Personalization (Hobson’s Choice?)

Straight from the horses mouth:

“Doubts have been raised over whether personalisation to this extent is even desirable for society. There’s a fear that filters will become so narrow, we’ll wind up living in a bubble of our own prejudice,” said Schmidt.

“In practical terms – what’s the alternative?” he then asked. “Without some form of filtering, we would drown in information. So the real question is, if not personalisation, what kind of filtering should we have? The nanny model where someone else has the power to dictate what you should and shouldn’t see? Or the lucky dip model where things are plucked out at random? To my mind, both these alternatives to personalisation are far worse.”

— Eric Schmidt, MacTagart Lecture, 2011.

How about doing the responsible thing, not assuming that you always know best, and giving control back to the user? It’s a struggle to see how what G is doing now isn’t exactly the “nanny model”, as they are using their “power to dictate what you should and shouldn’t see”.

Anyway, nice job presenting a false dichotomy Eric. It’s understood that PageRank, on it’s own, is no longer enough to please your customers, but does that mean that it shouldn’t be available as an option to the minions?

Good Questions for Noda

Over at Shisaku, Michael Cucek asks some good questions about what happens next. This one especially is a puzzler:

Does a rush to the bond market, heartened by Noda’s message of a reduction of Japan’s deficts (reducing the debt is not a realistic prospect) send the stock market into a tailspin?

It’s a good question but there are massive contradictions to deal with here. While sending out a message that basically says “we’ll increase the tax base (eventually) to reduce the deficit”, Noda is signalling that he’s in favour of weakening the Yen. In any rational world the Yen should be going to hell, and yet somehow (hmm, what could it be?! An export economy, importing the majority of it’s raw materials priced in dollars, perhaps?) the Yen, along with the Swiss Franc, is stronger than ever. The FT reports today that the Yen is now 47% higher against than it was in 2008. Ouch.

It seems things are not entirely reality based. The US and Europe are in a desperate race to the bottom, and Japan really can’t compete in the financial armageddon stakes. My guess is that Noda will be forced to live with a strong yen, and a high debt level. Meanwhile something with force of the PIIGS into a default, bondholders will (with bad grace) eat their loses, and lash out, bring down all sorts of mayhem on all our heads. At the end of all this Japan will still owe it’s citizens a bunch of money, but not much else will change there.

The adage about the futility of betting against the Yen is likely to hold a little longer…

Paying it Forward?

This seems like an interesting experiment:

Sponsorship logos and advertising have become part and parcel of soccer matches and other spectator sports. One German newspaper, however, thinks the commercialization of sports has gone too far. Steffen Grimberg, of the left-oriented German paper die tageszeitung (taz), explained to Deutsche Welle why the left-oriented daily has decided to blur out sponsorship logos in its sports photos.

There doesn’t appear to be a great deal of coverage of this, which isn’t all the surprising. It seems to be mostly an attempt at attention grabbing / antagonism:

I’d say it’s more than just a stunt. Of course it has these elements of being provocative, of being perhaps a bit shocking, doing the out of the ordinary thing.

Obviously the sponsors aren’t paying the newspapers for promoting their brands in their sports coverage, and there is no sense here that is what Taz is angling for. Nonetheless it must feel akin to a poke in the eye to the sponsors. Everyone is supposed to be in this mess of branding together, paying if forward, playing their part to promote the required escalation of consumption. Pointing out that it is becoming overwhelming is akin to suggesting that the monarch is parading starkers.

That said, Germany is the least branded country that i’ve lived in. Admitted that isn’t saying much having grown up in the UK, moved to the US, and then onto Japan…

[Looking at their Sports page in the online version, it doesn’t look they’re trying the experiment online.]

Gormenghast

Really wasn’t sure how this was going to work out. Most of my reading over the last few years has been non-fiction. Something about the re-release of the trilogy of Gormenghast completed books, in a single illustrated edition, appealed to me.

Started reading it last night, ploughed through fifty pages before the bulk of the thing got too be much – it’s a thousand good quality pages. And, wow! Really didn’t want to put it down. The writing just folds around you, like some big heavy oppressively warm blanket. The atmosphere invoked by it all is more than simply strange; it is bizarre, unsettling, unnerving. In the extreme.

It doesn’t feel like anything i’ve ever read before… truly unique? Anyway, highly recommended. You can dip your toe in and read extracts here.