May 13, 2011

Weekly Roundup: Cougars, mermaids and ‘glam-mas’

Posted by: in North America

-China’s low labor costs “could be reaching a tipping point,” writes The Wall Street Journal, signaling “the possible end of an era of cheap goods.”

-The BBC looks at how China’s upper class consumes luxury goods.

-As more Brazilians acquire middle-class tastes, they’re buying on installment plans and racking up considerable debt, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

-Responding to a new report on Africa’s rising middle class, The Economist cautions that while millions are emerging out of dire poverty, “middle class” may be a misnomer. And from the BBC, a photo essay on middle-class Africans.

-The New York Times takes stock of the European movement to create low emissions zones in city centers.

-The U.S. Census Bureau finds a “delayer boom” among college-educated women, who are giving birth at a later age than other women.

-The Economist looks at some of the more notable projections in the U.N.’s new population forecast—Nigeria, for example, may be larger than the U.S. by 2100.

-MIT’s Technology Review chooses 10 emerging technologies from the past year that “will have the greatest impact.”

-As Microsoft pays $8.5 billion for Skype, The Economist weighs in on “the new tech bubble” and the return of irrational exuberance.

-Visa announces plans to make a “cross-channel digital wallet” a reality in North America later this year.

-The New York Times takes a look at Path and other alternative social networks, one of our 100 Things to Watch for 2011.

-“The desktop is turning mobile,” says MIT’s Technology Review, and is increasingly imitating smartphone and tablet operating systems.

-With a goal of “turning us all into marketers,” Facebook is “online advertising’s next great hope,” reports MIT’s Technology Review.

-An Ericsson ConsumerLab survey in the U.S. finds that more than a third of Android and iPhone owners use mobile apps before getting out of bed.

-NPR’s “Morning Edition” looks at how retailers are continuing to retool for an aging world (one of our 10 Trends for 2010). Meanwhile, U.K. social network Mumsnet is launching a site for grandparents, Gransnet, according to Marketing Week. Just don’t call them grandparents, reports The New York Times—that makes them feel old.

-A report from Columbia’s journalism school grapples with the question of how to make digital journalism a viable business. As GigaOM notes, the findings present no easy answers.

-Among the findings in the Pew Research Center’s analysis of how readers navigate online news: that social media (Facebook far more than Twitter) is increasingly important in driving news traffic.

-As the “democratization of distribution” disrupts media industries, Om Malik argues that “the concept of what is media needs to be rethought and re-imagined.”

Scientific American reports that psychologists are beginning to recognize “exhaustion syndrome,” or burnout, as a distinct phenomenon.

-Bill Gardner releases his annual review of worldwide trends in logo design.

-“Your grandmother’s hobby is going high-tech,” says The Wall Street Journal, looking at the latest generation of sewing machines as sales rise.

-Are mermaids the next vampires and zombies? USA Today says they’ll be “making a big splash in popular culture this summer.”

– Reporting from the Miss Cougar America contest, Bloomberg Businessweek looks at the “transcontinental economy” that’s sprung up around the “cougar” phenomenon.

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