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Archive for January 21st, 2009

I am so disappointed.

Mysticism returns to prime time TV with this inane crime stopper series “LIE to ME*” heralding the star (Tim Roth) and his team’s ability to read people’s faces to tell when they are lying about what. Crimes are just the medium for the law enforcement to clean up with all that legal mumbo jumbo.

Forget the advance science of real life CSI groups who offer empirical data as evidence supporting suspicion of involvement or not that is shown or implied in other TV dramas. Too many big words and too much emphasis on logic over folklore. That was wayyyyyy to tough to understand.

So, I guess the Vietnam war injury from a concussion grenade will not get mentioned in the villain’s arraignment. We’ll be able to tell if President Obama really is going to address the issues of the day and, most importantly, whether or not he is embarrassed to have a middle name of “Hussain” after all.

Working with this fantasy, think of where it could all lead: you are successful based on not being able to terse your lips or raise an eyebrow due to Botox.  No more need for matters as suspect as a ‘Twinkie defense.’  It was a facial tick that sealed the doom that the Olympian was using banned substances… Or, your movie is given the green light because you looked the producers in the eye and your nose didn’t flare at the same time…

If only we knew what to look for before Columbine and West Virginia events… And all along those media mongrels were leading down the path of science, contingency management and stem cell hope. But no more…

Enter the latest version of phrenology** and voodoo*** for prime consumption.

I am so disappointed.

* Not the absolute blues-grunt-rock of Jonny Lang’s live version of “Lie to Me”

** Phrenology: a defunct and debunked field of study, once considered a science, in which a person’s personality was first implied and then determined by experts “reading” bumps and fissures in the subjects skull.

*** Voodoo: religion based on mix of Roman Catholic teachings and West African beliefs that there are numerous deities subordinate to a greater god spirit (who does not traffic in matters or events of mere humans). Prayers and incantations to lower gods who show their work by symbolism in everything from tea leafs to smoke – only coincidently related to the smoke from a sacred chimney announcing a new Pope.

Various Blog Coverage:

TV Addict

Chicago Trib

Televisionary


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Check out this bit of info from the Official Google Blog!

Based on their graph of searches per hour and assuming at $5-7 eCPM on searches  and an estimate of 500,000,000-1,000,000,000 searches per day (or 21,000,000 to 42,000,000 searches per hour)* ….

Google lost over 20,000,000 queries during the inauguration or $100,000-140,000 on search.

Assuming a similar loss of general traffic across the web it cost Google an additional $40,000-60,000 in AdWords revenue.

Wow.  that’s a lot of ad revenue to lose for about a 1 hour interuption.  I suppose CNN, Facebook, and other news outlets picked up that extra ad traffic.

*Based on 2008 comscore reports and UU estimates from quantcast.

* My estimates for revenue per hour roughly equate to the quarterly earnings after you do all the math to roll it up.  So the eCPM and searchs per hour seem to be solid assumptions.

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In yet another confounding of the same sitatuion we see played out over and over in thousands of published studies, Seed gives us a report on how moral decisions are contextual.

“No, the results did not surprise us,” says Lindenberg. “What surprised us was the size of the effect.”

This is not unlike the findings from last week’s feature on social conformity we found on CNN.  What’s different is the more sound conclusions from these researchers.

It’s not that good people turned bad, either. One goal simply surpassed another in importance. In the case of the mailbox, the desire for cash superceded the desire to behave appropriately, because others already hadn’t. “People are not bad. People are just subject to social influence,” Lindenberg says. An effective tip for crime prevention is to be aware of norm violations on all fronts. After all, says Lindenberg, “Even old grandmothers would do this.”

Values are contingent and contextual.  Ain’t no good and evil, bad and good.  Only situations and consequences.

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I suppose some might consider it a good thing that the Economics Oracles are starting to make far less definitive statements and/or predictions.

Consider the following:

Someone pointed out to me that I hold this view that economists might not know as much as they claim to because I don’t really know that much about economic theory.  That’s true.

However, it is highly unlikely that the current situation is understood by anyone, much less was it accurately predicted.  Worse, no one really has a defensible plan of action – economicly speaking.

I posit that there is no way to predict the economy in a far reaching/come up with a national plan kinda way.  Like much of what we study, we can understand isolated systems and behaviors.  With that useful knowledge we can proceed adjusting our courses in a million ways as we go along.  In the end, we just need to make something happen.  We need to CREATE and SHAPE what happens next, not predict it.

In that way, it seems very freeing to not be under the constant pressure of the Down Jones average or the Fed rate cuts.  The world has always been more complex than that and we’re swimming in that complexity.

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There’s something telling (to me at least) in IBM’s earnings report.  CNBC gives us this brief insight:

Revenue in services, IBM’s largest business segment, dropped 4 percent, but IBM was able to ink $17.2 billion in new services contracts. That was a healthy showing that demonstrates companies are still forking out for outsourcing and other technical support contracts, which are often viewed as moneysavers in the long run.

Hardware revenue fell 18 percent. Mainframe revenue fell 6 percent, and sales of lower-end servers based on industry-standard processors fell 32 percent.

“IBM has enjoyed certain attributes that other tech stocks don’t enjoy. They have recurring revenue streams that also translate into profitability,” said Keith Wirtz, chief investment officer for Fifth Third Asset Management. “That’s great for IBM and that’s one of the reasons why, in today’s uncertain environment, IBM’s a very attractive name to hold.”

Hardware and big cash outlay technical things aren’t going to work in the short term. There’s going to be very little investment in non-core development and experimental concepts.  This is about function, utility and making it work.

Friends and peers ask me what I think are some strategies for online media and tech companies in light of all this.  As IBM is doing… cut costs via software and services efficiencies.  Pretty straightfoward.  If you are worker, agency, contractor, employee that provides software services more cheaply than others, you’re going to do fine.  The same was true in the dotcom bust.  Those folks that could accomplish the work of 3 and not need a “top of line computer” to do it, maintained a healthy paycheck and a pretty decent workload.

This is the year of maintenance, not upgrade or investment. (look at Microsoft’s earnings or Apple’s.)  Reruns, nights in, used cars, after market tickets, ebay…

Advertising will be in the tank for awhile.

Hardware will be in the tank.

Financial services built on non core purchase money will be in the tank.

Services that make it cheaper to live, work, travel will thrive.  For developers and media people, it’s time to focus on service infrastructure.

This isn’t too tough.  It’s about sausage making and if that isn’t sexy to you, probably best to take a vacation this year.

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Outside of the oath and benediction speech, the Jason Wu designed dress was the most discussed, blogged, reported media factoid during this crazy inauguration.

Jason Wus Michelle Obama Dress

Jason Wu's Michelle Obama Dress

So what’s all that free press worth?

So far, almost no traffic reported on Jason Wu’s site up until Jan 20th.

By the fact that the site is even up means perhaps not much internet business comes from all this press.

Google Trends shows a nice spike, but the name Jason Wu doesn’t even come close to Superbowl or inauguration.

Jason Wu Michelle Obama Dress

Jason Wu Michelle Obama Dress

Unfortunately, we’re just going to have to wait and see what impact this worldwide acclaim has for a designer.  Perhaps fashion design is simply not measured accurately by online traffic.  I suspect with my somewhat educated knowledge of the fashion industry and media that his reputation is now very secure and that will be a very lucrative career.  He’s only 26!

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