Archive for January, 2010

January 24, 2010: 10:42 pm: books

I just ran across a piece of paper with a list of the books I read for the summer reading program at Greenville Public Library in 1980. I was surprised how little my tastes have changed. There’s a nice mix of biographies, mysteries, paranormal topics, science, geekiness, history, and sports. Here’s a list.

ESP – Daniel Cohen (Paranormal)
Fly you stupid kite fly – Charles Schulz (Comics)
Summers fly, winters walk – Schulz (Comics)
It’s hard work being bitter – Schulz (Comics)
The roller skating book – La vada wier (?)
Walter Cronkite – Paul Westman (Bio, Media)
Hank Aaron – George Sullivan (Bio, Sports)
It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown – Charles Schulz (Comics)
Prehistoric Animals – Bruno Frost (Science)
Outer Space – Robin Kerrod (Science)
International Race Car Drivers – Mark Dillon (Sports)
Danny Dunn and the Universal Globe – Jay Williams (Mystery)
The abominable Snowman – Barbara Antonopoulos (Paranormal)
Nathan Hale – Virginia Francis Voight (Bio, History)
Sam Houston – Paul Hollander (Bio, History)
Coretta Scott King – Willie Patterson (Bio, History)
Games – Alida Thacher (Geeky)
The Challenge of Space – Robin Kerrod (Science)
Chess is an easy game – Fred Rienfield (Geeky)
Chess Victory – Fred Rienfield (Geeky)
The Harlem Globetrotters – Frank Gualt (Sports)
Knock Knock Jokes – Joseph Rosenbloom (Humor, Geeky)
Danny Dunn – Jay Williams (Mystery)
Card Tricks – Geoffrey Lamb (Paranormal)
Telescopes and Observatories – Patrick Moore (Science)
Alabama – Carpenter (Love of the south???, History?)
The Moon – Herbert Kondo (Science)
Quasars – Melvin Berger (Science)
Secret Mesages – Margaret Jerian (Spy)

January 4, 2010: 7:23 pm: Commentary

Follow this trail of the debate of sociological ideas and jump on at the beginning of each phase with a column, posting, speech, etc. You want to be able to claim to be the first to identify each trend (even if you weren’t). Examples are in parentheses.

1. Accepted explanation of how things work
(Expert opinions from a small group are needed to make decisions. Popular opinion is unreliable.)

2. Observe that changing conditions reveal unexpected way things work
(When large groups provide aggregate decision-making they can sometimes be as or more accurate than experts.)

3. Explain some of the things it could mean to society. Produce careful defensible but revolutionary explanations of how we can use this observation to improve humanity.
(When properly used, allowing large crowds to have input on decion-making can improve results.)

4. Exaggerate importance and affect of this change. Create a simplified explanation and draw spurious conclusions. Commodify, repeat and spread the oversimplification. Catch phrases are important in this phase.
(The Wisdom of the Crowds will revolutionize how we make decisions and conduct business. This crowdsourcing is invaluable. Just ask the crowd!)

5. Misunderstand yet passionately defend simplified explanation of the change. Treat spurious conclusions as unquestionable dogma that all must follow. Convince important people they must follow or be left behind, but provide no real understanding of the actual observation of change.
(You must trust the crowds. The Web 2.0 universe will always outperform experts. There is no limit to what the bazaar can achieve over the cathedral! If you’re not crowdsourcing you’re being left behind!)

6. Choose sides and militantly attack/defend the oversimplified explanation.
(This crowdsourcing crap is dumbing down our culture! The wisdom of the crowds will prevail over all and leave you in the dust! Fanboy! Reactionary!)

7. Begin backlash against the oversimplified. Claim it is unimportant, never existed. Claim it is just a fashionable trend that’s being forced down everyone’s throats.
(This crowdsourcing trend is starting to show itself for what it is, a load of hokum. No successful business has significantly changed what they do because of some great crowd wisdom project. It’s always been baloney, and now people are waking up and seeing it for what it is)

8. Mock, decry, and denounce the first observers of the change as idiots. However, only use the later oversimplified version of their observations and any unfounded conclusions as evidence of their idiocy.
(These crowdsourcing advocates promised us an idealistic world without mistakes as we relied on the crowd to accurately decide our every move.)

9. Declare the idea dead, its proponents discredited, its effects almost all negative.
(Crowdsourcing was all the rage ten years ago but now the idea is dead. Only those fringe proponents who cannot let go of a failed idea, still attempt to defend it.)

10. DO NOT observe that the original moderate observation of the change has proven mostly accurate and that only the exaggerations and oversimplifications have proven false. If you must acknowledge any part as real, treat it as a self-evident fact that is almost not worth noting.
(Of course, popular opinion must be accounted for. Everyone knows that. It’s always been valuable. There’s nothing new there.)

11. If no part of the original observation remains in public discourse after a few years, revive the idea with new nomenclature and rhetoric. Repeat from step 3.
(My new theory of audience engagement suggest that some aggregate opinions, may inform certain decisions, and improve overall accuracy and effectiveness.)