echochamber and adding value

August 27, 2006

I want Hugh Macloed to make a cartoon representing the the blogosphere. There should be a big room with lots of noise and a hole to the outside world. Hugh and Scoble should talk about the hole, saying, “this won’t stay this small forever, right?” (instead of starting off with a cartoon like he does, maybe I’ll just start off with an idea for a cartoon.)

Since I’m new to the blogging world, I haven’t read Naked Conversations or the long tail yet and don’t know that blogs are changing the world. I heard that the blogosphere helped make Snakes on a Plane what it is: a movie with an opening weekend of $15mil ($10 from me). Since I don’t live in San Francisco, I only have 2 friends who read blogs, and only 2 different friends who kind of write them (old travel blogs), and 1 friend that actually has a blog. In other words, I don’t drink the koolaid.

Right now, I read a couple blogs that I recommend individually to my nontechnical friends, but how long before I can recommend enough that they actually need an accumulator? Most of the blogs I read are about blogging, but that doesn’t add value. Don’t get me wrong, I read them because I find them interesting and I think there is a future here. I just wonder how long before I’m receiving blog recommendations from my nontechnical friends.


things i don’t understand

August 27, 2006

I might be more committed to blogging now, but not committed enough to actually read about them. (it’s in the plans) The things that bother me most now are: 1. trackbacks 2. technorati tags. I see them on other blogs and don’t know how they work or how the do or don’t work in my blog.

Go see Little Miss Sunshine

August 27, 2006

I enjoyed it greatly, and I think you will enjoy it more if you don’t know anything about it. It’s moving and entertaining. Here’s a google search.

Gladwell and better pensions

August 22, 2006

Gladwell wrote this interesting article for the New Yorker about the history of pensions. The brief version is: successful company makes promises to provide pensions and healthcare for life to its employees. Company continues success reducing work force. As time goes on, cost per current employee skyrockets. This affects older companies much more than younger companies, wouldn’t it be better if the government handled it (like in other countries) and we didn’t punish old companies for being old.

Predictably, there was an impolite response, basically saying this socialism. It is already done for government employees at state and local levels and it sucks, as with Social Security and that sucks too. Finally, winterspeak points out that Gladwell’s piece makes it sound like productivity is bad (causing more retirees and fewer workers) when it is the only thing that makes everyone richer. In Gladwell’s response, he says that American’s are weird, he trusts the government more than a single company, and with adjustments now, Social Security isn’t that bad off.

So I’m obviously new to blogging and I wonder how useful summarization is. Reading for yourself is desired, and then you can make those paragraphs a waste of time. The most interesting part to me is where Gladwell points out that this whole process of pensions makes older prospective employees less attractive because they spend less time paying into before collecting out of.

All of this finally brings me to my solution to the problem, the older employees should require less income since they should have been saving along the way. The saving rate in this country is dreadfully low, and the best way to fix that would be to change the tax structure. Ignoring 401k’s and IRA’s, people are taxed on their income, and if they decide to save it, they are taxed on the interest it brings, and if they decide to save the interest, they are taxed on the interest it brings and so on. Instead of compounding interest, it’s compounding taxes. My understanding of a consumption tax is that it lets you save and compound the interest and then pay the taxes once you are going to use the money.

Ideally, consumers would not be dependent upon their employer for their health insurance, but upon their own savings and upon their independently bought insurance. Right now, the laws sort of force companies of any size to pay for health insurance. There are two sides to this coin. Case one: an innocent person who, through no fault of his own get hit with a very expensive disease. It makes sense that society should pay for this since it could have been any of us. There are laws that apply if they have insurance already so that they company can’t drop them once he gets the disease. Case two: a person is very self-destructive (i.e. smoking, super size me,…) and is expensive medically. It doesn’t make sense for the rest of society to pay for this since he brought it upon himself. This second case is my main objection to socialized health care because I cannot help but support the self-destructive person. The first case could be remedied through private charity, no guarantee that it would.

Farecast adds 55 cities

August 22, 2006 Farecast became useful to the majority of the country by increasing to 57 airports from 2. Their distinguishing feature is their prediction engine which is supposed to tell you how the lowest price of your search is going to go. Ideally, they would be able to tell you when you are buying too soon. Secondarily, if you are not sure you want the trip, they can tell you if you have more time to consider, or if the price is about to skyrocket. This information is conveyed after search with an arrow:


I have done about 5 searches, and have not seen a time when they expect the price to go down. This is not too surprising because that would generally mean the airline has performed its own poor prediction.

An interesting side note is that “Farecast seems determined to have an amiable relationship with airlines and it will be interesting to see if they succeed.” from techcrunch‘s second coverage. Finally, the search results page is very clean and ajaxy which might have made this my new favorite travel website even without the cool technology. See the coverage.