ramblings of an aimless mind

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Archive for December 2010

Is a diamond forever?

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I guess Twitter can be useful sometimes. From Dash’s twitter feed I found a very interesting article on the marketing strategy employed to sell the world diamonds.

It is an extremely long article, but worth spending time on. Especially when it read like this…

Since “young men buy over 90% of all engagement rings” it would be crucial to inculcate in them the idea that diamonds were a gift of love: the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love. Similarly, young women had to be encouraged to view diamonds as an integral part of any romantic courtship.

or like this…

The idea was to create prestigious “role models” for the poorer middle-class wage-earners. The advertising agency explained, in its 1948 strategy paper, “We spread the word of diamonds worn by stars of screen and stage, by wives and daughters of political leaders, by any woman who can make the grocer’s wife and the mechanic’s sweetheart say ‘I wish I had what she has.'”

My reaction to thisarticle is mixed. On one hand, I bow in reverence to N.W. Ayer, the advertising agency in charge of this entire campaign. The skill and dexterity with which they have moulded, twisted and reshaped our perceptions of diamonds is masterly and worthy of  respect, even if it is grudgingly given.

The sad part is the knowledge the general population has been hoodwinked, make no mistakes about it. Through glamorous and aspirational pictures of celebrities, catchy slogans and well studied “emotive” advertising campaigns, the diamond trading companies have casually reached into our pockets and helped themselves to a wad of cash. Even more surprising is that publicising this knowledge will probably do nothing to put an end to us being hoodwinked. A bit strange no?

So many things in history are a triumph of the organised few over the undisciplined and fractured many. A very important fact of life.

Written by clueso

December 29, 2010 at 1:15 am

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The science and politics of CO2

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Here is a nice article in the NY times about the origins of the research on atmospheric Carbon dioxide levels and where things are at the moment.

I found it massively interesting and informative. Hoping you will do too.

Written by clueso

December 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm

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Do we need management?

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I read an interesting article on Technology Review describing how a new company is trying to make predict the success of products by giving the people who directly work on it a pool of imaginary money and asking them bet on the success/failure of each project the company undertakes.

This was first tried in a videogame company where the software engineers bet on the success of all the current projects the company was working on. It is a longish article, but a surprising outcome was that the engineer’s predictions were dramatically more successful than those by the marketing department. Apparently, they also uncovered that as people moved up the hierarchy, their predictions were less accurate. Most amusing was the observation that companies are ignoring this new technique of prediction to protect their “awesome management”.

Here’s a thought. Technology now seems to be able to allow the frontline workers to identify the products most likely to be successful. It also allows them to discuss and float new ideas via social networking and wikis. Finally they are allowing them to sell (eBay. Barnes and Noble self publishing etc). In essence, it is allowing them to takeover the functions of the marketing, creative and sales departments. So will we see a massive number of companies driven completely by the frontline workers? I remember during my time as a software engineer how everyone used to complain about the “awesome management” who supposedly did nothing. Will engineers grasp the nettle and try to go it alone?

I also think that followers of the ideology who advocate ultimate power to the workers should sit up and take notice. It is a fantastic opportunity to adopt cutting edge technology to show how their ideology is feasible and workable.

on the whole, very thought provoking…

Written by clueso

December 10, 2010 at 12:02 am

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Another advantage of doing a PhD…

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This article from the New York times popped into my RSS reader yesterday and obviously I was intrigued.

It is about how in the modern world it is not unusual to find women who earn more than their boyfriends/husbands and how this fact changes the dynamics of their relationship. Most of the article is devoted to anecdotal experiences, but one line near the end offering advice to successful women is what caught my eye…

“go after men who draw their confidence from sources other than money, like academics and artists.”

So PhD students and future academics have just become more attractive to successful women? Maybe there is a silver lining to this job after all 😉

Written by clueso

December 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm

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