- Social Sustainability
- Social Keywords
- The Intention Economy
- The Victory of Machines over Humans
- For Highly Educated, Highly Skilled, Highly Trained Experts the Curation Myth and the Employment Myth are Two Sides of the Same Coin
- Billions and Billions of Clueless People
- Some Reflections on the Revolution in Literacy
- Network Effect vs. Community Engagement
- One Explanation Why People Still Use Retard Media Websites: They Want a Biased Opinion
- Belief in Brands vs. Belief in Language
- All the World’s Millions of Stages
- Your One-Track Mind vs. Pavlovian Commerce
- Owned vs. pwnd
- Chloe Thurlow agrees that so-called “social media” probably makes you stupid
- Brand Identity vs. Topical Engagement: A Case Study
- Opportunity makers with + for others — doing something smarter together for the greater good
- Please Help Me to Figure Out Rewards + Rewarding Behavior in the Labor Market Economy
- Relativity + Relativism vs. Social Order
- Why Most Social Media Websites Fail
- Making + Breaking Connections + Relationships
- The Millennial Media Landscape
- Small Group Behavior + Social Media Networking
- Literacy = Social Usability
- Private Individuals, Social Groups, Publishing Publics, Publicity + Society
- Media Concentration, Mind Share, Free Markets and Market Sharing
- Start Here
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Some words – usually referred to as „synonyms“ – have essentially the same or at least very similar meanings. While I fee there is no such thing as a perfect synonym (in the sense that the words would mean exactly the same thing), many words are used quite liberally interchangeably by people who seem to not really be completely familiar with their more exact meaning.
This post is not about that.
What I want to address here is that some words seem like they could be used interchangeably – if not for the „minimal difference“ in the „social“ meaning. It appears as though these words could be applied to the same situations, except they say something different about those particular situations.
Let me present you with a couple examples of some such cases which have recently crossed my mind.
Ignore vs. Neglect: I recently wrote about the rationality of ignorance. Ignorance and neglect differ not so much in what the activity is, but rather more with respect to what are the activity’s results (in the eyes of the speaker [or author / writer]). The result of ignorance is that the subject is less well off. With neglect, the object of the verb is less well off.
Change vs. Disrupt: Change is relatively neutral or even positive. In contrast, disrupt is usually considered to be negative to at least someone (or something). If something is negative (shocking, etc.) to many, then one might consider it to be revolutionary.
Hence, many words which mean almost the same thing, differ in a „value judgement“ sort of way – and such value judgements usually rely on something like some kind of social mores, social values, etc.
Have you ever seen a business website? A business website is a machine that represents the business. Today, many people – most of all young people – prefer to interact with websites versus interacting with humans. Before you leap to conclusions about what this may mean, please consider the following scenario.
Let’s say you need to buy a household appliance, and you are considering two alternative approaches: Either (1) go to an „IRL“ appliance store and talk with a human salesperson; or (2) go to a website and interact with a machine programmed by „web developers“ * (who are, in essence, also the company’s representatives). In order to make the comparison fair, let’s say that the first thing the IRL appliance store salesperson says is „please give me your address book with all of your contacts’ names and phone numbers“. How would you react? Do you consider the private contact information of family, friends and acquaintances a private matter? Do you think asking for this data is a suitable request for the appliance store salesperson to make? If you answered „No“ then I think we agree – yet this is precisely what happens in many cases in which young people prefer to use their smartphones versus interacting with another human being.
Someone who is naive and quick to jump to conclusions might argue how this is a great victory for „technology“. I, on the other hand, feel it is more like direly lacking literacy on the part of many young humans. Note that I also feel I am giving these humans the benefit of the doubt in this case, because if they were not lacking literacy skills, it would mean that they are not only lacking in social skills, but also that they are so self-centered that they apparently think so little – or indeed nothing – of handing out some of their closest friends’ private information to companies hungry to sell that information to the highest bidders in order to reap a quick and easy profit.
Perhaps there are some who might say „but I don’t want to bother other people with questions that can easily be answered by looking up text documents.“ I agree – yet that is also not the point. The point is that these illiterate people apparently lack the technical expertise (which I refer to as „literacy“) to be able to look up information without violating their own privacy – and also their personal contacts’ private information.
- Note that „web developers“ is actually a misnomer if the developers are only responsible for the development of the company’s website – if that is in fact the case, then they ought to be called „website developers“.
Imagine Carl Sagan staring into a TV camera in wonder and amazement that there are so many clueless people:
Doesn’t anybody here know who Billie Holiday is?!? How can you say that the Rolling Stones invented the blues? You people are completely clueless!!!
Then he stamps off into the distance, shaking his head and saying he’s giving up on the wisdom of the crowds and will be taking up an astronomy gig offered him by some television production company.
This never aired. For all we know, it could be a fiction that I just invented. It is just as reliable as me saying the Beatles were the best rock group that ever existed. We simply will never know. 😐
Although this may be a sad but true fact, there is an even more important takeaway… and I don’t mean Chinese. 😉
If you let billions and billions of clueless people rate something, then the result is meaningless – completely meaningless!
Therefore, the ratings on itunes.com are probably meaningless, the ratings on amazon.com are probably meaningless, the ratings on facebook.com are probably meaningless, the ratings on google.com are probably meaningless, each and every brand name website’s ratings are probably meaningless, they are probably the result of so-called bots, they are „gamed“, they are a complete waste of time.
Why do I say this?
Because today I made the mistake — well, not the mistake… I had the experience — of calling in when the moderator of a radio program asked people to call in their questions regarding the views of an author he was interviewing. Both the moderator and the author misunderstood the question, but I have a hunch that a sizable portion of the audience understood perfectly fine. You could tell by the questions that followed up on what I had asked about. If you want to know why this is, I have another hunch that Sinclair Lewis’ line about people being able to not understand something according to what their employer says (and their employer may also simply be perceived „market forces“). Luckily, the radio audience apparently wasn’t quite as dumb as the people in the studio thought they might be.
The author was presenting her book about „fair trade“ certifications being bogus. She said something like „we need to reform the entire economic system“. I thought she was wrong. In my humble opinion, the problem is simply about propaganda and advertising… and that I thought it could be quite easily resolved with rational media (such as music.com, books.com, etc – except that I used different examples which were more relevant to the discussion… which might be translated as food.com, clothing.com, etc.). I could see that what I said passed above the author’s head without leaving the slightest trace of an impression on her mind, because she acted like she disagreed with me, but then went on to underscore how my point was right. Yet what the moderator did was, in a way, even worse… because it seems like he might have understood what I was saying, but then chose to misinterpret it to be about „Bewertungsportale“ (this was a German radio program, and that roughly translates to mean „ratings websites“). He may have simply been mistaken – I don’t know – but the point is anything but trivial.
Allowing billions and billions of clueless people – or robots – to voice an opinion is nothing less than a gargantuan exercise in futility. If I have a toothache, I couldn’t care less what a billion clueless people think. Instead, I would visit a dentist. If my bicycle needs repairs, then I will take it to a bicycle expert. There are very good reasons for paying experts: they are trained and therefore have more understanding of what is the matter than completely clueless people – regardless of how many times you multiply zero, the result remains zero!
If you allow anyone (or anything) with an email address to vote on any topic, the result of that vote – that „rating“ or whatever – will be meaningless, because email addresses are not just a dime a dozen, they are less than a penny per billion.
Each and every meaningless rating on each and every meaningless website is nothing more and nothing less than meaningless.
In contrast, words like „food“, „clothing“, „books“ or „music“ are quite meaningful. People who care about these topics – experts in the fields of food, clothing, books, music or whatever – would do well to voice their expert opinions in such rational media.
I have been doing some reading on the so-called network effect, in particular the relatively recently fashionable topic of „two-sided markets“. I have also spoken with some of my friends who have more experience than I do in markets and marketing, and they mostly agree that pretty much all markets are two-sided. It is not a new development, it is not even a new discovery, it is simply a new way of looking at some of the world’s oldest professional topics.
In my opinion, one of the main reasons why the topic has recently become so fashionable has to do with a drastic reduction in transaction costs and in particular the drastic reduction in the price of switching „providers“.
Note that in a networked world, the view is that there are providers / networks, which provide access to some goods or services. The network providers function as marketplaces, bringing together both supply and demand for goods and services. As these marketplaces grow in size, more and more goods and services are exchanged via the very same single market. If you consider ebay or Amazon (and/or even Google and/or Facebook) to be such oversized marketplaces, you should immediately realize that the worlds of Wal-Mart and/or the New York Times as providers of things and/or ideas… – well, that their days are probably more and more numbered, that their demise is approaching ever more closer than their present iconic situation on the world-wide web’s horizon might make you think.
One of my current / new projects involves a somewhat different approach. This project (named „Saarland Plan“ because of its regional / „hyperlocal“ focus) minimizes the role of the network provider, thereby enabling market participants pretty much unfettered access to the markets they wish to engage in. In this situation of „competition on steroids“, supply and demand can meet up and exchange goods, services, ideas and more for large numbers of participants with virtually no barriers to entry whatsoever. There is virtually no monitoring or big data tracking. No lengthy legal documents, no tomes regarding the terms of service, no „ands“, „ifs“ or „buts“. Ideally, this would result in even lower switching costs. This experiment is all about greasing the wheels of the network so much that the network itself becomes negligable.
I recently chatted with an owner of a local slot machine provider (basically, they provide gambling machines – and I guess they have some sort of „split“ with businesses providing locations for such gambling / entertainment to take place). I noted the number of people who seach for such words as „poker“ or „casino“ – and the associated costs involved with having such services show up for a Google search on these topics. Needless to say: the cost is quite significant.
When network providers charge such high prices just to get a foot in the door, you have to wonder why anyone would care to visit the establishment. My hunch is that the days of such overpriced establishments are also numbered. 😉
On another one of my websites, I have started a new feature called „#Literacy #Quiz #Questions“ – I’ve explained it here: „New Feature: Literacy Quiz Questions“.
Oddly, there seems to be a somewhat rational reasoning behind the rationale people apparently use to justify their use of retard media websites: They want a biased opinion.
„How“ you may ask „can this possibly be a rational justification?!?“
I will try to explain the reasoning:
- They lack literacy skills
- They realize they lack literacy skills
- They do not want to out themselves as being (relatively) illiterate
- They want to appear at least as literate as the vast majority (so-called „Bandwagon behavior“)
- They therefore choose to use the widely adopted „mainstream“ metric
Let me use a hypothetical example to show how this works.
Imagine you want to buy a machine – let’s say (just for example) a kitchen blender. Let’s say you know virtually nothing about kitchen blenders, how to evaluate them or anything like that. You decide you will „use“ Google, type in „kitchen blender“ and look at some of the „top“ results. You assume that Google’s algorithm is the best measuring stick for finding the best kitchen blender. Indeed, you would also assume that Google’s algorithm is the best measuring stick to find a plumber. Or a gynecologist, an attorney or the latest news. You would assume that Google’s algorithm is the best measuring stick to answer any question you might have because that is what the vast majority of people seem to believe and you don’t want to look stupid (even if you are in fact rather unknowledgeable with respect to any of these questions).
What is the likelihood that one algorithm could pick out the best kitchen blender website, the best plumber website, the best gynecologist website, the best attorney website and also the best website to find out about the latest news? If your answer is anything above nil, then – I am sorry to say it, but – then: you are stupid.
Literacy is far more complex than simply being able to read words.
Literacy involves understanding – for example – that a billboard is different than a street sign. A billboard is an advertisement that is intended to sway your opinion about something. A street sign is a marker to identify the street with a particular name.
Another example: A dictionary is different than a magazine.
A word is different than a brand name.
You might think that most people would learn this kind of stuff in grade school. Why does it appear like that doesn’t actually happen?