Monday, 1 November 2010

Tweets, made from Coal

Old technologies often find new homes. This beauty is shot on discontinued 16mm Kodak black and white stock. We are seeing it through digital media powered by electricity. The coal mines of Western Virginia and other US states provide half of America's power today. Half of the energy used for every tweet and Facebook update is made of coal. In the UK it's still a third.

Black Coal from Madison Rowley on Vimeo.

Thanks to Brainpicker - www.twitter .com/@brainpicker

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Gladwell - to the barricades! - in person.

In his New Yorker piece Malcolm Gladwell's was expressing what most people know. The average on-line relationship is not as strong as the average one in real life. The average telephone relationship, or letter relationship - they are second class mail. We are all animals and we like to get the millions of tiny cues about other animals that only come from physical proximity. Twitter doesn't doesn't do body language, smell, fear, inflection, pupil dilation and everything else that tells us good things and bad things about the other.

When politicians meet to end wars they do so in the flesh. When business people sign contracts they meet. When we party or pray, we meet.

Social media is doing a curious thing. It is starting to make meeting in its forms into the premium product. When everyone is available in virtual form, there is competitive edge in meeting. Advantage goes to the on-line guy - who's there on the ground as well. It's expensive - it's time consuming - and it works.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Gordon for Speaker - & Marketing Moral Hazard

Here’s a short piece I wrote for another blog. It belongs here too:

Spectator Coffee House suggests that Gordon Brown is now on the speaking circuit for around $100,000 a go. That may be a starting point, but it’s close to a list price before negotiation. Expenses are additional. The story the red tops and the blogosphere will want is the follow up. If Gordon gets a gig, what will he do with the money?

The son of the manse may be expected to make a very significant contribution to charity. But what is left is still a five star lifestyle.

And now the electorate may start to ask questions. We voted you in, ex PM. We paid your salary. So just what incentive is there for any high-ranking elected official (of any party) for what we may call prudence? What incentive, when no matter what your decisions in office might be, a more lucrative career talking about ‘how to learn from our mistakes’ will always await? Present administration included.

That will be $100k please.

Great instance of how presence is sale-able. In a world of online ubiquity live appearance and event is the other side of the trend. Its competitive advantage is non-virtuality. Profits can be made in the non-scalable world of live appearance: at the gig. This applies to ex prime ministers as much as it does to U2. Just just don’t try it at home. Not unless scalable mass communication made you a household face first.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Rupert - Free at Last (from readers)

Rupert Murdoch should have had something up his sleeve when came to the paywall. It always looked so much like a loser that Rupert had to know better than us. There had to be a way that he knew to take direct payments for commodified news.

WSJ worked for News Corporation. Unique news that’s ‘vital’ to your livelihood – that will always sell. And we did not expect The Sun to hide its boobs behind the wall.

The Times was always going to be at the margin – a brand whose potential lay on the grey border between free and pay. The title may yet carve out a profitable niche leaving no room for another paid-for competitor. But is not the risk that threatens that of a long term decline in terms of the political influence of the paper?

Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel. Whatever the digital equivalent of ink, Rupert is buying a lot less. And hence – it looks like he may be buying a lot less clout. Or in the future will he depend on Sky News? And a new friendship in Downing Street.

The Alexa figure for reach for The Times are here.

This article first appeared at on 5 July 2010.

Monday, 19 April 2010

A Long Strange Trip

When The Atlantic ran the 'Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead' it must have seemed to deadheads that the time was due and respectable company was inevitable. The band was (are) 'visionary geniuses in the way they created customer value, promoted social networking, and did strategic business planning.'

The Atlantic is respectable liberal, that's US 'liberal', company to be in. But how about Mises? This shrine to the School of Austrian Economics, ultra free-marketers, ran recently a short blog post 'Doing Business The Grateful Dead way' - February 17, 2010 by Douglas French

Doing business The Grateful Dead way — Mises Economics Blog

Back in '94 the Dead's writer John Perry Barlow wrote in Wired that in the information economy, “the best way to raise demand for your product is to give it away.”

In 2010 he explained to Joshua Green of The Atlantic: “What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then–the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn’t regulate [taping at] our shows, and you can’t online. The Internet doesn’t behave that way. But here’s the thing: if I give my song away to 20 people, and they give it to 20 people, pretty soon everybody knows me, and my value as a creator is dramatically enhanced. That was the value proposition with the Dead.

Here in the UK 'sixties hippiedom soon turned to statism. The view from here was that in the US equality always seemed subservient somehow to liberty. We might have expected Mises to join Murdoch: show me the money and we'll show you the goodies. But there's a real tension here as the free-est of free marketers pledge alliegence to a smaller state, one that doesn't spend blood and treasure on war.

Is the 'Austrian' view that intellectual property is theft? Theft by government fiat? If so then the biggest media guns of today don't have many friends amongst the purest of capitalists. Strange days make for strange bedfellows.

If the work of Austrian economics is new to you then seven minutes of time is worth spending here: not with wonderful Dead but with music made for talking money: Frederick Hayek v John Maynard Keynes...

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Another gift from News Corporation... which billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch holds forth on just about everything, but most interestingly on the future of newspapers. The future is that it's free when you want people to listen to your life story. Otherwise you can pay for the Wall Street Journal like everybody else who picks it up free in the lobby.

Video removed - just couldn't get the damn thing to stop self-running. Rupert is here

Use in association with Lanier below and Austrian economists/Grateful Dead hopefully coming soon.

Video courtesy The Hoover Institution at Stanford
'Billionaire tyrant' - The Simpsons, 20th Century Fox
Thanks to Miguel Barbosa at Visit him often.

Friday, 5 February 2010

If You Liked Irony...

Jaron Lanier on advertising. A message that works for all of our communication industries. Applied to business: people need to make a living and we do that by creating things. And then you don't give it away.

The video came for free on YouTube via Contagious