Monday, August 16, 2004
The 36 Ur-plots
- Supplication - Persecutor, Suppliant, a Power in Authority
- Deliverance - Unfortunates, Threatener, Rescuer
- Revenge - Avenger, Criminal
- Vengeance by Family upon Family - Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative
- Pursuit - Fugitive from Punishment, Pursuer
- Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune - Unfortunates, Master or Unlucky Person
- Disaster - Vanquished Power, Victorious Power or Messenger
- Revolt - Tyrant, Conspirator(s)
- Daring Enterprise - Bold Leader, Goal, Adversary
- Abduction - Abductor, Abducted, Guardian
- Enigma - Interrogator, Seeker, Problem
- Obtaining - Two or more Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator
- Familial Hatred - Two Family Members who hate each other
- Familial Rivalry - Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object
- Murderous Adultery - Two Adulterers, the Betrayed
- Madness - Madman, Victim
- Fatal Imprudence - Imprudent person, Victim or lost object
- Involuntary Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, Revealer
- Kinsman Kills Unrecognised Kinsman - Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer
- Self Sacrifice for an Ideal - Hero, Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed
- Self Sacrifice for Kindred - Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed
- All Sacrificed for Passion - Lover, Object of Passion, Person or Thing Sacrificed
- Sacrifice of Loved Ones - Hero, Beloved Victim, Need for Sacrifice
- Rivalry Between Superior and Inferior - Superior, Inferior, Object
- Adultery - Deceived Spouse, Two Adulterers
- Crimes of Love - Lover, Beloved, theme of Dissolution
- Discovery of Dishonor of a Loved One - Discoverer, Guilty One
- Obstacles to Love - Two Lovers, Obstacle
- An Enemy Loved - Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater
- Ambition - An Ambitious Person, Coveted Thing, Adversary
- Conflict with a God - Mortal, Immortal
- Mistaken Jealousy - Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Supposed Accomplice, Author of Mistake
- Faulty Judgment - Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty Person
- Remorse - Culprit, Victim, Interrogator
- Recovery of a Lost One - Seeker, One Found
- Loss of Loved Ones - Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Public Relationships (an open letter to PR agencies)
Among my peers, the PR industry is regarded with considerable skepticism, to put it mildly. In my time with New Science Associates and writing Esther's newsletter, I appreciated most of the PR professionals I dealt with. I had no misconceptions about how they went about their business or how they prepped their clients for meetings with me ("mention online communities, he loves them!"), but I found the relationships mutually beneficial overall.
For example, one of my practises was to end all briefings with the question, "what can I answer for you?," after I had offered the best feedback I could during the briefings, which I treated as mini consulting sessions. I found that the best PR people figured this out and used me often as a sounding board. They got early pitch advice ("we're 20 slides into your pitch and I have no idea what you do; there's a problem here") and I got to see things in earlier stages, blunders still included. I wasn't in any rush to scoop anyone, so they didn't get bad press from these mistakes.
Fast-forward almost a decade, during which I've spent considerable time pondering the word "consumer" and its many implications. Along that path, I learned more about the checkered history of PR, but I also started thinking about potential paths out of our consumer-capitalist trap. In that spirit, I present the following suggestion to corporate executives who deal with Public Relations:
What if your Public Relations department became the Public Relationships department? What if its new mission were to help individuals and groups inside your company form better authentic relationships with their various publics outside?This may sound impossible, or at least improbable. It may also sound easy to game. I can see many a rebranding effort (come see our new Public Relationships department!) without the requisite rethinking and tearing apart that I believe is necessary. This is not easy.
To do this, your PR team would improve disclosure, increase transparency, train everyone, seek opportunities, make introductions and then get out of the way. They would be open-communication consultants, looking for places where your company is screwing up by behaving in less-than-credible ways, and helping heal the problems rather than buff them up and spin outsiders.
Be prepared for plenty of justifiable skepticism from the outside. Your PR executives may currently have little credibility outside, even if they have been practicing their trade with great integrity.
That doesn’t mean they can’t get to work inside your company. Many PR practitioners already emphasize building relationships between their key staff and members of the press and analysts. I’m suggesting they go much further, that they become internal activists for transparency and relationship-building at all levels.
Or is it? In some sense, what Scoble is doing for Microsoft with Channel 9 is in this direction.
Goodness knows that Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft's eternal PR company, has done absolutely nothing to defend or improve the company's reputation over these many controversial years. Or maybe it has, and things would be worse.
Maybe the big question is whether and how PR departments and agencies can become credible Public Relationships specialists.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Man, the world's spinning fast!
Q: Where do you see the social revolution you've been talking about going next?and
A: It's too early to say. The question is: What does it point toward? Some kind of collective action...in which the individuals aren't consciously cooperating. A market is a great example as a mechanism for determining price based on demand. People aren't saying, "I'm contributing to the market," [they say they're] just selling something. But it adds up.
Q: Can you give me some specific examples of what you mean, beyond the market?
A: Google is based on the emergent choices of people who link. Nobody is really thinking, "I'm now contributing to Google's page rank." What they're thinking is, "This link is something my readers would really be interested in." They're making an individual judgment that, in the aggregate, turns out to be a pretty good indicator of what's the best source.
Then there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.
Q: Where will we see that happen?The next link I follow is from a conversation with the generous and ingenious Lou Rosenfeld. It leads me to OK/Cancel, a site about design for usability, one of whose creators, Tom Chi, just won a Laptop Battle (no, he didn't beat anyone over the head with his). Talk about the means of production now being in everyone's hands!
A: We now have a world out there where billions of people have in their pockets technologies for innovation that far surpass what entire industries had just a couple decades ago. If you're talking about the communications industry, your innovation is happening with 15-year-old girls. That was where [Japanese cellular network provider NTT] DoCoMo won big. I think the total number of text messages sent is approaching 100 billion a month. Of course, the revenues on that are only a fraction of a cent each, but multiply a fraction of a cent by 100 billion, and it begins to add up to real money.
How the Bush Administration uses scarcity
It seems to me that one of the subtexts of Bush's re-election message is, "even if you think Kerry could *become* a better President than I *am*, now is not the time for a change of leadership." As you implied with your "Sale Ends Sunday" reference, this is an argument for scarcity of opportunity--that the opportunity cost of having *any* President on a learning curve *now* would far outweigh any marginal benefit to having (arguendo) a more capable new President.Indeed, although it is saddening that the Bush's Administration's "savvy" about going after the perpetrators of 9/11 is what they're claiming is scarce.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Some A-list attention (and spam filter woes)
Unfortunately, my missive to him got snagged by his spam filter as a possibly forged Outlook message, so he didn't see it until yesterday. I don't have this problem with anyone else, but if you know how I can fix it from my end, please drop me a line.
I've been having great luck with POPfile (a free Bayesian filter), even though I have to spend about a half hour every couple days training it and checking for false positives. (If I let it go more than two days, it becomes too big a task.) I get one or two spammers who sneak by every day and almost no good messages mistakenly labeled as spam.
No more crackle and pop (new cordless phones)
I tried looking for reviews and recommendations online, especially confirmation that getting phones on 5.8 GHz would solve the crackle and pop problems, but to no avail. Walking down the phone aisle at Fry's didn't help: there are tons of sets out there.
Finally, I got the Panasonic TG5202M (here it is at Amazon), which comes with two handsets (and no digital answering machine, keypad and other nonsense on the base unit). I've been thrilled with the results. No interference. I walked three houses down the block before the signal started sounding lousy. Speakerphone built into the handsets. Intuitive software and nice design. Now people can actually hear me on the phone.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
An accessible Libertarian voice
[Yale Social Darwinist William Sumner] also warned, "Nowhere in the world is the danger of plutocracy as formidable as it is here." For these indiscretions, the manufacturing and bond-holding hierarchy tried to get him kicked out of Yale, where they thought he was poisoning the minds of their sons with free trade heresies. Only during two periods since 1776 has the government mostly left the economy alone: during the early years of the federal republic; and in the two decades previous to the Civil War. The political economist Condy Raguet called the first period of economic freedom, from 1783 to1807, "the golden age" of the republic: Trade was free, taxes were low, money was sound, and Americans enjoyed more economic freedom than any other people in the world. Sumner thought the years from 1846 to1860—the era of the independent treasury, falling tariffs, and gold money—was the true "golden age."
(Historians consider the presidents during this last period—Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan—as among the worst we have ever had. Yet, from 1848–1860, the country was at peace, the economy prosperous, taxes low, money hard, and the national debt was shrinking. This tells us how historians define political greatness.
Myth #10: Agrarianism or Industrialism: We Must Choose Historians teach that Americans in the 1790s and 1800s had two economic choices—Hamilton and the Federalists who believed in sound money, banking, manufacturing, and economic progress, and the Jeffersonians who believed in inflation, agrarianism, and stasis. This is a gross simplification. Not all Federalists were Hamiltonian; many despised him. Hence, to expand trade, it should fight protectionist powers and hostile trading blocs, acquire more agricultural land through purchase or war, and, after obtaining the requisite amendment, fund the construction of internal improvements to foster the movement of agricultural produce to the seaports. Thus, Jefferson authored the Louisiana Purchase, the Tripolitan War, the Embargo; and his chosen successor, James Madison, the War of 1812, all designed to fulfill this agrarian vision. As president,
Myth #10: Agrarianism or Industrialism: We Must Choose
Historians teach that Americans in the 1790s and 1800s had two economic choices—Hamilton and the Federalists who believed in sound money, banking, manufacturing, and economic progress, and the Jeffersonians who believed in inflation, agrarianism, and stasis. This is a gross simplification. Not all Federalists were Hamiltonian; many despised him.
Hence, to expand trade, it should fight protectionist powers and hostile trading blocs, acquire more agricultural land through purchase or war, and, after obtaining the requisite amendment, fund the construction of internal improvements to foster the movement of agricultural produce to the seaports.
Thus, Jefferson authored the Louisiana Purchase, the Tripolitan War, the Embargo; and his chosen successor, James Madison, the War of 1812, all designed to fulfill this agrarian vision. As president,
OK, so my U.S. history needs some refreshing. Then Trask says something like this:
Then there is the culture. Largely because of the influence of Christianity, the debilitating sin of envy has no social standing here, unlike the Hm. Maybe the dominant role in our society of the marketing of desire hasn't reached his ears yet.
Nevertheless, great food for thought, to put alongside my other historical favorites: Tragedy and Hope, by Carroll Quigley, A People's History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, and The Face of Battle (and a few others), by military historian John Keegan.
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