungry for guidance, D devoured it in two days. When B.B. King first met the 22-year-old D’Angelo, Vibe magazine reported in 2000, the bluesman remarked that D had an old soul. Says Harris today: “He’s the oldest young man you’ll ever meet.”
Updated: 3.21.12 To my great delight, John Gruber and Dan Benjamin (@gruber, @danbenjamin ) call out this problem at even greater length and with more detail in their The Talk Show podcast #84. Starting at the 26:15 mark. Mr. Gruber also explains how the problem is a result of using Adobe…
Short answer: it’s not just wages. The vastly different wages paid to American workers, compared to contemporaries in Taiwan or China, is a significant factor in the shift of massive supply chain operations in the tech industry over to Asia, The New York Times says in its in-depth examination of Apple and its suppliers.
Takeaway factoid someone will repeat in your earshot this week: manufacturing the iPhone in the United States would add about $65 to the cost of each unit. Is that worth it?
But it’s not just about the wages. The biggest shocks of the paper’s examination of Foxconn, one of Apple’s major suppliers for the iPhone, are about physical scale, not payscale. The plant known as Foxconn City employes some 230,000 workers, with more than one quarter of them living on-site in company-built dormitories, The Times reports. The kitchens that feed the workers churn out 13 tons of rice per day, and guards work the hallways to prevent workers from trampling one another.
And the most chilling assessments of the U.S. labor market’s inability to share in some of this new manufacturing activity speak to simple inability to compete. Read more.
How does the digital transformation of your organization go? According to the global study DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: A ROADMAP FOR BILLION-DOLLAR ORGANIZATIONS from CapGemini just 50 of 157 executives say that they have an effective approach. Not an easy task it seems…
But why is this so hard? The report states that
Successful digital transformation comes not from implementing new technologies but from transforming your organization to take advantage of the possibilities that new technologies provide. Major digital transformation initiatives are centered on re-envisioning customer experience, operational processes and business models. Companies are changing how functions work, redefining how functions interact, and even evolving the boundaries of the firm.
I couldn’t agree more. But isn’t this difficult? Yes, really! What makes it even more difficult is further described in another conclusion:
Successful DT comes not from creating a new organization, but from reshaping the organization to take advantage of valuable existing strategic assets in new ways.
This means that in order to succeed you have to understand what your valuable existing strategic assets really are and transform your business to leverage them in a digital approach.
I think these statements are correct, are really important and points in the right direction. But judging from my 10+ year experience in working with intelligence, strategy and change in a global company, I see is that this is incredibly difficult to do in practice. Is it really so that as much as 1 in 3 are successful in this process? And to what extent are they successful?
From a historical perspective from other technology driven transformations, there are extremely few companies that have been successful in transforming themselves across societal and technological shifts. How many companies are e g older than 100 years? 100 years ago there was another, albeit a magnitude smaller, technological and societal shift that also required transformation and how many organizations survived that?
We must correlate these insight with other findings e g John Hagel’s analysis of the performance of today’s companies:
Firms in the Standard & Poor’s 500 in 1937 had an average life expectancy of 75 years; a more recent analysis of the S&P 500 showed that the number had dropped to just 15 years.
I think it is time that people reread the former Shell executive Arie de Geus’ book The Living Company, Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business and Alan Deutchman’s Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life.
In the end of the executive summary the CapGemini reports correctly states that:
Despite the hype around innovative digital technologies, most companies still have a long way to go in their digital transformation journeys. Leadership is essential. Whether using new or traditional technologies, the key to digital transformation is re-envisioning and driving change in how the company operates. That’s a management and people challenge, not just a technology one.
From my view from the outside I still wonder if change really is happening to the extent that people think it does. Because if it does it is against all historical odds. Or are we creating an illusion of change, when in fact organizations are failing more dramatically than ever?
The good thing with this report is that they are starting to formulating the difficulties in a much more realistic way than I have seen before from IT-consultants. And that is a good thing… If they show the correct picture of the reality, I am not at all sure.