Too much buffering is bad, mmmkay?
POS display at Fry's: Looks like Linksys is down with the Bufferbloat project.
(Sorry about the crappy photo.)
Cato Institute: can anyone save the good parts?
Blog frenzy this weekend over the Ed Crane and the Cato Institute vs. the Kochtopus! story.
A little background: most of the libertarian-sounding noises inside the Beltway come from rent-seekers. Corporate-welfare-receiving companies pay for the think tanks, and you, the taxpayer, pay for the corporate welfare. (Hey, wait a minute. That means, in a way, Solveig Singleton works for me! We need to have a talk.)
One exception, at least a lot of the time, has been the relatively independent Cato Institute. They actually published "Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study In Corporate Welfare." Nobody else in the think tank business wants to publish an article that will scratch a potential donor off the fundraising list, but Cato pulled it off.
But the end of an era is here. Cato co-founder Charles Koch, who along with his brother David is a prominent corporate welfare queen, is tightening up on the leash. Yawn. Looks like Cato is going to turn into yet another rent-seeking group.
With Cato either melting down or joining the noisy herd of fake libertarians with both front feet in the trough, what's a would-be reader of corporate welfare research to do? How about looking outside the think tank system entirely? After all, Kickstarter's funding for art projects is approaching the size of the NEA.
Your typical libertarian-sounding think tank is essentially a government program anyway. But it's an inefficient top-down channel for funneling corporate welfare dollars into content creation, and loses a lot to transaction costs. Let's think outside of the box here, and put the market to work.
Anybody want to write a think-tank-style report on a corporate welfare problem, but can't get it funded? Why not put it on Kickstarter?
Google gets DNT
Good news from the big G: Google commits to respecting "Do Not Track" in their advertisements.
SFX: the exploding head of Jeff Jarvis, head cheerleader for creepy database marketing everywhere. DNT is the "wholesale devaluing of advertising in a medium." People don't realize how much great online stuff owes its existence to hard-to-understand tracking practices.
There has to be something more going on here. If tracking is worth so much, why would the undisputed champion of online advertising just throw away so much potential revenue? Have the Googlers made themselves stupid?
I don't think so. Let's dig up the latest version of a classic chart. Compare the time people spend on different media to the percentage of advertising budgets spent there.
Internet and mobile advertising, which have the best potential for tracking, consistently pull in less ad revenue than their time share would justify.
If tracked ads are so much more valuable, then extra money should be chasing those highly-tracked Internet users. Thirty seconds of exposure to Jane Doe, expectant mom in ZIP code 90210, should be worth way more than 30 seconds in front of Joe Random Super Bowl Fan.
But they aren't. Manifest Density blog: "Is it really a coincidence that the advertising medium with the best instrumentation also appears to be the least effective?"
It's not a coincidence. It's basic economics. Advertising's main role is signaling. Most of why you spend money on advertising is to say "I spent money on advertising."
Tracking reduces the effectiveness of the signal. The recipient can't tell if you're really supporting a product with advertising, or just targeting him. In a DNT world, Google can get the best of both worlds: match ads to relevant content, but get the extra value of signaling to non-targeted users.
Background and links here: Ad targeting: better is worse?
Why is Science losing?
Is anyone else getting a little tired of scare-mongering about "anti-science" trends, when it comes from organizations that do non-Open Access scientific publishing? This is like designing a new jewelry line, giving it to Gollum to conceal in the bowels of Middle-Earth, and then complaining about your shelf placement.
Let's say you wanted to send the message of "I'm running a large scary organization, and I'm trying to do something evil to you in a sneaky way." How could you do that better than by publishing original information in proprietary journals, then releasing patronizing, dumbed-down information for voters and patients?
How is modern medical science getting so badly out-publicized, out-communicated, and out-SEOed by "quacks"? And to come up with another example, where is the "scientific consensus" over climate change? Buried in expensive journal archives, while the controversy version of the story thrives online.
Scientists: If you get handed the keys to the Library of Wisdom, then choose to lock the place up and hand over the keys to Elsevier et. al., don't complain about the occult bookstore across the street. And come to think of it, OA is necessary but not sufficient. Maybe what we need now is SEOA.
Doc Searls says there's an advertising bubble.
Maybe he has a point. One of the ways that you can tell a bubble is when the "bubbling" trend starts to break out into places is really doesn't belong. Ships rotting at the pier in San Francisco because the sailors thought they could do better mining gold. Online shopping for BOOKS FOR DOGS. Stuff like that.
This is the actual back cover of a restaurant bill from an actual restaurant.
Inside: an ad. Who could have thought this was a good idea? You just enjoyed a meal and you're paying up, and they already want to sell an ad impression for something else?
(excuse the lousy photo. Lousy phone and no photo skills. Next time I'll just take Doc along.)
And synecdochic, on Dreamwidth, points out another one. "Solve Media's patent pending" TYPE-IN, a method to advertise via CAPTCHA."
Can you use your sense of things getting silly as a bubble detector?
Stop H.R. 3699
(Finally. I really need to move my "blog to Congress" script over to ikiwiki.)
Dear Representative Stark:
I am writing to ask you to oppose H.R. 3699, the Research Works Act.
If Rep. Darrell Issa came to you and said, "Let's give our grant recipients permission to steal taxpayer-funded equipment from the lab and resell it on the Internet," you would say he was nuts. But this is exactly what H.R. 3699 would do with those scientists' research results.
The Public Access Policy at the National Institutes of Health has been a success, and makes original papers available to health professionals, patients, and their families. Open access to research also encourages follow-up research in the public and private sectors.
H.R. 3699 would throw away these benefits for no gain. The foreign publishing companies that would benefit from this bill are not publishers in the usual sense. They do not provide the same editing and selection functions that a typical magazine does in-house. Our Federally funded researchers already do the work of reviewing and editing at no charge.
Please do what you can to stop H.R. 3699.
Donald B. Marti Jr.
SCALE Poker Quiz
SCALE this year had a quiz game for attendees, and here are my notes on how to play and some things we could do better next time. Lori Barfield, who was in charge of SCALE Game Night, brought it all together on a very tight schedule.
The object of the game for the players is to put together the best possible 5-card poker hand. Each card has an answer printed on it, and in order for that card to count as part of the player's hand, the player has to find the matching question. Card photo at Lisa's iXsystems marketing blog.
All of the questions are about information revealed at booths, talks, and other show events. It's important to get questions that are hard to look up online. The object of the game for the organizers is to get attendees to talk with each other, because they pretty much have to trade cards and information to win.
We gave out seven cards per player.
With a little more time we'll be able to make the game easier to run at the show. Things to improve next time:
Handouts for people who supplied questions, to give out at exhibitor or speaker registration at the show.
Entry forms for players turning in hands, to avoid having to write questions on the cards
Numbered questions on the question sheet, to make it easier to check completed hands.
Ask for questions earlier, to have extras to work with.
Give out two cards at registration, then have opportunities to get more cards later?
Some people thought the questions were too hard, but groups of attendees working together were able to figure everything out.
MLP: DNS, web business, science fiction, finance...
As of Public Domain Day (yesterday) Robert Baden-Powell's Scouting for Boys enters the public domain. Looking forward to grabbing a copy. Anybody put one up yet?
For all of you who have moved your domain to a new registrar, or if you're running into DNS issues, or just want to make sure your DNS is set up correctly (it can be tweaky), here's a DNS checklist from Rick Moen on the SVLUG list. (To get started on DNS basics, see this story, also from Rick: The Village of Lan: A Networking Fairy Tale)
Web pricing factoid from Rian van der Merwe: "Facebook says that they have over 800 million active users, and that 'more than 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day.' So let’s, for argument’s sake, say that about 500 million users visit Facebook every day. If each of those users paid Facebook $2 per year, the revenue would cover the cost of running the site. Just increase that to $3 per year, or 25c per month, and you suddenly have $1.5B revenue per year (or roughly $500M profit, based on Facebook’s rough estimate of their operating costs). Let’s be clear about this: it’s the cost of one coffee per year."
Benjamin Mako Hill: Wide Scream. (Ideas? Best I can think of is to turn a 1920x1200 by 90 degrees, and use that for most things and the laptop screen for stuff that has to be wide.)
Thomas Philippon: Has the finance industry become less efficient? (But, I wonder, is it fair to talk about "efficiency" of what's really just economic sin-eating? Imagine that you put your retirement savings into Enron, or pork bellies, or Las Vegas real estate, or whatever, and you lose most of it--the guilt over your bad decisions is a non-financial cost to you. Now imagine that you gave the money to whatever financial wizards are currently "the smartest guys in the room" and they lose it. What could you have done? Intangibly you're better off and all they take for it is money.)
I've heard that in the German Navy of the Kaiser's time, the enlisted sailors's diet was a health hazard until they established the simple rule that the officers eat what the sailors do, after they're done. Finland does something like that for education.
Hillary Rettig's blog, recommended by RMS, is full of wisdom. New Year's piece: "There’s also another, even more pernicious form of procrastination: activities that mimic productive work." (RTWT)
Little Android phone, why so sad?
Oh, that is too bad. All those other phones are getting dressed up and accessorized for the big Christmas party, and you have nothing to wear.
I know, it's not your fault you're not a perfect size four. Yes, I know size 4S is the same size, so they can wear each other's stuff.
It is too bad some people don't even look at you because of all the nice things that those other phones can wear. Yes, I know you have many good points on the inside.
Yes, I even looked at Fry's for you. Lots to wear, but nothing in your size. I'm sorry.
No, I don't know what to do either. But I'll post this on the Internet and maybe the nice Internet people can help.
Or maybe the Googlers will come up with some standard Android sizes, so that more accessory makers will be able to make nice things for you to wear.
Yes, I'll still take you to the Christmas party.
No, I won't take you off "silent" this year.
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.
If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!