The future of tablets

January 31, 2012

For those who follow developments in technology, it’s good to be able to access very smart professional and up-to-date research.  The phenomenon of tablets is certainly one which I am seeking to try and understand, and I have found an excellent free report by Euromonitor (alerted courtesy of a LinkedIn colleague):   The presentation The Future of Tablets: Segmentation, Forecasts and Implications for Related Products – originally made at the International CES in Las Vegas earlier this month (January 2012) by analysts Mykola Golovko and Marco Salazar is now available for free download.

Summary of key findings:

– Tablet sales will continue to increase, reaching an expected 165 million units sold in 2015.  There will be continued “price erosion”.

– In 2013 through 2015, demand is expected to shift from developed markets to emerging (“developing”) markets.

– Smartphone growth will remain unaffected in the coming years.

– Laptops will continue to drive revenue in computers.

– Media tablets will remain dominant for now, but hybrid models are likely to develop in the long-run.

– Content will remain very important.

New York observations: the accent is disappearing

January 21, 2012

Two months spent living in Manhattan last year and one of the great disappointments of that time was that … hardly anybody speaks with “New York” accents in New York anymore, at least not in Manhattan (you know what I mean: “cawfee” is coffee, and – my personal favourite – “Lawngeyeland” is Long Island).  Non-New Yorkers (and certainly Australians here in Australia) when hearing the words “New York” are fond of immediately imitating the thickest New York (Brooklyn-style) accent possible: “Nooo Yawk”.

Sure, except the accent’s going, going and soon to be gone, by 2015 or 2020, according to Columbia University linguists, partly because New Yorkers suffering from “linguistic insecurity”, says Kara Becker of Reed University.  It was not always thus:  while now the traditional New York accent is seen as the “second worst” in the United States (only the traditional southern drawl ranks lower), up until World War Two it was seen as very prestigious.  But social mores and demographic change (including the large number of people who have moved into Manhattan from elsewhere in the last twenty or so years) have made profound changes to local speech patterns.

This news made it into today’s The Australian (21 January 2012) with an article by Will Pavia (from The Times).  Interested in following this?  A new documentary by Heather Quinlan about the New York accent is called If These Knishes Could Talk was featured on the Channel 13 (New York) website in August 2011.

So if you are interested in hearing the “real” (or historic) New York, you will need to spend less time in Manhattan and lots more time in Brooklyn, and hurry.

New post on digital participation

January 17, 2012

My latest “digital participation” blog post is now up on Open Forum, which is “an independent, non-profit, collaborative think-tank built around an interactive moderated discussion website that provides a platform for focused dialogue on Australian public policy and social issues”.  The post summarises a number of my ideas and writings over the past couple of months.



Walking New York City: Penn Station

January 15, 2012

It must be said: Penn Station in New York City (between 7th and 8th Avenues, 31st and 33rd Streets, not far from Macys on 34th Street) is truly one of the least pleasant, most confusing, claustrophobic, crowded and unhappy major transport terminals I have experienced.  Low ceilings, circuitous routes, little seating, difficult access to railway tracks (don’t you love the New Jersey transit track ‘lottery’ when every stands around in crushed impatience waiting for a track to be called and then all rushes the small two-metre door at the same time), oh yes, Penn Station has it all.  It is also the busiest in New York, and is the main terminal for New Jersey Transit trains, the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak (the busiest Amtrak station in the USA, double the 2nd busiest – Union Station in Washington DC) – as well as being served by the subway lines: 1, 2, 3, A, C and E, and only one block away (6th Avenue and 34th Street) from the Path train and the N, Q, R, W, B, D, F & M subway lines.  The streets surrounding Penn Station are some of the very busiest in New York City, the taxi pick up area is a mess.  Not a happy place.

Here’s a slide show of the current station.  What a shame, as it was not always this way:  When the original Penn Station was completed in 1910, it was grand and beautiful.

Click here for some more photos. But the redevelopment czars had their way in New York in the 1960s, commencing its destruction in 1963.

And now, guess what?  They are talking about re-making it grand again – again only fifty years since the original desecration.  It is to be re-built across the street in the James Farley Post Office (post code 10001 – now, that’s a cool number, that’s the postcode we had when we lived on West 27th Street, just four blocks away). There is a great New Yorker cover from 19 September 2011 which features this post office:

Check out photos of this post office here.  I used this post office many times and assure you – it looks just like this!  Here are some photos I took:

The new station is to be called Moynihan Station, named after the late Senator from New York (who served 24 years).  Not a moment too soon, but don’t hold your breath waiting: in my two months in New York in late 2011 I read The New York Times every day and saw not one mention of the new Penn Station.

Symposium on “A Serious Man”

January 15, 2012

Academic journals are not necessarily known for their readable coverage of popular film.  As a long-time Jewish film critic, I follow the discussions about popular Jewish film. And here’s one worth looking out for (although you will need access to the resources of an academic library, unfortunately, to see this):  the symposium on the Coen brothers 2009 film A Serious Man, in the November 2011 (volume 35, number 2) issue of the AJS Review (Association for Jewish Studies), taken from the December 2010 AJS conference session on the topic. Good articles by:

–          Jeffrey Shandler (Rutgers University) analysing the Jewish and Yiddish elements of the film;

–          Shai Ginsburg (Duke University) looking at the film from the perspective of modern physics (Schrodinger’s Cat);

–          Riv-Ellen Prell (University of Minnesota) examining the verisimilitude (or not) of the setting – the Jewish suburb of St Louis Park in Minneapolis; and

–          Jonathan Boyarin (University of North Carolina) and Ariella Lang (Columbia University).

Strong writing, fascinating analysis – I particularly loved Prell’s piece about Jewish Minnesota.  Worthwhile for fans of Jewish film.

Watch the trailer here:

Walking and seeing the city, part 2: crime in New York City

January 15, 2012

In my two months in New York City last year, with up to two hundred hours spent walking the streets, approximately 250 subway rides and visits to every borough of the City, I am pleased to say that I did not see one crime committed, nor the evidence of any crimes.  I was never threatened, or felt threatened and of the many thousands of local residents and visitors, I found an astonishing lack of concern for safety.  I walked in Central Park more than twenty times, about half of them very early in the morning.  I saw many single women on their own, older people, young kids walking to school and the great range of people.  In other words, people in New York City are not scared.

It was not always thus.  I grew up in suburban New Jersey in the post-war years; the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were not kind to the City of New York.  In fact, according to crime statistics, the crime rates of New York steadily rose and only started to drop in 1990.  Yes, this also happened around the United States, but they dropped even faster in New York City.  Here are some useful links:

– A 2004 paper entitled “The Remarkable Drop in Crime in New York City”

– The Wikipedia entry on crime in New York City

– Heather McDonald’s City Journal article on New York police

– And especially, the October 2011 book The City that Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control  by University of California criminologist Franklin E. Zimring , which has been extensively discussed in the media – see the New York Times and KQED.

Zimring particularly identifies the role of policing.  Check out the Oxford University Press links to a number of supporting tables.  And here’s a simple set of tables: New York Police Department borough by borough law enforcement staffing from 1990 to 2009 – a full twenty year period.  What we find here is that police numbers have risen from 25,839 in 1990 to 35,628 in 2009, an increase of almost 38 percent – paralleling the drop in crime.  Zimring examines all sorts of factors, including use of illegal drugs (not down by much, but drug-related violent crime sure is), the number of people in jail: again, New York has released far more people than most other places in the United States – meaning that the objective of putting problem people in jail as a way to reduce crime simply is not the answer.  What appears to be the answer is the sort of intensive policing of identified crime “hot” spots, and the result appears to be that when a “crime is prevented on 125th Street, it does NOT go to 140th Street”, according to Zimring.

And that’s one thing I observed in New York this (northern) autumn: large numbers of police.  Sure, we were there for the tenth anniversary of September 11th, and for a UN General Assembly vote on Palestine, but the numbers are substantial, visible and impressive.  It’s interesting that more jurisdictions, including here in Australia, are not following the New York methodology more closely.