January 20, 2018

Facebook copes, categorizes content

But with the company's vast reach has come another kind of problem: Facebook is becoming too big for its computer algorithms and relatively small team of employees and contractors to manage the trillions of posts on its social network.

Earlier Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg, the company's chief executive, acknowledged the problem. In a Facebook post, he said that over the next year, the company would add 3,000 people to the team that polices the site for inappropriate or offensive content, especially in the live videos the company is encouraging users to broadcast.

"If we're going to build a safe community, we need to respond quickly," he wrote. "We're working to make these videos easier to report so we can take the right action sooner -- whether that's responding quickly when someone needs help or taking a post down." He offered no details on what would change.

Continue reading "Facebook copes, categorizes content" »

January 7, 2018

Attention theft TV

Consider, for example, the "innovation" known as Gas Station TV--that is, the televisions embedded in gasoline pumps that blast advertising and other pseudo-programming at the captive pumper. There is no escape: as the CEO of Gas Station TV puts it, "We like to say you're tied to that screen with an 8-foot rubber hose for about five minutes." It is an invention that singlehandedly may have created a new case for the electric car.

As neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and psychologist Larry Rosen put it in their book, The Distracted Mind, humans have an "extreme sensitivity to goal interference from distractions by irrelevant information."

In some ways this is a problem we have faced before: In the 1940s cities banned noisy advertising trucks bearing loudspeakers; the case against advertising screens and sound-trucks is basically the same. It is a small thing cities and towns can do to make our age of bombardment a bit more bearable.

Continue reading "Attention theft TV" »

December 2, 2017

Content moderation for user-generated content

Lurking inside every website or app that relies on "user-generated content"--so, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, among others--there is a hidden kind of labor, without which these sites would not be viable businesses. Content moderation was once generally a volunteer activity, something people took on because they were embedded in communities that they wanted to maintain.

But as social media grew up, so did moderation. It became what the University of California, Los Angeles, scholar Sarah T. Roberts calls, "commercial content moderation," a form of paid labor that requires people to review posts--pictures, videos, text--very quickly and at scale.

Roberts has been studying the labor of content moderation for most of a decade, ever since she saw a newspaper clipping about a small company in the Midwest that took on outsourced moderation work.

-- Sarah T. Roberts

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August 22, 2017

Rapha may not be a household name

Rapha may not be a household name, in the tribal cycling community it is seen as a "Marmite" brand, at the centre of fierce forum debates where detractors see it as the fiefdom of wealthy metrosexuals or the "Raphia".

Its sells everything from £20 embrocation cream - which redirects blood back into your lower extremities by stimulating blood vessels - to bespoke holidays in the Alps. It even has its own riding club with 9,000 members paying £135 a year for perks including free coffee in its clubhouses.

"We are totally in love with the sport," Mottram said in a recent Guardian interview. "We love the product and think the product should be as good as the sport. I care about how I look and perhaps that makes me a shallow person but why on a bike should you not?"

August 19, 2017

Modern digital marketing workplace: a daycare for hyperactive young adults

a daycare for hyperactive young adults. I was told to wait on a nearby bench, a bench with no back I might add. As I surveyed my surroundings, I noted, there was not one inch of private space. There were Ping-Pong tables, candy stations, a variety of snacks, organic coffees and green smoothies in mason jars. Young staffers whipped by, paddle in hand, ready for a quick game before their next meeting. Was it just me or were they actually wearing roller blades? I couldn't help but wonder when the workplace transitioned into a playground.

-- Vickie Fagan

August 18, 2017

Long tail media meeds programatic ad buying

Much online advertising capitalizes on the lure of the so-called long tail of the internet -- sites that draw relatively small but attractive audiences, like blogs for new parents or forums for truck enthusiasts. Advertising on those sites costs a fraction of what it does on more prominent online destinations, which typically deal directly with advertisers.

Teenagers overseas and entrepreneurs in the United States discovered this year that they could earn thousands of dollars a month by writing wholly fictionalized or wildly exaggerated partisan political news intended to be spread on Facebook. They then reaped money from Google Ads and other networks after credulous readers in the United States clicked through to their sites.

"A lot of ad buying systems are trying to show the right ad to the right person at the right time, and you see that mantra of those three variables across the industry," said Michael Tiffany, the chief executive and a founder of White Ops, an ad fraud detection company. "Note how 'on the right site' doesn't make the list."

Continue reading "Long tail media meeds programatic ad buying" »

August 8, 2017

To act now, visualize your future self

Help stop procrastination psychology.

We know from psychological research by Andrew Elliot and others that progress on our goals feeds our well-being.

Peter Gollwitzer and his colleagues for years have shown us that implementation intentions make a huge difference to even deal with things like distractions.

Robert Pozen, who's written a book on extreme productivity, has the OHIO rule: only handle it once.

Continue reading "To act now, visualize your future self " »

August 2, 2017

Bo Stefan Eriksson, Carl Freer, and Gizmondo (not Gizmodo)

So while there was the illusion of fair exchange, there really was no exchange at all: Eriksson and Freer got diehard loyalty and free labor in exchange for Gizmondo stock, while their underlings were allowed to drive outrageous automobiles that they nonetheless didn't own. Models, supercars, diamond watches, paper stocks, parties: these were the currencies in Gizmondo nation, and everyone thought of themselves as fucking rich.

Continue reading "Bo Stefan Eriksson, Carl Freer, and Gizmondo (not Gizmodo)" »

July 18, 2017

Facebook doesn't tell users everything it really knows about them

Facebook's page explaining "what influences the ads you see" says the company gets the information about its users "from a few different sources."

What the page doesn't say is that those sources include detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers about users' offline lives. Nor does Facebook show users any of the often remarkably detailed information it gets from those brokers.

-- Julia Angwin, ProPublica.

July 7, 2017

AirBnB personalises, tunes search results

Airbnb learned over time that machine learning could be used to offer this personalization, Mike Curtis said. Airbnb introduced its machine learned search ranking model toward the end of 2014 and has been continuously developing it since. Today Airbnb personalizes all search results.

Airbnb factors in signals about the guests themselves, as well as guests similar to them, when offering up results.

For example, guests provide explicit signals in their search -- the length of stay, the number of bedrooms they need. But as they examine their search results, they may show interest in similar, desirable attributes that the guests themselves might not even notice.

"There's a bunch of other signals that you're giving us based on just which listings you click on," Curtis says. "For example, what kind of setting is it in? What kind of decor is in the house? These are things Airbnb can use to feed into the model to come up with a better prediction of which listings to show you first."

The company pulls well over a hundred signals into the search rank model, Curtis says, and then the machine learning algorithm figures out how all the signals interact, to produce personalized search rankings

June 24, 2017

How did the culture at your last company empower or disempower you?

Four questions, ht Inc.

  • How did the culture at your last company empower or disempower you ?

  • What were the characteristics of the best boss you've ever had ?

  • Describe how you handled a conflict with one of your co-workers ?

  • What kind of feedback do you expect to receive in this role and how often do you expect to receive it?

March 29, 2017

Adsense for the masses

Major publishers admit to 'advertiser-friendly' skew:

If you want to take something good and make it less good, there's no more reliable method than to chop it up into tiny bits and then recombine them. A door made of particleboard isn't as strong as one made of solid pine. An MP3 of a song lacks the sonic richness of a high-fidelity record. A hamburger may or may not be as delicious as a rib-eye, depending on your personal taste, but it's definitely likelier to contain fecal bacteria and pink slime.

The global advertising industry is currently experiencing its own version of food poisoning from tainted ground beef. Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, and AT&T are among the giant marketers that have stopped buying ad space on Google's ad network and on YouTube in response to reports of ads appearing alongside hate speech, ISIS recruiting propaganda, and other objectionable content. Racing to contain the boycott, Google issued an apology on Tuesday and said it is taking steps to ensure greater "brand safety" in the future. Those steps include "taking a tougher stance on hateful, offensive and derogatory content," changing the default settings for ad campaigns, and giving marketers new controls allowing them to exclude specific websites or types of content from their campaigns.

Continue reading "Adsense for the masses" »

March 23, 2017

Job male applicants feminine language; upshot disconnect ?

Job postings for home health aides say applicants need to be
"sympathetic" and "caring," "empathetic" and focused on "families."

It turns out that doesn't lead very many men to apply.

Employers have something to do with that: An analysis of listings for the 14 fastest-growing jobs from 2014 to 2024 found that they used feminine language, which has been statistically shown to attract women and deter men. The study was done by Textio, which has analyzed 50 million job listings for language that provokes disproportionate responses from men or women.

Compare that with job listings for cartographers, one of the few fast-growing jobs that is male-dominated. It is 62 percent male and expected to grow 29 percent by 2024. Common key words were manage, forces, exceptional, proven and superior. These words tend to appeal to men and generally result in a male hire, Textio found.

Job descriptions for the two fastest-growing jobs that men mostly do -- wind turbine technicians and commercial divers -- also used masculine language.

Upshot's job-disconnect-male-applicants-feminine-language.

Continue reading "Job male applicants feminine language; upshot disconnect ?" »

March 20, 2017

Big Five book publishers are made up of imprints, for Milo

Publishing 101: The Big Five houses are made up of imprints

To understand publishing's right-wing imprints, first you have to understand how modern American book publishing is organized.

American trade book publishing is dominated by five publishing houses, known as the Big Five: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster. Of these, Penguin Random House is the biggest, Macmillan is the smallest, and Simon & Schuster sits comfortably in the middle.

Together, these five publishing houses make up over 80 percent of the US trade publishing market share -- meaning that they produce over 80 percent of the kinds of general-interest books that get sold in Barnes & Noble. The remainder is published by smaller independent presses, and those independent presses usually have specific areas of specialty. But the Big Five houses don't need to specialize, because they can do that on an imprint level instead of a company level.

Continue reading "Big Five book publishers are made up of imprints, for Milo" »

March 16, 2017

Fake campaign news was clickbait to spamvertizers

Sometimes it was hard to tell who was doing the trolling and for what purposes. Aleta Pearce, 54, who lives in Malibu, California, was an administrator of half a dozen pro-Sanders Facebook groups and a member of many others. In May 2016, she posted a memo to various Facebook groups about the fake news issue, warning of bogus sites.

"The pattern I'm seeing is if a member is repeatedly posting articles that are only from one URL that person is just there to push advertising," Pearce wrote. "They probably have a sock account with little to no content. They are often from Russia or Macedonia." (A "sock" or "sock puppet" account uses a false identity to deceive.)

Pearce added, "Please share this with other Bernie groups so we can put an end to this spam bombing that's filling up our pages and groups. It's time to chase the mice out of the hen house and send them a message. They don't know who they are messing with."

The first tidal wave of spam was mostly anti-Bernie, Pearce recalled, posted by Clinton backers. (David Brock's Clinton-backing super PAC had likely paid for some portion of those.) But after Clinton became the Democratic nominee in July, Pearce noticed a switch to anti-Hillary messages with links to fake news and to real news with obnoxious pop-up ads.

"Every site publishing those ― you clicked on the article, you would be slammed with ads and strange articles," Pearce told HuffPost. "It was overwhelming. It was 24/7."

Continue reading "Fake campaign news was clickbait to spamvertizers" »

March 14, 2017

Wired chronicles the blue pill stance

In designing to maximize engagement, social networks inadvertently created hives of bias-confirmation and tribalism.

"There are things we were optimizing for that had unintended consequences,"

-- Justin Kan, a venture capitalist at Y Combinator and co-founder of Twitch.

March 9, 2017

Re-intermediation: lead generators

Consider, for example, a person who googles "need rent money fast" or "can't pay rent."

Among the search results that Google returns, there may be ads that promise to help provide payday loans--ads designed to circumvent Google's policies against predatory financial advertising.

They're placed by companies called lead generators, and they work by collecting and distributing personal information about consumers online. So while Google says it bans ads that guarantee foreclosure prevention or promise short-term loans without conveying accurate loan terms, lead generators may direct consumers to a landing page where they're asked to input sensitive identifiable information.

Then, payday lenders buy that information from the lead generators and, in some cases, target those consumers--online, via phone, and by mail--for the very sorts of short-term loans that Google prohibits.

Continue reading "Re-intermediation: lead generators" »

September 17, 2016

Rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos

Vanityfair's Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos profile for cheap blood testing.

September 3, 2016

Innovation, by GaryV

Some sort of meme will develop out of the "takeover culture" and it'll get really big. Think "Smirnoff Icing"--somebody or some brand is going to create a viral meme like that, but done on Instagram Stories. Maybe it's just running up to someone with your friends, scaring them, and running away. I don't know what exactly, but it's going to catch on.

-- GaryV

July 31, 2016

Future is mining cloud data

The next big competition in cloud computing also involves artificial intelligence, fed by loads of data. Soon, Mr. Kurian said, Oracle will offer applications that draw from what it knows about the people whose actions are recorded in Oracle databases. The company has anonymized data from 1,500 companies, including three billion consumers and 400 million business profiles, representing $3 trillion in consumer purchases.

"Most of the world's data is already inside Oracle databases," said Thomas Kurian, , Oracle's president of product development

That's the kind of hold on people's information that perhaps only Facebook can match. But Mark Zuckerberg doesn't sell business software. At least, not yet.

July 8, 2016

Culture Digitally Facebook trending its made of people but we should-have-already-known-that/

Culturedigitally: facebook trending its made of people but we should have already known that.

July 2, 2016

Facebook makes the news

According to a statement from Tom Stocky, who is in charge of the trending topics list, Facebook has policies "for the review team to ensure consistency and neutrality" of the items that appear in the trending list.

But Facebook declined to discuss whether any editorial guidelines governed its algorithms, including the system that determines what people see in News Feed. Those algorithms could have profound implications for society. For instance, one persistent worry about algorithmic-selected news is that it might reinforce people's previously held points of view. If News Feed shows news that we're each likely to Like, it could trap us into echo chambers and contribute to rising political polarization. In a study last year, Facebook's scientists asserted the echo chamber effect was muted.

But when Facebook changes its algorithm -- which it does routinely -- does it have guidelines to make sure the changes aren't furthering an echo chamber? Or that the changes aren't inadvertently favoring one candidate or ideology over another? In other words, are Facebook's engineering decisions subject to ethical review? Nobody knows.

The other reason to be wary of Facebook's bias has to do with sheer size. Ms. Caplan notes that when studying bias in traditional media, scholars try to make comparisons across different news outlets. To determine if The Times is ignoring a certain story unfairly, look at competitors like The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. If those outlets are covering a story and The Times isn't, there could be something amiss about The Times's news judgment.

Such comparative studies are nearly impossible for Facebook. Facebook is personalized, in that what you see on your News Feed is different from what I see on mine, so the only entity in a position to look for systemic bias across all of Facebook is Facebook itself. Even if you could determine the spread of stories across all of Facebook's readers, what would you compare it to?

"Facebook has achieved saturation," Ms. Caplan said. No other social network is as large, popular, or used in the same way, so there's really no good rival for comparing Facebook's algorithmic output in order to look for bias.

What we're left with is a very powerful black box. In a 2010 study, Facebook's data scientists proved that simply by showing some users that their friends had voted, Facebook could encourage people to go to the polls. That study was randomized -- Facebook wasn't selectively showing messages to supporters of a particular candidate.

Facebook tinkered with users emotions in 2014 news feed experiment

NY Times Technology on Facebook's tinkering with users emotions in 2014 news feed experiment: outcry stirred.

June 29, 2016

Economics of News: New Statesman Alan Rusbridger on paywalls and funding schemes

Knives out for the Beeb; is Facebook a threat or opportunity ?

Is there an economic model for serious news? Let's hope so - but the gales blowing through my old industry are now truly frightening. When I stepped down from the Guardian just over a year ago, my Guardian Media Group colleagues were happy to go on the record to emphasise their confidence in increasing digital revenues and a future based on growth. But something profound and alarming has been happening in recent months and all our eyes ought to be on the West Coast giants - especially, but not only, Facebook - that are cleaning up quite extraordinarily.

-- Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the Guardian and principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

June 21, 2016

Fat Bikes Arise

Background:'s fat bikes explained.

Icebike's Mountain-bikes / fat-bikes.

Monterey Mountain Bike
Fat Bikes for 2015

May 30, 2016

Business attire

"There's a strain of thought that says an employee represents a company, and thus dress is not about personal expression, but company expression," Professor Scafidi said. "But there's a counterargument that believes because we identify so much with our careers, we should be able to be ourselves at work."

And that has led to all sorts of complications. One person's "appropriate" can easily be another's "disgraceful," and words like "professional," when used to describe dress requirements, can seem so vague as to be almost meaningless. Kanye West wearing ripped jeans and a jeweled Balmain jacket at the Met Gala: cool or rude? Julia Roberts at the premiere of "Money Monster" at Cannes this year in bare feet: red carpet pioneer or a step too far?

May 11, 2016

Carl Barneyisms

The greatest tragedy in all schools today is the 'D.D.D.'" -- a dropout who is in debt and doesn't get a degree.

Many of his work ideas are cataloged in "P.D.s" (procedure directives), "D.L.s" (data letters), "I.L.s," (information letters) and "M.M.s" (management memos). "M.M. 302," for example, is titled "Student Satisfaction and Success -- S.S.S." and offers the antidote to what he calls the "dreaded D.D.D."

"If something worked, we then systematized it," Mr. Carl Barney said.

"P.D. 154 R" lays out a two-year training program for employees who want to advance to associate directors. Among other things, they will be expected to read Rand's manifesto, the 1,200-page novel "Atlas Shrugged," which depicts a rotted-out America where creative geniuses stage a nationwide strike against corrupt "moochers and looters."

Continue reading "Carl Barneyisms" »

May 7, 2016

Khole branding deep think

Khole has deep think abound branding and trends.

May 1, 2016

Christian Louboutin, branding more important than product

"Today it is not good enough to simply churn out product. An authentic and honest brand narrative is fundamental today, otherwise you will simply be edited out. It was time for a course correction in the fashion industry as the desire to go faster and faster simply to outdo the other became the driving force rather than putting the dialogue with the customer at the center."

Armando Branchini, vice chairman of Fondazione Altagamma, the Italian luxury brand organization, said that such a narrative could clearly be seen in Mr. Michele's creative vision, "the collections themselves, the environment in which he presents them, his advertising campaigns and store windows and his approach to digital and social media content."

"There is a consistent narrative that runs throughout, which connects strongly with the customer," he added.

As proof of Mr. Bizzarri's comment, sales at the Kering-owned Gucci have risen markedly since Mr. Michele's appointment early last year.

In exploring new fronts, Christian Louboutin has teamed up with his longtime friend Valérie Schlumberger, whose charity project La Maison Rose assists women and children in Senegal.

Continue reading "Christian Louboutin, branding more important than product" »

April 28, 2016

Facebook: for personal content, or commercial professional

In the past few months, Facebook has quietly shifted into crisis mode. According to The Information, "original broadcast sharing"--i.e., posts consisting of users' own words and images--fell 21 percent from 2014 to 2015, contributing to a 5.5 percent decrease in total sharing. In response, the company created a task force in London whose mission is to devise a strategy to stem the ebb and get people sharing again. Among the measures taken so far: a change in the News Feed algorithm that privileges original status updates over professional content like news links and viral videos, and Wednesday's mishap-marred rollout of a new live-video-streaming feature.

It's a stunning reversal of fortune for Facebook, whose strategic emphasis for the past few years has been on getting media companies and celebrities to put more of their premium content on Facebook. The better (read: more professional) the quality of what's in your News Feed, the more advertisers would pay to be next to it, went the thinking.

-- Jeff Bercovici at Inc.

April 24, 2016

On Time

Few Northern Europeans or North Americans can reconcile themselves to the multi-active use of time. Germans and Swiss, unless they reach an understanding of the underlying psychology, will be driven to distraction. Germans see compartmentalization of programs, schedules, procedures and production as the surest route to efficiency. The Swiss, even more time and regulation dominated, have made precision a national symbol. This applies to their watch industry, their optical instruments, their pharmaceutical products, their banking. Planes, buses and trains leave on the dot. Accordingly, everything can be exactly calculated and predicted.

In countries inhabited by linear-active people, time is clock- and calendar- related, segmented in an abstract manner for our convenience, measurement, and disposal. In multi-active cultures like the Arab and Latin spheres, time is event- or personality-related, a subjective commodity which can be manipulated, molded, stretched, or dispensed with, irrespective of what the clock says.


Continue reading "On Time" »

April 15, 2016

Facebook: leading the ranking algorithm

At first I was pretty proud of myself for messing with Facebook's algorithms. But after a little reflection I couldn't escape the feeling I hadn't really gamed anything. I'd created a joke that a lot of people enjoyed. They signaled their enjoyment, which gave Facebook the confidence to show the enjoyable joke to more people. There was nothing "incorrect" about that fake news being at the top of people's feeds. The system--in its murky recursive glory--did what it was supposed to do. And on the next earnings call Mark Zuckerberg can still boast high user engagement numbers.

-- Caleb Garling.

Continue reading "Facebook: leading the ranking algorithm" »

April 8, 2016

Mark Bittman: Cooking! not shopping, not planning, not thinking, but it is."

It is cooking.
It's not shopping.
It's not planning.
And in a way it's not thinking.
But it is cooking."

-- Mark Bittman, the cookbook author, left his job as a New York Times columnist in 2015

If you want dinner built largely from food grown by Georgia farmers and recipes from Southern chefs, subscribe to PeachDish, which ships nationwide. If you live in Boston and prefer to avoid cross-country shipping, join Just Add Cooking and get boxes built with a New England sensibility and delivered by local courier. Devotees of the culinary sensibilities of Northern California can join Sun Basket, where one of its owners, Justine Kelly, the former chef du cuisine at Charles Phan's Slanted Door in San Francisco, develops the recipes.

Continue reading "Mark Bittman: Cooking! not shopping, not planning, not thinking, but it is."" »

April 6, 2016

Facebook understands the attention economy and works for advertisers

Live is all about interruption -- sometimes annoying, sometimes welcome, always attention-grabbing. Media companies say they have been shocked by the amount of interest in their Live experiments, including a flurry of earnest comments and questions for live streamers.

April 4, 2016

Inventory management 2

BMW regularly pays dealers to buy cars and keep them as demonstration models or lend them to customers who are having their vehicles serviced.

But several years ago, BMW created a category in its sales reporting system called Specialty 8, according to communications between BMW and its dealers. These vehicles are counted as sold for BMW's monthly total, but remain on the lot and continue to be offered as new cars, the dealers said. BMW typically pays the dealer $1,000 to $3,000 for each Specialty 8 car marked as sold.

On Thursday, the day before monthly sales are reported on Friday, BMW made a one-day offer to dealers to entice them to buy cars for loaner fleets. A BMW spokesman, Kenn Sparks, confirmed that Specialty 8 was a "subcategory" for sales of vehicles used as demonstrator models and test drives.

Previously: Self dealing car dealers make sales

March 29, 2016

Pay to play, Hollywood disrupted casting

Forget casting directors schlepping to 99-seat theaters to check out plays, another once-common, now nearly extinct form of assessment. "Productions aren't paying for them to make discoveries on their time," says manager Alan Mills, a partner with Marshak.

Technological disruption has changed the landscape, too. Perhaps the most significant change occurred in 2003, when Gary Marsh's Breakdown Services, which has a virtual monopoly as a clearinghouse for casting notices for upcoming TV projects, went from messenger delivery to digital. This has been a boon for efficiency but cut a key human element out of a human resource function. "Breakdown streamlined a ton of things," says Scott David, who casts CBS' Criminal Minds and also owns a workshop studio, The Actors Link in North Hollywood, where he runs classes. "Agents used to come to people's offices and discuss their clients with a book of their clients. Now you can get a reel on somebody in seconds via online."

March 23, 2016

Lumosity lawyer needed 2

In one TV commercial, a man declared that with Lumosity "decisions come quicker. I'm more productive." The company website stated that brain training could help "patients with brain trauma, chemofog, mild cognitive impairment and more," adding that "healthy people have also used brain training to sharpen their daily lives and ward off cognitive decline."

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission said: No more.

Its complaint charged that the company could not substantiate such marketing claims. "The research it has done falls short because it doesn't show any real-world benefits," said Michelle Rusk, an F.T.C. staff lawyer.

She called the commission's yearlong investigation "part of an effort to crack down on cognitive products, especially when they're targeted to an aging population."

Lumosity agreed to give its one million current subscribers, who pay $14.95 a month or $79.95 annually, a quick way to opt out. It also accepted a $50 million judgment, all but $2 million suspended after the commission reviewed the company's financial records.

Previously: Lumosity lawyer needed ?

Continue reading "Lumosity lawyer needed 2" »

March 4, 2016

VPN, Netflix, and PayPal

Since VPN providers can easily obtain and use new IP addresses, simply blocking the IP addresses they use is a futile game of cat-and-mouse. However, what happens when those same VPN providers aren't able to accept money from their customers? That's an issue that at least one company is facing.

UnoTelly is a company that provides VPN and SmartDNS services to their customers. There are many reasons why a person would need to use these types of services. But since it can be used to circumvent regional restrictions on services like Netflix, Paypal has stepped in and cut them off.

Earlier this week Paypal sent UnoTelly an email stating the following: "Under the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy, or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction."

December 12, 2015

Clicks on mobile ads: accidental, when attempting to close the ad

Clicks on mobile ads: accidental, when attempting to close the ad

Mike Pilawski, vice president for product at Vungle, which builds and serves mobile video ads, says some advertisers ask Vungle to make the whole screen clickable at the end of the ad -- not just the X or other specific buttons -- which would make the ad difficult to close. He says Vungle refuses to do that, but it does design ads with X buttons in the top left instead of the usual top right. The switch confounds some users, though he insists that is not the intent.

November 16, 2015

Next Economy Conference, by Maciej (Idlewords)

Storified Maciej on the Next Economy Conference.

August 22, 2015

a16z on Wechat's China mobile first

Known in Chinese as Weixin (微信) -- "micro letter" -- WeChat is first and foremost a messaging app for sending text, voice, and photos to friends and family. It was launched just 4 years ago by Chinese investment holding company Tencent, one of the largest internet companies in the world. As of earlier this year, WeChat had 549 million monthly active users (MAUs) among over one billion registered users, almost all of them in Asia. To put that in context: That's only 150M MAUs fewer than Facebook Messenger, almost 3x the MAUs of Japan's Line, and 10x the MAUs of Korea's Kakao.

August 16, 2015

Online dating goes mobile

Mobile dating went mainstream about five years ago; by 2012 it was overtaking online dating. In February, one study reported there were nearly 100 million people--perhaps 50 million on Tinder alone--using their phones as a sort of all-day, every-day, handheld singles club, where they might find a sex partner as easily as they'd find a cheap flight to Florida. "It's like ordering Seamless," says Dan, the investment banker, referring to the online food-delivery service. "But you're ordering a person."

The comparison to online shopping seems an apt one. Dating apps are the free-market economy come to sex. The innovation of Tinder was the swipe--the flick of a finger on a picture, no more elaborate profiles necessary and no more fear of rejection; users only know whether they've been approved, never when they've been discarded. OkCupid soon adopted the function. Hinge, which allows for more information about a match's circle of friends through Facebook, and Happn, which enables G.P.S. tracking to show whether matches have recently "crossed paths," use it too. It's telling that swiping has been jocularly incorporated into advertisements for various products, a nod to the notion that, online, the act of choosing consumer brands and sex partners has become interchangeable.

Continue reading "Online dating goes mobile" »

March 28, 2015

American research universities are rankable

The American research university had evolved into a complicated and somewhat peculiar organization. It was built to be all things to all people: to teach undergraduates, produce knowledge, socialize young men and women, train workers for jobs, anchor local economies, even put on weekend sports events. And excellence was defined by similarity to old, elite institutions. Universities were judged by the quality of their scholars, the size of their endowments, the beauty of their buildings and the test scores of their incoming students.

That created an opening for those who wanted to mimic the established schools. Buildings and scholars could be bought, and as long as the students were relatively smart when they enrolled, few questions would be asked about what they learned in college itself. Indeed, because the standard university organizational model left teaching responsibilities to autonomous academic departments and individual faculty members, each of which taught and tested in its own way, few questions could be asked that would produce comparable results.

So John Silber embarked on a huge building campaign while bringing luminaries like Saul Bellow and Elie Wiesel on board to teach and lend their prestige to the B.U. name, creating a bigger, more famous and much more costly institution. He had helped write a game plan for the aspiring college president.

March 15, 2015

How 2015 is not like 1999

In 1999 a dotcom with no revenue could burn $100 million in one year, with $2 million of that going to a Super Bowl ad. Its namesake website could offer a terrible user experience, and still the company could go public. Investors would chase the rising stock price, which would drive up the price further, which in turn drew more investors, feeding a textbook 'speculative bubble' that burst the moment everyone realised there wasn't any there there.

This kind of stuff isn't happening any more. It's not that the internet has become less important, or investors less 'irrationally exuberant' -- it's that start-ups have gotten cheaper. A web start-up today has almost no fixed capital costs. There's no need to invest in broadband infrastructure, since it's already there. There's no need to buy TV ads to get market share, when you can grow organically via search (Google) and social networks (Facebook). 'Cloud' web servers, like nearly all other services a virtual company might need -- such as credit-card processing, automated telephone support, mass email delivery -- can be paid for on demand, at prices pegged to Moore's Law.

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April 20, 2014

Sell yourself the google $GOOG way

Bock: "Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn. One of the things that makes people more effective is if you can do both. ... If you're great on both attributes, you'll have a lot more options. If you have just one, that's fine, too." But a lot fewer people have this kind of structured thought process and creativity.

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April 16, 2014


Stratechery is an oddly titled blog.

Strata Cherry ? With a cherry on top ?
Strategery ? With George W. Bush ?
Stratarchy ? Strategy with anarchy ? Or with archery ?

Talks about bitcoin and Apple>.

February 10, 2014

On twitter

Evan Fitzmaurice, an Austin-based lawyer and longtime friend who until recently was the Texas Film Commissioner, has attended many a SXSW. He tells me one night over dinner that while he's wired to the hilt ("I've gotta connect to the Matrix"), he sees the downside of perpetual connectedness. "You're truncating natural thought.

Things don't gestate anymore. It's instantaneous, without the benefit of reflection. And everything's said at volume 10. Nothing's graduated anymore. It's a clamor." Though not religious himself, he says what I witness at SXSW would be recognized by any religious person. "They're trying to supplant deliverance and redemption through religion with civil religion and technological redemption--the promise of a sublime life on a higher plane."

January 8, 2014

Uber price spiking 2

Market efficiency is not always the same thing as consumer benefit -- a lesson worth learning in the digital age, for Uber riders as well as everyone else. There are far more sly forms of technology-enabled price discrimination out there, from airlines charging more if you are using a savvy web browser to online retailers charging you more if you are from a posh ZIP code. But on the Internet, the deck is still stacked on the consumer's side, given the web's powerful ability to facilitate comparison shopping. Shocked by Uber's surge prices, after all, there's nothing from holding an Uber user back from hoofing it home free or trying her luck waving her arms at the passing, fixed-price cabs on the street.

November 11, 2013

WIX cohort analysis

The $1 million it dropped on marketing in Q1 2010 has already generated over $11 million in realized and deferred revenue from that cohort:


March 29, 2013

Marissa Mayers' Nine Points

Marissa Mayers' nine points

# Ideas come from everywhere
# Share everything you can
# You're brilliant we're hiring
# A license to pursue dreams
# Innovation not instant perfection
# Data is a-political
# Creativity loves constraint.
# Don't Kill Projects, Morph them
# Users not money

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March 21, 2013

Automated search and automated commerce begat algorithmic schlock ?

Having found its golden meme, Solid Gold Bomb wrote a computer script to churn out hundreds of T-shirt designs riffing on the phrase -- "Keep Calm and Dream On" to "Keep Calm and Dance Off." In theory, Solid Gold Bomb could be selling billions of them, for they only become "real" once an order is made. It's the infinite monkey theorem, applied to products: with time, the algorithms would produce a T-shirt someone wants.

Amazon does not vet such items, and Solid Gold Bomb is too solid to care. The advent of 3D printing will create an explosion in such phantom products.

Books got there first: Amazon brims with algorithmically produced "literature." Philip M. Parker, a marketing professor, must be the most productive, erudite writer in history: Amazon lists him as author of more than 100,000 books. His secret? An algorithm to generate page-turners like "Webster's Estonian to English Crossword Puzzles" and "The 2007-2012 Outlook for Premoistened Towelettes and Baby Wipes in Greater China" ("The moist towelette is an essential part of the lunchbox, and with the new global economy, this volume is essential," reads its only review). Some of these books might be useful, but much of algorithmic literature exists for one reason: to swindle unsuspecting customers.

When the former Wired editor Chris Anderson wrote of "the long tail" -- the idea that, thanks to the Internet, companies can look beyond blockbusters and make money on obscure products -- he never warned us it would be so long and so ugly. Somehow, well-crafted niche products have surrendered to algorithmic schlock.


-- Evgeny Morozov

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January 27, 2013

Brad Newman's Reviewer Card

Brad Newman also told me about the time he was among numerous people waiting for a table at a busy Chicago restaurant. He flashed his ReviewerCard and jumped to the head of the line.

Wasn't that unfair to everyone else?

"That's one way of looking at it," Newman said. "I see it as letting the restaurant know that they should treat me good because I'm going to be writing a review."

I asked if he discloses in his reviews that he seeks and receives special treatment from the businesses he writes about.

"No," Newman acknowledged. "But that doesn't change things. If the hotel is close to the train station or has a comfy bed, that's why it's getting a good review."

This is, of course, wrong on many levels and is an example of how the culture of amateurism that was once one of the Internet's more endearing qualities has become a free-for-all unburdened by any thought of ethics or moral integrity.

But it's apparently legal, lawyers tell me. As long as a reviewer isn't making explicit threats to harm a business, the implied shakedown of presenting a ReviewerCard probably won't get anyone in trouble with authorities.

Newman hopes his ReviewerCard will become as influential as the American Express black card -- a totem of the bearer's clout and achievement.

I can only hope that businesses see it for what it is: a shameless bid to extract personal favors under threat of Internet ruin. I can only hope they politely inform ReviewerCard holders that they're entitled to the same treatment as all other customers.

September 11, 2012

Amazon 2011

New features abound, of course, but they're the sort that university teachers and other white-collar workers know all too well: ways of doing more with less, by making workers (or customers) handle the routine chores that used to be done for them. Nowadays you can tag a given "product" for Amazon so that it knows what you think of a book; if you want, you can even study a tag cloud that lists and ranks the most popular customer tags, so that you'll do a better job of tagging for the company. You can enter a customer discussion or post a review.

And, of course, whenever you buy a book, you help Amazon not only gauge the book's popularity, but also identify the other books that you have bought as well. It's an efficient, thoroughly commercial counterpart to the old information system. The simple, elegant Web page that once showered discriminating customers with information now invites the consumer to provide information of every sort for Amazon to digest and profit from.

Continue reading "Amazon 2011" »

September 8, 2012

Uber #1

The cab commission of the District of Columbia is less thrilled: it is in the midst of a legal tussle with Uber. Ron M. Linton, chairman of the commission, said Uber had begun operating in the city without its approval.

He said that under the commission's rules, there are limousines, which set a price with passengers in advance, and there are cabs, which have meters that charge by time or distance. He said Uber was breaking the rules by trying to be both. Uber calculates fares by time and distance, and then bills the customers' credit card.

The commission's inspectors have been citing Uber's car-service partners for infractions, Mr. Linton said. The commission is proposing to change the district's taxi laws to strengthen regulation of sedans like the ones that Uber's partners use. Mr. Linton said this would allow it to protect consumers from issues like extra fees that they don't understand.

"There's room for limos, for taxis and this new concept for sedans," he said. "We're trying to make it work for everybody, but we need cooperation. We can't deal with an organization that sticks its thumb up our nose."

Mr. Kalanick of Uber said its operations in Washington were completely legal, and that the commission was citing rules that don't exist. He said the commission wanted to regulate sedans more tightly so that it could control their fares, which would prevent Uber from eventually undercutting cabs.

"They want to keep our prices from going down, which is a very unusual price-fixing scheme," Mr. Kalanick said. "Essentially they're trying to protect taxis from competition, from having any viable alternative."

New York doesn't seem to have a problem with Uber. Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the city's taxi and limousine commission, said that as long as services like Uber conformed to the city's rules, "we are highly supportive of ways to use technology to enhance service to the riding public."

September 3, 2012

b2b2c Zillow: how b2c becomes also b2b

Consumer Internet companies of the newer generation are doing even more. In many cases, the tools they are providing businesses resemble specialized versions of so-called customer relationship management services from companies like, which help businesses increase sales and keep track of communications with clients.

By moving in this direction, consumer Internet companies hope to tap potentially rich new sources of revenue, which could make them more attractive to investors. A company that gets business clients to depend on a broad set of its services can make it tougher for competitors to swipe its customers.

"You can't just sell advertising without being exposed to someone else undercutting you on price," said Spencer Rascoff, chief executive of Zillow. "If you sell ads plus services, you're in a more defensible position."

Bill Gurley, a Zillow board member and venture capitalist, has seen enough hybrid Internet companies that serve both businesses and consumers that he coined a term to describe them: B2B2C. "We're moving from a day and age where you're just a Web site to one where we're automating the connections between businesses and consumers," he said.

Mr. Gurley's firm, Benchmark Capital, has invested in several other companies he puts in that camp, including Uber, which offers a mobile app that lets consumers hail a town car and gives drivers a "heat map" highlighting the areas where they are most likely to find customers.

GrubHub, another one of his investments, lets consumers order takeout and delivery food from more than 15,000 restaurants online and through mobile apps. In many cases, the service uses a clunky system in which customer orders are sent to restaurants by fax and confirmed by phone.

Recently, though, GrubHub introduced a product called OrderHub that could allow it to become more entwined in restaurants' operations. OrderHub is a tablet computer running Google's Android operating system that lets restaurants receive orders electronically, confirm them with a couple of taps and improve the accuracy of delivery time estimates.

Continue reading "b2b2c Zillow: how b2c becomes also b2b" »

July 13, 2012

WU Wunderground Weather Underground

In the eyes of Weather Underground's ardent fans, the Weather Channel appears to represent the wrong kind of weather information: personality-driven sunniness and hype, they say, rather than the pure science of data. As Mike Tucker, a computer professional in New Hampshire, put it on Facebook, reacting to news of the deal: "Noooo! "

The controversy illustrates the deep national divide between those people who just want to know if it's going to rain, and people who really, really, care about the data underlying the weather. Christopher Maxwell, a manager at a solar energy company in Richmond, Va., is in the really-really-cares-about-the-weather camp. He said he saw the Weather Channel deal as a sad sellout for Weather Underground.

"It seems to happen all the time," he said. "Something great gets invented and sold in the United States, and it gets bought up and destroyed."

Weather Underground was founded in 1995 in Ann Arbor, where it grew out of the University of Michigan's online weather database. The name was a winking reference to the radical group that also had its roots in Ann Arbor. Mr. Maxwell said he appreciated Weather Underground's fanatical devotion to data, and how it drew information from so many thousands of weather stations run by users that he is able to determine "microclimates" of variation that can prove important in getting the most out of a new solar installation.

June 29, 2012

Crammers, scammers

Rogue 'phone service' demands verification only on exit, not on entry.

The case of Streaming Flix, Cindy Landeen, Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) billing, and a "billing aggregator" called Billing Services Group (BSG).

MyIproducts, 800 Vmailbox, and Digital Vmail--all services that used LEC billing to offer voicemail service that almost no "subscriber" actually used. (Between July 2009 and March 2010, tens of thousands of people were billed but only 209 ever used their mailbox). The total amount billed for these services in less than a year: $30 million.

June 26, 2012

GoToMeeting vs MeetingBurner

GoToMeeting vs MeetingBurner: who will buy ads for online business meeting webcasts ?

June 15, 2012

What's it for ?

At least some of the early adopters of the Kinect were not content just to play games with it. "Kinect hackers" were drawn to the fact that the object affordably synthesizes an arsenal of sophisticated components -- notably, a fancy video camera, a "depth sensor" to capture visual data in three dimensions and a multiarray microphone capable of a similar trick with audio.

Combined with a powerful microchip and software, these capabilities could be put to uses unrelated to the Xbox. Like: enabling a small drone to "see" its surroundings and avoid obstacles; rigging up a 3-D scanner to create small reproductions of most any object (or person); directing the music of a computerized orchestra with conductorlike gestures; remotely controlling a robot to brush a cat's fur. It has been used to make animation, to add striking visual effects to videos, to create an "interactive theme park" in South Korea and to control a P.C. by the movement of your hands (or, in a variation developed by some Japanese researchers, your tongue).

Continue reading "What's it for ?" »

May 31, 2012

Darkside of Facebook $FB ?

Ross Douthat takes dyspeptic pleasure from Facebook's hard landing, which had Bloomberg Businessweek declaring the I.P.O. "the biggest flop of the decade" after five days of trading. Of all the major hubs of Internet-era excitement, Mark Zuckerberg's social networking site has always struck me as one of the most noxious, dependent for its success on the darker aspects of online life: the zeal for constant self-fashioning and self-promotion, the pursuit of virtual forms of "community" and "friendship" that bear only a passing resemblance to the genuine article, and the relentless diminution of the private sphere in the quest for advertising dollars.

May 30, 2012

Targeted advertising: wasteland or panacea ?

"Consumers are continually making choices among products, the consequences of which they are but dimly aware. Not only do consumers lack full information about the prices of goods, but their information is probably even poorer about the quality variation of products simply because the latter information is more difficult to obtain."

-- "Information and Consumer Behavior", Philip Nelson, 1970.

See also, Kihlstorm & Riordan, "Advertising as a Signal" from the Journal of Political Economy (1984).

In today's world of data driven custom targeted advertising,
the better online advertising is, the less valuable it is.

-- Doc Searls, Don Marti et al

May 27, 2012

Facebook IPO aftermath $FB

Zuckerberg's torture-by-attorney didn't start in the past twenty-four hours, when law firms in New York and California initiated the first of what is sure to be a slew of lawsuits related to last week's controversial I.P.O. Ever since February, when Facebook filed its initial investment prospectus, the youthful C.E.O. has had to check with his own lawyers before saying virtually anything publicly--a requirement imposed as part of the S.E.C.'s pre-I.P.O. "quiet period," which applies to any company preparing to issue stock.

Continue reading "Facebook IPO aftermath $FB" »

April 6, 2012

Top Forty radio invented by Todd Storz and Bill Stewart, of KOWH AM station in Omaha, Nebraska

Top Forty radio was invented by Todd Storz and Bill Stewart, the operator and program director, respectively, of KOWH, an AM station in Omaha, Nebraska, in the early fifties. Like most music programmers of the day, Storz and Stewart provided a little something for everyone. As Marc Fisher writes in his book "Something in the Air" (2007), "The gospel in radio in those days was that no tune ought to be repeated within twenty-four hours of its broadcast--surely listeners would resent having to hear the same song twice in one day."

The eureka moment, as Ben Fong-Torres describes it in "The Hits Just Keep on Coming" (1998), occurred in a restaurant across from the station, where Storz and Stewart would often wait for Storz's girlfriend, a waitress, to get off work. They noticed that even though the waitresses listened to the same handful of songs on the jukebox all day long, played by different customers, when the place finally cleared out and the staff had the jukebox to themselves they played the very same songs. The men asked the waitresses to identify the most popular tunes on the jukebox, and they went back to the station and started playing them, in heavy rotation. Ratings soared.

Read more at the NewYorker.

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April 1, 2012

Pro business or pro-economy ?

"We need the Ex-Im Bank, period."

Like so much else in Congress these days, it is not that simple.

With its charter set to expire in May, the bank is the target of conservative groups. They are making the case to Republicans that the bank, created in 1934 to finance sales to the Soviet Union, has no place in a free-market system. Club for Growth is holding it up as the next Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, crowding out private lending and offering dangerous loans that ultimately could be left in the laps of the taxpayer.

"Those groups are just wrong, period," said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers and a generous personal contributor to Republican candidates.

Continue reading "Pro business or pro-economy ?" »

March 18, 2012

Forensic audit finds more, costs more

To the auditing industry, the fact that investors tend to blame auditors when frauds go undetected reflects unrealistic expectations, not bad work by the auditors. The rules say auditors are supposed to have a "healthy degree of skepticism," but not to detect all frauds.

"There is a significant expectations gap between what various stakeholders believe auditors do or should do in detecting fraud, and what audit networks are actually capable of doing, at the prices that companies or investors are willing to pay for audits," stated a position paper issued in 2006 by the chief executives of the six largest audit networks.

Note that last part. They suggested that if investors were really worried about fraud, they should consider paying more for a "forensic audit" that would have a better -- but not guaranteed -- chance of spotting fraud. Don't like our work? Pay us more.

Ernst's audit opinion does not say, which is no surprise. Virtually every audit opinion in the world says almost the same thing, with no details about the company being audited. Auditors are paid millions of dollars to produce a report that no one thinks is worth reading.

On June 21, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which regulates auditors in the United States, plans to ask for public comments on whether to require auditors to do more and say more.

One idea the board is expected to consider is requiring auditors to disclose more about what they did, and did not, do. Ideally, auditors would point to things that they could not audit. There are a lot of them now, and sometimes they are crucial.

Continue reading "Forensic audit finds more, costs more" »

January 15, 2012


Liquid Space is like an AirBnB for coworking space and real estate: blog.

Big in San Francisco, California and NY.

December 30, 2011

Un redeamed, unspent gift cards: seigniorage ?

The vast majority of the money put on gift cards gets redeemed, but Riley estimates that since 2005 $41 billion in money on gift cards has been lost or is likely never to be cashed in. The lion's share of money lost on gift cards from 2005-2009 came from fees and expiration dates. All that changed with the passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 that was signed into law last year. The Act largely forbids fees on cards sold by retailers (cards given away as promotional items can still charge fees), and it prohibits expiration dates less than 5 years after the card is purchased.

But what happens when the purchases go under the face value and then sit in the junk drawer in perpetuity, or when grandma, who can barely check her AOL email, gets an card that she'll never redeem? Some $3.4 billion of the $41 billion lost on gift cards from 2005-2011 resulted from cards being lost or simply left unused. The Credit CARD Act doesn't do much to address that, and as the market grows that number will grow along with it.

The answer to how retailers deal with those "lost" funds isn't simple, and there are no hard-and-fast rules -- either at the federal level of government or through national regulatory accounting principles. The Securities and Exchange Commission allows companies to take unused gift-card money as income once they can reasonably say the card won't be redeemed, but there's no set time limit. Best Buy, for example, sets that level at about two years. In fiscal 2011, the electronics company recorded $53 million in income from gift-card "breakage," or cards that are unlikely ever to be redeemed, up from $43 million a year earlier.

But some states don't allow companies to keep unused gift-card cash. They demand that companies give the money to the state after a certain period of time to add to unclaimed-funds accounts. States claim this is a way to reunite consumers with their unspent money, but practically it's a way for cash-strapped governments to give themselves more liquid funds. Money the state holds as unclaimed funds can be used for general purposes until someone claims it. For example, in 2008 -- the most recent year for which data could be obtained -- New York state collected $9.6 million in unredeemed gift cards and returned around $2,150 to the rightful owners.

Continue reading "Un redeamed, unspent gift cards: seigniorage ?" »

December 28, 2011

Business of fashion, the-business-of-blogging: the sartorialist.

Business of fashion looks at the-sartorialist for design and recurring revenue.

November 23, 2011

Questions like 'What do we do next?' and 'Who needs to make a decision today?' are handled inefficiently now. It's why there are so many meetings in companies

Mr. Girouard said that Google Apps would introduce even more features with Google+ over the next few months. "We're headed to a place where all productivity is inherently social," he said. "Questions like 'What do we do next?' and 'Who needs to make a decision today?' are handled inefficiently now. It's why there are so many meetings in companies." Social networks in business, he said, could be faster, less formal and more efficient.

Social networking "is the next phase of what we're going to do in business," said Mr. Girouard.

-- David Girouard, who runs Google Apps for Business.

Continue reading "Questions like 'What do we do next?' and 'Who needs to make a decision today?' are handled inefficiently now. It's why there are so many meetings in companies" »

November 21, 2011

FOMO: fear of missing out

What Else Is Going On?

At the Bowery Hotel's lounge, Marissa Evans and Esther Kang were concerned about FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Ms. Evans, 27, runs a social networking site called Go Try It On, which gives users feedback on what they are wearing. On her phone, she navigates among three e-mail accounts, two Twitter feeds, Foursquare, Instagram and several group text-message accounts. All of these can cultivate FOMO.

"Especially when I leave the city," she said. "In the past, maybe I'd have had one text message inviting me out. But now I know from Facebook and Twitter and GroupMe that 10 of my friends were all together, and I can see pictures of what they did."

At the moment, however, she was more concerned about a friend who had been left out -- and who, thanks to their mobile phones, knew it. When Ms. Evans arrived at the bar, she "checked in" on the social networking site Foursquare; Ms. Kang, 29, checked in on Facebook. Within moments, Ms. Kang received a Facebook message from a third friend, Joydeep Dey, who had not been invited.

"Miss you two!!" his message read.

Ms. Kang was not warmed by his concern.

"I know he's being passive-aggressive," she said. So she responded in kind.

"Are you working?" she texted.

Mr. Dey, 30, contacted the next morning, said he had felt left out -- not because he had not been invited, but because he had been stuck at work. "Marissa, Esther and I are usually this trio," he said. "When I saw them both check in, I had to let them know I knew."

Among young adults surveyed by the advertising agency JWT New York, 65 percent said they felt left out when they saw that some of their friends were doing something without them. That feeling leaves many social media users perpetually antsy that, somewhere accessible by their phones, someone is having more fun than they are, said Ann Mack, the agency's director of trend-spotting.

"It's a very efficient way to make plans for later, but when you are out, people are still texting other people, trying to drum up more friends, not living in the moment," Ms. Mack said. "It's like, I'm here but what else is going on? Is there something better, cooler, that I'm not in the know about?"

Seated next to Ms. Evans, Jordan Cooper, 29, kept one eye on his cellphone but did not answer any of the incoming text messages, e-mail messages or phone calls. Mr. Cooper, who is starting a data-collection and search site called Hyperpublic, said he did not feel FOMO, in part because he did not feel left out of an event just because he was not there physically.

"I don't think of what's here and what's not here as separate," he said. "Like I'll be out with my mom and if I look at my phone, she says I'm being anti-social. I say, 'I'm being social, just not social with you.' "

Continue reading "FOMO: fear of missing out" »

November 20, 2011

Beats: Dr Dre's fashion accessory for dofus

Beats have redefined the lowly headphone, as well as how much people are willing to pay for a pair of them. A typical pair of Beats sell for about $300 -- nearly 10 times the price of ear buds that come with iPods. And, despite these lean economic times, they are selling surprisingly fast.

Whether Beats are worth the money is open to debate. Reviews are mixed, but many people love them. The headphones are sleekly Apple-esque, which is no surprise, since they were created by a former designer at Apple. Beats also offer a celebrity vibe and a lot of boom-a-chick-a-boom bass.

So much bass, in fact, that some audio experts say that Beats distort the sound of the music.

"In terms of sound performance, they are among the worst you can buy," says Tyll Hertsens, editor in chief of, a site for audiophiles. "They are absolutely, extraordinarily bad."

Time was, manufacturers marketed high-priced audio equipment by emphasizing technical merits like frequency response, optimum impedance, ambient noise attenuation and so on. The audience was mostly a small cadre of audiophiles tuned to the finer points of sound quality.

But, three years ago, Beats by Dr. Dre set out to change all that by appealing to more primal desires: good looks, celebrity and bone-rattling bass. Annual sales are approaching $500 million, and Beats have transformed headphones into a fashion accessory.

Continue reading "Beats: Dr Dre's fashion accessory for dofus" »

July 30, 2011

Amazon prices change

Prices at Amazon change, often.


May 31, 2011


Dodd-Frank is so sprawling -- the legislation runs to more than 2,000 pages -- that the law firm Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) dubbed the tracker it created to monitor the implementation process "FrankNDodd."

Congress set aggressive deadlines for regulators to make rules to enforce the law, and, unsurprisingly, they are failing to meet them. The agencies missed each of the 26 deadlines they were supposed to meet for April. So far, regulators have finalized 24 rules and missed deadlines on 28, according to the law firm Davis Polk.

-- Propublica

August 22, 2010

Consultants to reduce uncertainty ?

A classic energy mistake is to put in an oversized heating and cooling system. Consider hiring an independent engineer to recommend a system size. That way you can elevate your problem from not knowing what size your furnace should be to not knowing if you hired the right independent engineer. You'll be surprised how good that feels.

How I (Almost) Saved the Earth
No one said it would be easy to build the greenest house on the block. Scott Adams on perplexing energy bills, ugly lawns and the true meaning of 'green'

July 12, 2010

Return on internet sales tax

the 1998 Internet Tax Freedom Act forbids such internet sales taxes ? No.

On the other side are the big Internet retailers, such as and eBay, which have fought hard to maintain a status quo that gives them a marked advantage over local brick-and-mortar merchants., the largest and best-known Web retailer, has fought efforts to collect sales tax from customers. The company argues that the crazy quilt of taxing jurisdictions -- there are approximately 8,500 in the United States -- makes doing so impractical.

Nonsense -- an industry that can deliver tailored ads to buyers in a fraction of a second could surely solve whatever technical problems exist. And it already has: Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix, told the New York Times, "We collect and provide to each of the states the correct sales tax. There are vendors that specialize in this (we use Vertex). It's not very hard." Plus,

Continue reading "Return on internet sales tax" »

June 17, 2010

What do scalpers sell ?

For brokers and others who favor a free secondary market for tickets, these concerns cut to the philosophical heart of the issue: Is a ticket a commodity that can be freely exchanged, like a stock, or is it a license granted by a theater, a sports team or an artist that can be used or revoked on their terms?

Continue reading "What do scalpers sell ?" »

May 7, 2010

Agile business

In product development, for example, Mr. Ries is an enthusiast of so-called agile programming methods, which emphasize rapid development, small teams and constant improvement. But, he adds: "The agile practices have to be adapted, shifting the focus somewhat from generating stuff to learning about what customers will want. Most technology start-ups fail not because the technology doesn't work, but because they are making something that there is not a real market for."

So the lean playbook advises quick development of a "minimum viable product," designed with the smallest set of features that will please some group of customers. Then, the start-up should continually experiment by tweaking its offering, seeing how the market responds and changing the product accordingly. Facebook, the giant social network, grew that way, starting with simple messaging services and then adding other features.

The goal, explains Mr. Blank, is to accelerate the pace of learning. "A start-up is a temporary organization designed to discover a profitable, scalable business model," he says.

Continue reading "Agile business" »

November 27, 2009

Retrevo laptop deals by Retrevo, a gigaom gig (cofunded-wise)

Retrevo blog and Laptop deals.

Continue reading "Retrevo laptop deals by Retrevo, a gigaom gig (cofunded-wise)" »

November 23, 2009

Fx: Forex trading profits

Do Forex trading profits go to traders, brokers, software vendors ?
A review of the Foreign Exchange advertizing economy.

August 29, 2009

Facebook, your personal life commercialized.

AN INQUIRY You're not the first to think it's creepy to have your personal life commercialized. Jürgen Habermas has been especially eloquent about this. Start with "The Theory of Communicative Action." Copies are available on Also interesting on this score: "The Purchase of Intimacy," by Viviana Zelizer.

Continue reading "Facebook, your personal life commercialized." »

July 19, 2009

Amazon book price inflation

After placing some books in the cart, but not checking out, I return an am warned that these desired but unpurchased item are now much more expensive.


See also

Amazon Prime $79 Refund class action suit

New is cheaper than used: Falkenstein's Finding Alpha and Ritholtz (Big Picture) Bailout Nation new vs used price arbitrage.

July 9, 2009

Urging mortgage refinance -- Obama ?

Mortgage refinance is available.


Is mortgage refinance it really urged by Barack Obama ? Sorry we cannot better filter or screen the Google Adwords.

Update: Loan modification is a big topic now, but is President Obama really blogging about it ?


We think these sites are running some google adwords arbitrage strategy.

In a later press Q&A, Eric Schmidt talked significantly tougher when it came to assessing advertiser quality, with specific reference to ads taking users to misleading landing pages full of ad links--commonly known as click arbitrage. In that session, he sounded annoyed at the prospect of users landing on such "arbitrary agglomerations of ad links," and asserted that "we don't believe it is healthy.

-- Danny Sulivan

July 14, 2007

NetBanker / Jim Bruene

Net Banker / Jim Bruene tracks online banking
for financial industry. Banking Camp.

May 11, 2007

Amazon Prime $79 Refund class action suit

Amazon Prime automatically charged customers $79
for Amazon Prime Club free shipping.

Stay tuned for the AMZ*Prime Club $79 Refund class action suit.

Continue reading "Amazon Prime $79 Refund class action suit" »

April 8, 2007

Tila is bummed

The reason why I am so bummed out about MySpace now is
because recently they have been cutting down our freedom
and taking away our rights slowly.

MySpace will now only allow you to use ‘MySpace’ things.

-- Tila Tequila, a singer who is one of MySpace’s most popular and visible users.

April 4, 2007


There's an ulnimited supply
And there is no reason why
I tell you it was all a frame
They only did it cos the fame !
Who ?


Too many people had the suss
Too many people support us
An unlimited amount
Too many out lets in and out
Who ?

Sex Pestols : EMI

Apple and EMI just announced that they will be selling DRM-free
Apple songs through the iTunes Music Store. The songs will cost
130 percent of the price of the existing crippled songs, and you'll
get to choose. Weirdly, Apple seems to have sold this move to
EMI by saying that the DRM-free version will be a "premium"
offering for audiophiles who want higher-quality music.

I think that audiophiles are probably the people who have
the least trouble keeping up with the latest tips for efficiently
ripping the DRM off of their music -- the people who really
need DRM-free music are the punters who can't even spell DRM.

bb on emi drm

Continue reading "EMI" »

February 10, 2007

bluefly: fancy soes and handbags

Blue Fly, prestige brands for online shoppers.

October 16, 2006

kizmeet, a slick 'missed connections'

kizmeet: example:

missed connections at NY Equinox Fitness.

September 16, 2006

Tilley Endurables, safari tourist fashion

Tilley Endurables, supplier of safari style tourist fashion.
Classic hats, cargo pants, and sturdy belts.

September 8, 2006

Rough Type / Nicholas G Carr

Rough Type by Nicholas Carr.
Rough Sort (introduction) daily links -- Does it matter ?

August 19, 2006

Globe / Stephan Paternot

The movie trailer, with great soundtrack.

Continue reading "Globe / Stephan Paternot" »

August 15, 2006

Hickey Freeman

Nice suits, sometimes discounted.


See previously: suit for $400.

June 19, 2006

Not Making this Up / Jeff Mathews

Jeff Mathews is not Making this up: Example:
criminal defence in the name of Jesus.

Continue reading "Not Making this Up / Jeff Mathews " »

June 4, 2006


Outsourcing plus The Wisdom of Crowds = Crowdsourcing.

May 11, 2006

Footnoted Edgar files

Footnoted reads SEC filings, Edgar's fine print.

March 29, 2006

Deal Breaker, Deal Book (NYT)

Investment banking reads: Deal Breaker by Gawking Stalwart
and Dealbook by NYT.

March 13, 2006

droxy on Digital radio

Digital radio and Sirius at droxy.

March 11, 2006

Venture Angels: Art of the Guy

Guy Kawasai gives the same speech over and over.
He's getting better at it. UCLA business School edition.

Cliches about business, but solid advice about presentations.

March 9, 2006

Wal*Mart blogs

The 37-year-old Brian Pickrell who runs the Iowa Voice blog has written
at least three postings that contain language identical to sentences in
e-mail from Marshall Manson. In one, which Brian Pickrell attributed to
a "reader," he reported that

Wal-Mart was about to announce that a store in Illinois received
25,000 applications for 325 jobs. That's a 1.3 percent acceptance rate.
Consider this: Harvard University (undergraduate) accepts 11 percent
of applicants. The Navy Seals accept 5 percent of applicants.

See also Wal-Mart is a great American institution.

Continue reading "Wal*Mart blogs" »

November 27, 2005

Viral videos

MSNBC is using search engine marketing, buying keywords on Google, like
"viral videos." Computer users searching for articles with such words will
see ads alongside their search results with links to

"We want to find out something we haven't known before," said Frank
Radice, senior vice president for the East Coast office of the NBC Agency,
the internal unit that works on behalf of networks like MSNBC, NBC and
Sci Fi Channel. "Can we drive traffic from the Internet to the cable channel?"

Example (2010 December): tow truck in Brooklyn snow.

Val Nichols, vice president for the creative services group at MSNBC,
estimated the campaign would get 114 million viewings in total.

Among the 800 blogs that will run the ads are Adrants, Althouse,
Curbed, Daily Kos, Gothamist, IndieWire, Largehearted Boy, Talking
Points Memo and TV Newser. Buying ads on 800 blogs is a major
commitment to that fledgling medium. Budget Rent A Car bought
ads last month on 177 blogs, and Audi bought ads this summer on 286.

Continue reading "Viral videos" »

October 3, 2005

Odlyzko on Network economics

The greater ability of modern business leaders to keep at distance
from the actual criminal acts they induce may be a reflection of
what they have learned from the experience of their predecessors
in white-collar crime in the last century and a half. But it also
likely reflects the greater complexity of business, which has led
to separation of functions into sales, legal, accounting, and many
other specialized areas.

-- Andrew Odlyzko

Other papers.

September 16, 2005

American Banker

Free headlines, subscriber-only content: *.

July 24, 2005

Classic Saint Louis roof repair

Saint Louis Slate and Tile Roofering Co. will inspect and fix
your classic Saint Louis roof.

And copper gutters, too

June 27, 2005

Norm Brodsky, Inc

Norm Brodsky has writen so great pieces about investing and management,
but his Inc column, street smarts, is as one-note as an upbeat inflight
magazine, but better illustrated by example.

June 21, 2005

Tom Peters

The excellent Tom Peters offers pithy business advice for the post-modern
economy. Well organized site.

June 9, 2005

Charlene Li / Forrester

Forrester's Charlene Li (the short, Asian woman carrying a large red tote bag)
tracks technology growth and deployment strategy and trends.
Often cited for her opinions on Google.

April 23, 2005

Google: branding, beyond adwords

Google is trusting the advertiser’s motivation to target ads to
relevant sites, but Google has never before trusted the advertiser to
make that judgment. The AdWords method has always been to
automatically sever the connection between any underperforming ad and
its keywords, curtailing the appearance of that ad. Google’s
technology was the sole arbiter of relevance, and that relevance was
determined by clickthrough rate. Now, placing ads on
advertiser-determined sites, with payment by the impression, ad
performance is no longer a viable concept. Accordingly, any advertiser
with the loony idea that motor oil will sell on an environmental
activism site can outbid competitors and place that ad. And Google’s
reputation for relevance gets poured into the ground.

Continue reading "Google: branding, beyond adwords" »

April 17, 2005

Sell your car online

Field report:

Your odds are much better when placing an online ad for your used
MINI, in the main "outlets" such as and A
dedicated MINI website for this purpose could not always be a successful
thing because buyers out there interested in MINIs (mainly, classics are
a more confined market)are also shopping for other vehicles as well.

I sold my '04 MCS in, just 6 days after placing the ad
with 12 photos. The buyer of the car is a local resident, so you never
know who may show interest in your car.

March 1, 2005

Institutional Investor

Institutional Investor tracks Real Estate Finance and Investment.

January 24, 2005

Ascential Network

The Ascential Network's industry experience in data integreation
leverages strategic synergies across enterprise platforms.

January 19, 2005


Quinetix offers statistical and optimization consulting.