🎼 Newley’s Notes 114: Google in India; Gifts for Nerds; Reader Feedback


Edition 114 of my email newsletter went out yesterday.

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📝 What I Wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Google Changes Game Plan in India to Accommodate Soaring Demand
. The story begins:

NEW DELHI–An explosion of smartphone usage in India is changing the way Alphabet Inc.’s Google sees the future of the internet.

As a mobile price war in the South Asian nation has slashed data rates to less than $5 a month for unlimited high-speed access, hundreds of millions of people are getting online for the first time and bingeing, stretching their low-end smartphones to the limit.

The Mountain View, Calif., company rolled out several apps and functions Tuesday aimed directly at these net newbies and those like them in other emerging markets.

💬 What I Wrote at Newley.com

Over the weekend I added to a couple new Book Notes posts, where I share thoughts on titles I’ve been reading:

Book Notes: ‘Waking Up,’ by Sam Harris:

An insightful book about the nature of consciousness and why we don’t need religion to better understand ourselves and the world. What we really need is to understand how our brain works.

Book Notes: ‘The Innovators,’ by Walter Isaacson

An exhaustive, compulsively readable account of how the computer and the internet came to be.

Google, India and Next Billion Users Follow up: More Data — some additional notes from the event I attended and wrote about in my story this week.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

1. Spotify turns everything into Muzak. So writes Liz Pelly in The Baffler, making the case that the streaming music service has “seized on an audience of distracted, perhaps overworked, or anxious listeners whose stress-filled clicks now generate anesthetized, algorithmically designed playlists.”

2. Here are the most popular gifs of 2017. Spoiler alert: Number one is “white guy blinking”.

3. Looking for a super nerdy 2017 gift guide? BoingBoing has you covered with this excellent list, featuring items like a selfie camera drone, earbuds that make your ears look elfin, sandals that resemble largemouth bass, and mens’ underwear that…just have to be seen to be believed. Bonus: What’s that? You wanted a gift for the ultimate hipster? Check out Vinylize specs, which are made — by hand, in Budapest — out of LP vinyl.

4. “This, you see, is a multitasking machine.” A 1985 BBC TV segment on the Commodore Amiga introduces hitherto alien concepts like a “mouse” and “windows.”

5. What did the music of antiquity sound like? Here are some videos recreating the soundscapes from ancient Greece, Roman military music, and Chinese court music.

💫 1 Silly Thing

Etch A Sketch, right in your browser. You’re welcome.

Reader feedback

Two cool things to share from Newley’s Notes readers.

First, my good friend Stuart Hawkins and some pals in Bangkok recorded, as part of a charity project commemorating the passing last year of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, a tribute composition of the king’s 1946 tune “Love at Sundown.”

You can hear the fantastic song, and Stuart on trumpet and flugelhorn, on YouTube here. You can buy or stream it here.

For more, check out Stuart’s debut album, “And What If I Don’t,” here. All proceeds for the song and album go to charity.

Second, in response to last week’s special Bitcoin edition, my friend Lee LeFever writes to point out that his Seattle-based company, Common Craft, had earlier put together a basic explainer video on how block chain technology works.

It’s the best explanation I’ve seen yet.

Thanks for reading, amigos. Please share this newsletter on Facebook or Twitter if you like it.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal, based in New Delhi. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I read, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. Join the growing group of readers who get my weekly email newsletter.