Ideas rise and fall like leaves from a tree.

Information that is stale, unused, not purchased by the attention of those browsing the supermaket shelves of the attention economy superstore.

We, like cats, care nothing for a dead feather–it is those ideas, trends, people that are dynamic and moving that we chase and chase.

Information falls from the branches of the tree of collective participation and buries those already fallen documents with a fresh layer of compost. Once in a while, a solitary wanderer trudges the old documents as hey amble slowly through their intellectual journey. In the end, the old ideas become fertile ground for new ones.


Utilizing Collective Intellect for Market Futures

Collective Intellect is a Boulder based company that uses the collective ideas of bloggers to predict the rise and fall of stock values. I watched Don Springer, President & CEO of Collective Intellect, present at the 2006 DOW Jones Emerging Ventures Forum 2006.

Collective Intellect taps into tacit knowledge in order to reduce company risk. The Internet allows the generation of tacit knowledge because it is a lateral media instead of a central one, such as television. It has a feedback system, because it is a product and a holding contained for consumer generated media.

How does one find the spring from which a river of ideas flows? Each profession, each category of interest has its own spring, or head influence. In fashion, the top design houses determine the fashions that trickle down to lower level designers. Though the Internet allows rapid communication to occur, the spread of ideas still takes time. In computer terms this is called ‘lag’.

When the CEO presented this company to venture capitalists, he described the company structure as follows:
This company uses an algorithm to determine the highest level idea-maker or blog of highest social influence. The algorithm is applied to blogs within an interest category, and each blog is assigned points based on blog visit stats, number of comments, and certain category-specific keywords. Blogs are also analyzed for lags in category-specific keywords from site to site, so that blogs who use category-specific keywords sooner than other blogs can be assessed.

Once the points are accrued, it is easy to see which blogs have access to relevant information more quickly than others. These blogs have the power to change ideas of other ‘downstream’ blogs, and have the least lag time in accessing and reporting on relevant ideas. Financial Companies pay for access to ranked blogger data.

Consider the following:

  • A simple design story. One of CollectiveIntellect’s clients designs tupperware and wants to know how to design a next generation tupperware product that is superior to its competitors.
  • It can purchase top blog information tracking from CollectiveIntellect in order to see the top tupperware ergonomic problems that have occurred in the past with other tupperware products। This tacit knowledge can then be used to design a product that has a relatively sufficient chance of success — one that will satisfy investors.
  • Similarly, the tupperware company can check up on its design success by puchasing blogger information collected by CI about the product, post-release. Investors in the tupperware company can purchase the same information from CI to determine whether the tupperware company’s stock will go up or down.

Business – Applied Postmodern Theory

A business should run like an athlete. It should be lean, with muscle and no unnecessary fat. It should be agile and capable of making quick changes. It should be more than just an athlete. In the new global economy, a company must be Olympian in ability, to be truly successful.

All muscle should be developed according to the type of athlete it is. A speedskater has different muscles developed than does an tennis player.

Companies must always be training; always watching their weight. A few extra pounds — a few days off without training, and the company may still be successful, but this success will be false. Under the right market conditions, even poorly managed companies can be successful. But market conditions rise and fall like emotions, and the subsidy that a good market provides to a bad company is what makes many managers lazy.

The concept of light modernity, when applied to business, is key to a successful enterprise. A successful enterprise is one that minimized effort and liability. Effort and liability can be cut off at the root by employing strategies that prevent excess mass from accumulating. success and minimized liability and effort.

Streamlining is removing anything from your business that detracts from its ultimate purpose. This does not necessarily mean downsizing. It means having your company examined and streamlined by a corporate anthropologist.

The smallest company can often move the quickest. A storefront is becoming a liability. A store that sells CD’s is now a liability to itself. CD’s are no longer light. MP3’s are. CD’s must be inserted into computers or players manually. MP3’s require less effort. Keeping music inside computers, without tangible essence, is the genius of itunes. The only hardware is a liquid device – the ipod, which is tiny, mobile, and automatically updated and changed at will. Everything that requires less human action (movements, clicks, material) will succeed.

Don’t Click It is an online user-based experiment that is an attempt to determine future usability of websi and liquid devices. It is one of the most liquid websites in existence (excluding artist and experimental design firms and Macromedia Extraordinaries). The entire site can be navigated with just one click. It utilizes what I will call “zones of action” to achieve this.

Ambient Findability Pt. II – The findability functions of Stumbleupon.

Stumbleupon is successful because is a better-functioning version of Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” button.

Since time and space are no longer a concern, ideas/links/information must be grouped in a non-linear way as well. Linear search engines deny the simultaneity of action, result, and true relevancy of websites. Stumble-like search engines also reduce user clicks to a minimum by allowing users to press a button to change their channel, but it also allows users to define their channel.

If the channel is “free photoshop tutorials”, the ‘stumble’ button can be pressed and the user instantly transported to a website within that idea category. By using a sort of ethereal subject cloud with undefined boundaries, the user has a greater chance of finding viable information. It also limits the amount of results to one page at a time.

SEM PDX Networking Meeting – Tuesday, Feb. 12th.

This is a brief of what happened during my first SEM PDX networking meeting.

It was at an Irish Pub downtown near the waterfront. Everyone was standing in groups of twos, threes, or fours, and talking in a common space next to the bar. They all had sticky paper name tags on their business suits. I brought two students with me who were also interested in new media, and we quickly located the registration table। There wern’t any nametags left, so I dropped the name of the guy who invited me to the event and we were quickly directed to him.

Todd Mintz was kind and down to Earth. I’d later realize how prolific and connected he was, but for now he was a nice guy. He was more digital than real, because his presence online was a lot more formidable than it was here. I asked him how he got into SEM PDX, and when he started getting into Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

He said he’d started his career in spam. It’s great to think that the spammers have been corporately snapped up after demonstrating their annoying genius tactics on our unwilling inboxes for almost a decade.

I asked Todd who I might talk to if I wanted to get my friend into the industry. He pointed to a tall guy with a refined and professional face with short sideburns, short black hair, and a leather jacket. He was speaking to two other people. The way the people stood when they listened to him was very precise. He kept himself in a spatial position of power and seniority over those who spoke with him.

In order to cut into the conversation, I would have to apply equal social force to distance the two current conversationalists.

First we walked past the agency guy and chatted by ourselves, and then slowly edged into the conversation from the edge of least resistance। My friend madea group-referential joke to interest the agency guy, and we began to exchange data। We were students. He ran…what? An agency? How interesting. What does it take to get a job like that, at your agency?

He ran through the process. To him it was very simple.
Get a blog. Make content. Make more of it. Write all the time.
The blog – optimize it. Get great keywords in it. Use all the stuff on the SEM PDX site. It’s all there as an introduction.
He told us that he was on Facebook, Myspace, Flickr, Twitter, and he had a blog. List his blog on my blog. He’ll list my blog on his. Add him as a friend on Facebook, ect. Come to tall of the networking events. Read everyone’s blogs. Contribute search optimization techniques…

Then he pointed to a woman whom another guy in a tie was talking with great interest to.

Kent Lewis, President, Anvil Media: Then take her certification course. She’s like the god of search engine optimization instruction. Her course for 10 weeks, and you’re good to go. Demonstrate what she’s taught you on your blog, and you’ll get hired by me and get lots of money.

At this point he gave us his business card.

“You do this,” he said, “and you’ll be making more per hour than a good attorney.”

Me: Yay! No LSATs!
Him: You know it.

Just then a heavily drunk man came up to Mr. Lewis and tried to network with him. It was bad because it was obvious that the drunker man was trying to stave off his fear of approaching such a great agency head. The agency man stood his ground, and discussed back with the man about sports topics and things, then spun the conversation in the marketing direction in order to glean insight into a piece of optimization information the drunk man had stored in his brain somewhere. His ability to sift through and direct another towards information retrieval was fascinating. After the snippet of information was released from the drunken man, the agency head smoothly negotiated him away from his presence by simply using nonverbal cues.

At this point, one of my friends seemed a little overwhelmed. This was his first networking event, and I am not sure he could handle it. There was a recipe in front of him that would allow him to secure some form of hyper-modern marketing career, and I don’t know if he wanted to go into internet marketing anymore. He went outside the pub and sat on a bench for a minute, then involved himself in a very long cell phone call.

Another guy, whose name tag read Helwitt-Packard, told my friend and I that he was in the “experience economy”.

Me: “Oh, like Starbucks?”
Him: Barely.

He told me that every website was a unique experience, and that the consumption rate of a website was tied to a certain experience. He was in the buisness of making websites whose shopping experience made it almost imposssible not to purchase a product.

Now the consumer is immersed in advertising, completely immersed in the “self-confidence of the present” (Bauman, 132). As the old experience of light modernity begains to melt into air. Straight, literally into the air. The wireless phones, the wireless networks. Everything is untethered from it’s source. Everything is mobile, but no longer heavy as liquid. Liquid flows, but it is still a heavy object.

All places are now allowed to decay and then are sold to the highest bidder.

I asked him how I might get into the market, and he told me to make a webiste and write all the time. He told me to engineer a piece of code that would make it impossible for site visitors to click the ‘back’ button.

Me: Woah, using the porno website trick?
Him: Hey. What do you want to be when you go into industry? It’s not going to be the same jobs as before. It’s all going to be Internet. It’s going to be a game of self advertisement, writing, and advertising. You don’t advertise your site right, and you’re just another hive worker.

He asked me if I wanted to know a cool trick, and without allowing me to respond he began to tell me.
Him: Do you have a business card?
Me: No, not tonight. I left them in my other bag.
Him: Well, you can get a bunch for free from vistaprint. Just make them with what you want to be on them. For instance, if you plan on being the President of the United States, just print…what’s your last name?

He looked for a name badge.

Him: You don’t have a name badge! You need a name badge.

I told him there were none left.

Him: Well, then, why haven’t you innovated?

He grabbed a roll of masking tape off the registration table and pulled a business card from his pocket. He handed me a pen and I wrote my name on the back of his business card. While I was doing that he made me a loop of masking tape and handed it to me. When I was done, he looked infinitely pleased with himself.

Him: Innovate. And when you make your business cards, write “Amber Case, President of the United States”, because then when you become it, people will find that card somewhere and call you up. Or if you put ‘consultant’, people will call you up because one day they’ll need a consultant and will find your card.

The even was supposed to last until 8pm, but everyone suddenly left at about 7, leaving two disoriented guys talking to each other in the middle of the room. One guy was ran a hosting company, and the other one ran a search engine optimization company. My friend talked to the hosting company owner, and I talked to the SEO guy, who was from India.

I like talking to people from India because they’ve generally been trained to speak with these very precise British accents. Also, their attention spans are not constructed like those of Americans, which is a relief for discussing and exploring new and interesting concepts.

I told him about the “anthropological perspective” and we talked about the mechanical to organic nature of the web. It was brief and precise and amusing. I liked talking to him because I could watch new knowledge decompress into his head. I’d been perfecting my story pitch the entire night, and he got the last version of it. Version 6.0 or whatever. Next time I go I will start with a new story and will beta test it on Todd through Facebook.

So the night went well. My friend and got contact information from almost everyone we talked to. I feel like it’s becoming a fun game for us – like Baseball Cards or Stamp collecting. When people become commodities, I guess it is legitimate to reduce wins to card-collecting abilities.

The nature of the event was unique in that everyone who talked online was able to meet in real life. I looked online and found a growing number of websites dedicated to existing both on and off the net.

What do I have to compare this to? I’ve studied the legal community and that’s where I can draw the most parallels. Either that, or magicians. Closed information gained only by those who are in the industry or who immerse themselves completely in a very focused information base. This information base was composed of both humans and technology and yet it created surprisingly organic results.

I guess I’ll have to go to more of this। I added Todd on Facebook and he told me that if I posted what I’d been talking about with people he would post it on his blog. I guess if I tried that I would learn a little more about networked information and the speed at which it runs.

SearchFest 2008 is at the Portland Zoo. I’m amused with this decision, since it is probably the last place I’d expect a conference like that to be.

The Phenomenology of the Internet – Transitional Search Methods

The world of marketing is experiencing a great transition into the digital realm. It’s been digitally created and shared, but now the user can come into a new experience online. The digital self (the mental removed from the digital), already compressed for maximum download speed, can change places in digital more quickly than ever before.

The mind online is reached more easily by ads, and the distance from the monitor to the user is many times closer than that of a television. It is this distance alone that makes a difference. An active user of the Internet can easily run out of energy and be attracted to information sources that need the least input (youtube). Admist the medely of choices, it is easier for the user to have the choice made for him. On Youtube, this is done by others. On Facebook, social history is written automatically, the only imput being clicks from the user.

If we go back to the General Theory of Relativity and apply it to social space, we can see that the shape of space makes people move, and the gravity of the social shapes space. Thus, people have social gravity, and when they congregate, more people are drawn in by this social gravitational field. Sometimes people from blurred areas can experience this social gravity field and congregate on an event from different idea economies. For instance, a Linux programmer can be drawn into the same Youtube video clip as a law student and a fry cook. I consider areas of great social masses to approximate black holes. Widely adopted products are black holes of attention, with event horizons of being “keeping up with the Joneses”. The event horizon of the event can be relational in real life or in digital life. A link can be provided by a friend online, (via a blog, instant message, or e-mail). A piece of hardware can be envied and researched outside of digital space, or the digital space can be used to learn about and purchase the device.

A friend of mine who is an engineering student and electronic musician coined the the term “if I just try a little harder” syndrome to explain what is affecting the hyper-modernized individual. They try a diet, and it fails, and then they tell themselves they will try even harder. “If I were just to try a little harder” on a photo, or an essay. Of course, trying hard is a future event, or a past event. It is a self-referential event that, because of its detached reflection, can never manifest in the present moment.

Media is creating forced creativity by putting digital cameras in the hands of individuals. Forced creativity makes people increasingly digitize their lives because media takes up space, and people like to share digitized bits of their lives. By allowing consumers to upload images, a panopticon of creativity is formed.
Talent is not encouraged to develop except in small groups like Photoshop competition forums or networked groups.

The group development aspect of the net intrigues me. It is because I’ve noticed that ‘expert groups’ are forming that I decided to research one for my independent study, which I’ve titled SOAN 490 – Corporate Power and Information.

I found SEM PDX, an online society of Internet Marketers and Businesspeople who were concerned with studying and making use of social networking sites, search optimization techniques, and better ways to reach greater numbers of Internet users. In essence, they were a group of information architects and space time compressors. Everything has become a competition, or death. Those who run on breaking ice behind them. And all consumers (and producers) are holding themselves up to increasingly one dimensional standards of design. Design has become the product.

My experiment was to check out how websites advertise themselves — how companies are forcing these sorts of organic connections — how they are widening event horizions to approach guaranteed consumer purchasing habits (and thus limit their marketing costs and liabilities). Mental real estate is easily acquired and redistributed in the digital world. With real estate also untethered, space and time of the mind are what matter.

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman on Liquid Modernity.

The following quotes are excerpts about the nature of the digital state from Zygmunt Bauman‘s book, Liquid Modernity. A short analysis follows most quotes.

“In the era of software, of light modernity, the effectiveness of time as a means of value-attainment tends to approach infinity; with the paradoxical effect of levelling up (or rather down) the value of all units in the field of potential objectives” (Bauman, ११८).

“The question mark has moved from the side of the means to tat of the ends. If applied ot the same time-space (that is in ‘no-time’), no part of space is private, none has ‘special value’ (Bauman, 118).

Digital –> idea ‘capitals’.
Idea capitals on the net are communities of bloggers, extensions of conferences and developer networks (designers, programmers, ect।) that push out onto the web from different parts of the world.

These sectors of the net are the digital equivalent of idea ‘capitals’, in that geographic capitals are areas of concentrated, quickly moving time/ideas, especially in capitals of creative culturals.

Analog –> fashion ‘capitals’ (events), then trickle down of those in the industry. Or, in creative cultural sites (pre-net), an analog dispersion of ideas through fax machines, print journals, and mail.

So then we look to the speed of ‘idea’ — on the net, there is the same form of the trickle down of ideas as there is in reality, but it is done in the absence of space. Time is not completely reduced in this space.

If all parts of space can be reached at any moment, there is no reason to worry about securing the right of access to any” (Bauman, 118), because the density of information determined what information geography a person exists in.

The Youtube geography is similar to a country, and like a country, it is is full of different sectors while also being connected to different websites (of course, this is a seed argument. This analogy must be strengthened with research into the construction and nomenclature of cities, towns, boundaries, ect.).