Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Really, conservatives?!

I used to identify myself as a conservative. Growing up, I studied the ideas of limited government and personal choice, which I considered to be the pillars of the conservative movement.

However, when I read articles like this in The Slate, I’m reminded why I’ve stopped calling myself a conservative. Here is the money quote:

From the National Review to NewsBusters and InstaPundit, some of the country’s most prominent conservative opinion journals and news sites have published stories and blog posts denouncing Google for subtly pushing a liberal worldview in its doodles (that appear within the company’s search engine logo) while steadfastly refusing to commemorate patriotic or religious holidays.

Conservatives have moved away from the rational views of freedom. They now judge the values and beliefs of a society. I have a problem with this way of thinking… beliefs are so subjective and personal, and I’ve meet plenty of good people that have varying belief structures, regarding subjects that include religion and politics.

As a result, I care less about what a person believes… what’s most important is why a person chooses those beliefs. Since conservatives seem to insinuate “believe in our values, or you’re against us”, I can no longer associate myself with conservatives.

And, I totally understand that this isn’t endemic of conservatives. I’m not calling myself a liberal, either. Extremists on both sides of the coin make stupid proclamations.

That said, I wouldn’t expect the National Review to publish stuff this myopic, as I wouldn’t expect the New York Times to take a blanketed swipe at Christianity.

In the end, arguments like the ones made against Google aren’t about finding truth… they’re meant to further careers of biased, opinionated journalists.

Why Silicon Alley Insider is the king of creative valuation…

I’m going to take a moment and profess my love for the Silicon Alley Insider… it is not only an insightful place for news on digital business (not just product innovations, which TechCrunch tends to focus on), it has a smug humor than comes from its roots in NYC and Wall St. That style makes it different from other destinations for business news I’ve found.

One of my favorite themes from their reporting is “what we would do if we ran these companies”. Better than anyone else I have read, SAI have great opinions on how to extract the true value from the companies they cover. Some great examples include: Craigslist, Yahoo, CNET, and AOL.

But, my favorite post was on Wikipedia… SAI showed how Craig Newmark could earn around US$900M annually for the Wikipedia Foundation, if he ran Wikipedia as a competitive for-profit business, and donated the profits to charity (ala Newman’s Own).

Key lesson – Hidden value lies in almost every business… you just need to know where to look and how to find it. And, that’s why SAI is the king of creative valuation.

Participation…

On Sunday, I had coffee with a friend of mine, productivity enthusiast Jared Goralnick. Jared has been pretty busy recently promoting his new product, AwayFind, so I was pleased he had some time to chat.

I like meeting up with Jared because he is quite motivating, and I learn a lot from him. I consider myself knowledgeable about business, but I’m very much a newbee to the tech world. It’s great when I get time to pick Jared’s brain, since I love to learn (as a researcher, I must!).

Because I lack much of the experience you find in the rest of the tech community, I often stand on the sideline… I don’t attend all the events I could, I don’t comment as much as I should, and I have stayed somewhat anonymous as a blogger.

Jared encouraged me to put myself out into the community, and he’s right. The only way I’m going to learn and become successful in tech (or the world at large, for that matter) is to contribute. By blogging more, improving my technical skills, attending events, and participating in the discussions, I will build upon the skills I lack… and display my unique talents and perspective.

On Jared’s advice, I registered my own domain… WarWrites.com. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to migrate my blog to this new domain, set up Feedburner and Google Analytics accounts, and make other improvements. I want to make this blog a place others come that displays my unique love of finding creativity in the often mundane world of business.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m excited. Thanks for the push, Jared.

Why I support my invasion of personal privacy…

I am currently in the middle of reading a history of the Google founding entitled The Google Story by David A. Vise.

I just finished chapter 14, called April Fools. This chapter is about the launch of Gmail–one of my favorite online applications and the best email service I have ever used. I love how easy it is to sort emails by “conversations” and tag them appropriately. But, I digress…

Vise focuses this chapter on a discussion around privacy issues regarding Gmail’s Adword strategy. Basically, Google scans the content of all emails you receive in Gmail to identify appropriate Adword advertisements.

In the book, many different consumers and privacy group express concern that Google is becoming “Big Brother” by tracking all of your interactions.

My opinion… who cares. What will Google or anyone else do with this data that would be so harmful to me? What incentives do they have to share my data in a way that would hurt me? I hear people express concerns about their privacy being breached on a consistent basis, but I have never heard how this breach has effected them negatively. Privacy issues seem more like an irrational fear created by books like 1984 than a legitimate concern.

I am not afraid of having my personal data available because I see more good than harm. For example, I am bombarded on a day-to-day basis by advertising that is totally irrelevant to me. I would love to live in a world in which I saw 50% less ads, but the ads I saw are actually relevant and would help me find a new product I can use.

Wait… isn’t that what Google does?!

To be honest, Adwords in Gmail seem to be less relevant to me than the Google search engine Adwords. This happens because people having an email conversation that contains a particular “keyword” may not reflect an unmet need. For example, just because the word “football” appears in one of my emails does not mean I am looking to buy tickets to see the Redskins. Search engine results seem to be better suited to target consumer needs, since the searcher is seeking out new information/items they would be willing to purchase.

Going forward, Google needs to adjust its Gmail Adword algorithm to reflect the difference between a casual conversation and an identifiable customer need.