Unchartered Territory – Part One





The fundamental building blocks of our universe and pretty much the foundation of what we humans now consider “consciousness”. I stole the notion from Siraj Raval, who’s quickly making quite a name for himself as the international  spokesman for “Artificial Intelligence” and deservedly so. As far as technology goes, AI couldn’t have a better spokesman. But the consciousness part is my own idea. At least I think it is. Having reached the point in my life where I can clearly see the “Big” picture in terms of where I think all this explosion in technology is taking us and where we as humans need to go if we are all to survive and prosper. Being an optimist I can only anticipate the panacea of good that we would like to forecast for the future of humankind; being a pessimist, any tool that others can use to subvert and control others WILL be used to subvert and control others. As always the two go hand-in-hand. The only difference between the two is in how each of us, in our own personal lives on a daily basis, deal with that. Salvation and Temptation are always side-by-side.

But back to the matter at hand. A long unanswered question has been what is “consciousness”? It’s more than being awake, but less than being all-knowing. “Incognito ergo sum”…seems to be the closest we can get to so far.  But let’s Screen Shot 2019-03-22 at 3.32.11 PMbreak it down. Atoms are the basic building blocks of all matter. Everything we taste, touch and feel is made up of atoms. Our entire universe is made up of atoms. We can quibble about subatomic physics but this is not what this all about. So moving right along… next come genes, the building blocks of life itself. Everything we ARE. From a computer scientists’ point of view, the most remarkable data store in the universe. A single microscopic strand of amino-acids can contain trillions of bytes of information

Ah and there the last and final piece…the byte, the building block of that ever increasing digital world we find ourselves buried in.. up to the neck. Apparently being the dominant force what we “incognito” and in doing-so, eventually shaping our “sum” as well. And here we are…the 21st century, where these 3 fundamental building blocks are coming together to either elevate all of humankind or ultimately bring it down…only more time will tell. But we are where we are right now at that’s a world rapidly getting lost in a SEA of information… correction, all seven seas and the major oceans as well…and it’s just beginning. More to come…


The Right Business Model for Blockchain

Why is this so hard to get right?

Here we go again. When the business world, and especially the Western business establishment, engulfed in its own media based hypertension, smells a good deal in the air, the world turns into one great big gold rush. Whether that was the Internet as it once was 30 years ago or now with blockchain technology, being both sought after and reviled at the same time, the same pattern is reemerging. Since the “Bitcoin Affair” last year where the value of Bitcoin with through the roof (… and to this day no one really knows why) and fell just as dramatically, the quaint notion of a “Bitcoin Billionaire” has entered the business lexicon of America if not the entire world. As block-chainsuch there are more buzzwords, hype, paid-for drama and nonsense around cryptocurrency than common sense, practical and  useful applications. When you get right down to it…we’re not talking about gold or silver, soybeans or crude oil here, this is just another form of technology. JUST technology. It’s not going to cure a rainy day or cause a flower to bloom, but as we all know, technology can be a pretty handy thing, however, it’s still up to humans to put it to good use.

Almost 30 years ago, a new “technology” entered the scene call the Internet. The Internet had existed for quite awhile but it wasn’t until it was available for commercial uses, that it became the darling of Wall Street via the infamous “Netscape” IPO. Thus the quaint notion of “Internet  Billionaires” was born and an hysteria similar todays “crypto-madness” took hold of the business world and everybody and their mothers suddenly had a “Dot.com”…raising millions of dollars from investors and ready to go public any minute. Seriously, there is practically no difference between then and now. None. Everyone wanted in on the deal but no one at that time really knew what the “deal” was!

Look at it this way, if you’re a shoe maker and you create a site, “shoemaker.com”, what  exactly does that mean? Does shoemaker.com help make betters shoes, sell more shoes, increase interest in shoes? Valid questions and ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????almost always ignored. Why did all that matter if you had a big office, a few million in funding and Goldman Sachs to underwrite your IPO? Seriously this was about as close to a business model  most dot coms got to regardless of what they wrote in the “official” brochures and reports. What all the financial experts didn’t seem to notice was that Netscape, itself, the IPO that started all this frenzy, was not a “Dot.com”, per se. It was a technology company who developed a useful  browser and  at the time a popular one. This was a time when HTML based technology was crude by today’s standards and accessing the Internet at all was a pretty big deal. Basically, the Internet wouldn’t be of much commercial value if people couldn’t use it. Netscape helped people do just that, find sites, organize bookmarks, etc., and was a pretty big deal in the “early days” of the Internet.

In other words, the success of the “Netscape” IPO was because it provided an actual product that people could use on a daily basis, en masse, providing true value…the necessary ingredients you find in any business school course. But for some reason, when people think of “value” and “money”…money is almost always the only thing people hear. So the Dot.com bubble grew enormously until the bubble burst and everyone was disappointed and far more money was lost than gained. So it goes…

But a few of the more infamous,  “Dot.coms” survived because their vision was a little different; some of these dotcom_bubble“visionaries” saw that true business advantage of a network the size of the Internet was the size of the Internet; they saw economies of scale, ie, the bigger the better… Amazon, Google and, eventually, Facebook..they are all about the numbers and how many they can get their greedy little hands on. The rest is history.

But this article isn’t just about history it’s about the future and the way the past has a habit of repeating itself. Again, when it comes to blockchain business models I have seen examples of blockchains, replacing, imitating, supplementing…etc., all kinds of products and services, in other words, trying to “fit-in” into old business models that people are comfortable with, but not really realizing any real value simply due to the technology polar-bearitself.  To unlock the power of the blockchain is to let the blockchain BE the blockchain but to scale. The real value of the  blockchain is its immutability. That should be more than enough if enough people use it simply for that. Let’s put it this way, we can  try to teach a polar bear to ride a bicycle. Neither one really adds “value” to the other, unless you’re into that sort of thing. A bicycle is funny when you see a polar bear riding it, but its true purpose is transportation, getting from point A to point B. There’s a lot of people in the world that just want to do that, far more than polar bears do!  We need to let blockchain do what it does best and not concentration on making something else  “better”…

The Age of Adtech “Quants” – Part One

As the ” mystification” of technology continues as we also grow ever more reliant on it, the real ” Digital Gap” is no longer who has access to technology and who doesn’t but who UNDERSTANDS it and who doesn’t. And believe me, that gap is getting greater and greater every day.

I’ve been in technology almost 30 years now, the last 15 in advertising alone and there’s always been a ” gap” between those who don’t know (managers) and those that do (programmers), but back in the old days managers had the decided advantage. who-knowsProgrammers were the willing slaves to business, a ” cost center” to keep the computers running. The ” tech guy” you called when you needed software installed on your PC.

But now it is the  21st century and technology has made a full swing from ” cost center” to ” profit center” and as large businesses continue to shrink and small businesses continue to grow because of the one buzzword everyone around the world knows and understands…technology. Our finance, media, advertising and now even retail, are all technology driven. Computers talking to other computers. Programs talking to other programs with only the programmer in between that knows what actually is going on between all those electrons, even though the effects, as proven by the financial industry fiascos, everyone on the planet in some way or another.

In so saying, the status of ” programmer” has skyrocketed from lowly nerd with a pocket protector to near god-like status.  Big business needs and embraces technology in all of its forms. Using advertising as an example:

” Reasons Hackers Build Adtech: See opportunities for better automation and more efficiency; to scale existing, inefficient business models; to disrupt agencies or existing products with fat margins and low quality or weak competitive advantages (ginzametrics.com)quantcast-machine-learning-bidding-systems_uucvload-tech

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Using programmatic advertising as an example you can wade knee-deep in all this jargon for years to come and still have now idea how any of this actually works. In other words, what to do programmers ACTUALLY do?! Without going into too much detail, they simply tell computers what to do, in multiple languages in multiple ways. All programs take data (data can be just about anything), do something with it, and spit something out, either to a person or another computer. In short, that’s pretty much it. But the magic is in HOW they do it..after all computers are just dumb machines really. In the end it is the human imagination that determines what goes in and what comes out. The ” HOW” , in computer terms, is called algorithms. Algorithms are the secret sauce. The Magic!

Algorithms are usually based on theoretical mathematical concepts that have been ” proven” . That is, we can prove mathematically that if you put in X you will always get Y, EVERY time and that’s what makes them so valuable. Most of these algorithms (and their proofs) have been floating around academia for decades and more are being ” created” every day. Some are obscure, many unfathomable to the ” common” man, and sometimes beyond the reach of even the ” common” programmer. Hence, the need for ” Quants” . Originally, associated with Wall Street, Quants, if not everywhere now, soon will be. Or, at least, they’ll be in great demand.

6 Months Later

I was a fairly early adopter of LinkedIn, joining I believe way back in 2008. Ten Years ago I thought it was cool to leave an on-line ” resume” on the web just to save myself the trouble of having to send it to people and, in fact, it was also a good way to stay in touch with other people I met professionally or personally. This was long before Facebook, as for me, but I’m not writing this article as a tribute to LinkedIn, I’m writing it as proof to myself, that the topic I’m trying to convey is very real. 

In January 2015, the Roosevelt Institute gathered 30 experts and practitioners in technology, education, finance, and economics to discuss the next American economy. We asked them what they would do today to ensure a good economy 25 years from now and published a selection of their answers – ranging… (rooseveltinstitute.org)

Because I’ve been on LinkedIn for so long, I have a tendency to take it for granted. Even though its become one of the Net’s so-called ” unicorns” , I used it more to find out where other people worked, not so much as a site to build my OWN career. But as years have passed a new generation, of course, comes along and decides you can’t HAVE a career unless you’re on LinkedIn. But thats not what I’m writing about either. I just reread the article I wrote 6 months ago, mostly as a test to see how well LinkedIn’s ” User Graph” worked with ” inbound” content. I’ve been writing articles for years…for my blog, other people’s blogs, sometimes just for the fun of it. But I also work in digital advertising. I want to see what it takes and what tools I have to not just create content, but create an audience for it. 

My first article was not a blockbuster, I only wrote about the block chain because that was what was on my mind at the time. Of that 13 people read it and 2 people liked it. That may not seem remarkable but it actually surprised me. I expected maybe a head hunter or two, killing time before heading out to ” cocktail hour” . But to my surprise the likes were from old friends that I highly respect and admire, but for some reason, I haven’t been in touch with for quite awhile. Too long.

Realizing that, as far as I’m concerned, LinkedIn is reaching its full potential as a way to ” keep in touch” , with both friends and complete strangers. So with that being said, I’m more than willing to share whats on MY mind. To that end, let me focus on a theme that both friends AND strangers should find compelling…the Age of Innovation. Innovation has always been a sign of humankind’s ” progress” , but not like its going to be in this century. We’re almost ready to make the ” Big Leap” . I don’t use the word ” almost ” lightly. After all, although there are some remnants (mostly bad) of 20th century ” thinking” , as I wrote in my last article, 2018 is pretty much the same as 1918, all the sweeping changes of the next 80 years were in their infancy, but everyone knew, in one way or another, they were coming. 

Stay tuned for part 2…

To this end, it is imperative that the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission abandon the outdated dogma espoused by scholars and jurists of the “Chicago School,” which holds consumer welfare as the sole metric by which proposed mergers should be evaluated. (rooseveltinstitute.org)

Firstly I would make this point very clear that technology is not the solution to 21st century education, technology is simply a tool to aid education and learning, also technology should not be told as a separate schools subject, but as a tool, technology should be used in all classrooms. (edtechreview.in)

It is based more on smart support for the building blocks of innovation and entrepreneurship — and less on capital accumulation, budget surpluses or social spending. (theglobalist.com)

This new economic doctrine on the block — called “innovation economics” — reformulates the traditional model of economic growth so that knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation are positioned at the center of the model — rather than seen as independent forces that are largely unaffected by policy. (theglobalist.com)

Innovation economics — also called “new institutional economics,” “new growth economics,” “endogenous growth theory,” “evolutionary economics” and “neo-Schumpeterian economics” — is based on two fundamental tenets. (theglobalist.com)

In contrast, “innovation economics” recognizes the reality that a global, knowledge-based economy requires a new approach to national economic policy based less on capital accumulation, budget surpluses, or social spending and more on smart support for the building blocks of private sector growth and innovation. (itif.org)

“Soccer” it to ’em!

Is the USA ready for “world-class” football? One of the major obstacle is, of course, the name of the icc-logogame. In the US, “football” has an entirely different connotation and meaning. Only Americans call football ‘soccer”. This is only one of the many interesting obstacles that Relevent Sports has had to overcome to create the first truly global sports league, the International Champions Cup (ICC), a series of football tournaments that have taken place every year from 2013 onwards and are held during the summer breaks of the big football leagues. The International World Champions’ Cup 2009-2012 is the successor to the World Cup Challenges.

fc-clubThe “big” football clubs are “big” because of their regional glamour, mostly European of course.  As we already know, European clubs feature international players from all over the world. But only every 4 years, during the World Cup, do we get to see these players compete with and against each other. The International World Champions Cup provides the opportunity to showcase international starts to an international audience.

With Juventus Turin and Real Madrid as the most important participants, the stadiumpreparation tournament for the Champions’ Cup started this summer in the USA. In addition, there is also a Champions Cup for Asia and Australia where the majority of matches take place in China. A great selection of the best European teams arrived in China, including Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Internazionale, Milan and Olympique Lyonnais, who all took part in the 2017 International Cup. For example, it was AC Milan v Borussia Dortmund for the International Championship Cup of China. When the ICC says “International”, they mean exactly that. .

messiThe impetus doesn’t come from just fans, but the International clubs and their players both find it works to their advantage. In addition to obvious extra exposure, clubs can act as “brands” and reach a much greater audience than just their local European regions.  This is the reason why Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Munich play World Cup matches not in Europe, but in China and the USA. Online revenue centers around finding something special for your favourite football fan, buying from the official online store of the International Champions Cup and its great assortment of youth and collector sets.

The challenge for such clubs as FC Bayern is, on the one hand, to promote internationalisation guinesswithout losing the brand’s essence. Hopefully, by being able to add all these brands under one umbrella each individual brand not only expands exponentially but still allows each club a maximum of control over what that brand means to its fan and, even, its country of origin. In other words the marketing potential is limitless.


Flip of the “Coin”!

JPMorgan Chase, CEO of Jamie Dimon, admitted “with regret”, his notorious remark from last year, when Wall Street banker called the BitCoin a “fraud”. Just to follow up from my last article, the last bastion of stubborn denial, us, have dimon finally bitten the bullet and accepted that the universe has now changed forever. After all, if I’m rich (or poor) and old-fashioned paper money goes away,  what happens then? Who has what? We have never lived in a world without rich and poor..is such a thing possible?

Who knows. But the floodgates have been opened and the world is now off on its third big revolution since the time of our great great grandfathers; the Industrial Age, the Digital Age and now the “Coin Age”. And believe it or not,  we are already firmly in it. Regardless of what the media says or doesn’t say. Beneath all the hysteria and hype there are some very simple things going on around the world. And it really is time to pay attention to them.

Jamie Dimon, reportedly regrets now that he calls bitcoin’ fraud’, although he is still not in favour of a “hidden currency”. The irony in this statement is that there is nothing hidden about it, not Bitcoin or LightCoin or any other blockchain caughtjpegbased crypto-currency, in fact, that’s the whole point. EVERYONE, knows what’s going on ALL the time. Thats the real boogie man in the closet. But the press has had a field day with the diabolical “Silk Road” stories. Hopefully, now they can find the revaluation of capital based on highly efficient and organized “trust” even more provocative a topic. I hope so. Because as the world evolves around us, we’re more interested in what outrage Donald Trump has created today.

Even more ironic, is how quickly the “Old Guard”  has been quick to evoke 20th century tools to 21st century currency. I don’t see why not. Bitcoin’s prices were maintained thanks to the launch of bitcoin futures contracts by both CME and CBOE last month after the US regulatory approval, which was considered by supporters to be helpful in legitimising the use of virtual currency.

When Dimon said,”This is not simply a real thing, it will eventually be closed”, he seemed to misunderstand the deepest dimon_lunchaspect of Bitcoin: Nobody could close it. Dimon added:”Bitcoin has always been for me what governments will feel about Bitcoin when it is really big, and I just have a different view from other people. Whatever, that means. In any case, you get the point. The conflict of interest is obvious here, because Bitcoin threatens the profits and potentially the existence of large banks such as the one he is managing. By ignoring the long-term value proposition of currency cryptocur, Dimon made a mistake by setting Bitcoin’s price at a rapidly rising price.

democracy-todayOn the other side of the coin, the so-called “early adaptors”, made a killing. And you can expect of the same as the “market” in crypto-currencies continues to grow and mature. But the downside to that is now everybody and their mother wants “in” on the game. For awhile there will be a lot more “crazy” than real value but now that everybody on earth has the means to capitalize their own value and worth not based on a centralized bank, government or the like. True global democratization my finally be feasible. Who knows…


The End of the Year, the End of an Era…

boogie-manJust read an article on how big British banks no longer consider the blockchain the “boogie-man” but now it’s the savior of the industry. With that comes the death knell not only for the old way of doing business but but for the 20th century as whole, all wrapped up neatly the way the 19th century was a million miles away in 1918. But that change took a cataclysmic war to finally drive the stake through the heart of monarchies, institutionalized colonization and extreme wealth disparity. The 20th century wrought the Roosevelt Republic, worker unions, cheap electricity and the “Age of Oil”. Well, those are pretty much gone too, and with the exception of income disparity, the slate is being wiped clean. A new beginning awaits. And like anything age-of-oilunknown it breeds both apprehension and hope at the very same time.

In this case, because of our culture’s irrational insistence that technology is akin to magic or the will of the gods, “Bitcoin”, “blockchain”, “digital-currency” stir more emotions than the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.. My guess is that was pretty much the same reaction when man discovered how to harness fire. Yes, this simple blockchain technology has the power to propel humankind to the “next level” and its not nearly as complicated as everybody believes it to be. But I’ll get into that later.

The article struck me in particular because of its hubris. Rather than admit the current world-wide financial structure has failed, the banks (or the aritcle, at least) take the stance that the chain is prometheusbeing adopted only to “reduce costs” and are trying their best to find a way to fit it into the “old” system. Whenever a disruptive technology comes along, whoever is safe guarding the current status quo goes through the same process as a someone with a terminal illness; first, denial, then anger, then a dull aching acceptance. That’s when some people resign gracefully, some go on a bucket list, some do whatever they can to finish the string on their own terms. But the difference here is that this time it’s not terminal. Finance, money, wealth and the institutions that created it and supported it for the last 500 years are not going to die. But they will be reborn. The blockchain is not a death knell but an alarm clock. It’s time to wake up. Fully adopted, it will allow banks to process payments faster and more accurately, while reducing transaction execution costs and the requirement for exceptions.

Fans of block technology believe that it can be used to create a safe and convenient alternative to time-consuming and costly banking processes. Theoretically, agile startups could build software based on block protocol, hoping to provide a safer, quicker, cheaper and more transparent big-banksalternative to traditional financial intermediaries such as banks, brokers and complex billing processes. There are, of course, many potential applications of block technologies, including the fight against identity and money laundering fraud, the improvement of knowledge-based and collaborative systems with customers and the acceleration of cross-border payments, L/C procedures and lending.

In short, the Blockchain is our friend not our foe. However, it does change the rules. The way we view money now is based on the capitalist theory of financial Darwinism, survival of the “fittest”.., i.e., to the victor go the spoils. In other words, if someone makes money, someone must lose money in a sort of zero-sum game. That’s what creates the competitiveness that drives innovation. It’s also what drives the greed, inhumanity and mean-spiritedness often associated with the current “financial markets”. Alas, greedthese are not the faults in the system but faults that are in ourselves. Its people that are greedy, inhumane and mean-spirited…not money. The blockchain quietly removes the “human” factor and lets the power of mathematics take the reins.
Central banks around the world are exploring the possibility of moving some of their payment systems to block technology or even to use it to launch the digital currency. Money, after all, is really just a man-made “trust” system. Trust is intangible but essential for any human being to live as a human being. It is up to each of us to make trust, our own and others “tangible”.

Are we as a species ready to but our trust in a decentralized system based entirely on mathematics. It’s certainly easier than trusting other human beings. In finance as new ideas emerge, expect banks and related intermediaries to agree on common standards, with regulatory support, for sharing the costs of building the blockchain, whether it uses existing infrastructure or not. Post-trade settlement for a wide range of securities, including syndicated bank loans, is one of the most commonly discussed potential cases of block technology..

It is therefore another way for the back-office of banks to use the cooperationblockchain to increase the speed and efficiency of settlement systems, while the clearing coin allows banks to transfer value and assets without having to wait for a long time, as is currently the case for traditional methods. The biggest key to translating the blocking potential into reality is the cooperation of banks in order to create the necessary network for supporting global payments.

However, as in the case of trade finance, it says that the block technology itself will not solve all the problems related to the failure of the current financial systems.

“Augmented” Intelligence…I Think

“Artificial Intelligence” has become quite the buzzword these days, especially in an era of never-ending buzz words. Every day there’s excitement, enthusiasm and mesmorizing anticipation. Along with all the drarobby-thinkingma of the ages as mankind seemingly climbs the evolutionary ladder a dozen rungs at a time. Like everybody else, I have my own opinions, but what can differentiate mine from anybody else’s. To go along with all the hype comes a tremendous amount of absolutely useless noise. How can my own little voi ce rise above the noise and not become a part of it.

Although I believe that artificial intelligence is overestimated in many respects, I am nevertheless very turbulent about its potential, even if one takes into account all the noise. A large part of this work concentrates on its peculiarities, especially the one where artificial intelligence will outstrip human intelligence. Previously I had to ease mentioning “artificial intelligence”, so it didn’t sound too “sci-fi” and I was scared of people, and now observers are diterminatorsappointed if your solution is not completely magical. They showed us what we cannot achieve (conscious programmatic intelligence), but how we can create something less dramatic, but at the same time very valuable: unconscious programmatic intelligence.

But, unfortunately, I think people spend WAY too much time thinking about enhancing a machine’s intelligence to the point where it “turns” on mankind. We should be thinking about the possibilities of enhancing our OWN intelligence instead. After all, AI is just a tool like any other. Apparently we fear our machines because we fear ourselves. It’s the “augmented” self we need to become aware of. We are “augmented” whenever we pull out google maps on our cell phone to find out where we are…or send a live video to our friends on Whatsapp and Instagram. We don’t have to try to “out think” a computer. We just need it to help US think. THAT’S the point! We just need to get better at that and then watch what happens.

Any account on Facebook or online is already a link between the human and some artificial intelligence.
Just as the brain recognizes patterns and helps us categorize and classify information, neural networks do the same for computers. Nothing makes it impossible to appreciate human intelligence, such as finding out how incredibly difficult it is to create a computer as wise as we are. Any attempt tbrothers_in_thoughto interpret human behaviour primarily as a system of computational mechanisms and the brain as a kind of computer apparatus is doomed to failure. If an intelligent machine were able to distinguish between intricate ones, if the dark regularity in the data about what we have been doing in the past, it could be able to extrapolate about our later desires, even if we do not fully know them.

Then I read about the huge commitment of the world-wide software industry to artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Starting from language development and the creation of large, densely populated communities, moving forward with writing and printing inventions and now enhanced by tools such as the Internet. Collective intelligence of humanity is one of the main reasons why we have managed to overtake all otbrain-drainher species. Until the 1990s, despite punishing computer chess movements, we were still not very close to artificial intelligence in general. Therefore, while man can always act in new ways (regardless of how impressive our brain is, and perhaps even a cocktail with very human features of intuition and spontaneity), computers will become stuck when they come across situations where they are not told how to act (or how to learn to act).

But the real  “proof of the pudding” is this article itself. It is solely my article and original. However, a part of it was written by me by hand, and  a part of it is written by “Stinky” my AI ghost writer. Can you tell which is which? It won’t be hard to tell the difference between “fact” and “feeling”. After all, that’s what good writing is all about. Just remember, if you judge this to be a good article, it’s not because I used AI to write it, it’s because AI made ME a better writer. I don’t mind a little “extra” intelligence. Do you?

Analyze This!

This is getting deep. As I become more and more immersed in thcommerciale world of digital advertising, I’m realizing how complex this all really is…and, of course, still so simple. Advertising has always been about getting and holding people’s attention…an hour, a minute, a second…attention + time = value. And that “value” is how advertising agencies get paid. But in the amorphous world of attention, we can’t always assume we have it, unless, of course, we do. By that I mean , the 20th cemesmerizedntury model of attention as holding a someone’s attention for a couple of hours or an hour or a moment for that matter. Once the advertiser has your attention, they can provide the occasional “public message” or commercial, assuming that if you were still glued to the set. If spellbound by CSI (Miami, New York, LA…etc)  youwould be just as “glued” to the soap sell. Of course, we all know that’s not usually the case, this is where most of us flip thechannel, make a sandwich, mentally tune out. But there are always exceptions. If you can just catch the right someone at the right time with the right product then SHAZAM! you have a sale. Odds are against it, but if you millions of eyeballs sucking in your message, your bound to get some bites. And even without the direct response, being the greedy little consumers that we are, we inevitably shop for things we know nothing about…from soap to snowblowers, and as we’re walking through the shopping aisle hoping to find  brand Whatever, we find brands A to Z. So many to choose from, how do I choose? Why I see Brand A on tv all the time, Ill buy that one…even though Brand B is cheaper and probably superior. But that’s what those advertiser dollars are for.

Unfortunately, those dollars can’t be exactly co-related into actual dollars and cents. Advertising, like economics, is an inexact science.  Well, it WAS an inexact science anyway. Now its becoming almost pure science. I use the television analogy for 2 reasons.shopping

1) I am still, yes I hate to admit, a regular television watcher. No I don’t watch network shows or American’s Got Talent. Mostly sports, old movies and nostalgia and even then, though, I shouldn’t admit, I have to trust my DVR to save the day for me. In one nostalgic episode of one of my favorite comedians narrated shows, I counted 10 commercials, between the intro and the start of the actual program. TEN! There was a time when it took the entire half hour to show 10 commercials. No one over the age of 8 is going to sit through 10 commercials without flipping the channel, going to sleep or turning the tube off all together. No one.

2) People like me, people who watch any kind of television, are rapidly going the way of the dodo bird. Not enough to kill the industry just yet, but enough to see the writing on the wall. And that writing will be page views, event conversions and line graphs. The Internet has brought an evolutionary leap into our lives. I can honestly remember a time when the Internet”, better known as the “World Wide Web”,  was there simple to “inform”.  Now we depend on it to run our daily lives, our governments, and, yes, our entertainment…in short, its where all those eyeballs are drifting off to…by the hundreds of millions..even billions.

But its the sanalyticshare scope of the Internet that provides both the risks and rewards. With hundreds of millions of eyeballs pouring through the Internet every day, sitting down behind a tube to watch today’s bad news seems superfluous to the average user of the Net, whether desktop, pad or mobile. But the real magic of the Internet isn’t just all those eyeballs, but now we know what all those eyeballs see when they come to any particular website, whether its to read international news, catch up with friends and family on Facebook or buy a new pair of shoes. It may seem a little creepy but actually its not, it just gives the new generation of “techies” that more to play with…data. Data, data everywhere. We’ll get to that subject in another article to come.


The “Nerd” Herd Cometh…

Just read a very interesting article in Advertising Age on the “Agency of the Future”. I couldn’t help but find it fascinating since I had held a Ted talk at JWT  last year with the exact same title and theme. However, my own speech was a lot more mundane compared the the highfalutin‘ spiel an Advertising Age writer can spin. After all, it is the advertisingagencyofthefuture business so one comes to expect a reasonable amount of razz-matazz, but this article really laid it on thick. The basic giste of my own premise was, like any other business, technology is here to stay, not only to stay, but eventually to rule. Usually that means fear and panic to all those “non-techies” out there. This article is no different.

Following are some direct quotes from the article:

“We’re looking for a higher degree of consolidation to make integration and interdependence more effective”

“There will be dedicated client teams  and a greater degree of open-sourcing of talent and capability”

“The most effective creative will come from the integration of content creation and distribution, and greater in-house content publishing resources.”

Blah, blah, blah…

When advertising executives start using this many buzz-words and neo-cliches it can mean only one thing…run for the hills before the smoke clears boys…the jig is up! In other words, to quote, they are “…predicting a 25% reducution in head count for holding companies in
the next 5 to 10 years as a result of the ‘power or automation’ in headcountcontent creation and distribution and the impact of artificial intelligence on adminstrative roles”. In plain english, tech is taking over, kids, get with it or get out. Its ironic, that advertising execs are starting to sound like rust-belt execs 20 years ago. That’s no coincidence.  We are coming to the end of one era and the beginning of another. The smug, aloof Madmen of the past are slowly, but ever so surely, being replaced by smug, aloof “techies” secure in there insular knowledge of systems, servers and code. I’ve written about this before and I have the feeling I’ll be writing about it for some time to come. Almost 7 years ago I wrote about the natural phenomena of “creative destruction”.  In short, as a new industry arises (usually due to new technology) old ones fall by the wayside.

Totally Awesome, Dude…

In that article, I try to point out that in the 20th century it was a relatively slow albeit, inevitable, process of an entire industry dissolving into others that generally takes a generation or two to complete. But in the 21st century those processes have been speeded up considerably by the “digital age” and the expectations that come madmenalong with it. What all the above Ad Age double talk really comes to is that the “old” way of life in advertising is coming to a close…big agencies, big budgets, big dinner checks is coming to a close and a whole generation, maybe two, better start either taking as many General Assembly tech courses as they can or start working at Starbucks.

I’ve been a “techie” my whole career, in a variety of businesses, not just advertising, I know first hand what a closed in, self-purporting little group of anti-socials “nerds” can really be. They can’t help themselves, in a knowledge economy its natural for an “I know more than you” psychology to thrive among the techies themselves. You can imagine nerdwhat manifests itself when “hard-core techies encounter “non-techies”, bean-counters and anyone over 30. This will eventually include C-level execs, boards of directors and the rest of the human race as a whole. Trust me, I’m not exaggerating.  Soon it will be 20-something content producers producing content for 20-something content consumers. Not bad if your a 20-something developer who can explain how to code a binary tree or a hash table. But not so much for everyone else.

As in any culture to much “in-breeding” is not a good thing. Eventually, when we have a culture dominated by 30 year old men in tea shirts and sneakers buying and selling to each other, when every form of media takes the form of a video game or something equally juvenile, and programmatic becomes automatic, hopefully, there will still be some spark of actual creativity, maturity and human emotion. Yes that’s always been a lot to expect from advertising in general, but language has a way of turning into actions and cultures have a way of turning into reality. Cultures are only a group point of view, but fromthe-future the inside out, they are as tangible as the warmth from the sun. However, cultures also have a tendency to be somewhat myopic and jingoistic. Western culture invented phrases like “Third-world” and “Red Menace”, but when closely examined, are just perspectives that suit those who are comfortable with such divisions. Unfortunately, most “techie” cultures aren’t warm and friendly. They are usually competitive, cliquish and harsh, Google not-withstanding. But more and more, it is that culture which is beginning to prevail in corporate culture, social culture and, yes, Western culture as a whole.  Finally, the most ominous quote from the article for me:

“People who understand data and omnichannel ulitmately become the most responsible custodians of a company’s money and how to spend it”


There was a time when understanding “people” was the key to commercial and, sometimes, even personal success. Yes, it truly is the end of an era.