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by nmw

Conversion Technology

2015-01-30 in Uncategorized

How do you convert men with a wimpy, limp dicks into a full hardon hungry-for-some-vagina animals? Mother nature has already been working on that technology for many millions of years, so I need not go into any details here.

Here I want to talk about the Internet, the World-Wide Web, and machine-readable information. But first let me give you a little piece of eye candy:

eye candy

Please go ahead and “mouse-over” that image to see the link to its source (it’s at this website: sunnyskyz.com). A machine cannot tell that this is a picture — or rather: two pictures — of three naked boys and three (pretty much) naked men… — but I presume you (whom I also presume to be human) can. The string “sunnyskyz” also means nothing to a machine — in contrast, for example, to the phrase “bright future”. The promise of the “computationally” meaningless (and “misspelled”) string may — in contrast — be very meaningful to the foolish and gullible human seeking some satisfaction this very moment.

During the 20th Century, a lot of marketing and advertising was about getting and converting the attention of foolish and gullible humans. In the 21st Century, we now also seek to convert another animal: the machine.

Today, many machines exist — and they are used by humans quite often to help make decisions. One very well-known machine goes by the name of “Google”. The Google machine comprises many things, including what is known as “an algorithm” but also the less well-known servers that suck up huge amounts of energy to keep the complete system running like a charm. Most people see Google as an empty box that wants to be filled with words, or brand names, or at least something… but behind that box is a whole bunch of technology, some of it being software, but also a significant amount being hardware.

Information scientists sometimes refer to such machines as if they were humans — for example: ascribing them the ability to read. The stuff such machines are considered to be able to read is called “machine-readable information”. This set of information is not forever fixed in time, but I can confidently say that it will probably remain limited to what is commonly referred to as “text” for the foreseeable future. The way most machines can tell the difference between the meaningless “sunnyskyz” and the meaningful “bright future” is by having humans describe the difference to them (for example: linguists like Noam Chomsky have described “rules” for what humans consider to be meaningful expressions, and these rules are then converted into “machine-readable code” — another type of text that machines can understand).

Different machines will apply different algorithms to “figure out” different answers to the same question. And increasingly, many of the most popular machines will even each individually give different answers to the same question posed by different users (aka humans), or even by the same user at different times or in different locations. Some of these machines even work together in groups — such as “Facebook” and “Instagram” (and a bunch of other related machines, including e.g. “internet.org”).

The crux of the human-computer-interface in the online space (i.e. the parts that are “connected to the internet”) is natural language (which has been “taught” to machines via hardware and software algorithms). Humans talk to machines — they “call them up” — by calling them by their names. They usually ask different machines different questions… — and the questions they tend to ask follows a similar semantic language. They might ask “Cars” about a car, they might ask “Hotels” about a hotel, and so on. At the moment, 9 out of 10 (or even more) humans ask only one machine — or perhaps only a couple machines — almost all of their questions … much in the same way as people in ancient times would ask an oracle, or maybe a religious leader, all of their most pressing questions of the moment.

Yet there are many signs on the horizon that this level of naiveté will not last very much longer. Competition among machines is increasing and will continue to increase, and machines will develop their own specialties — much in the same ways as smiths became know as “Smith”, and millers became “Miller” — and humans will increasingly go to the specialized machine that best suits their needs at any given time, in any given location, and according to the language humans have devised their machines in.

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by nmw

Write Like Somebody’s Listening

2015-01-21 in Uncategorized

People love feedback. It is simply a good feeling to know that someone cares about what you think… — but in some cultures, it is not socially acceptable to need such validation. In such a society, such behavior is often referred to as something like “needy” — and in such societies, it is widely known that neediness sucks.

read my lips

“Please like my page”. No, thank you.

I don’t know who reads what I write. I could monitor statistics about how often individual pages get loaded, but I still wouldn’t know who read them, or even whether the person who loaded the page read what I wrote. I can push a page under someone’s nose, and then ask them whether they like it. If they say “yes, it’s awesome”, I still won’t know whether they are being polite.

This is why most people give up on writing. Of course it would be nice to know that what you are writing is going to reach those people who you intend to write for. You will never know, but you can always imagine how wonderful it would be if that were so. If you are able to do that, then you should have no difficulty in becoming a star!

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by nmw

Over Time, Blog Post Titles Will Transition from Click-Bait to an Invitation to Engage

2015-01-13 in Uncategorized

The transition from click-bait blog post titles to blog post titles that invite the reader to become engaged and participate will be due to a different motivation to write blog posts.

Today most blog posts are made in order to make money from advertising something else, so the main motivation is to get someone to read or at least visit the blog page. Such advertising is usually quite worthless, and therefore will ultimately also pay very little or nothing.

In the future, the motivation will be all about engagement — about participating in the author’s own interests, projects, opportunities for collaboration, etc.

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Why naming a website after yourself is like being a jerk-off in public

2015-01-06 in Uncategorized

Think about it: You probably already know the reason why. Have you ever visited a website named after a person, seen their contact details, and little or nothing else? Sure you have! 9 out of 10 so-called “personal” websites are precisely that.

Who actually wants to talk about themselves in public? I will gladly discuss politics, religion, … — indeed almost anything, but talking about myself is about as exciting as the prospect of masturbation on the center stage of the most prominent public square downtown.. with free admission, no less!

Before you name a website after yourself, think long and hard about whether you really want to write a lot about yourself. Websites that get updated once and never again look quite old after a month or two, and if they languish more than a year, they begin to look so dead that one should seriously consider whether it might not be even better if they didn’t exist at all.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule: If you are an artist and you create a lot of art, then it may very well make good sense for you to promote your artwork using your own name. But in most cases, if you intend to offer a product or service, then you will fare much better if you name that product or service you wish to offer, rather than putting yourself at the top of the menu (so to speak).

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