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Comment Re:Intellectual sleight of hand. (Score 1) 298

See what you just did there?

"a PROPER marketplace with a PROPER government is NOT..."

No, no, I have it all wrong, you say.

" involved in the marketplace to assure the soundness of the transactions...enforce contract law, stamp-out fraud, squash involuntary transactions...make sure the marketplace is essentially 'safe' and fair..."

Gosh, then you restate exactly what I said. Markets exist because governments create the conditions for their existence. You list a few conditions that you believe are essentially right for markets, but these are not natural laws, they are your value statements about what makes a "good" market, presumably one likely to benefit you. Even the values have to be defined and are culturally bound. Sound transactions. Enforcement of laws. Fraud. Involuntary transactions. Safe. Fair.

These, too, are social quantities, socially defined. What do you think governing bodies do all day as they debate? They argue about what these things mean and how they ought to be encoded as policy. And however they're encoded, someone is getting their way and someone else is not.

By the time you have a market, governments (read: societies) have already picked winners.

"Safe" is not a natural quantity that can be measured. Neither is "fair." All are matters of social deliberation and social construction. All are arguments won (or lost) by someone. All are winners already picked.

Claiming that your own preferences are somehow objective and right doesn't make it so. Nature doesn't make markets. People do.

Comment Ideological sleight of hand. (Score 2) 298

The market is not a natural entity, it exists because government creates and enforces the conditions to enable it to exist.

Picking a market is *still* the government picking winners and losers. It is picking whomever does well when the market does well under the market conditions that the government preserves.

Governments pick. That's what they do. What's why they were created in the first place. The only question is who gets picked.

Comment just honeypot the shit out of everything (Score 3, Insightful) 208

you catch murderers and hitmen by

1.the police answering the ads of "hitmen" (morons, but so are most ISIS supporters)

2. police posing as hitmen and picking up the losers that contract for their services

you can do the same with ISIS

1. answer real ISIS broadcasters with fake supporters who proceed to sabotage operations and outreach in all sorts of ways

2. pose as ISIS and hoover up the social retards who answer the call

but you can only do this if the idiots operate out in the open

drive them underground and you can still do it, like with child porn douchebags. but you've made the job harder and some sympathizers go uncaught

Comment Nonsense. We had much better than we have now. (Score 1) 311

Even in print journalism, the quality difference between 30 years ago and today is huge. Today's newspapers would have been yesterday's tabloids, in most local markets.

The problem is basic human nature. Before people needed some basic facts about life:

- Weather
- Sports results
- Local events
- Job listings
- Legal announcements
- General news about the world

For historical reasons, these came to be gathered together in one place, the newspaper, about which several good social histories have been written. But as a result of the specialized labor and production involved (half a century ago, not just anyone could "make" print in their own homes) it was a professionalized sphere that had to serve a single, large regional audience with one bundle of print, so it had to be reasonably even-handed. There was a kind of obvious supply/demand synergy. The economies of scale were there to make it viable, if the information was presented at a reasonable level of quality and without prejudice or bias that would result in fragmenting the demand base.

Now people get get everything but the "news" part of this package for free. So now you have to ask people to pay only for "reporting" and not for those other "facts." But at the same time, there are endless sources of free reporting as well. And most of those are of lower quality (by which we really mean biased). So we're asking people to pay solely for material that they are *less* likely to agree with than its *free* alternative.

Most people aren't willing to pay for content that they disagree with when they can select for free only content that they agree with, and that agrees with them. Most people aren't willing to pay to be challenged.

So market conditions and human nature have conspired to make high-quality journalism untenable. It's no longer bundled with other facts that people are willing to pay for as well and that are available only through newsprint or television viewership, and as a result, there are no longer ready-made regional audiences of scale that will support it, and that at the same time drive a necessary professionalization and objectivity. Instead, you have to market just on the value of the prose alone and pick up subscribers where you can find them, which means that you have to segment the market according to interests and prejudices and play to their biases to get them interested, and then, because it's easy to chuck out content that reflects existing interests, prejudices, and biases (as opposed to professionalized reporting, which is research-oriented and often surprising), you're also competing with people that essentially do it for free as "bloggers" and so on.

This is not unconnected with difficulties in politics that we are experiencing. Once research-oriented, regionally-minded print goes away in favor of alacarte, self-selected consumption from the entire global market free and paid, people become more and more different as they consume media over time (and more and more intensely bound to their prejudices and narrow interests) rather than more and more the same (for having all read the same newspaper across a large region for years).

A combined reading of Michael Schudson's "Discovering the News" and Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities" gives a good sense for how this all comes together, and the problems for democracy and nationhood that we (and everyone) face(s) now in a post-news era.

Comment Re:Important consideration (Score 2) 136

it's called fracking

the techonology was first achieved by the rogue state of oklahoma. we have not yet received their list of demands. however, they have shared the dangerous technology with the unstable province of alberta, which has recently upped the ante of horrors:

Comment The problem is that there are legitimate (Score 1) 227

assumptions at work.

"Here. I've optimized your car for you."

By social convention, people will assume this means that you have made their car run better. No, this is not spoken, but it is based on tacit agreement, a kind of social contract. We don't have to specify every last thing in detail; we can all agree that we know what we mean.

However, you could—certainly—mean that you have optimized their car for them to be more optimal with respect to environmental concerns. For example, you may have removed the engine. This would result in a perfectly optimal configuration for minimizing emissions and fossil fuel consumption.

But it would rightfully not be what someone expects when you said, "I've optimized your car for you." That would be a violation of the implicit social contract and social expectations.

But of course that is exactly the point of this story, and exactly where we are today. Which is why we *do* specify every last thing in detail (in interminable EULAs) and also why people feel as though the social contract is breaking down: because it is. But there are still remnants enough of it in place that people get upset when they feel as though it's been violated, and I can't say that I blame them.

Comment Agree. Marketing speak is the problem. (Score 5, Interesting) 227

I work in marketing and advertising by turns these days (seems like every career trajectory eventually ends up somewhere in this playground, whether near top or bottom of the food chain), so I have to admit guilt here as well.

There is a tendency to operate with the goal of eliminating negative and limiting language because, surprise surprise, positive language tests out well in actual conversion numbers. But there is unquestionably an element of half-truth in it.

"slowed down and degraded to reduce data use" becomes "optimized for mobile"
"we've raised our prices" becomes "we've changed our plans to offer the best possible value to our customers"
"we've removed a bunch of features that raised costs for us" becomes "we've streamlined our service for ease of use"
"we've slashed our support staff" becomes "we're enabling you to find answers more quickly with our self-help area"
"we've eliminated our warranty" becomes "our product is so reliable that it's made warranties obsolete"

and so on.

It's not the actual policy that's the problem. It's that language is Orwellian. Bad becomes good. "Optimization" is supposed to be a good thing. But in this case, the customer's presumption that "optimized" equals "good for me" is actually not true; the word is being used in opposition to its conventional connotation.

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