Monday, May 23, 2005

Wal-Mart v. Linux

After viewing Revolution OS and Is Wal-Mart Good for America, I now understand how differently two organizations can function, one a self-imposed dictatorship and the other an “open-source” with little limitations in who is able to participate.

Wal-Mart has made it its goal to change everything we once knew about corporations. In fact, over time they have changed the balance of power in the business world. They are often considered the “world leader logistics efficiency machine.” There is no negotiation when it comes to Wal-Mart. They dictate their monopoly over their manufacturers with a goal of driving down prices. In cases where manufacturers refuse, Wal-Mart refuses to stock that manufacturer’s product. In the end, such a result hurts the retailer in a much greater degree than it does Wal-Mart. In Chris’s blog, he explains that, “Wal-Mart doesn’t mind bullying their manufacturers. Even as the manufacturer's cost of production rises, Wal-Mart will not raise their supposed “low price,” forcing the company to lose profits. If the manufacturer does not comply with their demands, Wal Mart will no longer do business with them. Rubbermaid, for example, became hugely successful thanks to Wal-Mart, but now the business has gone bankrupt...also thanks to Wal-Mart.This is a large part of why Wal-Mart is so successful. They make sure that no matter what happens during the negotiation process that they always have the upper-hand, or the advantage.

In the case of GNU-Linux, there is no upper-hand or advantage among those who maintain the organization. It is a development from the “free software movement.” Linux has twelve million users, liked for its speed, an alternative to the Windows operating system, and most importantly, is developed by programmers on the Internet. The advantage lies in specifically those who utilize the company. Negotiations over credit, or lawyers handling matters of copyright simply does not exist in the world of Linux. Relationships between Linux and its developers are that of an equal status, unlike Wal-Mart, competition is merely nonexistent. In Meghan’s blog, she explains that, “The GNU-Linux developers call all computer users to take part in the creation of software. They feel that, so long as someone has the knowledge to be able to use the system they should have free access to the available software. This is in direct opposition to the fact companies like Microsoft would like to restrict software access to just an elite few.”

It is clear to see that Wal-Mart and Linux are poar oppisites to the other in their means of productivity. In capitalistic country, it makes sense that Wal-Mart is the leading corporation it is. However, in also supposed democratic country, it is interesting that there is such controversy over the ethics of Linux. I find myself lost in our country’s “ethics” and have determined that we are just a large and endless contradiction.

Friday, May 20, 2005

ART MOBS

Art Mobs Tasks:
1) Found websites for potential PR

2) Distributed PR flyers throughout the Hunter Campus (placing them on bulliten boards, etc.)

The Long Tail Underground

The increasing existence of Long Tail organizations is feeding the brains that yearn for the obscure and providing them, among others, a resource to nurture the minds of a lacking culture. In this country, our choices depend on what companies are willing to provide given the cost. For this reason, up until recently our choices were solely between what was popular at the time.

Julia explains in her blog the situation as it exists now, and how we, as consumers, shop for what we think that we want. She explains that, “We as individuals create this pattern because we all look for certain things that we like, and maybe many other people don’t like it. There are particular artists or books that may not be very well known, but me buying those things will give that company money and in the end have a bigger effect on their income than the money that came in from everyone buying Britney Spears’s new album, or The Notebook.”

The Long Tail is a term which describes those companies which do not rent public display space to advertise what they wish to provide the public. These companies utilize the internet, and store their products in factory houses. This means of advertising and selling is proving to be just as cost-effective, if not more, than companies like Blockbuster, who store their product in its entirety in stores for customers to browse in person. Netflix, for example, “stocks movies in centralized warehouses. Their storage costs are far lower and its distribution costs are the same for a popular or unpopular movie.”

Though this clearly initiates a positive economic effect, it also generates another source of competition to companies who have been established. “Before a Long Tail kicks in the only products on offer are the most popular, but when the costs of inventory storage and distribution fall then a wide range of products suddenly becomes available; that can in turn have the effect of reducing demand for the most popular products.” Julia explains in her blog the situation as it exists now, and how we, as consumers, shop for what we think that we want. These ‘category killer’ drawbacks are merely in the hassle it requires its readers to track and organize the numerous small websites. However, organizations can utilize the strategies and technologies we’ve discussed this semester to access the vital information one seeks.

Delcicious is a great place to start. It is a great tool that any organization looking to make sense of a million and one small entities on the web can employ with ease. As Joy states in her blog, “I believe that if business took advantage of this system then they would profit in the long run. It’s not always the large investments that stand out but the small ones as well.”

Folksonomies: Good or Bad?

Folksonomies are the filing cabinets of the future, yet are being utilized today. Metadata, which is data about data is now being filed away in cabinets called “tags.” Websites are popping up all over the internet with their primary goal being to organize and create access with ease to other sites across the World Wide Web.

Sites such as Delicious, Flickr, freesound, and Simpy, just to name a few of the websites giving Google a reason to begin rethinking their format. These sites specialize in various categorizing. Delicious is the most general of those I just mentioned. It could be explained as a bookmarking website where one is able to group the sites they most frequently visit and create TAGS for them in order to find them easier in the future. Flickr is a website devoted to organizing photos. It is an alternative means to using a search engine specified for images. Freesound is similar to Flickr, however, it organizes and shares sounds.

These sites can be extremely useful if utilized correctly. If one does not understand the true concept of folksonomies, they just might end up creating more chaos than sense in their organization. One must also take into account the initial organizers of theses sites. As it states in the Wikipedia definition, “Since the organizers of the information are usually its primary users, folksonomy produces results that reflect more accurately the population's conceptual model of the information.” In Adam Mathes critique of folksonomies, he raises a good point in terms of the weaknesses that exist. He explains, “The problems inherent in an uncontrolled vocabulary lead to a number of limitations and weaknesses. Ambiguity of the tags can emerge as users apply the same tag in different ways. At the oppisite end of the spectrum, the lack of synonym control can lead to different tags being used for the same concept, precluding collacation.” There are many who believe that folksonomies are only adding to further chaos and disorganization. Laura makes reference to one of the many who agree with this.

Adam Mathes goes on to discuss the benefits and possibilites of the folksonomy, which quite possibly outway the existing limitations. “The overal cost for users of the system in terms of time and effort,” he states, “are far lower than systems that rely on complex hierachal classification and categorization schemes.” Mathes goes on to say that “the context of the use in these systems is not just one of personal organization, but of communication and sharing. The near instant feedback in these systems leads to a communicative nature of tag use.”

It is important to acknowledge the fact that folksonomies, as they exist now, are merely the beginning. The limitations that persist now will not persist forever. Jessica Paul agrees that folksonomies are a beneficial system in the making. They are the future in organization and browsing, but are constantly being improved and simplified today.

Shut Up and Listen!

The Web is now a place where communication between strangers and information divulgence run rampant. Talk becomes cheap when no one is listening, or when no one has anything credible to say. “Customer loyalty is not a commodity a company owns,” stats author Rick Levine of chapter three in the Cluetrain Manifesto. Customer loyalty exists on the basis of respect. Respect is generated on how a company conducts itself in conversations with the market. There are several means companies can utilize the internet to form such respect.

Email is now among one of the most basic means of communication on the corporate as well as social level. In Elena's last blog, she mentions the benefits of mass emailing. Mailing lists can be utilized by means of one-way or two-way form of communication. Though one-way leaves no real “opportunity for conversation, other than between you, the recipient, and me, the list owner.” Two-way mail lists, however, are where consumers in the United States can truly speak, speculate and educate each other. In this form, recipients respond to messages, and everyone else on the list sees their responses as well.

Newsgroups are similar to the two-way in its power to voice, and voice loudly. “With a single message distributed to a vast audience, and then serve as a seed for conversation. “Levine reflects on the voices within newsgroups. He speculates, “If it’s not altruism, it is something close to it – maybe an occasional touch of revenge. We listen to their voices to decide whom to trust, and we can come to some pretty accurate conclusions about who’s on the mark and who’s full of hot air.”

Internet “chat” is the most interesting of all forms of the Web communication. Deanna makes a good point about how chat rooms have gained an infamous reputation and even discusses how web pages are the domains for people to show a creative side to themselves for all to see.. According to the chapter, “chat enables conversation that feels more genuine, more substantial and more human than any other Net channel.” Levine intelligently and intuitively states this idea of “chatting” and equates it to “the verbal glue binding people separated by geography into a community.” It’s quite an interesting concept.

These means of communication are the new source for expanding the marketplace. “A single ‘corporate story’ is a fiction in a world of free conversation.” A critical aspect with large numbers of customers lies in listening to them. The internet is the perfect means for developing companies that sell with the priority of the consumer. If companies don’t begin to market by these means of internet, reality is that they soon won’t have anyone to market to at all.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Longing

Though it is difficult to define a system so vast and complex as the Internet, in Christopher Locke's Cluetrain Manifesto, it is less about the technological definition and more about the implication it bares upon our social culture. Locke explains that the Web has a great deal to do with reestablishing each of our identities and most specifically, our voices. In fact, he believes that we, as a culture, “long” for the web and the freedoms in which it grants to the common person.

Longing for the Web speaks volumes about the nature of our culture. We exist in an era of management. This dictation of roles and perceptions fastens people to a norm that is simply unrealistic. We see control of all things as a desirable and practical method of positivity and productivity. Locke explains, “Our management view extends far beyond business. We manage our households, our children, our wildlife, our ecological environment. And that which is unmanaged strikes us as bad: weeds, riots, cancer.”

In a society that is so manipulated by managed means, it almost makes sense that the masses are suddenly rebelling as if this were a public protest years and years in the making. Locke asks why the Internet is suddenly this channel of outletting. The Web could be characterized as a disguised system of anarchy, or organized chaos. It is organized in its framework, yet entirely chaotic in terms of the lack of management the system possesses. Locke claims, “Our longing for the Web is rooted in the deep resentment we feel towards being managed.”

The result of the Web is something that the heads of management systems have to be pulling their hair out over. Chris believes, however, that “Internet technology is the most powerful tool available to businesses today.” What was once a hierarchal system, thanks to the Internet, is quickly developing into an anarchist free-for-all. “The Web has become the new corporate infrastructure, in the form of intranets, turning massive corporate hierarchal systems into collections of many small pieces loosely joining themselves unpredictably.” This situation is quite ironic in that this instability is exactly what our culture fears. We are running to a system that one might expect we would be running from.

As Deb states in her blog, “Though our nation had become crazed and obsessed with the Web, we actually have no idea what it is for.” All that we can conclude is what we’ve seen as a result of its infinite and relentless power over the breakdown of management as we once knew it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Same War, Different Day

THE CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO

As a child born in the 1980’s, the World Wide Web was something that seemed to infiltrate the American culture in the same way that one might recall the telephone or television had in the earlier part of the century. With difficulty to those who were born at the very turn of a technological advancement, one could recall life without the new device, but imagining a world in the present without it, was nearly incomprehensible. Christopher Locke explains in his book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, that the internet is the common-person’s tool, and with understanding of the product it makes sense that large-scale companies and corporations are shying away from the transition to such new technological means.

It is difficult to decipher between ignorance and stubbornness. It is clear that ignorance is a large part of these corporations’ unwillingness to change with the times, for the reason that similar changes took place in America during the past century. According to Locke, companies could see that “command-and-control management didn't work so well anymore. Necessary knowledge no longer resided at the top. It was as if the organizational core had melted down, and companies that couldn't adjust fast enough — or that were culturally unwilling to shift gears — went belly up as a result.” This same situation can and will happen again. In Chris's blog, he makes reference to the Enron Scandel. This is evidence of the extreme measures large-scale corporations have already taken to preserve their power (and wallets) in response to the internet take-over. Jenni is absolutely right when she states in her blog that “this war is not a new one.”

Locke argues that it is the corporations fear that this infiltration of internet intelligence will overly educate its consumers. This is not a far-fetched claim. “In the ‘good old days,’ consumers weren't expected to make suggestions or ask for new features. They were simply supposed to buy the product — any color they wanted as long as it was black. In the same way, workers weren't expected to offer insights or suggestions, just to do what they were told.” Henry Ford set the standard for this producer atitude. This internet intelligence, however, has become a reality. One can search the internet. If he or she cannot find what they are looking for from one merchant, they may easily go to another.

As Christopher Locke states, “The internet has radically changed the marketplace.” It has become a “sink or swim” situation for companies and corporations, small and large. “For many, the new landscape is barely recognizable, online or off. Where business is headed there are no roadmaps yet, and few comforting parallels with the past. The landscape has little to do with mass production, mass merchandising, mass markets, mass media, or mass culture.” Though yielding power to the seemingly communistic community of the internet seems frightening to business man thinking only of his wallet, this new means of production and efficiency could actually create a country of intelligent consumers, and in turn, an even more intelligent group of producers.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Outsourcing

The essay "Unmade in America: The True Cost of the Global Assembly Line," poses an interesting discussion, detailing the evident problems in the "Command and Control Model." With the use of outsourcing and supply chain, among other things, the author explains the potential for backfire, as well as events that have already taken place.

The use of outsourcing, in theory, is a very good idea. However, when several if not all major corporations are utilizing the same outsource, there is a catastrophic repercussions in the event that something should happen to that source. Disaster almost struck on September 21, 1999. “An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale killed some 2,500 people in Taiwan. Within days, the stock prices of Dell, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard plummeted as investors focused for a short moment on just how much these companies depend on Taiwan-based factories. Although most of the island's suppliers were back on line within a week, worldwide orders for electronics in October fell 7 percent. Had the quake been a few tenths of a point stronger, or centered a few miles closer to the vital Hsinchu industrial park, great swaths of the world economy could have been paralyzed for months.”

This new means of supply chains establish American products, though little of the product's make up is actually anything built in the United States. The author jokes that through the process of supply chains, products do more traveling around the world than the average person. Ultimately, there is little, to nothing American about these products, other than the tags in which they receive as a finishing touch.

To read further opinions on this subject matter, Danielle, as well as Elena's blogs.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Classmate Blogs

While scanning through my classmates' blogs, i've found some interesting sites and information. In Jean's Blog, it appears that the speed-dating event sponsered by MMC's Griffin Radio, was a great success. That's great to hear. I was curious if anyone would show up at all.

Outside of Marymount activities, I found some great music spots to check out in Jennifer's Blog.

Speaking of music, Benji has a few links to some great bands, such as elliot smith and radiohead. Nice taste, Benji!

Monday, February 14, 2005

I'm a Shopoholic...

I have a problem. I know this. But is it really necessary that I address it so soon in life? Yes, I shop a lot. Actually, that statement is not entirely true. I do not shop all the time, but when I do shop, it is in utter excess. I recently moved, and I find myself constantly emersed in all of the wonderful little odds and ends that IKEA has to offer!
The other day I was at my new favorite store down in Soho, Yellow Rat Bastard, it's not too different from a lot of the stores in that area. It must be the name that keeps me coming back. The only thing stopping me from going there today was the shitty weather. Maybe Friday...or maybe by then, i'll have rationalized saving up my money for a bit longer....maybe...