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Archive for the ‘airplane’ Category

If you thought most of the population watched a lot of TV and did nothing while at home, consider what they do at a hotel.

* 98% of guests use the television*
* 70% of guests use interactive features**
* Guests average 4 hrs per night television use***
* Guests average 167 minutes of WiFi Use in Hotels****
* Up to 19% of guests will watch a short form programming channel*****
* 57% of business travelers never leave their hotels. What’s more, one in four never even leave their rooms.*******

and if that wasn’t enough! consider this as well…

“95 per cent of hotel guests don’t leave home without their personal gadgets (with laptops (55 per cent); digital cameras (55 per cent); and mp3 players (46 per cent) being the most popular digital companions). Sixty-seven per cent of us now want to use personal gadgets during our hotel stay. Listening to music from mp3 players over the hotel entertainment system was the most popular demand – from 42 per cent of respondents.”
– Samsung Research

* Industry figures, multiple sources
** Lodgenet figures
*** IIPTV vendor logs
**** Ipass wifi study http://www.ipass.com/pressroom/pressroom_wifi.html#venue_types
***** LodgetNet Press Release – 19% of hotel guests with access to DoNotDisturb TV watch the short form programming channel – a viewership percentage higher than many popular cable channels. In addition, since the channel’s test launch this summer, there have been over 1.7 million DND “plays” viewed through the hotel’s iTV system.
******http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/travel/business/article5221463.ece

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I did a lot of business travel in the last 18 months and have witnessed the variety of TSA and airport security changes.  Most of the improvements have actually, well, improved the security experience.  However one thing that NEVER changes is the Threat Level.  At airports it sits at ORANGE, one less than RED (SEVERE).

I cannot find a chart or trend or any historical log of the threat level bulletins.  Only the daily update.

This ambigious scale and its unchanging nature defeats its intended behavior shaping power.  This scale is no better than issuing alerts when there is an actual threat.

If the goal is to shape people to be more aware in general, this scale lost its use a long time ago.  It’s like a banner ad that you no longer notice on a web page.  Or, more specific to the airlines, it’s like the Safety Information cards NO ONE reads.  (The Hurricane Saffir Simpson scale, when used for public awareness, also suffers from this same problem.  Hurricane warnings extensively discussed here.)

The ambigous nature of the scale itself also confuses.  What should one do if the threat is HIGH but not SEVERE? what’s the difference?  Shouldn’t I be GUARDED even if the threat is LOW?

If you want people to strength behavior you need to vary the stimulus.  Hell in this case, you don’t even have a set of behaviors you’re reinforcing…. just a “state of being” or something weird like that.

To make this more effective as an awareness shaping tool, the TSA and Homeland Security should create signs and messages that vary and are behavior specific.

“Take a look around you, is everything as you expect?”

“Last week’s reported incidents: X, Y, Z. Do you have something to report?”

“Pay attention.  Reported incidents and diligent citizens reduce risk of incident by 50%!”

Perhaps these messages are a bit strong, hopefully you see my point.  Marketing types call this a “call to action” and marketing folks know that you must vary the call to action to continue to heighten the response.

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Update 2/17/09: Here’s a fun piece on CNN about MDs using Twitter from the OR. Again, this is NOT particular useful data being generated.  It is, however, an excellent BROADCAST tool.  Surgeons pushing out updates is useful to families and friends. In the grand scheme of useful information unto itself, this content will have no reuse outside of that surgical operation context.  Perhaps an aggregation and synthesis (not real time) would be useful in trending operations, but there are other, more efficient, ways of computing and comparing data from operations.

Ok, so perhaps, this is why VCs, media pundits and internet geeks gush over Twitter: The idea that it represents some collective thought stream/collective brain.

The most common statement about why this colletive stream of drivel has value comes in this excerpt from the TechCrunch post:

Twitter may just be a collection of inane thoughts, but in aggregate that is a valuable thing. In aggregate, what you get is a direct view into consumer sentiment, political sentiment, any kind of sentiment. For companies trying to figure out what people are thinking about their brands, searching Twitter is a good place to start. To get a sense of what I’m talking about, try searching for “iPhone,” “Zune,” or “Volvo wagon”.

Viewing the proposed examples SEEMS to validate the claim.  However, online discussion and online “tweets” are NOT the same as the behavior you’re actually trying to gain insight into.  Whether people are into a brand is not accurately assesed by viewing what they SAY about it — it’s what they DO about it.  Do people BUY the brand? Do they SHOW the brand/products to others?  Do they consume the brand?

These above examples are not predictive in anyway.  They are reflective.  Twitter can’t do much better than Google, blogs, and news outlets at ferreting out important events, people, products, and places before they are important.  Twitter, in some respects gets in its own way because the amount of “tweet” activity is not always a great indicator of importance.  In fact, some of the most mundane events, people and places get a ton of twitter activity versus really important stuff.

Twitter is also highly biased.  It is predominately used by the technical/digtial elite.  Yes, it’s growing quickly, but it still doesn’t reflect more than perhaps 1-2% of the US population.    Heck, even Google traffic is highly biased, as only 50% of the US population uses search every day. You say, so what, it will get there!  No, it won’t.  Consider the following examples.

Twitter can’t tell you ANYTHING about the real stuff of life like Baby Food, Peanut (recall), or your local hospital. (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to try these searches on Google and compare the results).  With more usage, this only gets more impossible to find the real information.  New tools to parse and organize tweets must be created.  This implies you’ll need computational time to parse it all, thus destroying the “real time part” the techcrunch authors and this quoted blogger adore.  Beyond just filtering and categorizing, an engine needs some method to find the “accurate” and “authoritative” data stream.  Twitter provides no mechanism of this and doing so would destroy it’s general user value (you don’t want to have to compete with more authoritative twitterers, do you?)  Twitter search would need to become more “Googly” to matter at all in some bigger world or commerce sense.

TechCrunch correctly identifies this problem:

An undifferentiated thought stream of the masses at some point becomes unwieldy. In order to truly mine that data, Twitter needs to figure out how to extract the common sentiments from the noise (something which Summize was originally designed to do, by the way, but it was putting the cart before the horse—you need to be able to do simple searches before you start looking for patterns).

So where does Twitter really sit and does it have value?  It is a replacement for the newsgroup and chatroom and some IM functions.  It has value, obviously, because people use it.  Users replace their other forms of conversation with Twittering.  Broadcasters and publishers are also replacing other forms of broadcasting/pushing messages with Twitter.  This, too, has value in that Twitter better fits the toolsets more and more of us sit in front of all day long.  It’s somewhat of a “natural” evolution of things to find a new mechanism of broadcasting when a medium (terminals attached to the network) reaches critical mass.  The hudson river landing example is a better example of the shift in broadcasting method than it is of some crack in the value of Google and others for a value to have “real time search.”  If that logic were sound, CNN would been hailed as a “Google Slayer” as they are more real time than Twitter is (yes, they use twitter and ireport and citizen journalism…).    In fact, CNN is the human powered analytic filter required to make sense of real time streams of data.  News journalists capture all that incoming data and find the useful and accurate information and summarize and rebroadcast.

If I were an operator of IM networks or a business that relied on chatrooms and forums, I’d be worried.  Google, news outlets and other portals should not be worried.  They don’t need more contextless content to sift through, they do just fine without yet another 99% source of throw-away thoughts.

I, myself, am not a Twitter-hater.  It is a great media success.  It probably can make money.  However, it doesn’t represent some shift in social networking, high tech, communications, much less how we interact.  Anyone who claims that must be delusional or hoping to make a buck or two, which is fine too.

TechCrunch concludes with the real question here:

But what is the best way to rank real-time search results—by number of followers, retweets, some other variable? It is not exactly clear. But if Twitter doesn’t solve this problem, someone else will and they will make a lot of money if they do it right.

Is there a possibility to generate a collective thoughtstream? big Internet brain?  Sure, in some loose sense, that’s already happened.  Twitter (and other tools) is just a piece of the puzzle.  The human brain doesn’t have just one piece you can claim as the main part – the CPU that can make sense of everything.  Why should we think something less complicated (the Internet has far fewer nodes, interconnections and far higher energy demands than just one human brain!) have a central core (service) providing some dominant executive function?   There are several reasons this physically can’t happen.  The main thing, I mentioned it earlier, is that making sense of random streams of data requires computational time.  The more inputs a system takes in, the more computation it requires to make sense (or to filter it in the first place).  New information or new types of information must first be identified as potentially useful before they can even be included for summarization.  And so on.  The more useful you need to make entropic data (random), the more energy you need expend. Raw data streams trend toward entropy, yes in an informatic and thermodynamic sense.

In other words, no one company is going to figure out how to rank real time search results – it can’t be done.  Perhaps more damning is, it doesn’t need to be done.  There’s no actual value in searching real time.  The idea of searching is that there is some order (filter) to be applied.  When something happens, John Borthwick, correctly claims “relevancy is driven mostly by time”.  So twitter already has the main ordinal, time, as it’s organizing principle.  Perhaps TC and John Borthwick desire a “authority” metric on tweet search… however, you can’t physically do this without destroying the value of real time.  No algorithm accounting for authority will be completely accurate -there’s a trade off with real time and authority.  (PageRank has the similar problem with authority and raw relevancy, as no name authors and pages often have EXACTLY what you want but you can’t find them.  This is a more damaging problem in “real time” scenerios where you want the RIGHT data at the RIGHT TIME).

If Twitter could plant an authoritative twitterer at every important event and place, real time twitter search might become real.

Oh wait, that’s called Journalism – we already have 1000s of sources of that.

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A study attacking use of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) in social neuroscience as flawed and an overselling their results by scientists printed in Nature under the above name and authored by Alison Abbott has touched a nerve in science. [Yes, it is a double entendre…] Social neuroscience is the study of the neuro­biological mechanisms underlying social behavior.

The field frequently uses fMRI to reveal which brain areas are activated while a subject is exposed to specific social interactions or socially relevant content — e.g., situations that may evoke anger, jealousy, spirituality or guilt.

But a lengthy and no-holds-barred paper accepted for publication in Perspectives on Psychological Science and already circulating widely on the Internet, claims that many studies misused the statistics, measurement and methodology to make points and support positions what were not supported by the data assessed by a very large team of researchers that understand both the technology and the statistical logic used in almost all science fields.

Some of the papers authored responded with dismay, anger and guile. One is reported to have stated, “This is not the way that scientific discourse should take place.

This is indeed the way scientific discourse needs to take place. I am amazed that Ed Vul and his colleagues had the stones to delve into what others suspected but, for lack of a better term, were too lazy to make the analysis and then question individual authors for their imaging methods. In any event the methods need to be substantiated more now than in the past due to the proliferation of information. If left untested the number and aura created can generate a form of viral buzz that makes some research acceptable before it is validated, reproduced or reviewed by peers. Given the sensationalism with which some of the results are heralded and spring board people to be guests of Dr. Phil of Oprha’s show, the microscope needs to be every where if we as society continue to put science on the same dais as sports and financial logic. Clearly there is always the potential of a McCarthyisque tone now that the White House has turned its attention to other things than pillorying the efforts of science.

The amount of published research from imaging experiments has drastically increased over the last 10 years. Of course, some scientists are very knowledgeable and have a really strong grasp of their methodology, from both the data acquisition end and there are others who use a plug-and-play like approach. An area of the brain lights-up and both types of experimental teams have the opportunity to explain it for the reader what it all means. When this is done in retrospect enormous problems raise their shinny little heads.

The criticized authors complained about the immediate publicity of the criticisms. This may indeed not be the way that scientific discourse took place in the past but the Internet has changed the rules as all in politics and business have come to find out. Now science is seeing that ‘change’ is part of the lab and the lecture hall as well as the fMRI tube.

Questioning findings that were publicized is a requirement of science first and the populace second. There are thousands of journals and more coming every day. Some have yet to earn their chops. Their reviews are the same that get published there and have incestuous relationships like coaches in the NFL. Clearly, for science to not return to the dark ages it must regulate its content or someone else will do it for them and that elicits pictures of Alberto R. Gonzales or Rush Limbaugh or perhaps the former attorney general of New York State, Eliot Spitzer. It seems appropriate that the criticisms be addressed and answered by the same audience. Journals that accept manuscripts according to the chance that they make headlines in the popular press may want to consider a different strategy.

All experimenters better be sure they can explain their data, particularly those who don’t work in the field of brain imaging, and are at the mercy of the reviewers to assure them that those images weren’t made in Photoshop.

Short of that, use the Baloney Detection Kit published here. If the authors appear out to prove something rather than understand something you might want to apply the Kit. In either case, you are going to continue to hear about fMRI and interpreting results for many more years.

Now, you want to know what the real problem is?

There is a lack of empiricism in the questions being asked in the first place so this distraction is the same old pea soup in a kettle that psychologists, philosophers and non-scientists everywhere have wasted the eons away with. No matter how exact, exotic and sophisticated the instrument you use to measure, if what you measure is not observable, empirical and the concept is not falsifiable, it is equivalent to flying in an airplane at 35,000 feet at night and looking out the window for answers to even the big questions like, “What the heck is going on out there?’

Good luck with those subjective approaches… let me know how that pans out.

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Below is a Washingtonpost.com article from 1-15-09 that encapsulates the events on the Hudson River in NYC that allowed 155 people to walk away for a ditched water landing in extremely chilly conditions.

(If you don’t like this particular description of events, pick another from the 1032 that were on the web by that evening. Any assessment will work for the questions I am raising under the sub titled heading that precedes the article.)

Determined but unpredictable

A Water Landing

An unlikely event plays out on the Hudson River


Friday, January 16, 2009; Page A18

THE NEXT TIME you’re tempted to ignore a flight attendant’s plea to direct your attention to the front of the cabin for safety instructions, remember yesterday’s dramatic Hudson River landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549. The aircraft had just taken off from New York’s La Guardia Airport en route to Charlotte when both engines were reportedly knocked out after being hit by birds following takeoff. Remarkably, the 150 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants were rescued.

This crash could have been so much worse. That it wasn’t is a testament to a number of actors in the drama, particularly the pilots, that unfolded above the river’s frigid waters. By all accounts, the pilots brought the Airbus 320 down in a controlled manner, and the crew prepared passengers during what little time they had. A passenger interviewed on television said, “We hit hard!” But because of the pilots’ actions, the plane neither broke apart on impact nor sank quickly. One can only imagine the fear inside the cabin, especially after water started to fill it. That everyone got off the plane without life-threatening injury, despite the bone-chilling air and water temperatures, speaks of their pulling together in a time of crisis. The stretch of the Hudson where Flight 1549 went down is served by a constant flow of ferries between Manhattan and New Jersey. Within minutes of the plane’s entering the water, eyewitnesses said, boats were on scene to help pull passengers to safety until New York law enforcement could get there to lead the rescue.

Federal investigators will examine the plane to find out what exactly happened. But the lesson for everyone in all this is to pay attention to those preflight instructions. “In the unlikely event of a water landing” now has special resonance.

The events of the day were just as you heard or read about in the media. 81 tons of metal with millions of interconnected parts and environment physics malfunctioned after take off. No one has paused long enough to pose and extend answers to any of three questions…

Do you believe this was a set of miracles or a consequence of the 437 hours of training of the pilot and crew?” Pick one…

After a problem was detected by the pilot and co-pilot, did their behavior or intervention of Allah, Buddha, God, chance or karma etc., result in the plane landing as it did in the river?” Select the interventionist you favor…

Did the pilot and crew depend on any other agency, including the tower, to do what they did? Select a contributor to their set of results…

Can you explain why the consequences of this aviation event were what they were and other aviation events ended had less desirable consequences?” Please respond and share your views, beliefs and theories…

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[Update 1/20:  Here we see new details coming out on this flight… so does this change the evaluation of the consequences and behavior?]

Most reports on the Hudson Plane Landing are very much a praise of the crew and the captain. For good reason.

Ah, contingencies of context.   We’re assigning value to the pilots actions based on the consequences.  Perhaps if the plane had trouble with the water landing we would be criticizing his methods.

Consider this statement from the report:

The pilot and air traffic controller discussed options, including landing at Teterboro airport in New Jersey, the official said. Then there was a “period of time where there was no communications back, and I’m assuming he was concentrating on more important things.”

How many times have we heard after a tragedy that this same lack of communication resulted in the disaster?

So now, is it better to concentrate and non communicate with the controller?

For amazement, view some of the social network shots and stories.

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