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Masterpiece Mystery – Sherlock

One of the more iconic detectives is Sherlock Holmes. A new interpretation from the folks at Masterpiece Theater is called simply Sherlock. Imaged into the 21 century the modern Sherlock describes himself as a ‘high functioning sociopath’, with the capable Dr. Watson at his side. It is simply very good.

There are three episodes in the first series. The first episode, A Study in Pink can be seen online here.
Tonight’s broadcast episode is The Blind Banker. Check local public TV listings. It will be available online tomorrow until Dec. 7th.

In a refreshing change the DVD will be available for purchase 11/09/10, right after the first series is shown on TV. No waiting until the next season starts nonsense like most other shows.
You can pre-order and purchase here Sherlock: Season One Highly Recommended!!

We live in hard times, not end-times.

“We live in hard times, not end-times.”
Jon Stewart-Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
’nuff said.

Naked Social Media Marketing

Quote of the Day

I can’t prove it, but I’ll bet you $10 that the primary reason people become “friends” or “followers” of brands on Facebook and Twitter is not to have a conversation with the marketer, but to get a discount, a special offer, a deal, or some other form of insider information or advantage. It’s the same reason they join a frequent flier plan. They don’t want a relationship with a baggage handler; they want a free flight to Hawaii.
Source: Digital Dream World

Bob Hoffman at The Ad Contrarian takes no prisoners.

Facebook Follies – The back to skool edition

Ahhh Facebook! The Pet Rock of the 21st century. Something everybody has to have, get tired of, and toss in the trash after the hangover stops.

Facebook has been called “The Social Network”. Hell they even made a movie. But at the end of the day, the Facebook buzz can be attributed to advertisers, Social Media Guru’s, tech writers having a slow news day, or formerly famous personalities trying to reinvent themselves.

Facebook claims 500 million users. B U L L S H I T !!! 500 million accounts Seriously? I don’t think so. They may have a few million active users, say anybody who has used their account in the last 6 months, which is being charitable as the ‘social network game’ depends on fresh blood more than starving vampires. And out of those few million how many are Social Media PR dogs, company flack accounts, and links to the latest meme?

500 million users. B U L L S H I T !!!This is Internet Accounting 101
(Internet Accounting 101: You add all your users and report that number while ignoring folks who quit. You don’t want your site to look like a wall street stock chart. Bad for investors and IPO Cash outs.)

Facebook’s Valuation
There is a lot of speculation regarding the value of Facebook. 12, 24, 33, 50 billion or more. This is hyperbole writ large. Valuation is like wishing in one hand and shitting in the other. You know which will fill up first. The best way to gauge a company’s worth is to see what they have for income, and what you might get for the parts when you break it up.

7 months ago Facebook’s income was pegged between 700 million to 1.1. billion, primarily from advertising revenue and selling data. But even these figures are wild assed guesses. Since the only sharing Facebook does is your personal and public information, making this at best a Wild Assed Guess as well. Even using the stock market game of income multiples, which values stock share price at a multiple of earnings, at 10 times, a relatively conservative figure, the valuation would be around 10 billion on a good day.

Facebook has a bunch of computers and some office space. Used computers bring even less money that used restaurant equipment. They own little if any real estate so there is no money there. Good Will? nah, the S&L failures took that nugget off balance sheets. Not much here once you cut the crap away.

Zucks 100 million for Education
100 million in stock. As noted above this gift has a dubious value. Until you find some sucker to pay cash money for this, you can’t buy books, fix buildings or pay teachers. Makes a great sound byte, but will not make kids smarter anytime soon. Not that this is not a nice gesture, but the pool of suckers has been drained by ponzi schemers, mortgage bankers, and toxic asset bundlers.

Social Networks and Privacy is an Oxymoron
Privacy and Facebook is such an oxymoron that you are probably throwing up in your mouth a little bit.
There is no Privacy in Social Networks.
Social Networks are not about privacy. They are Social as in Pregnancy. There is no ‘a little bit pregnant’. This is why I laugh my ass off when I read postings like ‘Facebook’s Privacy Move Violates Contract With Users’

What bullshit! As I mentioned above, you have no privacy, nor do you have any control over the shifting sands of this weeks privacy rights to the material that you post there. The author goes on about the dangers of this network and makes a leap that there is some contract about your use of their service giving you any privacy. Privacy settings are a Virtual Figleaf so you are not Socially Nude. And only show up in your browser, while in the back room, all your data is being collated, strained, prioritized, and shoveled into the sweaty hands of advertisers. Facebook makes no money by keeping things private.
Facebook, like the rest of the Social Networks are using Advertisers who should have more sense, building the Internet version of magazines. Having the ability to corral ‘users’ into smaller and smaller boxes to shoot ads at, is the electronic Midway Carnival, and you are all rubes.

Regardless of what sort of pixie dust you are snorting, Eric Schmidt of Google is right in telling you, If you want to keep things private, keep them off the internet.

TV’s Early Losers

I watch probably more TV than most folks, but somebody has to do it. Mostly I watch drama with the odd comedy. Any body who thinks that Reality TV is not an oxymoron doesn’t understand that for everyone in front of the camera, there are 30 folks behind it.
Most of my watching is on cable as they seem to be much more nimble and willing to push the envelope.

The major broadcast networks are still playing winners and losers shows like Amazing Race, Survivors, Dancing with Stars, etc. Their recent forays into drama and episodic fare is not going very well.

First up: Lone Star from Fox was one of the earliest to crash and burn. The plot line was a conman with two wives. I Mean really….talk about a toxic asset. A show about cons and having two families?

Nobody at Fox read any news about Rod Stringer, R. Allen Stanford, or Bernard Madoff?

If you want to see a show about good cons try Leverage

NBC’s righteousness drama Outlaw. The premise is a Supreme Court Justice who quits to fight for the little guy. Jimmy Smits as Cyrus Garza the judge complete with large gambling habit, obligatory black partner, blond junior lawyer hopelessly infatuated with Cryus, stuffed shirt jr. partner, and the best part of the show the hot PI. The amount of character baggage was enough to sink it.
Jimmy Smits was much better in LA Law.

All Things Digital – Frontrunner or Weasel Text

Privacy on the Internet is starting to get some mainstream traction as more and more folks are getting a clue, the collection and sale of browsing information is becoming big business, and arguably the premier business publication the Wall Street Journal posted an incredibly detailed series.The ouroboros elegance of this business publication opening the trenchcoat of online business is stunning.

All Things Digital is technology website owned by the Wall Street Journal.  In an interesting turn of events like “eating their own dogfood” which is geek speak for practicing what you preach, your first time to All Things Digital, or if you clear all your cookies will bring you to the front page with a yellow banner.

Here is a screenshot of a page from All Things Digital for Oct. 1, 2010. Note the yellow banner entitled “A note about tracking cookies”

“Some of the advertisers and Web analytics firms used on this site may place “tracking cookies” on your computer. We are telling you about them right upfront, and we want you to know how to get rid of these tracking cookies if you like. Read more »”

 

That they are telling us upfront is a fib since they have been online a number of years and this is the first I have seen it. This is ‘advancing to the rear’ and or  a PR Stunt to make you like getting your privacy violated. Put it away right now as we follow the Read more link.

 

Here is the text of their explanation:

Tracking cookies are small text files that can tell such companies what you are doing online, even though they usually don’t record your name or other personably identifiable information. These cookies are used by these companies to try and match ads to a user’s interests. They are used all over the Web, but in most cases, their presence is only disclosed deep inside privacy policies.

We want you to know how to get rid of these tracking cookies if you like. Here are links to pages where you can opt out of the cookies set by our ad-placement contractor and our analytics contractor:

* http://www.doubleclick.com/privacy/index.aspx
* http://www.omniture.com/privacy/2o7

We’d prefer a totally opt-in system, but, as far as we know, the ad industry doesn’t have a practical one as of now.

If you want to clean out all tracking cookies from all your Web sites, here are links where you can download three programs that can clean out tracking cookies:

* http://www.lavasoftusa.com/products/ad-aware_se_personal.php
* http://www.spybot.info/en/download/index.html
* http://www.webroot.com/consumer/products/spysweeper/

You can also change the preferences or settings in your Web browser to control cookies. In some cases, you can choose to accept cookies from the primary site, but block them from third parties. In others, you can block cookies from specific advertisers, or clear out all cookies.

Not all cookies are tracking cookies. Like most other Web sites, ours may place cookies on your computer, in addition to any placed by advertisers. But ours aren’t “tracking cookies.” They merely do things like save your registration information, if you choose to register. They do not tell us what you do or where you go online.

Frontrunner or Weasel Text?

Frontrunner. They are being upfront and providing an explanation.
Weasel Text. You only see it once. This is the same crap that commercial websites do to you when you register and by default you accept Terms and Conditions by registering. The T&C is where you agree to be tracked, screwed, blued, tatooed, and have any information about you packaged and sold to the highest bidder or anyone with a checkbook. But that is a different rant.

Frontrunner. They do tell you how to get rid of certain cookies, of their ad-placement contractor and analytics contractor, but do not discuss web beacons, or Flash Cookies which are a whole ‘nother story.

Weasel Text. They go on to say this:

“We’d prefer a totally opt-in system, but, as far as we know, the ad industry doesn’t have a practical one as of now.”

 

My question is “Why the fuck is it the ad industry’s job to come up with a solution to a problem they themselves  support by using these companies?” 

Practical? WTF? You mean easy. You mean letting the same abrogation of responsibility continue.

They don’t tell you about Ad Blockers so you don’t have to see the ads in the first place, but make you jump through hoops to visit their site without being collected, collated, and sold off. Although these are good steps to regain your privacy, they neglect to tell you about the performance penalty that is imposes on your  computer. Your browser is slower as these programs have to run before you see any of the ‘content’.

All Things Digital gets an ‘atta boy’ for stepping up with this information, but gets an ‘aw shit’ for not making the note a permanent part of their site.

Privacy

Just about every commercial website has a privacy policy. Usually buried at the bottom or in an inconvenient location, telling you that they are really the good guys and it is those nasty but necessary “Third Party’s” and or “Partners” that are tracking you.

The reality is that no website requires cookies. Counting visits and page views are recorded in the logfiles of every site on the web. However counting this way gives you raw numbers only without identifying individual users or computers. Which is a good thing if you value your privacy. It is a bad thing if you are relying on advertisers to support you.

Advertising supported publication is a dead end. Just ask the Newspaper Industry. It is alive on the web because nobody has thought of a better way to support sites. Paywalls don’t work. Advertisers and Tracking companies are using the value proposition of tracking you to present ‘relevant’ ads. They sell this shit to sites in a Faustian bargain of taking over the chore of counting and ad sales in exchange for tracking information which in most cases is not shared with the sites and is packaged and sold to anybody with a checkbook. This is why there is always a disclaimer about  ”those nasty but necessary “Third Party’s” and or “Partners”‘.

This ‘get out of responsibility’  should make you stop and think for a moment about any site’s veracity, ethical or moral compass in the information they present. If they are so quick to give up control of their site, and make your visit a target to sell you shit, what if any faith of trust should you have in the information they present?

 

How the GAP bitchslapped Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell recently posted an article making the argument that Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, and the internet)could not create social change. His argument used the Greensboro civil rights sit in campaign of 1960 as his definition of social change. He forgot to mention that it took till 1964 for the Civil Rights Act to become law. That he uses Civil Rights as the poster child for social change, points out his profound ignorance of what social change is, and the role that the internet plays.

He tries to back pedal by acknowledging that Facebook and Twitter do create change, but he continues to beat the drum that unless it happens in meat space and involves blood, it is not social change.

“This is the second crucial distinction between traditional activism and its online variant: social media are not about this kind of hierarchical organization. Facebook and the like are tools for building networks, which are the opposite, in structure and character, of hierarchies. Unlike hierarchies, with their rules and procedures, networks aren’t controlled by a single central authority. Decisions are made through consensus, and the ties that bind people to the group are loose.”

Malcolm hasn’t figured out that central authority went out the window with the second website.

One of the more noteworthy things he said above, “Decisions are made through consensus, and the ties that bind people to the group are loose.” Sort of like a democracy, rather than a totalitarian system., and sums up nicely what electronic activism is.

How the GAP bitchslapped Malcolm Gladwell

No better example of electronic activism and network power than the curious case of the GAP a clothing retailer, and their new logo. Really ya can’t make this stuff up. The GAP used central authority to change its logo. Well folks used their network weak ties to comment on this change. Result? No new logo.

That a protest over a logo for a clothing company can be used to refute Gladwell’s argument is just elegant.
Electronic Activism is not about profound social change, despite Gladwell’s yearning for an electronic Great White Father, to lead the Facebookers and twitters to the promised land of Hierarchy with him in a supporting role.

Electronic Activism is first and foremost about self interest. My likes, My dislikes, and folks who share them. We are at the same time, leaders and followers. This is the bit that the Gladwells just don’t get. This is not a binary world anymore. The kids are growing up. It may just have been a logo today, but it is gonna get interesting tomorrow.

Bonus Link Interview with the New Gap Logo