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Archive for May, 2009

One of my favorite things to do everyday is to visit CNBC.com and read about their new prediction of the MARKET BOTTOM.

Threw the power of the Internet we can trace just how completely wrong they are every time.

Lesson: stop predicting things like this.  you can’t do it.

Unless your goal is to entertain… if so, keep doing it, because it is entertaining to me!

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Oy, this crazy-making discussion is not going to be over for a long time.

Why is there anything about marriage in any constitution?

Yes, I know… property, children’s issues. etc. etc.  Those can be resolved without marriage language.

Just get rid of it so we can all move on.

Or tell me why we need declarations about recognizing marriage between one man and one woman…????

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Michael Lynton responds with a confusing analogy to the blogosphere’s blast of his now infamous comment, “I’m a guy who sees nothing good having come from the Internet. Period.”

The fact that he’s following up to add context is great for his argument and his agenda.  Unfortunately his choice of analogies or the choice to use an analogy muddles his argument.  The Internet isn’t like anything.  The abstract workings of how people behave online is not unlike how they behave offline but the details (actual behaviors, reinforcers and consequences) are very different.  His analogy, the Interstate System, oversimplifies his argument and the ultimate concept he’s chasing: piracy.

Contrast the expansion of the Internet with what happened a half century ago. In the 1950’s, the Eisenhower Administration undertook one of the most massive infrastructure projects in our nation’s history — the creation of the Interstate Highway System. It completely transformed how we did business, traveled, and conducted our daily lives. But unlike the Internet, the highways were built and operated with a set of rational guidelines. Guard rails went along dangerous sections of the road. Speed and weight limits saved lives and maintenance costs. And officers of the law made sure that these rules were obeyed. As a result, as interstates flourished, so did the economy. According to one study, over the course of its first four decades of existence, the Interstate Highway System was responsible for fully one-quarter of America’s productivity growth.

We can replicate that kind of success with the Internet more easily if we do more to encourage the productivity of the creative engines of our society — the artists, actors, writers, directors, singers and other holders of intellectual property rights — yes, including the movie studios, which help produce and distribute entertainment to billions of people worldwide.

What specific success are we replicating (what is this study he cites?)?  How are the physical constraints of the highway system like anything with mostly non-physical Internet?  And the bigger question… how is the function of the highway system (move people about) comparable at all to the Internet (move info, place to exhibit, converse, transaction… and so on)?

I don’t know what will reduce piracy.  I don’t know what will ensure that Sony and others can make as much money from content as they would like.   I do know that Lynton has made no progress to further is argument and perhaps took a step back by not just sticking to this one key point.

But, I actually welcome the Sturm und Drang I’ve stirred, because it gives me an opportunity to make a larger point (one which I also made during that panel discussion, though it was not nearly as viral as the sentence above). And my point is this: the major content businesses of the world and the most talented creators of that content — music, newspapers, movies and books — have all been seriously harmed by the Internet.

At least this is something we can argue.  (I don’t think his statement is accurate and I’ll write on that later).

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instead of hunting for it, why not send it out there and see what happens?

Load up several extra-solar rockets with some hearty organisms that can survive in extreme conditions.  Program the recon devices to detect hospitible atmospheres/planets so that when the rockets fly by they can alter their paths to drop their payload when they find a suitable location.  These locations will be far beyod the reach of our radio signals, so we’ll just have to throw this out there for posterity. Oh, and yes, include in the payload some  information in various forms (pictures, mathematics, sound, the genomes) about planet earth.

This might be a faster, more efficient method of finding out if life outside of our planet is feasible.

just a thought.

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We often blame businesses, leaders, ourselves for “not knowing better.”

The reality is, in modern American, there is a healthy amount of conditioned incompetence.  Yes, as a society, we really don’t know better, don’t know different.  For a very long time, if ever,  we have not had to deal with some of the incredibly complex issues at play now.  For the most part our businesses, schools, health care, housing markets have been swept along in a 30 year string of mostly growth and expansion.

the last couple of generations literally do not know better. We have to develop new behaviors, new thinking, new ways of getting it done.

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The invention and acceptance of new vocabularies is important to the success of ideas, products, policies and methods.  Many valuable new “things” are written off simply because we lack applicable metaphors, analogies and vocabulary.  Many authors and inventors of new things fail to market a new vocabulary and set up new modes of thinking while they perfect the new thing itself.

Consider these ideas, products, philosophies, politics, sciences that have taken a long time to take hold because of our lack of vocabulary:

0 (concept of zero)

Probability

Natural Selection

Search Engine

Hyperlink

Terrorism

Recession/Depression

Google

Wiki

Computation

Web 2.0

Semantic Web

So how do we absorb a new vocabulary?  Through use.  Use of these products and ideas and association of their vocabulary to the use.

e.g. can you explain a Wiki to anyone?  you could if you showed them.  We still don’t have a general use of the word Wiki but we all “know what we mean.”

Developing the vocabulary within the intended audience of the product, idea or policy is as important to the success as the thing itself.  do not neglect this and/or don’t be surprised if people don’t “get it” at first…

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Here is one of the best blog posts on putting Wolfram|Alpha into perspective:

Asking which result is “right” misses the point. Google is a search engine; it did exactly what it’s supposed to do. It isn’t making any any assumptions about what you’re looking for, and will give you everything the cat dragged in. If you’re an elementary school teacher or a flat-earther, you can find the result you want somewhere in the big, messy pile. If you want accurate data from a known and reliable source, and you want to use that data in other computations, you don’t want Google’s answer; you want Alpha’s. (BTW, the Earth’s circumference is .1024 of the distance to the Moon.)

When is this important? Imagine we were asking a more politically charged question, like the correlation between childhood vaccinations and autism, or the number of civilians killed in the six-day war. Google will (and should) give you a wide range of answers, from every part of the spectrum. It’s up to you to figure out whether the data actually came from. Alpha doesn’t yet have data about autism or six-day war casualties, and even when it does, no one should blindly assume that all data that’s “curated” is valid; but Wolfram does its homework, and when data like this is available, it will provide the source. Without knowing the source, you can’t even ask the question.

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