Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pondering advertising

One of my personal favorite posts talks about the process of making money, which I think is about what other people want, and key in that process is letting them know you can give it. Which is where I think advertising naturally fits.

That is, if you have something that you know people might want, like a great new something, you need to let them know you have it. But how?

In the future I think most advertising will be targeted to people who actually may want that something which gets into all kinds of important things like privacy, as how do you know they may want it?

But for those who think advertising can go away, just find something they want, and ask them how they found out about it. Maybe a friend advertised it for them, and yup, that's called word-of-mouth advertising, and I thought I'd just link to Wikipedia on the subject like normal. But instead found an article talking about how businesses try to use it.

However, I think few people are concerned about honest word-of-mouth where friends point something out that they like because they actually do like it! And not because some business entity is manipulating them into recommending it.

To me that's like, yeah! Now we can focus on the difference. And to me it's simple: companies try to push things on you to buy because they want you to buy, not necessarily because you want or need something. And they can even try to develop a need, just to sell you something. That can be really irritating.

IN essence, a business entity may just want to use and abuse you for their own profit, and rely on advertising to trick you into buying at their benefit and not your own.

That is despicable behavior.

To me that kind of covers it: your friends can have genuine interest and appropriate knowledge about you, and make a desired recommendation. Even if it IS off you know their intent is good.

But a business can try to exploit you, and trick you into buying something for their benefit, with no real concern or interest in your benefit.

So I conclude that advertising in and of itself is not a bad thing. Without some kind of advertising, how can you know some entity has something you want?

But pushing things on people that they don't want is irritating.

The web can chase a different model though because the scale can be so huge. If you have a product that people in a dozen countries might want and can get from you, then it hardly pays to irritate lots of other people. And is actually kind of hard.

Marketing in the US for instance could be national for lots of products. But marketing to the world is a formidable challenge. It hardly pays even if you could to show an advertisement to lots of people globally who have no interest in buying that something.

My guess is there is a sharp difference between marketing for global products versus local ones where national or smaller is local.

And had to come back and edit and add, as I'm like, but what about web search? And reality is, yeah, it's great if people can search on things they want and get sent to something you have out there saying you have what they want. But what are the odds, really?

Other people have to DO something for you to get there.

It's open source and freely available, so not something for people to buy, but maybe still it's informative that back when I first put my project on SourceForge over a decade ago, it somehow began to appear in thousands of directories. I just put it on SourceForge, sat back, and lots of other people did things like putting it in those directories. And I'm very thankful they did.

So yeah, web search doesn't change the dynamic: to get to a high enough level for web search to get people to that something you have they might want, something has to be done by you, which I'm thinking has to be some kind of advertising to get that something noticed, or done by others, which I'm sure involves some kind of referral.

Been discussing on this blog various ideas about social media based on referral versus what I think are content based ones of today, and that may get closer to friendly referral, and let you punish for what I will call predatory referral.

Interesting. Will ponder further.

James Harris

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Considering pressure to be successful

There is a way I think the web can impact negatively when it comes to its connectivity, which lets me get into the subject of Internet trolls, as reality is it can take a while for things to work out for someone. But you can get feedback from people from the start who may become aware of your dreams or passions long before you've broken through to real success!

That's where the web can be a bit harsh unless you shift your perspective, and realize that for most people, real success as most understand it, takes several decades, as in, about 20 years.

That's not entertaining though.

What people want to believe is overnight success, and yes, there are people who are achieving celebrity at least, rather rapidly, where the web is a big factor.

But they're not typical.

However, feeling the need to not look like a loser can make one susceptible to people, yup, calling you a loser! Which they will actually do even if you somehow manage that rapid rise to success. But at least then they can be counterbalanced by vast numbers of voices cheering you.

Early on though you can find yourself hearing nothing but negatives. And yup, will admit I have heard quite my share about me and my work. So yes, I need the perspective I'm giving here. It's actually how I manage it all myself. My view is focus on what's important to you, and ask yourself, do you wish to be ruled by others?

Why should their opinion matter more than your own? Who are these people? (Yes, literally, find out if you can. If they're anonymous it's just useless.) And why are they so interested?

One of the strangest things I've pondered is when people loudly proclaim your work is absolutely not of interest though by doggedly voicing their opinion they're declaring their own interest! And they can stalk you too! That's so irritating, and weird. You know like there are plenty of things not of interest to me in this world where I can't name a single one off-hand, because those things do NOT interest me enough for me to remember. Not like I'm going to stalk someone on the web who is doing, um, I'm reaching here...still up, got nothing. To me not interesting means, not interesting.

My own view is that control is often the actual aim. And reality is, you shouldn't be controlled by jeers, or cheers. You should be free I firmly believe.

However, if you DO draw attention then there may be people who can see value in trying to control you, and one of the classic things they may try is to tell you that you're worthless. Weird, eh? Find someone you think is of great worth to you and begin manipulating them by telling them they're worthless? So harsh. If you can be so convinced then that person may begin ordering you to do things.

Never let anyone else convince you anything about your own intrinsic worth, as human beings we are all equal in critical ways. We all get here the same way, from a mother, and eventually we all go, in death. In-between people will tell you things, but who told them?

Finding your way regardless takes effort. And we must rely on other people.

You can't just figure it all out on your own. Believe me, I've tried. Failed utterly. It can't be done. So much is given to us by human beings like us, who build on what was learned by human beings like us, over thousands of years. They were all for the most part trying to do their best, working to learn, and live.

People succeed all the time. It's why we're here. Others had to succeed before us.

And remember people keep moving the benchmark. The more you do, the more they will expect of you, as they know what you can do! That's great and can push you higher. You don't get to the major leagues by just being ok. You have to be one of the best of the best.

So yeah, these are things I tell myself. Sharing to see how they sound. You can say all kinds of things to yourself, which doesn't make them true. Somehow talking them out seems to help.

And yeah, for people who wonder how I keep doing things, yeah, here in this post is a lot of the answer. These are the things I tell myself, over and over again.

And expect success. Early on is frustrating as failures may be typical. Eventually you can get to kind of ok, and maybe muddle along with doing decent most of the time. But at some point you should be winning most of the time.

At which point you will know. Takes about 20 years to get there for most. Yes there are people who get there much more rapidly but do they have as much fun? Maybe. I don't know. So I do pay attention to such people to see if that question will get answered. Reality is where it matters. Which is why it's important to study successful people in the real world, and check things! Don't just trust what people tell you on the web. Verify.

The web helps you there too, thankfully. So yeah, those connections can be for good or ill, so it helps to think out how you can get the most good out of them, and avoid the negatives.

Positives are SO much more fun.

James Harris

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trying to define entertainment

One of those things I like to do is find what I call functional definitions, which are functional in that I can use them all over the place in the real world. Like to me, a functional definition of science would mean I have a process for determining if something is a science or not.

And recently I realized I wanted a functional definition for entertainment.

Talking things out helps me critique them, as hey, it could be wrong. And this one has me a bit more fascinated than usual.

entertainment (noun): any socially accepted activity chosen in order to alter mood in a desired way which is unlikely to bring harm in any way.

If that's not what you expected, good! To me my functional definitions tend to head off in a direction different from others, like where's the fun?

Trying to go more formal from the start in a prior post.

James Harris

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Our need for experts

Our world is so complicated but I think often it's easy to think you kind of have the gist of how something works, but as I type I'm looking at my laptop screen aware that I'm not quite clear on those liquid crystal things which are showing me the words as I type. Sure I could read up on them, again, but do I need to do that really? No. They work just fine whether I understand why or not.

And I have a good bit of medical knowledge, and even worked for years as a technician in a large medical facility, but yeah, if I have a medical problem, I go to a doctor and look for an expert assessment.

Experts are critical for us all, including experts themselves, who will tend to specialize in a particular area in order to know as much as they do.

Thankfully that expertise works incredibly well, or our modern world could not function.

Yet I've found myself pondering areas where I know expertise exists, looking for simple principles, and worked out some things for myself which works for me. I'm looking for functional tools in order to do things. But if I'm serious about it, I need to figure out why these are not part of established expertise.

My first guess has to do with norms. For instance I wrote a post that mentioned controversy with doctors who resisted washing their hands despite one doctor figuring out that such behavior could cut down on death for women after giving birth. But those high death rates which would be unacceptable today were simply the norm at the time.

So it occurs to me that experts may have problems in areas where established norms are challenged by some knowledge, and will tend to resist while sticking with norms, which makes sense! If I see, for instance, a cow float by, will suspect there are wires or something going on to explain something which is well outside of norms I am certain are true.

In economics, then I think we can assert that there are established norms for a lack of predictability consistent with times in human history when vast amounts of data was difficult to collect and very difficult to process, but today advanced electronic systems can process huge amounts of data from all over the world that is quickly collected.

Shifting from the norm may have escaped economists for the moment, while a more informed public is more aware of their failures in actually explaining what is going on in economies or helping when things go badly like in the Great Recession.

With limited information and processing ability, overly complex economic theories about money and economies might have seemed better than nothing. And modern economics may be weighted down with huge amounts of useless baggage in the form of ideas that could not be adequately tested until our time with our modern computer systems.

Like, how would you test my simple ideas that money is just an abstraction for a favor in the past? It may seem like a simple idea, but I make hypotheses about global economies with it, relying on data that I read from people who are connected to experts who are pulling in and processing vast amounts of information.

Actually I've seen a lot of areas where the real power of modern computers seems to be ignored by experts relying on norms established before them. And think it is the single biggest cause of expert failure across our planet. Computers are simply underappreciated as tools, or shoe-horned into wrong roles to sustain norms in thinking established before they gave the ability in many more areas to determine how the real world actually works.

The other problem I think with expertise can be tradition outside of norms, and the weight of complex social structures, like religion, which can weigh in against useful ideas.

For instance, with science I focus on prediction. But for many prediction is associated with religion, as a province of God, or with the supernatural, as a charlatan area, and science is seen as against such things.

That social feel that science is antagonistic to religion and especially charlatanism, could push people to reject the word "prediction" when it comes to science even though it leads to a very natural and simple definition for science which is useful in determining when it is being done.

And that covers enough for me to have a bit of framework to try and understand why I've found myself pondering such broad areas as money and science, and also why I can have some confidence in my own musings.

After all, we have no choice but to depend on people who have done the work to deeply understand things, especially in our very complex world. But we should get worried if we find areas where what they say just fails, and fails, and fails, and fails.

Seems to me that computers have pushed things far more greatly than many experts are yet willing to accept, and that vast areas of human understanding can be reworked where for the first time we have tools which allow us to keep up with so much more.

They simply have to be fully used, and useless norms must be dropped as new ones emerge.

Like with pregnancy, few women today would tolerate doctors not washing their hands, and few societies would accept the death rates during and after childbirth which were just the norm for much of human existence.

James Harris

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mood control and entertainment

With ideas that seem to apply best to things not entertainment I started asking myself what do I mean by that word. And eventually came to a somewhat surprising conclusion, but before I give my latest attempt at a functional definition will talk a bit around the subject.

Like did a web search on the word, and as usual found the definition that popped up immediately to be insufficient, especially as it emphasized enjoyment and amusement, which I had thought of initially too. But what about those things where things are dark, like with Greek tragedy?

Going to the Wikipedia--which I do a lot I'll readily admit--it emphasizes holding attention at the start, and switches to focusing on enjoyment by the end of that first sentence. Can't imagine easily doing posts like this one without the Wikipedia. It gives me such quick and easy reference allowing me to focus on my original thinking, versus working on giving background as well.

My own conclusion is that entertainment allows us to attempt to control our own moods.

Like if you need cheering up? There is entertainment for that. Want thrills and chills? Yup, there's entertainment for that as well. Wish to be scared? Of course, there is entertainment that will try! Want something calming? Yes, there is entertainment that will try to calm you.

I like that last one as I don't think it seems at first blush to fit as easily, so definitely need to include it.

Contrast say, with a learning activity. Or a working activity. These may be enjoyable or not, but most would not call them entertaining I'm sure.

Yet there also is a component of accepted behavior for use of variations on the word "entertain" with lots of mood altering things falling outside of it.

But I can get functional there as well, as harm is the issue I think.

So then functionally, I say that entertainment is any socially accepted activity you choose designed to alter your mood in a desired way which is unlikely to bring you harm in any way.

So now can judge entertainment easily: you go into a situation wishing "thrills and chills" and that's what you get, then yup, that was entertaining.

So yeah, if you want something dark and brooding, and it's cheerful and light-hearted then it was NOT entertaining to you, while someone else who wanted that thinks it was.

And you can entertain friends with a cup of coffee, or tea, where many may think that requires conversation, when in actuality it does not.

Interesting. Can do a lot with this thing I think.

Can even entertain yourself with quiet, coffee and great location.

James Harris

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where news business will go

Not one who shrinks from putting up an opinion though I also feel I work things out with theory to get to it, I'm willing to just say where I think the news industry must go as a business in order to make money.

First off, where it was involved advertising, which people tolerated as much as anything. And reality is, like on the frontiers of the US back in the 1800's that newspaper could be a lifeline. You could crave information and advertising opened up possibility as well as tried to sell you things.

While today I say you figure out that news was valuable to you, after you read it. And that eventually you'll get a chance to pay after.

And that's it. In my vision, someday when you read an article on some news site after you've finished at the bottom there might be a button with some small amount on it, and you can just hit that button and pay for the read, or not. That is, say directly that you found that information valuable.

My guess is that people in the news industry if they even came across this post would automatically say that no one would pay. I say they're focused on the rear view mirror and haven't even really checked if there is another way.

Yes, for quite some time news and advertising worked together one way. Now I think a new way will have to emerge.

Which is not to knock advertising as I believe that outside of news, advertising will be bigger than ever, especially in entertainment, where it will be most focused.

And those are opinions of mine and will be curious to see what actually happens.

James Harris

Saturday, June 06, 2015

What kind of blogger?

Interesting to me to think of myself as a blogger but am thinking not in a traditional way, which is meant to be ironic as blogs are so new. Then again it is more of an oxymoron? But I think it does have a certain ironic tone. Short of it though is I try not to be into novelty, and avoid contractual obligations. Which functionally means I like posts which can sit up indefinitely, without me needing to fiddle with them or remove them, which means people can read things I wrote years ago as fresh as if I'd written them today.

So not interested in PRODUCING novelty, so I actively avoid putting up creative content out of novelty. It's really so I don't keep seeing stale things, as I review material a lot.

Doesn't mean I don't have posts which grab more attention immediately than later, but usually none of them grab huge amounts of attention, but more a steady drip kind of thing, which is what I prefer.

Even my open source project is the same way, which I definitely prefer. It actually averaged just under 10 downloads a day for 10 years. To me that's a stellar accomplishment.

Oh yeah, so avoiding contractual obligations is just some kind of strong preference of mine, as I don't like feeling like I'm tied down, which creates practical problems which I'm considering. In essence it gets in the way of making money which is consistent with my analysis of money flows. That's why I did all that analysis. Needed to figure it all out in order to come up with a solution. Contracts can be odious things if you're not careful and even if you are! I simply tend to avoid them altogether which I admit is childish on my part.

But thinking more on it, realize I currently do have some in play, like with AdSense, but they are ones I can terminate at any time.

James Harris

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Information gathering against science

The notion that if you could just suck up all the information there is on every person on the planet and process it with massive computers you could predict, well, everything is a fun fantasy against science. And yes quantum theory can have impact but it's micro, while I think more relevant is chaos theory, which is macro and deterministic but rather dramatic.

Like, the Butterfly effect became very popular even in mainstream culture but seems to elude people as to consequences, as even with all that info, prediction can escape.

And it's like how too many in my country were unfortunately programmed by rather bizarre media presentations in fiction claiming over and over again that torture works, so they think it does, even though it's cruel, evil and does NOT work.

Similarly I think too many naively find it easy to believe that governments studying all their personal data is a way to actually stopping bad people.

Which is why principles are great and smart people put things down in writing, like in constitutions. Yes, people trot them out all the time but the Founding Fathers of the United States were really smart people who deserve all that attention.

They did a great job with the US Constitution without a doubt.

A sad thing in the US today are people who don't quite believe in science and they don't quite believe in the US Constitution but they do believe in SAYING they do.

I want the bad guys caught as much as anyone, which is why I want techniques that work versus fantasy.

Science is so powerful, and mathematics is so powerful, but how many people really understand them?

Of course over time people see reality as the check which forces change.

James Harris

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Thought experiment on employment

One of my favorite things in science is the use of a thought experiment, which has a cool German name of gedanken experiment. And I have some theories on unemployment, on which I'd like to try such an exercise.

On one of my other blogs I came to the conclusion that unemployment results from blocks in monetary flows, where I have posted thoughts on those.

That's a simple, and short conclusion where I think I can do a thought experiment, so imagine a hypothetical small village, where money flows have been perfect, no new money is created on a given year which we will study, and all people who can work and wish to work are employed.

Now a problem emerges at the general store, where the owner begins to notice a short-fall in revenues! This owner now has to cut back on purchases, from within the community as let's imagine it's completely closed, as is a fantasy scenario, so we can make up a lot of rules impossible in the real world. As the shop owner cuts back on purchases, other businesses begin to cut back as well as the shop buys a lot usually but now? Not so much, and soon some people are told there is not enough work for them as businesses where they work watch items they make pile up in their warehouses.

What happened? Closer scrutiny as we can probe anywhere as it's our made up world, reveals that some people in the community are stockpiling cash in their houses. And that is all that is required. As they pull cash out of the system, it become increasingly scarce, and the monetary system begins to break down.

What if they had the money instead in a bank? No problem then. The bank in our perfect hypothetical small village loans the money out, so it still flows.

The idea that monetary flows are key to employment may seem a strange one, but now let's move from our thought experiment to high unemployment in the European Union. Why? Because it's a great current real world arena and why not?

I can speculate, as it's not really a good enough framework to call it a scientific theory that high unemployment, for instance in Greece and Spain, is driven by some people taking money out of the system, possibly by not putting it into banks. Maybe they don't trust banks in their own country? How well does money flow in the Eurozone? I'm not sure. I could check but will check later after I post these thoughts!

So a solution would be to let Greeks or Spanish easily deposit their money anywhere in the Eurozone with guarantees, freeing them from trusting banks in their own countries, if this speculated problem is the issue. Then unemployment would diminish rapidly.

And that is a bit of brainstorming the problem with a gedanken experiment, which leads to a policy suggestion which may be naive as I need to read up on banking in the Eurozone now.

Which is how I do many things. So now on my agenda: read up on banking in Eurozone countries, as to how easily people can have deposits in other countries if they are scared of putting money in banks in their own country.

Maybe I should put a brainstorming label on these type posts, as I try not to edit them as much. Done.

James Harris