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  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 20:43:33 on 2016/11/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , actualization, , , , , , , , , , , interaction, , market, , , marketplaces, , , self-actualization, , , , , social network, social networks, ,   

    For some, we get lost in media 

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    I opened up a copy of the New York Times today, and in an empty space within an article, there was a blurb that reads

    Social networks put individuals at the center of their own media universes

    — I am not even sure I understand what that is supposed to mean. Let alone the notion of a plurality of universes, the idea that media are not between people but rather like belly buttons for individuals to discover themselves within … I just find it mind-boggling. Then again, according to the surrounding words in the article next to this message, social media are depicted as breeding grounds for “fake news”, as cesspools for propagating mythical stories, for manipulating large populations of suckers into following this or that social media expert, leader, salesman or whatever.

    “Social” is seen as the big mistake, the errant sidetrack from the collapsing foundations of journalism. Four words seem hidden somewhere in between the lines: I told you so. Naive and forlorn like Dorothy in a dizzying whirlwind, individuals end up as victims of lever-pulling hackers, clowns and con-artists. Social media transport hoaxes and fairy tales, yet they are also instruments targeted at novice users, training wheels to guide their first steps in the cyber-landscape. The virtual world is both for the light-hearted at the same time that it’s a wide field of thin ice. Throughout this portrayal, the real world is not embodied in media. Instead, real-world people with real-world addresses exist behind real-world mastheads printed on real-world paper. They carry real-world business cards, not fake virtual URLs.

    Real-world buildings, with real-world street addresses, real-world telephones and such media are the physical conduits for real-world relationships. In contrast (so the argument), virtual facades evaporate into thin air as soon as a video screen is turned off.

    This contrast might be all good and fine, except that it is a lie. None of these things are any more real than the other. Main Street is nothing without the street sign signifying it as such. The reason why we can agree to meet at Main Street is that we both understand it to be Main Street, and this agreement is based on us both understanding how to read street signs. Indeed: we agree on many things, of which such street signs are fine examples. We can also agree on the time of day, to speak the same language, or to answer each other’s questions succinctly and truthfully. Such agreements are crucial for us to help each other reach our goals, whether we hold the same goals in common, or whether each of us is trying to reach our own particular individual goals.

    By reaching our goals, we become not only successful, we also become who we are.  We actually self-actualize our identities. For example: a writer does not simply exist, he or she becomes a writer by writing. A worker becomes a worker by working. A buyer becomes a buyer by buying, a seller becomes a seller by selling, a consumer becomes a consumer by consuming and a producer becomes a producer by producing. As these last examples show, sometimes we can only self-actualize when other conditions are met, and sometimes these conditions also require the engagement of other people. In this sense, reaching our own goals involves a team effort — as, for example, a sale involves the teamwork of both a buyer and a seller.

    Therefore, the real world is not so much a matter of separated individuals as it is the interaction and engagement of individuals with each other in a symbiotic process of self-actualization. We become who we are by interacting with one another. Our goals aren’t distinct and separate, they’re intertwined. We need to think of media as bustling marketplaces for such exchanges to take place, rather than as sterile and inert transport mechanisms. These are not empty tubes simply bridging gaps, they are stages for playing out our roles in real life.

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 14:57:18 on 2015/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , fixed, flux, , , , , market, , privilege, privileges, , , , , , variable   

    How to Fix the World via the Legal System 

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    I have long since been a big fan of Edmund Burke — the “father of modern conservatism”…. He was probably far ahead of his time, but for today, I feel he is no longer far ahead of our time. What is more: I think I myself have figured out a way to improve on his ideas about conservatism.

    These ideas I have, I started having them during my college years .. but I have just now added one significant extra twist which make them far simpler to implement.

    The basic idea is this: People should be able to live out their lives under a single system of laws and not have to worry about whether laws might change at some point in time. The main reason why this is problematical is that lawyers (or legislators, or whatever) keep changing the laws … and therefore law (remember how Tom Paine wrote that “in America, law is king”?) is a constantly moving target. The problems, therefore might get extremely complicated if people are born at different times… as in the meantime (between their dates of birth) some of the laws may very well have changed.

    The “extra twist” I came up with today is this: There should be different levels of fixedness — I think perhaps four of them. The law we have today — basically: fully “variable” law (and by that I mean the laws could change at any time) — could be called “free” law (because we don’t have to “pay” anything for it — at least not apparently so). This is what everyone has today (whether they like it or not).

    To this I would add 3 levels of more “fixed” laws: 1. uniquely fixed law; 2. strictly fixed law; and 3. affordable fixed law. Affordable fixed law (a sort of privilege) could be bought at a rather affordable rate, and it would fix the law a person is subjected to to the law of a specific calendar year. Strictly fixed law would fix it to a particular date. Uniquely fixed law would go above and beyond that and fix it to a unique point in time. This reasoning adds some significant ideas. First, moving from free law to affordable fixed law to strictly fixed law to uniquely fixed law, one would advance from lesser privileges to higher privileges — in other words: the higher privileges would trump the lower levels of fixedness. Also, this would introduce something like market forces into the system — the price of affordable fixed vs. strictly fixed vs. uniquely fixed law could be set at the beginning, but might be allowed to rise and fall with the sentiments of how people wish to invest in having such a level of reliability.

    That is the basic idea, redux. I will leave it at that for now — at least I have finally written it down and posted it for all the world to see. :)

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 08:29:33 on 2015/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: auction, auctioning, auctions, , , market, , , , prices, , ,   

    The Theory of Competition vs. Pricing in a Seller’s Market 

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    In a recent episode of “This Week in Startups” (TWiSt), Jason Calacanis and Molly Wood discussed Google’s business model (see, e.g. “The #Future of #Retard #Media in 4:20″ [ http://nooblogs.com/activity/p/5321/ ]).

    One aspect of where traditional economics does not seem very good at dealing with the online economy is in the pricing of information and/or informative content. Please don’t try to nail down these concepts as referring to something very specific, because this is actually more of a sweeping generalization. One of the many ways this generalization has manifested in reality is via so-called “auction” markets (and/or “auction pricing” models).

    You might think that over many centuries of stock market trading there might be more knowledge about how such markets work, but my hunch is that a big part of the reason why there isn’t much knowledge about this is that these markets were very closed off (ironically, in economics one of the defining characteristics of a market is infinitesimally small — “low” — barriers to entry). Traditional stock markets are anything but that!

    In the example cited above (go ahead and follow they link / watch the video segment, so that you can better understand what I am referring to), Jason mentions the string “used iphone”. Naive users of such “retard media” platforms believe the results for such a search display a plethora of competing sellers. In fact — as Jason noted — pretty much the entire page is plastered with offers from Google advertising partners. In other words: Google has essentially become what it replaced only about 10 years ago: the “yellow pages”. Such a page has no magic algorithm brought to you by a web of links behind it — it is 100% “paid media”.

    Normally, competition refers to a market in which an individual buyers can peruse offers from a wide variety of competing sellers — i.e. a beverage aisle with dozens or even hundreds of different kinds of beverages.

    In contrast, Google faces a very different situation. It is widely seen as a monopolist, owning such vast market share that it is in a position where it could virtually dictate the market price. Its marketing department tells the vast population of hungry buyers that the company has developed sophisticated algorithms for something like “fair pricing” is such auctions… — apparently the auctioneer is a very trustworthy seller and would never steal anyone’s shirt.

    Over the past several years, I have been noticing that Google’s marketplace has become increasingly populated by novices — more well versed users have increasingly migrated to other platforms for specific queries in which they have already acquired some expertise. This development is quite probably one of the main reasons why a company like Amazon would acquire the domain name “diapers.com”. I am often reminded of a television ad where the voice-over said (of a clothing retailer’s offers): “an educated consumer is our best customer“.

    Perhaps one of the most ironic aspects of the technological revolution we are currently experiencing is that the success and failure of any undertaking has much more to do with the limitations of “human technology” than with semiconductors, big data, etc. The very human psychology and the very human behavior of human actors seem to be often overlooked to the peril of the short-sighted. As Molly Wood aptly agreed (with Jason): “The core business is going to die”.

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 16:48:55 on 2014/08/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , market, minimum wage, oil, public transportation, transportation, , , , , , ,   

    Public Transportation in the United States of America 

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    I was traveling in the USA this summer, and after I had a very negative experience due to an incompetent worker in the public transportation industry I vowed I would write a blog post about it. Actually, I sort of threatened it, saying if that Greyhound did not apologize for the poor service (which lead to a delay of several hours, such that we were no longer able to arrive during daylight hours :| ) then I would call them out on it.

    Well, if I hadn’t written the previous bit, then I would have lied before — and I didn’t want to do that, either.

    With that out of the way, I would like to add something more useful to this topic. Put simply, public transportation fails in the United States of America for no other reason than this: Many / Most Americans don’t want public transportation. If the public doesn’t want public transportation, then public transportation doesn’t need to work. If public transportation doesn’t need to work, then why invest any money in trying to make it work? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to simply employ incompetent people at minimum wage and not to worry about what they do at all? Granted, not all people who work in public transportation are incompetent, but apparently no one to cares whether they are or not.

    It seems that in the USA, the way the so-called “free market” incentivizes someone to be more than incompetent is to pay more than the minimum wage. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it seems to me that the main difference between someone receiving unemployment and the minimum wage is that people who receive the minimum wage are will to get up and do something (whether they do it well or not doesn’t seem to matter all that much).

    Until Americans realize that their level of consumption of fossil fuels is preposterously high, there doesn’t seem to be much reason for them to want public transportation to work. Although the next oil shock — if it is significant enough — might make that happen, Americans are still completely unprepared for it. It will probably be messy, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will have to happen sometime… and probably sometime relatively soon.

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