A new approach to Facebook and Twitter

A few weeks back, I removed Twitter and Facebook from my phone, and I am much relieved. It was egging on my frustrations and encouraging stupid, tit-for-tat arguments that do not advance any meaningful discussion. The results have been a more peaceful mind, capable of more reflection, with less to argue about at home because I’m inflamed by Trumpism online.

I also think we’ve seen the advent of such voluminous trolling, as I noted the other day after having to shut a posting down because it was getting vitriolic and downright crazy, that Facebook and many social conversations are impossible. Every issue has become life-or-death, and that simply isn’t the way life actually is or should be. There is no compromise possible if we pursue single-point issues to disagree about rather than discuss what we might have in common.

So, to answer the question I previously posed, whether Facebook is worth the time to engage deeply in comments, I have decided it is not.

I’ll continue to post, and I encourage all my friends and any newcomers to discuss all they want. I may jump in, but for the most part my Facebook usage will be informational henceforth. I’ll share what I am reading, thinking about and doing, because it may be useful to all of you.

If you find my posts annoying and feel compelled to attack me, an idea I shared, or what you think my opinion is, please feel free to ignore me. You have no obligation to correct me, as we all have views that can add up to a civil discourse. The point is to express those views to enrich to stew of possible solutions this country desperately needs.

I’ll be focusing on local and global action with the time I used to spend being admonished and frustrated by Trumpist or “America is finished” advocates. You can read the story here. Or not. Your choice. I’m done wasting energy on trivia. It’s time for action and clear, pragmatic assessments of action.

I love my friends, new acquaintances with interesting ideas, my country, and the ideas that will transform our lives for the better. I welcome all of that. Please feel free to reach out to me in email, if you’d like to engage in a productive discussion. I’m looking for a different way to host that conversation than Facebook.

On-demand food service delivers beer with your meal

As of today, customers in southern California (other cities are coming, at least in the US) can order both alcohol and food at the same time, whether the drinks come from a restaurant or a liquor store. Your options will depend on the relevant corporate partnerships, but it could save you the hassle of placing a second order or (gasp) drinking something tamer.

Source: On-demand food service delivers beer with your meal

Brexit and Trump: When Fear Triumphs Over Evidence – Scientific American Blog Network

These are both part of something called the Elaboration Likelihood Model. As it turns out, this model suggests that we rarely can engage in both types of decision-making at once. That means that if we have been lulled into a superficial (peripheral), engagement with the information that we are asked to make decisions about, this largely excludes our ability to process the information deeply (central).

When pundits argue that people don’t need experts, they are actively trying to push you from using central processing to a peripheral approach. They are asking you to turn off your logic and turn on your emotion, because they know that it is difficult to use logic once fear takes over.

This is also why politicians like Trump and the Brexiters like to say they represent “ordinary people.” Of course, “ordinary people” don’t exist. Even if they did, they’d be unlikely to be a billionaire or an old-Etonian who delivers speeches in Latin. Presenters of such arguments are trying to make you feel negative emotions against an imaginary opponent (usually the ‘elites,’ who also don’t actually exist), trying to get you to disregard evidence and logic.

Source: Brexit and Trump: When Fear Triumphs Over Evidence – Scientific American Blog Network

iTunes Resurrection

I noticed that the artist photos in iTunes age with the artists until they die. At that point, their youthful self returns and takes over the marketing of the artist. Case in point, Dave Brubeck, who died this year and now appears to be a 28-year-old on iTunes.

Privacy is like money

The Vendor Relationship Management list, run by Doc Searls at Harvard, continues to produce fascinating discussions. Here’s something I wanted to put on the blog after sending it to the list:

The notion of privacy is as lively and relevant as ever.

The idea that privacy is dead is irrelevant, along with the argument about how privacy operates in interpersonal and social contexts, which is misguided and ultimately aligns the list for or against people. It is not necessary to condemn privacy, because it sets up thousands of debates over what people have lost rather than what they have gained from the advance of transactional and publishing tools. In this context, marketing is only a business function that composes content and transactional opportunities, though others who look higher in the stack than I may disagree.

What has changed is not the definition or reality of “privacy,” a concept that denotes the individual’s subjective sense of ownership of their body, their property, space and time. The difference is that a wide range of transactional opportunities have come into play, which were unavailable in the past because products and services could not be personalized efficiently. We’ve created a good, personal information, which was previously inseparable from other goods in the market. Now we need to bank that asset on behalf of its owners, individuals with their own definitions of the fair value of their personal data that we cannot control or define for them. We can help them understand the value and how to leverage it.

We can tell people they have an asset, but we cannot tell them how to use it. Just like money.

The concern then, from our customers’ standpoint (also the perspective of the “reasonable person”), is whether we say those goods should be marshalled to benefit them or someone else. Traditionally, we’ve ignored the personal cost of accommodating mass-produced goods. We learned to be happy with a black car, because that was what Mr. Ford made. Today, just as we can perform full-lifecycle accounting of a factory and find that it extracts value and carries costs that have not been factored into the price and passed on to society at large, we find that producers have simply started collecting personal information and selling it to one another instead of engaging in the negotiation that recognizes the personal property in personal information. Furthermore, we know that, based on the personal property mined from our interactions, some organizations can change the individual’s lifelong cost curve for a service – the canonical example is the health care provider who raises premiums or simply refuses to insure someone identified as being at great risk of incurring medical costs. Both the economy-wide and the many interpersonal interactions that make up the whole economy then begin to whittle away at the actual wealth of people, who don’t even realize they are losing value moment-by-moment. They will eventually be reduced to an informational-economic form of indentured servitude, where their willingness to pay and capacity to earn through labor, rather than from the value of the full range of personal informational assets they possess, will be carefully managed by marketers until they are exhausted of value.

Without a sense of the value each person generates in information, whether you call the concept “privacy” or something else, this discussion will produce a generation in which some people are reduced to the role of factory-farm pigs, existing simply to generate profits instead of living as individuals with self-worth and dignity.

So, let’s avoid the “Privacy’s dead, now let’s get down to business” rhetoric. It prevents us from going to work for the people whose privacy, regardless of the definition, has been destroyed without their consent. The rhetoric gives us an excuse to ignore the messy part of the economy that has emerged in clear focus: People’s preferences are a relevant and valuable component of the value chain for the first time in history.

Administrative differences

I’m in London on business and was listening to a table of Europeans, Austrians, I guessed, talk about the French and the British. They were being snarky about their EU fellows. It’s fascinating, when you think about it, that the differences they emphasize as “French” or “British” or, for that matter, “Austrian,” are only the result of administrative systems combined with accidents of history. We are no longer citizens of countries, except in name. But names die hard.

A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox – NYTimes.com

Fascinating piece in the Times today on the potential explanations for the behavior of “information” in a black hole. A Black Hole Mystery Wrapped in a Firewall Paradox – NYTimes.com.

The interesting thing about this information is that it, information, is “stuff” from our universe and constitutes information because we can recognize and manipulate the ideas, but that doesn’t make this a predictive science of what will happen inside a black hole. We remain in a purely speculative relationship to the universe as a whole, even when a hole is drilled through it by something that is literally no longer of this reality.

Blogging broke my writing habits

For months, I’ve been thinking about what blogging has done to my writing. It worked great as a format when I was writing columns, but as a workshop for essays, stories and other types of written work, blogging is the wrong tool because it does not allow for the word to be pondered in isolation through a series of rewrites. Blogging is for short bursts of expression but not crafted prose that requires weeks and months of private contemplation to produce the effects at which it aims. Blogging broke my discipline as a writer, in some ways. That’s not to say that I will never blog again, but that I know it isn’t a good idea to stretch one’s writerly muscles in public first, before the requisite work is done in private.