“A Sea of Thoughtlessness”

Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal wrote a very interesting commentary on how the omnipresent media may pressure our political leaders to make decisions that they would not otherwise have made.  Of course, the media’s role as a watchdog, keeping our leaders honest, is critical.  But, the speed at which events unwind and the pressure that the “informed” public puts on our institutions for action may not lead to the best outcomes.

There was a letter to the editor in response to her article that outlined a historical event where “slowness of communications” was actually a virtue.  At the start of the Civil War, a Union officer illegally detained two Confederate diplomats on a British ship, the Trent, who were heading to London for negotiations.  Had there been instant communication of this event, it would very likely have resulted in Britain entering the war on the side of the South.  As it was, the time necessary to get communications between Washington and London allowed emotions to cool and escalation was avoided.

The writer has an excellent insight to our current information age:

“Today it is assumed that speed of communication is an absolute virtue.  Combining speed with a lack of context, electronic media radically undermines reflection and criticism.  We live in a sea of thoughtlessness, informing ourselves to death.”

I worry about this situation in my current consumption of information.  In fact, as I write this, I have an almost involuntary twitch where I’m toggling back and forth between my notepad and my email to see if there is anything “new” that needs my attention.  We are all consumers of information, be it current events, reports, or emails from colleagues.  We need to make sure we don’t live in the Sea of Thoughtlessness but dig deeper into the context of the information we are receiving to truly understand how it should impact our actions.

My Notes from the BlueKai Data Summit on the M6D Blog

I recently had the opportunity to attend the BlueKai Data Summit and posted some of my thoughts on the Media6Degrees blog:

Yesterday at the BlueKai Data Summit, BlueKai CEO Omar Tawakol listed five macro trends that they are seeing in the market for online data.  Paraphrasing a bit, the trends are:

  1. Emergence of the Data Management Platform – The DMP (a new acronym that Omar may have coined) seems to be a tool or organization that manages the integration of third-party data with first-party data and measures the resulting performance.
  2. Moving Beyond the Banner – Increasingly, third-party data is being used not just for advertising campaigns but for other purposes like optimizing on-site offers.
  3. Moving Beyond the Pixel – Industry players are looking at ways to collect data other than by pixeling the whole Internet.  Some of these approaches are a natural extension of current methodologies, while others, like system fingerprinting, have potentially troubling privacy implications.
  4. Rise in Transparency Tools – In the current regulatory environment, it is increasingly important to offer consumers the ability to control how their data is used by allowing them to opt-out of tracking or modify their preferences.
  5. Trading Desks Take the Lead – Holding company trading desks are becoming a more powerful force in the market in a way that will have an impact on the overall ecosystem.

Media6Degrees is not a “data” company in the classic sense (rather than sell data, we use data and proprietary data science to provide high-performing ad solutions to large marketers), but this view does generally align with what we are seeing.  Whatever a DMP might be, we seem to meet the given definition.  We believe that the best way to deliver campaign results is to use a marketer’s current site visitors (first-party data) and expand that population using our social graph (third-party data) to identify the prospect population most receptive to that marketer’s brand message.

While our core product remains combining social data with exchange inventory to deliver performance display ad campaigns, we are beginning to work with marketers (and publishers) to use our social graph to target offers relevant to their site visitors.  Early trials indicate that using social data in this way dramatically improves results.

We are firmly committed to providing transparency.  In addition to offering consumer opt-out on our site, we are leaders in the NAI and are working to support the CLEAR Ads Notice initiative as that standard gains acceptance.

These trends warrant attention, and you can be sure that Media6Degrees will remain at the forefront on these issues and continue to offer the best solutions for our customers.

Google Docs Continues to Disrupt

The unnamed CIO works for what Whitehurst described as a “big industrial logistics company.” A few months ago the CIO was asked by the chief marketing officer to provide a way for marketing employees around the world to share and build documents together, and perform other collaborative tasks.

The CIO discussed the project with his application development group, then went back to the CMO and said “we can do this, in nine months at a cost of $14 million,” according to Whitehurst.

“The CMO says ‘what are you talking about? I was describing my daughter’s high school science project.’ And they were on Google Documents, sharing information, jointly editing documents, and they’re doing it for free…”

via Google Docs creates expectations CIOs can’t meet, Red Hat CEO says ( – Internet – Software – Operating systems, non-Windows ).


“No people in history have ever survived who thought they could protect their freedom be making themselves inoffensive to their enemies.”

Dean Acheson, Former US Secretary of State

Astronomical Numbers

I love this:

There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy.  That used to be a huge number.  But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit!  We used to call them astronomical numbers.  Now we should call them economical numbers.

Richard Feynman
US educator & physicist (1918 – 1988)
via The Quotations Page

Beef Stew

I got a new Crockpot for my birthday and it came with some great recipes.  I made this yesterday and, as usual with slow cooking, it tasted better the second day:

4 lbs beef chuck stew meat
1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper
3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
6 small potatoes, quartered
2 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for six hours

I cooked it on high for six hours and the meat was very juicy.

Parenting and Product Management

Cranky PM has a great post on Product Management and parenting.

So, YEAH.  Product Management is JUST LIKE parenting.  JUST LIKE.  Especially if:

  1. You go around asking everyone about your baby’s strengths, but especially his weaknesses.
  2. You do win-loss analysis after play dates.
  3. You actively seek market problems that your toddler can profitably solve.  For example, maybe Judd Apatow’s next film could use the CrankyKid’s cursing and new-found toileting skills?
  4. You send out surveys to relatives, friends, members of the local mother’s club, and those “Mommy and Me” Pilates people (or do we only have these in California?) about how well your child is meeting their needs, and what their perception of your child’s brand is.
  5. You maintain a 10-year roadmap for the child, in PowerPoint format.
  6. You conclude that after two years of being a drag on your household’s finances, that you need to shoot your spawn in the head.  Or at least “desupport” him/her by refusing to further feed, clothe or educate him/her.

I love #5. I’m definitely maintaining a 10 year roadmap on my kids.