The Food Lab’s Top 6 Food Myths

The Food Lab’s all about clearing up culinary misinformation; separating the old wives’ tales from the old wives that keep telling them.
So here are the six most common and egregious food myths I commonly encounter, and the truth behind them. You can use this information to either improve your cooking, or to sound like a pompous windbag at your next cocktail party.

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How Handwriting Boosts the Brain

Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development.

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The History of the Power Suit

In the fast-paced world of business and power, its not only about who you know, its also about how you look when you walk into a room. Over the course of time, the outfits that have endowed the successful with a look of power and prestige have changed. Men and women of greatness have taken wardrobe inspiration other cultures, presidents, and actors in Hollywood, to piece together the garments that dominated various times in history. Today we explore the evolution of professional attire, how it has changed, and where it is headed in the future.

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11 Dumbest Quotes from Powerful People

Even the wisest of leaders can’t always avoid gaffes, wrong-headed predictions or stirring battle-cries that turn out to be bone-headed whoops. But there are different kinds of stupid in the world. Some mistakes, for instance, may have seemed like smart moves at the time.

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Artificial Intelligence’s Time Has Arrived

After 50 years of frequent failure and narrow success, artificial intelligence (AI) is going mainstream. A confluence of trends—cloud computing, smart phones, expanded broadband capability, improved AI algorithms, plus the steady Moore’s Law expansion of raw processing power—is producing a vast acceleration in AI capability. Not only are AI’s individual subdisciplines—speech recognition, natural language understanding, machine learning, computer vision, etc.—improving, they are beginning to work in concert. We are, finally, starting to approach the subtlety of real human intelligence. In the process, we are moving from the merely good to the uncanny.

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Down with fun | The Economist

ONE of the many pleasures of watching “Mad Men”, a television drama about the advertising industry in the early 1960s, is examining the ways in which office life has changed over the years.
The ad-men in those days enjoyed simple pleasures. They puffed away at their desks. They drank throughout the day. They had affairs with their colleagues. They socialised not in order to bond, but in order to get drunk.
One obvious change makes people feel good about themselves: they no longer treat women as second-class citizens. But the other obvious change makes them feel a bit more uneasy: they have lost the art of enjoying themselves at work.

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Know Your Icons Part 2

In the last installment you learned about the history of icon design and how it has evolved from black and white representations of office items into full colored, glassy, hyper-rendered, isometric representations of… office items. In this installment I will be delving further into the world of icons and exploring what icons mean to us today.

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The Most Bizarre Rituals in Human History

Warning: Some of the images in this post cannot be unseen. If you are someone who is offended, scared or grossed out by images that are of graphic nature, we strongly recommend you do not proceed.

Murder, eating dead bodies, self-castration…the making of a horror movie? No, these are just some examples of strange rituals practiced around the world. Although most of these have ceased, some of these rather gruesome rituals are still being practiced in third world countries. And after reading through some of these, you’ll be quite glad you live in the modern world.


Riding Asia’s Digital Ttiger

Asia is the world’s hottest area of Internet growth, but the dynamics on the ground vary widely by nation.

Asia’s emerging markets are poised for explosive digital growth. The region’s two largest economies—China and India—already boast some 500 million Internet users, and we forecast nearly 700 million more will be added by 2015 (Exhibit 1). Other emerging Asian nations have the potential to grow at a similarly torrid pace. We estimate that within five years, this billion-plus user market may generate revenues of more than $80 billion in Internet commerce, access fees, device sales, and so forth (Exhibit 2).

To better understand the consumers, growth prospects, and problems, we surveyed more than 13,000 individuals across China, India, and Malaysia—countries at very different stages of their digital evolution.1 The key finding? While there were some notable differences in the types of content consumers favor and the devices they use, significant demand is waiting to be unlocked in all three nations. That could lead to growing markets for digital content and services and to new opportunities around digital marketing, including efforts to reach consumers via Internet sales channels.

Of the three markets we researched, Malaysia is the most advanced. While the country has only around 15 million–plus Internet users, that’s close to 55 percent of the total population, and mobile Internet penetration is close to 30 percent of it. Given the Malaysian government’s push to expand high-speed broadband, we forecast that the country will have up to 25 million Internet users by 2015, or close to 80 percent of the population. As both fixed and wireless broadband grow, we project that more than 50 percent of all users will choose to have both personal-computer and mobile-device options for getting online.
Malaysians consume 35 percent more digital media than Internet users in China and 150 percent more than users in India, particularly on social-networking sites and instant messaging. That may, for example, give handset manufacturers opportunities to build social-network access into their devices. We also found that Malaysians like to multitask across both digital and traditional media. For advertisers, that’s problematic, since viewers are paying less attention to traditional media content—and thus advertising.
China leads the world in sheer numbers of Internet users—more than 420 million people, or close to 30 percent of the population. Over 80 percent surf the Web from home, while 230 million use mobile devices. We forecast that the number of Internet users will almost double over the next five years, hitting 770 million people, or 55 percent of the population. More than 70 percent will use both PCs and handheld devices.
China’s digital usage, which is similar to that of the United States, skews toward instant messaging, social networks, gaming, and streaming video. Increasingly, Internet users in China are substituting digital media for traditional ones, with the potential for further cannibalization as digital consumption grows. This development has stark implications for advertisers and how they allocate future marketing budgets. Consumers, meanwhile, also use the Internet in their purchasing decisions. They are more influenced by recommendations from social-network contacts and friends than by traditional marketing messages or visits to company Web sites.
With only 7 percent of the population connected (81 million users), India is Asia’s digital sleeper. Yet we believe that it’s poised to become a truly mobile-Internet society as new users leapfrog PCs altogether. We project that by 2015, the number of Internet users will increase almost fivefold, to more than 350 million—28 percent of the population—with more than half of those accessing the Web via mobile phones. To capture this opportunity, companies will need to roll out wired and wireless broadband networks aggressively, to make smartphones and network access more affordable, and to develop new content types.
Consumer demand clearly is robust. On average, Indians spend more than four hours a day consuming online and offline content. On PCs, often used in cyber cafés, Indians spend much time e-mailing and are heavy consumers of downloaded videos and music, as well as DVD movies. While Indian consumers use mobile phones predominantly for voice services, they also treat them as offline personal-entertainment devices, listening to radio stations or to downloaded music. There is significant pent-up demand for more convenient and personalized Internet access—a void the mobile Web could fill.
Embracing the opportunity
High hardware costs, inconsistent network quality, and limited access could check these optimistic growth prospects. But the extent of such barriers varies by nation, and there’s notable progress overcoming them. Construction of network infrastructure is proceeding apace—companies in India, for example, just spent nearly $25 billion on telecommunications spectrum. Meanwhile, hardware and access costs are declining in most markets. The biggest challenge is to make money while creating a variety of low-cost content. Three issues are especially important:
  • Innovators and entrepreneurs must develop content creation and delivery models priced low enough to compete against the pirated options currently available.
  • Content and Web services providers need to foster the growth of local and regional advertising markets to help defray the cost of content creation.
  • E-commerce platforms, including transaction systems that make purchases more convenient and trusted, must be developed.
At the same time, companies in consumer-facing sectors (for instance, automotive, packaged consumer goods, and retailing) will need to reconsider their marketing and advertising strategies in light of the shift away from traditional media. At stake is a significant competitive advantage in a region that already boasts more than half the world’s Internet users—and will only continue to grow.

About the Authors
Vikash Daga is a principal in McKinsey’s Delhi office, where Laxman Narasimhan is a director; Nimal Manuel is a principal in the Kuala Lumpur office.

The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions of Nal Gollagunta to this article.

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