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Tag Archives: economia

Do John Battelle. Irrepreensível.

Way back in the day, before all this Interweb stuff made news, we had a computer hardware and software industry that was both exciting and predictable. I was a cub reporter in those days, covering an upstart company (Apple) as it did battle with two dug-in monopolists: IBM in hardware, and Microsoft in software. IBM was clearly on its way down (losing share to legions of hardware upstarts in Asia and the US), but Microsoft was an obvious – and seemingly unbeatable – winner.

Underdog Apple had a cult following (I was part of it), and its products were clearly better, but it didn’t seem to matter. Quality wasn’t winning, and as a young journalist that fact irritated me. But that’s only an orthogonal part of the story I want to tell today.

Back in the late 1980s, Steve Jobs wasn’t running Apple, but his DNA was very clearly still in the company (for those who don’t obsessively follow Apple, Jobs and Woz founded the company, then Steve’s board brought in John Sculley to run it in 1983. Sculley then fired Jobs from any operational role. Jobs returned to Apple’s helm in 1997.) Apple in the 80s and 90s was secretive, paranoid, full of extraordinary talent, and convinced it was being unfairly treated by Microsoft.

In the main, Apple’s fears were pretty well founded. And there was perhaps no greater battlefield to prove those fears than the battle for the hearts and minds of software developers. (Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has never really forgotten this lesson).

In the 1980s and 90s, developers were the most important class of value creator in the digital economy – they were the entrepreneurs and marketers leveraging the new platforms of Apple and Windows, building new businesses out of thin air. Borland, Oracle, Lotus, Intuit – I could list scores, if not hundreds, of successful developers from that time. Many still exist today.

As a reporter, developers were often my best sources, because Apple and Microsoft would show them early versions of hardware and operating systems. Developers would then talk to me about those new products, and I’d get my scoops. That was how the information ecosystem worked, and everyone knew it. Developers had a ton of power – they made the products which drove sales on the Windows and Apple platforms, and if they felt slighted, they could always go to the press and apply pressure as needed.

Fast forward to now, and substitute the Internet platforms of today (the open HTML web, Apple’s iOS, Facebook’s Platform, Android, and to a lesser extent Twitter and Google’s Chrome) for the ones of my fading yesteryear. How do they stack up?

Not so well, I’m afraid. While the early Internet was a paradise for a certain kind of developer – anyone who knew HTML and could figure out a way to create value on the nascent web – what’s emerged in the past five years of the new mobile web is not a very promising foundation for the creation of lasting value. I’m speaking, in the main, about the “app economy” – a fractured ecosystem lacking a strong economic and technological true north.

Of course, Apple’s current cult of followers would argue that there *is* a True North: iOS. But I’m not seeing great new companies born on Apple’s platform, as they were back 20 years ago. Angry Birds aside, am I missing something here?

One could argue Facebook is such a platform, and declare Zynga proof that great companies have been created thanks to Facebook’s platform. But last time I checked, Zynga was one company, not scores of them.

Android is Google’s answer (as is Chrome, to a confusing extent), but so far, Android seems to be taking the same route as iOS in economic terms – make an app, hope for a hit, where a hit is defined in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue (not exactly a business). And Twitter still has work to do before it becomes a true platform for economic value creation (though promising signs are in the air).

The HTML or open web is still the best and most robust platform for development of true value, to my mind. And hundreds, if not thousands, of developers and entrepreneurs have succeeded by leveraging it. But it lacks what that early Apple and Windows ecosystem had: a true software business, one that provided differentiating value such that consumers (and enterprises) would pay significant dollars to use that software. This may sound counterintuitive for an advertising-driven entrepreneur such as myself to state, but it’s time we had a robust paid software ecosystem on the web. There’s certainly room for both.

I think it’s coming. The table is set, so to speak. As consumers we’re getting used to paying for apps on our phones and tablets. And as consumers, we’re getting frustrated with the lack of value most of those apps provide us. As with Windows back in the day, quality isn’t winning right now. On the web, we’re wanting more robust solutions to problems that are only beginning to surface – I’d pay five bucks a month to someone if they’d solve my social presence problem, for example: I just can’t keep up with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, and newer services like Percolate. I’d probably also pay for someone to solve the deals space for me – it’s too confusing and I know I am missing out on serious savings. Same for music and media (an area of early and promising development), professional services of many stripes, and on and on.

But for such a quality software ecosystem to unfold, we need, as developers, a clearer sense of a platform roadmap, and some certainty as to what portions of the economic pie are open for competition. This is particularly true for the consumer space (enterprise is used to paying for value, and is already doing so at places like Salesforce and LinkedIn). Clearly, you shouldn’t develop a photo app for Twitter, or a music or communications solution for Facebook. And you’d simply be crazy to create a contacts manager for Apple products, even if the one they have is godawful once you pass about 1000 records.

Or would you be? Perhaps the solution is to create at a level above all of these services – software that lives above the level of a single platform, so to speak. Software in the cloud (passe as it might be, Mr. Benioff).

Isn’t that what the web is supposed to be? Isn’t that the promise of the cloud?

It is, but for that to work, all those platforms have to be willing to share data and APIs. I’m not holding my breath for that to happen in the next few years. But happen it will, I predict, because happen it must. Change will be forced downward, from consumers back into the platforms that, for now, are mostly closed to value creation. Mark my words….I hope they’re right.

Did you know 3-D printers could make complex objects with moving parts like gears and crescent wrenches? I had no idea…this is kind of mind-blowing. The guy at the beginning likens the technology to Star Trek’s replicator.

Gostou? Então toma uma aulinha de 50 minutos da Singularity University.

Na página do youtube deste vídeo tem um comentário fodástico que faz jus ao título do post:

Our system of capitalism will eventually be irrelevant and counter productive (if not already) since we are approaching potentials which we can create abundance, sustainability, efficiency and well being for all the worlds people. Removing scarcity and the aberrant effects it causes such as theft. Abundance, sustainability, and efficiency are enemies of our economic structure for they are inverse to the mechanics required to perpetuate consumption.

Via Kottke

Alguns passos a frente do Mint.

Para entender melhor o Bank Simple, é só clicar nessa matéria da Fast Company.

Eu já tinha postado aqui uma palestra foda do Rory. Lá pelas tantas, ele cita uma idéiagenial para bancos.  A Colenso BBDO, de Auckland, tirou a bunda da cadeira e colocou a idéia na rua.  Com os devidos créditos ao Rory, é claro. Isso sim é postura.

Esse belíssimo texto do “Feeding the Puppy” é um dos candidatos a post do mês no blog do Neil Perkin. Pra mim, já ganhou, e olha que um dos concorrentes é o Gareth Kay, com um post que já apareceu aqui. É tão foda que eu copiei do início ao fim.

I’ve been revisiting some of my economic past. I accidentally ended up with a degree in economics & econometrics, after going to study english. But that’s another story.

In rereading Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”, and in particular the first book on The Division of Labour, there are some really interesting parallels between marketing and agriculture.

No, really. Bear with me.

Firstly, you may or may not be aware of Smith’s principle of the division of labour; “The division of labour, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportional increase of the productive powers of labour”

Basically by splitting work into precise, proscribed roles for people, means you can do much more with the same amount of labour.

The (famous) example he uses is of pin manufacturers. Rather than have everyone make a pin from beginning to end, one person draws the wire, one person clips it to length, one person puts the head on, one person polishes it, and so on and so forth.

Today, it’s not just a principle for manufacturers, but for service industries too. The machine creates a place for everyone, and works best when everyone stays in their place.

Now, Smith states that the division of labour makes work more effective when there are three things in play:

i) increasing dexterity from performing repetitive tasks

ii) decreased time in passing work between roles

iii) use of technology to reduce the need for labour

The established model of marketing fulfilled those criteria; clients and agencies, and all the departments and people within each, had distinct roles that they became increasingly more dexterous at performing.

They would then pass work along the chain to the next person/division/agency, and everyone would seek to use technology where appropriate to ease labour (e.g. film technology advancements in ad agencies, media flighting tools in media agencies, etc etc).

However, it occurred after reading Smith’s simple outline that we’re currently in a very different place.

Firstly, our tasks are less consistent, more delicate, intricate and different. Complexity (and you should watch Bud Caddell’s ideas on complexity) means that dexterity is harder to achieve than ever; when the thing you do is different every time, how do you become better at it?

Secondly, it’s harder to pass work along, for a myriad of reasons.

We are less clear about who does what between client and agency, agency and agency, and even within agencies themselves. There’s a bun fight about who gets paid for what, or at all. And, fundamentally, increasingly complex ideas are harder to pass along a chain of production, because they take longer to explain and pass over.

Thirdly, rather than simplifying the ways in which we work, in many cases technology is simply making it harder.

We could go end endlessly about it, but the core point is this; advances in technology are there to help what people want to do, not to help what marketers want to do.

So, all in all, marketing is failing to fulfil the criteria that makes the division of labour beneficial.

But then again, Adam Smith didn’t state that the division of labour worked in every endeavour…

“The nature of agriculture does not admit of so many subdivisions of labour, nor of so complete a separation of one business from another.”

“The ploughman, the harrower, the sower of the seed and the reaper of the corn are often the same. The occasions for those different sorts of labour returning with the different seasons of the year, it is impossible that one man should be constantly employed in any one of them.”

“Country workmen are almost everywhere obliged to pay themselves to all the different branches of industry that have so much affinity to one another as to be employed about the same sort of materials”

Which made me wonder; is marketing nowadays increasingly becoming like agriculture as described here?

For instance, there is not such a complete subdivision of tasks, hence the confusion in the client & agency ranks about who does what.

Also, an individual or group of people are less likely to undertake just one role. Complexity of ideas means people will work ‘seasonally’; move from being the ploughman, to the harrower, to the sower of seed… all to keep the idea moving along, as the idea is hard to pass over in it’s entirety to the next worker.

Then, we see all the branches of our industry have an increasing affinity as they are of “the same sort of materials”. Which is why nobody can really claim ownership of the social space, for example… it is what we all do, we are all “employed about the same sort of materials”.

Finally, it feels like we often describe what we do (nurturing ideas, growing communities, developing relationships) in terms that are naturally more organic and agricultural.

So, if marketing is more akin to Smith’s definition of agriculture, what does that suggest?

Well, I worry that we (marketers & agencies) still sell ourselves, or are valued, as manufacturing. And within that, the expectation is that we can utilise the divisions of labour that make that more productive.

However, if we are in fact more agricultural in harness, and increasingly more so, we cannot tap the same efficiencies that a manufacturers division of labour would yield.

Hmmmmmmm…. thoughts?

E como todo post foda, os comentários valem a leitura.

Rory Sutherland talks about inefficiency, as demonstrated through examples. He outlines how perception and context impact a person’s decision-making process. Sutherland uses economics, an ad campaign for Shreddies and basic psychology to demonstrate how value is subjective.

Veja o que o Jason Calcanis tem a dizer:

Bitcoin is a P2P currency that could topple governments, destabilize economies and create uncontrollable global bazaars for contraband.

After month of research and discovery, we’ve learned the following:

1. Bitcoin is a technologically sound project.

2. Bitcoin is unstoppable without end-user prosecution.

3. Bitcoin is the most dangerous open-source project ever created.

4. Bitcoin may be the most dangerous technological project since the internet itself.

5. Bitcoin is a political statement by technotarians (technological libertarians).*

6. Bitcoins will change the world unless governments ban them with harsh penalties.

Tá curioso? Eu descobri esse projeto através do Sílvio Meira e sua análise fina.

uma das coisas que define um governo é a capacidade de emitir moeda e controlar seu suprimento dentro de sua área de ação. a regulação dos meios de pagamento é uma preocupação essencial dos governos contemporâneos e interferir neste processo é tratado, independentemente do lugar, como crime federal dos mais graves. pra você ter idéia da seriedade da coisa, se você receber moeda falsa [sem saber], descobrir que a tem e retorná-la à circulação, sua pena pode variar de seis meses a dois anos.

mas e se… nós nos articulássemos em rede e, em conjunto –na verdade, entre pares, muitos pares-, resolvêssemos emitir nossa própria moeda e os sistemas de transação e controles que regulariam seu uso nos mercados globais, passando a dispensar bancos, cartões de crédito, sistemas de transações… governos, em suma, de tudo o que está, hoje, associado à noção de remuneração, dinheiro, compra e pagamento?

estaríamos falando de uma inovação absolutamente radical, talvez a maior desde o templo de hera? ou de um crime contra a economia internacional, cujos autores seriam perseguidos aqui e algures pela interpol?…

isso é o que veremos em breve. aqui entra em cena a galera de, responsáveis por criar uma moeda radicalmente virtual e distribuída

Nesse link aqui tem um pdf com uma boa explicação.

E aqui estão os responsáveis pelo projeto.

O autor dessa idéia é Paul Romer. Segundo Tim Harford, Romer é um dos mais provocativos pensadores das cidades, termo que está na moda e que tem Jane Jacobs como maior pensadora.

Like all cities, charter cities are built on land, populated by people and run according to certain rules. What is unique is that the land, the people and the rules might come from entirely different sources – in one of Romer’s more controversial illustrations, Canada buys the Guantánamo Bay lease from the Americans and establishes a kind of new Hong Kong populated by Caribbean workers.

Romer now seems to be downplaying the Guantánamo angle, but still emphasises the idea of a guarantor country – France and Norway helping run a city state in Mauritania, for example. It sounds crazy, but he has his reasons. When I met Romer in London last year, he was concerned about the credibility of the city’s institutions. Because a city is costly to build, much of its infrastructure will last for decades. Romer argues that investors will not bite without a steady (Canadian? Norwegian?) hand on the tiller.

Perhaps he is right, but there is another angle to charter cities, which offer the opportunity to experiment with new rules that do not apply elsewhere. Cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong have prospered because the rules there have been conducive to doing business. Perhaps countries do not really need to outsource new cities; perhaps a special economic zone will be credible enough.

Take New Songdo, a conurbation close to Seoul. For Greg Lindsay, New Songdo is an aerotropolis, notable for its proximity to Incheon airport. I think its quasi-charter status is more important: South Korean politicians privately admit that New Songdo is attractive because businesses can be offered light-touch regulations without seeding a political storm.

Romer is not immune to the charms of air travel – he mentioned to me that 40 per cent of trade, by value, is now by air – but his charter city vision emphasises an angle largely overlooked by the global elite: that “the market in the city business right now is poor people”. Romer regards Dubai, because it is merely a millionaire’s playground, “as a failure, even before the bust”.

There, to me, is the real radicalism and the real insight: that building cities could become a business in its own right. And as with any dynamic industry, some of these city-businesses will flourish magnificently. Others will fail.

E os dois primeiros comentários sobre esse texto do Tim Harford fecham muito bem a discussão:

Ust Oldfield says:

It appears that history really is cyclical, but operates on cycles of millenia rather than centuries. As we progress, as societies, the city states become more important like they were in the Classic epoch.

Laurent Courtines says:

As a person with an eye on history I love the idea of the rise of the city state. Trends in history do repeat themselves (even in bad ways) Empires rise and fall. Cities rise and fall. Cultures rise and fall. As very provincial New Yorker I love the idea of New York as city state. Would love to be citizen of New York! Hail NYC!

Puta projeto da Nova S/B.

Já tinha visto algo assim lá fora, no Brasil é a primeira e muito bem-vinda vez. E o melhor: os clientes do Largo do Batata só pagam a implementação da idéia. A Jane Jacobs ia ficar orgulhosa.

For Varian, everything – including his culinary choices – can relate to data. Last year, while looking to buy a pepper shaker online, he hit upon the idea of a Google Price Index (GPI). It uses Google’s web shopping database to create a daily measure of inflation. It could, one day, be a complement – or competitor – to the official, yet less frequent, Consumer Price Index (CPI).

There’s a systemic gap, Varian points out, between the low-frequency data employed by governments and the high-frequency data of business. Government is working on it, though. “It’s now using supermarket scanner data to predict inflation rates,” notes Varian. How did it predict them before? “They used to send people out with notebooks to write it down.”

More communication between government and business clearly benefits both, says Varian. Business can provide more real-time data. “If you look at most businesses now, pretty much everyone – think of UPS, FedEx, MasterCard – has a real-time database. And that’s powerful.” Government can, in turn, aggregate information, giving businesses insight into their industry and the economy as a whole.

Se você não conhece Hal Varian, envergonhe-se.

Via Think Quartely, uma puta publicação do Google feita na Inglaterra.