30 August 2013

Attention: The Monetization Thereof


Potential Ad Revenue Lost in Space

Speaking of the moon, consider the following:

One of the great trends of our age is the monetization of human attention.
Every evening, around the world, weather permitting, billions of people are gazing transfixed at the moon.
So why is there no advertising on the moon?

What would Nike pay to project a giant swoosh right across there.  (Moon: The giant orb in the sky brought to you by Nike, proud makers of footwear for the citizens of planet Earth.)

But what is proposed here is even better, not just giant ads taking over the whole moon, but specifically targeted ads precisely placed.  Your cellphone knows your GPS coordinates, with basic weather charts it can figure out when you are outside and likely to be moongazing, and can therefore calculate where to put the ad so it will catch the attention of humans standing at your exact position on Earth.

Of course, since many nights are moonless and the stars are also a subject of considerable fascination, there is no reason that ads could not easily fill the entire sky.  Imagine the big dipper as a giant ad for Campbell’s soup.  Orion the Hunter flogging sportsgear if not shields, his faithful sidekick wolfin' down a bowl of Sirius brand hound chow.

Much the same applies to our many geographical landmarks.  Residents of the areas surrounding Tokyo and Seattle spend many the hour in contemplation of Mounts (respectively) Fuji and Rainier.  Ads projected onto these majestic peaks would be worth billions (I see insurance companies, perhaps automobiles).  Some may complain how crass but if we don't do it, we are simply flushing this money down the proverbial toilet. 

Hm, what else do people stare at?  Each other.  T-shirts of course already carry advertising but let's imagine clothing with a built-in flexible display front and back and sensor technology so that it could detect when someone was looking at it, use facial recognition and/or contact the looker's device to discover their identity and web browsing history, and then project an ad tailored to that person and calculated to last as long as their relative velocities (embedded accelerometers, etc.) indicate the interaction may last.  If the wearer turns toward the target customer and gets them to view the ad longer, or better yet manages to strike up a conversation in which they casually endorse the product, they could earn a bonus or even make a small commission on all sales of that product to the gawker for the next, say, three years.  The possibilities are endless; my appetite to describe them is not.

The ad-space on every ass would not be of equal value, needless to say.  This would give people an incentive to get (their ass) in shape, since an attractive physique would now mean not only more and better mating opportunities but also increased advertising revenue. 

It wouldn't have to be all about skin and debauchery, it could even go in the opposite direction, I mean you could put a lot more ads on those full-body burkas than on a tiny pair of short shorts.  As in most things, perhaps moderation would be the best strategy, with outfits designed to reveal enough of the body's form to attract sustained attention while still offering abundant surface area to accommodate traditional modesty as well as product placements.

Of course, those who can afford to pay for a Premium Option would be spared most of these ads, so they could gaze longingly at the moon or a sexy set of buttocks for as long as they want without being interrupted by the latest sales campaign from Madison Avenue.

19 August 2013

Special for Employers: How to Write a Proper Job Posting, or Several Common HR Mistakes


Used to work in Human Resources long ago, before I caught my big break in silly blogging.  I learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way (through internet surfing) and some the easy (guesswork).  To help you avoid making the same mistakes I made (and then blogging about them before I do), here are some of my top several HR mistakes and the horses they rode in on.

Failing in your job post to clearly advertise the soul-crushing monotony of the 'opportunity'.  There is nothing more disappointing to the prospective employee than to undergo the rigorous application, screening, and interviewing process, negotiate an acceptable salary and arrange for the termination of previous commitments, and so forth, get all the ducks lined up in order to take the exciting new position, only to quickly discover that the job is a death sentence, the manager and colleagues insufferable morons and the whole operation tottering on the brink of insolvency / insanity.

Passive candidates are all the rage, but be careful they are not too passive.  You should punch each candidate hard in the shoulder (or whack them in the back of the knee with your sourcing pipeline) and if their response is somewhat or entirely passive, politely end the interview, call for a stretcher and move on.

Hiring a person named Betty for a job requiring someone named Margaret.  While not as bad as hiring someone named Archibald, hiring Betty to do Margaret's job is bound to lead to trouble sooner or later, especially if discovered by Mr. Bilderberger.

Career Fair tips.  Bring little gifts such as rabbit's feet or clam spurts (freeze-dried), with of course your company logo and contact information emblazoned thereupon.  Your promotional materials should be at least twelve feet tall and not overemphasize your Tarantino fixation.  Fine tune your marketing message for your local audience (no tamales in Syracuse, for example).

Applicant Screening.  Perhaps the holes in your applicant screen are not properly sized, allowing potential top performers to slip through while you repeatedly interview the pettifoggers and troglodytes caught in the wire mesh.  Conduct a thorough quantitative and qualitative assessment of your six sigma process, liberally applying unguent to all afflicted areas.

Don't Fall in Love with the Candidate too Early in the Hiring Process.  I made this mistake more than once.  A certain candidate catches your eye, the interview is a joy and it seems like fate.  I just wanna spend the rest of my life supervising this guy, grow old and retire together…  But don't let your love for the candidate blossom, at least not until you have interviewed all the other candidates with an open mind, had their parents meet your parents, re-thunk the job description, consulted your life coach and spent at least one long weekend together under adverse conditions.

After the interview, do not neglect to attach a tracking device to the candidate so that he/she can be continuously tracked by your applicant tracking system.  Best if applied under the skin or through a bone, as many candidates will attempt to get rid of the device by rubbing against a cubicle wall or thicket.

Networking.  Networking is not only done on the subway these days.  Just networking with other funeral directors or cartographers or whatever is not enough.  Look outside your little black box, network with people you hate, get back at them by joining their network and then networking with their best friends and former lovers; network with people you meet on trams, with the guy who played Al in Happy Days; in a small town, know the dog catcher and you have access to his or her entire network right there.  So many people focus on building the network, which is the easy part, and neglect to maintain their network, which is damn near impossible, I mean how are you supposed to make small talk and pretend to care about the family life of someone you chatted with for 10 minutes during a long-ago conference coffee break?  So you have to make time for your contacts, find common interests, for example make play-dates to build model train sets together, or see how many members of your network can squeeze into a phone booth or a Ford Focus. If you make time for the people in your network, they will make time for you, just remember that time is money and just as it takes money to make money, it takes time to make time.  Do what I do: block out an hour on Wednesday afternoons for nothing but taking time to make time, then use the time you have made to make more time to network, plus record your results and review them regularly, a critical oft-overlooked step to really building the living heck out of your network.

09 August 2013

The Sun is Not Our Friend


"Ooh look at the nice bright sun up there in the sky, it makes all the flowers grow and warms my lover's butt cheeks, the sun is our bestest buddy and pal forever," and so on and so forth. Such naivete is no longer tolerable when our very survival is at stake.

In an earlier dispatch, I noted how humanity can never achieve energy independence as long as we are dependent for 100% of our energy on the sun, which is not even a democracy and freely provides its energy to our sworn enemies the terrorists.

On further reflection, it occurs that I have not taken this thing nearly far enough.

The sun is the primary driver of global warming, a far bigger factor than carbon dioxide or methane levels in the atmosphere.  The simplest solution to global warming is for the sun to exercise some restraint and gradually turn down the heat a tad.  But so far it has been stubborn (downright recalcitrant) in refusing to adjust its output.  Worse, the sun does not even acknowledge our existence.  When we offer conciliatory gestures it responds with dead silence, while continuing to furiously hurl solar flares and dangerous beta particles in every direction.

Even if we could somehow supply all of our energy needs from solar and wind power, the solution is still not sustainable because the sun itself lacks a long-term sustainable energy strategy: the sun relies completely on nuclear.  We all know how heavily subsidized the nuclear energy sector is here on earth, there's no telling what level of subsidies the sun provides its own nuclear energy industry, since this is just one of many core issues on which it fails to maintain transparency.

Apart from these subsidies, the main argument against nuclear power on earth is the hazardous waste disposal problem, poisoning the world for future generations and all that.  The sun's nuclear energy sector dwarves ours.  So how does it deal with the nuclear waste disposal issue?  The answer is that as far as we can tell from years of detailed observations, the problem is simply being ignored.  The sun is continuously creating unfathomable amounts of highly radioactive nuclear waste, and the whole mess is being dumped directly into our solar system, our living room, without even the smallest effort devoted to treatment or the creation of long-term storage facilities.  The sun is by far the solar system's largest polluter, it's not even close.

Consider also the sun's well-known long-term expansionist policy.  If we know that its continued (inexorable) growth will swallow the earth in a few to several billion years, and if it continues to show no interest in negotiation or conciliation, what choice does that leave us?  Several billion years may seem like a long time, and it is.  We've got time for proper planning to do this thing right.  Still, if someone or something is bent on your distraction – sorry, destruction – it is generally advantageous to strike first.

Therefore, if we cannot come to terms with the sun, we have but one option: attack.  In an upcoming series of posts I’ll talk more about why a war with the sun is not only inevitable but highly desirable, and why it's gonna be a lot more fun if we just go ahead and attack now rather than sit back and rely on some hopeless combination of negotiation and accommodation (dare I use the word appeasement), as well as some basic strategies for how we can win the damn thing in a rout (by turning the sun's own strength against it) and extract major concessions from our gigantic neighbor that will ensure the survival and prosperity of our descendants and our way of life into perpetuity, or at least until the proverbial cows come home to roost.