Valuing the Free

Excellent post from Kevin Kelly. Lessons of why a fee-based – but free at point of use – model works in valuing the intangibles, and “products” that are perceived as “staples”.

Flat or monthly fixed pricing is one way of pricing “as if free.” ….. Subscriptions tend to emphasize and charge for intangible values: regularity, reliability, first to be served, and authenticity, and work well in the arena of “as if free.”

White-Collar Politics

Interesting series recently on white-collar crime from Laurie Taylor on “Thinking Allowed”. This week’s program was on social software communications in the post-Obama party-political election environment, and it was interesting that Laurie joined up the two subjects, in the intent and honesty of communication in these channels. Bingo.

The inventors of the internet didn’t overlook the fact that “trust” was top of the stack of priorities when communicating meaningfully, but the more un-mediated open social software communications are the norm, the less trust is explicit in the process – the medium inexorably becomes the message – “everybody’s doing it”.

Misguided  expectations – in any objective truth or value in the content of messages are unmet – and since no-one can admit to being a gullible soft-touch, scepticism tends to the downright cynical end of the trust spectrum. One aspect of such misguided expectation for objective truth is the process of justifying decisions in organizations, and the reality that in order to make decisions, much of the formal justification – eg in systems and procedures – has to be “fiddled” if the organization is to function (organizational hypocrisy). The greater the unmediated public communication, the more facts are seen to be “fiddled” and the less the uninvolved trust the involved, the greater the demand for more formal justification, the greater the demand to “fiddle” …. etc. Information is more and more mis-information.

The problem is the misguided expectation of ever greater objectivity in communications, rather than recognition that trust is above such things – almost literally.

32% Beer ?

Excellent marketing for “Tactical Nuclear Penguin“, and at £30 a pop, clearly not a contribution to binge-drinking – 20x the price for 5x to 10x the alcohol – so that’s a complete red-herring.

Their previous brew “Tokyo” at 18% was apparently genuinely brewed to that level using Champagne yeast, but how do you create 32% alcohol beer, and still call it beer, that’s what I want to know ?

(Incidentally, I’m not a fan of beers over about 4.5% anyway, so drinking the stuff would be another thing altogether. Nothing to do with “Nanny State”.)

Sounds Good

“What are all these expense claims from the night club ?”
“I say. I say, what … ”
“Sorry I’m still a bit deaf. They’re all part of our research project, professor.”

This actually doesn’t sound like good research … too many other left / right dominance possibilities here, besides the hearing, surely … but this is science-reporting, not science.

This looks credible though. Not sure why the focus on the aspirates, but clearly the senses combine; ear drum sound with other physical clues.

I have a pet hate which is people starting a conversation with a sentence that is a question, and starting that sentence with the most significant word – like the subject of the question, or the W word – and expecting  a valid response. Sorry, what ? Was that when or why  or who ? Was that even a question? No attention focussing pre-amble. (And OK, maybe I am a bit deaf in the right ear, and yes being male I can’t walk, talk and think all at the same time. OK, OK, it’s just me.)

Sorry, I wasn’t listening.
OK, so that was a question ?
OK, so what was the question ?

Recent Reading

Recently read Khaled Hosseni, both “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. Both powerful stories of recent Afghan history, across three family generations, across the Russian occupation and the Taliban (and refuge / emigration in Pakistan and USA). The former already well known as a film (which I’ve not seen). The latter even more powerful, conveying the deadening oppression of women in particular, but somehow undermined by slightly too “Hollywood” dramatic timings of key events. Good writing, recommended reading.

(I have a particular interest, having worked for two periods in Baluchistan, Pakistan, near the Afghan border just after the Russians had departed, and Kalashnikov’s appeared to be compulsory fashion accessories amongst the locals.)

Between the two, by way of light relief, I read John Le Carre’s latest (2008) “A Most Wanted Man”. I have mixed experience of Le Carre, but this was very good. Very much “of our time” mix of international banking, 9/11 Hamburg connections, US/European politics, ex-Soviet Moslem terror and the war on funding. Who needs any conspiracy when life’s motivations are this complicated ?

Perhaps prompted by Arabic / Moslem / geographic / tribal / linguistic distinctions of these modern reads, I felt compelled to pick up T E Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” for a fourth or fifth read. Gets even better with every read in each different light. Beautiful witty prose as well as a razor sharp study of people, peoples and places – physically and psychologically. An “agile” management textbook in a wartime historical narrative. Unsurpassable, and I’m only a little over a third of the way through, though hooked to a finish, again.