Posts Tagged ‘media’

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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So, in a moment only Tony Robbins could love, I was doing my early morning stretches when my wife read the following:

Few things could be more dangerous than letting your children fall into the trap of believing what they do doesn’t matter. Teach them that there are consequences of their actions. Teach them that even small decisions and actions consistently made, have far-reaching effects.

But wait; didn’t we just go over a news article on Google that reported that a teacher was axed because she told the 7 year olds that Santa doesn’t exist? Teaching that in a school, no less. What is the world coming to? Oh-no, Batman, another liberal chop at family traditions and faith-based holidays. It wasn’t on CNN.com or Time.com, Reuters, the washingtonpost.com or wsj.com. Should I believe it? What should I do?

What are the consequences of the Santa thing? I certainly enjoyed it growing up. And we all have heard, “What was good enough for me is damn good enough for…” Oh, wait a minute. That was called upon by my parents concerning values that they wanted me to have….that weren’t true, good, or right. You know, buying GM cars that started on fire, racism, bigotry, sexism in business, education and even dictums on whom to marry.

Hummm… seems there is just one more set of conflict of beliefs. What we do is a testament of our values. We thus value the stuff of our traditions more than we value the truth or all that other stuff we teach in school. …We could use this relational logic to teach intelligent design in schools, maybe a course in Wicca and another in Karma for Tots at the YMCA or JCC.

Should we really be surprised that people go postal or freak out in less dramatic fashion when these ‘absolute’ rules from our parents, teachers, and representatives change?

My sister’s response: “Well as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone (another stellar admonishment that the end justifies the means…) why not have Santa, the Easter Bunny and a Virgin Mary?”

Besides that, consequences are complicated even if they are universal. Myths are fun and simple and that is what we need today so we don’t have to deal with the antecedents that result in foreclosure, bankruptcy, layoffs, SEC fraud and bailouts.

Considering the need for fun and distractions, you might consider a small but compact 22 cal pistol as a gift for your child or perhaps some Mary Jane that isn’t a shoe.

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Actually this is a provocative title to get parents and teachers to read online crap. Kinda ironical, don’t you think… it is supposed to sound like concerns from worried parents.

One brain scientist at UCLA, Gary Small, a psychiatrist, argues that daily exposure to digital technologies can alter how the brain works. “Brain scientist” does not equate to brainy scientist!

While violent and porn have received a lot of public attention, the current jive goes well beyond concern and elicits fear. Media hawking ‘scientists’ purport that the wired world may be changing the way we read, learn and interact with each other. Dah…

Dr. Small claims that brain circuits involved in face-to-face contact can become weaker due to the time and exposure to digital media. Of course he offers no data and the directionality of the changes is impossible to determine if they empirically exist at all. …did the person select a digital world because of his or her brain or did the digital world change the brain by being less emotive, less rewarded by being around people?

Small says the effect is strongest in so-called digital natives, for now. It is the teenagers and 20s and 30 year olds who have been “digitally hard-wired since toddlerhood.” [Is pop-science the same as junk science?]

More than 2,000 years ago, Socrates warned about a different information revolution. He knew learning was important. Yet, he lectured that the rise of the written word was a more artificial way of learning than the oral tradition. More recently, television sparked concerns, then movies, then video games that would make our precious youth more violent or passive and interfere with their education. It even was rumored that TV watching interfered with their sight, fantasy development and ability to do good in school. YIKES!

There isn’t an open-and-shut case that digital technology is changing brain circuitry in any way different from an athlete’s brain or a student’s brain changes due to plasticity… those things a person does change the neural work paths of the brain so that the person doesn’t have to relearn everything they did yesterday all over again when they do it today.

Not enough scientists and non-scientists are skeptical of digital fear mongering. It appears to be a way for doctors to get copy in online and print media. I got some articles off the web on this…. There is little to disprove or prove the digital fear speculation.

Dr. Robert Kurzban, a University of Pennsylvania scientist states the obvious: he says that neurobiology is complex and incomplete and there is still have a lot to learn about how a person’s experiences affect the way the brain is wired to deal with any interaction including social or digital ones. They are separate issues: neurological wiring AND social interaction.

It appears to many in education and science that social interaction is a reinforcer just like food and water. Deprivation and overload appear to work in a similar fashion as anyone who has ever been in jail or from a large family will attest. Montessori educators have practiced a version of education and development that maintains that each student gets just what they need when they are ready to process it and there is not an absolute course on when, where and if that is going to happen or should happen.

But anything we do changes the brain due to plasticity. Even Googling. Some scientists suggest the brain actually benefits from Internet use which is equally silly as to claim that the brain is harmed by all things digital.

The developing brain builds pathways as learning occurs that gradually allows for more sophisticated processing. This is true of car mechanics and interpretive dance. It is also true for learning scripture whether it is based on Buddha, Mohamed, Christ or Jim Jones. It is all the same to the brain. Early on, “stuff” that isn’t used gets sloughed off in a pairing of dendrites and neural wax that keeps the brain working efficiently. Over time the 100 billion neurons with their 100,000 connections each come to grips with the environment, internal and external.

Children do more reading earlier online rather than Dick and Jane books at school. There is more and greater variability online than even seasoned educators can grasp. All and all, some parents can’t absorb or rationalize it. Yes, games are played to a frenzy. Yes, there is stuff out there that makes a sailor blush. No one knows how it will all turn out. There is also a bit of “Dr. Suez was good enough for me! Why do you have to be online all the time reading about arbitrage and the credit crunch or the net worth of Hollywood’s stars under 21 on Yahoo?”

For my 20 cents we shouldn’t have such a narrow view of children, humans or animals to rely on some aspect causing a great hole or scar in their behavior or man’s treatment of others. That flag is already waved by organized religion. They have a lock on it except for what is being played out digitally in games. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

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We are about to go into a “phase” as my mother used to refer to my dependence on a specific set of terms, ideas or behavior. That phase is going to be around for awhile and it’s going to drive us nuttier than a 4 year presidential election campaign. It is a ‘racism’ phase and it will end up giving the neocons apoplexy, the centrists gout, and the make the left wingnuts tongue-tied.

No. racism doesn’t have to be black vs. white. If you think that you haven’t had to be paying attention. It can be British vs. French, Indian vs. Pakistani and a hundred other real or imagined lines of descendence that we think makes a difference. It is all the same racism.

And it is now open verbiage to be applied to uncritical street cred and maniacal approaches to everything imaginable. You are racist if you want secure boarders. You are a racist if you don’t care one way or another. You are racist if you want a strong UN. You are raciest if you want your children to go to public – private – parochial or military school (pick).

As for those that think we have a black President it must be dead, pleassssseeee! Spend some time in the south, in the north, east, west, in prison, on a cruise ship, in a space program…

Know racism is not dead. It is not even sick. It is alive and well and willing to come out with a joke, a glace, a decision to stay home from the blues concert. It is euphemism expressed openly. It is seen in almost any non- SNL skit where “nudge – nudge, wink – wink” says it all. It is at every eatery you drive thru or opulently satiate yourself at as well as every level of management seeking a vision to hide our primitivism. It is convoluted, reverse, covert, overt and illegal. It is in front of you and it is behind you. Worst of all, it will never die any more than fear that generates it will be die.

In the end, it is an abject announcement that ‘my cave is better than your cave’ and that I am more in charge of my future if and only if I can make some entity less so that I will be more. It is yours for use as long as you are willing to accept ‘Diversity training’ for your transgressions. It is yours for use as long as you can point to your involvement in affirmative action pamphleteering or some absurd “Guilt-be-gone!” behavior equivalent to two wrongs make a right.

As complex interacting humans that are endlessly pressured to define who we are, we need to call people on their use of racism, and be called on ours, in communications of all sorts. Just ask, “What do you mean?” Otherwise, its easy use will morph to an all encompassing modifier to give credence to our position or shock value to our voice.

So, now we need to turn our phasers on and be ready to shoot down, stun or punctuate any conversation or ink that rides the coattails of an Obama victory to profess their new slant on bigotry.

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When was the last time you used a counterfactual statement? (for definition and examples check here.)

Most likely you dropped one within the last 24 hours.  Counterfactual history litters our sports, finance, media/technology, political and intellectual discourse constantly nowadays.

In Sports:

  • “If Michael Phelps didn’t win 8 golds, …”
  • “If LT played during the preason, the Chargers would be….”
  • ….

In finance:

  • “If Greenspan had lowered rates, …”
  • “If the banks were more regulated, then we would have avoided…”
  • ….

In media:

  • “If Microsoft had bought Yahoo!, then…”
  • “If there were no election cylce, SNL would be…”
  • ….

In politics

  • “If McCain picked Romney, the polls would…”
  • “If the economy didn’t tank, Obama would not…”
  • “If we never went into Iraq, …”
  • “If we left Saddam in power, we’d all…”
  • ….

Our own intellectual discourse:

  • “If I hadn’t have quit my job, we would…”
  • “If I were 5 minutes later, everything would be…”
  • “If you would have looked the door, the burglar would have found another way in…”

This is the basis of all punditry.  Why?  That’s a damn good question.  Why is our discourse so focused on counterfactuals? What value to they provide us?  Is it just “exhaust” as we try to evaluate consequences of real facts (things that did happen!)?  Do they help us organize events so we can better recognize future situations?  Do they actually have logical value beyond discussion? (multiple worlds theory…)

These types of statements are completely unfalsifiable.  They are hypothetical with no way to test them.  The only way would could test these is to be in the exact situations again (or be able to experimentally repeat them).  The problem is – there’s absolutely no way to do this.  We cannot go back, we cannot recreate the exact circumstances.

How often do you use a counterfactual?

My take is that counterfactuals offer very little explanatory value and little behavior modification value.  They are simply fillers as we process what did happen.  (now, can I prove this?)

Hmmm… i’m going to work up an experiment.

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Boy is it hard to avoid political rants lately.  At this point, the major campaigns are all rant. The blogs and news outlets are mostly all rant.

There is very little INFORMATION, POLICY and ARGUMENT for citizens to evaluate.

We can make simple suggestions as to why this is the political process but the real causes and effects are far from simple.  Our media ecology needs ratings to get advertisers.  Ad agencies need fancy media lacking overt controversy.  Politicians need to avoid making a mistake.  Campaign managers need to raise millions (billions?) of dolalrs.  Citizens need time (money) to evaluate the issues.  The two major parties have to appease voters, their donors, their organizers and their lobbyists.  Everyone involve contributes to the struggle for time, money, air time and power. and so on….

The DNC was impressive.  The RNC is impressive for fighting through the competiting media events (hurricanes, “scandal”, start of NFL season, start of prime time TV season).

This election is a crazy media frenzy created by interesting candidates and all sorts of new communication technologies.

Consider the candidates.  You have candidates with all sorts of sordid and interesting pasts… we’ve got old white guys, vets, african americans, women, lawyers, hunters, moms, dads, single moms, single dads, parents of soldiers, drug problems, teen pregnancy, rich guys, poor guys, small town, big town…. it’s finally not an election of Southerners vs. Upper East Coast Politicians.

Consider the technology.  HD tv.  Have you seen these broadcasts on the news channels?  There is so much information.  Sometimes we see 8 screens at once with scrolling facts, news tid bits, full histories, interactive maps… and all of it is connected to a network of blogs, videos, social networks, real live polls.  You can get full voting records, all transcripts of past speeches, historical overviews, and pretty much anything else within seconds for any candidate or major aid. but, the rants still dominate as we learn how to bring all this information together in meaningful ways.

How much of the public is paying attention to this technology?  Well enough that Obama has raised millions from over 2 million donors.  That said, there are probably 50-65% of the eventual voters that are not using all this technology for this election cycle.  I imagine by 2012 that will be 30-40%.

So will we ever get past the rants?  Not as long as TV (and broadcast) is the leading media vehicle.  Perhaps in 4 years the Internet will become the dominate medium.  At worst its 20 years because by then the On Demand generation will be the prime wage earners, and they don’t do broadcast.

The rant dies as soon as the medium doesn’t reinforce it.  Rants are good for Live events and for things that won’t be read and parsed over and over.  Rants get boring quickly and their power dies after a first experience.

or maybe I’m wrong and you can rant about it in the comments.

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John H. Bryant writes:

Behaviorally speaking, what happened when Barack Obama spoke on religion yesterday?For some, like the way I approached the speech and later his presentation, Obama’s speech might have seemed to be about religion… or perhaps the American Black experience… or perhaps the generational tug of our past with what is important to us today. Well, it wasn’t about religion as much as we might think it was.

Yes, we’ve into a shift in religion (Religious Shift in America 2008), energy, globalization, business, etc.

I know what I heard but I noticed something else. My conclusion is there is no Hope for an undefined future condition called ‘a better America’. It has arrived.

What I heard was a shift and a loss of cues that we all have depended upon for so long. Behaviorally they are called SDs or “S – Ds” and stand for ‘discriminative stimuli’. You know, the things we recognize, the brands, the terms, the words, the stimuli out in the environment that we come to recognize as meaning good and bad, smart and dull, etc.; anything that allows us to discriminate one thing from another. While reading the speech that came out in the AM prior to the Barack’s presentation, I couldn’t tell who was speaking. We saw a difficult subject handled without acrimony: race.

Barack Obama speech laid waste to more of the SDs that we’ve all depended on but that are no longer dependable. What are we going to do now if we can’t depend on those old stereotypes? (SDs)

  • We lost the inflamatory rhetoric SD of White, Jackson, Farrakhan and others
  • We lost the ‘done me wrong’ SD
  • We lost the ‘one cause’ explanation for 300 years of bad behavior SD
  • We lost the ‘good guy – bad guy’ dichotomy SD
  • We lost the ‘quick fix’ remedy in my term claim SD
  • We lost the government can make it better pabulum SD
  • We lost the SD of when to have the gut wrenching sinking feeling

I’m a pretty smart guy so I need to figure out the consequences of losing my SDs.

  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and says things that are not purely Democratic, Republican or Washington centric?
  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and you can’t tell if he favors those that are white or black?
  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and he doesn’t instill fear of the future?
  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and he doesn’t try to make you mistrust those who want him silenced?
  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and you think he is talking directly to you rather than in lobbyist code?
  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and you can’t tell why he knows what you value?
  • How is this going to work if Barack Obama speaks and you don’t hear that government knows what is best for you?

Wow, this election is getting complicated. I am going to have to make other associations with Barack Obama when he speaks and that’s hard work because it involves changing my stereotypical SDs.

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