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“symbolic adoption”, symbolic consumer feedback December 18, 2012

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Today I experienced the latest attempt to get me to provide feedback on my experience of a repair service – months after initiating the attempts to get the repair done it still hasn’t been done, although the service provider (non-provider?) is very nice when he shows up and seems to be trying hard to do the repair and I give him a good review when they call although they seem to care more about whether he is neat and has a professional manner than whether he gets the job done. I want to call this symbolic solicitation of consumer feedback. But then I notice that the WWF is arranging “symbolic adoptions” and has a package (including a polar bear toy) to memorialize your “adoption”. You can join the Adoption of the Month Club and get a soft toy each month (polar bears are December’s animal). Or you can “adopt” land through the Nature Conservancy. This seems to be symbolic in a different way. It’s clearly not real. At the same time it implies a stronger connection with the organizations promoting the “adoptions” than usually follows a donation. But then symbolic solicitation of consumer feedback is also designed to make the consumer feel differently about the experience of being a consumer.

brian eno and ha-joon chang November 11, 2012

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The Guardian brought these two together and the resulting discussion is fascinating. Both focus on the space between control and chaos in art and in economics.

Brian Eno says:

Quantification is a big temptation for society because it looks like control.

Ha-Joon Chang responds:

People tend to think that numbers are quite objective, but numbers in economics are not like this. Some economists say they’re like sausages: you don’t know what they really are until you cut into them. Once you know, you become very sceptical …
I’m not against numbers. You need some numbers, to work with. Life would be impossible otherwise. But we’ve made these numbers into fetishes.

treadmill stories October 13, 2012

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Discourse.net rounds up the story here, and the Haggler writes here. Oh, and we seem to have newspapers now.

jinxed? October 10, 2012

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After we solved the treadmill problem (we hope) (which the consumerist notes here) we developed a newspaper delivery problem. We stopped the newspapers for the weekend and somehow that was treated as a signal we didn’t want to have newspapers delivered any more.

saturday promenade October 8, 2012

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A view from the highline


apples October 4, 2012

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On the front page of the Tropical Life section of today’s Miami Herald (here’s the online version) there’s an article about apples which tells you about the advantages of a wide range of apples, including Cox’s Orange Pippins which I love, but which I have never seen in Miami. For a minute I thought the article was going to tell me where I could get interesting apples here. Sadly not.

how not to reshuffle your cabinet September 4, 2012

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Juliette Jowit and John Burn-Murdoch at the Guardian say:

The Conservatives’ first full reshuffle has left the cabinet slightly more male, more Oxbridge, with fewer people from ethnic minorities and with a more pronounced southern bias.

It’s not as if it wasn’t very male, Oxbridge and southern before – now it’s just more so.

more on facebook accounts required for voting August 2, 2012

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I complained recently about two awards schemes where people who have facebook accounts are invited to vote on the allocation of awards to non-profits(here and here). One advantage using facebook accounts might be thought to have would derive from the policy that users are only supposed to have one facebook account each, and thus facebook voting should not allow a person to cast multiple votes. But that does not appear to be the case. The facebook 10Q (reported in the Guardian here) states:

there are inherent challenges in measuring usage of our products across large online and mobile populations around the world. For example, there may be individuals who maintain one or more Facebook accounts in violation of our terms of service, despite our efforts to detect and suppress such behavior. We estimate that “duplicate” accounts (an account that a user maintains in addition to his or her principal account) may have represented approximately 4.8% of our worldwide MAUs as of June 30, 2012. We also seek to identify “false” accounts, which we divide into two categories: (1) user-misclassified accounts, where users have created personal profiles for a business, organization, or non-human entity such as a pet (such entities are permitted on Facebook using a Page rather than a personal profile under our terms of service); and (2) undesirable accounts, which represent user profiles that we determine are intended to be used for purposes that violate our terms of service, such as spamming. As of June 30, 2012, we estimate user-misclassified accounts may have represented approximately 2.4% of our worldwide MAUs and undesirable accounts may have represented approximately 1.5% of our worldwide MAUs. We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or Australia and higher in developing markets such as Indonesia and Turkey. However, these estimates are based on an internal review of a limited sample of accounts and we apply significant judgment in making this determination, such as identifying names that appear to be fake or other behavior that appears inauthentic to the reviewers. As such, our estimation of duplicate or false accounts may not accurately represent the actual number of such accounts. We are continually seeking to improve our ability to identify duplicate or false accounts and estimate the total number of such accounts, and such estimates may be affected by improvements or changes in our methodology.

perceptions and misperceptions: theatre and the commission July 27, 2012

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This week I went to see The Transit of Venus by Eric Northey at the 24:7 Theatre Festival in Manchester (UK) (today is the last day of the festival). The play was described as

a very cerebral, intelligent piece of writing, which unfortunately results in an overly highbrow performance which lacks any real emotional engagement on the part of the audience.

It is an intelligent play, but I thought the issues it raises of the relationship between science and religion are more than just cerebral issues. And I am not sue this is just because I live in the USA where evolution sometimes gets to be so controversial. Anyway, I thought the characters were believable (I was most impressed by Nathan Morris).

I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a Filter Theatre Company production, at the Royal Exchange. This was like no production of the play I have seen before – in a good way – it was extremely lively and very very funny, but at the same time the actors sometimes spoke the lines in new ways that made you think. It’s on until 4th August.

Meanwhile the Commission announced that it would be changing the EU’s market abuse rules to deal with manipulation of key benchmarks (and there are proposed new provisions for the proposed regulation and for the proposed directive). No public consultation on this – the deliberations on the main measures are ongoing and have been for some time, and in one sense the changes may seem relatively small. and it allows the Commission to seem to be acting quickly to restore confidence.

another non-profit voting scheme requires facebook (or stayclassy) account July 17, 2012

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At the end of last month it was Mission:Small Business, now the Classy Awards will only accept votes from people with facebook or Stayclassy accounts.