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  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 16:06:05 on 2016/01/20 Permalink
    Tags: abnormal, , , , , , , , , , , digital media, digitalisation, digitalization, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , market research, , , , , message, messages, , mob, mobs, , normal, , , , rumor, rumors, rumour, rumours, , smart, , , , , , , , , untrue   

    Propaganda + Subjectivity in Retard Media 

    I was recently discussing a radio program with a friend who understands media quite well – but who seemed to be „playing dumb“ during the discussion. The radio program in question was a German one – BR’s Radiosalon had broadcast a debate about privacy versus the „espionage“ tactics used by many online media giants (I used the word „espionage“ to describe the behavior of such mega-media companies’ data gathering techniques, the BR Radiosalon program was actually called „Wie soll unsere digitale Zukunft aussehen?“ )

    My friend is an acclaimed scientist with a deep understanding of statistics, research methodology, etc. I have a great deal of respect for his work, and I do not wish to ridicule him. On the contrary, the views he expressed are actually quite widespread and widely considered to be quite “normal” (I will get back to this aspect of “normal vs. abnormal” further below in this post). Indeed, these views were also discussed in the radio program.

    The point in question is whether or not people have “something to hide” (though in my opinion the more crucial issue is that most people seem to have little or nothing to show). I agree with my friend that there is little to be concerned about if / when other people collect data (indeed, I am even of the opinion that data cannot really be “owned” — the way I see it, data are always freely available to anyone or anything that can recognize them). If someone sees me and scribbles onto a notepad that my race is “caucasian”, then their racism is their problem, not mine. Whether other people check off boxes or fill in blanks has nothing to do with me — instead, it is all about their point of view, perspective, biases, prejudices, etc. I couldn’t care less if large media companies record data about me or my behavior — unless they use this data to lie about me or to propagate rumors which are untrue.

    If a larger portion of the population were more literate, more numerate, etc., then even such misinformation and propaganda would not really matter very much (cf. also this post by Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT). The other day I posted a “heatmap” graphic that was used in an article which was purported to be about how much of a webpage is commonly read. Of course it is impossible to measure whether a person actually reads something, but that did not prevent the author from pontificating profusely on the topic.

    Apparently, the vast majority of people are less interested in literacy than they are in belonging to a crowd.:

    Freud was saying that masses are bound by libidinal forces. They love each other and delegate their ideas and ideals to the chap on top. […] Hate is delegated to the others outside. — Dr. Leopold Löwental (39:50 – 40:25) in the BBC documentary “Century of the Self (Part 1): Happiness Machines”

    Belonging to a crowd is normal, not belonging is abnormal. No one wants to be abnormal, and the media propaganda machinery is based on a foundation of belonging to the crowd, riding on the bandwagon, etc.

    Today, few members of the complacent illiterate generation realize that what they perceive to be “objective” news are actually usually personalized (and therefore “subjective“) marketing messagesespecially online. People visit facebook.com quite often, but they rarely (if ever) realize that the “news” they receive via their “newsfeed” is anything but objective. Likewise, the phrase “just Google it” is commonly understood to mean that Google is also objective. If fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Google is a corporation focused on maximizing profit — and that means showing you (the Google user) links they expect you will click on, such that the corporation (Google) will be paid by advertisers (and note that the link does not even need to be an advertisement — Google will also make money by displaying the advertisements controlled by Google which are displayed on the page, i.e. the so-called “organic” link the Google user clicked on). The fact that Google is a money-printing machine is a testament to the high degree of illiteracy we continue to observe today. Most members of the complacent illiterate generation are suckered into believing some subjective marketing message is actuallynews” — and that it is what the “normal” crowd also believes, that it is true, an objective truth, etc. — many times over each and every day.

    At this point in the discussion, another friend chimed in and said “I cannot manage my daily life without my smartphone” (and the smartphone is made by the very same media conglomerates which profit from selling advertising disguised as “news”, “notifications”, etc.). Hence, the mass of men (and women, too) continue to lead lives of quiet normalcy, guided by advertising messages which cater to duping illiterate suckers into believing everything is hunky dory because they are normal (and also users of “advanced technology”).

    Note that I don’t believe either of my friends should be called a “sucker“. In my opinion, they are simply illiterate (which most people refer to with the term “digital literacy“). They seem to be cognizant of their illiteracy — and yet they nonetheless remain complacent.

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 18:52:29 on 2014/10/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , business communication, , , , , message, , , ,   

    Some Quick + Dirty, Sloppy Notes About the Economics of Advertising + Information Markets: Then, Now + In the Future 

    Over the years, I have written several articles related to the economics of advertising and information markets, but over the past week or two I have come up with a rather simple way to not only think about advertising, but also (perhaps) a way to analyze it with data that might be lying around somewhere for someone to apply for free or at a very low cost.

    The first step is to go back (in your mind) several decades — before the Internet. This will, of course, be difficult for so-called “millennials” and even younger folks, but perhaps they can try to imagine it. Back then, there were basically two ways businesses could get a message across: Either directly or by piggy-backing (with someone else’s help). The quintessential direct play was the vacuum-cleaner or encyclopedia salesman, who rang the doorbell and tried to sell the crap right from the doorstep or perhaps by squeezing through the doorway to perform the pitch right in the living room. All door-to-door salesmen were hated more than virtual spam.

    Another less virtual kind of spam was (and perhaps still is) quite common: Direct mail, flyers, etc. In case you are familiar with such junk mail, then this is a wonderful leftover flash from the past that will serve very well as an example. If XYZ company chooses to advertise their products / services directly to you via your mailbox, then they will have some small amount to pay to do so. Beyond postage, the company will also have to pay for printing a leaflet or whatever kind of flyer they intend to use for their “offer”. This may be a quite small price to pay — but it is not zero.

    In the past century, a very significant “ad-supported” media industry also developed — mainly due to two significant ways the industry could differentiate the delivery of messages. First: the ad-supported media could reap economies of scale, because the price of delivering messages was quite low per message if they could deliver many messages (so, for example: the classified advertising business model flourished throughout the 20th Century). Secondly: Advertisers could assume that the ads in ad-supported media would be paid attention to — primarily because people quite often actually still paid a nominal amount to receive an ad-supported media package (e.g. newspapers). As time went by, big businesses sought greater attention — and high-priced “full page” ads were segregated from the cheap “remnant” advertising which were shuffled off into the “back pages”.

    Along came the Internet, and large parts of the advertising industry were essentially eradicated overnight — mainly due to the fact that publishing costs were all of a sudden “too cheap to meter”.

    Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a period sometimes referred to as e-cunabula — in which both electronic messages and paper-based messages exist side-by-side. In the paper-based formats, it may very well be that people still pay particular attention to ads because they are paid messages (sometimes these are also referred to as “paid media“). What is particularly noteworthy here is that the very same message costs so little or practically nothing whether it is delivered as an ad (“paid media”) or whether it is delivered directly from a business’ own website (“owned media”). Why would an advertiser pay money to deliver a message that they could just as well deliver for free (i.e. “too cheap to meter”)? Perhaps they are willing to pay this extra fee simply because they are afraid that otherwise no one would pay attention to it.

    This is a very precarious state for ad-supported media industries to be in. If people become aware that the ads they see in ad-supported media are not any more worthy than the same messages delivered without such payment, then all messages should move from ad-supported (“paid”) media to business-owned websites (“owned media”). Perhaps to put it the other way around makes the point more obvious: The main reason why some ads still appear in ad-supported media is because the message is so weak that otherwise no one would pay any attention to it at all. Appearing in ad-supported media would become a tell-tale sign much like a black eye is a sign of a lost fight.

    In the future, successful businesses will no longer show up as the weaklings who show up in ad-supported media today. The forward-thinking business is compelled to make its authentic business pledge as compelling to the consumer as the consumer is eager to learn about the offer.

  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 13:26:00 on 2013/09/19 Permalink
    Tags: , abstracting, abstracts, classification, , , garbage, , , , Marshal McLuhan, , , message, , , ratio, , , ,   

    The Online Plague 2.0: The very low context-to-content ratio of information on the web (and its bimodal distribution) 

    Here’s a very good depiction of online / web content:

    GIGO: Garbage in, Garbage out

    Google’s approach is to skim the top of a huge one-size fits-all pool of undifferentiated bits (actually, Google’s search engine only searches through text, not images or movies; and it also only searches a very small amount amount of text — and besides: the algorithm is so poor that it has become quite useless, unless you want to get to amazon.com by simply typing “amazon” into Google ;) ).

    A more advanced approach to information would be to separate different types of information into different “buckets” (this is known as “classification”), or to point to individual pieces of information from different points of view (this is called “indexing”). There is a long tradition of abstracting, indexing and classification in the field of information science, but Google fan-boys often argue that such tried and true methods are now superfluous, because “just Google it“! :P

    Each of the different access points to information can be viewed as a different perspective, or as a different filter or also as a different lens. I usually use the term “context” (to underscore how context and content are related by the container — roughly, the container is the channel, or the medium Marshal McLuhan referred to in his famous quote: “The medium is the message”).

    At present, online media are very much like a small number of huge garbage heaps — whether that’s Google’s copy of the web stored on Google servers, or Facebook’s proprietary stash of media stored on Facebook’s computers, or maybe a handful of other companies that try to suck up as much “user generated content” as possible, functioning much like big industrial vacuum cleaners or mutant mega-aardvarks. The vast amounts of data are piled high and deep in proprietary databases (basically, these companies function as gigantic data-collection robots). These companies manage vast amounts of content — undifferentiated datastreams that have by and large no or very little contextual information. Indeed: most of these datastreams are simply duplicated and a copy is placed on each and every one of these huge heaps ad nauseum.

    At the moment, there is really only one exception to the rule: Many individuals maintain individual (“personal”) blogs. These are intended to be very particular log-books of individual people — a sort of “daily diary” documenting anything that is particular or peculiar about that person… written as an autobiography. In this case, the context is minute: each blog post is essentially just one individual’s ideas. Most blogs are not intended to be collaborative efforts, though there are also exceptions to the rule (ranging from a company like “Mashable” to the very large group blogging system “Tumblr”).

    I have always thought that such group / collaborative efforts are the future of the web — and it is with great reluctance that I have to admit that they apparently still are! 8O

  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 14:24:42 on 2012/12/28 Permalink
    Tags: China, Chinese, , condition, conditions, , , , , message, note, prison, , ,   

    Attention: Kmart Shopper finds letter from China 

    English Language skills may soon be a sign of potentially subversive abilities:

    Chinese Prison Labor Camps

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