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Aurelie C. Thiele
Tenured university professor. Writer. MIT PhD.
Interests: Books, performing arts, mathematical models, operations research, painting, technology policy, innovation...
Recent Activity
Thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely check out those movies. I was truly impressed by Kristen Stewart's performance in Cafe Society. She's one of the great.
It further shows that B&N is moving toward being a games, toys and children's bookstore, not a "regular" bookstore! I think it's a strategic mistake on their part. They don't do a good job of running the "regular" bookstore so they wrongly conclude it can't make money. Can't wait for Amazon.com to disrupt the playing field.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2016 on What Barnes & Noble is doing wrong at Engineered
Hi Imre, It's silly of them not to bring more people into the stores by letting them ship online to a local store (and pay the discounted online price.) I agree that B&N is in a downward spiral and not because of Amazon.com but because of its own incompetence. I wouldn't be surprised if it went into bankruptcy in the not too distant future - and then Amazon.com could snap some of the physical bookstores, and would surely find a way to revolutionize one more stage in the book business. There's nothing to be excited about at B&N anymore, although it had some good ideas at some point like the "Discover New Authors" program. Profit of $80m against revenue of $1.4bn, operating cash flow of -$31m (ttm or trailing twelve months) and profit margin of -0.22%. Whoever is running the show has some changes to make. https://finance.yahoo.com/q/is?s=bks https://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=BKS+Key+Statistics
Toggle Commented May 20, 2016 on What Barnes & Noble is doing wrong at Engineered
Proof! I just got an email about making an appointment later today about the project in my course, from someone who had said she could not meet 11am-noon because she had class. See, when students are on their laptop during class, it could be that they are trying to work out some matter for another class. They're not necessarily on social media.
Hi Paul, I think it would work using students' responses alone. It would be difficult to coordinate wrong answers among students and students know it is in their interest to be truthful if they want to avoid a "little boy who cried wolf" kind of situation. The survey would also need to be restricted to students who log in using their university credentials and they wouldn't be allowed to take it more than once a week. -Aurelie
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2016 on Student Workload at Engineered
Good point, Paul! I was thinking about US leaders. Also, what shocked me with Richard III is his willingness to have his own kin murdered, including little children. People he knew. But you're totally right that the 20th century has had its share of evil. I'll have to modify my wording. Thanks for point it out!
Toggle Commented Dec 19, 2015 on Shakespeare in the workplace, Part 1 at Engineered
Good point, Paul! Not ending up make higher education (by forcing longer studies) more costly is definitely something to keep in mind. Since students already can take underclassman-level courses in community colleges and transfer them back, I feel those courses are common enough that this risk could be mitigated, but we'd have to make sure that additional schooling doesn't delay students' graduation. Thanks for commenting!
Thanks for your comment, Paul! Yes ideally the purpose of a BA is teaching you to think critically, and that of a BS too. But I'm not sure what students view a degree for these days. Just this afternoon I had a conversation with a student who is interested to go into consulting and has heard that consulting companies teach you everything you need to know "in one day or two" before you start, and so what is the point of classes, really? He didn't phrase it quite like that but it is a good question. I fear students will care less and less about coursework. As for low GPAs, in my experience at Lehigh they are due to students caring about their extracurricular activities more than their courses, but in a few cases it is also due to the student working part-time jobs to pay for college, and any explanation at Lehigh may not be true at another university. Unless there is an obvious way to identify undergrads who challenge themselves (for instance by taking a grad-level or 400-level course for credit), it is very hard to know what a low GPA stands for. But then it is also hard to know what a high GPA stands for, except that I remain convinced that you can't graduate with high or highest honors without putting some serious effort in your coursework. Of course that will only motivate grade inflation even more.
Hi Paul, I hope they're wrong, but I like the idea that the Compaq-HP deal made sense in some way at the time, even if that way was not in the HP shareholders' interest. I think it is too easy to dismiss the deal as completely dumb. Often we view things as dumb because we don't see them from the perspective of the person who has initiated them. As you say, even at the time you wondered how merging the two companies would be a good strategy. Something like securing board allegiance might be the missing element. As luck would have it, I interned at Compaq many years ago when I was in engineering school. That's the blue-collar internship I had (the one I mention in the post), back at their Glasgow plant. The Compaq folks were quite remarkable. I remember the plant as being on 12-hour shifts and the people on the floor had the opportunity to (ultimately) move up to white-collar jobs if they did well. I wonder what happened to those people I briefly worked with, almost 20 years ago.
Thanks so much, Elizabeth! Yes, you're absolutely right, we have to become better at using a mix of mediums. I think what is difficult is that everyone can type a text into a blog service such as Typepad, but taking good photos, recording a good-quality audio, or making a professional-looking video takes more training. It's a pity enhanced e-books, for instance, haven't captured more market share. I don't think it's because of general lack of interest from the public, though. (I think it's because most college students, toward whom many enhanced e-books are geared, really prefer the cheapest version that will allow them to pass the course. But there are so many more opportunities!) I'd love to read/hear the storytelling you come up with!
Hi Paul, thanks for your comment! I think a potential downside to innovation is that some people are so busy trying to create new things they don't try to take advantage of what other people have done and "simply" make it better. (Obviously things get complicated in case of patents, but patents only represent a fraction of innovation.) Transformational or breakthrough innovation has its place but incremental innovation is important too in some cases. I suspect people dislike incremental innovation because they feel like followers. It's tempting to want to be the head of the pack even if it's a pack of one.
Toggle Commented May 28, 2015 on Innovation at MIT at Engineered
Paul: In my case it's loss of functionality. Maybe the post makes it sound like a "nice thing to have", but when I drive I need to be able to zoom on parts of the map that the new Google Maps is not letting me do. This is particularly true for long-distance drives when at the end, driving into the city, Google Maps wants me to take exits and drive to my destination in ways I don't want to do. I want to correct the itinerary (I particularly want to know if Google agrees it's doable or if there's a one-way street I'm not aware of) But I can't zoom on that part of the itinerary because of the lack of navigation button. I also don't necessarily know monuments on the route. If I knew the route I wouldn't need Google Maps... Maybe the Google folks don't understand that some people actually use their car (gasp) to drive (gasp) long distances. It just boggles the mind how they had a perfectly fine product before and made it worse.
I read somewhere that Hachette CEO replied that about 80% of Hachette e-books are sold at $9.99 or less… I still don't see why it matters to Amazon that Hachette allegedly (according to Amazon's very high-level, one-price-for-all calculations) doesn't maximize its revenue, unless Amazon is so eager to increase its own revenue that marginal increase in customers' (publishers') sales will have a noticeable impact on its own bottom line. Plenty of e-books are currently on sale on Amazon.com for more than $9.99. Amazon tries to incentivize self-published authors to select a list price for e-books between $2.99 and $9.99 by adjusting the royalty structure accordingly. Why doesn't it do the same or similar for Hachette and others? Also, this would be a good opportunity for Kobo (another e-books provider that has built partnerships with many indie bookstores) to develop a strong partnership with Hachette.
Toggle Commented Aug 11, 2014 on On the price of e-books at Engineered
Good point, Paul! I wonder whether putting lockers in supermarkets would be detrimental to Amazon Fresh. Or perhaps, Amazon should put the lockers in stores that participate in Amazon Fresh to begin with?
Toggle Commented Jan 12, 2014 on Amazon Locker at Engineered
Thanks for the comment, Ilya! You make great points.
Toggle Commented Dec 17, 2013 on Affordable Healthcare at Engineered
Great point! I hadn't thought about that. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the midterm elections. I still wish there had been a beta launch involving only a few small states, but I can see how, if many people involved in the decision process were career politicians rather than project managers, they could have given more weight to what they knew best - political strategy. Or perhaps they cared so much about implementing their strategy that no one around them dared voice an objection. Thanks for your comment!
Thanks a lot, Jamie! Much appreciated. I'll make sure to pass your info along to the student leaders.
Yes, I guess it does make transient advantage a competitive advantage, but positioning it that way wouldn't have quite the same impact on the sales of her new book, "The End Of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business." http://www.amazon.com/The-End-Competitive-Advantage-Strategy/dp/1422172813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376148012&sr=8-1&keywords=McGrath+advantage Random read: the first review on Amazon (the one on top that gives the book three stars and is entitled "Clayton Christensen redux") is very informative too.
Toggle Commented Aug 10, 2013 on Transient Advantage at Engineered
Aurelie C. Thiele has shared their blog Italics are mine
Dec 12, 2012
Aurelie C. Thiele has shared their blog Engineered
Dec 12, 2012