Agoda Outside has partnered with the Asian Trade Centre to publish a white paper on the benefits of international online travel agencies. Click here to read. Changing the world through technology and travel

Changing the world through technology and travel.

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“The Greatest Artist Britain Has Ever Produced”

William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet and illustrator. Not widely appreciated in his own day, Blake's reputation has grown enormously since his death, both for his poems ("Tyger Tyger, burning bright, / In the forests of the night; / What immortal hand or eye, / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?") and for his illustrations, which included both the physical and the metaphysical worlds. His images are now on line at the William Blake Archive; Open Culture introduces us.

The Admiral Who Invented COBOL

Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was both a computer scientist and an admiral in the U.S. Navy. Entering the Navy Reserves during World War II, she soon started working on computers, inventing several computer languages based on English, including COBOL. She also served as an admiral in the Navy. This article about her from Open Culture includes two video interviews; in one, with David Letterman, she shows that she was not only a brilliant mathematician but also funny. If only all of us could be so accomplished!

Listen to Your Great-Grandparents’ Music App

Musical recording technology continues to evolve, but one of the very earliest was the wax "phonograph cylinder," invented by the Edison Company in the late 1880s. The technology was fragile and limited (early cylinders recorded only about two minutes' worth of music), but it opened the door to vinyl records. Cylinders were in use until the late 1920s. The University of California at Santa Barbara has now uploaded more than 10,000 of them, organized by genre (from band music and cakewalks to yodeling and zarzuelas) as well as thematic playlists (early hillbilly music, anyone?). You can read about the archive on Open Culture, and the archive itself can be easily accessed through its website here.

Travel with your Ears

Usually we think of travel as primarily a visual event, but other senses are involved - taste, smell, and touch all come into play. But this rich article from the New York Times Magazine helps us explore the world through sound, including a volcanic lava flow from Hawaii (sounds like tinkling glass); the mating call of lemurs from Madagascar; the urban bustle of Lagos, Nigeria; the whispering gallery of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, India, with its resonating echoes; the haunting echolocation calls of a colony of 500 long-fingered banks from Mozambique; and more. Put on your headphones and go places you've almost certainly never been before.

Parranda: A Dance of African Tradition from Venezuela

To greet the new year and bid farewell to the old, Venezuelans of African heritage from the village of El Clavo dance the parranda. When they dance, they keep one foot in front and one behind, reminding dancers and spectators of the shackles of slavery. Betsayda Machado, a leading exponent of the parranda, travels the world with her troupe, as an ambassador of dance, song, and her country. (Great Big Story)

Meeting Wildlife on the Colombian Plains

The Llanos Orientales – the Eastern Plains – is a vast section of Colombia. Still relatively wild (though under threat from oil and agricultural exploitation), the region is home to many of the country’s wildlife species, including hawks, capybaras (the world's largest rodents), monkeys, storks, ibises, and anteaters. A 37,000-acre (~15,000 hectare) ranch works as a wildlife reserve to protect species at risk, but also welcomes visitors. Explore the region through this well-illustrated feature from the New York Times.

“Are you afraid of anything at work?” and other really revealing...

Many employee surveys reveal only the tip of the iceberg. But asking the right questions can help managers learn a lot more. Asking what people are afraid of, whether there are areas outside their current role where they could contribute, who's done great but unnoticed work - and six more questions - can all give important, unexpected insights. Learn more about Know your Company from SignalvNoise.

Don’t turn a profit too soon.

Being profitable is not the only goal companies pursue, but it is arguably the most important. Yet this HBR article argues that Internet companies should put off being profitable "for as long as they can." Why? Because unlike traditional economics, which dictate that scarcity determines value, the Internet economy is one in which size and scale create value. Following this logic, Internet companies can actually increase their worth not by turning a profit early, but by building their features and providing more to more people. Would your stakeholders agree?

Innovation and regulation – working together?

The sharing economy, a massive increase in the amount of data available, and Big Analytics are networking the world. These three factors are changing business and behavior. Regulators often try to address these changes, and business often perceives regulation as a threat. This article from Knowledge@Wharton, however, suggests that actually regulation and business can work together to mutual benefit.

Relax and create (if you’re an introvert)

Yes, you can become more creative, and there are programs that can help. But it depends on your personality type. Extraverts benefit from programs that help them generate ideas, since they benefit from stimulus. Introverts, on the other hand, need to learn to relax if they want to create. Much like the evolution of personalized medicine, we are learning that in learning and development, too, there are different strokes that work better for different folks. More in Scientific American.

Data is the window to the soul.

Why is Internet data so important? Because it predicts behavior. If companies (and governments . . . ) know what you're clicking about, they gain real insights into who you are, what you're thinking about, and what you're likely to do. People "tell Google things they may not tell anyone else," notes Knowledge@Wharton in this very interesting, slightly disturbing review of a new book by a former Google researcher: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us about Who We Really Are.

Mind over Mattress: How to become an early riser

Lots of famous people wake up early and have super productive days. Most of us, however, are all too friendly with the snooze button. This practical article from Medium reviews four key elements of becoming an early riser (goals and mindset; evening routine; sleep quality; and morning routine), from a very behavioristic perspective. Try it, and maybe you'll be awake and ready when Tim Cook starts sending his emails at 4:30 AM!