Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Over the last 20 years I have been involved with advertising technology, copy writing, marketing, direct marketing, and just about every form of advertising that exists in America. I love advertising. I have a special place in my heart (and my wallet) for advertising and marketing. The creative aspects of advertising can be nothing short of brilliant; as is the case with the mathematics used in formulating and measuring marketing campaigns!

Historically (meaning: radio, print, TV) , you needed to justify advertising rates with circulation, readers, subscribers, etc. Nielsen built their entire business on providing TV/radio/internet publishers what was available in “old media”. Advertising with publishers was simple: if you wanted to reach an audience of 6MM parents and have the budget, you could find the right publications, shows, etc. and even narrow your market based upon the demographic overlay of the publishers’ audience. In other words, you want to sell baby clothes to parent… you advertise in Parents magazine, not Wild West Magazine. You’d do the opposite for your limited edition collectors coin.

Social Media ushered in a promise of having near real-time and (supposedly) far more accurate statistics. Suddenly, we weren’t talking about difficult to quantify metrics like “circulation” and “page views”. Social Media brought us the “follower” and “like” metrics (likes, reactions, upvotes, etc), which are the ultimate… They are the Jesus metric and ostensibly engagement.

Of course, bots are an issue, but there’s a larger issue with Social Media metrics: the value that followers and likes are afforded. Standard web metrics like page views/session and time on a page are the gold standard for content engagement, and followers + likes are supposed to provide the same for Social Media. Yet, followers and and likes have a serious shortcoming. I’ll get to that in a bit but first…

There are really only two true “value” measurements in modern technology: human time and processor power+time (which is easy to measure in electricity). Followers and likes doesn’t measure either of those as the human time it takes to follow is nominal as is the computer time). Not to mention the intent of a follower (e.g. Judas followers & Judas sharing). This is further exacerbated by the fact that most Social Media is “free”. Obviously, Social Media is not free. The cost is your data, the rights to your content, and being subjected to the network bubble that ensues. But I digress…

Following a profile on Social Media costs very little human or computer time. Same with likes/reactions. In fact, keeping up with those profiles requires very little human or computer time AND technology is making that time less and less with automation and AI. In other words, Social Media metrics of followers and likes have virtually no economic value (human + computer time). Even comments are questionable. (consider the @username comments that are prevalent in Social Media). Throw in the fact that followers and likes can be purchased through advertising and followers/likes can carry a negative economic value to the brand.

Yet, Social Media monetary value is measured in followers. “Influencers” are those with a greater number of followers and reactions on their media. Throw in bots and the fact that all Social Media algorithms formulate a bubble and it’s not difficult to figure out how to game the social media systems.

Social Media made formulas for determining relevance that is calculated based upon self referencing metrics that are easily gamed and also have little to no economic value. Social Media formulas are not based upon relevance derived by a premium on top of human and computer time.

Enter Social Media powered by tokenizing (e.g blockchain mining). Social Media no longer needs to be powered by advertising (although advertising does not go away). Users mine on their network(s) of choice and use their earnings to perform network interactions. Users are directly investing their computer time into their social network(s), even without consuming content or using the network.

Placing content on the network(s) requires exchanging/purchasing the content space on the network. Which is somewhat counter to social networks today that are paying content creators for their content via advertising.

So, why would anyone want this tokenized model when everything under today’s model is “free”?

  • Consuming content would also require an exchange/purchase, and content creators can place a premium on interacting with their content
  • Advertising/product placement would still exist and content creators have more powerful metrics (e.g. on average, I receive 500,000 tokens for every piece of content I produce) to provide advertisers such that the content creators can charge more
  • Content creators have the ability to set their own rates of consumption as well as the license of their content (permanent, time limitation, etc)
  • Helpers (think stackoverflow.com) would be able to determine if someone asking a question is paying a viable rate for them to provide their insight for tips. For example, User A tips well for the winning answer to a complex coding issue. Helper 1 sees that and is willing to provide more comprehensive advise than RTFM and is rewarded handsomely by User A for the sound advice
  • Advertising on the social networks would have smart contracts that could come with clauses making bot interactions and/or nefarious interactions much easier to punish
  • The social networks have control over all the tokens and can easily reverse/punish bot transactions, virtually eliminating the problem of bots. In other words, if a bot farm wants to provide mining for the social network so that the bot farm can produce and interact with content on a massive scale such that it would influence people, it will cost the bot farm considerably more computer time than it does now. Also, once the bot farm is determined to be a bot farm by the social network, the bot farm tokens can be confiscated by the social network and the bot farm content revoked. The bot farm loses everything and all users effected regain their tokens (providing additional incentive to the social network users to not tolerate bots). The bot farm would have to shift its mining elsewhere immediately or else it would continue paying the social network in mining resources (i.e. computer time).
  • Content creators of games would be able to tap into the mining power of the users playing their games to add a revenue source and help offset their costs to be part of the network.

Perhaps, users could also mine elsewhere and then transfer funds to their social network wallet of choice and exchange for tokens to interact on that network. This would open up an entire marketplace of services within the social network environment.

The value of a social network is now the amount of tokens created on it’s network * the exchange rate of those tokens on the open market. Followers and likes have measurable economic value, and Judas would be paying 30 tokens instead of earning tokens as a bot troll.

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It helps to be a Nobel laureate when you spout out economic nonsense. But, if you’re not able to milk your 2008 Nobel prize, here are the top ways to become a successful bitcoin doomsdayer:

  • It helps if you have some sort of “authority” on the subject: Nobel prize in economics, MBA, degree in finance, Instagram pictures of you on a boat, etc.
  • Start by claiming bitcoin is a bubble and even claim that you’ve been saying that for years.
  • Claim that you’ve been “right” about bitcion and cryptocurrency for years. You don’t need to have any proof of such claims, just make the claims.
  • Make nebulous claims like “this won’t end well” and “this bubble is about to burst”
  • Use words like parabolic
  • Make as many unsubstantiated claims of bitcion’s “true value” as you can. Just make up a number: $1,000… $3,000… Doesn’t matter if you understand the technology or not. Just make something up that sounds scary to people.
  • Be as vague as possible as to when the bitcoin bubble will burst. Remember, being an internet oracle doesn’t require specifics or even a month. Oracles are made by claims of “soon” and “imminent”.
  • Be as vague as possible as to what value the bitcoin crash will dip to. In fact, don’t even say what the crash will be. This way, when there’s a correction of 40% you can still claim oracle status! Definitely don’t make a 100% accurate prediction to the exact thousand dollar amount that BTC will drop to.
  • Use the word bubble at least 3-4 times every hour; even in conversations unrelated to bitcion
  • Make reference to the mythical tulip bubble
  • Bask in the glory of being right 4-5x per year about the bitcoin bubble when there’s a major correction in the budding cryptocurrency market every few months!
  • Bitcoin shame as much as possible on social media!

P.S. In Krugman’s defense, he does make a valid point that he doesn’t understand technology. He also makes a reasonable point that bitcoin lacks viability as a transactional currency. That is valid given BTC’s current limitations for handling massive tx volume and BTC’s high tx cost. BTC will either need to change or (more likely) be used as a store of large amounts of wealth and for large transactions (e.g. buying a house).

Four years ago, I wrote about how the national parks can avoid the next government shutdown. It was a bit shortsighted in retrospect. Rather than utilizing bonds, national parks (any any organization for that matter) should leverage cryptocurrencies. There are over 1,000 cryptocurrencies in existence today (most should be avoided).  But a park like Yosemite Nation Park fits the mold of being a perfect fit for a cryptocurrency.

A Yosemitecoin has a specific use for a specific purpose. Want to visit and park at Yosemite? Pay in Yosemitecoin. Want to stay at a lodge in Yosemite? Pay in Yosemitecoin. It’s important to the ecological health of Yosemite to limit the number of visitors per season/year, so having a cryptocurrency that is limited in availability during a season would allow the price/cost of Yosemitecoin to limit the exposure of the park.

Mining of Yosemitecoin could prove to be a profitable venture for miners depending upon how the rules are setup for Yosemitecoin mining and exchanging. Exchanging could help boost the overall budget available for Yosemite National Park and allow for the park to afford more resources to ensure the park is well maintained and employees at the park are well compensated. A Yosemitecoin could even serve as a long-term retirement investment vehicle for park employees.

Getting into details for all of this would require much more than a simple blog post. However, every national park, non-profits, and global organizations (such as the red cross) could greatly benefit from having their own cryptocurrency that furthers their cause.

“Behind every great man is a great woman”

We hear that statement (or some variant: “Behind every successful man is a woman”) so often, particularly in politics. It’s so popular that with the rise of successful women in business and politics we hear the gender role reversal: Behind every great woman is a great man. Regardless of the gender roles, the statement has an underlying tone that the spouse of a great/successful person is hidden “behind” the successful person.

Maybe we see the significant other on the stage… Maybe the great wo/man is mentioned in an acceptance speech… Maybe in the memoirs…

The reality is that *Beside* every great wo/man is a great wo/man. It’s just a preposition, but this preposition swap accurately reflects the true spirit of this popular idiom. The spouse of a successful person stands besides them, not behind them. When they walked down the isle, they walked beside each other. No one individual was behind or in front of the other, and it’s the same in success and greatness.

When I achieve success in business or life, my wife is always beside me; not behind me. And I know that the same holds true for her. We’re on this adventure together. One of us certainly takes the lead depending on what obstacle is in front of us, but when we cross that finish line… When we achieve success, it’s beside one another.

Had I stayed away from the news websites, I wouldn’t have even noticed the federal government shutdown. Funny part about that is that I have a family member who works for the federal government, but she didn’t get furloughed since she works in a government agency that actually turns a profit with its services. Naturally, when an organization makes a profit it doesn’t have to furlough people when the rest of the federal government does.

I’m not going to debate whether one side is right or wrong or worse than the other in this blog. I’m just going to post a solution to the one problem that I saw most in the news and on social media: shutting down our national parks. I’m not going to debate if a 1000 square mile range of the ocean in Florida needs our federal government to stay open to fishermen or whether Mt. Rushmore needs federal employees to be open. This solution solves the debate. Here it is…

Have the National Park service issue multiple denomination certificates for the full amount of its annual budget that are a tax credit for those who purchase them and never have to be paid back. In essence, it’s a donation to our National Parks, but rather than just being a tax deduction like a charity, this is a tax credit because our federal government is using tax dollars to pay for the National Parks. It’s a $ for $ in tax money.

Obviously, the National Park service would incur some minor overhead for building and maintaining this system, so it can just add it to its budget. I’m betting that if you put it into an open bidding process you could easily find thousands of companies capable of building this platform.

This would help ensure that our National Parks remain open regardless of federal government wrangling. It would also serve as a model for other government entities for how they can become self sufficient and immune to federal government budgetary gridlock. There are numerous other benefits to this model such as helping to keep spending inline with revenue for the government as a whole and providing citizens with a greater say in how our tax dollars are spent. This idea isn’t just about avoiding shutdown furloughs that are back paid anyway. It’s a solution to an ongoing budget (or lack thereof) with our federal government.

Here are added incentives for our National Parks:

  1. Want that budget increase you could never get? Increase your budget and see if taxpayers are willing to pay for it
  2. If Congress acts now, there will be a flood of taxpayers willing to cover your entire fiscal calendar budget since there are just 2.5 months left in the tax year

Edit: Why not make a petition out of it? https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/taxpayer-direct-funding-national-parks/csP0c6Bh

The other day, I felt like I was going crazy. I was bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I had received a message on Facebook that I was tagged in a photo. It was one of those collage photos, so I figured I check it out sometime later. Those things can be pretty entertaining. I eventually got around to checking it and discovered I had been tagged as “the asshole” in the picture.

Now, the person who tagged me as “the asshole” is the real reason I was laughing my ass off. This is the same woman who I had been dating off and on for five-and-a-half years when she told me that my friend Rich committed suicide because I’m such a lousy friend and then left me because she was so hurt by me. Mind you, she did this 10 days after Rich killed himself.

To be sure, I’m no innocent person. I happen to be a human being, and I’ve made some very big mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt quite a few people along the way, and I have no problems with people considering me an asshole. I have certainly been an asshole to many people, and anyone who has dealt with me in business will tell you that I have a brutal streak of shrewdness.

Still, I’m not sure that someone who I helped build her career and her personal life should be calling me an asshole. Of course, I’m sure she has long forgotten about how so much she has in her life right now has come from the support that I have given her over the years.

Now, the whipped cream and cherry on top came today. Her best friend decided to tag me as “the asshole” as well  on what would have been Rich’s 33rd birthday.

I feel for them both. That somehow they feel comfort in labeling me as an asshole while I am wandering through the grieving process  of having lost a close friend of nearly 20 years is beyond me. Is it too much to ask them to at least wait a couple months?

Usually, my best thinking is done on the toilet. However, I realized something the other day while I was driving to a dance class. I’ve come to realize that often times (if not all the time), when I’m hurting emotionally, it is because someone else is/was hurting. Two recent poignant examples…

A good friend of almost 20 years committed suicide in early February. I’ve gone through a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows. I know that he was in a tremendous amount of pain. Losing someone close is one thing, but suicide is something else. The best way I can describe it for me is that is feels like I’m burning from the inside out. Rich was someone who used me as a personal reference when he joined the Air Force, applied to Cal Poly (which he graduated from), and applied for a job at Intel (which he got!). The influence we had on each other’s lives was profound. We rode motorcycles together, shared stories of skydiving together (although we never jumped together), shared everything about our love lives, went to clubs, talked about deep social and personal issues, encouraged each other, and inspired each other.

Perhaps the most difficult part of Rich’s suicide was knowing what a positive influence I had on his life. Had he just been a close friend who I talked to every day/week/month/whenever… But Rich was not just someone I was close with. Rich was someone I inspired, and he let me know I inspired him. He was also someone who inspired me, and I let him know. The pain of losing someone with so much mutual admiration is incredible.

A few days after Rich committed suicide something happened that I still can’t believe. My closest friend, someone that I spent countless hours with every week, someone I’ve go through hell and back for, someone I’ve stood for through insurmountable crap went on a tyraid and started slinging some of the most vicious insults I have ever heard in my entire life. I am still having difficulty wrapping my head around the words because I have never been attacked like that before.

Now, getting back to my theory… In the case of Rich, I know he was hurting tremendously inside. We had spoken about the burden he felt in his life many times over the years. In fact, his letter mentioned the amount of pain he felt. In the case of my other friend, I know there was a lot of pain there as well. What was said was coming from the pain that my friend was feeling. In both cases, my friends were hurting.

Pain is almost like something we pass along because we don’t know what to do with it. It’s like playing hot potato. You hold onto it with your bare hands, and you are going to get burned. So, instead, we toss the hot potato from one person to the next out of natural instinct. We don’t think, “Should I hold onto this potato?” No, we just toss it along. It’s a natural things.  Same thing with pain. We pass our pain to the next person because that’s the natural instinct.

Once I realized this, my own pain began to ruminate in the back of my mind. It was almost like another section of my grey matter was activated and started diligently working on this concept.

Then something else dawned on me: I don’t really know everything that is going on inside of me all of the time. We all have this, those moments when someone points out something to us about ourselves and we realize that we just weren’t aware of it. If you are thinking that there is nothing about yourself that you aren’t aware of then I rest my case 😉

So, if I don’t even know everything that is going on with me all the time, how could I possibly know everything that is going on with someone else?

Tying it all together, my brain came to the following conclusion:

Pain is transfered from one person to the next because we don’t realize that we are doing it in the moment and partly because we don’t really know how to deal with our own pain. Working through that pain looks different for everyone. Some write songs. Others paint paintings. Others turn into axe murders. Some start smoking, doing drugs, or drinking. Some take up some other form of addiction: gambling, adrenaline rushes, sex, etc. Some dance. Some write blogs. Some just shut off. The list goes on and on.

In most cases, if we knew in advance that what we were going to say or do was going to hurt someone, we wouldn’t do it. However, that still leaves us with the pain that we likely don’t know how to deal with. Some people will never deal with it and just keep passing it along, and it will always keep coming back to them amplified. Some people will never deal with it and internalize it to the point of no return.

Dealing with pain is a matter of understanding the root cause of the pain. Think of it like treating a fracture. You may feel the pain in the tendons or muscle, but you’ll never heal a fracture by giving yourself a massage. Same thing with emotional pain, but the origin is a bit tricky. The origin of the pain is not some deep seeded emotional baggage you have from childhood or some emotional scare from years gone by. The origin of the pain lies in the other person. While you may not be able to understand the other person, you can empathize with that person. After all, whatever pain you are feeling must be several times worse inside of them.

Of course, this all left me with one gigantic question: Aren’t I just making excuses for other people’s behavior? At first, I thought yes. Then I thought about it some more.This isn’t a justification of any choice or action that someone takes. This is an acknowledgement that someone has done/said something and there are consequences. The choice we make is whether we want to continue to pass along pain or not.

In short: Life Happens, deal with it.

I can’t believe that only 23% of the people polled in a CNN poll thought Vice President Dick(head) Cheney is the worst VP in the history of America. Either these people have a strong recollection of Aaron Burr and Spiro Agnew, or they haven’t paid much attention to distortion of our constitution by the worst Vice President in history. Certainly, Agnew was a swindler, but he has nothing on Cheney. Dick easily ranks up there with Burr.

I would be interested in knowing who these people really think is the worst VP ever.

My favorite quote from Dick:

“I’m very comfortable with where we are and what we achieved substantively. And frankly, I would not want to be one of those guys who spends all his time reading the polls. I think people like that shouldn’t serve in these jobs.”

Of course he feels very comfortable. After having pulled off the largest raping of the American public, I’m sure he feels as comfortable as OJ Simpson with a glove that doesn’t fit on his hand.

Here’s an idea for the government bailout program that the vast majority of Americans don’t support. Give us an opt out clause on our taxes for the next 10 years.

Now, I’m not talking about opting out of our taxes. Those of us who don’t support the bailout will still have to pay our taxes as usual. However, we can opt out of our tax dollars being used to fund this ridiculous scam.

If you limit the government’s availability of funds, they can’t be as spendthrift as they have been. If they want to come up with $700 billion to spend on some useless bailout, they will need to get it from some other source than the American taxpayer.

Years ago, this would not have been possible. However, with technology today, this is entirely possible. In fact, we could give taxpayers the ability to opt out of any irresponsible government spending. It would really make it simple for the government to determine how much they can waste on pointless bailouts like the automobile industry bailout. If 60% of Americans don’t support the automobile bailout then they will only have access to 40% of the taxpayer funds.

This would make budgeting for the government much easier! Taxpayers don’t support something, Congress can’t just go spend the money whenever and wherever they want. I suspect that we could balance the budget within 4-5 years and keep it balanced indefinitely with a bailout opt out clause. In fact, I suspect the government would end up with considerable surpluses as government waste would now have a true checks and balance system in place. The total tax dollars collected would be the same, but the ability for Congress to spend would drop considerably.

Now, some might argue that this would create serious problems with because the funding for the bailout is something that is “necessary” to avoid a greater economic downturn or because it is something the public doesn’t understand the importance of. I have two words December 2007.

I’ve been a fan of Steve Forbes since the ’96 Republican primary. While I don’t agree with his flat income tax, I can certainly agree with him that Henry Paulson is “the worst Treasury Secretary in modern times“. It seems like nobody has been willing to point some very harsh fingers at administration officials but not Forbes.

There is this ridiculous notion that we have avoided a much worse financial crisis than it could have been. Certainly if we had buried money in the money holes like Onion News joked about, we’d be in a much worse financial situation. However, we haven’t actually been burying money in real money holes, unless you count the $700 billion bailout we dug ourselves last month.