In The New York Times' In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are Left, David Chen writes, "The Star-Ledger, which almost halved its newsroom eight years ago, has mutated into a digital media company requiring most reporters to reach an ever-increasing quota of page views as part of their compensation."
That quota is to attract adtech placements.
Adtech is called advertising and looks like advertising, but it's a different breed. That breed is direct marketing, a cousin of spam descended from what we still call junk mail.
Like junk mail, adtech is data driven, wants to get personal, finds success in tiny-percentage responses, and excuses massive negative externalities, such as wanton and unwelcome surveillance, annoying the shit out of people and filling the world with crap.
Here's one way to tell the difference between real advertising and adtech:
In the old advertising-supported publishing world, journalism was what mattered most. In the new adtech-supported publishing world, content is what matters most.
Real advertisers in the old publishing world were flattered to be in the Star-Ledger. Adtech-oriented advertisers in the new publishing world just want to "go digital," whatever it takes. And there are lots of intermediaries to help with that.
As I wrote in Separating Advertising's Wheat and Chaff, it is because of that orientation and those intermediaries that "Madison Avenue fell asleep, direct response marketing ate its brain, and it woke up as an alien replica of itself."
That's also why, to operate in publishing's new alien-built economy, journalists need to meet that "ever-increasing quota of page views." Better to produce content than to do the best work they can.
Problem is, adtech doesn't care about journalism at all, because its economy is structured to maximize the sum of content in the world, regardless of how good it is, or where it comes from.
Think about it:
Want to save journalism and the democracies that depend on it? Re-brain Madison Avenue and the CMOs that are still drunk on digital. Bring back real advertising.
To help with that, go back and read Don Marti's Targeting failure: legit sites lose, intermediaries win.
Yesterday, while I was hanging out in line with a friend and other freezing passengers about to board a Megabus from New York to Boston, people passed the time sharing stories of many intercity bus transport failures. Examples:
— Tires blown. One bus kept going until passengers in mutiny got the driver to stop.
— A bus with a blown tire that still had enough other tires to finish carrying it the last mile to its destination, but instead had to sit while a car with a mechanic dispatched from headquarters came out, an hour later, to inspect the bus and say it was okay to proceed.
— A bus that jammed under a railroad trestle while the driver was lecturing a trainee on best practices. (One of my stories.)
— A bus that caught fire.
— A bus driver who had no navigation instrument to help when a traffic jam forced the bus onto surface streets, so a passenger with a phone and a map app (my wife in this case) stepped up to co-pilot the bus, getting cheers from the rest of the passengers when the bus finally arrived.
Now our son is in a failed bus from Ohio to New York, waiting for a replacement to arrive at a rest stop.
In Pew's Americans Name the 10 Most Significant Historic Events of Their Lifetimes, my generation unsurprisingly puts the Vietnam War at #1.
So I thought I'd list the ten most consequential events in my lifetime, at least according to me. YMMV. Here goes:
1. Climate change. Nothing out-matters it, for every species and the planet itself. That the topic hardly matters to the species contributing more than any other to climate change does not suggest good outcomes, unless you're rooting for an end to everyone and everything. (Which, in the long run, is a winning bet.)
3. The Vietnam War. Ended the U.S.'s role as a postwar peacemaker and nation re-builder. Started the U.S. on the path of interventionism from which it has too rarely veered since then. Also caused the Sixties, the Generation Gap, Nixon 2.0 and other distractions.
3. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations. Set civil rights back perhaps a century or more. We're still suffering from it. I cannot convey how dispiriting the loss of those leaders was for anybody who worked to escape the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in the U.S. Both assassinations also took nonviolence off the table as both a virtue and a strategy. No person or movement of much consequence has picked it up since. And hey, maybe Robinson Jeffers was right in The Bloody Sire: stark violence is still sire to all the world's values. (Interesting data.)
4. The 9/11 attacks. A sucker-punch against the U.S. that worked exactly as its masterminds intended, provoking the U.S. into one war after anotehr. I can't begin to describe all the awful ways this has worked out so far.
5. The personal computer. The first proof that a technology formerly plied only by large organizations in central ways would prove far more useful and beneficial for all when distributed out into the hands of individuals.
6. The Internet. Reduced to zero the functional distance between everybody and everything connected through it, and at costs that round to zero as well. If personal computing was the first shoe to drop, this was the second, because it also proved that a technology once belonging only to central powers was far more useful and beneficial in the hands of everyone.
7. Rock and Roll. A bastard child of rhythm & blues and country & western, it remains the classical music of our time, to be played for centuries hence.
8. Personal data. Of full value only when today's broken B2B market for personal data is replaced by a C2B one, run by customers for their own benefit first and for the benefit of business second. When that happens, the Attention Economy will collapse and The Intention Economy will emerge.
9. 11/9: The Trump election of 2016. Not the man but why. In War and Peace, Tolstly said that history caused Napoleon, rather than vice versa. So perhaps history called forth Trump. As with Napoleon, the consequences will be large and enduring.
10. Watergate. It changed politics and journalism, to name just two institutions, for decades to come, if not forever.
Bummed to hear that Jim Lowe died. Still, he had a good long life.
Jim was one of the greatest disc jockeys of all time. Nobody knew more about the American Songbook, or did a better interview with the greats.
He was also a good performer. His song "Green Door" was a Number One hit, back in the Fifties.
I just got an email from Demand Progress that begins this way:
Friend, It’s unbelievable.
Journalists reached out to nine major tech companies asking if they would help the Trump administration build a national Muslim registry, and only Twitter said no!
Text in a box with a Sign This Petition button says, "UNBELIEVABLE: 8 out of 9 tech companies won’t rule out helping Trump build a national Muslim registry."
The footnote at the end of the passage leads to Of Nine Tech Companies, Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim Registry for Trump, by Sam Biddle, in The Intercept.
In the body of that piece it says seven of the other eight companies either "declined to comment" or had "no answer." Not that they "refused" to do anything. The eighth, Microsoft, said “We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point,” and pointed to company PR boilerplate. That's also not quite "refusing."
So let's be clear. Not answering one journal's question is not the same as "won't rule out helping Trump..."
While it's good for Demand Progress (and the rest of us) to demand that other companies match Twitter's position, it's not good to twist a story like this one into saying what it doesn't. Especially at a time when journalism itself is becoming more and more lost and discredited.
All the well-voted answers are good ones.
I’ll just add a bit more for the purpose of clarity and perspective.
Health care in the U.S. is an insurance business. That means it is mostly B2B (business to business), not B2C (business to consumer). As individuals and families, we may tend on the whole to pay a portion of our largest medical expenses (doctors, hospitals, clinics, drugs), but most health care costs are paid by employers. And they are paid to insurance companies. While we should be stakeholders in this discussion, we are not.
There are only two paths around the current system, neither of which the U.S. has been willing to take.
One starts with the assumption that health care is a right and not a privilege, and to have the government manage the whole thing, to control costs, harmonize technologies and maximize accountability to the individuals who receive care. This includes “single payer,” and is what most developed countries do.
The other starts with the assumption that health care is not a right, and to make the system, as far as possible, into a B2C one, in which everybody is on their own and insurance is available to individuals in large risk pools of their own making, rather than being tied to employers. This is more consistent with the direction the world is going, with more people both independent and self-employed.
The elephant in both rooms is risk calculations based on big data about every individual. When risk data (including DNA) about individuals can be fully (or sufficiently) known by insurance companies and health care providers, it will be possible for both to guess rather well what the forward costs of care for those individuals will be. There are no easy answers to what comes next, who should be responsible for what, or what the institutional frameworks should be. The one clear thing is that none of the existing or current imagined systems can fully deal with it. And that all political positions, especially those sustained by habit, loyalty and emotion, will mislead discussions.
After an excellent Thanksgiving with the family in Morgan Hill, CA, we began today's long wacky trip.
Started at 3:15am, when we picked up The Kid at an in-law's house in Morgan Hill, then drove up to SFO. There we dropped him off for his flights to Denver and Columbus, turned around and headed down 101, vectored for Pasadena.
That's where we are now, 400 miles later. Soon we'll catch a ride to LAX, where we'll catch a plane for London.
Which we should get to in time for some meetings tomorrow.
Then we're booked solid on business for a week there.
Then back to New York.
I need a nap.
[Later, at LAX...] The flight is delayed more than an hour. Missing first officer (no kidding). The pilot is a friend, and is concerned because the officer can't be found. A sub is coming in off the bench.
[Eventually, in Southampton, UK...] We were on the road and in the air for close to 24 hours, 19:43 of which was "moving time," according to my GPS.
Searls is the one surname in my family tree to have been passed down only by males. Here are the others I know: Oman (or Ohman), Sponberg, Reed, Butler, Johnson, Adams, Trainor (Thréinfhir), Hockey, McLaughlin, Rung and Allen. There are dozens, hundreds, thousands and perhaps millions more, all gone and forgotten by nearly as many, also gone.
Yet I am no less any of them than I am a Searls.
My second cousin Martin and I share great-grandparents, and many scans of many photos, including hand-written or typed notes (mostly by Martin's late Mom, Catherine (née Dwyer) Burns. These I publish in a slow-mo informal effort to gradually preserve a few tattered braids of mostly lost history: of persons, occasions and stories, all of which ought to have some value, even though (or perhaps because) none of the departed were especially notable. The one small exception is our great-grandfather, Henry Roman Englert, there on the right with the dapper coat and waxed mustache. Henry headed the Steel and Copper Plate Engravers Union in New York. A little more about him here.
One interesting coincidence, at least to our family, is that Martin's birthday, November 14, is the same as my grandmother (his great aunt), Ethel F. (née Englert) Searls, sister to Martin's grandma, Florence (née Englert) Dwyer. Our grandmas were 2 of 5 daughters of Henry and Kitty (née Trainor), who died at age 39. After that, the Englert girls' Aunt Margaret ("Mag") took over, at least for awhile.
So here is my latest, which includes some names on the unmarked graves we found at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx.
I've been young a long time, and I have no more intention to retire than did Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both within a year of my age.
I haven't done a survey, but it seems like most friends and relatives my age are either retired or dead. This doesn't bother me, though I am conscious of it. But I am also conscious of the refrain in Mike Cross's classic song, "Uncle Josh":
Livin' / at its longest / is just a short trip to the grave / So you might as well go ahead and enjoy what you can along the way / 'Cuz if the doctor said you were going to die / wouldn't you do what you please? / Listen here brother, life's just another / terminal disease.
It pleases me to do what I've always been doing, and I plan to keep doing it until life gets me. (According to this, odds are I'll make it to 92.)
But I also want to lighten the load I carry. That includes all the accumulated clutter in my life. In one of the interviews I point to in Loving Leonard, he speaks of the great satisfaction he finds, as his life's end approaches, of tying up loose ends, finishing what he can and leaving the unfinished in a shape that minimizes burdens on survivors.
So I've taken up two new disciplines. One is losing weight. I've done that before the Atkins way, by avoiding carbs, and I'm doing it again. (So far, five pounds in three weeks.) The other is by getting rid of shit. Every day, something goes. It's kind of like dieting. Makes me feel lighter.
I saw this coming. Trump ran the table through the GOP primaries, and he would do it again through the general election. And so he did. And his coat-tails are long. We'll have a Trump presidency and a Republican Congress.
I'm not sure it's going to go in the ways we losers expect: that The Worst is going to happen. But I am sure that the country is terribly divided, and that the big problems are none that either candidate talked much about.
It might help to read Scott Adams again. He's gloating, but he won too, in his own way. He's certainly right that Trump is a Great Persuader and that facts never mattered much, either to him or to his voters. Slogans did. Dreams and fears did. And he spoke to both.
I'm getting ready to give a keynote at #Brandweek2016 Istanbul. My new talk, as of this morning, is about how a brand and a slogan just won the U.S. presidency. And what that might mean. Even though I don't know. None of us do, yet.
One of Trump's slogans was "Drain the swamp." While I feel like one of the drained, there is a rising generation that wanted Bernie, not Hillary, and that isn't racist or sexist or interested in the continued U.S. military domination of the world. It is filled with immigrants, and welcoming of personal differences. It wants to deal with climate change and other issues that truly matter. Our hope is in them.
They aren't even close to the drain, and won't go down. Instead they'll take over. They'll have to.
One reason, I suppose, is that it's hard to go upscale if you're already down. (Examples: J.C. Penney went downscale and had a hard time moving up.) But another reason might be that the market for premium video is already saturated. Audio too.
The typical middle class American household, for example, is already viewing, reading and listening to many of the following subscription services:
And that's in addition to a plethora of print and online publications, including the ones that used to be free online but are now shaking you down for subscriptions, especially if you're using an ad blocker. (Hello Condé Nast, The Atlantic, et. al.)
And then there's noncommercial radio and TV, which have lived off voluntary subscriptions since forever.
When and how do we reach saturation? Are we there already?
And how do we get control over the subscriptions we have — and over variables such as terms, durations, charitable donations (to the noncommercial ones), contact info, etc.?
The answer: when we get our own dashboard for controlling all these things, on our own computers and mobile devices. This would be a VRM thing.
We'll also need our own way to account for usage, so we can make the fully informed choices about how we spend our money. Are Quicken or Quickbooks good enough for that? Short answer: no.
My own fantasy for accounting is a personal version of Xero, an almost addictively practical and revealing way for a small business to see and understand how the money side of its enterprise actually works.
For more about how this might go in the future, see What small businesses and their customers have in common. Meanwhile, let's make the most of the hashtag in the headline, which I just thought up.
I’m in Half Moon Bay, listening to KHMB, a noncommercial low power FM (LPFM) station here, on 100.9 fm. It’s playing oldies right now, interrupted by local public service announcements, some of which sound like ads, all apparently automated. It is licensed as KHMV-LP, but called “KHMB AM and FM” on the air. (I suppose their callsign is KHMV because KHMB was already taken by a station in Hamburg, Arkansas.) It’s also “AM and FM," since it also radiates on 1710am.
Many of the announcements only mention the AM signal, though they are simulcast, at least when I've been listening.
At first I thought the AM signal must be licensed as a TIS (Travelers Information Station). But, according to Wikipedia, "While 1710 kHz appears on many radios, it is unused even by TIS stations, exception being TIS (WQFG689) licensed with a waiver to the Hudson County, New Jersey. This is because aeronautical radio navigation may use 1708 kHz. It has also been a popular frequency with both Part 15 and North American MW pirate radio station operators especially in the Midwest and east coast of the United States."
What little I know of the rules suggest that KFMB is either a pirate or operating under Part 15 of the FCC rules, which say, "On the standard AM broadcast band, transmission power is limited by 100 milliwatts of DC input power to the final RF stage (with restrictions on size, height and type of antenna), or, alternatively, under 15.221, if the AM transmission originates on the campus of an educational institution, the transmission can theoretically be any power so long as it does not exceed the field strength limits stated in 15.209 at the perimeter of the campus..." In other words, too weak to get out of the yard.
The FM transmitter is at 37° 26' 49" N, 122° 25' 55" W, or somewhere on the south side of Wavecrest Road, off Highway 1, south of Half Moon Bay. I'm currently at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, about a mile away across a golf course, and the signal on 1710 is pretty strong. But the AM transmitter might not be in the same place as the FM, so I dunno.
KHMB does stream, through http://khmbradio.com/player.html (also a window on its website), though not, apparently, though a published IP address. So, even though it's listed on TuneIn, you can't get it there.
[Update on Sunday, October 30...]
On my way out of town yesterday, I took a quick side trip down Wavecrest road to see if I could see either the FM or the AM antennas for KFMB. I didn't see an FM one, but, since the FCC license says it's only 15.5 meters (~50 feet) above the ground, it would be easy to miss amidst all the trees and industrial stuff there. But I did see, though some trees, a wire of unknown length that ended in an insulator. That, I suspect, is the AM antenna. (Those are normally vertical towers or poles, but horizontal will do too.)
We got both signals well in our car, driving driving south on US1 (Cabrillo Highway) to a short distance past Pescadero Beach. The signal path to that point, especially south of Tunitas Creek, is mostly over ocean. AM waves are favored by high ground conductivity, and salt water is best of all.
Hard to tell, but I suspect KHMB's AM signal is stronger than most—or possibly all—TIS signals, which (says the link above) "are limited to a 10 watt transmitter output power, an antenna height no greater than 15 meters (49.2 feet), and a coverage radius of 3 km." Since Pescadero Beach is about 15 miles from Half Moon Bay, I'm guessing that the station is putting out at a lot more than 100mw. But I dunno.
[Later... in an email exchange, I found it operates under Part 15. So I'll take their word for it.]
Regardless of all that, give it a listen. It's great local radio.
Back in the early ‘90s, when I was making a good living as a marketing consultant, I asked my wife—a successful businesswoman and a retailing veteran—why it was that heads of corporate Sales & Marketing departments were always from Sales people and not from Marketing people. Her answer: “Simple: Sales is real. Marketing is bullshit.”
When I asked her to explain that, she said this wasn’t marketing’s fault. The problem was the role marketing was forced to play. “See, sales touches the customer; but marketing can’t, because that’s sales’ job. So marketing has to be ‘strategic.’” She put air-quotes around “strategic.” She acknowledged that this was an over-simplification, and not fair to all the good people in marketing (such as myself) who really were trying to do right by customers. But her remark spoke to the need to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not, and to dig deeper into why the latter has become such an enormous part of the way we do business.
On a #cce16 panel going on right now, @sunderks just talked about how marketing can be disconnected from the rest of a business, and from its business model. Others on the panel (@shellkillebrew & @tomwillner) nodded. All three have also been trying to put #digital marketing into a human context, which is good, and important. But the disconnect persists, because marketing is structurally isolated from the market, which is customers. Let me explain.
While the old disconnect between marketing and sales is still there, the disconnect between marketing and market is barely bridged, at best, by digital, which has been a marketing obsession for the last decade. In fact, the disconnect may be worse than ever, thanks to marketing's obsession with harvesting and metabolizing personal data, and using it to target personal messages directly to individuals. These are the digital equivalent of junk mail. And, like junk mail, digital messages mostly miss the mark and clutter people's lives. Meanwhile, the direction of marketing remains one-way and one-to-many, no matter how personalized the messages to any individual might be.
To eliminate the disconnect between customers and companies (and de-bullshit marketing), customers need to be in charge of how they relate to companies in the digital world. They aren't yet. Not only do they still lack the tools required, but every company with a system for relating to customers does it differently, and inside its own silo.
Which means they need scale across those companies. They have that with everything they actually drive, including their cars, phones, computers and cash. They don't, however, within the relationship systems provided separately by all the companies they deal with.They are driven, rather than driving, within each of those relationships. It's even worse than that outside of relationships, where customers are constant targets of marketing messages, way too many of which are aimed by rude and unwelcome surveillance and nearly all of which miss the mark.
Here is an example of scale you don't have: changing your address or last name for every company you deal with, in one move, rather than going to a hundred websites and through as many web forms, like a bee going from flower to flower to flower. Or intentcasting a request for something you want, to a whole market, rather than separately to different companies. (Example: calling for a ride from any company, rather than only from Uber, Lyft or whomever, through each of their own separate apps.)
Personal scale is what bridges the disconnect between customers and marketing. Without it, the disconnect persists, marketers remain clueless, and bullshit thrives, no matter how much data marketing collects, not matter how digital they become, and how much AI they deploy. There is no substitute for genuine human contact, run by the humans we call customers.
Among the many conceits that maintain marketing's isolation from markets is the persistent assumption that CRM (customer relationship management) CX (customer experience), CE (customer engagement) and the "customer journey" (toward purchase) are all the responsibility of the company, rather than the customer.
The market is a dance floor, where many dances are possible. The problem, as Adele Menichella puts it (in The Intention Economy), "Companies need to dance with, not on, their customers." For all their good intentions, marketing can't help dancing on their customers, rather than with them, if customers can't take the lead.
Which they will, with VRM ways to engage companies' CRM, CE and CX systems.
GM and IBM do. So I wrote this in the comments under that link:
Earth to GM, IBM, and brands of all kinds: nobody buys a car for its marketing system. This article just talked me out of ever wanting to buy a new GM car.
Drivers want to drive. Not to be driven.
It doesn't matter how well Watson thinks it understands what a driver might want. If the system steers the coffee snob driver toward Starbucks instead of a better coffee shop that isn't paying for placement on the dashboard, that driver is going to to feel betrayed and hate the whole thing.
The other two comments, so far:
Can I get a discount for the non-ad version? and
Intrusive BS...! Ad Blocker's 1st app for me...!
It may help to remember that the term "branding" comes to us from the cattle industry.
Back in the last millennium, I was often mistaken for David Bunnell at conferences. To see why, check out the photo of David from his Macworld days this piece about him in Fast Company, and then look at the pic of me at the top of my old blog.
David died Sunday. No details, so far. His Wikipedia entry says nothing about it, and also has no exact birth date. Just the year: 1947. Same as me.
For all his great work as a publisher, and having lived a very public life for several decades atop the tech world, there was always something private and mysterious about David. For example, why he either erased or buried the digital version of Upside, after it went bankrupt and ceased publication in 2002. That bothered me, not just because I had written for the magazine, but because it was the best chronicler of the whole dot-com boom/bust era. And now that was all gone. Far as I know, David never gave a reason.
But he was a good guy, a good publisher, and a true pioneer. And he's already missed.
So here is a better idea. Zig while the others zag, by doing what no other B2B "social media" company is willing to do—yet—but will likely try after the advertising bubble finally pops.
Go B2C. Sell services direct.
Start with the high end. Make your best users into your first and best customers. The easiest way to start is by offering an ad-free Twitter experience. Lots of people will be willing to pay for that.
But the most leveraged way is by turning the best of Twitter's usage into an even more valuable version of what it already is: the @AP for everybody with real and worthwhile news (or plain old information) to share.
Start with a low $ amount per month or year, and offer some value-ads that I'm sure your new customers would be glad to request. You'll bring in lots of the free-range journalists who have been wandering in the desert ever since "social media" and clickbait-grade "content" (and the shitty surveillance-fed adtech that pays for it) laid waste both to blogging and respectable publishing.
I'd gladly pay that. Or more.
Dutch secret service wants to have all encryption keys
The boss of the Dutch secret service AIVD, Rob Bertholee, showed himself to be a fanatical opponent of every form of encrypted communication. He sees security to be a direct opposite of privacy. “You have to ask yourself how much your privacy is worth to you.” Although this line of thought could be expected from a man whose job is to get to know as much as possible about potential terrorists in The Netherlands, the absence of encryption does not make life safer. The fact that companies have to leave backdoors open, implies that evil-minded people might also be able to use these, which in turn could make society less secure rather than more.
On top of this pragmatic objection, which in its own right is already a valid reason to keep using encryption, there is also a more important ideological reason, which fits seamlessly with the principles of the Qiy Foundation. Privacy is not something you can give up to be a bit more secure. Privacy is a collective value you cannot weigh against security because it is an independent notion, which deserves protection. It protects other values and freedoms that are important for our entire society. In fact, as we wrote in the aftermath of the attacks in Brussels: even in tumultuous times, privacy and security go hand in hand and both are essential to retain trust in the digital world. In the Dutch State Budget for the upcoming year it says: “The AIVD (secret service) investigates organizations, people and other countries that form a potential danger to the Dutch democratic rule of law and other important interests of state.” Since one of the goals of the AIVD is to protect the democratic rule of law, advocating the abolishment of encryption, which protects certain individual rights, seems paradoxical.
Personal privacy in the online world should derive directly from the Castle Doctrine. Only you should have the keys to your home on the Net. And only you and those to whom you send messages over the Net have the right to see those messages. That has also been the purpose of the wax seal (such as the one above) on mailed envelopes, for hundreds of years. That encryption works better than a wax seal isn't what matters here. What matters is that we need our private spaces online as well as off, and also to make sure our private communications are indeed private.
Doors, locks, window shades, clothing, sealed envelopes and other forms of privacy protection in the offline world should serve as models for the online world as well.
If somebody has a link to the original Qiy piece, please send it along. If @qiytweet tweets it, I'll be sure to point to it as well.
[The following is a March 2005 blog post I'm re-running here, for reasons I'll get into after I post some other stuff that's in the works.]
A couple weeks ago I was hanging out with George Lakoff and friends while they waited for a late plane here in Santa Barbara, where George had given a speech the night before. One of those friends was not yet hip to blogs, so it became a fun conversational project to describe blogs metaphorically, especially since metaphors are George's forté, to say the least.
Once he understood that blogs were powerful tools for change, the friend began to run down a list of Big Challenges that I, as a well-known blogger, should tackle.
I'm sure this isn't exactly verbatim, but it's pretty close to the reply I gave:
Tell ya what. I'm fifty-seven years old, and I've been pushing large rocks for short distances up a lot of hills, for a long time. Now, with blogging, I get to roll snowballs down hills. Some don't go very far. But some get pretty big once they start rolling.
See, each snowball grows as others link to the original idea, and add their own thoughts and ideas. By the time the snowball gets big enough to have some impact, it really isn't my idea any more.
Anyway, at this point in my life I'd rather roll snowballs than push rocks.
That conversation came to mind as I re-read Steve Gillmor's RSS for food. This passage in particular:
I also operate on the assumption that if it's a good idea, the chances are also good that somebody else had it too. Case in point, the RSS/BitTorrent idea, which I "invented" back in December in my eWEEK column. In the blogosphere, it produced a dressing down from several techies who assumed I misunderstood how the technology worked ( "The point that Gillmor missesŠ" and "Gillmor's vision is upside downŠ") and a slashdotting of the syndicated Yahoo News version.
The net Blogging for Food result: I am permanently immortalized as an idiot on Google, received no page rank whuffie since the original post preceded the rollout of my eWEEK blog, and didn't even get the benefit of a Slashdot traffic spike on the originating eWEEK.com site. But thanks to Andrew Grumet, who actually picked up the idea and implemented it, and Dave Winer, who saw the familiar makings of a low barrier publishing framework for audio and video, and TiVo, who's fighting Rupert Murdoch's Direct TV and the DRM lobby by moving to Web content delivery, the RSS BitTorrent idea is still growing.
As Jay Rosen said when he snowballed a toss-off line of mine, Blogging is about making and changing minds.
Sure, weblogs are good for making statements, big and small. But they also force re-statement. Yes, they're opinion forming. But they are equally good at unforming opinion, breaking it down, stretching it out, re-building it around new stuff. Come to some conclusions? Put them in your weblog, man, but just remember: it doesn't want to conclude.
I think Big Challenges start with conclusion, with finished opinions. That's what makes them sysiphean. They are bodies at rest that are hard to put into motion, especially in an uphill direction.
But if you start with an idea, whether partly formed or whole, whether yours or somebody else's, and push it in the downhill direction that all blogging (thanks to links and RSS) essentially goes, it's bound to have some impact once it grows large enough. And as long as it keeps going.
In There’s No Reason Not To Be Bullish On Ad Tech, Allison Schiff in AdExchanger makes a case for the viability of adtech, framed in terms of adtech companies' stock value. The rest of this post is copied and pasted from my comment under the piece...
Talk about stock market value all you want. It's still not wise to bet on anything customers hate as much as the Lumascape ordnance that penetrates their apps and browsers, clutters their screens, insults their intelligence, tries their patience and demeans the very brands being advertised.
How many people block ads now as a matter of course on their computers and mobile devices? Half a billion? How many more would do it if they knew how?
Blaming ad blocking and tracking protection on the companies providing them is like blaming pharmaceuticals for treating diseases. People use ad blockers and tracking protection for the same reason they use umbrellas and sunblock: to protect themselves from something they don't want.
Ad blocking and tracking protection are clear signs that demand and supply in the networked marketplace need better ways to signal each other than surveillance-fed guesswork sustained by tendentious thinking and machine logic that is utterly disconnected from the actual marketplace where human beings live, spend their money and invest their loyalty.
This is a marketplace where for many decades the arts and sciences of advertising created and sustained brands worthy of the noun. But then the Internet and Big Data came along, and both proved to be perfect landscapes across which the junk mail business and its thinking could stage an assault on Madison Avenue. As I wrote in Separating Advertising's Wheat and Chaff (http://j.mp/adwhtch), "Madison Avenue fell asleep, direct response marketing ate its brain, and it woke up as an alien replica of itself."
That alien replica is the Lumascape, which has become addicted to smoking its own exhaust. The narcotic in that exhaust is tracking.
It should help to remember that ad blocking, which had quietly been around since 2004, took off immediately after publishing and the adtech business gave the middle finger to Do Not Track in 2012—and that DNT was nothing more than a way for users to issue a polite request. Dismissing a clear signal from the marketplace was worse than delusional. It was self-damaging in the extreme.
Now we have the the biggest boycott in world history (see http://j.mp/bcott), plus the .eu's GDPR (http://bit.ly/2dAifuj), which is nuclear-tipped missle headed straight for the Lumascape. For either or both reasons, tracking is doomed.
Maybe, after it's over, real advertising—the kind people tolerated, and in some cases even liked—will come to life online. But I'm not holding my breath.
On a large family mailing list, politics came up for the first time. Here's what I wrote::::
Can’t wait till this thing is over.
I stupidly stayed up almost to 1am waiting for Trump to issue his recorded “apology," which the news networks said was coming. It turned out to be just 90 seconds long, and it could hardly have been more vain and unapologetic. Basically all he said was, “Forgive me for something I said ten years ago, but don’t forgive Hillary for stuff her husband did twenty years ago.”
The only thing that matters about Trump is that he’s utterly unfit to be President of the U.S. You’d think he’s running for Pharaoh. Hell, he already lives like one. The only reason he hasn’t built a pyramid yet is that he lacks the slaves for the job.
The dude is a world-record narcissist with a heart the size of a raisin, utterly lacking in sympathy, empathy or respect for any person or group that doesn’t serve his selfish interests, thin-skinned and litigious to a fault (he’s sued thousands) and contemptuous of facts that don’t serve his interests or prejudices.
Bad as what Trump said on that tape was, worse is his continued insistence that five teenage black boys accused of raping a white woman — the Central Park five — who served full sentences of up to fifteen years for a crime they did not commit, and whose innocence was proved by both DNA evidence and a confession by the actual perpetrator (whose DNA was confirmed), and whose convictions were reversed by a court of law, are still guilty. Back when the case was fresh in the news, Trump took out full page ads calling for the death penalty, which in this case would have been used on boys as young as fifteen. Here’s one.
The ad pitched the death penalty as a way to restore law and order to New York. And now Trump wants to bring back stop-and-frisk, which has been declared unconstitutional, even the police hated using, and is hardly needed, since New York today is no more dangerous than Graham—unless you walk in traffic. Really, we could leave our front door of our Manhattan apartment building unlocked for months and nothing would happen. The crime rate in New York’s worst zip code is lower than the average for Baltimore. The reasons are many, but none are owed to the methods Trump would have us use.
For months I’ve thought that Trump would win, but these latest blasts from the past give me hope that he won’t. I also hope our friends on the right do their best after November to make the GOP the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan again.
Meanwhile, best to look at Trump as the nuclear option for a dumpster fire. Don’t push the button.
Dave nailed it back in July: Trump is a troll. He "sows discord ... by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages..." and so on. We know how it goes, because it seems we know little else. He's that effective.
An interesting thing about having an audience is that you know when you've lost them.
In a physical space, such as a theater, a classroom or a church, you can see it plainly. People look down at their phones, or doze off. On the Net you can see it in a decline of visits, reads, re-tweets, likes and comments. The closer we get to the election, the less I see of all those things, even though I'm not doing anything much differently. I'm sure a lot of other bloggers and tweeters have noticed the same thing. Why? In a word, Trump.
As a troll, he may be the best the world has ever seen. I mean, look what he's doing, playing media old and new, masterfully upsetting everybody with an elevated sense of political correctness, while getting loud "Amens" from his congregation. Shit, we can't help feeding him, even if we try not to.
Unfortunately, as Scott Adams has been telling us for over a year, he is also convincing to many: a master persuader. I'm not the only one who compares him to Azimov's Mule: "a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and 'adjust' their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause."
Or, by another metaphor, he's the biggest black swan we've seen in politics since... you know, that German guy back in the 30s.
And if that doesn't bother you, maybe that Mule thing of his is working.
Last night in the wee hours, unable to sleep (being still a bit jet-lagged and half-napping through the Veep Debate), I visited David Oxenford's invaluable Broadcast Law Blog, which is relentlessly sober and informative about the full range of broadcast law concerns.
At issue in his latest is Commissioner Pai Proposes Looking at Class C4 FM Stations – Good for Broadcasters? Bored yet? You should be, but believe me: this matters to a lot of broadcasters, especially ones operating stations grandfathered with coverage that might improve if they can get reclassified in a way that allows higher powers and antenna heights. That's what Class C4 would allow. For some, anyway.
My answer to the headline question, in the comments below the post, is a resounding maybe, but beside a larger point, which I also make: that FM radio is following AM on a death march to the grave for both of them. Specifically...
To illustrate what over-the-air broadcasting is up against, consider what my teenage son asked me several years ago: "What is the point of 'range' and 'coverage'?" In other words, why are either of those things features and not bugs? He asked that after we drove away from a station that faded on the radio but persisted for hours over a stream online, played by a cell phone through the AUX input into the same dashboard.
We live today in a fully networked world that puts everything on it a functional distance of zero from everything else. It is a world that is subsuming all legacy media, including radio and TV. In the long run legacy radio will supplement streaming, rather than the vice versa we still have today. And then legacy radio will go away, probably after the income from over-the-air transmission is exceeded by the cost of operating transmitters, or the sale value of real estate (which is already driving AM stations off the air or onto shared towers and acreage).
If you think of legacy radio as a Titanic very slowly taking water — which it is — proposals such as Class C4 are deck chair rearrangements: perhaps worth doing while the whole thing is still floating, but still in some degree of denial toward the inevitable.
The actual cause of death will be a form of asphyxiation: drowning in the Net after radio's air supply is cut off by car makers that finally choose to save money by not paying for the chip in the dashboard that picks up FM radio waves. (As some makers are already doing with AM chips.) The NAB will fight against that, but not so hard when actual listening verges on zero, simply because most people would rather listen to commercial-free (or -few) streams and podcasts.
Easier to write this top down than bottom up. Just saying that. The latest will go at the bottom.
I believe Trump answered the first jobs question better than Hillary. He said he'd cut taxes on business, and was clear about it.
Hillary seemed nervous at first. Better once she got going. She did an okay job of defending the Obama economic record. Could have been much better.
Trump sounds better when he talks about problems. Jobs that are leaving. Hard times. He comes across as a bully, but that also reads as strong to many.
He talks problems and accusations. She talks policy. Much less interesting.
He says she has no plan. She says she has a book about it. Good come-back, but she still sounds a bit nervous.
He's hitting hot buttons. Cutting taxes and regulations. "I'm cutting taxes big league. I'm cutting regulations big league." That scores with business. What percentage of the country either operates or works in a small business? A large one. She comes back with accusations that he's cutting taxes for the rich. True, but aside from the good points he made about cutting taxes for business.
He's all characterization at this point.
Holt is barely moderating at all.
Trump: getting rid of "the carried interest provision." That's inside-business-ball that only speaks to businesses people who know what that is. Which are lots.
On businesses leaving the country, on bureaucratic red tape, Trump again scores for clarity and simplicity.
"We have no leadership... It all starts with Secretary Clinton." Unfair and wrong. But it scores.
Hillary is playing fair. Trump isn't.
Still waiting for Hillary to score a hit. "Slashing taxes on the wealthy doesn't work." Not bad.
Trump: "Typical politician..." Score.
"We have the worst revival of the economy since the great depression. We are in a big bad ugly bubble." Another one. Hard to argue without getting complicated.
Hillary didn't interrupt Trump in this last round. He interrupted her repeatedly through her last answer.
Losing the Youtube feed. Shit. Okay, it's back.
"I will release my tax returns when she releases 33,000 emails..." He's standing behind his refusal to release his tax returns. Saying it's being audited. Poor excuse. I doubt it will stick.
Hillary hitting back hard on what Trump may be trying to hide. "That means I'm smart," Trump snarked.
Emails: "I made a mistake... and I take responsibility." Short and minimal answer by Hillary. Good.
"That was done purposefully," Trump says, suggesting she knew better and did it anyway.
"You don't learn that much from tax returns. You learn more from disclosure..." That's Trump answering with details about his businesses. "I could give you a list of banks... I am very under-leveraged... It's about time this country has somebody running it who knows something about money... Our airports... like a third world country. We owe $20 trillion..." Something about wasting $6 billion, more or less, in the Middle east. "We don't have the money because we've squandered..." Mostly unrelated points with causes and effects entirely separate. But it sounds like he knows something, which will score with his consituency.
Hillary: "If your main claim to running this country is your businesses, then we should look at ..." And she gives specific examples, such as of people getting stiffed. His response so far is weak. "You've taken business bankruptcy six times," she says. He's interrupting her less on this one.
Trump: "It's all words. It's all soundbites... On occasion we've taken advantage of certain laws of the nation. I'm running a company. My job is to do well for myself, my family, my employees... We're opening the old post office (on Pennsylvania Ave) under budget..." Scoring again on specifics. He's on much stronger turf talking about business.
Now the topic is race. "How do you heal the divide?"
Hillary: Can't quote her opener because it was tentative and all but quote-proof. Now: "We have to restore trust.... I've called for criminal justice reform... We have to bring communities together... We've gotta get guns out of the hands..." I so want her to be sounding stronger than this. Stronger than Trump. She isn't.
Trump: "We need law and order. If we don't have it, we don't have a country." Quotable. Simple. Insufficient. But, I suspect, with a nod to Scott Adams, persuasive. "In Chicago they've had thousands of shootings.... We have to bring back law and order."
How can she compete against a walking quote pump? Can anybody remember a single quotable line of hers? I can name one: "If you want something said, get a man. If you want something done, get a woman." Dunno where she said it or when, but I remember it. And nothing else.
"When you have three thousand shootings since January 1st... you have to have stop and frisk. You need more police. You need better community relations..."
He agreed police need better relationships with communities.
Listen for how much he uses short simple words. Helps.
Please, Hillary, land a good punch.
She did, as did Holt, with stop and frisk being unconstitutional.
Hillary: "The vibrancy of the black church. There is much we should be proud of and lift up." All single syllable words, but they come off flat, platitudinous.
"We can't just say Law and Order..." She should point out that Nixon was the one who created that sound bite, and the results were not great.
Keeping my wife awake with my typing. Since I have no sense of anyone listening (two likes and one retweet so far), I may stop. Might be better just to listen. (Watching is harder, given poor bandwidth here. So I'm listening rather than watching.)
Holt is asking about Trump's birtherism. Trump is blaming Hillary, putting it off on Blumenthal and McClatchy, people almost nobody listening has heard of. Now he's switching to defeating ISIS and other talking points. Trump half-admits lying. Now he's bullying Holt, and Holt is putting up with it. Weak of Holt. Damn. I was expecting better.
My take so far: Trump is defeating not only Hillary, but the moderator too.
Hillary has a great opportunity with this one. And she's scoring, at last. "He's persisted year after year" on the birth certificate issue. Now she's talking about a 40+ year old discrimination case. Mistake: too long ago, too easily dismissed. "A long record of racist behavior." Probably true. Score. Now she's defending Obama too. Good.
Now Trump is giving Hillary shit for acting "holier than thou." And attempting to correct the old lawsuit. "Settled with zero admission of guilt." Good defense.
Trump has the sniffles. I'm sure this is being tweeted. Not checking.
Now a cyberwarfare question. Hillary has a strong response, but going over her time.
Trump: "Over 200 admirals and generals have endorsed me... I will take the admirals and generals over the political hacks... what a mess we are in."
"Fact checking the debates" search: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=fact+checking+the+debates.
Holt: how would you prevent home-grown attacks? Trump: "The way we got out of Iraq was a disaster." He used the term "vacuum." Good image.
Hillary calling on the fact-checkers is a good move. Holt is a sub-minimal one-man fact checker. But hey, that's at least part of his job.
She's also being strong on foreign policy, on the need for "cooperating with Muslim nations... they are on the front lines... not be alienated and pushed away."
She calls him Donald. He calls her The Secretary.
He's getting closer to his old New Yawk accent over time. "That bothas me..."
He's taking credit improving NATO by criticizing it. "The vacuum created by Barack Obama and Secretary Clinton."
He's indicting the mainstream media now. He's citing appearances on Howard Stern, Sean Hannity. Flattening Holt, who is taking it.
"I have much better judgment than she has. I have a much better temperament than she has... I have a winning temperament. I know how to win."
Hillary: "Whomf! Okay!" And talks about NATO, which is still fighting in Afghanistan "on our side." Some other strong stuff. Her strongest performance, again, is in foreign policy. "He has said repeatedly that he doesn't care about other countries getting nuclear weapons... His cavalier attitude about nuclear weapons... A man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes." Good line, solid punch, quotable at last.
Trump: "Not accurate. Nuclear is the single greatest threat." He lists countries that we defend without them paying us. "We lose on everything."
Holt: "We need to move on." Trump talks over him.
Last segment. "Do you support the current policy on first use?"
Trump: "Russia has been expanding.... we are not keeping up... I would not do first strike... We have to be prepared... I won't take anything off the table." He says China should be taking care of North Korea. Calls the Iran deal "One of the worst deals with any country in history."
Holt is trying to moderate. Failing.
Hillary: "Words matter." Tells allies that she will honor defense treaties. "He says he has a secret plan. The only secret is he has no plan." Good one-liner. "I intend to be a leader of our country that people will count on..."
Trump's poll numbers are bound to go up after this, methinks, just on the basis of quotable one-liners, coming off as the stronger performer. (Very male/dominant/bully stuff, but that shit still works with a lot of people.) Debate-wise, she's been stronger at the end.
Trump: "I want to help all of our allies, but we are losing billions and billions of dollars..." Holt is failing to moderate the dude, who is going way over his :30 seconds.
Trump just ate Holt with "Did you ask me a question?" Which Trump isn't answering. Neither is Holt, who wants to just move on.
The question was about Hillary's looking presidential. Trump said it was about stamina.
She answered well, with her actual record requiring stamina. "...then he can talk to me about stamina." Got cheers.
Trump: "She has experience. But it's bad experience... You almost can't name a good deal." Getting cheers. He loves to talk deals. Very much in the character he portrays on TV.
"He tried to switch from looks to stamina... One of the worst things he said" was about a woman he called "Miss Piggy."
He's now bragging, saying he not saying something "extremely rough" about Hillary or both Clintons (can't tell); but is pulling the punches. Now he's talking down Hillary's ads.
Last question is about the election outcome and supporting it. Hillary: "I support our democracy." Trump: "I want to make America great again." Etc. Not answering the question, until at last he says, "If she wins I will absolutely support her."
Much as I hate to (I think Trump is dangerous), I think he won this first debate.
On NBC, Trump is talking to his all-blonde-ish family, or so it seems.
The NBC commentators seem to be calling it a tie.
I'm betting the polls go up for Trump. We'll see. I'm going to bed.
I just realized why I get more done on weekends: less email to deal with. And fewer distractions overall.
I also realize that this is an obvious thing. Or should be. But it's not, at least to me. Mostly I'm aware of being able to sit down and write a lot of stuff undisturbed. When I'm focused, I'm not aware of much else.
What I need to do now (and have needed to do for many decades) is get some discipline around not being disturbed. Including by myself. And I'm the worst offender because I'm curious about everything. And I want to hoard links I can get to later, which I rarely do.
But with a book to write, I've gotta do that.
One of the dumbest things Yahoo has ever done (among all the other dumb things it has done over the decades), is forcing everybody on Flickr to move to a Yahoo email address and login after Yahoo bought the company eleven years ago.
This was not only a huge pain in the ass for its customers and users, but made Yahoo IDs the largest possible bigger toxic asset. Two ways.
First, it created a maximally tempting honey-pot for login/password thieves—who apparently made off with half a billion of those in 2014. (Which apparently they just found out.)
Second, it made Yahoo properties such as Flickr nearly un-sellable as stand-alone entities, because unscrewing every user and customer from the Yahoo.com namespace is complicated and expensive. When I published my hope that somebody (say, Adobe) buy Flickr, Stewart Butterfield, Flickr's co-creator (and now boss of Slack), tweeted, "'Buying' it would probably be free. Assuming liabilities and transitioning Ops maybe $500-800M?" (In a tweet today, he explains, "Undoing the ID/auth stuff would be tough, but I actually meant transitioning petabtyes of storage along w/ compute, bandwidth, etc.") Kind of like pulling up and moving a skyscraper, I gather.
I'm guessing that Verizon, which presumably is acquiring Flickr among the rest of Yahoo's assets, will keep the Yahoo brand and existing Flickr (Yahoo email) logins. (In other words, it won't un-Yahoo it.) But I dunno.
I also don't know why logging into my four different Flickr accounts using Yahoo email addresses has always been hard, but it is. And now changing those logins is even harder. I just tried again, and failed.
But I guess if nothing bad happened to me back in 2014, the old logins and passwords still haven't been exploited. But that doesn't mean they are not safe. Or that they are easy to protect.
As soon as it became clear that Trump was a breed apart, remarkable more for his powers of persuasion and enlistment than for anything else (his policies are all feints: magical misdirections away from his absolute vanity), I saw him as The Mule, star of Isaac Azimov's Foundation series. Here's how Wikipedia describes the Mule:
One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and "adjust" their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause. Not direct mind-control per se, it is a subtle influence of the subconscious; individuals under the Mule's influence behave otherwise normally - logic, memories, and personality intact.
Scott Adams more blandly calls Trump a "master persuader." The effect is the same, especially if Trump wins. Which I fear. And, hate to say, expect.
If you're interested, here's a reading list.
I just finished reading, for the Nth time, Self-Consciousness, a collection of memoirs by John Updike, whose writing I love for its constant cascade of lucid observations and the complex humanity of even his simplest characters. The book, now here at my left elbow, is fringed with so many page flags that I could sweep crumbs off my desk with it.
The last flag marks the last part of the last paragraph on the last page. It goes, "People are fun, but not quite serious or trustworthy in the way that nature is. We feel safe, huddled within human institutions—churches, bankes, madrigal groups—but these concoctions melt away at the basic moments. The self's responsibility, then, is to achieve rapport if not rapture with the giant, cosmic other: to appreciate, let's say, the walk back from the mailbox."
And yet the mailbox is a suction cup on a tentacle of the Post Office, which is itself a concocted human institution, no more natural than a wrench or a headstone.
Yuval Noah Harari, in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, says everything is natural, because nature is not separate from anything. It includes not just birds and bees and stars, but all the institutions, perversions and customs that humans make.
Updike wrote his memoir in 1989, when he was fifty-seven. He died in 2009, at seventy-six, of lung cancer, more than 30 years after he quit smoking, a practice he began at fifteen. He gave it up, but not it him.
In our long agrarian age, which commenced when the ice melted and the seas drowned the coasts, squeezing us inland to places we could settle and till, nature was what we knew, and depended on. We were intimate with and expert on what grew out of dirt, walked on it, flew over it. We built with rocks from which all dirt was shaved long ago. We knew the weather and the waters. Our first vehicles were boats, moved by paddles, muscle and wind.
Then, only a couple hundred years ago, we commenced the industrial age by making machines and coming to depend on them no less than we depended on nature. So intimate and expert with machines did we become that we defined ourselves, our institutions, our businesses, as machines as well.
And now our world has been squeezed again, into rectangles, each a portal to an elsewhere never before present in nature or machines. Through glowing rectangles distances are gone, yet nature still frames what we have there. Is what I see in my rectangle contained in its unmoving parts, or in the elsewhere called a cloud? The operators of clouds don't want us to know the difference, but just to trust them. They alone have machines big enough to manifest as clouds.
All is magic and misdirection in this new here that isn't. And yet we are intimate and expert with the rectangles too. We know the words and pictures on their surfaces are no more solid and permanent than a pixel, and yet we depend on all of it no less utterly than we still do on water, air, bikes, toasters and cars.
What is this new spaceless place made of bits and pixels, existing only in the current instant, every bit in it falling toward nullity and void like snow toward water? All we know for sure is that we made and depend on these billions of rectangles, among and between us.
Is this new world of rectangles the Cosmic Other? It just a mirror for what the Other sees when it looks at itself, every face and every moment different and new? Will we ever know, any more than we knew nature in the first place?
I haven't digested all of it yet, but Mary Meeker's latest (2016) Internet Trends Report has lots of grist for lots of mills. The first 40 slides are about the slightly downbeat world economic picture. The interesting part, for me, begins with slide 41, which visits advertising. But she covers much more through the rest of the 213 slide series. Take your time. You'll need it.
1) Don't be famous enough to be a target of Russian (or any) hackers.
2) Imagine everything you write is cc:world. In other words, don't say anything about anybody in writing that you're not okay with the whole world seeing. Seriously.
For those not old (or interested) enough to remember, Coca-Cola replaced their century-old recipe with a new one, called "New Coke." It failed absolutely, and the company went back to what it called "Coke Classic," and then just "Coke" again.
I'm wondering if Apple's replacement of the headphone jack with nothing will turn out to be its New Coke. I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Apple has called the headphone jack "ancient" tech. But hey, so is the hammer. Getting rid of something just because it's old is a shitty excuse for something else, such as controlling the market for peripheral devices.
At the very least, I see the move itself as retro.
The main hardware trend, over many years, has been integration. We have turned the PC, for example, from a large box of circuit boards a small IC: an integrated circuit on a chip.
But Apple went the other way when it moved the headphone jack to an accessory. Rather than integrating the phone, they dis-integrated it. In order to use their billions of headphones and connecting cords, hundreds of millions of iPhone 7 customers will need an external adapter. The phone comes with one that I'm told cost $9 to replace, but let's face it: millions of those will be lost on airplanes, in subways, and down cracks between seats in cars.
Will they get rid of the headphone jack for the iPod Nano too?
Not after customers punish Apple for the biggest value-subtract in the company's history.
But hey, I could be wrong. In my own case, buying one depends entirely on the camera. Colors on earlier iPhones have all been dull. If the colors on the new one compete with a good SLR, I'm game. If not, I'll stick with my shitty old 5s.
I had been blogging for two years already when 9/11 happened. Here's my report from that day, and the one from the day after, fifteen years ago. Looking back on that, I feel the same way now that I did then: we had the wrong guy in charge.
The 9/11 attacks were clearly meant to sucker-punch the U.S., but also to lure the country into war. A wiser president would have had a thoughtful, sophisticated and less costly response than going into what has turned out to be an enduring state of war in Afghanistan (and bordering parts of Pakistan) and Iraq (and now Syria and bordering parts of Turkey).
I could say more, but the moment is passed. (I wrote this on 9/11 and failed, amidst travels, to post it.)
"Individual channels will become as irrelevant as the manufacturer that supplies the shock absorbers and tie rods in your new BMW. They will simply be grist for the mill in the audience marketplace. Martech and ever-smarter algorithms will do the channel selection and media buying in the background. All you’ll care about will be the audience you’re targeting, the recommended creative (again, based on the martech running in the background), and the resulting behaviors. Once your audience has been targeted and engaged, the predicted path of persuasion is continually updated, and new channels are engaged as required. You won’t care what channels they are -- you’ll simply monitor the progression of persuasion."
Here's my comment below the piece:
1) We're not an "audience.. That's a delusional conceit that conflates advertising with what it funds, and for which there is actual demand on the receiving end. Demand for advertising rounds to zero—or less if you factor in ad blocking, tracking protection, ad skipping and other forms of avoidance and prophylaxis.
2) We do not wish to be "engaged." The belief that we do is just one example of the industry smoking its own exhaust.
3) None of us want to exhibit "resulting behaviors." It's an insult to our humanity to be treated as subjects of behavioral experiments, as if we were rats or pigeons.
Or, to compress all three points, quit driving drunk on digital: http://bit.ly/stdrunk. It's not attractive.
Please do what you do best (and wins the most awards): make ads that clearly sponsor the content they accompany (we can actually appreciate that), and are sufficiently creative to induce positive regard in our hearts and minds. It is a feature, not a bug, that advertising of the old-fashioned and time-proven sort is hard to measure at the personal level.
Make it clear that you're advertising to whole populations, and not individual people—and that you're sponsoring content you and your target populations both value. And you'll be fine.
Bonus link: http://j.mp/adbwars
The Berkman Klein Center, still my home on the Internet Range (whether I'm there in body or not), is having a thing at 5 (EDST) today that it's killing me not to be at. And another on the 23rd. I'm in New York for the first and California for the second.
The Giant Zero is my own take on Why the Internet Matters.
Market intelligence that flows both ways is my design for a $zillion market. Absolutely world-changing if somebody picks up on it. And it's had damn few reads, so far.
Apple is a clothing company may be the best thing I've written about Apple since Dave published Doc Searls on Steve Jobs, nineteen years ago yesterday. In response to a comment under that, I also wrote Its about the glowing rectangle in your pocket or purse. Found great fodder for both in this FastCompany piece.
I keep adding developers to the VRM list here.
I posted a comment under this piece in AdWeek.
Marshall McLuhan's best line was said about him, rather than by him. Still applies: We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us. I'm still shaped by blogging tools.
Loved getting to meet @EskoKilpi in Helsinki, shortly before I left. His new book is blowing my mind. Pull-quote: "“The Internet is nothing less than an extinction-level event for the traditional firm." That includes the Ubers of the world. They too can be disintermediated. Writing about that now, in fact.
The second coming of double entry bookkeeping is a chapter that didn't make it into The Intention Economy, currently the #1,046,864 best-selling book on Amazon. Even though I saw many of them in Helsinki (including two of the Japanese edition).
Go through these cities and see if you can find the ranked AM stations. They continue to sink down the lists. What's next? Radio itself. See my next post.
I just cancelled Netflix after watching nothing but the thing I got it for back during a free trial in March.
How Airbnb Kills Our Ideas of Privacy is an excerpt from The Four-Dimensional Human, by Laurence Scott. I could run out of adjectives to describe it (deep, insightful, erudite, masterful...) and not begin to convey how right-on and disturbing it is.
Airbnb is one of the increasing number of cyber-services that demands its users have fixed, 4D bodies—a chain-store identity. It is an apt illustration of how we are asked to materialize online as contained, knowable people, to enter into a community of fully realized digital subjects. We are required to accumulate an online history of consistent, amiable personhood, so that we can be recognized wherever we crop up in digital space. This paradigm rings a death knell for the bodiless shape-shifter of the early web, despite one of Airbnb’s slogans echoing the spirit of the first popular web browsers: “The only question is: where to go next?” A common reason that people travel is to try to outrun their old lives, to experience fresh starts, to be blissfully anonymous, a mysterious stranger blowing through town. But in order to journey with Airbnb, we are required always to bring ourselves with us. Our pasts become a travel document; we’re not allowed to shed our digital skins...
There’s some degree of pathos in Airbnb’s turning of the home inside out for financial gain and pitting it against the other items in the windows, which perhaps more reflects the western housing crisis than it does a utopian adoption of Bedouin hospitality...
Until recently I lived in the top flat two floors above a small-scale pizza takeaway, which made for impolitic moments when my Papa John’s delivery pulled up outside...
The flat stood empty for months, and then a doorknob appeared and footsteps returned to the stairwell. On two occasions I bumped into two different people who gave me the same name and who turned out to be squatters. After the lesser-spotted cockney owner evicted them, months of vacancy would be interrupted by the comings and goings of unseen and furtive new inhabitants. On one of those unholy nights when you know that the sleep demon is standing at the foot of your bed, I holstered a rolling pin in one of my mattress’s side-handles, entertaining wild thoughts about the latest mystery guest below.
During my second summer there, envelopes addressed to a professor began to appear. One morning I heard the yaps of a dog in the hallway. A writer had bought the flat of shadows, and she greeted me in a boiler suit, announcing that she was going to finish painting the floor and then go on Open Book. I tentatively returned the rolling pin to its drawer. Unsurprisingly the flat was only meant as a pied-à-terre, and during her absent times, the writer said, she would be accepting guests from Airbnb (“Do you know it?”). And so it was that my life continued to be perched above a thoroughfare, with none of the reassuring routines of constant neighbors.
At startling times the main door would open and strange, woollen voices would come through the walls, except that now they were often joined with the huffs and strains of suitcase haulage. Indeed, while the revolving door continued to spin, a significant change had occurred. The place had been transformed from a secretive refuge for the temporarily dispossessed and the desperate—a black-hole asylum whose boiler never ran and where letters could be lost and demands evaded—into a spruce and transparent little crash-pad for the global traveller.
I looked up the flat’s listing on Airbnb, and soon found the first name and picture of my professor, smiling politely in her good pearls. I could read both the reviews of her visitor-customers and her thoughts on them: the acts of kindness and mutual goodwill, as well as vivid details about one disastrous stay involving (separately) improper linen usage and a toilet bowl full of steeped urine. A man I had seen leaning against the tree outside the pizza shop was now in the gallery of client-friends, and by clicking on him I could see where he lives, goes to university, and peruse samples of his prose.
A key writer in the late-Victorian vogue for the fourth dimension was Edwin A. Abbott, whose 1884 novel Flatland is both a social satire and an allegory of inter-dimensional travel. In the story a three-dimensional being visits the two-dimensional plane-world of the book’s title, which is inhabited by sentient lines and triangles and priestly circles. The 3D visitor, a sphere, describes to a Flatlander his higher perception of two-dimensional space: “From that position of advantage I discerned all that you speak of as solid (by which you mean ‘enclosed on four sides’), your houses, your churches, your very chests and safes, yes even your insides and stomachs, all lying open and exposed to my view.” Airbnb relies precisely on this kind of exposure, a 4D scrutinizing of our three-dimensional world. The flat below me had become like Flatland. Its ceiling had been blown away and I could, if I liked, peer inside it, see its tables and chairs and carpet without ever passing through the front door. And in the case of bad reviews, it is often the private messiness of the body that is revealed, its unsporting excretions and stains, the clots of hairs in the plughole that soil the reputations of slovenly guests.
The growing popularity of Airbnb testifies to our sense of everywhereness, which enables a feeling of continual connection to the safe and the familiar. Wherever we go, part of us is always at home. A thousand miles from our loved ones, we can pull a stranger’s blanket up to our chin and manage not to feel eerie, soothed no doubt by the night lights of our phones and laptops. In this sense, our tentacular digital bodies help us to defeat an age-old dread of being cut off from the familiar and cast into an unknown environment.
These primordial fears have been famously depicted in the psychodramas of children’s stories...
The Beast (of Beauty and the Beast) is a creature of his fairy-tale world not only in appearance but also in his professed ability to short-circuit the anonymity of strangers. If you can be traced then you aren’t anonymous. In a 2013 interview, (AirBnB CEO) Chesky describes the milieu in which Airbnb operates, while presenting the same contradiction as the Beast: "You can call it the sharing economy. Or the trust economy. I think there’s something really special about that. A year from now everybody [on Airbnb] will be required to verify, meaning share their email and their online and offline identity.” Airbnb’s million dollars of insurance coverage for each of its hosts, and the demand for user transparency, seem to indicate the opposite of trust, which by its nature is the sum of our reckonings with the unknown.
Disney’s account of the fairy tale foresaw the perfect Airbnb stay in the song “Be Our Guest,” in which the Beauty, Belle, is serenaded by the anthropomorphized objects in the Beast’s palace. Jigging crocks are a Disney shorthand for joie de vivre, and these crocks are delighted to treat Belle to a spectacular feast. “No one’s gloomy or complaining while the flatware’s entertaining,” sings the candlestick. The motherly teapot can’t wait to start bubbling and the champagne bottles are popping their corks, all of them reveling in a quasi-erotic desire to be used. Those Airbnb-ers who stay in the lived-in homes of intermittently present or fully absent owners experience a muted version of this hospitality-by-proxy. In such a model, the guest communes with household objects that act as avatars, the feathered plumpness of the duvet, the pedigree of the kettle, the heft of the cutlery all speaking to the host’s virtue. In their Hospitality Standards section of the website, Airbnb tells us that “Every day, hosts around the world create magical experiences for thousands of guests.”
Freud naturally had much to say about the home and the idea of homeliness. The German word for homely is heimlich, and Freud, with the help of others such as the philosopher Friedrich Schelling, emphasized a glitch in its various definitions... Freud’s interest lay in the fact that the word unheimlich is also used to convey something that is concealed and therefore potentially malevolent. He concludes: “Thus heimlich is a word the meaning of which develops in the direction of ambivalence, until it finally coincides with its opposite, unheimlich.” The English word for unheimlich is “uncanny,” which in its Freudian sense, among other things, refers to strangely familiar experiences or, perhaps more horrifyingly, a sense of estrangement in what should be a familiar, homely situation. The upshot for Freud is that, like the Beast’s palace, all homes are unhomely: cosy, talkative candlelight throws deep shadows, and for all the merry teatimes there are people withholding things from each other, unable to express the most meaningful parts of themselves.
Airbnb has set up shop in this uncanny valley. The guarded and enclosed aspect of homeliness diminishes with Airbnb’s mandating of the inside-out house, the home whose rooms one can browse online, but even this transparency entails a certain uncanniness. As Freud remarks, “Everything is uncanny that ought to have remained hidden and secret, and yet comes to light.”...
In the comments sections, the secrets of private life are broadcast, and strangers become familiar. Indeed, the whole enterprise is predicated on a classically uncanny oscillation between strangeness and familiarity. Airbnb invites its travellers to feel at home in the domestic space of a stranger, but in order for this situation to be tolerable, the uncanniness needs to be minimized. In other words, the stranger has to be converted into its opposite. Since in this paradigm being unknown is the same thing as being untrustworthy, the Airbnb website offers such assurances as “We make it easy to get to know hosts like Michelle.” For her part, Michelle seems like an honest person, standing in her modern kitchen arranging daisies. One might wish to overlook the blur of three sharp knives stuck to a magnetic strip behind her left shoulder. Chesky’s social vision certainly holds the stranger at knifepoint, since for all the chumminess there’s a threat at the heart of his ethos. “Some people,” he says, “will choose to be anonymous their whole life. That’s okay. But if you don’t opt into this online identity, you’ll have less access to the services that require it. The rest of us build a history. We build a brand online.’”
Some people will choose lifelong anonymity? What freaks! While not having much time for the naturally retiring among us, Chesky also seems to think that history and branding are the same thing. While branding often invokes “tradition”—Mr. Kipling wandering through a dappled orchard, or the peasant matriarch simmering blood-red pasta sauce—such commercial narratives are usually a smokescreen to the unlovely history of mass production. If brands are not, as Chesky implies, synonymous with history—if by history we mean what actually happened—then they’re perhaps more aligned with what Chesky sees as a “built” history. The manufactured nature of cyber-identities, while deemed vital to Airbnb’s aims, is simultaneously an obstacle because of the connotations between manufacturing and illusion. What is to stop these selfie-brands from being dismantled and rebuilt in new shapes? How would you know it was me? For those who demand that the 4D body be as robust as its 3D precursor, there is always the threat of being duped by a dummy. As of 2014, Airbnb users in America were required to have their government ID scanned in an attempt to freeze the quicksilver out of their online selves. Responding to this move, Chesky said, “We don’t think you can be trusted in a place where you’re anonymous.” For a pioneer trust-economist, he seems wary of overestimating the scope of human integrity. This policy change is designed to intertwine the founding biometrics of citizenship with our brand image, composed of online displays of sanity: wholesome Facebook musings and non-violent tweets, scores of friends and followers, combining to make a thickly woven reed boat, whose density of woof and warp somehow assures the world that someone of substance is on board.
My wife and I spent most of the summer traveling for work and pleasure, staying entirely in AirBnBs. The main reason is that they are far cheaper than staying in a hotel, or even in a cheap motel. They also tend not to be in hotel districts. Or, if they are, they are very un-hotel-like. The places we stayed in Montreal and London were dorm or dorm-like spaces with private bathrooms in perfectly central locations.
All were fine, and none were scary. And there is some adventure to traveling that way. One, for example, was at at the end of a zigzag hallway, reached by 49 zigzag stairs, rising several floors above a family's restaurant, and featuring no AC, poor ventilation and a mattress that was just a box spring. (We put our air mattress on top, which worked out fine.) Yet, even in that case, the family who rented the place to us was extremely kind and helpful, and kindly mailed us the camera charger I forgot there.
Still, had we known when we got into it that our private lives would be as exposed as AirBnB thinks they should be, we never would have started using it in the first place. And now, after reading Laurence Scott's piece, we're even more sure of that.
We take solace in knowing that the world is only 21 years into the Internet age, and we've barely begun to work out what either identity or privacy mean in this new space we all share, with zero distance between everyone on it.
We also just ordered the book, and recommend that you do too. It's the top link above.