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Chris Hadfield
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You Don't Need a Great Idea to Start a Business. What You Need Is a Broken Industry.

If you don't have a perfect idea for a new business, don't sweat it. Co-founder of the online ticketing service SeatGeek, Jack Groetzinger says all you really need is to find a stolid industry.

Jack Groetzinger: When we were trying to figure out what sort of company we wanted to start, we figured that it was very likely that the particulars of what we were doing would change over time. So rather than focusing on a single idea and saying okay that's going to be the idea that we IPO with 10 years later, we wanted to find an industry that was just pretty badly broken and assume that we would navigate within that and change what we did but that there would always be interesting problems to solve if it was a pretty broken industry. And that's why we chose ticketing. For better or for worse, Americans tend to have a lot of animosity towards ticketing companies, which perhaps means that there's room to improve. Like people often feel about some of the big ticketing companies the same way they feel about their cable company, not very fondly. And then also when we actually looked more narrowly at the user experiences, we weren't too impressed by what was out there. We thought that most of the people who were selling tickets were doing that because they were really good at the legal parts of structuring contracts or the finance of organizing a big ticketing deal, not because they were really great at crafting experiences and not that they cared deeply about that, and we do, and we did at the time as well, so we figured that would be our competitive edge.

Let me make a little analogy. If you're buying a plane ticket, you can basically use price as a measure of what's a good value and what's a bad value. Cheaper tickets are probably the best deals. If you're buying a Red Sox ticket and you're using price, you're not getting much out of that because the really cheap tickets are probably just really bad seats. It's not very interesting. So we've spent a lot of time saying okay this ticket might be a little bit more expensive than some alternatives, but it's such a good seat that is actually a really good value. We have something on SeatGeek we call Deal Score that facilitates that. And we basically spent five years on a set of algorithms that assign in real time what a ticket should cost on the open market, compare that against what it does it cost and using that difference identifies the very best values for users.

Americans reserve a special portion of animus in their hearts for two industries: cable providers and ticketing agencies. Identifying just how broken the ticketing industry was Jack Groetzinger's bid idea. While he didn't have a perfect business model pre-fabricated in his mind, he knew that he could navigate the murky waters of an industry that had gotten complacent and stopped innovating. He hung on long enough to co-found SeatGeek and the rest, as they say, is history.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
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Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

Videos
  • Science and religion (fact versus faith) are often seen as two incongruous groups. When you consider the purpose of each and the questions that they seek to answer, the comparison becomes less black and white.
  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

Signs of Covid-19 may be hidden in speech signals

Studying voice recordings of infected but asymptomatic people reveals potential indicators of Covid-19.

Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Coronavirus
It's often easy to tell when colleagues are struggling with a cold — they sound sick.
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Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
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Supporting climate science increases skepticism of out-groups

A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
  • This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
  • The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.
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