Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Taking it too far: Philip K. Dick on Insanity

The Quotations Page has sent you the following quotation:

Sometimes the appropriate response to reality is to go insane.
--Philip K. Dick Valis

Comment from ernie.cordell: -----------------------------------

I have a friend who likes to cite the old staple from Alcoholics
Anonymous Meetings, "The definition of insanity is to repeat the
same behavior, expecting different results."

If this rule is extensible from repeatedly drinking with the
expectation that you won't get drunk to the notion that there is
no generic resumee that can be sent to two different employers,
then surely we can extend it logically to this principle:

Sometimes the only appropriate response to reality is to start
repeating the same behavior and expecting different results.

Also, I have always disagreed with the notion that "repeating the
same behavior" means that somebody else can spit in the wind with
impunity, but somehow it is an error when I do it. Maybe there is
an entirely different principle at work here, like "Just because
somebody else succeeds at something, it doesn't mean that you will."
Also using logic, if repeating that behavior isn't wrong as well,
"Because someone succeeds at something it doesn't necessarily imply
that you won't." Maybe the rule is just "Damned if you do, Damned if
you don't."

Maybe my friend is just demonstrating the dangers of generalization:
But I think it is a mistake to equate the dangers of generalization
to the dangers of genericization. Deriving a single principle from
a variety of observations is different than discovering that the same
construct may serve in different situations.

Of course, I could be wrong. It has happened before (but doesn't
that mean that it can't possibly happen again?). It is just possible
that the market-based economy, the standard practices of retail
operation and the basis for industrialization, "interchangeable
parts" are all headed for a bad end. The ideas behind all these operations
pretty much depend on the idea that you can do the same thing twice
and charge somebody again.

Why scientific method itself is in trouble: If you can't repeat the
same behavior and get different results, then why even check?

There's a new rule in town: Nothing is repeatable; Empiricism has
been proven useless.


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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Prediction for Online Sales

Remember when you could get just about any software tool on the Web free? Then for a while Internet Access itself was free. Most of you probably know why, too -- and as a matter of fact, you probably had money in the market (at least via your retirement plan or 401K). Part of the so-called dot-com bubble was inflated by supposedly high-value stock floating on investor capital without any real earnings (and in most cases very little potential). It seems curious to me that 40 years after the movie "The Graduate_1," the stock market can be carried on a "wave of the future." If the cultural reference is lost on you, the principle shouldn't be.

So commercial activities on the Internet (strange that it should be called the dot-com bubble when so little of it seemed to be about commerce) moved towards earnings, which is not only fine, it is what should have been going on from the beginning. Nobody expected it to last forever (at least anybody with any sense), but the idea was to give us a little taste, write off the expense and make up the difference on the back end. Well, I think we've hit the back end.

I don't think the potential for continually expanding earnings isn't there anymore, I just think that we're hitting a plateau where sales techniques have become so aggressive (after a long period of nearly pathetic passivity) that they are offensive and unwelcoming. Sometimes you are led into purchases that you don't know that you made.

I'm going to have to contest two charges made to me this month. One of them is a presumptive agreement that I mention in another blog post here, and the other is based on a check box that I didn't "uncheck" indicating an "interest" in a product. I indicated an interest by not "opting out" and then I got a message to the effect "Congratulations, you just bought it."

Sorry, Mister, but you're the one who just bought it -- in case it's not clear, I mean the farm. If this is another obscure cultural allusion, look it up -- it will be in the same department as "six feet under." Sales aren't powered by muscle -- they are powered by offering value in the form of goods and service at a price that the market will bear. The market will never bear strong arm tactics, and they will soon be met by enforcement -- either natural market forces or legislation.

Pray for legislation, because natural market forces are still "law of the jungle." You can't have your customers and eat them too.

Footnote: (1) "The Aquarius" at The Daily Reckoning