Good PR v. bad PR

Bad PR: This killer pop song's popularity is exploding!

Good PR: Here's a clip of Rick Astley singing "Never gonna give you up"

Wine is fine. For a good time.

Billy Munnelly writes about wine in Toronto; my dad subscribes to his newsletter and even had him over to entertain some friends. It was a solid night.

He's got a wine guide out and as I began reading through it, I found it interesting.

I saw Sideways, and liked it. But I have no use for detecting notes of chocolate in fermented, foot-stamped grapes. 

For me, the LCBO (ie. the only place one can buy liquor in Ontario) is big and confusing. There are a lot of wines, and I think I'm in the majority when I say that I usually look for ones with cool labels, and that are Merlot or Pinot Noir. I did a tour of Jackson Trigg's once, and I drank Beaujolais Nouveaux in France for 3 weeks straight, so I have two points of reference. Other than that, it's a collage of neat labels. One picks one.

Now I pick two. Billy divides wine into three types: simple, medium or rich, and then white or red. He takes what the LCBO offers and selects only "good" wines, then categorizes them: simple, medium or rich.

This makes wine much more comprehensible. So now, I always buy two bottles; usually a simple and a rich one. And I drink both in the same night. Alternating glasses. You learn a lot about a simple wine in the context of a rich wine.

So, if you drink a lot of wine, and don't know what the hell it's all about (and don't want to detect notes of gooseberry), try Billy

The Prime Minister is

I read another good quote today, which perhaps helps to clarify how we are governed. It read: "The prime minister is the person who can retain the confidence of the house."

Due to issues of marketing and branding, the spectacle of elections concerns party leaders. And, in fact, U.S. presidential elections really are about party nominees. But government is not marketing and the U.S. president is not the Canadian prime minister.

On the Governor General's desk when she gets home

The flight back from Prague today will not be relaxing for our GG. The role is almost entirely ceremonial, but if in fact it were completely ceremonial, I think we would by now have replaced the GG with a piece of nicely carved wood, or something gilded and inurt.

David Frum makes a silly argument that it is unconstitutional (or practically so) for a parliament to chose a prime minister. Perhaps we (and by "we" I mean more than one Canadian) are confusing our system with the U.S.'s, in which the Presidency is an institution apart from the parliament. After all, Canadians seemed to follow the U.S. presidential election more than our own.

But Canada is different, and as long as we are not the U.S., we should perhaps see the prime minister's role for what it is. The PM is not elected by the people generally, and has no mandate independent of parliament. He is instead chosen by parliament; if that parliament wants to organize into parties and vote as blocks, the constitution could really care less.

So it is perfectly reasonable and normal in Canada for a parliament to change who is the prime minister. In fact, Kim Campbell and Paul Martin both became Prime Ministers without an election. If this parliamentry power doesn't feel correct, that suggests we have been influenced by the U.S. We can change the constitutionm but we cannot ignore the constitution.

I feel that, because it would be very easy for three opposition parties to merge into one party, it is also legitimate for them to temporarily form a coalition. A super-Liberal-NDP-Bloc party received about two-thirds of the votes in the last election; the Conservatives, about one third. So it is not wrong for them to control parliament, from where our PM springs.

At any rate, I think it's important to not attack the legality of the situation we're facing. Let's discuss the other implications for a Liberal PM leading a coalition government before Christmas.

Of most importance is the effect on Western alienation. Stephen Harper is a product of the rise of the West, and decades of anger at feeling outside the centre of power were somewhat alieved when a Reform-heavy Conservative party took power in Ottawa. The re-election of that party affirms that Canada does not reject the West.

So, for left-leaving, French-speaking, Liberal-appointed Governor General to take the country's leadership away from the West and hand it to a French-speaking, failed leader who is rejected by his own party, and who requires separatists to stay in power ... this will not play well out west. I think this would inflame Western anger more than any previous policy or slight. The optics are not entirely of Harper's failure, as perhaps they should be, but of a system stacked against the West.

I am not opposed to Rae or Ignatieff being crowned Liberal leader and PM. Both have considerably more government experience than Brian Mulroney did when he ascended to the highest office. Frankly, although Harper was a policy wonk, he had never really run anything more substantial than an SME before running the country.

But a Rae or Ignatieff appointment as PM again smacks of elitism.

All this said, I feel that a coalition government is a reasonable path for Canada. More than 300 MPs represent Canadians' interests in parliament; a group of about two-thirds of them came together and said that Canada requires a fiscal stimulus package, given the state of the global economy. I think they're right about that. And I think our system is right to allow them to remove from power a government that fails to deliver this.

Creative web searching

For a brief period, just knowing what google was, and how to do a keyword search, made you a magic ambassador of factology.

But the value in web2.0 sites spills over into the commons; ie. these sites tend to organize the internet in ways other than keywords. is a tool for storing one's bookmarks in the "cloud". I've written before that its best use is actually clipping and sharing news stories -- a sort of live repository of external content related to what you care about (ie. you and five friends agree to store all articles on the business strategy of Furbees in there).

But also works as a research tool. The site's designers chose to use a logical, word-based hierarchy for their URLs (there's a better name for that?!). Ie. if your name is david11, your account is 

What made Delicious (getting tired of the periods) unique when it emerged was its use of tagging. So, instead of just saving a news story or website to Delicious, you assign a few keywords (or tags) to it as well, allowing you to find this URL easily in time.

So, the spillover effect of most of the internet being tagged is that you can search for content by its tag, and with the logical URL system they use, that's as easy as:'re-looking-for.

Even better, you can do a keyword search within this tag.

My last post was on Ryanair's business strategy. If you Google that, the results are annoying. Plan B is ... and then a keyword search for strategy (there are 11 answers, all of which are interesting).

Furthermore, I not only have 11 answers, but 11 people/accounts, each of which could lead to related ideas ... things I haven't yet thought of. Sort of like, if I like Fiest and RHCP, an algorithm predicts that I may like your cousins weird band from Wisconsin (most likely, I would hate it).

Google, you know algorithms ... get on this Delicious train! 

Ryanair -- strategy and operations

Ryanair is easily my favourite company. For me, business is about strategy and operations. 

I don't really care whether BCE is a private company focused on servicing debt, or a public company serving regulators. Their decisions around content, and the pipes (including mobile ones) through which they push that content is most interesting. 

Here's a quote about Ryanair: 
Geoff Van Klaveren, an analyst in London at Exane BNP Paribas, said Ryanair hauls in more revenue, relatively speaking, from "ancillary" sales than any other airline. In the last financial year, to March 31, 2008, this category was equivalent to 18 per cent of total revenues of €2.7-billion, up from 14 per cent in 2005 and 11 per cent in 2001. "This will keep climbing," he said, which is one of the reasons Ryanair is one of the few airlines that carries an Exane "sector outperform" rating.

When I worked for a gas station company, I learned that their strategy is to effectively break even on the gas (they buy it from people making money on taking it out of the ground), and sell a few $2.75 cokes and maybe a $6.00 bag of milk to everyone who passes through the door. 

In fact, if Ryanair trusted the right company, it could sell off its entire aircraft operations division and rent back the flights, then operate solely as an ancillary business. As I said before, their business model is merely to convince a large fraction of Europe to lock themselves inside one of their pressurized, tube-shaped stores for 6 or 8 hours a month.

Conversations with Sean Penn

This was a much more thorough and interesting (though fawning) foreign policy essay by Sean Penn than I expected; it is based on interviews with two leftists heads of state, who are viewed as (lukewarm) enemies by the U.S.

I've noticed Penn's political activism; certainly his campaign to Iraq immediately before the invasion in 2003 had the potential to end his Hollywood career. 

But clearly, based on the quality of this article, and on his friendship with Iraq-war enabler Christopher Hitchens, with whom he and historian Douglas Brinkley travelled to Caracas and Havana, he is likely among the leading foreign policy minds in Hollywood.

Maybe that doesn't say much. But based on the media reverberations of his article in the Nation, he may be among the U.S.'s leading foreign policy instruments in the Americas. 

He quotes Joe Biden -- no right wing ideologue -- as calling Chavez a dictator. While Fidel Castro is a dictator, clearly Chavez is no more a dictator than was Bush or Pierre Trudeau for that matter. Penn also appears to be take the most significant step toward resolving US-Cuba relations of anyone in the last 30 years. Fidel is writing his memoirs and Sean Penn is granted the first interview by Cuba's new president, who took office earlier this year. In the interview Raul reveals that the U.S. military itself has long dropped the ideology driven agenda the U.S. formally has held against Cuba. According to Penn, the U.S. State Department and military meet with Cuban officials (not the president) every third Friday, a tradition that began more than a decade ago. According to Penn, the U.S. views Cuba as a key strategic player in their campaign against drugs.

Penn also raises the concern that Columbia is viewed now as the U.S.'s Monroe Doctrine ally -- sort of an Israel in Latin America. So we get into the question of whether rightest human rights violations are better than leftist ones.

Personally, I am very comfortable with the ethics of Canadian business people, so that increased  trade with, say, China, will necessarily and almost organically work toward resolving issues of human rights -- though not necessarily democracy itself. I feel the same about Cuba. Though there our only trade barrier is a mass of land, 48 states wide.

At any rate, what a surprise to read that Sean Penn not only has a brain, but is himself acting as a subtle instrument for change.

That said, let me be clear that Cuba is still a dictatorship, though warming under Raul, that it imprisons non-violent political protesters, and that it needs to not be/do both of these things. I love the tale of Che Guevara's youth on a motorbike, but he very clearly murdered many innocent poets and intellectuals -- not in battle but kneeling on the ground. His silk screen is no icon for me.

American Barackracy

3-second movie review -- Quantum of Solace

An invincible guy tries to take down a greasy CEO. Beautiful scenery.

A little busy

Media relations should be the absense of bullshit

Jim Sinegal is the CEO of Costco; despite my knee jerk dislike of big box, I like him. 

In this magazine feature, the journalist asks him why he installed skylights in his stores. A thousand media relations professionals would have each said something lie, Because it helps us consume less energy and lighten our environmental footprint.

The answer of this business executive with 140,000 people reporting to him: "There's no sense in me BS-ing you. The reason we did it originally was exactly as you're suggesting -- to save money. We put the skylights in so that we didn't have to turn the lights on. But of course it's also environmentally correct. "

Integrity is everything. Now, I trust him. And so what if his environmental record is 0.4% less impressive than a media relations guy could have presented it (as). He, and his company, have integrity.

The snowball

I haven't read the new (authorized) bio of Warren Buffet, but I wonder if the author's title, "Snowball" describes the effect I associate with this word.

When you have a lot of things to do, and you're not sure where to start, start with the easy bit. After that, you'll have less to do and I hope a few easy bits left. Do those next. Soon, you'll be at a stage with:
a) less to do than before
b) momentum.

And the snowball rolls along, picking up snow and growing exponentially.

3-second film review -- W (Oliver Stone)

This film carefully and expertly moves within the vacuum of purpose between satire and historical reality.

Is it illegal to break the law?

An interesting question will arise between today and Jan. 20 around the semantics of the word "illegal."

This article argues what many suspect; that Mr. Bush and others in his employ broke the laws of the United States hundreds or thousands of times. 

Other than the invasion of Iraq itself, we don't really know what if any crimes George Bush committed. But we do know that journalists who attempted to investigate these crimes were themselves victims of threats from the people who currently work for Mr. Bush. 

So, if a President commits a crime, is it illegal? If you do commit crimes, and your country's Attorney General sits next to you at work, and you're not in jail, then it is not illegal to break the law. 

Power is a funny thing. Mr. Bush is about to lose it, and not in a subtle way. His family name, his ideological partners, his team and much of his party have lost almost everything. They will have no real power, of course -- other than high but not stratospheric personal wealth, and good connections. They will have no coercive power because their people will be out of power. No one associated with Bush who does not repute him will have any statesman-like standing after he leaves office.

Almost like Nixon, he will be completely stripped of everything. And then, two things will happen:
a) he will be powerless against the people he pushed around, and who have been holding in years of disclosure about what he and they did that broke the law but was not illegal.
b) he will be a private citizen in a country with a massively more powerful domestic security apparatus. He created a monster, which is incredibly stupid when you have a term limit.

Should Bush be found to have committed crimes, and those crimes be considered illegal ones, I'm not sure I like the actual optics of Bush going to prison. It's too vindictive, and he's a symbol. But President Obama may just find it nearly impossible to stop the tide of indictments against people who broke the law while serving Bush, thinking somehow that it wasn't illegal.

What Obama's win means for me.

I wanted Barack Obama to become president from about 2005 or 2006 onward. I think his charisma first caught me, and his single policy decision: to oppose the Iraq war when it was just as wrong as it is today, but when few public people would say so. I responded to that because virtually everyone in my country opposed the war before it began for exactly the reasons that virtually everyone in his country does now.

I'm not American, and I feel it's arrogant or overbearing for me to care too much about U.S. domestic policy. I'm no fan of Quebec separtism, and it annoys me when foreign people delve into that issue with little knowledge of Canada, or of the undercurrents of that failed movement to destroy a country. And so I don't want to tell Americans to support gay marriage. But I do want to tell them to stop locking people in cells on island bases without normal laws. And I want to tell them to not lie to pre-emptively invade a country that poses little threat, when other measures may have come to a similar, less bloody end. I want to tell them to stop picking innocent people off the streets and from their homes in allied countries, taking them to secret places, and torturing them.

Barack Obama was the only person I felt would do this. And it looks like he may follow at least this spirit -- which I feel is a far more American spirit than what America has recently been. I'm not a beliver in American Exceptionalism, but I'm a believer in the power of this idea to do good; I want people around the world, and in my country too, to look at the United States as an almost immutable force for the steady progress of good in the world.

So on Nov. 4, I was almost shocked to realize that Barack Obama is black. I was fixated on his three unusual names -- especially the middle one. But I had hardly reflected on what it means for a black man to be elected by a white electorate in a country still not healed from the legacy of slavery. Barack Obama, and his wife and young girls will inhabit a house built by slaves. A house with an allusive name. I cried when he won, because it shocked me that, in one night, the entire American conversation around race has changed.

It's been six days, and I don't fully believe that it's happened. I said in October that I was waiting for Christmas, and I wasn't sure it would happen. Even when he won Penn. and Ohio I still worked out ways he could lose. But today feels like a continuing Christmas in which the massively wrong trajectory the world's guardian of classical liberalism (despite their brand-based fear of calling it that) had taken, was corrected. 

I think, with it going the right way, the all-important long term stability of things in our lives will continue. And, perhaps, the world will be a better place in eight years.


Tagging takes extreme discipline

But it pays off. 

Rather than storing documents in folders, tagging those documents with extreme discipline and using smart folders (and/or quick searches) makes it much easier to findlocate yer stuff.

Cool article on metatagging on OSX; Vista is similar.

Big Box web

I live in a town that's grown from about 20,000 people to about 65,000 people in six or so years. It's a suburb of Toronto; or, in a sense, a suburb of the Toronto suburbs.

I think, of the 45,000 people who just moved here, most came from the nearby suburbs. One thing you notice about this town is how few people shop on its traditional main street -- it's a pretty street with traditional shops, but at peak times it's dead. My theory is that, these people who came from other suburbs return to those suburbs to shop; they are used to the big box stores with big value. To the locals, it may seem odd to drive for 45 minutes to buy meat, but to suburbanites that's an average Saturday (ie. hell). You could say that main street has been disintermediated by people whose commute has conditioned them to long drives.

I think something similar occurs on the Web. I was listening to Cat Stevens on youtube (ie. the universal juke box) and wanted a listing of tracks on a cassette tape that I likely lost five years ago; I wanted to listen to the songs on YouTube in the same order as the album/cassette.

What did I do? Until recently, I would have gone to, because that's a Canadian website at the online source for physical music media. But before I started typing,  I realized that Amazon is better than HMV. I don't really care that much that it's in the U.S.

I don't care about the more local option; all that I care about is the one big answer that I can store in my head. I can keep a few dozen URLs in there, and covers off a lot of products.

So, as far as the web goes, maybe things are spiky and not flat. Maybe there's only room for one Amazon, and one eBay and one Google, etc. The Network Effect supports this, too.

But the flat Earth argument would be that sophisticated searches could flatten all of the Amazon competitors and provide me with a list of prices. So Amazon becomes where I research and price determines where I buy. But maybe Joe the plumber/surfer doesn't use that type of thing.

The FridgeBook

Have you read about the Asus Eee? For well under $500 ($300 on Amazon at the moment), you can get a pretty basic, really small, Linux laptop. 

You're not meant to audit GE on it, but by relying a bit on the cloud, you can do quite a bit, for really not very much. Great for students. Good as a "household junker" laptop; I'm sure a few will find their ways to garage workshops or on whatever floor of the house currently lacks a terminal.

But, let's by frank, at 7" the thing's still a clunker. If it were a search engine, it'd be Yahoo, not Google. 

I think that, somewhere between the iPhone -- which sits in pockets on street corners, and comes out in meetings and bathrooms -- and the Asus Eee, is an untapped market that I call the FridgeBook (or fridge computer ... whatever).

FridgeBooks would be like iPhones, but with much larger screens. They'd have magnets that would let you stick 'em to your fridge. They'd be always-on and always on wifi. So as families do what families do at home -- more often than not in and around the kitchen -- they have a device so efficient and close, it can tell them:
  • what to wear outside
  • what movie to see
  • family TTD
  • grocery list
  • family calendar
  • a recipe ...
  • whatever TV has/will become
  • visual voicemail(R)(C)(A)
I've said before: the difference between getting that type of information in 3 seconds or 10 seconds is critical. Go grab your Vista or OSX laptop and try one of these searches ... walking, booting up, etc ... it's 2 minutes or more. Asus Eee may be closer to 10 seconds. I'm saying, I want 3.

This FridgeBook(D) will be a seamless part of every nuclear family, just like cooking with radiation.

For now, the iPod Touch makes a pretty good substitute. Goods: wifi, Web, touch screen. Bads: small, no frigg'n magnets.

Google automates creativity with Google Sets

Writing is output, and you need to load up your brain with ideas every so often or your output begins to look like bad copies of your previous output; like the dumber cc's of Michael Keaton in Multiplicity.

I'm a writer and my tool box is a set of bookmarks I drag around from computer to computer, browser to browser. I think I use rhymezone, onelook and a list of idioms the most.

But the ever innovative Google Labs -- in which 1000 PhD's are locked deep within Cheyenne Mountain for 18 months at a time to develop world-changing web tools -- has released a new tool called Google Sets.

It's simple: you think of a few concepts and let Google Sets derive common themes between the concepts. They should have called it Google Triangulation; either way, it does some of the creative thinking for you.

Pink Floyd vigorously defending the introduction of electronics into their music; Geddy Lee had a trite saying about that. In both cases the view was that electronic instruments don't replace the creative process; they're just new tools for a musician to work with.

But I think Google Sets, etc., perhaps does replace a bit of thinking. It obfuscates derivation, but doesn't filter it through the mind. Okay, so is filtered derivation creativity? I think this just got a bit too philosophical.

Google Sets: makes it darn easy to come up with stuff!

If you like your politics with math ...

The U.S. race doesn't get more quant than:

Two unlikley Obama supporters.

In Colin Powell's talk endorsing Obama, I was struck by his credibility; he seemed entirely un-partisan. Entirely objective and paternal, cutting through the partisan swipes with a very decent case for electing Barack Obama.

He's also a conservative. National Security Advisor to Regan, architect of the first Gulf War, and enabler of the second. 

Chirstopher Hitchens is also an enabler of the second war, though I'm not quite sure anyone can nail down his small-letter affiliation. He's anti-Clinton (Bill), anti-Bush II, pro-Gulf II, anti-Kissinger, and anti-Mother Teresa. Seriously. The title of his book on her: "The Missionary Position." 

Hitchens was, or became, a rampant supporter of Gulf II, based on his liberal fear of totalitarian strains of Islam. But this principle led him to defend neo-cons and oppose those who questioned the war. I think he lost his way quite a bit after 9/11, and that's not forgivable because one should be right, or pretty close to right, in a crisis. He was way off. 

But Hitchens all but endorses Obama, albeit in his rambling, Oxford-intellectual prose.

Hitchens first came to me as a sort of un-hippie liberal. He called himself a contrarian, and I've always appreciated his arguments, wrong as they sometimes are.

Ken Adelman is essentially the Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld-Nixon you've never heard of. He too endorses Obama in a New Yorker article.

To be fair, both of these men reject McCain's most-recent record as much as they endorse the alternative. But for two men with a seat at the table of neo-conservatism, or a variant thereof, to support one of the most left-wing Presidential candidates in U.S. history is striking. I can't explain it, really: likely these are decisions based on the character of each candidate and not on the policies the country will be under. But I wonder if it's deeper; Buckely's similar statement may allude to an unrecorded undercurrent among conservative intellectuals?

3-second film review -- Bella

A sad man with a long beard is weighted by an old event. He senses an opportunity to do something good; to help a girl who was just fired, and amid Latin culture in NYC he seeks redemption.

Ballmer Peak

The recently named "Ballmer Peak" has been known and exploited for years. 

VPN; Green Room; riding the peak.

The all-at-once political platform

In 2005 Stephen Harper's Tories began the election with the announcement that they would cut the dreaded GST tax to 5 per cent from 7 per cent. This headline-grabbing statement (made in a consumer electronics store), was followed up with almost daily policy announcements. In fact, it soon became clean that the Tories' election strategy was based on releasing their entire platform one trickle at a time, with well-staged photo ops.

This worked brilliantly. And, frankly, I think it's good for democracy. For as long as elections are covered by TV (or its new-media variations) photo-ops will be necessary. For years, these photo ops felt like exactly what they were: bad, vacuous theatre arranged by political handlers. To have a photo-op be tied to a policy statement -- ie. an announcement of a potential change to life in Canada -- provides these photo ops with some meat. And by stretching out these photo-ops over weeks, reporters, intellectuals and the rest of the voting public can digest all of the policy they may or may not vote for.

After Harper beat the unbeatable Martin, I predicted that this would be the status quo for Canadian elections henceforth. 

It seems I was wrong. The NDP and the Tories are both set to release their policy books next week. We, the voting public who are influence by policy, who are trying to care about this election, and who are also stretched so many ways, will be asked to vote on fat books of policy presented all at once, and likely poorly read or summarized by time-constrained journalists. Sure, eventually these red books, green books and blue books will be fully digested by policy-minded people, but by then they will not be new and thus not news. And when something isn't news, it doesn't make the news, limiting the number of people who receive digested versions on this policy.

This is bad politics, because we're back to vacuous photo-ops. And this is bad for democracy because we're back to voting for the man or woman we hate least.

Radian6 -- social media monitoring

I guess they're reading this.

'Cause that's what Radian6 does; it reads tiny little blogs (and big ones), and all other manor of social media, finding what people say about its clients. I would have thought you could just do this with google, technorati and maybe a few phantom flickr and facebook accounts. Maybe they do? But they hint that they have a substantial back end.

This is a nice article as it doubles as both a look at where social media meets PR, and it profiles the unique strategy Radian6 used to launch their start-up. They gave it away for free to a small, local sub of a global PR firm, in exchange for feedback (and cred.) It worked brilliantly. interview on Social Networking for business

... companies must avoid the "Kumbaya Zone" - the place where social media is ultimately a time-waster and has little business value.

The album is a mix tape

I think the first mix tape I made was for myself; maybe some Pearl Jam and Led Zeppelin I'd jog to. Then I found out girls liked mix tapes and I started making them with different songs -- each carefully chosen to represent something.

Now it's not just teenagers in love who make playlists in iTunes. Really, these are not songs but lists -- lists that call individual songs from one's harddrive. And it's the individual song that people purchase (or don't purchase) today. Playlists can have hundreds of songs and there can be overlap from one playlist to another. In fact, they can even be random or "smart" -- not pre-set, but based on attributes such as how often songs are listened too, how highly they're ranked, their genre, etc.

But where does all this wizardry leave the 14-song CD sitting at the counter in Starbucks? Given the context of 99 cent songs at the iTunes store, infinite playlists and zero-loss digital copying, I think of that CD as just another playlist

Like Sheryl Crow just made me a mix tape.

A conservative for Obama

It's not just the optic of a former publisher of the National Review turning to Obama, it's his clear and plain language description of what conservatisim means for him.

I fear that Bushies have deluded Americans into seeing them as something very far from what they really are; whatever doctrine history ascribes to Bush, it is unlikely to be "conservative." But wrapping yourself in the flag shortcuts the whole question of what is your doctrine.

No one cares anymore what McCain believes: half of America sees this race as about true America versus something else. A flag versus hippie-ideals. And it's not.


The last time I used this service it was called

Seriously, I think the functionality is pretty much the same, but it's how Skimbit uses social bookmarking that makes it interesting.

Key phrases for this site are: collaboration, decision-making, web-clipping, social bookmarking.  

Okay, say you need to decide what hotel you and four lads will stay in in Paris. So you set up a Skimbit account, create a project called Paris Hotel, and invite everyone to join the project. Then each member can go off and clip suggestions from web searches at the leisure with a handy little button on their browser. Each suggestion is ranked by the critieria you set at the outset (price, location, near a bar). After a week or two, you have loads of options and a good point from which you can decide.

That's the collaborative part -- you can do it in Google Docs and it's only a little more ugly. 

But I think the social part -- the ability to view some of the other users' decisions -- that will provide the web2.0 value; it'll play a role in organizing the web's content.

YouTube as iTunes

Ever dug into iTunes with a tune in your head, only to find you can't buy it on iTunes?

Ever used iTunes like an LP player ... one song at a time?

YouTube is basically a P2P music service, with every song I've ever wanted to hear in video format. Content owners likely allow YouTube to host music videos for the same reason they let radio play songs. But if they knew I used YouTube like a kind of infinite LP player, maybe they wouldn't.

TechCrunch 50 review

Okay, I've read through the 50 profiles and a few look cool. That said, anything around developer's tools, gambling or video games aren't interesting to me.

Also, I think the point of this post is not to highlight an angel investment opportunity, but to show a few directions the web is going in (that's the kind of grammar up with which I will not put!).
This enriches news stories. For bloggers, etc, you annotate a block of text and that annotation is shared in some way with others. So, say there's a CNN story on something like "McCain apologizes for pig ad," a million people could annotate that "meme" and come to some wisdom-of-the-crowds solution for what it means.
Applied to all web content, it could be interesting. 
Revenue stream: not obvious.

Yammar. It's like twitter, but for colleagues. It looks like there is a single webpage with status updates for everyone. Ie. "finishing the headline; mocking up the icons; testing the mail lists; brainstorming"; etc.

Mass customization of interactive content, for the non-technical writer. (ie. if it's raining today in the home city of the web-site visitor, a cute joke about that is the headline.) I think this will feel weird and forced at first, much like those animated paintings must have seemed odd when Hogwarts first got them. But, seriously, how much more rich can you make media?
On the other hand, there's a small chance you'll visit this website on an iPhone and it will advise you to flush.

This gets a gold star. Widgets are sorta neat, but tingz are widgets built specifically for mobile computers, and which are meant to work across platforms. In my future, people will have screens with magnets stuck to their fridge. They yank them off, add a few items to the grocery list, and check out their schedule for the weekend. Ten minutes later, the husband goes into the grocery store and sees a his updated list on his iPhone. (Or robots just anticipate and fulfil our needs; it depends on the time frame).

I don't know what this is, but it caught my eye. I think you enter a track a wide range of personal metrics (weight, HR, $ life savings, weekly run mileage, avg. commuting time) and then do something with it.

You wear a thingy that tracks all your personal health activity and then it wifi's it up to a site that analyzes and reports the exact minute of your death (I made the last bit up.)

This gets my second gold star. It could totally fail, like the guy who invented a keyboard that was better than QWERTY like a century after every secretary learned QWERTY. Or it could succeed like the BlackBerry's little buttons. 
It's a better way to enter text on tiny keyboards. The company is really just an algorithm that forms words based, not on tapping keys, but on swiping a pen over a flat screen image of keys. So it's still QWERTY, but much more fluid. A small change, but if you can go from 10 WPM to 50 WPM on your iPhone/BlackBerry, it's good.
What caught my eye is that the co-founder invented T9; that predictive typing app. for SMS that's on like 2.5 billion or so phones.

Turns your desktop into a wormhole. Except instead of sending documents to a universe where Sarah Palin is POTUSA, it goes to another desktop. Like your home one when you're at work. Coolest part is that it appears to work without you having to do anything special. Just put a doc in a folder (a magic folder).

Web 2.0 in 1.0 years

You could read a bunch of stuff about where the web is going. Or you could just go there:

(is 1.0 plural; technically, no. but it sounds wrong the other way.)

Getting things done.

I've always been pretty unorganized; coming from an initially "creative" career, it seemed appropriate.  But I don't think I can cope with the complexity of 30-something life (career, commuting, home, money, parenthood, husband hood, school, sports ...) without getting my shit together.

I spent this weekend doing just that -- electronically. It's funny, but I didn't buy a new suit or a new briefcase; I downloaded Google Chrome, re-started my Remember The Milk account, and created a bunch of new folders. Lame, maybe, but it feels good on a Sunday night. Here's what I picked up:
  • I think there should be a constitutionally enshrined law that no folder can contain more than 7 items, and no more than two of those can be other folders. Ideally, bookmark bars should have folders with 3-5 items; you should be able see the contents of every folder at once, not by reading.
  • When you're trying to get organized, I think it's helpful to have an "all the stuff I have to do eventually" list, and then ... in some totally different application (RTM?) your top 5. Give each of the top 5 a fair time estimate. Look at your week; do you have five, 30-hour days?
  • Create a minutiae list: don't cram your top 5 list with junk. Everyone has points in the day where they feel like doing nothing (ie. engaging in flame wars on digg). Working through your minutiae is only a bit more taxing.
  • I swear this is the nerdiest thing ever. And not in a cool-but-geeky way; like in a pocket protector way. But if you're part of the creative economy, you probably need David Allen. I read about him on a flight two years ago; read his first book. It helped a lot. (10 second take away: purge your brain of Things To Do by itemizing them all [like all!] and scheduling each one)
  • After downloading Chrome, I set up a series of web applications "on" my desktop. Google Docs is neat, but it was also a few clicks to get into something (say I've got a page of jokes I think up randomly ... okay, I have a page of jokes I think up randomly). A theme that drives Google, I think, is that 0.5 seconds is much much better than 3.5 seconds. If you want to do something on a computer, and you click, 3.5 seconds can be extremely annoying, so much so it becomes a barrier. Frankly, I store random thoughts in txt files, because they seem to open instantly. Chrome is quick, and my jokes list is up in ... about 1 second even.

Be afraid of Finland


Google Chrome

Had it for 10 min.


the long tail

This is to the Internet what "The Making of the President" was to the making of the President (after 1960).

FTA: "Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody.... Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are ... In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the economics of scarcity. ). "

Republican brand is "trash"?

Jack Cafferty's column is helpful.

Things in the U.S. have gone so far under Bush that I was actually underwhelmed by Cafferty's statement, "[Bush is] arguably the worst president in the nation's history."

Without reflecting much on it, I've come to view Bush not as a bad president of an otherwise great country, but as the first leader of an un-American country. Maybe I'm apocalyptic, but I've come to view the U.S.'s future under a series of Republican leaders, starting with Bush, as a move toward permanent religious war, fanaticism, Orwellian control of communication and ultimately dictatorship.

The alternative is that the 2006 rejection of the Republicans would be just the beginning of a pendulum shift back to a fairly decent country. Cafferty seems to think that just this will occur. That it will be a landslide in all three houses.

The doomed Bush-McCain legacy.

Framing is an important element of communication.

If I was writing scripts for the current Dems in Denver convention, I think I'd using a phrase like "The doomed Bush-McCain legacy" to describe what is in opposition to Obama.

Obviously it frames McCain and Bush together, but also frames McCain's possible loss in November as a foregone conclusion, rooted in what are generally accepted as Bush's failed policies.

It's sort of like: Because Bush didn't fit, McCain ain't it.

McKinsey on Enterprise 2.0

Services (transactional) above wikis blogs, videos
Internal above external.
Asia & Europe above NA.

PR case study -- when your client is a website

Article is dead-right. Test and re-test your product in an interative soft-launch mode ...

Web2.0 for enterprise

McKinsey gets into the game. Key finding: Companies use Web 2.0 technologies more frequently for internal than for external purposes

However, I may have missed the whole point of the article, given I read it in Spreeder (see below)?!

Spreeder -- reading on a computer

This isn't really a web technology ... it could have been invented 25 years ago.

When you read a physical newspaper or magazine, the whole theory is that you move your eyes left to right and they encounter new words in a particular order to create meaning.

Spreeder flashes 1 or a few words at a time, and then takes it/them away and shows you the next word in the sentence. I guess the idea is that people who mentally sound out words learn not to. I do it for sure; am now.

I like having 2 words on the screen at once, and I like pauses after comma's, etc. These can all be set in the advanced settings. 650 wpm is a little fast, but doable at these settings.

Using as an edited news reader

When newspapers go online, they tend to use a content management system (CMS); no one "hard-codes" the home page. An RSS news feed can also be viewed as a CMS, albeit one you have only sky-level control over. However, when all news exists in a CMS, and RSS abounds, it begs the question, what exactly is the meaning or relevance of a media title.

I want news by topic, relevance, popularity or author. I'm not sure the name on the journalist's paycheque is relevant to me.

That said, I've stumpled upon an interesting use for -- the "social bookmarking" website famous for inventing (or popularizing) the use of tags. I wrote an earlier post here about my mis-use of tagging, when I first joined -- spasmodically, I tagged every bookmark with a cathartic splurge of verbage. Any and all words that I associated with that website, or the unerlying concept, found their way into the tag line. In theory, a year or a decade down the road, your brain would not have changed so much than a slightly more restrained splurge of verbage, in a search, would not return the saught-for bookmark.

This was all stupid. Tags are not psycho-analysis. They are categories. They are an improvement on the Mac/Windows "folder" concept in that, though they still are folders,
there can be multiple folders for one bookmark.

I don't have much use for the "social" aspect of I don't care what's "hot" there. Digg does that better. And I have even less use for it as an alternative to my browser's favourites feature. I do use as a very functional storage vehicle for news and other "thought leadership." My job requires me to know a lot about what's going on ... not just what news stories "have legs," but what smart people are saying about the economy and business, etc. Since I spend a lot of time each day reading original news (and thought leadership) sources, I take the opportunity to save interesting articles in By tagging, I can look back over categories, which could equate with industries or clients, etc. Furthermore, since' URL conventions are logical (ie. a list of all posts you've tagged "IFRS" can be found at, it is extremely easy to share segregated news feeds with others.

The nebulous 90th percentile

As a writer, most of career has been made up of discrete projects with fixed deadlines. Even when managing a lot of projects at once, I have to set deadlines and allot a set amount of time to each one ... or else i. will. go. mad!

But as another deadline flies by, I noticed something about project-work (at least writing project-work). When I have written a "pretty much done" piece, and I'd be just about happy showing it around internally, I've usually invested about half the hours I ultimately do. In other words, when I'm 90 per cent finished, I've done 50 per cent of the work.

There are a lot of good explanations for this. Writing, like programming, has bugs. If you call concepts by different names through your document, you have to streamline that before submitting the work. Streamlining can ruin your flow, because maybe a sentence required that three-syllable word, or a certain rhyme or rhythm to sound great, and now that sentence has to be re-written. Sometimes paragraphs repeat themselves, or worse, almost repeat themselves. Again, these must be re-written. And when they are re-written, you've likely fudged your segues.

Every first draft has at least two motifs, one of which must be killed. Which one? How will it flow when the dropped ones are replaced?

I can't say I've ever thought all this through before, but I know shit writing from good writing, and trying to never submit the former, I think I follow a process much like this; a process that means a 90 per cent finished work is half way there.

Network effect

I used to call this the "fax machine effect" ... then I googled it. (you could also call it the inverted hockey stick __________] ... there's a long tail before explosive growth.)

It explains a lot in business and economics. The effect drives the growth of the Internet, many consumer electronics, stock markets, English ...

Bumper Twitters

Bumper stickers are personal expressions made to those in your vicinity -- really just retro versions of twittering.

So, will people affix little screens to their bumpers to convey to commuters all that is inessential to them? It could go too far very very quickly.

Politics as chess

Obama knows he will raise more funds than McCain, and he's allowed to spend much more -- multiples more.


So Obama's strategy is not to destroy McCain in liberal states, or try to beat him in states Obama cannot win, but to drain McCain's bank account through an "arms race" of TV-ad spending in states that McCain has to win and should win, but could possibly lose.

Awesome. And yet, totally unrelated to democracy!

G8 comes to good 'ol Huntsville

This is hard to believe. World leaders cruising down Highway 60 in a train of black suburbans ... past my uncle's Macintosh shop, past grandpa's retirement home, past where that restaurant burned down a few years ago.

Good 'ol Claude Doughty -- he's doing a hell of a job!

But still, until the mid-80's, Huntsville was pretty much a backwoods. A pretty plastics factory and two marinas with a fine selection of outboard motor oils. Blackburns landing -- which is now the gentrified centre of the downtown waterfront -- used to be the third marina! Locals still drink at a place called The Moose, because that's what you call a place that serves beer in Canada.

Sure, Huntsville is evolving. There's a great new theatre, a thriving art scene, great golf, and the plastics plant is even prettier. But it's just astounding that the leaders of the seven largest economies on Earth, plus a guy who speaks Russian, are com'n to "Touch the past ... embrace the future."

I wonder if Obama waterskiis?

Close, but no cigar.

Finally, Clinton appears set to let Obama begin running for President.

Attonement -- 3-second movie review.

Decent children of English aristrocrats walk around a large house until one does one indecent thing.

Jing-jangle -- don't do it.

To coin a term, "jing-jangle" is to have objects that jangle in both of your front pants' pockets, so that when you walk, there is uninterrupted jangling.

This is to be avoided.

Solutions: one can put all jangling items in a single pocket, or one can hold the jangley items of one pocket in one's hand until finished walking.

While it's okay to jangle, it is certainly not okay to jing-jangle.

Futurism? Virtual bike race.

GPS's for bicycles are emerging, and they offer a lot. No more measuring the radius of your wheel ... just add batteries and go. Some include heart rate montiors (with the constrictive chest strap).

Though bike-focused GPS units do well as bike computers, in time they will likely do more. Imagine hitting a website and downloading a local route or waypoints from a friend or stranger to the unit. Then make your way to the starting point and hit GO to start the race. Nevermind that your competitor may have done his/her race weeks or years earlier ... you're going head to head on the screen! And you can upload the results for bragging rights.

In a race with waves, downloading the progress of others in real time (which goes beyond a GPS's capability now) would make it more of a head-to-head race.

What if data about poorly surveyed areas was aggregated to give a sense of the altitude of land masses?

Or if non-road routes were aggregates for map makers, who could analyze the data to locate popular trails that may have never been recorded (or intended by any authority!). Or imagine you were in an unfamiliar area and you could download non-road paths that were popular -- ie. to the GPS unit a field is a field, but if 30 people have ridden a particular route through that field, it might suggest the same to you.

They would likely also serve as Black Boxes in the case of an accident -- something that cyclists prone to breaking traffic laws should be mindful of.

3 years for a killing a mother andinjuring her toddler

Seems a little short, no. I know I'm getting older because law and order appeals work on me, but I'd like to see this guy get 20-30 years for what he did.

I'd like people sitting around a bar to say, remember Dragan Gorgijevski? He's rotting in jail until he dies ... (though he's still better off than the woman he killed or her boy he maimed and left severely disabled.)

3-Second Film Review -- There will be blood

There will be oil. There is oil. There is a son. There is no blood. There is lots of blood.

3-second movie review -- Michael Clayton

A brilliant litigator can no longer defend an evil corporation, which responds evily.

3-second movie review -- Dan in Real Life

Sharing a house over Thanksgiving with a girl you love and cannot have.

Rubber, meet road -- Twitter finds a use.

Student's Twitter messages alert world to arrest in Egypt.

Blockbuster and Circuit City

iTunes is to iPods what U2 concerts were to U2 albums.

But Circuit City is to Blockbuster what Startbucks is to emergency room coffee machines.

Best Calvin & Hobbes evar

the world before colour.

Gravatar = Globally Recognized AVATAR (≠ gravity guitar)


Obama's Grandparents

Madelyne Dunham et al.

No Country for Old Men -- 3-second movie review

Pure evil is relentless, and it wants the $2 million you took.

Change blindness

An analytical blind spot.

3-second movie review: "Once"

Funny urban Irish love story. With music.

Great Onion magazine cover

3-second movie review: "Love, Ludlow"

Eclectic, nostalgic, romantic, low-budget.

The narcissism of small differences

Man, I wish a took a psych 101 course. I think people recognize what Freud labelled "narcissism of small differences" -- a Hindu and a Christian may live in absolute peace as neighbours, but don't dare seat an Irish reform Catholic next to an Irish conservative Catholic at a dinner party. Couples exaggerate differences to retain identity. Maybe it plays a role in ethnic conflict (which combines power and identity).

Entropy does not apply to the diffusion of knowledge.

Take that David Suzuki!

Actually, I love David Suzuki, and I could really care less that he consults to Wal Mart. But I'm studying Paul Romer and new growth theorists and these guys have really got the economy figured out. Innovation and knowledge (also admired by Florida and Roger Martin at Rotman, U of T) drive all economic growth. You don't need more plants. You don't need more roads. Okay, you sort of do, but that gets you to Canada in 1950. Innovation, unlike matter or energy, cannot be destroyed. You can't unthink what you thunk. And all thinking is based on the sum of all previous thinking (ie. knowledge).

So if you want to make a plant, it's about as difficult as the last time you made a plant. Take a chess board and put a penny on the first square. Then two on the second, four on the third, 16 on the fourth and so on = more pennies than matter on Earth. Now, instead of cash, think knowledge.

Take that entropy.

Hillary as VP?

Had a dream last night that Hillary ran as McCain's Veep. If you think about it for 3 seconds, it makes a ton of sense. But if you think about it for another 10 seconds, it's unlikely. Kinda like David Emerson's future.

CD Stores

I'd like to point out that buying a physical CD from a physical store is officially "retro."

Ryanair's business model

Convince all vacationing Europeans to lock themselves in one of your pressurized, tube-shaped stores.

What tags are not.

I got excited about Web2.0 about two years ago; I read an article about flickr, which fawned over its novel photo "tagging" feature. That article speculated that OS's will adopt tagging in place of hierarchical folders.

Here's where I went askew. This article -- or how I read it -- led me to see tagging as a brainstorm-esq -- almost sub-conscious -- process. Ie. for each flickr photo, delicious link, or local file, you were to just spew a series of words (or hyphenated phrases), and in months or years to come, you or any reasonable person would spew a similar set of words when pondering the photo/link/file.

I even developed this into an idea for a service-business: Staples and Grand & Toy have notoriously difficult information architectures -- both in their physical stores and online. How do you categorize whiteboards and CD jewel cases in one dimension? But if a sample of the population assigned 6 intuitive tags to every Staples SKU, eventually, any non-caveman would be able to find stuff with a command-line-style search.

This is all interesting, but the point of this post is that tags should not be spewed in a brainstorm; they should be carefully considered. My delicious account has tags like: business, company, business-idea, start-up, entrepreneur, entrepreneurialism. So I feel forced to re-tag every cool start-up with six tags, where one will do.

No, the right approach to tagging is to assign the right tag in both your brain and the tagging system. Have one word for one underlying concept. Tag-clouds and other nifty features help with this ... you can assign what you have most-often assigned.

Tagging takes discipline. Rather than re-build my delilcious account (and not super-happy with Blink List), I'm going to take the opportunity to start-over with, which techcrunch rates well.

Career inflection point

GQ uses the term "arrived" in a pretentious way: if, when you turn 33, you have a serious job, a cottage on a lake, and you've spent more on a watch that your last plane ticket to Europe, you have arrived.

La la la.

Lots of things in life are not fun, but we do them because they will get us somewhere -- because we will eventually "arrive" somewhere better than where we are. I would have had more fun travelling in my 20's than studying, but now I can afford to travel a bit more ... sort of.

I think a career inflection point occurs when you stop working at jobs that will get you jobs that you want, and you arrive at those latter jobs ... when, what you want to be when you grow up is roughly what you are. You may not be going forward as quickly, but why would you? You've arrived. And then shit, you drop your brie in the Jacuzzi.

Algorithms are the new "brand"

If you spend a million bucks establishing a brand, and you do it well, you could benefit from that investment for years. But if you spend a million bucks on innovation, society will benefit forever.

Establishing market share has been important since the start of the post-war consumer economy ... an era that hasn't ended, but has morphed a little into to the knowledge economy. As a business tactic branding is still relevant. Ask Jeeves, Yahoo and even Google are cute and huggable -- more so than the racks of computers that comprise their offering.

But, clearly, one of these is winning where the others are not, and it's not because people want to hug it. It's nice that a search for "blue jays" no longer returns ornithology, as it easily could have prior to Google, but the company's better search results are only the first taste of how algorithms will displace brands. is a dating site. It could be the most profitable company in the history of legitimate business (income is suggested to be $5 - $10 million annually). One man manages one website -- oh, and he writes algorithms, which form the core of his site. He doesn't advertise and clearly has never worked with a graphic artist. I'm not even sure if his neighbours know what he does. What does he do? He simple runs a dating website that learns about people's tastes and matches them with similar people. But here's the brilliant part -- rather than coding psychology, he simple allows his members to interact with one another, providing real-time feedback on what makes people get along. If, all things being equal, people who like Ikea furniture also want to visit Thailand ... probably knows this. Over time, the site introduces members to fewer duds and, like how Google gives you the right Blue Jays, builds its popularity by continually improving its ability to match potential mates.

Not that lava life doesn't have sexy ads. They do.

Amazon has been doing this with books for nearly a decade, but their system doesn't appear as sophisticated. Web2.0 definitions may miss the boat when they talk about Ajax and social networking. FaceBook is cool, but so are those hub caps that spin around when you stop. What's really of value are the algorithms that build value in a knowledge economy, and displace the need for branding.