How many suburban entertainment centers can one region have?

Schaumburg is looking into creating a new entertainment district out of underused properties:

Schaumburg trustees Tuesday approved a $6.58 million offer to buy the two single-story office buildings just north of the village’s convention center and Renaissance Hotel to help develop a new entertainment district and reconfigure Thoreau Drive.

The 110,000-square-foot Woodfield Green Executive Centre lies on the north side of Thoreau Drive and just across Meacham Road from Zurich North America’s new headquarters…

The long-term plan is to hold the property to sell to one or more developers interested in building more restaurant and other entertainment venues near the southeast corner of Meacham and Algonquin roads.

This sounds like a typical suburban strategy today: take properties that are not doing well or even abandoned (see efforts to utilize closed grocery stores) and start generating revenues through new entertainment use. Stores come and go but theaters and restaurants can come together to create a vibrant distract that will generate property and sales tax revenues for years to come.

This did lead me to a question: within the Chicago metropolitan region, how many entertainment districts can the region support? If many suburbs are trying to pursue these goals, can most of them sustain successful districts? There are already a number of successful or established districts: Evanston, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg and Woodfield, Rosemont, Gurnee Mills, the Oak Brook-Yorktown corridor, Naperville, plenty of other downtowns with lively scenes and regular festivals and events (Geneva, Aurora, Elmhurst, etc.) and countless shopping centers that are transitioning to lifestyle centers. I assume there is a saturation point where these districts start losing people to each other. Of course, this might be mitigated by two factors: (1) continued population growth so that everyone can share from a growing spending pie and (2) specialization among entertainment districts that could help each remain competitive.

Another thought: how often do entertainment districts simply reproduce existing patterns of wealth and the distribution of higher-end commercial properties?

Researchers develop an equation to help predict the next hit song

A team of researchers says they have developed an equation that helps predict which songs will become hit singles. Here is how the equation works:

We represent each song using a set of 23 different features that characterize the audio. Some are very simple features — such as how fast it is, how long the song is — and some are more complex features, such as how energetic the song is, how loud it is, how danceable and how stable the beat is throughout the song. We also took into account the highest rank that songs ever achieved on the chart.

The computer can combine a song’s features in an equation that can be used to score any given song.

We can then evaluate how accurately the computer scored it by seeing how well the song actually did.

Every single week now we’re updating our equation based on how recent releases have done on the chart. So the equation will continue to evolve, because music tastes will evolve as well.

As the researchers note, this equation is based mainly on the musical content and doesn’t factor in the content of the lyrics or budgeting for the song and music group. The equation seems mainly to be based on whatever musical styles and changes are already popular so I wonder how they account for changes in musical periods.

If this equation works well (and the interview doesn’t really say how accurate this formula is for new songs), this could be a big boon for the culture industries. The movie, music, and book industry all struggle with this: it is very difficult to predict which works will become popular. There are ways in which companies try to hedge their bets either by working with established stars/performers/authors, working with established stories and characters (more sequels, anyone?), and trying to read the cultural zeitgeist (more vampires!). But, in the end, the industries can survive because enough of the works become blockbusters and help subsidize the rest.

At the same time, haven’t people claimed they have cracked this code before? For example, you can quickly find people (like this and this) who claim they have it figured out. And yet, revenues and ticket sales were down in 2011. There is a disconnect here…

Argument: “The SportsCenter-ization of Politics”

This is a fascinating claim: political journalism today has adopted the genre of sports reporting/entertainment from ESPN. It all comes down to the entertainment of an emotional argument and who is “winning.”

Did this sharing of genres simply come about because ESPN has been successful? Or have ESPN staffers made a name with sports and then branched out into other areas?

American Academy of Pediatrics: television has no positive effects on children under two

Here is a new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics about children under two watching TV:

Their verdict: It’s not good, and probably bad.

Media, whether playing in the background or designed explicitly as an infant educational tool, “have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years,” concluded the AAP’s report, released Oct. 18 at the Academy’s annual meeting in Boston and scheduled for November publication in the journal Pediatrics. “Although infant/toddler programming might be entertaining, it should not be marketed as or presumed by parents to be educational.”…

As screens proliferated, so did research. “There have been about 50 studies that have come out on media use by children in this age group between 1999 and now,” said Ari Brown, a pediatrician and member of the AAP committee that wrote the new report…

Three studies since 1999 have tracked educational television use and language development, and they found a link between increased TV time and developmental delays. Whether that’s a cause or effect — parents who leave kids in front of televisions might simply be poor teachers — isn’t clear, nor are the long-term effects, but the AAP called the findings “concerning.” In the same vein, there may also be a link to attention problems.

Several thoughts about this:

1. This article suggests researchers have found a correlation, not necessarily causation. But since researchers have not found any positive effects, they must feel confident in issuing this recommendation.

2. Does research suggest that television has some positive effects for children over two years old? Overall, are there studies that suggest television has positive effects for adults?

3. What does this do for children’s programs and videos? What about all of those “Baby Einstein” videos? Will new cottage industries spring up to fill this void?

Determining the most valuable blogs

The world before blogs may be difficult for many Internet users to remember. This list from 24/7 Wall Street lists the 25 most valuable blogs which was based on a number of factors including pageviews (as measured by multiple sources), revenue, and operating costs.

If you were looking for some insights into what is considered valuable on the Internet, take note that the top 10 are dominated by entertainment, news, and technology sites and the two news sites, the HuffingtonPost and the DrudgeReport, dabble in both news and entertainment.