fighting the lack of good ideas

the death of the “car analogy”

With the rise of the “sharing economy”, and companies like Lyft proudly declaring 250,000 people ditched cars in favor of ride-sharing, what will be the fate of the venerable “car analogy“?

Heck, what was the common analogy before cars?

How will language and colloquial usage change with the [eventual] death of the car as the most common means of transportation (presuming, of course, it actually will die)?

I wonder if the death of the car will prove to be, in the historical view, something like the loss of the shared social experience that TV used to be.

on ads

My colleague Sheila wrote a great, short piece on LinkedIn about ads recently.

And this is what I commented:

I held off for years in installing ad blockers/reducers.

But I have finally had to cave – been running Flash in “ask-only” mode for months now, and just added a couple blocker/reducer extensions to Chrome recently (in addition to the ones on my iPhone for Safari).

I like supporting a site as much as the next guy (I even run a few highly unobtrusive ones on my sites) – but I agree: when I cann’t tell whether it’s your content or an ad, or even get through all the popovers, splashes, etc, I’m leaving and not coming back

I hate the idea of ad blockers/reducers. But it is coming to such a point where you can’t read much of what is on the web because of the inundation of ads.

And mailing list offers. Oh my goodness the mailing list offers. Sadly, the only way to block those seems to be to disable javascript … which then also breaks lots of sites I need it to work on – and whitelisting becomes problematic with something like javascript, since it’s usefully ubiquitous (in addition to being uselessly ubiquitous).

For Safari on iOS 9, I have three blocker/reducer apps installed (they’re free, too: AdBlock Pro, AdBlock Plus, & Refine (App Store links)). It’d be nice if they worked for Firefox, Opera Mini, and Chrome, too – but alas they do not (yet).

Also run two blocking/reducing extensions in Chrome (my primary web browser) on my desktop – Adblock Plus & AdBlock).

Shame the web has come to this. Schneier’s written about it recently. As has Brad Jones & Phil Barrett.

Wired and Forbes even go so far as to tell you you’re running an ad blocker and ask to be whitelisted or pay a subscription.

Forbes’ message:

Hi again. Looks like you’re still using an ad blocker. Please turn it off in order to continue into Forbes’ ad-light experience.

And from Wired:

Here’s The Thing With Ad Blockers
We get it: Ads aren’t what you’re here for. But ads help us keep the lights on.
So, add us to your ad blocker’s whitelist or pay $1 per week for an ad-free version of WIRED. Either way, you are supporting our journalism. We’d really appreciate it.

If you’re detecting my adblocker, maybe instead of telling me you won’t do anything until I whitelist you (or subscribe), you think about the problem with ads first.

Just a thought.

zombie crime

If zombie apocalypse stories could be true, there should be no crime (other than the zombies’ havoc-wreaking).

In a world where the dead are rising and attacking anything living (in the process making those attacked zombies, too), ‘normal’ crime should cease: folks’d be too busy trying to stay alive to be worried about anything else.

asymmetric communication – the facebookification of society

The first communication method we ever learn is the interaction between ourselves as infants and our caregivers (just to cover the possibility of a parent, foster parent, day care worker, orphanage employee, etc).

They speak to us, hold us, and in general take care of us while we cry, burp, laugh, and gurgle in response. The communication is symmetric: there is a give and take, and it all happens “in real time”.

Eventually we learn how to read and write, and the possibility of communicating asymmetrically becomes possible – the ability to communicate our thoughts, and receive others’ communications, at the leisure of the recipient.

Asymmetric communication is wonderful – it’s how we learn of ancient peoples, news stories from around the world, etc. But it has a major drawback, too.

Because asymmetric communication takes less effort on the part of the communicator, they can refuse to engage with their audience in a focused fashion. Indeed, that is the benefit of being able to write: being able to reach an audience without having to focus on them while you are talking.

However, because it is unfocused, and because it is easy, we can develop a preference for communicating on our own terms, which can lead to a loss of community and relationship and a creation of a narcissism (that even metastaticize into paranoia) in which we believe we are the best thing that ever happened to world, no one else matters, and face-to-face, or even microphone-to-earpiece conversations become a thing of the past. We can, instead, become hermitized into either our own worlds, or into virtual “communities” in which we adopt pseudonyms, speak in anonymity, and feel no concern over our audience’s feelings, thoughts, or interests.

I can see this as a problem with tools like facebook. Yes, it is wonderful to be able to keep-up with friends and family far flung in this modern era. To know what they are thinking and doing just with a click of the mouse. But how many of those “friends” are truly people we would want to spend time with or have a symmetric conversation?

Certainly this is also true of environments like LinkedIn – whereas some people only truly connect with those they know (and know well), others connect with whomever they can, and other connect with those have a “reason” to connect with .. but might not know “well” (personal improvement, “street cred”, ego boosting, sales/work potential paths, etc).

Services like Klout play to this overt self-interest we have in the modern era of self-branding.

The problem with symmetric communication is that it is harder – it takes time, you cannot multitask, and the person you engage with has to also be interested. You have to pay attention to them, and hope they pay attention to you in response.

In the modern, technology-driven world we live in, things that take time and effort are not as valued as the quick solution: we’d rather microwave than crock pot; we’d rather txt than call; we’d rather IM than email (or email than IM).

There is no going back to the way things were – and I wouldn’t want to even if we could: the way things are now is [in gestalt] far better than they used to be … or at least not worse (yesteryear had their problems that we’ve merely replaced/upgraded).

You can see communication asymmetry affecting our towns and communities – how many of us know our neighbors? Of those we “know”, how many are “wave at”, how many “smile at”, how many “say ‘hi’ to”, how many we would eat a hot dog with, how many we would invite into our home?

Symmetric communication needs to be made a larger focus of our busy, hectic, asymmetric lives – I’d wager that it would reduce our busyness and make our lives a lot less hectic if it took a larger role.