over 8 years on 2010-08-02


dear readers,
below are a set of 'blips' i have been thinking about recently. of note, i am working on a bit of a 'rebuttal' to clay shirky's cognitive surplus book for tomorrow night's tech meetup, so i am going to mostly hold off on a grand statement of the week and stick with shorter stuff:

letter.ly letters quickly are becoming a sunday activity: last week on sunday i found delivered to my inbox 8 letters wonderful from people to whom i subscribe. it is always interesting to watch a population begin to interact with a medium, especially as they come to the same conclusions on how to use it -- writing the type of content that works well as letters seems like a sunday post-brunch thing... which makes sense for a population of professionals writing on the side. we will see how it evolves over time as the "platform" itself grows.

survivalist new york do you have an escape plan? i do -- i think disaster preparedness is fun... and a good reason to stay in shape. the headline by my thinking is don't try to walk off the island, swim. and if you intend on swimming invest in a wetsuit, because that will be the most impt piece of survival equipment in the hudson. investing in bikes, boats, etc. is probably a poor move because in a real situation people will just steal them and / or you will draw attention to yourself.

p.s. does the us govt invest in giant fans? sub-note, if a biological / chemical / nuclear bomb were detonated in nyc i bet the best way to save lives would be to quickly blow all the radiation / biology / etc. out to sea. i wonder if we have invested in / tried to develop tech to quickly bring up a high wind in an area to clear it out?

comments on blogposts are a terrible medium of communication. i almost never read comment threads, but recently i felt compelled and was appalled by the experience of parsing through 50 comments back and forth below an interesting article... comments tend in most places to not be useful conversations, but merely useless repetition without new information which are driven largely by the simplistic ego of seeing your name next to something you want to shout. social weight/rank on comments (fb) mean something / is one dimension... so is voting up/down comment blocks (reputation) ... and perhaps wikis are interesting in the realm of comments as well -- ultimately i feel like most comment threads are a way to get readers to feel invested in a post / part of a conversation which binds them more to the core writing -- but boy it is no way to actually get high value / bit information. is there a format for conversation that can encourage people not to repeat what has already been said and more clearly organize their thoughts?

darwinistic computing / computers need wallets / doing hayek proud / opscode: i *have been told* second or third hand that the way that google manages its compute resource is basically an internal auction for resources among their various services... i know that netflix assigns simple but nonetheless dynamic dollar tolerances for encoding activities -- opscode/infrastructure automation means that we can all play these types of games, if we know how to price the value of our transactions properly.

hayek would be very proud as the 'cloud' fills with more and more diverse jobs, really the only way to transmit information necessary to balance resources is going to be pricing, which means that it all comes back to simple economics.

in the case of google, i wonder how far they really have gone -- do wonder if they bake it all the way out and assign a $ transaction value to each service-interaction? - or - how else they dynamically weight the value of serving a search result x ms faster vs. making your google doc load x ms faster. at foo i enjoyed discussing the idea that "robots" really need wallets / cash allowances if they are to function in the world... but even nearer term computers need to start directly talking economics.

language is a time machine: there is a great line towards the end of junger's book on this -- how language freed us from the eternal present... and how language explains heroism from a genetic perspective (without language no one can retell your heroic deed, and you don't get to have more children)... half formed in my mind right now, but i may come back to it.

why the nexus one failed: google has stopped selling the nexus one... i have been told it was a good phone.... with no actual knowledge or research, i would bet it failed for one really simple reason: google couldn't overcome the reality of the human flow of phone acquisition. basically, the nexus one was something you ordered online and was delivered to you -- the issue with that is that being without a phone for even a day is a major modern headache. people don't do that. phones are one of the few things where 24 hours matters, and not enough people carry more than one phone... so make sure your distribution strategy matches the requirement on the goods.

consumable media:

- i listened to sebastian junger's "war" this week... everyone should read it, it was truly epic and mind opening.
- things on my list to read: confessions of an advertising man, the magic of thinking big
- i watched chris rock's 'good hair' now i look for weaves everywhere i go...
- things on my to watch list: hot tub time machine


- loved the lean startup meetup (http://www.meetup.com/lean-startup/)
- had a blast with friends at a brooklyn cyclones game - worth going, and get a pizza cone while you are at it.
- it was jewish heritage night at the cyclones game, out of context the evening would have seemed highly anti-semetic
- kiteboarding amityville nyc is great, but take the train (lmk if you want to come next weekend)

nightly batch jobs and sleeping: someone recently commented to me about how the systems that stand behind the financial system have it easy because they can shut off every night and run reconciliation / batch processing -- things are easy if you don't have to be up 24x7. somehow i feel like this must be highly related to why human beings sleep... our brains need time to run nightly reconciliation, we can't do 24x7 uptime.

wikileaks knows that information is about economics: hell yah! "it's counterintuitive," he said. "you'd think the bigger and more important the document is, the more likely it will be reported on but that's absolutely not true. it's about supply and demand. zero supply equals high demand, it has value. as soon as we release the material, the supply goes to infinity, so the perceived value goes to zero." computerworld wikileaks

if you are looking for an easy way to make weekend money.... you need day pases to use the new york city tennis courts in the east village, but you can only buy those passes at paragon on 18th street.. they cost $7 at paragon, no question you could sell them for $10 at the courts (jev informally proved this over the weekend by doing just that in a one off situation)

markets are income smoothing, crowdflower is the new resume: a very smart guy was recently explaining to me how a platform like crowdflower (or mechanical turk) is going to be the new resume -- forget what you say you can do / just show the market and then remember the results...

i think there is an interesting bit here which is that something like crowdflower will definitely cause wages to go down overall by making it easier for suppliers of mass labor to reach buyers, but it also should be income smoothing, meaning -- people are not employed / unemployed but constantly in a state of 'employed when their price is met'.... moving back to piecemeal markets should mean people make less per unit of labor but work exactly when they want to (and not when they don't) -- poorer, but more predictable income is the future for mass jobs (as opposed to highly specialized ones)

grab a pen and paper - write down 148 names of your 'friends' as fast as you can - check the trends, how long did it take? are they actually your friends? did you spell their names right?

a retarded bill.... http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/a10008 this is an anti-variable cost bill if i have ever seen one. this is exactly the wrong direction for the govt and the country, we need more flexibility not less.

for fun i really want to check out this bar-barge on the hudson launches leave every half an hour... 0 and 30 ... from manhattan sailing club dock (where all the little boats are) out to the barge -- $10 launch fee, sounds highly worth doing.

and because i got into an argument with someone about this -- don't mess with former bain people on orders of magnitudes, that is all we know how to do -- california's economy is not $120b to the us national $14 trillion, it is $1.85 trillion.... as one would expect, california is about 10% of the country's population and a bit more than 10% of the economy, so a $20 billion dollar deficit is small peanuts.

cognitive surplus: coming tomorrow night -- while i like *some* of the points in clay shirkey's new book (i am also anti-television), i have to admit that i take real issue with what i understand to be the central thesis on reading... especially his interpretation of the two central studies by uri gneezy and aldo rustichini: "a fine is a price" and edward deci

original swl blogposts and letters 2007-2010