A lot of online selling

A recording of my blog post from November 29, 2019

Well today is a day where a lot of people are trying to sell me things online. My inbox had no less than 100 offers this morning for a wide variety of things. From guitars to sunglasses the deals are everywhere today. Google put a ton of them in the Spam folder today. The one thing I have noticed over the last 6 months is that the algorithm Google is using is getting pretty aggressive to deflect improper communications from hitting my inbox. I’m wondering if it is a false positive problem or if it is a problem based on the number of people submitting subscriptions they no longer want. That is an interesting world of online content management. The economics of attention deflection are very real. Some folks call it a bubble or an insulated curated world full of only a certain slice of content.

Oh Thanksgiving

2019 ants on a log
This is an audio recording of my blog post from November 28, 2019

I was going to spend part of last night writing a review of the Google Stadia sitting downstairs, but at this point it feels like everybody already knows all they need to know about the new controller and services. For me it was something that I purchased and ultimately did not need to have at all for any reason. I shared my review on Twitter so that the great algorithm that collects sentiment will at least know of my disdain for Stadia. Which I still contend is the future of things. All of the processing power seems to be moving away from devices and into data centers. That is pretty much the whole notion of Google Stadia. They don’t want people to buy the next generation of gaming hardware in favor of cloud first gaming.

Thanksgiving is happening today. Right now I’m sitting in the family room jamming away on the Google Pixelbook Go keyboard watching the Lions and Bears play some football via the over the air (OTA) Fox Sports broadcast. The OTA broadcast is really pretty decent quality video. Apparently today will be filled with three different games. For the most part the entire day will be wall to wall football games. It does look like all 3 games are on broadcast television channels which is one of the ways football is very different from hockey. You cannot easily watch the Colorado Avalanche play hockey on television. This year it has been even harder given how a dispute is playing out this year with the Altitude sports channel broadcast rights.

Content distribution is changing rapidly. It may be one of those things where it might be easier for the leagues to just sell streaming rights to watch all the content verses trying to join some subscription package. Without question the economic models of sports broadcasting is changing based on changes to the distribution systems. Right now I am paying for YouTube TV to get access to ESPN for the express purpose of being able to watch University of Kansas basketball games. Seriously, from October to April, I want to be able to watch basketball games which right now are strongly tied to the ESPN family of networks. That is the primary motivating factor in my decision to pay for a subscription television service. Outside of basketball season we cancel the television subscription and things are just fine. Really college basketball is the only live sporting event that pulls me into buying territory on the decision making scale.

One of the things I’m going to start doing more is just sitting down and writing on my Google Pixelbook Go. I have learned I’m way more likely to sit on the sofa and write than sit at my desk and make with the magic of prose creation. Sure it should be one of those things that you are just compelled to do as a writer, but we all know that from time to time the writing magic that matters needs a little bit of encouragement.

All those tempting black Friday deals are out of control

Throughout the last week — deals, previews of deals, and leaks about deals have flooded my inbox. Overall, the sheer volume of deals competing with each other during this window of time is really out of control. The public mind only has so much attention to behold and process all these deals. It really is about the attention merchants trying to grind out their share of a highly finite commodity. Beyond just getting people’s attention the matter of translating that attention into financial action still exists. People only have so much bandwidth to buy things during the now two week long black Friday deal window. That makes it even more problematic for the companies trying to convert deals into transactions. At this point, I just sort of look at the emails and sometimes click the links. The only deals I ended up buying were for a couple 4K movies from Best Buy. They were pure impulse purchases. I probably ended up purchasing them due to the sale price. The content at the regular price had never compelled me into making a purchase before. To that end I guess the email and the deal worked. Apparently, the market for selling physical entertainment media is shrinking. For better or worse, I still buy Blu-ray discs and probably will keep doing so until our cable company removes the monthly data caps. 

Sitting down to write a second paragraph seemed an inspired thing to do. It may not have been the best decision of the day. At the moment, I’m watching a video on YouTube from Andertons music company featuring some black Friday deals on Jackson guitars. They look pretty amazing, but my next guitar purchase is pretty much set in stone at this point. I have been looking at the Chapman guitars ML3 BEA for some time. Sometime next year it will be mine. Right now, my arsenal of guitars includes three that I play on regular basis. First, my main guitar is a modified Fender Stratocaster. Second, for those times that I need a Les Paul guitar one sits next to me in my office. Third, now recently repaired my original circa 1995 Jackson Kelly modified guitar is up and running. The Floyd Rose on that one needed a couple new parts to get back to a reasonable floating state. A ton of tempting black Friday deals are out and about today. I just cleared around 30 of them out of my Inbox before writing this paragraph. Sure, this one was not as creative or constructive as my normal blocks of prose, but it was here and now it is done.  

Generally, within my weblog (blog) posts I do not insert direct links to things. I try to use all the words necessary to describe the linked item. That should help anybody with a reasonable understanding of searching the internet locate the link or item. These works will remind the same, but the internet is a current of ever-changing content that inevitably will leave my links broken and otherwise stale. For things in the moment my platform of choice is Twitter. That seems to be a good platform for in the moment shouting into the grand public commons that is the internet. At the moment, Twitter seems to be the largest public commons dedicated to people shouting at each other. Everything else is smaller in size at the moment or dedicated to other purposes. 

Oh yeah, I forget to mention that yesterday a viewing of, “Ralph Wrecks the Internet,” was on the agenda. If you enjoyed the first movie, or the Lego movie, then you probably will enjoy the film. 

Steal that moment

Steal that moment. You know the one. That moment when doing nothing happened. Take it back. Be present in that moment. My research interests have shifted. I’m working on real-time economic modeling. This new research thread combines my interests in game theory, data mining, and economics. I have set a 30 day clock on sketching out a theory. Goals help drive things forward, but deadlines draw a line in the sand.

That line in the sand can make all the difference. Being on the right side of the line can define the path forward. Being on the wrong side of the path provides an opportunity. It provides an opportunity to change directions. Sometimes an idea strikes in an instant. That idea can make it easier to change directions. Unfolding the idea into something that can be explained in a written form can be difficult. The simple expression of a complex idea tends to define mastery of that idea. Knowing a path forward and walking that path are two separate things.

A Chicago Workday

At 4:00 AM the drive to the Denver Airport is rather peaceful. Only now as we approach 5:00 AM are people starting to show signs of life. People all seem to be waking up. Economic activity is about to happen. Nothing in this part of the airport terminal is open for business. Nobody is about to get coffee or breakfast. I have already started to think about writing during the flight. My plan is to start writing about modernity, economics, workplace skills, and learning a trade. That combination of things seems to be at the forefront of my thoughts this morning. Maybe writing about them throughout a two hour flight will produce something useful. It is also possible that the inquiry will be devoid of inspiration. That happens from time to time. A solid false start can build the foundation to better prose down the road. Stranger things have happened.

My flight was only about half full. Getting connected to the Southwest Airlines WiFi with my ASUS Flip Chromebook was easy. My Chrome web browser redirected to the Southwest website and things worked normally. Flying to Chicago should be an exciting time. However, my attention is mostly focused on other matters. Work has been full of an avalanche of escalations. Most people who know enough to know better fear the tyranny of tiny tasks in the workplace. My problem remains a little bit different. If every single issue is an escalation, then defining normal becomes problematic. I make every effort to work with people in a positive and proactive way.

Economic theories are easier to read about than to build on your own. However, over the next couple of months we are about to build our own bottom up economic model to explain our place in the economy. This is not about building a budget or anything like that. It is a basic exercise to figure out within a rolling 30 day period what type of economic transactions do you participate in and how do you aggregate a ton of these scenarios to build a model of economic participation. I’m sure that sounds simple enough. It is very possible. We will build it together. I have also written some basic web crawlers to grab advertisements to see what people are trying to sell during the same window.

Within the last 30 days I did engage in a variety of economic activity from refueling my car to getting a haircut. Like a number of Americans I have a certain number of household related activities: electricity, water, gas, mortgage, cable, phone, and cleaning. Those types of things are easier to model. We should be able to model out what types of interactions commonly occur and for what percentage of the population. The other things that happen define the parts of the economy that are more complex to model. People engage in producing things and people engage in providing services. The complex mixes of those things define the current state of the economy. Over time the models we are building can help illustrate shifts or changes in the economy. This bottom up method of evaluating the economy will provide a more accurate method to forecast short term economic change. The items that become a part of the model and the items that fall off the model are incredibly important to modeling change in the short term.

The intersection of technology and modernity is changing the social fabric of America. It is changing the way we think about careers and about engaging in the workplace. Technological advances have been changing the economy. New companies have risen and fallen. Some blue chip companies of the past have adapted some of them did not. Automation will change everything. It will change things in ways it has only started to influence. We need to understand and describe the economy of the future to ensure we as the workforce are ready and able to adapt. The next generation of scholars to attend colleges and universities may very well face a radical shift in employment opportunities based on economic forces.

Outside of building economic models I often try to explain the value of higher education to people. Plenty of benefit models exist. Some of them even show interesting returns on investment from higher education. My explanation serves a slightly different purpose. I want to help people understand how to maximize the opportunities college provides before the journey is over. For most people the college experience really is about the overall experience. It is a time to learn and grow. It is a time to meet new people and to learn about new things. I frequently tell people that the experience part is great and it is important and ultimately relationship and life skills you learn are valuable. My journey after college has been about being a practitioner vs. a pure academic. That view of the world has helped me focus the guidance I give others on two key concepts that anyone in higher education should understand and be able to explain.

First, learning specific skills in college that translate to the workplace is important. Jobs are often won or lost based on the skills you bring to the table. When I look at a resume and conduct interviews I am evaluating what knowledge, skills, and abilities the candidate brings to the job. Second, learning a trade might narrow your career path, but it helps define that career path as well. Medical doctors, dentists, lawyers, and accountants all attend institutions of higher education to learn a trade. That trade directly translates to a specific career path. Both workplace skills and trades are important in marketplace. Some trade specialize based on skills or other factors, but certain skills are not part of a trade they translate to a variety of different careers.

Opportunities exist. Modeling out those opportunities is a worthwhile exercise. It is something that we will continue to explore throughout 2016.