I want to start by making this much clear: my wife is the smartest person I know. She's especially smart about business, and has done quite well at it.
This morning, while we were working in the kitchen and listening to news about how Michelle Williams was paid 1/1000th what Mark Wahlberg got for doing the same thing, on the same movie, she had this idea: "Here's a great way to equalize pay in a company and save money as well: start paying men no more than what women get for doing the same job."
Reminded me how, hot long after I met her, she said "I'm not interested in equality with men. Why deal down?"
Just thought I'd share that.
(This expands on my comment under “Alexa” Battles “Home” at CES. Radio Should be Watching. in Radio Ink.)
Station identification for ESPN radio shows now include the ESPN app. For NPR stations, it's now "your local station or your smart speaker." So it's clear that radio is moving from over the air to over the Net, and what we (soon) used to call "coverage" is no longer limited by range over geography, but by access over Internet devices.
That's one upside.
Another upside is that radio can now be interactive, meaning the listeners can do the talking as well. They can also sing back, sing along, join in with their own instruments, record streams and create mixes to distribute or share back. Those are all within the technical horizon of smart speakers today.
The downside is that smart speakers, so far, are a form of premium subscription cable radio, and what you can get is limited by what Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Sonos or some other company facilitates. And much or all of that facilitation is in those companies' "clouds," rather than on your own independent device. Worse, those systems are closed and proprietary, meaning they don't get along well with each other, on purpose. That's so you get trapped inside those companies' "silos" or "walled gardens." Worse than that, you have levels of privacy—at least with some of them—that are hardly above zero. (Apple is an exception here, or at least tries to be.)
Another interesting effect of smart speakers (and satellite speakers in, for example, Sonos and Bose systems) is the end of stereo sound outside the headphone, car and home theater environments. Today only audiophiles still care deeply about the science and art of stereo music through speakers.
In Facebook CEO Vows To Rid Social Network Of Bad Info, Actors, @mp_gavin says Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook post promising "To cleanse his social network of trolls, purveyors of false and misleading information, and other bad actors" is "his most ambitious pledge yet."
See, what we're talking about here is trying to fix just one kind of awfulness produced by the world's most consequential algorithm—one designed to allow anybody on earth, at any budget level, to micro-target ads at highly characterized human beings, using up to millions of different combinations of targeting characteristics (including ones provided by parties outside Facebook, such as Cambridge Analytica, which have deep psychological profiles of millions of Facebook members)—by giving actual human beings (not just fancy machine systems doing AI, ML and other cool hot tech stuff) what The Wall Street Journal calls "The Worst Job in Technology: Staring at Human Depravity to Keep It Off Facebook."
This is not only ironic in the extreme (in case you missed it in my too-wordy paragraph above, we have humans fixing the unavoidable errors of machines meant to understand humans), but also impossible to pull off.
Facebook's message-aiming system (good for fake news as well as ads) is too complex, too massive (Facebook has many data centers, each the size of a Walmart or few), too difficult and expensive to rebuild, and too good at what it does. It would be like turning a cruise ship into an aircraft carrier.
And, to a creepy degree, both the ads and prejudice-stoking postings actually work well enough—at least for the people and organizations placing them. That it works for bad guys as well as good guys—and is bad for culture and democracy—is a feature, not a bug. Again, it was designed to do exactly what it does.
You know Goethe's (or hell, Disney's) story of The Sorceror's Apprentice? Look it up. It'll help. Because Mark Zuckerberg is both the the sorcerer and the apprentice. The difference with Zuck is that he doesn't have all the mastery that's in the sorcerer's job description. He can't control the spirits released by machines designed to violate personal privacy, produce echo chambers, and to rationalize both by pointing at how popular it all is with the billions who serve as human targets for messages (while saying as little as possible about the $billions that bad acting makes for the company).
Switching metaphors, Facebook is Humpty-Dumpty, and it's already on the ground. None of King Mark's horses (e.g. better algorithms) or men (and women, doing icky jobs) can put it together again.
Look at what's happening for Zuck in terms of grief stages: denial, anger, bargaining and acceptance.
At first he denied that the problem was there—even as fraudulent and misleading ads ran right next to the post where he did the denying. I suppose he went through the anger stage in private. Now he's at the bargaining stage, betting that humans with awful jobs can halt the rising tide of outrage and embarrassment.
He's not alone. In How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us, Roger McNamee, an investor and old friend of Zuckerberg's, deeply examines What Went Wrong, and teams up with ethicist Tristan Harris to produce an eight-point prescription for fixing Facebook, and all the awful shit it's doing to us.
It won't work, because it can't.
John Battelle explains why in two pieces published in his magazine NewCo Shift. The first, which went up last September, is Lost Context: How Did We End Up Here? The second, published today, is Facebook Can't Be Fixed. As his subhead explains, "Facebook’s fundamental problem is not foreign interference, spam bots, trolls, or fame mongers. It’s the company’s core business model, and abandoning it is not an option." That nicely compresses my main point here.
The best thing all of us can do, both for ourselves and for Facebook, is face both what it has become and how terminal it is.
The best thing for Zuck to do is get the hell out, let it finish failing, and start over with something new and better, based on what he and others have learned from the experience. (Which tends to be the best teacher. And hell, he's still young.) It should help him—and all of us—to know that all companies fail; they just fail faster in Silicon Valley.
Google has the same problem, by the way, but is more aware of it, more diversified, founded on far better intentions (e.g. that nice stuff about gathering and sharing all the world's knowledge) and therefore more likely to survive, at least for awhile.
It helps to remember that all companies have souls born of founding purposes. And there's a helluva big difference between a search engine meant to find "all the world's knowledge" and one meant to find hot girls on a college campus.
Yet what matters far more than Facebook and Google is that we all live digital lives now, on a network that puts us all a functional distance apart of zero. (When we're connected, that is. The distance apart when we're not is infinite).
This is new to human experience.
What we know about digital life so far is largely contained within what we've retrieved from the analog ones that preceded it. To wit,
Marshall McLuhan says all technologies are extensions of ourselves. Hammers, pens, binoculars, cars and computers all give us ways to do what we can't do with our brains and bodies alone. What I just listed are early rudiments of what will surely come.
It helps to recognize that we are still going through early stages in our new Digital Age. Everything we know about digital life, so far, is contained within prototypes such as Facebook's and Google's. And all of those prototypes are just projects. If you don't doubt it, look at your computer and your phone. Both are either new or to some degree already obsolete. Hell, even the new ones are old. Nothing will feel older a year from now than today's latest Samsung and Apple mobile thingies.
It isn't turtles all the way down, it's scaffolding.
So let's at least try to look below what big companies, Trump and other dancing figures in the digital world are doing, and try to look at the floor they're dancing on—and the ground under it. That ground is new and unlike anything that precedes it in human experience. Nothing matters more than at least trying to understand it.
AdAge just published DISH NETWORK CAN NOW MEASURE ALL ITS ADDRESSABLE ADS NO MATTER WHERE THEY AIR, by Jeannine Poggi (@jpoggi) It ends, "Dish Network began selling ads for Sling TV in programmatic auctions last summer. And in the fall it allowed marketers to buy addressable ads across Dish and Sling TV in a single buy."
"Addressible" suggests personal. So does "programmatic auctions," since those tend to match ads with people carrying spyware injected into their apps and browsers.
Will Dish or Comscore anonymize the Dish customers these ads target? Will personal or household data about Dish customers be shared by Dish or Comscore with advertisers or other third parties?
If I find out either is the case, I'll ditch my Dish account instantly. And I'll do it with great regret, because I like Dish very much and have been a loyal customer since they were Echostar.
One of advertising's charms is that it's not personal. Personalizing an ad turns it into direct marketing, which is a different species—and one hated by consumers even more than advertising. That's why we call direct marketing's most familiar form "junk mail."
The advertising business is now so drunk on the kool-aid of personalization and data-driven-everything-at-all-costs that it has lost track of what made branding work in the first place.
After perhaps a $trillion or more has been spent on personalized "adtech," can anyone name a single brand known to the world that has been made by it?
Targeting ads on TV should be done by program, network and location. Fine-tuning beyond that risks getting creepy. And aiming it with harvested personal data is an affront to personal privacy and morally wrong on its face.
So please tell us if Dish and Comscore are doing that. We customers need to know.
I hope Jeannine and AdAge follow up on that.
It is essential on the receiving end to know when and how ads get personal—and to have ways of turning off the spying that aims them.
Making that happen is the bigger story here. And it can't be more important, because it is only by obeying the wishes of its consumers that advertising will save the soul it sold to the devil of spying-based adtech.
Taking a moment early in our new year to highlight two future stories about the Thomas Fire.
First is that the largest wildfire in recorded California history certianly involved enough large and harrowing scenes, and enough heroism, to warrant telling in a movie—especially since it involved what I assume was (and to a small degree remains) the largest firefighting effort ever mounted as well: over 8500 firefighters, from every state west of the Mississippi, and close to 1000 fire trucks and many aircraft, bulldozers and other vehicles, plus miles of fire hoses draped all over a very rough landscape. The story should be about how those firefighters, saved Ojai, Mussel Shoals, La Conchita, Oak View, Much of Dulah, Mira Monte, Wheeler Springs, Santa Paula, Filmore, Carpinteria, Montecito and finally Santa Barbara—after losing enough homes and businesses to comprise a whole town, mostly in Ventura, when the fire began.
Second is that Santa Barbara especially took a huge business hit this holiday season. After the most common sign in the windows of retail establishments was "for lease," the town got smoked out before half its people were evacuated, its parades and other events canceled and visitors headed elsewhere. Thus the "retail apocalypse" became something like the real thing. This is an important business story, and it won't end soon.
It's 11:50pm here in New York (8:50pm in Santa Barbara), and KEYT is mostly showing best-of video from daylight fire fighting (punctuated by some cool live coverage of the night-flying helicopters).
Good time to sleep. See you in a few hours. If you want to keep up with the #ThomasFire, go to the top link above.
The #ThomasFire is now burning in spots inside the Santa Barbara city limits, most obviously in Parma Park, which is a rural park on the north side of Stanwood Drive/Highway 192. But there are still no reports of structures lost. Clearly many more are being saved. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for updates.)
I've put up a set of screen shots at http://bit.ly/thmsfr . The last of these is a map (also above) showing just the last six hours of VIIRS satellite fire-spotting. Plotted on Google Earth, they show active fire in roughly these places:
Note that VIIRS is a satellite that scans the whole Earth, pole to pole and doesn't pass over any one spot more than once per (I think) 24 hours. So this is not current. But it is kinda specific, and I'm not seeing this data unpacked elsewhere. So I'm sharing it here.
6:03pm: Capt. Zaniboni wants people to go to bed feeling optimistic. There are lots of firefighters, and equipment, dealing with the fire effectively, and the wind is slowing down. It can be gusty, but he feels good about it.
8:11pm: Water-dropping helicopters piloted with the aid of night vision headgear are being deployed against the fire. KEYT is covering that, and has night vision of its own. Again, go here for live coverage.
The #ThomasFire is now the third largest in California history, in terms of acreage. It has a good chance of overtaking the #CedarFire, which was near San Diego a few years ago.
The data connection to the Dish system at our house has now sphinctered down to a trickle. But I can still watch KEYT's live coverage here.
A new fire has started near Los Alamos, a small town in the Santa Ynez Valley. One passes through it on Highway 101 approaching Santa Maria from the south.
The live VIIRS and MODIS fire data is way behind, I am sure because the two satellites doing the detection haven't passed over recently.
KEYT is working to confirm that flights in and out of Santa Barbara's airport (SBA) are canceled. United's are suspended for sure.
101 is now re-opened both ways at Sea Cliff.
I now need to take a shower and head out to Newark airport to pick up our kid, coming back from college for the Holidays. The timing is good (for me at least): it's clear that KEYT is now kinda filling time with chat. This is not a bad thing. Reassuring, in fact.
Santa Barbara Sherrif Commander Kelly Moore just explained on KEYT that "the back side of the Riviera" is the main #ThomasFire fighting area right now. The fire is crossing Mountain Road, in the direction of Coast Village Road and Salinas Street, west to Sycamore Canyon. In this area are the viscinities of Westmont College, Eucalyptus Hill, Cold Spring School, Parma Park... the list goes on. If you're a local, you know where I'm talking about.
11:38am: KEYT reports a slackening of the wind. Smoke is now flowing upward, rather than across the landscape. That means some aircraft can get in. The sound of some choppers can be heard. Planes are seen far overhead. Flight is restricted right now in that area, so any aircraft that can be seen have official reasons for being there.
The current main fire fight is on East Mountain Drive between Oak Creek and Cedar Creek. There are "structure protection" engines in the 300 block of East Mountain Drive in Montecito, which the fire chief Capt. Dave Zaniboni calls the "urban interface."
11:55am: Talking to KEYT's John Palmenteri, Capt. Zaniboni says has had no reports of structures burned. Without looking at the Captian, I would take his voice to be Governor Jerry Brown's. They're close to identical.
I think the wind drop is a turning point. They can get aircraft in there, and the burned areas are now fire breaks. Still, the weather forecast is for high winds tonight in the direction of Santa Barbara.
The picture is from 10:39am, when the winds were toward the south, and the #ThomasFire was vectored toward Santa Barbara, and everything you see was under mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. Mandatory areas were all in the uphill areas. Our own house is somewhere in that picture. Since this shot the wind has moved more toward the east.
If you're in the Santa Barbara area and have any #ThomasFire concerns that require official attention, call 211 or 805-681-5542. Note that the former is for Q&A and has had trouble, KEYT says.
There is an evacuation center at the UCSB rec center.
KEYT is open sourcing its audio for any radio station to use. KTMS/990am, KTYD/99.9fm, KSBL/101.7gm and KIST/107.7fm are all carrying KEYT's audio right now, the station says. All have the same owner, and similar looking websites. KTMS and KTYD both broadcast from Gibraltar Peak, while both KIST and KSBL are on West Camino Cielo, which is west of 154 on the far side of town from the fire. KSBL also has a construction permit to radiate from 20 miles offshore on Santa Cruz Island.
During the Ventura phase of the Thomas Fire, when all the main hills and mountains on the north and west side of town burned, most of the FM stations that broadcast from high places there were at least temporarily knocked off the air. Last I listened, on Thursday, some were still gone. In Santa Barbara, most FM stations radiate from Gibraltar Peak, which is a high point along Gibraltar Road, leading up to East Camino Cielo on the Santa Ynez mountain ridge behind town. Gibraltar Peak was in both the Tea Fire and Jesusita Fire burn areas.
A friend just called from Buellton, in the Santa Ynez Valley (the wine district that starred in the movie Sideways) reporting many fire trucks coming and going, as fire fighters catch some sleep at the local hotels there.
"Flames are now overtaking the #TeaGarden..." says KEYT (10:19am PST). and you can see it live. Winds are too strong for aircraft to fly in with water or retardant.
The winds appear to have shifted toward the east-southeast, and no longer toward the south, which means toward Montecito more than Santa Barbara.
KEYT earlier reported that Corey Iverson, the firefighter from San Diego who perished in the Thomas Fire above Filmore (the east flank of the fire, more than 40 miles from the action in Montecito), succumbed of "thermal injuries" and "smoke inhalation," during a backfire exercise that turned on his crew. That's according to the autopsy report.
We are now watching at least one structure (I think an out building near the Tea Garden) burn on live TV. Again, I'm watching this on our home Dish Network TV box, which we can see over the Net via Dish Anywhere. Very handy.
I have now received a text from the Emergency Preparedness Office (I think it's called), and just now an automated phone call as well. (I pressed 1 to confirm receipt.)
KEYT, on "TV Hill" they call it—actually the east end of the Mesa—is in a perfect vantage for watching Santa Barbara, Montecito, the Santa Ynez Mountains and the "front country" that is now on fire.
Road closures: Northbound 101 near Turnpike (on the west side of town), gasoline from an overturned tanker truck had to be cleared somehow, and the road repaved (!), so that's still closed. So is 154, and a partial on 101 near Sea Cliff to facilitate evacuation of Santa Barbara toward Los Angeles. "Southbound" 101 (actually eastbound, on the South Coast) is open there to maximize evacuation. Only La Conchita (local Sea Cliff) residents are allowed northbound toward Santa Barbara. Otherwise it's closed to allow emergency vehicles maximum easement toward the fire area.
With way over 8000 fire fighting personnel on the Thomas Fire, this may be the biggest deployment against a fire. Dunno though.
I'm reporting on this from our apartment in New York, while working the Web and watching the KEYT/KCOY/KKFX app on my iPhone and on my iPad over the Dish Anywhere app, which gives us a way to watch our home Dish Network TV system. On that I'm currently watching KEYT's over-the-air (Channel 3) broadcast. This will work as long as the house has power and an Internet connection. As of 9:15pm Pacific Time, it still is.
9:32am PST: Most of Santa Barbara is now under either voluntary or mandatory evacuation. This includes all the Riviera and downtown.
I'll post this now, and date/time this and subsequent posts in the titles.
When our New York apartment building developed a mouse problem, they brought in an exterminator (or pest control, or abatement, or whatever they call those services now) to take care of things. The company put out sticky sheets of cardboard all around the perimeters of our rooms, plus little boxes of poison. A crew would come back from time to time and check on these things, all of which did exactly nothing other than cost the landlord money.
So I went to a nearby hardware store, bought some old fashioned mouse traps, which ought to be called mouse killers, because that's what they are. Mounted on a small piece of wood is a rectangular bar on strong spring, which cocked has the power to whap down on a mouse and fold it in two. The trap snaps when the bait moves and releases the bar holding the kill-bark cocked. Those worked. We knew the mice were gone when none were left to touch the bait and get snap-folded in two.
Here at our Santa Barbara place, we've had a similar problem lately, with rats. Or, a rat. Every night around 12:30am, it would make loud noises in the space under our bathroom cabinet. We don't know what path it took to get in there, because it appears to be completely sealed from all times; but it apparently comes and goes because it also feasts on tomatoes in our kitchen pantry. So this time I got a rat trap, which is a big brother of the mouse trap. It's by the same Victor brand that's been making these things since the 19th Century. I baited it with some Trader Joe's no-salt organic crunchy peanut butter and put it on the floor of our pantry. Sure enough, around midnight a loud SNAP! echoed through the house. I went to the pantry, and there was our rat, folded in two.
I've got another trap set now, so we'll see if our late rat had companions. I kinda don't think so, because the noise in the bathroom cabinet was also gone last night. But we'll see.
Compared with the fires, which are now snowing the cremains of Ventura County all over our house and yard—and scaring the shit out of the whole South Coast—the rat is a small thing. But an old fashioned trap does beat the more expensive options, and that's cool.
Tennyson called now—the present moment—"an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move."
We tend not to see far through that arch. Hunter-gatherers still, we are built to walk, run, grab and build through a range of anticipations that run from microseconds to years in the future, with nearly all our attention on what's in the very next stage of now.
So we miss the big breakdowns that take a lot longer than now to happen. We also mistake persistence for success.
And such is the state of radio: a topic I can't help obsessing about, because it was so much a part of my life for so long. I like to think we'll miss it when it's gone, but I suspect not.
Here's one interesting fact: there is far more variety on the only (and therefore the monopoly) provider of satellite radio in the U.S. than you'll find anywhere in the country on terrestrial radio bands. Not in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Francisco. Those places all have some innovative radio stations, but not the buffet of formats featured by SiriusXM.
Anyway, those are a few ruminations while I try to remember a few radio websites maintained by individuals far more obsessive than I. A list:
BTW, that image at the top is from this Wikipedia entry on Bambergers, the department store. WOR, still a landmark New York station, started atop that store in Newark. In those days they thought transmitters belonged on buildings, and achieved electrical height with "clothesline" and "bedspring" antennae suspended between towers. Those were arch-like, which serves as a metaphorical coincidence here; but have long since been replaced by free-standing or guy'd towers. WORs three stand in the Meadowlands outside Newark near the west spur of the New Jersey Turnpike. It's the third site since the one on the store. For those who dig this kind of history, it's hard to beat REBUILDING A LEGEND: REBUILDING WOR RADIO FROM THE TIP OF THE MIC TO THE TOP OF THE TOWER, by Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE. Other interesting bits are here, here (that's deceased transmitter #3) and here (the transition from #3 to #4). To me #2 was the best. If you want to know why, ask.
There is so much I'm not saying, because I need to focus. Just letting ya'll know.
See, on a couch I'm more of a monkey than a potato: too hyper to sit still for long periods of time. Even movie theaters make me antsy.
True, I am a desk potato. But at least I can type when I'm there, such as now. In front of a TV, the most I type is a search string. I do that into a bluetooth keyboard for the TV, the Dish receiver or the Apple TV box. (For that I have a cool cheap bluetooth keyboard that has three sets of settings: one for each device. Nice.)
Okay, all that said, here's where I am on the Hot List:
Gore, murder and gross sex are no fun for me, so Game of Thrones turned me off in the first episode (two beheadings, multiple dismemberments, one undead child and another pushed out a window after he witnessed doggie-style incest).
I’m saving The Wire for my next hospital visit, if I ever have one.
Mad Men bored my ass off after two episodes. Or maybe fewer. I forget.
The Sopranos was too close to home. (I'm from New Jersey and knew some of those people. Not fun.)
I liked West Wing a bit, back in the decade, but I only co-watched it with my mother and sister when they were visiting addicts to it. (Mom, as a former Alaskan, loved Northern Exposure.)
Tried and failed to get into Battlestar Galactica.
Liked Six Feet Under a bit. Saw maybe five episodes, which is a lot for me. The last one was perfect.
Tried Handmaid’s Tale on the flights to and from London last week. Fell asleep on the outbound and got bored on the return and punched out.
Black Mirror left me wanting the much shorter and punchier Twilight Zone again. (I binge-watched that show… damn: sixty years ago.)
The only modern show I’ve binge-watched is Silicon Valley, and I’m not even sure it’s good. It's just familiar, meaning I've seen nearly all of it before, in the real Silicon Valley.
My wife got into Downton Abbey on a plane and wants to see the rest of it. at some point. She’s also into The Collection on PBS, which is about the fashion business in Paris, where she is right now. It’s current with weekly episodes, so not binge-able yet.
That's about it. Main thing is that a show needs to upstage news and sports, which is about 90% of what our TVs get used for, and even then not very often. (More when guests visit than when we're home alone.)
Companies, like every life form, tend not to last forever. Or even for more than a few dozen years.
Even durable ones, like Hewlett-Packard, live by splitting into multiple companies or becoming different entities than they were in the first place.
Sure, HP may still be around as a legal entity that makes money in a bunch of ways; but how much if any of that company still draws from artesian well of good sense that was Bill and Dave's HP Way? How much is Apple still about what drove the Steves to create it? How much is Google still doing what Larry and Sergey wanted to make in the first place? At most the answers are "some, but not enough."
Projects have purposes bounded by completion. As with life forms, they are made to live and do good things and participate in the world, but also to be done. It is no accident that founders of venture-backed companies have to plan from the start for an exit.
Thought: how is going public not a return of a company's substance to nature? By not throwing their people and property into the public domain they stay alive, walking dead, like zombies.
Yah, that sounds harsh, but think about it: how little do most stockholders care about a company beyond what shares of it sell for on stock markets? And how little does that one thing matter to what a company actually does? Nothing could be farther from the founding missions of Bill, Dave, Steve, Steve, Larry and Sergey.
There is something brain-deficient about the fiction that a company works only for its stockholders, or to throw off profit like a burning house throws off heat. (Let's throw another bedroom in here, Charles. Need to keep this thing going.)
I know I'm being way too simplistic here, and maybe outright wrong; but I'm just thinking out loud and jet-lagged on a Saturday morning, happy to be home and unable to keep things out of my head that might be worth talking about.
What I know for sure is that every purpose is temporary. Thus seeing everything as a project seems more sensible than all rationalizations toward boundless persistence across time. Everything ends. That's purpose too.
We're no different. When we're moving fast toward our purposes, it's not much help to watch for an exit. But eventually we take one. Or vice versa.
If you like yogurt, especially plain yogurt—you know: the Real Thing, full of fat (none of that 0% shit)—you need to get yourself some kefir cheese.
It's actually yogurt*, but thicker: so thick you can stand a spoon in it. Not dense enough to to be called cheese, but it is anyway.
And tasty. O so tasty.
The kind pictured on the right is the latest we picked up, this time at a Costco in Oxnard, California. Our local Costco near Santa Barbara doesn't have it. But there is hope. The container is the one above, from Karoun Dairies, which says it's sold in several other stores around here. One of those stores has been gone for years, so I'll make inquiries before I go running around. (I'm also about to leave for a packed week in the UK, so it'll be after that.)
We got turned onto kefir cheese by a Russian deli near our place in New York. They sell several varieties of it, from several sources. Some are called labne, or labneh, two Eastern Mediterranean nouns, either instead of kefir cheese, or along with kefir cheese, as does the Karoun we just finished. The traditional labne I've known (mostly through a Lebanese family in L.A. I'm close with) is not as thick as kefir cheese, but is otherwise similar.
Whatever. Get some. Even if you don't like yogurt, get some. It is so damn good.
* I know, because I've used it as starter for homemade yogurt.
The problem with "cloud" isn't its meaning, which is roughly "where offsite storage and computing happens." The problem is that the tech industry uses "cloud" to blur where stuff actually is and where it is happening. It's a sleight-of-noun trick that causes far more harm than good. It bloats cognitive overhead, wastes time and forecloses countless opportunities.
Let's start with time. Exhibit A: Apple's iCloud.
It isn't just that Apple has blurred what the hell iCloud is and what it's for, but that the company has a fully annoying way of putting stuff in iCloud that used to be on one's device or devices. It does this on the incorrect assumption that it is unhelpful for the individual to know where computing takes place and files get stored.
After Apple did that to me during an iOS upgrade to my phone last month, I spent hours talking to AppleCare, trying to figure out what the fuck happened and how to fix it. Never mind why, because the damage was already done. The main problem was trying to figure out how to get the music back on my phone, so I could listen again when I go offline, which I do a lot. For example, in subways, on boats, on planes, in countries where cloud use is spinctered, or driving around the middle of Wyoming.
Apple has also done its ironic best to both popularize podcasting and to make listening to podcasts as hard as possible. The worst thing it has done, of course, is locate podcasts in iCloud, while making it nearly impossible to figure out where the hell one's podcasts are.
All this blurring also masks loss of autonomy and agency, and increased dependency on what amount to feudal overlords. It's getting to the point where, if you're not a hacker with a full suite of tools and skills for remaining independent in the connected world, you are in a state of at least partial slavery.
I'd write more, but I gotta go deal with shit before I fly again to elsewhere. Hopefully I'll be able to listen to music and podcasts along the way.
I put up about 20 years' worth of headshots.
Maybe the reason political divisions haven't been this deep since the '60s and Vietnam is that now, like then, one side is simply wrong. Back then supporting the Vietnam war was a huge mistake. Now supporting Trump is exactly the same.
Twitter didn't kill the First Amendment, as Tim Wu says here, but it sure didn't help.
The Swarm Project looks interesting.
Here in Santa Barbara La Casa de la Raza now has its own FM station: KZAA/96.5. It's just 100 watts from the .org's headquarters in town. But it covers the city itself, which is the idea. Not much about it on the website, but there is a Facebook page too.
Always good to re-read Andrew Oldlyzko's Network Neutrality, Search Neutrality, and the Never-ending Conflict between Efficiency and Fairness in Markets. Andrew rocks at this stuff. I see some potential overlap between where Andrew goes and where Michael Elling has been for some time too: "If network A has 1 million users and network B has 1000 users, the value of network B to network A is up to 2000x greater with terminating settlement than with just bill and keep, or no settlement. Therefore it is in A’s interest to 'fund' B’s network via a terminating settlement to capture and retain that increased value. This is also known as the network effect or Metcalfe's law."
Adam Gopnik: "What we should fear is not a deep state but a state robbed of its depth."
Study: Fake News Threatens Audience Trust In Digital Pubs, by Sara Guaglione (@SPGuaglione) in MediaPost, correctly laments exactly the point its headline makes. Yet stories like this, good as they are, also misdirect attention from another story that's closer to home: how "content marketing" pays publishers to undermine trust in themselves.*
For example, in my email subscription to Google News for articles about ad blocking, the big G sent me to this piece of non-news in The Drum: Header bidding is the future of publisher income says Sovrn’s chief marketing officer. The smaller print says Sponsored by: Sovrn. The CMO has Manafort smile. Not good.
Then there's AdAge's "data driven TV" story. I just noticed some small print that says it's from "publishing partner" AT&T AdWorks. The byline says "By Rick Welday, President, AT&T AdWorks."
So let's look at the collateral damage here, both to the reputations of publishers who run this kind of shit, and to journalism itself.
To me as a reader, the two items above cost The Drum and AdAge my trust and respect for them. (Slightly less so for The New Yorker, which runs one clearly marked "Paid Post" in its daily emailings. I get why they do it—for the money—but those two words make sure I won't read it.)
As for journalism, there's my personal experience. For example, in this post yesterday I said I want big-name publishers who can afford to pay journalists to do exactly that. In a perfectly tweeted response, @dmarti tells publishers, "When you don't pay, you get "how and why you should buy stuff from http://example.com " by #contentMarketers at http://example.com."
Now I'm wondering if The Drum and AdAge pay free-lancers at all. I'll bet they don't, because that's the clear message a publisher sends with every (literally) fake news piece some content marketer pays a publisher to post.
*To Sara Guaglione's and MediaPost's great credit, their latest is Domino Opens Office Sponsored By Brands. (Disambiguation: Domino is a magazine about interior decor. Domino's delivers pizza.) Pull-quote:
The new office is not just a stylish workplace for Domino’s employees. CRO Beth Brenner told PD the space also acts as a studio for the magazine's content and can highlight their brand partners. A “large paid deal” with Bosch, for example, is behind the appliances in Domino’s kitchen, which are also featured in an online series, Brenner said.
Maybe my headline should have been Souls For Sale.
This morning an editor with a big-name magazine asked me by email if I would write an op-ed for it. When I asked what they paid, he replied, "We can’t pay for content unfortunately," adding, "We’ve actually found someone else to write this in the meantime, so let’s stand down. Hopefully next time!"
There won't be a next time. First, I refuse to contribute free labor to a magazine with a brand as august (or so I assumed) as this one. Second, I don't write "content." The reason is illustrated in the graphic here. (The full-size original accompanied How True Advertising Can Save Journalism From Drowning in a Sea of Content.)
I gather the magazine is also funded entirely by adtech, since Privacy Badger detects an unusually high number of trackers on its index page alone: 81.
The free work I'm glad to do is saving publishing. I want to do that by bringing the incentives of readers, writers, publishers and sponsors into alignment. More about all that in this series here.
Scott Adams tweets his endorsement of the cryptocurrency movement. Here's his post. I find his pro-Trump stuff fascinating and insufferable at the same time (for reasons that require more time and braining than I'm willing to commit right now). This, however, is different. Not sure how, but it is. By the way, this is his girlfriend. Just sharing facts here. You can't have opinions about facts. (For thus spake Prof. Peter Schickele on this album, which I still have somewhere.)
Nikon is closing a plant for making entry level cameras: a market 90% eaten by smartphones.
Joi Ito on resisting reduction. He goes deep: "In order to effectively respond to the significant scientific challenges of our times, I believe we must view the world as many interconnected, complex, self-adaptive systems across scales and dimensions that are unknowable and largely inseparable from the observer and the designer. In other words, we are participants in multiple evolutionary systems with different fitness landscapes at different scales, from our microbes to our individual identities to society and our species. Individuals themselves are systems composed of systems of systems, such as the cells in our bodies that behave more like system-level designers than we do." Very good stuff. Dig it.
Now that Walmart will be tracking me for the purposes of selling adtech trained on my ass by Walmart's own crosshairs, the chances I'll ever shop there are verging toward zero.
Superteams aren't, it seems. The Cavaliers lost at home, bigly, to the Knicks last night. The Patriots yesterday were a few dumb moves and bad calls away from losing at home to the Chargers. The Warriors lost at home for the second time in a young season, this time to the Pistons.
We've passed peak venture capital. No mention of ICOs.
Interesting to note the prevalence of saloons among businesses listed in Fremont County, Wyoming in 1890.
No surprise that MySpace, which apparently still exists, is fulla fraud.
The Coalition for Better Ads (which nobody on the receiving end wants, expects or cares about) still thinks the problem is "annoying"ad formats rather than boundless tracking.
Here's a Guardian feature on a Danish video that does the best job I've seen of demonstrating the problem. Irony::::: according to Privacy Badger, the Guardian was at the same time attempting to follow me with 27 potential trackers.
Yuval Noah Harari video interview. Bookmarked here. Haven't seen it yet. Tomorrow, then.
Is numeracy natural or not? I say if it happens in nature, it's natural.
I hate "the platform economy." Not the article linked to there. That's fine. Just the notion that it's a Good Thing. It's not.
This lamp comes on every time Trump tweets. Watch it without the music. Or save the time. I just told you enough.
If Trump is a black hole, will this let you escape?
Apparently I said something here. Or nothing. Anyway, it's something now
The Onion: Future of Advertising is More and Better Advertising, Advertising Industry Says. Just kidding. The Onion didn't say that, and the link goes to my anti-bullshit series on advertising. More fodder follows.
Top Ten Reasons Why Online Advertising Must Change, by the great Bob Hoffman, aka @AdContrarian and author of Bad Men and other good books. Why isn't this in AdAge or MediaPost? Sorry, dumb question. We all know why. Colonel Jessup explains.
Juniper Research in BusinessWire: Digital Advertising Spend to Reach $420 billion, Despite Impact of Ad Blockers.
Speaking of ad blockers, says here: 1) According to GobalWebIndex,t 37% of all mobile users, worldwide, were blocking ads by January of 2016, and another 42% would like to; 2) There are than 4.77 billion mobile phone users in the world today; 3) 37% of 4.77 billion is more than 1.7 billion; and 4) that's more than 2x the population of the Western Hemisphere (565.265 million in North America and 420.458 in South America). And that's just mobile devices.
White Ops Predicts that up to $3.5 Billion in Ad Spend Could be Lost to Fraud in Q4. Champion investor Michael Burry in The Big Short: "One hallmark of mania is the rapid rise in the incidence and complexity of fraud." Hm.
IAB: Online Video Spend Overtakes Banner Ads for First Time. As if anybody on the receiving end likes either of them.
Forbes: What Is the Right Response By Marketers To The Rise Of Mobile Ad Blocking? By Brian Handly, CEO of Reveal Mobile, "which helps companies generate more revenue via highly accurate location data," for the Forbes Technology Council Elite ("CIOs, CTOs & execs offer firsthand insights on tech & business"). How about respecting what is clearly the biggest boycott in human hstory? (But they won't. See Col. Jessup, above.)
LA Times: Why bad ads deserve to die, and what might replace them. Completely misses the tracking issue. By the way, the LA Times is one of the worst tracking offenders. My browser reports "Privacy Badger detected 49 potential trackers on this page."
Mediatel: TV sponsorship - the answer to all of advertising's woes? Answer: no, but to some.
Business Insider: Google's plan to block some ads has ad-tech companies scrambling — and calling it a dictator. This is like a bad bug zapper arguing with doomed bugs.
Recode: Former Chartbeat CEO Tony Haile wants to save the media industry by blocking ads—His new startup, Scroll, will charge consumers once for an ad-free experience across many news sites on all platforms. Bookmarked: need to know more about this one.
TPM: Josh Marshall on what Apple is doing against advertising. This one too.
AdAge: HOW TO TRANSFORM YOUR TRADITIONAL SELL-SIDE AD ORGANIZATION. That's what we used to call the "publishing" or the "advertising" department. It's what mostly got fired when adtech showed up.
On a Facebook thread I was reminded that I drove a '66 Peugeot 404 wagon from '69 to '74. So I thought I'd share a very late review of the thing.
Positives: enormous room in back, comfortable seats, great ground clearance and the ability to go pretty much anywhere, when it ran.
Negatives: screw-on hubcaps, ease-of-rust, dashboard vents that collected water from outside and dumped it on your feet soon as the car started to move, a distributor cap that kept cracking, failing window cranks, spark plugs hidden inside the valve cover at the base end of easily cracked bakelite sleeves, a pointless resonator tank thing above the exhaust manifold that fell apart easily, impossible to start on cold winter days unless one (no kidding) heated the engine compartment for a few minutes with a blowtorch.
I sold it for almost nothing after driving it from New Jersey to North Carolina. During that trip the resonator on the exhaust manifold fell apart, meaning actual explosions in the engine blasted unmuffled into the car, along with exhaust as well. The noise also echoed off the pavement and up through holes in the floor that got larger through the trip as rusty pieces seemed to fall off on every bump.
I would be amazed if any of these cars are still on the road anywhere.
Neustar has had long-standing relationships with automotive clients and has invested heavily in providing advertisers with audiences that are based on the behaviors, psychographics and demographics of real people to increase digital advertising relevance.
The partnership with J.D. Power, an industry-recognized expert in automotive, will offer the first-ever automotive audiences powered by near real-time transaction data. It will combine J.D. Power’s PIN data (lease data, incentive buyers, cash buyers, down-payment, make, model, series data) and Neustar’s identity mapping capabilities – taking PIN data and matching it to the household level. It will give advertisers best-in-class actionable audiences for targeting across offline and online channels, including mobile, OTT and addressable TV, says Julie Fleischer, vice president of product marketing at Neustar.
My comment, the only one there so far:
This is hideous.
Can you imagine a car ad that features the "digital advertising relevance" people want because their "behaviors, psychographics and demographics" are being tracked?
The simple fact is that nobody buys a car to be in the "audience" for anything, least of all when they are in a "microsegment" of one. They buy cars to drive and ride.
Want to know why 1.7 billion people now block ads on their digital devces? Because of crap like this.
By the way, the E.U. has made this kind of thing pretty much illegal, with potentially huge fines for privacy violations, starting next May 25. And U.S. companies can be fined if infractions are against European citizens, no matter where they are, including in U.S. cars. Stay tuned for more on that. The news will only get more dire for deals like this one.
Bonus link: http://j.mp/adbwars.
AdAge makes an understandable mistake in ANA pulls an ad that mistakenly landed on Breitbart via programmatic buy, by E.J. Schultz. That mistake is assuming that the ad in question was placed by mistake.
In fact the system probably worked in exactly the way it was designed to.
In other words, the ANA's programmatic buy wanted to place ads in front of readers who fit a certain multi-factor profile, and at least one of those readers showed up at Breitbart, where the ad was placed there specifically for them.
See, if the ANA wants to hit, say, a typical Wall Street Journal reader with an ad, and the programmatic system finds that kind of reader on Breitbart, the system shoots an ad at that reader in Breitbart.
[W]e were seated next to the head of this advertising company, who said to me something like, “Well, I really always liked AllThingsD and in your first week I think Recode’s produced some really interesting stuff.” And I said, “Great, so you’re going to advertise there, right? Or place ads there.” And he said, “Well, let me just tell you the truth. We’re going to place ads there for a little bit, we’re going to drop cookies, we’re going to figure out who your readers are, we’re going to find out what other websites they go to that are way cheaper than your website and then we’re gonna pull our ads from your website and move them there.”
Only programmatic adtech makes this possible, and it's essential to know it's not advertising as we used to know it, but only looks that way. As with magic, it's pure misdirection.
What we miss is that adtech isn't advertising. It just magically looks that way.
Let's examine the differences.
In the old advertising world, advertising wasn't personal. It was aimed at populations defined by the media people read, watched or listened to. Advertisers sponsored those media directly, because they wanted to reach the kinds of readers, viewers and listeners who liked particular papers, magazines, radio and TV stations, networks and programs.
Sponsor is what they did, and that's what Walt Mossberg heard that Recode wasn't going to get from programmatic adtech—straight from the magician's mouth.
With programmatic adtech (tracking-based advertising), ads follow eyeballs. In the online print world, readers are tagged with spyware in their browsers or apps and tracked like animals. Personal data and metadata about those readers are harvested and munched by machines, which place ads against profiles of reader types, no matter where they show up.
The result on the receiving end looks like old-fashioned advertising, but it's really direct response marketing (née direct mail, aka junk mail), which has always wanted to get personal, has always demanded that every ad get direct results, and has always excused massive negative externalities, such as the simple fact that people fucking hate it.
But nearly everybody covering the industry falls for it. So does the industry itself. As I wrote in Separating Advertising's Wheat and Chaff, "Madison Avenue fell asleep, direct response marketing ate its brain, and it woke up as an alien replica of itself."
And the misdirection works.
Jennifer (@marketeer2u) fell for it when she tweeted ".@ANAmarketers NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Your ads are running on Breitbart. Fix it. @slpng_giants." So does Sleeping Giants in their campaign against "racist and sexist media," because they think the problem lies with advertisers. But the advertiser has little or no control, as long as they distribute ads through eyeball-chasing adtech.
But they do have control if they go back to sponsoring publications directly. As I suggest in Let's get some things straight about publishing and advertising, we need a word, a symbol or a hashtag that says an ad is not tracking-based adtech. There I suggest #SafeAd.
Programmatic at best can only blacklist a site like Breitbart, and program that blacklist into one or more of the thousands of systems that might aim an ad (and many may be in the supply chain between advertiser, agency and publication). But that's not going to fix the problem. Advertisers need to fire adtech. Simple as that. This is what AdAge, the ANA, Sleeping Giants and everybody else who wants to save advertising's ass should be urging.
Adtech is a cancer on advertisers, publishers, and everybody it tracks.
We already have one form of chemo in ad blocking. According to PageFair’s 2017 Adblock Report, at least 11% of the world’s population is now blocking ads on at least 615 million devices. According to GlobalWebIndex, 37% of all mobile users, worldwide, were blocking ads by January of 2016, and another 42% would like to. With more than 4.77 billion mobile phone users in the world by 2017, that means more than 1.7 billion people are blocking ads already: a sum exceeding the population of the Western Hemisphere.
This easily amounts to the biggest boycott in human history. Yet a measure of the industry's cluelessness is that it treats ad blocking as a problem rather than as a clear and legitimate signal of demand by the marketplace for something better. Which they had in plain old-fashioned media-sponsoring brand advertising, before they let their brains get eaten by adtech.
It's no coincidence that ad blocking took off in 2012-13, when the advertising and publishing businesses together gave the middle finger to Do Not Track, which was never more than a polite request for what in the offline world we call good manners. (Think about it: what customer visiting a store would want to leave with a tracking beacon stuck to their butt like a wood tick, reporting their activities back to parties unknown, just so they can get a better "advertising experience" or whatever?) Its also no coincidence that the rise in ad blocking also traced the rise in retargeting by adtech: an obvious reveal that one is being followed. (Woman Stalked Across Eight Websites By Obsessed Shoe Advertisement is a typically right-on Onion story.)
It’s adtech that spies on people and violates their privacy. It’s adtech that’s full of fraud and a vector for malware. It’s adtech that incentivizes publications to prioritize “content generation” over journalism. It’s adtech that gives fake news a business model, because fake news is easier to produce than the real kind, and adtech will pay anybody a bounty for hauling in eyeballs.
Oh, and a $trillion or so has been spent so far on adtech without one single familiar brand being made by it. Yet plenty of brands have been harmed by it. For example, the ANA itself in the case AdAge reports.
The advertising business can't save itself. It needs help from the very people it intends to reach. That's why I co-founded Customer Commons, and why we're working on terms any one of us can assert that are friendly to advertisers and publishers. The first, called #NoStalking, says "Just show me ads not based on tracking me." Nothing could be simpler, more do-able or more far-reaching.
We'll also need this fix before the GDPR, Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, comes into effect next May, with potentially enormous fines for spying on EU citizens, no matter where those citizens' eyeballs may be.
I explain exactly what we need to do here. I'm hoping friends old and new in the publishing and advertising businesses (to both of which I've devoted much of my life) will join us next week at VRM Day and IIW, where we'll be working on solving exactly this problem.
Also on the table will be what Don Marti calls for. "Measure the tracking-protected audience," he says. "You can’t sell advertising without data on who the audience is. Much of that data will have to come from the tracking-protected audience. When quality sites share tracking protection data with advertisers, that helps expose the adfraud that intermediaries have no incentive to track down."
The original Bejeweled
iOS 11 moved my music library to the cloud. This makes the Music app useless—
Since I travel where there's no or little cloud access, I want my music library back on my iPhone, iPad and laptop music apps.
How do I get this?
AppleCare doesn't know.
Geeks at the nearby Apple store don't know.
Somebody must know.
Please tell me. Thanks.
All USB hubs.
The fucking cloud.
iTunes (which has now moved all my music to the fucking cloud, so I have to download what I want before I can listen to it on planes, subways, oceans and Wyoming).
USB Micro-B connectors and jacks.
Proprietary apps you can't get rid of.
Purposely slow upstream.
"Plans" with data caps.
iOS, or what's become of it.
The gone headphone hole.
The gone MagSafe power connector.
The gone function keys.
The gone SD card reader.
Power cables in two sections: one that can be easily wound for storage, and the other that can't be wound at all because it's too thick and stiff.
Trackpads that are too small (e.g. on the Apple TV remote) or too big (e.g. on the new Apple laptops).
All cable and satellite TV set top boxes.
Adtech, and every other business and business model that relies on uninvited spying on people.
When some other party uses the first person possessive pronoun "my" for me, when it's really for them.
Absent cheap and easy offsite storage for people like me who have terabytes of data on drives scattered in places where the possibility of obliteration by fire or earthquake is greater than zero.
Absent good HD radios, or good new radios at all.
"Soundbars" for TV, which have eliminated the simple and clear sound stage that old-fashioned stereo provided for decades.
Books too big for shelves.
All "infotainment" systems in cars.
Wipers that keep wiping a few more times after you turn them off.
Little shitty power supplies for big honking external drives.
Un-illuminated (or -illuminating) grey labels on black electronic devices likely to be used in dark rooms or spaces, such as remote controls and entertainment gear.
All light switches with dimmer gimmicks that will be obsolete and non-replaceable within a few years.
Car seats designed only for people in the middle 60% of the bell curve for body heights.
Overly rounded and faux muscle-shape body types in cars, which have together reduced storage space and views outward, especially to the rear.
The persistent belief that "spectrum" is scarce and requires federal controls, along with auctions for rights to use parts of it, which is like selling colors of sunlight.
Burners on home gas stoves that could heat a warehouse but won't simmer.
All microwave oven UIs.
The fact that it's 2017 and we're still using logins and passwords.
The 86 Most Rewatchable Movies Of All Time says more about BuzzFeed and its readers than it does about movies.
FWIW, I've seen 35 out of the 86. Love a few (e.g. Princess Bride), walked out of one (Home Alone), and punched out of a few (e.g. Labyrinth) when they were on the small screen.
My own list, just off the top of my head: Godfathers I and II, The Matrix (Matrices? ... mostly the first, but still the whole trilogy, since the story does have an arc), Princess Bride, E.T., Jaws, On the Waterfront, La La Land, Something About Mary, Unforgiven, The Green Mile, Searching for Sugar Man, Finding Vivian Meyer, Inception. This isn't "best movies," btw. It's the ones that, for me, bear re-watching.
There are many I'd like to see but never have. Fight Club and Mean Girls, for example. Others I've seen once and liked but don't feel the urge to see again. Interstellar is one.
I could go on, but this needs to be a deep long thread rather than a blog.
iSeismometer. It showed scrolls of vibrations on the X, Y and Z axes, all at once. None of the newer apps do that. You have to chose a view. I hate that. It's from ObjectGraph LLC, now 404'd.
The original Bejeweled. It didn't want to be Candy Crush, had an endless mode that was perfect for slow adults on subways
Iapetus. The world's tectonic history in three dimensions you could rotate.