Four years ago I fell into the abyss that would come to be known as the Great Recession. In a matter of weeks, jobs were lost, paychecks vanished, and my lifestyle changed. Read more…
Category Archives: life
If I could have the superpower of my choice, I’d take the ability to fly. But based on my impulsivity, I’d probably fly too close to the sun, like the Greek god Icarus. So I’d be better off with my second choice…invisibility.
There’s something intriguing about wandering anonymously through the day, going wherever you want, doing whatever you want-no questions asked, no calls from the office.
And this brings me to Twitter, the impossibly popular micro-blogging service that lets users stay connected through the exchange of short status messages. It’s designed to let you answer the question “What are you doing?” -and share those updates with colleagues, family and friends. Continue reading
If you want to buy or lease real estate, find a broker. But if you just want to get a full picture of the real estate in a specific geographic area, then find the census enumerator that worked the block.
Enumerators walk from property to property, block by block, verifying addresses and sorting residential from commercial properties. They count apartment units, look for hidden units and conclude, in some cases, if a seemingly uninhabitable space is really some body’s home.
It’s a necessary, though time consuming job that legions of temporary workers perform nationwide every 10 years, in advance of the Decennial Census.
The task has remained virtually unchanged since the first US census in 1790. But the tools used to perform it have changed significantly–and the history of those changes effectively mirror the history of technological change.
When the first census was taken, slightly more than a year after George Washington became the nation’s first President, US marshals supervised assistants appointed to collect the data. The enumerators had no printed data sheets to guide them and had to provide their own supplies, including paper and pencils.
More than two centuries later, enumerators are using hand-held computers (HCCs) and GPS to plot, record and update the information on every possible living space in a significantly larger United States. It’s not the most sophisticated technology: the HCCs have little computing power. They’re slow and prone to intermittent freezes. As for the GPS, enumerators concur it’s not the best geographic positioning system on the market.
Even with its problems and glitches, the technology represents a huge advance over the days when every piece of data was collected by hand. It helps standardize the data and make it somewhat more reliable.
It’s useful…but it’s no substitute for the enumerators themselves. They still have to walk from property or property, counting, evaluating and using their intuition as much as their technology. It confirms what everyone in real estate already knows: technology is only as good as the judgment of those who use it.
Technology has changed the way properties are bought and sold. But it’s also created a world of opportunity for fraud and scams. Just recently, the National Association of Realtors warned that its name is being used as part of a property rental scheme. Continue reading
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This may be what the future looks like, at least according to predictions Stephen Elop, President of the Microsoft Business Division, made at the Wharton Business Technology Conference in Philadelphia last month. e ” he said…and in just 10 years. Continue reading
Public Broadcasting’s Nightly Business Report and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania just ranked the top 30 innovations of the past 30 years. The list includes the Internet, of course, along with personal computers, mobile phones and e-mail. But some of the other items on the list may surprise you.
“The pace of innovation has been so hectic in recent years that it is hard to imagine which innovations have had the greatest impact on business and society,” the NBR and Wharton researchers conclude. What do you think–and what, if anything, did they miss? As a commercial real estate professional, you may have your own ideas. So here’s the challenge: If you could create your own list of top 30 innovations, what would it include?
We’re inundated with bad news and even worse forecasts. Consider this uplifting assessment of the commercial real estate industry, posted recently on the Internet by Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration: Continue reading