Y'all are a bunch of wankers!

As “L curves” replace “Bell curves”, what are the most .

...promising routes to the head?


As I have written recently (http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/2007/05/the_power_of_po.html), we are shifting from a Gaussian world of bell curves where averages have meaning to a Paretian world where extreme events prevail. Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail showed great insight in focusing on the long tail of Pareto “L curves” and how to play there, but in the process he may have distracted us from the real opportunity. Perhaps the most interesting question is how to use the long tail as a launch pad for head strategies. In this context, developing privileged access to concentrations of knowledge flows on the edge holds great promise.

I think the Paretian insight is not about extremes, but about seeing people as individuals instead as being no different than some larger group. So I don't think there are any privileged knowledge flows, unless you create them, as in a plan to invade Iraq and plans to system disruption strategies. Information will still largely be free and its up to sellers to try and attach value to that freeness that people are willing to pay for.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 5th, 2007 10:55am
I think that there's too many bullshit in that one quote for me to take the author seriously.  If he has something serious to say, and he's actually capable of doing something serious, he can do it without showing off his big vocabulary.  Paretian is not a word that should come up in conversation, pretty much ever, unless two statisticians are speaking. 

He wants to get something done, take a cue from Bill Clinton, who was the master at explaining complex things so that Joe Sixpack could understand it.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 5th, 2007 11:06am
> I think that there's too many bullshit in that one quote for me to take the author seriously.

Perhaps you should put down your comics and try and read the material?
Permalink son of parnas 
July 5th, 2007 11:07am
Nope.  I used to live in his world.  Trust me, he spews bullshit for a living.  He's a management consultant and that's what they do.  I lived in that world for six months and was sickened by it.  And it thrives on lofty writing backed by precious little real world evidence.  It works exactly like our current administration works, by adhering blindly to a theory about how our world should work in blissful ignorance of the facts on the ground.

He's a professional bullshit artist or he wouldn't be in a senior position at Delloite & Touche.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 5th, 2007 11:11am
Or in other words, listen to him at the peril of your own profits.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 5th, 2007 11:12am
> Trust me,

Sure. I'll trust someone who simply make form attacks and says trust me. That's as good as PE's it's all mumbo jumbo retorts.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 5th, 2007 11:14am
Clay's right, it's management mumbo-jumbo, e.g. in the section about new IT Architectures:

What is different about these architectures? They are designed from the outset to support sustained collaboration across large numbers of enterprises, robustly addressing a number of key challenges, including the reality of many autonomous entities, rather than one control point and the need to effectively connect the extraordinarily heterogeneous technology platforms and skill sets likely to prevail across these autonomous entities. Rather than assuming fine grained, short-lived transactions are the rule where one can be optimistic about completion, these architectures must cope with coarse grained, long-lived interactions where one needs to be more pessimistic and develop appropriate compensation mechanisms in case of failure. More broadly, I expect to see a move from transactional architectures to relational architectures, shifting from supporting discrete transactions like a request for inventory availability or the booking of a sale to architectures designed to support enduring and deepening relationships of individuals and institutions.

He's given an example of a transaction, but where's hs example of an enduring and deep relationship of an individual and institution?
Permalink Ward 
July 5th, 2007 11:19am
> Clay's right, it's management mumbo-jumbo

Wow, it's like red-america when you bring up complicated things like women's rights.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 5th, 2007 11:21am
Well, SoP, when somebody says "black is white, trust me on that", you're right to be skeptical.

But when somebody says "Black is black, trust me on that, you can see it on the street, you can see it on a street-sign, you can see it when india-ink hits the page" -- that's a different situation.

Point being "trust me" is a null-information statement.  However, the additional evidence presented shouldn't be ignored.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 5th, 2007 11:23am
> Point being "trust me" is a null-information statement.

It tells you quite a bit actually. As does when someone says "honestly" and other idioms.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 5th, 2007 11:26am
Okay, I can agree with that.  But it STILL doesn't completely invalidate other fact-based arguments that person makes.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
July 5th, 2007 11:29am
I would appreciate some fact based arguments. This isn't one though:

>He's a professional bullshit artist or he wouldn't
>be in a senior position at Delloite & Touche.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 5th, 2007 11:31am
I disagree with him. I agree there is change. But is that something new? No, there's always change. As products become commodified they become standardized and bundled with larger products and are taken out of the equation. Is sanitation on an L-curve or a Gaussian curve? Does anyone even notice it? So this Bell to L-curve change is really about recognizing how/when some products/services become so mundane and taken for granted that they go out of focus in our equations.

> I think the Paretian insight is not about extremes, but about seeing people as individuals instead as being no different than some larger group.

I think the social, economic structure is regrouping. But that's not too different from when it regrouped previously, say, after the English civil war (see Chris Hill's "The World Turned Upside Down") ... It was a time of a period of 'glorious flux and intellectual excitement' powered by 'masterless men' no longer tied to feudal masters, and who would provide the backbone for the sects: Levellers, Anabaptists, Quakers, Ranters, Muggletonians.

To bring up the bee hive/ant hill analogy ... it's possible for an ant colony to completely regroup itself. For example, one colony could take over another. The old colony dies, but single ants continue. What does it feel like for an ant that's in the process of changing from one structure to another? It must suck. It must feel awfully anxious. It must feel like 'being an individual'.
Permalink Send private email strawdog soubriquet 
July 5th, 2007 12:24pm
"I would appreciate some fact based arguments."

sop, that 'I demand scientific proof that the pet rock isn't  a useful and valuable investment' argument of yours is retarded. The guy is a bullshit artist, definitely. There's no fucking scientific test for that, but that doesn't mean you've refuted it successfully. You go ahead and drink the kool aid, it's fine with us.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 2:59pm
Okay, so I read that quote you gave in context.  He's using a lot of hand waving to suggest a business model that is very old is actually quite innovative.  He's basically saying that a subscription business model might be the way to get ahead.

He's right.  It might be.  It's the model of the application service provider, and a friend of mine is pulling in a few million a year doing that.  I think the basecamp guys are doing something similar.  Scientific journals run on the same model, although they aren't valuing themselves in terms of revenue but importance within the community.

Mitchel's Glass makes money in a similar way.  If you order new glass in your car, the service shop looks the pricing and ordering information up in a book (or more likely a database) that he bought from Mitchel's, or a company that has contracted with Mitchel's to distribute that data.

This isn't a new business model he's talking about and it isn't revolutionary.  It's him repackaging something old with a lot of fancy words and getting people to think that he's got something profound to say.  He doesn't--it's a reiteration of the Content is King mantra that has been around for a very long time, at least since the first book was published.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 5th, 2007 3:17pm
I'm pretty sure he just  said 'The intarweb is niftahy' in the most verbose and cryptic way possible.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 5:41pm
yeah, the dude needs to get his writing style into the heart of the Bell curve where most people read. not some Parieta-whatever extreme of legitability.
Permalink Send private email heartsheep 
July 5th, 2007 5:44pm
My 2c:

Sop's quote is that bloke talking about the weather. Seriously - if you can gain an understanding of the direction weather patterns will change before the next bloke does you'll make a killing.

Ward's reflects on the transition of investors' focus from trading widgets to trading whole enterprises - if there were better standardisation of internal procedures then takeovers would be much, much simpler and you'll make a killing.

It's jargon enriched for the true enthusiast. Same deal as in hifi equipment reviews, a paramedical paper or Road&Track where bullshit or deliberate spin travel with putative fact to dazzle the reader and allow dreams to flourish.
Permalink trollop 
July 5th, 2007 7:49pm
The jargon sells. That's why they do it. If they clearly explained their ideas, most people would see that they are tissue thin.

That long quote above can be summarized in a single clear sentence: sometimes you have to put a lot of thought into rolling back transactions, sometimes not.

"...take a cue from Bill Clinton, who was the master at explaining complex things so that Joe Sixpack could understand it."

He was the greatest. My favorite example was when he was talking about the Central African wars: he called the area the "Great Lakes region of Africa". Fucking brilliant. He made an emotional connection that made the rest of what he was saying go down so much smoother.
Permalink LeftWingPharisee 
July 6th, 2007 12:05pm
Male Customer: Do you support the decision to send troops to Somalia?

Bill Clinton: [ chews his McMuffin ] Mmm.. that's a good question. Yes, I do.. and let me tell you why. See, right now, we're sending in.. [ holds us McMuffin ] ..food.. [ puts McMuffin in front of Male Customer ] ..to Somalia.. but it's not getting to the people who need it because.. [ brings McMuffin back to himself ] ..it's being intercepted by the warlords.. [ chews McMuffin some more ] And it's not just us. It's other countries, too.. [ grabs a McNugget from another customer ] Your McNugget is aid from Great Britain.. [ takes it to other customer, then gibbles it down ] ..intercepted by warlords! [ grabs someone's Filet-o-Fish ] This man's Filet-o-Fish over here is relief from Italy.. [ pops it in his mouth ] ..warlords! And you can send all the food you want.. [ grabs different items ] ..a McDLT, hot apple pie.. it's just gonna end up with.. [ puts it all in his mouth ] ..the warlords! Now, with a broad-based international military force, we can make sure that the McRib sandwich.. [ grabs one and places it on someone's tray ] ..gets to the people who need it. [ picks it up and gobbles it anyway ] Can I get a Coke?

Permalink Full name 
July 6th, 2007 6:26pm

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