Discussion


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 77,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Wall Street Journal recently (Thursday July 14, 2011) published an article in the Marketplace section where various analysts reported valuing the company at $100 billion and upwards. Redpoint Venures’ Geoff Yang notes that Facebook created a new ecosystem – the ‘social web’. His valuation was based on a $25BB market in online ad revenue with Facebook having a 27% share. In 2015 that $25BB will grow to $45BB and Facebook’s share translates to $7BB in revenue. Add in the local advertising market today estimated at $133BB and project that to the future for $150BB. With the Internet taking 20% and Facebook 20% of that, add $6BB in revenue. Add in international revenue and the estimated 2015 revenue goes to $19BB. With a P/E of 25, Facebook is worth $140BB in 2015. The high end of the scale in the report was $240BB valuation. Some of the higher P/Es are undoubtedly because Facebook is still a private company, lots of investor want in, and the law of supply and demand is active.

Going back to Geoff Yang’s comment about a new ecosystem, the thing about ecosystems is that they contain lots of niches, some beneficial and some not so beneficial. Looking at Facebook as a social media, people automatically assume that Facebook is about communications. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Facebook has the ‘potential’ to be a communications tool but to be specific, one has to remember that, as Claude Shannon established, communications requires three elements: a sender, a channel and a receiver. Social media over the Internet is clearly the channel and the millions of members participating are senders. I am not so certain about the receivers.

Facebook is a means for participants to throw out to the world (dare I say ‘vomit’) pithy comments about life, mostly as a means to assuage their egos and establish that their thoughts are somehow worthy of publication. Admittedly, blog writers succumb to the same predisposition, as do contributors to refereed journals. In our case as well as the case with journals, we impose some sort of peer review.

The problem comes when participants believe and expect that Facebook is, in fact, a means of communication, when it typically is not. Personally, being inoculated by Inter-relay Chat (IRC) in earlier days, I know enough to not assess my self-worth by a post or response to a post that comes flying my way, and do not participate in “flame wars”. There are lots of people out there using Facebook with less unassailable egos, fragile personalities and low self-esteem. When these persons become involved in Facebook interactions; and the inevitable trolls and digital demagogues line up like sharks at a chumming, the potential for damage is high.

In verbal communications, most people learn quickly that a self-imposed delay between thinking and speaking is a survival trait. Facebook provides minimal feedback to reinforce an equivalent delay between thought and post. This is not a new concept – books have been written on email etiquette. What is new is that email did not have the potential to impact participants to the same degree. Technology has provided enablers: streams of friend’s posts requires bandwidth; computational power; and storage – all of which have made significant improvements over the last ten years. The result of which is a much more rapid and wider dissemination of accidental stupidity and intentional cruelty.

A 2009 report showed that 1 in 5 divorces are attributed to Facebook. Verbal bullying on Facebook has been reported and is increasing. Blackmail related to Facebook posting of photos is noted. Some interesting work on the phenomena is found here.

Returning to Facebook’s valuation, an infelicitous confluence of factors – high valuations, widespread usage and the potential for material damage (psychological – resulting in treatment costs; suicides, etc.) make Facebook an obvious target for tort lawyers. Expect novel theories of liability to emerge directly in proportion to Facebook’s rising valuation.

Welcome to our first regular installment of “Fixed That For You!”.

A little known fact about the 12 Angry Men is that we have an internal e-mail list wherein we discuss potential stories, troll one another, and in general have a good time. One of the frequent memes that tends to crop up is the comment “Fixed That For You!” followed by an edited version of someone’s statement. These tend towards gross misrepresentation, and hilarity, so we’ve decided to share them with you, dear readers!

This week’s topic began as a debate on whether the government or private industry was better suited to serve the needs of the public.


Herein lies the problem. Government types, especially LIBERAL government types believe they are smarter than your average American, and that they know what is best for you better than you do. It’s a sick and arrogant version of the “white man’s burden”, and they don’t even seem to realize how condescending it is. When coupled with corrupt government officials out for their own pocketbook, it creates an absurd system. Promising the moon, charging for the sun, and pocketing so much that you only deliver next to nothing.
-Angry Midwesterner
 

Excellent rant. But let me fix that for you! Here’s the Subprime Crisis edition:

Herein lies the problem. CEO types, especially conservative CEO types believe they are smarter than your average American, and that they know what is best for you better than you do. It’s a sick and arrogant version of the “white man’s burden”, and they don’t even seem to realize how condescending it is. When coupled with corrupt CEOs out for their own pocketbook, it creates an absurd system. Promising the moon, charging for the sun, and pocketing so much that you only deliver next to nothing.
-Angry New Mexican
 

Now, now, let’s give Barney Frank and Chris Dodd their due, please.

Herein lies the problem. Congressmen, especially Democratic Congressmen believe they are smarter than your average American, and that they know what is best for you better than you do. It’s a sick and arrogant version of the “white man’s burden”, and they don’t even seem to realize how condescending it is. When coupled with corrupt Congressmen out for their own pocketbook, it creates an absurd system. Promising the moon, charging for the sun, and pocketing so much that you only deliver next to nothing.

There, fixed that for you.
-Angry Overeducated Catholic
 

Let’s give Barney Frank and schloads of Republicans their… *ahem*, “due”, please.

Herein lies the problem. Congressmen, especially Democratic Congressmen believe they are smarter than your average American, and that they know what is best for you better than you do. It’s a sick and arrogant version of the “gay man’s burden”, and they don’t even seem to realize how condescending it is. When coupled with corrupt Congressmen out for their own pocketbook, it creates an absurd system. Promising the moon, charging for the sun, and pocketing so much that you only deliver next to nothing.

There, fixed that for you.
-Angry Midwesterner
 

Amazon.com, the world’s most popular on-line retailer has unveiled a new subscription service known as “Amazon Prime”. For just $79 a year Amazon.com is offering free two day shipping on all of your orders (except those which Amazon deems ineligible for the service). Sounds like a pretty good idea right? Especially if you make a lot of Amazon.com purchases. I’m certainly behind businesses trying to find that new competitive edge it takes to stay on top. Ordinarily I would just see something like Amazon Prime as a nice piece of new business strategy. The one problem is now that Prime is out Amazon is blackmailing users into using it.

You see recently my wife and I put in an order to Amazon.com for a guide book we wanted for a trip to Europe. We’re leaving in three weeks, so we wanted to be sure we’d get it on time. The book was in stock and was eligible for Free Shipping, with a listed shipping time of 3-5 days. We purchased it and checked out with no problems, all very routine. Imagine our surprise that evening when we got an e-mail estimating the delivery date at three weeks. We decided to call Amazon to see what the issue was. Maybe the guide was out of stock and their system had been incorrect? No problem there we’d just select another one, so we dialed in prepared to switch our order. The explanation we got blew our minds.

Evidently in the Amazon terms of service they have the right to hold your items for later shipping, and the 3-5 days is just the time it takes from leaving the warehouse. We’d never had this kind of delay before so we were a bit surprised, was there a problem? No. Amazon is just trying to get folks to sign up for Amazon Prime (which we were offered an upgrade to, one month free trial). In fact if we upgraded today our book would ship immediately.

How sneaky and dishonest! All of my respect for Amazon.com has just been flushed down the drain. We bit the bullet and upgraded, not to prime, but two day delivery as we couldn’t chance it with the guide given our travel date, but we will be thinking long and hard before buying from Amazon.com again in their future. Their sneaky little game may have just cost them two customers.

-Angry Midwesterner


For the geographically challenged, or (in the cast of Coasties) purposefully obtuse and arrogant, Bozeman isn’t a new computer virus, or a demon summoned from the 77th layer of the Abyss by Bill Gates. It’s a city in Montana, actually one of the largest in the state. Montana is normally a champion for personal liberties, but in a bizarre turn of events the city of Bozeman is asking all applicants for city jobs to turn over not just those sites on the internet for which they have accounts, but also the user names and passwords that go along with them.

City attorney Greg Sullivan had this to say about the decision:

“So, we have positions ranging from fire and police, which require people of high integrity for those positions, all the way down to the lifeguards and the folks that work in city hall here. So we do those types of investigations to make sure the people that we hire have the highest moral character and are a good fit for the City,”

While one can’t fault him for his motives, it certainly is important for the city to have a good reputation and it is reasonable for them to want folks of good repute representing them, they’re going to frightening and drastic measures to do so. In essence asking applicants to turn over all shreds of privacy to the city, allowing people from the city to read their e-mail, private sections of facebook, and even access their bank accounts. Now maybe my situation has been unique, but I’ve never had a potential employer ask for permission to read my mail or tap my phone before hiring me. If they did, I’d tell them to take a hike. That kind of invasion of privacy is unheard of, and is unconscionable.

The worst thing is, I don’t know which I find more absurd and frightening, that a US city would ask this of potential employees, or the fact that so far not a single employee has withdrawn their application in protest when asked to tender their accounts and passwords.

-Angry Midwesterner


So have you ever heard of Microsoft Soapbox? Yeah, me neither. Planned to be Microsoft’s answer to YouTube, this isn’t some flashy new service Microsoft is rolling out with Bing, but the stillborn project which first debuted over three years ago. Now, with the obvious market dominance of YouTube, Microsoft is going to be cutting the chaff from the wheat. In a market where the money is on the web, and not the OS, Microsoft has consistently failed to reinvent itself into something dynamic, new, or cutting edge.

The death of Soapbox isn’t important because of the failure itself. It instead represents a mental change at Microsoft, as they retreat from ground they had originally intended to fight for. Bing is likely their last stand for relevance in the internet world, and one which they will likely lose to Google.

-Angry Midwesterner


Someone might want to contact the heads of Abercrombie & Fitch and teach them how to get away with work place discrimination. Not that it is ever a good thing to discriminate against your employees. We here at the 12 Angry Men don’t endorse such behavior at all. But if you’re going to treat your workers unfairly it is generally best to do so with uneducated minorities who are disenfranchised and don’t garner much sympathy with the popular media.

It’s pretty clear that Abercrombie and Fitch are going to learn this lesson the hard way, because really, what do you think is going to happen if you discriminate against a young attractive white female with a prosthetic arm who, just by the way, happens to have finished sitting her law exams and is nearly a practicing lawyer? Does that really sound like a great idea? To me it just sounds like a recipe for getting publicly humiliated and shelling out £25,000 in settlement to a budding lawyer who is sure to become a darling of the press. Say it with me everyone, “Abercrombie & Fitch, you’re DOING IT WRONG!”

-Angry Midwesterner


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