Misc links (niche partitioning and categories edition)

May 5, 2010 at 4:38 am 2 comments

| Gabriel |

  • Attention niche partitioning people in search of a research topic! For awhile there was a fairly clean divide between ethnic shops and general shops in the advertising industry. Now the general shops are increasingly creating multicultural divisions and taking market share from the specialists. For some good background reading on ethnic partitioning of the ad market see Davila and Turow.
  • Intel is creating a more powerful dual-core version of the Atom chip that is found in most netbooks. This of course blurs the boundary between netbooks and laptops since the whole point of a netbook was it was weak but only cost $250, so if it’s powerful and $500 doesn’t that make it a laptop? (h/t Mark Kennedy.) On the other hand, this could actually heighten the contrast between netbooks and laptops. Suppose that in its quest to climb back up the value chain, Intel effectively prices itself out of the netbook market. If there is still a demand at or below the $250 price point, it will be met by computers based on ARM chips (the same thing that’s in the iPad and most cell phones) which are even cheaper and weaker than the Atom. The hitch is that ARM chips can’t run software compiled for an x86 which in practice means they can only run Linux. (Windows CE runs on ARM but there’s very little application software available for it whereas it’s pretty easy to recompile open source software for ARM and cloud services don’t care what chips or OS you’re using). In this scenario the current netbook niche would fragment into two, with some climbing the value chain to be low-end laptops running Windows and others being dirt cheap and running Chrome OS or Ubuntu Netbook Edition.
  • Everything I needed to know about economic sociology I learned from watching this old Disney cartoon. The main focus is on categorical uncertainty but it’s also got legal-rational authority/ bureaucracy, the railroads as the archetypal organizations of the second industrial revolution, reliance on expertise, social construction of price, exponential growth processes, etc.
  • Finally, it’s worth remembering that niche partitioning specifically and the organizational ecology paradigm more broadly is based on regular old biology and so even more than your average liberally educated person, econ soc folks should know something about biology. Fortunately, Stephen Stearns has podcast his intro to EEB. EEB is short for “evolution, ecology, and behavior” which us laymen can think of as the kind of biology that’s interesting, in contrast to MCB (molecular cell bio) which is the kind of biology that’s boring but will get you a job at Pfizer. As usual, Yale did a great technical job of capturing a talented lecturer. FWIW, Stearns’ voice sounds a little like that of President Obama so I keep expecting to say things like “if you like your genome, you can keep your genome.”
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2 Comments

  • 1. Brooks  |  May 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Amazing, I’m going to ask Bill to put “Pigs is Pigs” on Soc 260 syllabus.

  • 2. Mark  |  May 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I’m amazed at how quickly categories can come and go in computing. I have no prediction about whether netbooks will stick and flourish or go the way of the organizers once made by Palm, HP, and others. Fun to watch, though, and challenging for theory that emphasizes the permanence of categories ..


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