Missing a million-dollar e-mail. It's every multitasker's nightmare: losing crucial piece of data in the electronic flood. While shifting through old e-mails, Kord Campbell noticed a message from 12 days earlier - a big company offering him $1.3 million to buy his Internet startup. But between two computer screens, IMs, online chats, and more, the e-mail just slipped by. Campbell salvaged the deal, but it hasn't stopped him from obsessively checking his gadgets. Campbell's experience is part of an in-depth look the New York Times is taking at our brains on - and off - computers. Scientists say the deluge of incoming information taps into a primitive instinct to respond to immediate threats and opportunities. What's scary: Once you're addicted to the "dopamine squirt" of that data stimulation, you can feel bored, or worse distracted, without it. Research shows that heavy multitaskers not only have trouble zeroing in on relevant information, but they're also more stressed. On the other hand, Clay Shirky still thinks the Internet could be making us smarter.
Can telecommuting save sanity? When employees were allowed flexible work arrangements, including the chance to work from home, they reported being able to work significantly longer hours without feeling that work overwhelmed their family life. In a study of nearly 25,000 IBM employees around the globe, workers reported the ability to work 19 more hours on average per week when offered geographic flexibility. Office-based workers reported that work started to interfere with their home life after 38 hours, while telecommuters said they could put in up to 57 before feeling a work-life imbalance, the UK's Telegraph reports. After disbanding our own office for a month, we at Inc. gained our own insights on going virtual.
SpaceX makes orbit. Elon Musk's rocket company hit another milestone Friday night, with the successful launch of a rocket that one day could take astronauts to the International Space Station. The launch had been closely watched as a test of President Obama's new space strategy, which involves scrapping expensive public programs and instead relying on private companies to take astronauts to space. During a teleconference after the launch, Musk praised the Obama approach and called the launch "one of the best days of my life." As the Wall Street Journal notes, SpaceX has come a long way over the past few years, having suffered several failed launches before it made it to orbit for the first time last year. Of course, we have known that Musk is on to something for a long time.
Hands off Silicon Valley! Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch has an impassioned post about how the best thing the government can do for Silicon Valley is to adopt a laissez-faire approach. He feels that legislation, handouts, or "public-private partnerships" would only disrupt the sensitive VC ecosystem. Instead he proposes: "if the government wants to help innovation in this country they should get busy with infrastructure. Lay fiber to every home and business in the U.S. Actually start building some of these high speed train networks to make travel easier." Here are Inc. 500 CEOs' suggestions on giving the U.S. postal service an extreme makeover.
Is Indonesia the next investor hot-spot? Tech Crunch explains that perhaps the biggest reason to consider investing in Indonesia is the fact that there is little competition for burgeoning growth in technology and mobile services. Compared to more saturated markets like India and China, where the sharp increase in multinational jobs has pushed up salaries and rents, the costs of building a company in Indonesia are still relatively low. Indonesia has a population of 240 million and a Web audience of 30 to 40 million, not including the growing mobile Web market.
Revisiting who's founding high-tech start-ups. Though there's been a lot of buzz recently immigrant entrepreneurs being more likely to found a tech start-up than U.S.-born business owners, Small Business Trends reports that might not be altogether true. The discussion comes on the heels of the Start-Up Visa Act of 2010 proposed earlier this year, which would make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to start their own businesses in the states. Author Scott Shane found that, in 2009, immigrant entrepreneurs were more likely to start a business in Internet publishing and broadcasting, while native-born entrepreneurs were more likely to deal in computer and electronic products. For a list of immigrant entrepreneurs who have made it onto our Inc. 5,000 list in the past, check out this slideshow.
The push for a national day celebrating entrepreneurs. With all the recent government bailout programs aimed at large corporations, a pair of Boston-area entrepreneurs are making a push to create a day to recognize the contributions of America's entrepreneurs. Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser, co-founders of the phone-services company Grasshopper Group, are petitioning President Obama to make November 19, 2010, the first annual National Entrepreneurs Day. Check out their online petition.
Sprouting up in a down time. Back in 2008, we brought you the story of how Clif Bar and Method benefited by starting up in past recessions. Now, our sister publication Fast Company, tells of four innovative design firms that launched in the current recession. Who wouldn't love a door stop called The Ooob or a couple of felt lamps?
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.