Jan 30, 2012

Write a book!

As the second highest authority - the pope - is now fiddling with social media and feels competent to give advice (see "you don't have to be brain-dead to give advice" and the comment "but it helps"),
it might be good to step back, look at all the soc-med-mess, take a deep breath and ask yourself:
is this what I wanted to get involved in, am I gaining something? Anything? Am I wasting my time?
There are studies in abundance showing how much intellectual potential is blocked by wading through the net in search of information, people and networks.
Since most of the air-brained blog-posts out there were written with the hope to get attention, build a following, and to get heard: written to build a reputation, it looks a lot like a big room full of kids yelling, jumping, kicking and scratching to get noticed. But while they all scream their lungs out - this information-inferno is just numbing.

This is where intelligent filtering sets in.

We look for content. Original, 'manufactured' content. Something that is an intellectual, artistic, emotional output of a real author. Social Media still have that scent of snake-oil around them, because they were highjacked early on by sales- and marketing-people. In the beginning there was all this trading of followers, the SEO of blogs, manipulation, trickery, pure magic and, yes, snake-oil, to get as huge a footprint as possible on the net.
The discussion about the future of classical publications, printmedia, cinema etc. helped rethinking content again. The difference between journalism and googling becomes obvious.
I was thrilled to read the testimonial for rock-solid content by one of the seniors in the pond of social-media-sharks, James Altucher, who manages to attract and entertain a huge crowd by delivering unique content and skillful marketing. His latest entry summarizes pretty well what counts in the struggle for net-reputation: if you want to get noticed and *stay* noticed, produce real value.
Write a book! (damn! - as James would add)

Jan 10, 2012

Augmented depression

If you are about to wallow in a moment of tearful self-pity, I highly recommend enhancing the experience by this little sound-track: "Why me?! - Again!"

- enjoy.

The mining of crowd-sources

While some are wondering why scientists appear not to appreciate tools like Twitter to communicate , there is more proof for the value of the meta-information that can be plucked from the stream of micro-utterances.
Roughly two years ago we speculated about possibilities to extract (useful) crowd-information. Increasing mentioning of umbrellas/rain - together with localization -, for example, could give valuable input to the weather forecast. As we put in 'Meta Mining':"If the noise of individual utterances will be systematically analyzed for overlying macro-structures and for phase-transitions from the purely random to the organized, there will be more information gained than individually and knowingly put in. The sheer boundless chatter of Twitter and alike corresponds to the cells, the web is the organism." We were encouraging to step back and look at structures rather than the individual tweets.
In a recent report in "The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene" that is reviewed in Nature, scientists show how analysis of Twitter-messages would have been a quick way to detect and track the deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti - simply by looking at the number of 'cholera' posts on Twitter. They found a stunning correlation between the official number of cases and the volume of chatter related to that.
This is only one more - scientifically proven - example for the potential of the data deluge.
It is a matter of time until publicly available analysis-tools mine crowd-sources like twitter (or even de-personalized sms…) for real-time input to forecasting tools.

Jan 1, 2012

Google's personalized ads kill my relationship

As I sit cheek-to-cheek side-by-side with my wife, we both working on our very own projects at our very own computers and she starts telling me about some coding-trick she just discovered, I hiss "could you, pleeze!, let me work on my stuff - I am busy!!" - and as she glances over she sees that personalized ad on a financial website I just sift through: some voluptuous, smiling girls and the line "looking for an exciting date?". AHA! You are busy, huh?
Damn! What can I do about the Ads google pushes there?
Oh, she is not stupid, types the same URL in her identical browser and at the position where I have that click-for-chicks-Ad she gets a cute little advertisement on health-food. :/
I reload my site. "time for nature - discover marokko" - ha! She reloads "investment-strategies", I "cars"…. and on we go, fortunately diving deep into randomness. So, obviously, our privacy-settings are good enough to feed us not-so-personalized advertisements. And so we go on working on our projects … while I reload the site some more times to get another glance at the dangerously attractive first ad.
Thinking about it, personalized advertisements are not bad after all.
When you happen to live in Berlin and have shown interest in theater, isn't it better to get some commercial suggestions on upcoming shows in your neighborhood than annoying stuff about cruise-ships and wellness-hotels? The unease results from the background data-collection and complex evaluation that google does while you use it's browser. It does not only help them target you for ad-campaigns. Who knows what else they might be interested in.
The good thing: you have a choice. You can opt-out of the personalized ad service from google - and supposedly the data-collection is stopped then.