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  • davidw 12:28:53 on 2015-07-07 Permalink
    Tags: amazon, , reviews,   

    Friends reviewing friends 

    Amazon is refusing to post reviews when its algorithms sense a personal relationship between the author and the reviewer. Amazon says, “We are removing your reviews because you know the author personally,” according to Chris Morran at The Consumerist.

    The intent is fine. A review is likely to be swayed by a personal friendship. That’s why some of us disclose friendships when posting reviews at Amazon.

    But, it would help if Amazon clarified what “knowing an author personally” means. In a networked world, that is an incredibly vague description.

    After that, here are some suggestions that I think would help matters while preserving the policy’s good intentions:

    1. Flag reviews by people with personal relationships, but don’t remove them. They may in fact shed special light on the work being reviewed.

    2. Allow reviewers to flag their own reviews, and to describe their relationships. E.g., “We are colleagues,” “She’s a lifelong friend,” “We were close friends until I moved 12 yrs ago,” “We’ve been on panels together,” “We were friends until the lying bastard done me wrong.”

    3. Do not count the ratings by such people in the overall total.

    4. Provide some avenue of appeal when the algorithm goes wrong.

    The post Friends reviewing friends appeared first on Joho the Blog.

     
  • David 12:30:15 on 2015-07-06 Permalink
    Tags: pedestrians, safety, , walkability   

    Taking Turns at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (and Everywhere Else) 

    On a beautiful fall afternoon last year, my wife and I visited the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It’s a great…
     
  • Ra•kl (Raquel) 02:10:03 on 2015-07-06 Permalink
    Tags: , craftbeer,   



    King Harbor Swirly Nitro #beerstagram #turnt #craftbeer (at King Harbor Waterfront Tasting Room)

     
  • mummaknows 23:14:23 on 2015-07-05 Permalink
    Tags: #iamthemumwho, , , , , , moms, ,   

    I Am The Mum Who…. 

    Thanks to Simple Life Mummy for nominating me to write a post titled ‘I am the Mum who…’. This is for my two baby girls – 2 and a half and 5 months old. I am the mum who… who didn’t love being pregnant even though I miss those baby kicks now who can’t get […]
     
  • davidw 22:26:11 on 2015-07-03 Permalink
    Tags: business, , , reddit,   

    Joining Reddit 

    Reddit is in flames. I can only see one way out of it that preserves the site’s unique value.

    I say this as an old man who loves Reddit despite being way outside its main demographic. Of course there are outrageously objectionable subreddits—topical discussion boards—but you don’t have to visit those. Reddit at its best is wonderful. Inspiring, even. It is a self-regulated set of communities that is capable of great collective insight, humor, and kindness. (At its worst, it is one of the nightmares of the Internet.)

    Because Reddit is so large, with 169M unique visitors each month, it is impossible to generalize accurately about what went on yesterday and is continuing today. Nevertheless, the precipitating cause was the termination of the employment of Victoria Taylor for reasons Reddit and she have not disclosed. Victoria was not only the wildly popular enabler of Reddit’s wildly popular AMA‘s (“Ask Me Anything”), she was the only Reddit employee visible to most redditors (Reddit users).

    Victoria’s sudden dismissal was taken by many as a sign of the increasing misalignment of Reddit’s business goals and the culture of its communities. Reddit, it is feared, is going commercial. The volunteer moderators (“mods”) of some of the large subreddits have also complained that their requests for support over the past months have gone unanswered.

    In protest, many of the large subreddits and a long list of smaller ones have gone private and are thus dark to most of the world. This will have some financial effect on Reddit, but it is better understood as a political protest, applying the technique used successfully in 2012 when Reddit, Wikipedia, and other major sites went dark to protest the SOPA/PIPA bills that would have limited Internet freedom. It is an assertion-by-deprivation of the cultural value of these subreddits.

    It is, I believe, a mistake to view this uproar primarily in terms of economics or business. This is an attempt by a community to stay a community despite perceived attempts by the business underneath it to commercialize it. Up until now, Reddit the Company has understood the importance of accepting and promoting its community’s values. Advertising is unobtrusive, some of which lets users comment on the ad itself. Reddit makes money also from its users buying “Reddit gold” to bestow upon comments they find particularly valuable. Reddit gold has no monetary value, so users are consciously paying Reddit money for the privilege of paying another user a visible compliment. And Reddit has sternly defended the free speech of its users even when that speech is, well, horrible—although the management did controversially shut down some shaming and hating sites a few weeks ago.

    Reddit is in bad shape today. The meme-making forces of sarcasm it’s famous for have been turned inwards.The most loyal users are feeling betrayed. Some of the communities that have driven Reddit forward as a cultural force are feeling abused. It’s hard to come back from that.

    A big part of the problem is that Victoria, face of Reddit to its own community, was accepted as “One of us! One of us!” as redditors sometime self-mockingly invoke the movie Freaks. Indeed, she embodied many of the virtues of Reddit at its best: curious, accepting, welcoming, helpful, funny. Many redditors saw themselves reflected in her.

    Victoria was thereby an important part of Reddit’s support off “The Gettysburg Principles“: She helped Reddit seem to be by, for, and of us. Now the face of Reddit is Ellen Pao, the interim CEO who is largely derided and detested at Reddit because she seems to be “One of them! One of them!”— a Silicon Valley player.

    If we view this first and foremost as a problem in maintaining a community rather than strictly as a revenue issue, then I can only see one way forward: Pao should get off her executive horse, engage with the community in public, and show that she’s a redditor too. Alex Ohanian, the co-founder, also should step forward with his best redditor face on. Alex when free of corporate pressures is a redditor through and through.

    There is still an opportunity for Reddit to show that it understands the source of all its value: communities trusted to run themselves, and a strong sense of shared cultures.

    The post Joining Reddit appeared first on Joho the Blog.

     
  • Ra•kl (Raquel) 22:03:24 on 2015-07-03 Permalink
    Tags: murica   



    Tri tip taco from Rock and Brews (mine) and a taster flight from Esbc (Rick’s). #murica (at El Segundo Brewing Co.)

     
  • Ra•kl (Raquel) 19:55:35 on 2015-07-03 Permalink
    Tags: , geekchic   



    The Doctor is in #geekchic #drwho

     
  • davidw 13:46:44 on 2015-07-02 Permalink
    Tags: beatles,   

    Beatles’ Revolver 49 years later: A Review 

    In the 1980s, I stopped listening to music for no particular reason. It was only in the early 1990s as I was commuting every week to my mother’s death bed (don’t smoke, kids!) that I started again. Thank you Mssrs. Bach, Gould, and Goldberg.

    I have not listened to a Beatles album since before my 1980s quiet period. Let’s say about 35 years. I listen to other groups from that period, some of whom hold up amazingly well. But not the Beatles.

    Why? They mean so much to me that there are no occasions that deserve them.

    I know that’s nuts. I listen to Bach in utter awe and don’t think to myself, “Well, sure, but too bad George Martin wasn’t around then to help him out.” I do understand than my feelings about the Beatles are inextricably mixed with the growing distance from my youth.

    So, it’s embarrassingly symbolic—the sort of thing that would make you stop reading a novel—that I listened to the Beatles on a run this morning while my wife and I are awaiting word that, God willing, we’ve become grandparents. (I don’t have words to talk about that now.)

    So, here’s a review of Revolver (the UK version).

    Overall: A+. Solid gold. 49 years young.

    Track by track:

    Taxman. This was not a favorite of mine, catchy though it is. I remember it as being too derivative, too genre-based. And an awkward protest song for the rich. On re-hearing it: It is a genre song with typical Beatles’ inventiveness. Great guitar work. Witty call-back to the Batman theme. Totally enjoyable.

    Eleanor Rigby. It’s really hard to write fiction. For me this song doesn’t capture how Eleanor Rigby seems to herself. Yeah, lots people are lonely. But I’d like this song better if it ended with “All the lonely people, where do we all belong?” Not that I’m saying I could have done a better job of it. I’m just saying it’s a little immature and a tad condescending. On the other hand, a song like this is not what you’d expect from a rock band in the ’60s, unless they were the Beatles. It’s the Beatles stretching themselves. The melody is obviously great. The backing vocals are amazing. As always.

    I’m Only Sleeping. Q: What sort of song is this? A: A Beatles song. Everything about it is unpredictable: the topic, the minor-major shifts, the harmonies, the bridge, the instrumentation and arrangement. Catchy, too. Try to get John out of bed and you get a tuneful, brilliantly original song. How about leaving a little talent for the rest of us, John, ok?

    Love You To. It opens with a sitar. We don’t know where it’s going. We’re not even sure what scale it’s going to be using. And then it turns out that it’s a riff-driven song not unlike Taxman. The melody mixes the West and the East and is pretty minimal. But clearly this is George’s, reflecting his eclecticism and intended to educate us toward Indian music. The Beatles stretching themselves again.

    Here, There and Everywhere. An impossibly pretty genre song. A little cupcake of perfection. The little almost-discordant harmony on “Love never dies” kills me every time.

    Yellow Submarine. Tell you what, let’s have Ringo throw in a classic kiddy song with enough complexity in the harmonies and arrangements that it’ll be great when you’re high. Anyone see where the Oreos got to?

    She Said, She Said. Power rock beginning. Angry high notes. Fuzz guitar echo. Break the tempo on the last line of the verse. Killer harmonies. A bridge that comes out of nowhere (“When I was a boy…”). The whole thing threatening to come apart once you’re out of the safety of the verse, with Ringo doing some wonderful lord knows what. I love the Beatles.

    Got to Get You into My Life. Weird tempo. Horns. Who arranged this, Herb Alpert? What sort of song is this? Oh yeah, a Beatles song. This is essentially a solo by Paul, with the horns doing the harmonies. George’s guitar enters late with its usual egolessness—a new melody that serves the song rather than wowing us with George’s originality.

    For No One. A melody that just rolls on, taking turns you don’t foresee until afterwards. Rhythmic shifts from waltz to 4/4. A goddamn French horn. An unresolved ending that works melodically and thematically.

    Good Day Sunshine. In the first measures you think it’s going to be somber. Instead it turns into something cheery although the genre is confounding. Broadway? Damn those harmonies! Then the stride piano. WTF. Who else could have done this? I’m not sure what it is, but everything about it is great.

    And Your Bird Can Sing. Damn. Another one. Incredible guitar work by George. What’s the bird? I don’t care. I’m not saying this is a great song. But whatever you think the Beatles are like, listen to this and remember that the Beatles weren’t like anything.

    Doctor Robert. Another riff-driven song, like Taxman. George’s guitar could not be better. Again. The harmonies are amazing. The bridge (“Well, well, well you’re feeling fine”) switches to a chorale that’s as rhythm-free as any bureaucracy. A rollicking good time.

    I want to tell you. Everything about this song is weird and unexpected: the chord changes, the instrumentation, the harmonies, the genre shifts. “It’s alright” has a weird dissonant piano behind it. There’s some straight rock guitar work thrown in by George. Where did this song come from?

    Tomorrow Never Knows.. The amazing book Revolution in the Head argues pretty fiercely that LSD did not help the Beatles be better at what they do, especially for John. This is a pretty good evidence of that. Even so.

    I tell you, these young Beatles are going to be big! Big, I tell you!

    The post Beatles’ Revolver 49 years later: A Review appeared first on Joho the Blog.

     
  • David 12:30:09 on 2015-07-02 Permalink
    Tags: failure, fear, freedom, habits, , procrastination, , self-employment   

    Still in the Race 

    Today is the one year anniversary of my final day in the corporate world before beginning this writing experiment…
     
  • davidw 12:47:09 on 2015-06-30 Permalink
    Tags: eonomics, europe, politics   

    Greek crisis: Five explainers 

    Here are five posts explaining the Greek economic crisis clearly enough even for me, which is an accomplishment. They were gathered by Peter Kaminski [twitter:peterkaminski] whose Net-fu is unmatched.

    The post Greek crisis: Five explainers appeared first on Joho the Blog.

     
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