New York Salaries

New York Magazine has a great piece showing the salaries of hundreds of people in many professions, all of whom are based in NYC.    There’s even a description of salary trends and amounts in sectors like publishing and TV News, both of which are well represented in New York.

Industry sponsored research? Leave it on the shelf!

Over at Marketing Pilgrim, an excellent resource from Andy Beal and friends, I’ve been giving Jordan a hard time about citing a radio industry study that (surprise!) shows that radio is awesomely effective. I see a ton of this in the travel sector and these bogus studies that “prove” economic or advertising effectiveness are really starting to piss me off, because this is an abuse of the correct notion that research is a great way to measure the effectiveness of things. Ironically you don’t even need any “cheating” on these industry sponsored studies to get bad results for the reasons I discuss with Jordan below:

Joe Duck Says:
Supported with fundingprovided from Radio industry companies
Studies by agencies like this generally *will not* publish anything but favorable things about radio. All such industry sponsored research is therefore suspect.

Jordan McCollum Says:
Well, yes and no. They might not publish their studies that don’t have favorable results, but (I hope) they’re not screwing with their methodologies to produce results skewed in their favor in the experiments that they do publish.

And while increasing unaided recall 450% is a pretty nice stat, it’s the only concrete, conclusive, across-the-board improvement found in the study. The other positives were significant for some brands studied and not others, with aggregate totals of almost no change. That’s why I said that it can influence them, but “well-established brands” might not be as effective.

Thank you for the comment, though. You’re right–you gotta follow the money.

Joe Duck Says:
Jordan it’s a very slippery slope to use industry studies due to the selectivity, though it is really common. Interestingly studies like this don’t have to screw with anything at all to create problems for people who want unvarnished truth. Assume for example that they did 3 excellent, methodologically sound studies on this topic and 2 of them indicated “zero increase in unaided recall”. The logical research conclusion is to be skeptical of the recall claim, but if we only see the positive study we’ll draw wrong conclusions. It’s rarely this cut and dried and you rarely see industry studies with good sets of assumptions, so all I’m also suggesting that studies like this are better left on the shelf if you are building a quality marketing strategy. One should stick to research done by people or groups who will still be around regardless of the outcome of the research.

Lomborg on “Climate Hysteria”

As concerned as I have been about the scientific sensationalism and downright deceptive presentations in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth“, I was rooting for Al last night at the Oscars. Perhaps as consolation prize for losing the US Presidency?

Contrary to what many think it’s clear to me that Al Gore is sincere in his crusade against climate change, and also it’s important to remember that if the US electoral system OR the ballots in a critical county in Florida did not have significant quirks he is *extremely* likely to have won the presidency, shifting global affairs over the past 6 years about as much as you can imagine since Gore was strongly against the Iraq war and would have brought an entirely different agenda to the American political table.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out at the National Press club recently, political compromise and partnerships are the practical approach to solving problems. I really like that guy!

With this in mind I’ve been feeling too strident in my criticism of focusing far too much on Global Warming, but whenever I read Lomborg’s clear headed analysis…I know I’m right to be upset at the hysteria mongers who are deflecting us from caring about ongoing health and human welfare catastrophes in the 3rd world.

Lomborg’s got it right .. again… but nobody is listening … again.

PS – for anybody who thinks Katrina was from Global Warming *please* at the very least, review the comments by key, mainstream scientists which suggest quite clearly that it’s absurd to suggest Katrina is from warming.  Also interesting.  People have become so immune to the Global Warming truth they aren’t even reading any science. READ the IPCC summary!

Where did that $14,000,000,000,000.00 go again?

It struck me how great it would be to have a website to track government spending, which even to the most enthusiastic tax and spender often falls short of the mark.   One of the reasons federal spending is so wildly inefficient and out of control  (even while under the hypocritical watch of those who claimed they were not huge spenders), is that it’s almost totally non-transparent.    Few Americans, me included, bother to follow up on where our hard earned tax dollars go.

How much could we cut out and get about the same performance from government?    I’d guess about half if it was very deliberately allocated to local agencies with more direct accountability to those they serve.    A good example was something like $60,000,000,000 spent during Katrina which probably has yielded the service equivalent perhaps a tenth that amount would have given the affected areas if it had been placed directly in the hands of the people and volunteer groups on the ground right after the disaster.

The site is called and it’s right here 

Blogging x 10 years

Dan Farber has a nice commentary on the state of blogging after 10 years based on his informal confab with Dave Winer, who arguably is the inventor of blogging.

10 years of blogging is misleading in the sense that the true tipping point is about … now …. as blogs are now a key shaping force in so many aspects of society.

Dan notes the common criticism of blogging as a bunch of amateurs spouting junk and mediocrity.   Of course blogging is all that, but mediocrity is hardly something that distinguishes blogging from conventional media.   Mainstream media, especially TV, has *always* been a few shiny gems buried deep in an ocean of irrelevance and celebrity gossip.    I’d rather find the gems within billions of pages of amateur but expert-in- their field-ramblings than thousands of pages of jaded professional “journalism” that must often focus on maintaining profitability or readership as much as uphold the so called standards of excellence that IMHO have not characterized commercial journalism since …  hey….quality standards have never been they key driving force of journalism!

Oscar predictions using search engine results? Not very accurate!?

WordTracker, which measures search queries, was used to predict tonights Oscar winners. Here’s the story from PRWEB. It looks like this approach could go down in flames based on Alan Arkin’s Best Supporting Actor win given that he had a fraction of the online queries of others, but still won.

Best supporting Actress in a supporting role: Jennifer Hudson! Hey, it worked for her.

Here are the numbers:

Wordtracker predictions:
Actor in a leading roll
Will Smith 8751
Leonardo DiCaprio 4485
Ryan Gosling 1507
Forest Whitaker 425
Peter O’Toole 100

Actor in a support role
Eddie Murphy 2670
Mark Wahlberg 2659
Jackie Earle Haley 656
Alan Arkin 236
Djimon Hounsou 167

Actress in a leading role
Penelope Cruz 10359
Kate Winslet 9077
Helen Mirren 5470
Meryl Streep 1155
Judi Dench 573

Actress in a support role
Jennifer Hudson 6439

Cate Blanchett 1716
Rinko Kikuchi 973
Abigail Breslin 416
Adriana Barraza 65

Best picture
Little Miss Sunshine 3121
Babel 2587
The Departed 2052
Letters from Iwo Jima 1317
The Queen 1112

Well, the results are in (bolded above) and only Supporting Actress was predicted by this approach.    Interenet people … must be stupid?

Ringtone Scams are about 99% of that business … so beware!

I  *hate* the ringtones business because it represents so much of what is wrong with the internet and wrong with people.   Here’s one post about some of the millions of problems that plague the Ringtones Scam industry – a very sad excuse for a business enterprise.

However, with Apple jumping in to the Ringtones biz I’m hoping Apple may bring some standards because they don’t seem like a company that would do the Ringtones “business as usual” scam which is to offer what looks like a free ringtone and then hook unsuspecting or stupid teens into  a “contract” that dings their parents cell phone bill indefinitely.

I’m ranting about this after running into a banner I clicked on out of curiousity which led to a “Zoltar Ringtones” scam with the fine print below the fold that, to the extent I could figure out what the heck it was saying, was going to bill me 5.99 per *week* plus other charges.

This is a dispicable industry, and it’s amazing to me that it has not yet been regulated appropriately.    The solution is simple – nobody can enter into these contracts without a *written* signature from the credit card holder.


Blinkx is a brilliant video search program that allows people to search *within* videos for specific content.  This has become one of the holy grails of search because the internet is now awash in video content. Tastes vary but almost everyone would agree that most of the clips out there are garbage. With routines like Blinkx users can rapidly search the tidal wave of video that pours online every day for things that interest them.

Check out the Blinkx home page with it’s “wall” of tiny video clips reflecting content they have recently indexed.   It’ll keep the attention of even the most stubborn A.D.D. sufferer.   Some cringe at the sensory overload of dozens of videos, but massive input reflects the new ethos of the internet, and I predict we’ll see desktops and applications become increasingly overwhelmed with content.    As a superb tool that will manage the most rapidly growing and complex part of the digital maelstrom – video clips – Blinkx has a rosy future indeed.

The New York Times reports on this today.

Robots and emotions

The BBC reports that a project is trying to teach robots to react to humans in emotional ways.   Sounds cool, though I’d suggest it’s always important to make a distinction between when a thinking mechanism can *talk* so much like a human that we can’t tell it’s a machine vs when that machine starts to *think* like a human thinks – ie it becomes conscious.

Many wrongly use this distinction to make that case that mechanisms will never attain human-quality intelligence even if we reach the point where the machines behavior (e.g. answering complex questions) is indistinguishable from human answers.    It seems likely we’ll have both, though I’m guessing consciousness for computers is at least 10 years away.

I remain wildly optimistic about the advent of *artificial consciousness*, though I think it’s possible that artificial intelligence may come to us in a sort of backwards fashion.  That is, humans will increasingly use technologies that are integrated with our biological processes until eventually we’ll realize that our intelligence has become more mechanism than biological process.

That said I think I still lean to the notion tht the human intellect and consciousness are purely algorithmic processes driven primarily by the interaction of neurons in the cortex and therefore we could have a computerized version of these processes soon.   I sure hope so because I’d like to know what they’ll recommend we do with the pressing problems of the world.