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The digital economy has taught us a lot about one extreme of pricing: zero. The price-point of zero is a place where weird things happen. We now know what it is to have our attention productized in three-way attention markets. 

I’m working from home in San Francisco, and the granola bar I had for breakfast wears off just after 12:15 pm. I open up the SpoonRocket app on my phone and select a chicken tamale and a mint smoothie.

I’m tagging along with Instacart personal shopper Dave Banse as he fills an order at the Rainbow Grocery co-op in San Francisco, which includes searching the aisles high and low for mung-bean pasta.

The streets of San Francisco are bottlenecked by double-parkers: Sedans with bright Google Shopping Express stickers on the side carrying bags of online purchases inside, hulking UPS and FedEx trucks, and as of last December, AmazonFresh trucks for the company’s online grocery service.

When Josh was 10 years old, he sat cross-legged on the floor in his parent’s neat, suburban home in Australia, enraptured. It was May 1996 and Andy Thomas had just stepped out of the space shuttle Endeavour and onto the tarmac of Runway 33 of the Kennedy Space Center. 

A bold entrepreneur with a radical startup. An African-American. In tech, those two phrases usually don’t go together. Enter Tristan Walker.

On an unseasonably warm day in April 1954, hundreds of women in cowboy hats gathered outside Tupperware’s Florida headquarters to dig for buried treasure. There, in a nearby swampy area dubbed the “Forest of Spades,” 600 shovels stood at the ready.

What do you mean, a 50 percent refund?" says the voice on the other end of the line. "Are you serious? When the account has already been suspended? That's not fair!"Blood rushes to my cheeks. I desperately want my next sentence to calm her down, to sound confident, sympathetic. I want this customer--my customer--to feel assuaged. Satisfied.

Alex Morton can still remember the day when he decided that academics weren't for him. He was a freshman at Arizona State University, sitting in biology class, when it clicked. "My professor starts talking about biomes," he says. "I'm like, ‘My major is communications, and this guy wants me to memorize all the animals in the rainforest? I gotta go.'"

The campuses of the tech industry are famous for their lavish cafeterias, cushy shuttles, and on-site laundry services. But on a muggy February afternoon, some of these companies’ most important work is being done 7,000 miles away, on the second floor of a former elementary school at the end of a row of auto mechanics’ stalls in Bacoor, a gritty Filipino town 13 miles southwest of Manila. 

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