Categories
ENGLISH POLITICS Society

The mythology of the Greek crisis

If you have any Greek friends you have probably heard the yarns.  The terrible harsh measures imposed on Greece “for the banks”.  Global capitalism eating up it’s children like Saturn and not a Zeus in sight to fight back.  Even Alexis Tsipras, the communist trained youngster, couldn’t do a Hermes on them.  He talked the talk and then somersaulted into submission signing one after another Memorandum of Understanding.  The “sold off Greece”, “mortgaged our future” and many other horrible things.   According to most Greeks it was either “the Germans making money off us” or “the EU making an example of us”.  According to conspiracy theorists it is “the beginning of a global economic meltdown.”

Let me help you with some facts.

  1. Greek business is, in general, crap.  “Crap” being a term I use in the strictest sense to denote lazy and unorganized.  Greece doesn’t really produce anything.  As a consultant I see a lot of companies “insides”.  Even those that appear to be healthy or export orientated are usually dependent on lazy government contracts one way or another.  There is no “private sector” really because even companies that don’t belong to the government, end up making most of their money directly or indirectly from the government.  Worse still, there is no major improvement.  If someone gave us a gazillion billions to pay off all our debt we would simply slide into debt immediately again.
  2. The myth about Greek civil servants still holds true.  Don’t look at official figures.  When the latest government of pseudo left incompetents took over, my father declared “well, they have no money to give away, so at least they can’t hire loads of new civil servants.”  Many people, usually like my father no longer well connected to developments, believe this.  The truth is that this government has continued with gusto in the age old Greek tradition of giving jobs for votes.  They just find new ways.  We have consultancy positions, committees and dozens of other ways to give money to have people dependent enough to vote for them again.  It is the PASOK know-how.  (A lot of PASOK went into the current government.)
  3. Greeks are still living the good life, they just complain more.  We have all taken a hit and it is true that some luxury items like expensive cars or international travel have been scaled back.  It is also true that people on the edge of poverty are worse off.  But the picture is not so clear.  Hospitals are worse off, lacking essentials very often, but most people find a way to get either private health care or some in between solution.  Doctors working in public hospitals abuse expensive machinery on the side for example.  Bus travel is virtually free as there are never ticket inspectors.  You hardly ever see anyone with a ticket anymore.  Most Greeks still own the house they live in and their summer house and possibly a flat or two in the city which they rent out or AirBnb on the side.  How many Germans have that?

I have written before about the many signs that Greeks are still wealthier and lazier in economizing than most Europeans.  Things like the lack of used goods stores or the price of coffee. Greeks still top charts on rates of spending on personal care or plastic surgery.   Supermarkets recently started charging for plastic bags and there was an uproar.  Old habits die hard.  You still don’t see too many people with carrier bags.  We just take plastic bags from the vegetables section and use them!  The “average American” we all like to make fun of, has infinitely more financial literacy than a Greek.  We don’t spread risk, or count investments or move money, here is a conversation with your average Greek about debt.

No, that sort of thing is for “stupid foreigners.” We just wait for the next Euro idiot to give us more money to share.

Categories
Technology

The real problem with Facebook is its lack of a business model

“If Facebook disappeared tonight, it would take the planet maybe 2 days to get over it.”  It’s not the first time I have heard this being said. And even though it sounds like a terrible sweeping generalisation from someone trying to impress over dinner, I tend to agree.  Some say it is useless. It definately doesn’t offer real services like Maps, or YouTube or Google Docs.  It isn’t a globally accepted personal ID yet. They haven’t even merged the sign in process for all their different acquisitions yet.    Messenger is a terrible messaging platform, simply not designed for finding things or organising messages or getting anything done. Much like Facebook it is a sometimes pleasant time wasting area of our lives.  Instagram is an absolutely atrocious place to store your photographs or even to promote them. It is not as if you can easily export them all to take anywhere else or even other basic things any photographer would ask for.

Facebook seems to impose stupid restrictions on WhatsApp and any other app it makes.  It takes ages to transfer even winning ideas from one of its properties to another. Because Facebook’s business model is non existent.   They are basically low level con artists, out to milk everybody a little at a time. In fact I think its mission statement should read:

To waste everyone’s time by dilly dallying with mediocre solutions to minor problems while taking advertising money from people with extremely imprecise targets in life or business.”  It is almost as if they do it on purpose.  First they tell everyone to make business pages, then they make sure that nobody sees those pages.  Unless you pay for ads. They tell everyone to focus on video, then downplay video. The introduce ridiculously infantile advertising tools at a pace so slow it makes you wonder what sort of idiot would put up with them.

Turns out all of us so far.  Because every time they give out for free something awesome in terms of human manipulation.  For me it is the easy experiments. I have 1500 “friends”on Facebook and I try out things on them.  No protocol, no rigour, just throw it out and get a whiff of how they work it. Easiest playground ever for marketing people.  I will regularly visit and revisit topics to gauge at an instant how “public” opinion is shifting. I know its not perfect but it is fast and dirty and often all I need to help my thought process along or get ideas.  And this is exactly what Zuckerberg and his friends are doing to all of us.

When Facebook ads started, it was so open you could make an ad to be seen only by one person.  I did it many times. Want to impress someone in a board meeting? Just find out his hobbies and basics  and you could have him or her on your microsite in less than a day. It is not just because they lack experience.  It is because they really don’t care. In a deep and meaningful way, they don’t give half a hoot. They have no ethics and it is apparent in their products which are essentially all designed as if to avoid any practical application whatsoever on purpose.

You can’t blame an artist for whatever art is created.  He never sold that painting as an accurate map or that sculpture as a hammer.  Facebook’s mission statement can only be something vague like connecting people because they are too lazy and too unethical to ever dare hold up a measure with any more specificity.  They are not “connecting people” any more than a blood sucking leech is connecting you to it’s other victims.

So what happens next?

Facebook can only follow Google’s lead really.  Make, buy or think of something that people want in order to get them using your platform.  Knowing Facebook it will be silly stuff.  No matter, guess we need silly stuff too.  Games, time wasters, Flappy Birds and social games that become fashionable.  From “click here to find out what medieval king you were” to “we tell you what you will look like in sixty years”, that is Facebook.  That is all it is.  That’s as good as it gets.  Facebook has no business model because what it sells is about as useful as recreational drugs.  So let’s not ask if they did something illegal.  Let’s ask if their entire operation should have been legal in the first place.