Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bars, bands, money and promotion

Love to use analogies to try and figure out other things, so still thinking about promotion, and web radio, as well as who pays whom for what, and got to thinking about bars, and bands.

So yeah, you can pay at the door of a bar, with a cover, to see some band. Or you may just walk into the bar, and have a drink while watching them play.

What decides? It can be about the bar and the band. A very popular band with a big fanbase playing at certain bars might have a cover charge, I'd guess.

For me when I hung out in bars, usually didn't pay any cover charge. Assumed the bar made it's money, yup, from people buying drinks.

So why bother with a band then?

See what I mean, as we switch to web radio? The band facilitates people drinking in the bar. So the bar does not need to force people to pay directly for the band. While web radio is like a cover charge if you don't want ads--with those that will let you pay not to have ads--where you pay for the music directly.

That's like a bar where they don't have drinks but you just listen to music, by yourself.

Community from what I've seen as I use web radio is amazingly absent from it. It seems to be for the most part single person focused. That's very unappealing to me.

Ok, back to the bar, where this naive band, by social media standards, may be up on the stage, *gasp*, making no money for their appearance! Are they fools? No. They're performers, who may be building their audience.

Doing things to promote your band may involve doing things where you do not get paid, or so I've heard. Never had a band. Did spend some time once trying to come up with band names though, just for the fun of it, as I like to write.

But bands don't have to demand payment just because they're performing for an audience.

It's their option. Or maybe it isn't. Maybe they either play at that bar for nothing, or maybe drinks, just to be heard, or they go home and make a video for YouTube. Which you know, may be kind of the same thing, in a way, without the drunks. Ok, you still may have the drunks, commenting away!

So this analogy seems to kind of work ok to me. And I think one problem with people in tech is they may not hang out in enough bars. I spent twenty years hanging out in a LOT of bars, which may be why I'm so puzzled by web radio.

Some tech people--clearly not all as I qualify as one myself--seem to come from a different kind of world, where some seem to think people should pay every time somebody plays.

That kind of world would shutdown entertainment completely.

Like, MOST people would NOT pay a cover every single time they might be entertained by like just wandering into a bar that has a band, you know?

Or am I wrong here, would you? Think about it, every time you just walked into a bar you had to pay a fee. And every time you heard a song anywhere you got charged.

That was the world that some thought they could force on us.

And I don't blame artists, as if you have some guy in an expensive suit telling you that someone should pay every time you strum a guitar, who wouldn't want to believe that?

So, in my opinion, web radio should let people just listen, where ads are the established default, so we know it. And not get excited if they do nothing else. It should maybe pay artists who can demonstrate a loyal fanbase willing to pay, and get money from them, while not bugging anyone else. And people should be able to buy directly from the artists the songs they really love.

Whatever the web does, bars will still do their thing, as you know?

They've been doing it for thousands of years.

James Harris

Considering money flows

A key idea of mine is that money is an abstraction enumerating a favor, which allows for limited social trust, versus the deep trust of close community, like family.

These are opinions. Plenty of people have lots of ideas about money, and it's a very important area which touches the lives of all human beings in our modern world. Not claiming expertise, but am curious, and talking out my own ideas. And there are plenty of money experts out there for someone looking for help with money matters. If you came here looking for that, sorry, as here I'm speculating.

Looking at how money flows legally I've found my theorizing focusing on three areas:

1. In contract flows.

2. Out of contract flows.

3. Taxation

And with out of contract flows would include community flows, which covers family, like parents paying for college, and also charity. And charity would cover where anyone gives money to someone else just to help. And that's it for out of contract flows.

Almost everything else is in contract flows I'm theorizing, where importantly contracts limit obligation, which goes back to limited social trust.

Will state without proof that money, according to this theory, for the most part flows around the globe in contract, where the most basic is the general social purchase: Someone has something you want for sale, and you pay some monetary amount in exchange for it.

With the general social purchase, you can have a very limited nonverbal social contract, all the way to a voluminous written out contract signed by both parties.

And that's it for the general social purchase.

The other basic type is the general employment, where you agree to exchange effort and time for money which may be paid on various terms, like an hourly rate, or a salary, or a set amount, or a set amount with a bonus, or a potential bonus.

And that's it for general employment.

Taxes flow money from citizens to governments.

Loans can be out of contract or in contract flows, and I think are already covered, but felt I should specifically mention them, to note I did think of them.

That covers what I find to be the most relevant variations of money flows for the purposes of this post.

James Harris

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Web radio, regions and promotion

Was listening to web radio and found myself pondering what made it different from traditional radio, and realized you get information from traditional radio about what people around you in your own region are hearing.

To me radio has great promotional value, and is great for discovery as I think of so many songs I would never have known I could like them if I hadn't heard them repeatedly on radio. While web radio seems to want to personalize my experience and gives me no clue what other people in my area prefer. But why not?

Seems to me tech executives who control web radio think their software can pick songs I prefer. Um, I find I tend to pick songs I prefer almost perfectly! It's amazing, except of course, it's not. Of course I'm best at picking songs I prefer. Radio at its best lets me hear other music.

We humans are communal creatures, and part of the value of radio is giving us a communal experience, so that when you are at the dance club you all can know the same songs. If everyone has a personalized experience then you could have weirdness in such communal areas as no one hears what they like the most.

Maybe these tech executives see a future where people wear headphones at clubs so they can all dance to their own music, and you could have weird clusterings of people glassy eyed looking at each other, gyrating to different songs, desperate for some kind of connection so they're there, anyway.

No idea about the regulatory framework in this area, so don't know what the FCC allows, but why can't web radio have regional flavors, like South Georgia region, where you can hear what people around you like? Maybe even vote on your favorite tunes for that region, so it could be like a weekly thing, say? And local radio could be piped through with a share of advertising, which could help support local radio?

And wouldn't local advertisers line up for such a thing? Knowing they could get to the audience that might come in and buy stuff?

And the federal government should focus on helping to promote and sustain local radio. So at the national level the way should be clear for partnerships that help all concerned: radio listeners, local radio stations, and web radio providers and stations as well.

Recently posted about traveling to the region where I grew up, so may as well take yet another opportunity to promote it!

Now I can move from speculations about web radio, to my own ideas about figuring out ethical promotion, and oh yeah, so like NOT even thinking about ever getting paid for community promotion. That's a cool one to me, so no matter how far I might go, community promotion, like for the region where I grew up, or even for my favorite nation, my own USA, will always just be about feeling it.

Not currently getting paid to promote anything. But let's say, hypothetically some tech company wanted me to advise them on implementing ideas in this area, sounds good, hypothetically. But I'm talking this out to see how it feels if it's out there even just as a far-fetched notion.

So like there would be some temporary consultation contract with some upfront amount, and some success metric, where there would be a certain additional. And then I help out, and then there's a roll out, and I'd promote it here on my blog, where it would be noted I was a paid consultant. Hmmm....pondering.

So that's a hypothetical example of a promotional thing and I'll admit a lot of why I'm doing this post is to talk out such a thing, as I puzzle over what kind of paid promotional things I might consider. Sounded good hypothetically and then it didn't.

The entire arena gives me a queasy feeling. Maybe there is nothing.

Interesting. Will ponder. Oh, so no clue if any of those ideas will have an impact. Don't know why things weren't done that way before anyway, but it's easy for me to put up some ideas, and use the opportunity to puzzle through things.

James Harris

Monday, April 27, 2015

Collecting my definitions so far

Turns out I've decided at various times through the years to figure out my own functional definitions, by which I mean they work for me. That is, I need these definitions to DO things, and found existing ones were insufficient. I know, sounds weird.

Oh well, in any event, occurred to me that it would be useful to have the ones I have so far collected into one blog post for ready reference:

science (noun): the art of prediction using methodologies and tools to expand zones of certainty by discovery of a predictive framework.

scientific theory (noun): predictive framework found by using science.

scientist (person): practitioner of science.

All found on my Lost in Comment blog in post: Predictive Certainty

First two are also on my math blog, in post: For mathematical scientists

First one first posted on G+ though. So things are the most scattered around here. Don't like it that way. Guess it just happened.

Progressive (noun):  a person with a political position valuing intelligent governance with the belief that in an intelligently governed world people's lives tend to get better, not worse.

Also found on Lost in Comment, in post: Government that enables

mathematical proof (noun): a mathematical argument that begins with a truth and proceeds by logical steps to a conclusion which then must be true.

Is on my math blog Some Math, in post: Definition of mathematical proof

These are the fully formalized ones. I have other working definitions for things, where I haven't bothered. Putting them here would be a waste as eventually I'll probably formalize them, and want that to be in one place.

I keep these definitions in as few places as possible in case I decide to change them, or remove them. Easier to do if I don't have them scattered all over the place.

So like if I wish to delete any of them, it's fairly easy, as I keep down how often I mention them.

The exception here is that this post is helping me keep up with them.

The goal is to have as few as possible. I'm shocked I needed this many! As this effort is about necessity. If I need a functional definition for something, then I'm kind of stuck until I have one.

Each of these have been used quite a bit by me. They're massive workhorses. 

And with their help, I've crafted quite a few things.

James Harris

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My take: contracts, agreement and money

Presenting opinions on my blog where I should note that I'm not pretending to be an expert on money matters, nor am I a legal expert. Simply musing about some things as I work through how I wish to do certain things. I find that talking things out on my blogs helps me figure things out.

And in various posts I've mentioned contracts, but haven't tried to define them, and will not here. Easy enough for someone to look them up and do research from plenty of sources I'm sure. Yet I do need to focus on one aspect of them which is agreement.

To me when you have a valid contract between two parties one can assume they agreed upon it, and that's a huge issue in and of itself, so will move on to consider my view that in contracts that matter to me, you have agreement upfront from both parties.

If that seems like a lot of words for nothing, consider a squeegee man. And I think it so AWESOME that I can link to a Wikipedia article on the subject, but plenty of people probably know about people who in major cities may go up to cars to clean their windows, and ask for money in return.

And my point of view is that if money is to change hands it should be primarily on a contractual basis with prior agreement. That lets both parties outline the boundaries of an agreement and allows for an equal exchange.

An area of relevance here is that if I put out ideas, where others may see value, like on this blog, there is no contract as far as I'm concerned at all, as those conditions are not met.

The other way to look at it is, say someone does you a favor, without asking, and then asks you to pay for it. My default answer is, no. There are limited instances say with a close friend or family member who helps you out by paying for something, like you ran out of milk or something and just pay them back, but otherwise, no way.

That some people will do you a "favor" and expect payment when you didn't ask for it, is the issue addressed here. I don't do it, and I don't recognize it.

And that's it. Fascinating to me how I can go from simple description to complex in talking this out and feel like I need every bit of it. And again, NOT an expert, nor am I pretending to be one. Just expressing some opinions.

James Harris

My position on ethical promotion

The point of all the theory where I've been posting my position on money, and theories about promotion is to get to a functional perspective, as in how I decide to do things, for instance refer to something in a post. So here I'm getting out of theory into functional reality about promotion.

And focusing on limited social trust I think that if money is involved then my transparency promotion position is that should be public knowledge. So in my case that would be.

If that ever changes then I would disclose.

And in social media you can find yourself easily helping out with promotion, like for a movie you like, which I've found myself doing, and wondering to myself, is that sensible? Like retweeting a movie trailer, shouldn't I get paid or something or just not do it?

And my answer--at time of this writing--is, no, I should not get paid. Not that anyone is offering I should add.

And I have no idea if anyone does get paid for such things, have never had that offered to me, but it's a convenient area to work through how I would see it if such an opportunity arose.

Problem as I see it is with needing full disclosure which ruins the point I think as it's less valuable referral in my opinion if people think it was bought, and a contract would probably limit my speech in some way. Like if I saw a movie and decided it was crap, could I say that? Like sorry I referred you to such a crappy movie? Probably not.

So maybe that one is kind of easy. I can imagine liking the idea of a movie, and realizing later the actual movie was horrible, and wanting to be free to say that without being limited.

Which is why transactions are so fascinating to me as they involve agreements which are contracts to fulfill an obligation, where they also can conveniently limit obligation, which is how limited social trust works well in the real world.

So my position then is I'm free to suggest things to people or not, without money and there is no need to feel like there should be any.

Of course on blogs there are other ways things can be promoted where the blogger doesn't have to get directly involved, which is completely transparent. And I'd LOVE to see movies advertise on my blog, as that's a special thrill.

And checking Google Analytics it says this blog had visits from 8 countries in the last 30 days: US, Canada, Serbia, Vietnam, Colombia, Croatia, Kenya, and Morocco

IN the past I'd give out the numbers but realized that is relevant to other things and should remain confidential. It's too bad. I like tossing out all relevant information but shifting more to a business sense.

So, yeah there is an international reality potential from this blog. Guess I should point that out.

Will note, those country counts are VASTLY smaller than I've seen in the past. Worry me? Nope. I think that's amazing. To think, say someone in Vietnam, Croatia, or wow, Morocco, along with the others actually came here? Wow. The web is a wonder.

In case something does arise for promotion I've already got some thoughts with the idea of a limited endorser. That was a few years ago, where I had full disclosure upfront which is a constant, but DID see possibly endorsing products on a very limited contractual basis.

It's such a thorny area, but it is something I think can affect just about anyone who puts up public things on the social web as there is a value for people out there who want you to promote things, where they make money, like with a movie. And you make none, and can kind of wonder. My position is that isn't a concern as to make money, you need a contract, and I don't want one. Freedom is to say what I want, positive or negative.

Maybe I'll re-visit this area if I actually get to a position where someone wants me to endorse something! Clearly just thinking about it, without an example in front of me is not enough. Imagination can only take you so far. For some things you have to work through with reality giving you the nuances.

However for products or services I will post what I want without money concerns though I have noticed I tend to avoid mentioning real world ones on this blog unless necessary. Like it's hard to talk about social media companies without naming them.

So, I have some thoughts for reference, put up publicly which helps me work through them. And I will edit this post as necessary as I see it as a working document.

Oh yeah, so what is the base idea in my mind for ethical promotion? It's transparency, valuing referral, so you don't compromise its value to others, and freedom to speak your mind, positive or against. Contracts constrain, so I want to avoid them. But if one gets involved and there is money involved then that has to be publicly known as people need to know that to properly evaluate what you are telling them.

James Harris

Class Viewer 5.1 Update Release

There is a new update release for my open source project Class Viewer, which I decided to call version 5.1.1 which updates ClassViewerConfig.xml to Java Enterprise 7, and fixes a problem with getting directly to JavaDocs.

And my apologies on missing something when I updated before to the new JavaDocs format, as I failed to notice that it was not being used for Java Enterprise at version 6, where it is now at version 7, still not being used, and now guessing it has to do with version number. So I have the code see if it's under 8, and if so, it uses old JavaDocs format, otherwise it will try the new.

Problems in this area will just mean you get brought to the JavaDocs page, but not directly to the method.

Luckily I was working on a personal project and went to look up a method, and was surprised when it didn't work right! Which goes back to the importance of using your own product.

If you're using the project and wish to upgrade I have direct download links on the main Class Viewer project website page. Or you can go to the Class Viewer SourceForge page.

Oh yeah, project website is not mobile friendly as of yet as I'm still assuming people will be using on desktop. So not sure it's worth the effort.

James Harris

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Promotional transparency

Kind of excited about how useful pondering traditional radio has been in helping me unravel the snarl of how I think promotion works, so will keep with it, on how promotion can go very wrong.

So my understanding is that with traditional radio in the US it is actually illegal to pay radio stations to play a particular song. And as a listener consider if that weren't the case and you were puzzling over repeated plays of some horrible song where radio stations had been paid to play it. That breaks the social contract.

And if that information were publicly known that the song was repeatedly being played because someone had paid for that to happen, it would probably trigger negative reactions. The song wouldn't sell anyway, and lots of people might be angered.

So I'll presume that the transparent promotion listeners want is for radio stations to choose to heavily promote favorite songs because those are the ones listeners indicate they wish to hear.

In the early days of television you'd have sponsors, who would say at the beginning of a show that they paid for it, and viewers would see advertisements in the form of commercials. So there also you had transparency.

My guess is that promotional transparency is wanted across the board whenever anyone promotes anything, as people want to know why. Knowing why something is being promoted is critical to evaluating whether or not it actually interests you.

There's a weird thing there though where people tend to be suspicious if you promote your own things, even if that is transparent and they understand why.

My guess is that people suppose your own judgment is naturally skewed when evaluating your own things. Oh yeah, or those of someone close to you.

James Harris

Figuring out promotion

Starting with radio is a way for me to work on figuring out promotion in our web age, as traditional radio is entirely a promotional vehicle: songs and music are provided to anyone with a radio who wants to listen, without direct payment to the people who provide it.

The artists provide their music so people will know they have a new song out, or even know who they are, and people listen to hear the new, the old, or just to listen, and along with the music they hear about products or services. And those people with those products and services, do pay the radio station for that promotion. They make their money back when people actually buy their products and services.

In the original system, the artists made their money primarily from record sales, but also from touring, and selling of merchandise. The promotion on the radio, helped drive those things.

It's a fascinating system! So the artists are the draw, but without the promotion, how does anyone know much about them? The advertisers pay for the radio station, and people accept listening about things they might want, or not, in exchange for getting music they might like.

The web seems to shift things in multiple ways, like in distribution--fans can get music potentially direct from the artist. Dedicated fans may closely follow what an artist is doing, but what about others?

But to have fans people need to know who you are! But, how do you get known?

Yes, there is YouTube, which is dominant right now, but it actually potentially pays content providers, as you have to sign up for it and draw enough attention, which is the television model.

The television model is intriguing as it's very similar to the radio model, except content providers, generally studios through most of television's history, are paid.

The television model reflected the reality that getting paid directly by the owner's of the television stations for the content was the only way to get paid, as unlike in music there was no more lucrative alternative.

That gave television executives much more control in contrast to radio executives who did have some control--if they really didn't like your music they would NOT play it--as television executives would directly order the kind of content they wanted, like family friendly.

Today people can potentially purchase music or video content, and can in fact, buy episodes of television shows, so potentially content providers can shift to more of a radio model, I'd guess.

Getting known is probably the biggest thing that drives the need for promotion, and is a problem across any content on the web. Like a blog!

Blogs can draw attention, where readers may or may not see products or services presented to them, to get promoted by that attention. But in aggregate across a tremendous number of blogs, my understanding is that enough money gets provided to pay for the cost of them, as for-profit corporations provide the infrastructure. Presumably they're making money.

However, lots of people don't want to see that on anything they read, which is ok, I guess, but then someone has to figure out how to pay for them or they're community services.

Web pages that for sure are community service driven are government ones.

And governments promote those sites as well, as how else are you going to get people to them? How will people know they exist?

Promotion for the most part I think then is: efforts made to inform a number of people that a person, product, or service, exists.

So an artist promotes a new song, for instance. Or a studio promotes a new movie. Or a political organization promotes a politician.

So with my definition an idea can be a product, as in something produced for a purpose. But an idea could be a service too, as in something that serves a useful function for someone.

People can enjoy promotion, like get excited over the latest teaser for an anxiously anticipated movie. Or they may not, feeling that things pushed on them are not of interest or some just seem to hate the idea of promotion entirely. But I suspect that is NOT true of things that interest them.

That person who claims to hate promotion probably can be caught eagerly sharing something of interest in his life. Promoting it, to others. It's a very human thing to do.

James Harris

Friday, April 24, 2015

My pictures perspective

So much of my perspective has shifted so rapidly thanks to the web, and pictures are a huge area where that has happened. And thanks to the web I've even been able to share my own, and to me there's a major promotional benefit to photographs.

And there is a great sharing aspect to your pictures as well.

There can also be a monetary benefit, where this post expresses my perspective, which is my personal opinion, on all of the above.

Promotional use in my opinion is when you use work, or reference to it, in a way that brings positive attention to someone's efforts. Like you may post a picture, with the permission of the photographer, simply to share a beautiful work with others, and NOT to make money.

The rough rule of thumb I think would work for anyone wondering if they're using a photograph of mine, as I won't try to talk for anyone else, properly is that they shouldn't be making any money directly from that use without licensing. That part is NOT complicated.

If you're making money from someone else's work without license to do so, then you're stealing. It's very, very simple. And I think "license" here is just a fancy way to say have contractual permission. Contracts are such a fascinating area, I tend to stay away from talking about them directly.

Like if you put someone else's photograph on a t-shirt, and sell it. That's stealing if you're not licensed to do so, or the work hasn't been released to the public domain.

Notice work can be released to the public domain, which then gives you license to use it, even though there can be additional rules there. But for example Creative Commons is where others have worked out the legalese.

So the web has given us all kinds of great things where it's not to me really complicated about how it can all work well.

Sunny San Francisco

One issue I think can be when someone has something other people want which he doesn't license, because reality is some people may take it and figure out a way to make money from it. It's still stealing. However, if you're showing something other people want enough to pay for things made with it, and don't yourself give an opportunity for them to pay, then that can open the door to piracy, in my opinion.

Thankfully it looks to me like it's getting easier to at least offer the opportunity to license, as the web continues to mature.

So many things are in flux with the web. However as the foundations continue to be laid, decent people can feel better about their use of content, and content providers who do have content people wish to buy in some way, as there are LOTS of ways--not sure I do, but no biggie--can do well.

With photographs in particular then, I'll summarize here, by noting you can share photographs for no monetary reason, which is the purest form, and that sharing can actually have promotional value, or you might figure out some way to make money from a photograph, which if it's not yours requires licensing, or it's stealing.

With my photographs I feel like I'm learning, and am just glad when people like them. And I love photography, now more than ever. And am still most excited about the opportunity to see so many more great photographs than I ever did before the web.

James Harris

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some writing just to write

The more I write, the more I like to write. Which can be a fun activity in and of itself, and thought I'd collect a few things into a blog post.

Like I just did this EXACTLY 140 character tweet today:

And I was just wondering if I could so I started typing, and found it worked out. But I'm not sure why. So yeah that tweet is exactly 140 characters, and if I'd failed? Well then I just wouldn't have tweeted it. So it's like a low pressure effort. People only even see the effort was made if it succeeded.

(Easiest way to check? If you're on Twitter copy and paste into tweet box to see that 0. Just don't actually tweet it though, of course.)

But I also did this tweet of exactly 140 characters a little bit before which is consistent with the theme here:

Wondering if it's a bit awkward. I'm guessing some things have to be done to make things fit but it's unconscious so I'm not sure how my mind is figuring it out. It just feels like I want to do it, and I watch it happen.

I think it kind of explains the feel of writing just to write.


There's something about getting creative that is so much fun to me. It can be irritating though to think there's some point beyond crafting something you like.

I like crafting things I like, but I also like tossing them out there, like this post. But the effort can be the thing. Crafting sentences, wondering what comes next. What does come next? And then you write something down. Or did I like saying "like" too much? Does it matter?

The flow though can be taken for granted at times, or not, but sometimes I look back and realize the power of the action--just sit down and write out this thing. Why does that happen? I want to put something down, so I do. And then it will get done. Now edit. Keep editing. Edit some more. Walk away. Come back, edit.

So yeah, that happened. And I have the words to prove it! Looking at them always is convincing. But did there have to be a point? Beyond the effort?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Money Conversation

One issue that to me wraps itself into too much of the web is the issue of money, where I decided to pull apart the snarl and simplify, which included figuring out money for myself, publicly of course, as I posted on the subject.

And I came up with my own definition of science, where in the post to which I link I have the final version though I had a start on this blog, and used that to get my own science of money. With my science of money, I could work through to social issues, which got me to the concept of limited social trust.

So it took me about a year, which is really good. Basic research can take much longer, and getting from the start of "science is the art of prediction" to a full definition of science, all the way to a key element of my own science of money isn't bad.

The most important thing I learned is: you should focus on community first.

And I concluded that money is an abstraction best considered to be simply an enumeration of value for favors. But that with the most important things it's not as clear cut how you place a monetary value on them, and with many there simply is no way.

But communities support us anyway. For instance as an American I have vast expectations for community support that I can only realize are as huge as they are when comparing to what too many people unfortunately experience in much more disadvantaged countries.

The web lets all of us help each other though.

So for instance an open source project I wrote can give me a concrete experience of that world community based on downloads, where thankfully SourceForge provides a list of countries, which is invaluable information. Without it, I just wouldn't know.

And anyone can be part of that open source conversation if they can code, and share, regardless of where they are in the world, if they have web access.

Taking the money out of that lets it just be about community. And there is a lot of web structure that is all about community, where a great example of an extremely important developer community for the entire web is the Apache Software Foundation.

But making money isn't intrinsically a bad thing, and as I move from working out my own ideas about money to trying to actually make more of it, I'm wary of losing sight of my principles, so I'm making a post to kind of lock things down.

For the most part I love the idea of transparency, so people always know that there isn't some hidden agenda for making money with something I say. So I'm committed to revealing any and all endorsement deals if those should arise. Now I have none.

To me you make money with transactions, and to me transactions are when at least two parties make a buying decision, where there is consideration given in exchange for a favor. And I posted more opinions in detail here, and money transactions involve some kind of contract.

I think the best contracts are open and well-known where both sides are very clear on what is required of each so that it can be provided with limited social trust. And I really don't like what I call stealth transactions.

And I think that covers everything I can think of for now.

It gets so complicated I think which is why it's worth it to sit down and work as much as I can out. Then again maybe I just think I got it worked out, and as I try to implement best practices based on the theory will discover more research is needed.

All of the above represent my opinions, of course--it's a blog--which means, hey, could be wrong, but thinking about things and talking them out.

James Harris

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Content generation and profit problem

Generating content can be a lot of fun, but it does take effort. If you're someone like me who isn't worried about making money with writing things, like this post, then it's much easier because you don't have the time and profit problem.

For instance, let's say I were a movie producer, approximately how long would I expect it to be from an idea for a movie, until I could have it on movie screens around the world?

My own guess is from 3 to 7 years. And that lower number unfortunately means cutting a lot of corners, but it also might mean relying on a built-in audience with a sequel, or low budget options with a novel idea with some clever hook.

It can take as long as 15 years or longer.

So what do you do about money in all that time?

One route is to use investors, but they want a return on their money, which is their profit.

I don't know about you, but for me, contemplating investing 3 to 7 years of my life into any particular thing is a big deal. But figuring out if it will make money or not as well?

In tech I noted with interest when Larry Page, said that you need about a 5 year timeline for the next big idea. But how do you know if it will make money?

And I think in fashion the lead time is about 3 years.

These are the rough estimates I keep in mind. Would definitely love corrections on ANY of them.

The time and profit problem actually is a rather immense hurdle. And luckily plenty of people vault over it, so we have movies, new tech products, and new fashion.

Without their bravery and investment in time, effort, and money, none of that would occur.

Like you can see what results if someone just slaps together a movie. YouTube is full of them, if you're curious. Some of them are not so bad. Usually though it's some funny or clever bit of short video. A full length movie though? That takes time and effort, and yup, a tremendous amount of skill.

And that's not to put down YouTube either. But the entire point of it is that anyone can throw something up there, which means it's a great place to survey what works, and what doesn't. You can do a lot of useful research on YouTube, and see what works, and what doesn't.

James Harris

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's with executives?

Often I catch myself when I find myself often using a word, as I ponder, what does this word actually mean? And the word "executives" is one I use a lot, and see used quite a bit, where a variant is "suits" and it has me pondering--what does that really mean?

So I'm going to toss out what I think an executive is: a person with a decision-making position of authority within a corporation whose job is to help manage a company or companies and maximize profits. While non-profits technically have "executives" as well, it's much harder to evaluate executive performance without the profit measure.

So music executives would be the people in charge at some music corporation, like a record label, and I'm thinking most people get this word right.

And tech executives would be the people in charge of running a tech corporation. 

Notice executives run corporations. Managers and bosses can be at corporations or also at other businesses. People would probably call a small business owner a boss, and not a manager, and said person would not be an executive, unless the business were incorporated. Incorporation can be important to limit legal liability.

Now then, can wonder, what's with these executives in tech and the entertainment industry?

Already talked more than once about entertainment executives including this link, and actually am thinking this morning about tech.

For me, one of those things that gets me really suspicious is when I use a product and discover it doing weird things, which gets me wondering: do the executives actually even use their own product?

Like with YouTube, which gave the seed for this rant, um commentary, have noticed when I am scrolling down through videos in My Subscription, the thing will suddenly make a huge jump down, which means I have to scroll back up to see what videos were skipped!

So I'm thinking to myself, do you think Larry Page would see that happen once, and do nothing about it? So I'm guessing to myself that Larry Page, who is the Chief Executive Officer at Google, which controls YouTube, has never seen that happen. Or I think too highly of him, and how he would react if he saw it.

Ergo, I come to the strong opinion that Larry Page, CEO of Google, does not scroll down through My Subscriptions on YouTube, which may be wrong, of course, as I don't know.

It could be my computer. I have a kind of old laptop still running an older operating system. It's slower than newer laptops, could that be it? Or is it my browser? Will have to check across multiple browsers.

(Um, it's fixed now. And yes, there's that debate in my mind, did I imagine it? No. Had noticed it for a while but just didn't say anything. Do you think Google noticed? Maybe. Wonder if Larry Page noticed? Well, not necessary, as some other Googler might have...and that's enough talking to myself. Glad it's fixed. ___JSH 4/24/15)

For me, seeing things where I strongly suspect executives don't use their own products is very important, so I look for them with a passion! That can lead to false positives, but it also can lead to advice! Search for those things, and do your homework. I'm not sure how to check my issue here, but it's in the back of my mind and maybe someday I will know.

And I'm kind of picking on Mr. Page here because he's one of the best CEO's out there from what I've seen. I'm sure he can take it. Also, why would I think he'd even see this post? So no worries about talking about him. It's not like he's some minor low-level person. He's famous!

Why is that a big deal, executives using their own products?

Well, if a company's own executives don't bother using its products, why should anyone else?

If they use those products, and don't fix problem areas for users, then what chance do you have?

After all, the executives are in charge. Oh yeah, and at many companies they wear suits. It's like a uniform. At some companies it screams at you--here be an executive! So that's why some people like to call them "the suits". But in tech companies that paradigm has shifted quite a bit. Which I think puts more pressure on executives and not less.

If you're going to act like you're the best of the best who can make your own rules, then your products must be as flawless as possible, or the other suits may snicker. Not sure on that last as am not a suit myself, so how would I know? Maybe I just added that just as a little jibe at certain famous tech executives who have sent a message by not in general wearing suits.

The challenge is to constantly prove you're better than the suits, or simply look silly.

The web is allowing increasingly close levels of scrutiny, but the best will just handle it, well, like a boss.

James Harris

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

More on alignment idea

Yesterday had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas for a new direction in social media focused towards referral versus content generation, as most people don't wake up in the morning and type up a blog post, or write a bit of music, or a poem, or start a new video. Generating content can be hard, which can mean plenty of people can be sidelined in social media versus feeling like active participants, and there is a LOT of great content out there already, but how do you find it?

Consider this hypothesis: social media companies focused on referral would look vastly different from Facebook, Google+, Twitter or the current others.

Which to me is an opportunity to get creative, as I speculate on how one might make one, and I find myself thinking a lot about what I decided to call alignment, which is kind of like that which is used in video games, but has nothing to do with good or evil, but about characteristics with which a person would willingly publicly identify.

Why bother? Well, imagine a person gives an alignment as conservative, religious, family oriented, which is public, so anyone clicking on this person's profile sees that alignment. Someone else might have an alignment of liberal, spiritual, free thinker.

The alignments give a natural grouping with other people who align the same way.

That is, the system would automatically add you to natural groups made up of people who aligned the same way.

In addition people could come up with their own groups. Then you can have members of that group suggest content to each other, which presumably will fit with the alignment. So yeah, finally get to content referral! Which is the entire point of the exercise.

But here's the thing: the group would have alignments so would block people with anti-alignments from joining. So if you make a conservative group it would not allow a liberal to join. Or if you made a liberal group it would not allow a conservative to join.

Not all alignments have anti-alignments though.

If someone made a group without such an alignment it would not block them, so liberals and conservatives could join a group that didn't align against either of them.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, people can join any group to which their alignments match.

So joining a group would be easy--as long as you matched alignments with it, or didn't have any excluding alignments. No one would pick people to join their groups. The system would handle it automatically, putting someone in any group they asked to join, as long as they matched alignments.

The system would also automatically remove a person from any group with any change in alignment that required it.

So why bother?

Well, people can be mean to each other, if you hadn't noticed.

Like, what about jokesters messing with people, or people who just lie?

Well, voluntarily, you could show your alignment history, which would show how long you held an alignment which the system holds, so let's say someone has been aligned a particular way for years with no changes. A jokester who changes her alignment to join his natural group, would either have to choose to not show her alignment history, which would be an option, or it would reveal several changes among alignments.

Obviously that would take time to build an alignment history, as the system isn't even built yet. But once built people would automatically build an alignment history, which would increasingly group people along stable lines, even if it showed them to be less stable than others as you can change your alignment any time you choose.

To further protect people, if you chose NOT to show your alignment publicly that could be possible, but that would tell something about you as well.

There's no way not to tell something about yourself in this system. If you don't want to tell people anything about yourself, you'd just stay away from one of these hypothetical social media referral companies, as the concept depends on that information.

The alignment history is the next big idea in this thing, which the concept allows, where people could choose not to show it, but that says one thing. Or they could choose to show it, which can show level of commitment to a particular point of view, where the system keeps people from being able to lie.

So you can be a blank slate, if you choose not to display any alignment. Or you can be very specific with lots of alignments which you've held for years, where the system vouches for that reality.

Some might be concerned about getting stuck into a box, but such people would probably shift their alignments at will! That is, a person who worries about being stuck in a box may be the kind of person who makes endless shifts in alignment. But what if that leads to others looking at you differently?

That's what it's supposed to do.

But also I'm talking about one hypothetical system, which could be like one social media company. There could be many of them, like there are many social media companies now.

The alignment history would be a way for your to build a public face over time, where the alignments are to be carefully chosen to avoid socially divisive things like race, sexual orientation, age, specific religion, specific political party, or any other thing which divides people in dangerous ways.

I brainstormed yesterday a twin test for a possible alignment, where you imagine two identical twins where one has the possible alignment, while one does not, like one twin is religious, while the other is not. Or one is a free thinker, while the other is not. Or one is liberal, while the other is conservative.

Something that would not pass the twin test for alignment is: intelligent.

If one twin wanted that label, then the other probably would as well, which makes it rather worthless as an alignment. So the alignments are looking for what I like to call split-points.

Still that's a judgement call, and debates over best alignments could be a hurdle.

But for now these are just ideas I'm tossing out open source. Helps me work through them, and if others see them as viable, maybe it could happen.

Groups of aligned people could possibly make choices on content to refer to each other which would be closer to interests, which I haven't mentioned, and less likely to anger, in a process which could be more like a community than current social media.

Or that's the idea. Just getting started thinking on it. This process is basic research at this point. Could take years to really get something useful. Or something could happen quickly.

A lot of the fun for me is just putting things out there.

James Harris

Monday, April 13, 2015

Social referral

Was thinking to myself that there's an odd thing about dominant social media companies in our time: they are content focused.

For instance, to really dominate on YouTube? You need to produce videos.

Want to wow people on Facebook? Then you need to post stuff.

Wish to rule Twitter? Then you need, well, I'm not as sure, but you do have to tweet something!

But for most people, how much content do you generate for others, even friends and family, on a daily basis?

That question is one for each individual, but for software developers, like me, and people looking for the next big opportunity, yeah, like me there too, it could be an opening to an entirely different approach to social media.

Just brainstorming this morning along these lines, which resonate with prior ideas, where I started thinking about something I call as a working title: CommunityRules

In CommunityRules you have groups, which people voluntarily join, which they can quit at any time, where you have to match by alignment, which you choose as well.

I posted about using alignment before, where the idea is for people to self-identify in ways that don't play into nasty prejudices, which is kind of hard. I already had to go back and edit as I think more on this issue. Here are some test alignments, which I think would belong to different groups:

conservative, religious, pragmatic

liberal, free spirit, creative

It's actually harder than I thought. Further brainstorming, I'm wondering if a twin-test process might help. With the twin test, imagine two identical twins, where one is a possible alignment, like religious, while the other is not. And to me that passes the twin test, indicating "religious" as a possible alignment, without an anti-alignment.

In contrast, if one twin aligns as conservative, and the other as liberal, that passes the twin test with those being anti-alignments, so the conservative twin could be in one group that aligns conservative, but could not join one that aligns liberal.

But his choice of alignment can be changed at any time, so if he wished to change it, then he could join the liberal group.

People can have natural groups, based on alignments, and formed groups, where individuals suggest a group and people can join. Those groups can vote on things, with consensus rules. That is, if the majority, as in greater than 50% of the group agree then the group agrees on majority, but if 2/3 of the group vote for it, then it's overwhelming support.

So what's the point of all this activity? Referral

Rather than focus on individual opinion about content, I'm brainstorming towards a group opinion about content, where groups can vote on things, like movies or television shows. Or books, or other things, but the focus is on the web.

The idea is to get great content, where people with known alignments tell you what they like.

Oh yeah, so with voting, your vote only counts while a member of the group, so the system automatically drops any votes with a particular alignment if you change it, or leave CommunityRules.

That way people can't just switch to something to try and force things against some other alignment and then switch back to their own. Also, like if you're conservative and switch to liberal to go mess with them, you'd be bounced out of all your conservative groups, automatically by the system, or vice versa, and would have to rejoin, after changing back.

To me alignment seems to offer some weird protections against some of the ways people try to mess with each other. And since it is public and by choice, where you can switch at any time, it's a very free and voluntary process.

So enough brainstorming out details. The gist of this path is to focus on referral versus producing content, as most people do the former not the latter, while current social web is focused on the latter. But referral has problems: how do you connect like-minded people? How do you limit people messing with each other? How do you stay away from dangerous things like racial, gender, or sexual or other prejudice?

And I've brainstormed a few approaches, which may or may not work, but I have a feeling I may have noticed something here.

Producing content is hard. Producing world class content is harder still.

Could the content-focused approach of the current web be sidelining people who can be brought into the conversation with a simple shift?

After all, everybody has an opinion, or so I've been told.

Oh yeah, I also have other ideas more specific about a social network, which goes back to my Globloc concept.

What would be needed to get all of this off the ground? A lot.

So I'm just throwing it out there open source.

That's enough typing for now. I emphasize it is brainstorming as part of that process is trying to NOT be too critical as the ideas flow. And that creative flow of ideas is a thrill. It's hard to explain, but it actually feels good. But I've had enough fun. Let's see, getting myself to stop typing, in a bit. Will add name and stop. Yup, after this sentence.

James Harris

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why some people call me Steve

When I go home my name is Steve, which is one of those interesting things which is all about parental decisions, which I explained on my Google+ profile, but decided I should probably stick here, so copying from there to here, and posting just in case there are classmates out there searching for Steven Harris.

My full name is James Steven Harris, but in my hometown I grew up as Steve, which is very common in Southern towns. At least I got my actual name--some people get called things like Bubba. And before I moved to San Francisco I got a job with a temp agency, so was called Steve, in my hometown.

Went with the same temp agency when I arrived in San Francisco, and for that reason was called Steve on the job in San Francisco, while I was James everywhere else.

Again, not really complicated as to how it happened, but I started thinking of myself as two people: Steve and James.

Steve was the quiet worker who paid the bills by working my "day job".

While James was the karaoke singing party animal, who had all the adventures.

Every once in a while the two would cross paths. Kind of felt like a superhero with a secret identity, not really secret. Or, um, like a certain character in a Disney show, some may know. And I remember stumbling across it once, and finding myself guiltily watching it thereafter, like, hey, kind of know how what works!

How would people react? It's hard to explain, like when co-workers would ask people why are you calling him "James"? And I'd explain, or others would ask, who is this "Steve" person?

It's kind of weird how small things can dramatically affect your life, like why didn't my parents just name me Steven James Harris?

My Mom says she didn't like the way that sounded.

And I'll add that when I grew up--not sure they do that now--you were in school what your parents called you. So if your name were Sherlock Moriarty Smith, and your family called you Bubba, then in school you'd be Bubba Smith, which is what you'd write down when your name was needed.

So I was Steven Harris growing up, as if "James" were just not there. It was recorded somewhere but absolutely no one called me that, and I forgot about it until college. Of course off you go to college and everyone calls you by your first name, or at least they did me.

Way I figure it, you got two names, so why not take such an opportunity to get use out of both of them? Besides, it was kind of like getting to be a new person, so most people in the big wide world probably know me as James. It's also how I almost never got called any James diminutives. Though at times some people call me Jim, which I get a kick out of.

And that's the story. Back home I'm Steve, and with certain people I worked with in San Francisco, while everywhere else, I'm James.

Oh yeah, so call me James, or Jim, if you prefer. All the people who call me Steve know to do that without getting this story.

James Harris

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Fostering community helps us all

One word gets tossed around quite a bit which is "community" but does that have anything to do with profit? No. Is community about getting as much as you can for one's self? Nope.

So to me it's important to never ignore the importance of those things that help us all, and push back against people who think exploitation is ever a good thing.

Making money is ok. And our world requires that people work, and do things that are not for the good of us all, but may be for the good of an employer, who will pay accordingly.

But SO MUCH of our lives is NOT about trying to impress ANY boss.

In the best communities, people support each other for the good of all. And exploitation is wrong. People who exploit can tear apart communities, and for what? So one person can have more than he or she actually needs?

So yeah, doing things for community is not about money, and I've grown quite a bit through the years as I've appreciated how much we rely on community. Like roads.

Ever think about roads you use? Most people use roads all the time without worrying too much who keeps them up, or how they're paid for, unless a toll road, which shows the opposite. What if every road were a toll road? That would be horrible. You'd have to pay just to leave your own property.

Communities support us in many ways. It pays, figuratively, to pay attention to when money isn't the thing. And having money is great! I plan on probably having a lot of it down the line, but even then, most of what will be most important in my life, will have nothing to do with it.

James Harris

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

My fan opinion on support

To me the web is just so unbelievably awesome it's hard to express how wonderful it is, which has meant a lot more great content where I love being a fan. And every freaking time some entertainment executive insinuates that most people are naturally thieves it irritates me, so I have sat down and pondered things like money, and recently wrote about limited social trust on one of my other blogs. Money lets us have limited social trust and is a great system, but we want our money to actually support our favorite artists and not mean or ruthless people exploiting them.

And the web lets you know how that's done with plenty of documentaries where I've just been flabbergasted often watching how brilliant artists, where I've mostly seen ones about musicians, could have major hits, which I'd loved, not make much money, and even owe record companies!

As the web destroys that old system, some of these people turned to the law to try and hold on to ways of keeping the money flowing where thankfully that has been for the most part rebuffed. But I want to also put out there that yeah, if I love a musician's work, and notice that person is associated with an entertainment company which has a demonstrated history of screwing over artists there is a real hesitancy to buy anything.

Not a problem lately as I have no money, so have been relying on web radio, where I have talked about how I love radio, and have my own bought music collection. So yeah, talking about wanting to support my favorite artists but can't do it with money now, but will later as I notice songs I like and will buy when I have money again.

But thankfully I have a decent collection of bought songs, you nasty music executives who push the notion that fans are mostly thieves. Which is SO much a relief, when you have all these restrictions, and feel weird listening to the freaking web radio as if you're wrong, and can just go to the calm, controlled arena of your own bought songs--screw you if you're a nasty, mean executive, if you hate fans we fans don't like you!

Being a fan is great, where the web is making it better. And I think these issues will be worked out soon enough, where the right people will make the money and the mean people will at least have to shut-up versus irritating fans like myself. Even better if artists of all kinds work with people who yes, can get them paid, but also can do it without insulting their fanbase.

And that's my rant for the day. Felt good. Think I'll actually post this thing too.

James Harris

Friday, April 03, 2015

Traveling to South Georgia, USA

As someone who grew up in the Deep South, which is a historic region of the United States, I've had any number of feelings about the area, but as I grow older am appreciating the positives more than at any other time in my life. So thought, why not toss out something for people thinking of visiting this area? From an insider's perspective.

To me the most important thing to consider when coming here is the climate, which it turns out is humid subtropical! And for most of my life while growing up here, you got used to very hot, humid summers, which are epic enough for lots of fiction. If heat is not your thing, you might prefer Winter, Spring or Fall months.

My own view when I left here and considered times to come back was that Fall was best, and October is one of my favorites. But for instance, now in April is a great time as well, when temperatures are more mediterranean.

I'm going to focus now on the state where I grew up which is Georgia, where most people traveling here from elsewhere will come anyway as Atlanta is home to one of the biggest airports, well, in the world! And yes, am very proud of that reality. It is a busy hub of awesomeness, with a vast history all its own, and the full metropolitan flavor, but that is North Georgia, which is deservedly the most well-known anyway.

Getting from there to here is about a three hour drive if you go the fastest way down the interstate highway. Somewhere around four hours if you decide to take scenic routes or as long as you want. There are small airports in various places though too.

As you're heading south you can find quite a bit of farmland, and where I grew up is a farming community. Which means tourist attractions are focused on farming, like the Georgia Agirama, in my hometown.

If you like, fishing, got that. Hunting. Got that too. Those are things where it helps to do your research to see how you would go about doing such things. Snowboarding? No way. No where.

Water skiing? Yeah. Just do your research as to where and how to go about doing it. Will admit haven't done it yet! On my to-do list.

Just be prepared for bugs. Have all your shots. Bring your mosquito repellant. Make sure it works very well. Need I remind that the area is subtropical?

If you like the woods, we got'em. It can be so breathtakingly beautiful and vegetation shifts wherever you go in the world. Here there are so many beautiful ones like dogwoods, pecan trees, peach trees. I know some people even have their own tangerine tree.

There actually is a tradition of Southern Hospitality which can be oversold to some extent, but I just think of it as being polite, and why isn't that a tradition everywhere? Actually I think people are nice as well in other places, like New York City, though I haven't been yet. Also on my to-do list.

And oh yeah! Lots of famous people from South Georgia. Feels kind of weird. You know who they are, or if you don't can look them up. Um, if any want me to plug them just let me know! Will happily add your name here for an autographed picture!

To me really the best advice is knowing when to come here to beat the heat. Don't get too overwrought about negatives in history either. Times have changed, and this state is changing with them. It's got its problem areas still though. But I see it as a constant work in progress. Obviously this post is not the place to discuss such things, so I will not.

This area maintains its agricultural roots, while staying connected with the rest of the world. It's where I grew up.

Though I kind of mostly had my head in the clouds.

From a backyard in Tifton, GA, USA

Yeah, big fluffy clouds in South Georgia. Got that.

James Harris