Apple is going to buy Twitter by the end of next year. And if it doesn’t, I’m going to buy you a beer

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I’m not the first person to have wondered: after various failed attempts, what can Apple do in order to take on a larger role in the social networking world? My answer is: it can buy Twitter. Indeed, I’ll go a step further: if Apple doesn’t buy Twitter in the next 18 months I will offer a beer to anyone who takes part in this bet (if you want to participate, you can find an invitation at the bottom of the article). Why? Here are 7 good reasons. Apple needs a social network It’s not a mystery: Apple’s future competitors won’t be HP or Dell, but Google and Facebook. The power of social networks for aggregating (and for directing users towards certain products) grows stronger everyday. Apple is well aware of this and has tried several times to develop along this lines, but without success. iTunes, designed not only to sell,...

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Does opening a blog still make sense in the Facebook era?

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There are companies, like Apple, that present every new thing they do as a revolution. Others, like Google and Facebook, that introduce things more quietly, with a whisper, changing, a little bit at a time, they way we work and communicate. Facebook has been promoting on pages and profiles for a while now a function that seems nearly as old as the Internet: RSS feeds. If you’re interested in a page (or a person) on Facebook you can click on a button and be kept up-to-date from then on about whatever is written or posted there. RSS feeds were (and still are) the main tool for promoting blogs, the personal web logs officially born in 1997 when Jorn Barger, an American businessman with a passion for hunting, decided to open a personal webpage in order to share his hobby. If you found a site that you liked you simply clicked...

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The importance and the fear of being free

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"Professor Savater, what is the future?" So began, without preamble, my conversation with one of the most interesting people I've ever met. Fernando Savater, 63 years old, has a Spanish passport but a Basque heart. He was born in San Sebastian at the end of the Second World War and is one of the greatest living philosophers. Since the day I met him, I like to think of him as the last of the enlightenment thinkers. He believes firmly in the worth of the human being and in our capacity for choosing, in the right of each of us to be happy. He systematically refutes all commonplaces and always manages to provide a different and unexpected way of looking at things. I met him on a sunny morning in his house in downtown Madrid. It's full of books from top to bottom, as one might expect, but also of old...

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Latouche: “Degrowing to live better”

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Serge Latouche is a Frenchman in his middle age, sure of himself, who by the way in which he carries himself reminds one a bit of Sean Connery. He's well-loved in Italy and in South America, but is seen in the United States as something of an inconvenient radical. A friend of Vandana Shiva, Carlo Petrini and Massimo Cacciari, he is considered the standard-bearer of those who wish for the end of consumerism and the advent of a more sober way of life. He teaches at the University of Paris XI and is a world-renown economist, although he prefers to define himself as an "objector to growth". Which is only natural, seeing as his name is universally associated with the concept of "degrowth". Latouche is convinced that the society we live in is now utterly unfit to satisfy our needs and that it is necessary and urgent that we change...

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We are scared of people who are different, if they are poorer than us. An interview with Orhan Pamuk

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Orhan Pamuk's study, one of the most important of contemporary novelists, is the materialization of the dream of every aspiring writer. Four big walls, three of which are covered with books. The fourth, made entirely of glass, looks out onto the Bosphorus. And beyond the glass stands an imposing mosque, seagulls floating on the wind and great ships lumbering back and forth, between East and West. He moved there this year, leaving his old family home shortly after finishing his last novel, The Museum of Innocence, which like many of his works (such as My Name Is Red, which won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006) tells a story of differences that attract. Melancholic and beautiful novels, all set, without exception, in Turkey. Since 2005 when he was put on trial and threatened with death due to his statements about the extermination of the Armenians, Pamuk lives between New York, where he is Visiting Professor at Columbia University, and his Istanbul, where I met him.

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Christakis: friends influence our choices, but not on Facebook, Twitter…

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Is it possible that someone with 50 thousand followers on Twitter is actually unsocial? It most certainly is. This answer is what thrust Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a social researcher and professor at Harvard University, into the media spotlight last year. For in his view, online social networks have almost nothing to do with true, intimate and lasting social relationships. According to Christakis, Facebook resembles the soap operas of the past: with the difference that the stories into which we can immerse ourselves are no longer played out by unknown actors, but by people we actually know in real life. In his Harvard office Christakis responded to my questions with passion, launching right into the topics most familiar to him and reflecting a bit before answering more unusual questions. Here's a synthesis of our conversation.

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Studying the Past to Survive the Future

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Jared Diamond, author of many best seller including Collapse, teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is a professor of geography. It's a discipline that's hardly fashionable in an age in which many of us are convinced we know our planet as well as we need to. It takes only a few minutes for this conviction to disappear when talking to the 72 year old professor, who's spent years studying the reasons for the collapses of past civilizations to try to find a way to avoid that of our own. A collapse which, as he explains, is a quite a concrete possibility.

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Cameron’s Big Society As Told By Its Inventor, Phillip Blond

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How can one cut state spending by 20% while at the same time improving public services? In Great Britain, where conservative prime minister David Cameron has recently announced a traumatic plan for relaunching the economy and avoiding a financial collapse like the one that happened in Greece, and it's all people are talking about. His critics accuse him of allarmism, recklessness and utopism. But he and his supporters are convinced that the winning ticket can be found in an innovative and fascinating political project called Big Society: a new form of society founded upon social entrepreneurship that surpasses the limits of capitalism and of the social state creating completely new opportunities for citizens. The theoretician of the Big Society is Phillip Blond, 44 years old, born in Liverpool and professor of theology and political philosophy at Cambridge. Today he manages the London-based think tank ResPublica, which has become one of...

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