Month: February 2013

On Private Data vs. Wisdom of the Crowds

Data seems to indicate that more and more people are pulling away from online activities to protect their privacy. I understand the concerns that drive this behavior but we don’t need to lock away our content/lives to secure our rights.

Privacy by obfuscation might not be an option as robots become increasingly powerful, but there’s much to gain from the wisdom of the crowds. Wisdom that will disappear if we all become over protective of our data.

[…] A new study by market researcher Ovum indicates that millions of people could start “vanishing” from the Web within a few years, causing major disruptions to the Internet economy. The reason so many people may go data dark? Privacy concerns.
Online Privacy: The Opt-Out Revolution Is Almost Here

On Advertising Getting Redacted

Shaun Varga discusses the disappearance of the word ‘advertising’ from the agency vernacular. I would agree that (A) the stigma of advertising is becoming too unbearable and (B) we —as an industry— have realized that we must evolve and are now in the process of doing so.

Then you have the advertising agencies… if you can find one, any more. Have you noticed that the word ‘advertising’ is hardly ever heard nowadays in the halls of our former advertising agency greats? Not heard, and indeed rarely read in the pages of their websites. Advertising has been redacted. Instead we learn that these agencies are, in fact, ‘multi-disciplinary ideas companies’; or ‘media-agnostic, brand building business partners’. I kid you not.
Why Advertising Agencies no longer exist, and why it doesn’t matter.

On The Limits of Mind and Imagination

Both Kurzweil’s theory of the Singularity and Nicolelis’ ideas of human-machine symbiosis are exciting (and not mutually exclusive). However, for Nicolelis to dismiss the artificial brain because the human mind “most important features are the result of unpredictable, non-linear interactions amongst billions of cells”, it’s just an easy and unsatisfactory copout. It has no scientific basis but the old “it’s too big to grasp”.

Size, we should know by now, is not an unresolvable problem.

You can’t predict whether the stock market will go up or down because you can’t compute it,” he says. “You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.”
The Brain is Not Computable

Nicolelis mixing apples and oranges.

On Blogs, Lies and Advertising

The Brain Pickings controversy about how its author Maria Popova made money out of Amazon affiliate links, while asking for donations to support her “ad-free” site, is a good opportunity to rethink attitudes about Advertising.

Beyond the issue of whether or not Maria tried to deceive her readers is the issue of how much opposition and reaction against advertising she has demonstrated. Popova is not only clouding the truth but rejecting what she clearly assumes will be a detriment to her blog/brand. Despite the fact that Brain Picks not only approves of advertising but uses it to sustain itself her lack of ownership seems to indicate that she believes that advertising is inherently virtueless.

On the other hand, the fundamental property of advertising is that it advertises, not that it’s intrusive or gratuitous. […] So it’s understandable that many people, including Amazon, consider affiliate links to be advertising (as opposed to, say, some kind of biz-dev relationship). What’s more, many such links — especially when they’re accompanied by photographs of the product in question, and live permanently in the right rail of a website — are unambiguously advertisements.

[…] Will Popova’s readers still donate the same amount of money now that it is more obvious that Popova is running a “clearly commercial site”? Popova’s language — the way that she combines a request for donations with a statement that she doesn’t accept advertising — suggests that she fears they might not
Maria Popova’s blogonomics, part 2

How The Singularity Will Take Your Job Away

There’s another kind of Singularity approaching. It’s the one in which we all loose our jobs and we all have to learn new skills. This is not the future in which machines become so smart that we can all let the robots take over the hard labor while we retire to drink margaritas in Belize. Nope. This is the future in which you lose your job because all jobs that we’ve known are slowly becoming less and less relevant and soon will get completely outdated.

The world is changing. Little by little at first but exponentially faster each passing day. We first saw the music, film and travel industries shake, then it was publishing, media, news, and next in line are the postal service, hotels, taxis and a long tail end. Soon, no business model will be left untouched. The one thing stopping many from acting is the Upton Sinclair theorem:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Don’t assume, like others might have done before, that this is not about you. It is. Your time has come. No matter what your profession is, no matter what you do. Your time’s up. P2P, freemium models, crowdsourcing, robotics, 3D printing, democratization of information, digital assistants, portable computing, big data… All of it is causing an overhaul of all business models and with it a destruction of jobs.

The Singularity by omarrr

Behind the scenes computers have started a job that we haven’t ’explicitly’ commanded them to do. That of defragmenting, breaking into small chunks and optimizing every task they are involved with —and computers are involved in just about everything in this world.

This is step one of robot take over. It’s not bad. It’s actually good, but it means that we all need to adapt or be run over. Your job description in the 21st century is yet to be written.

How exciting!