Categories
Business LAW

GDPR is so stupid it is scary

I can picture the scene.  Some EU bureaucrat, on his low tech EU email client, had to go through the EU complicated way of reporting yet another viagra spam email.  “This has to stop!” he righteously  complained loudly to other EU bureaucrats twiddling their thumbs.  “I cannot receive that email I need from Nigeria because the damn system keeps thinking it is a fake prince sending it!”  The rest of us don’t know why they didn’t just use Gmail instead.    We hardly remember what spam is here in the rest of the world, because Google’s AI deals with it so effectively before it ever gets near us.

But the EU bureaucrat did what EU bureaucrats do.  He made a committee that started a process which made national committees which authorized funds to research a topic which needed researchers to hire more bureaucrats to end up with a massive nonsensical blurb which they eventually got other EU bureaucrats to vote for and announced to the world in what is easily the grandest proof of how far behind reality they all are.

GDPR is so broad in its scope it is legally practically trash.  The more you read “experts” analyze it, the worse it gets.  Since when can a legal requirement from one group of countries force the entire planet to do something?  If I, a euroloving citizen, travel to a remote tropical island with 50 inhabitants and one computer and the hotel there asks for my data without doing all the GDPR it needs in IT infrastructure and communicating, can I then sue them?  It seems I can.

For anyone with the slightest experience in IT and database infrastructure, the more you look at GDPR, the more you despair.    Because unlike the counter productive cookie banner which simply wastes a little time, GDPR was implemented using what looks like knowledge of current IT practices.  Some of those well paid committees and their well paid experts actually did some work this time and hashed together a semblance of what they think a modern IT infrastructure should look like.  Which is even more problematic.

This is a big planet and a “legal entity” is an extremely fluid notion.  You are reading a personal blog where I publicly air all sorts of complaints about things I see and don’t like.  Do I have to prove I don’t make money out of this blog?  What if you are subconsciously impressed enough to hire me as a consultant as a result of all this wisdom?  Sure there are enormous companies with legal departments and big IT clans.  Even those however have very different approaches to how they are organized both in terms of the role of marketing departments and in terms of IT philosophies.  And of course probably 99% of “legal entities” on Earth have no IT department and no marketing department.  Or if they do it is one person struggling to get the basics done.

I am really curious to see the first case of someone being charged under GDPR.  What sort of “experts” will be called upon and what sort of “standard” they will retrospectively demand.  “Sure, you used double opt in for the past ten years, but look, here on page 2536 of GDPR, clause 7d stipulates that….”  And then you will counter with by analyzing entries in your database from eight years ago.  And then some sort of IT wizard judge will be able to come to a conclusion?

If GDPR was designed to curtail Google and Facebook it is the most ridiculous and destructive indirect way to do it.  The EU can slap penalties on these companies anytime it wants to anyway.  It doesn’t need to cripple everyone else in the meantime.  If anything, Googlem Facebook and other big U.S. platforms will come out stronger from all this as millions of small companies will prefer to use their cloud infrastructure rather than try and figure out how to be GDPR compatible.    If GDPR was made in order to promote specific types of marketing and penalise others it is high time Euro bureaucrats crawled out of their holes and visited the real world.  Marketing has moved a long way since those Viagra emails only you keep receiving. because your email infrastructure was built by a committee.

The EU put up a nonsensical, needless roadblock to doing business in Europe.   Legitimate Nigerian princes with large inheritances will simply do their business somewhere else.

 

Categories
Business Technology

Facebook killed 14 people in May

That is what the headlines ought to be.  Not “A Facebook bug changed suggested sharing settings to ‘public’ for up to 14 million users“.  Think about it.  Assuming Facebook is telling the truth (and we have absolutely no way to know if it was 14 million, 140 million or all of Facebook affected) out of the 14 million there is an enormous probability that they affected users with serious legal, social or psychological problems.  Maybe a crazy ex wife, a stalker, a student or some other privacy problem which led a percentage of those affected to suicide.  In fact, based on the evidence accumulating scientifically, it is not entirely unfair to say that Facebook not only did it’s best to grab users with mental problems but also that it actively does its best to make those problems worse.

It is pretty safe to assume that Facebook didn’t release this information because of their new drive to honesty.  Even if it was only 14 million users affected (which I highly doubt), that is a lot of time wasting Facebook psychopaths online with the potential to uncover it.  Many of those are constantly checking other people’s feeds, gossiping and trying to find out whether their boyfriend saw that post about that other girl or not.  (And other such human micro drama.)  Facebook had to reveal the bug because a lot of people would have noticed and proved it’s existence.  A lot of the users it managed to make addicted during one of the many hours they spend aimlessly scrolling up and down their timelines and checking other people’s timelines.

Here’s one problem:  nobody can really check up on Facebook.  Here’s a worse problem: their infrastructure is terrible.  Here’s the real issue: Facebook remains the toy of an unbalanced teenage hacker at heart.

In many ways it is a self repairable problem.  Unlike other online tools, Facebook is a complete waste of time.  The company has specialized in providing inconsequential services.  It’s not helping you get to work.  It’s not giving you free document processing tools.  And it’s running out of ways to entice users to spend time on it’s useless, buggy, platform.

Categories
Business

The Cryptocurrency backstory is all wrong

If you ask Google how many UK pounds you get for 100 US dollars you will get the result immediately.  Ask it to convert 10 0xBitcoin to FlorinCoin and you get nothing.  In fact you can ask Google pretty much anything about cryptocurrencies and it behaves like some dumb search engine would 15 years ago.  Which is peculiar.  Highly peculiar.

So CoinMarketCap took over as “the Google of cryptocurrencies”.  It has a similarly minimal design approach and a similar inclusivity with no questions asked.  Rather dodgy new currencies appear regularly, much like Google doesn’t interfere with results a lot.

But all this just makes things worse.  I clicked on Trending “Gainers and Losers” and saw a big list of cryptocurrencies gaining more than 100% even and on the “losers” pretty small losses for a few cryptocurrencies.  Of course the whole thing is doing well.  There are many (big) winners and few (small) losers.  Which is peculiar.  Highly peculiar.  When the site changed the way it calculated market capitalization it wiped billions off the crypto market.  This is a very bad version of a Google type monopoly in a market with no need to create such a monopoly.  Heck, in true crypto approach, attention should be blockchained away from any single such website!

It is all about the story.  I raved about the NBA making fantastic stories about everything.  I then (previous post) stopped watching the NBA all together because they betrayed me.  They lost the key element of all such stories: justice.  With blatant bad officiating all their other stories make no sense.  I don’t care anymore if LeBron is a fantastic athlete.  If he knows the matches are rigged and doesn’t speak up (or quit) he is part of the problem.

In a similar vain cryptocurrencies have always been plagued by a bad reputation.  Drugs, illegal activities, blackmailing schemes and bad movie plots.  And unless it changes its approach, CoinMarketCap is part of that problem.

Categories
Business

Open Letter to NBA commisioner

You just lost a die hard NBA fan. I have written about it, I have blogged about it, heck I even did a podcast about it. “Why the NBA is what everyone should emulate” was the title and that is what I believed until tonight. To me the NBA was a model of how all sports, heck, all organisations should work. And today you ended that for me.

In all my years of following the league, I have never spoken out against officiating. I really believed that the NBA had checks and balances. It obviously doesn’t. Game 1 of the Finals was not a series of bad calls. It was the NBA bowing to Las Vegas. It was blatant, it was ugly, it was obvious and it was uncalled for.

There is an advertisement that plays often during time outs from a big U.S. company that “lost trust” and now is trying to get it back. Well, you had better start preparing a similar ad, because tonight you lost one of the NBA’s greatest fans.

P.S. I don’t support any particular team. I loved the NBA because my whole family loves (and plays) basketball.

UPDATE: To their credit, I received this response within less than 24 hours.

…and my response to that:

I am really impressed by the speed of your response and thank you very much for this.  However:

1. You simply sent my the referrees saying that they haven’t changed their mind!  That was not an answer.
2. My problem was not with that particular call but a SERIES of bad calls.  Things we ALL saw in slow motion from various angles.  LeBron NOT fouling and getting called for it when he stripped the ball cleanly and then being fouled (we all saw it) and no foul being given for example.
3. Full disclosure would be the full game report, not just OT of the last two minutes.  Full disclosure would be the discussion and video, what goes into the post game reports so that we all better understand the rules.
4. At this level, even one referee mistake can change a match.  The NBA should have the guts to reverse match results if (like Game 1) it was many many more than one referee mistakes.
You can do better.
Categories
Business Technology

Facebook made one little mistake in it’s GDPR response

I wrote about the fuss on GDPR but Facebook’s response made it even worse.  Their UI department essentially made fun of both the EU and the entire planet by forcing us to waste time in a most amusing (to them) way.  They had two questions to ask us.  It could have been done with two clicks.  But no.  Let’s see what they actually chose to do instead:  (In Greek on purpose.  I want you to focus on the whole image, not the text.)

It didn’t need a splash screen.  Under the pretense of explaining to us what it is all about however they want you to click on the bottom right because then you might…

..just click on the bottom right again without thinking in the next screen and accept without looking at it.  I would love to know what the percentage of people who fell for this were.  I am guessing around 60-70%.  Just click on it to get to your timeline and whatever you wanted to do.  But some might have clicked on it and then thought “oh no, maybe I should read this stuff”.  So the Facebook UI team pulls a second trick out of their hat.

Another splash screen.  Supposedly explaining stuff, which nobody will read and they know it.  No, the real reason this is here is to get you clicking on the bottom right again as you anxiously worry that you’re late to like your wife’s latest post.

And here again another sneaky bit of UI magic.  Put the choice under the visible part of the screen.  Who will bother scrolling down, eh?

But hey, don’t worry.  You get nice extra screen telling you that your selection was saved.  Yippee, we were all worried that maybe it wasn’t saved.  So click, click, click that bottom right….click and all this will go away…

…or maybe not so quickly.  Another pseudofriendly splash screen with another big blue bright button down there to click on.  By now you are biting at the chomp, raring to get to your feed.

The UI masters however are not done.  They are running experiments on you even as the planet castigates them for running experiments on you.  Why is this option not a slider like the other one?  Because they want you to click on what seems more “obvious”.

 

Sure, I want Facebook to recognize my face, whatever, get to that blue button and back to my feed!

Well done, your selection is saved.  You are a hero.  But we are not done with you.  Click the button, click the button…

Accept these terms if you want to continue using Facebook.  Oh, OK, right, that is like my girlfriend demanding I marry her before we ever have sex again.  And she tells me after we get naked and started.  That big blue button doesn’t say “next”, it now says “agree” but you are well taught by now to always click down there.  And now, only now, you can see the final mistake of the Facebook UI team.

They should have put a middle finger instead of a thumbs up.

 

Categories
Business

GDPR – Things you want to learn from this latest EuroFAIL

  1. American companies just laughed in the face of GDPR legislation.  Their legal departments probably had a whole load of other stuff ready to roll out anyway.  “By continuing to use this website…”  and whatever too long scroll down you never bothered looking at just got longer.  Amazon already has a segment referring to the zombie apocalypse.  In essence, they treated it like the completely counter productive cookie acceptance button.
  2. Smaller companies struggled to understand it and comply.  In essence all such regulation plays into the hands of bigger companies.  They have IT departments, marketing strategies, legal eagles and everything you need to understand and deal with it.  Small businesses are now weighed down by one more hurdle.  The European Union shot them in the foot of any plans they had to get more digital.
  3. A whole ecosystem of advisors had a field day.  Some of us are old enough to remember that the same thing happened with Y2K and every other end of the world scenario.  Marketing “specialists”, legal “experts” and IT “consultants” love this sort of thing.  You are paying for them to prove you need them.  To make you feel safe.  To cover your ass when the boss asks if everything is OK.

Let me be clear.  I am in no way a Euro skeptic.  I love the way they managed to ban roaming charges.  When they facilitate trade or movement of people in Europe.  But not this. This is too little, too late.  So late that it isn’t even relevant.  If they want to beat Silicon Valley, this approach will not work.  If they want to levy enormous fines on Google or Facebook they don’t need to invent pitiful excuses like this.

Innovation.  These days, even in the legal department tricks you have to do much much better than GDPR.

Categories
Business

Two pharmacists teach marketing every morning

The jeep was moving in a very unusual manner.  Slowly and in the middle of the road.  I instinctively pulled over in order to figure out the mystery.  Which didn’t take too long.  A bushy tailed big dog trotting along.  A woman in the driver’s seat of the jeep looked very worried as I passed carefully by her dog.  This was her idea of a morning dog walk, a lazy person’s excuse for doing something half heartedly.   Five minutes earlier I had passed by another woman, quite a different story.  Despite the cold she was in shorts, running quite fast, her fuzzy hair in a bandana.  An almost permanent smile lit her face as she purposefully sped past.  I see her every morning.  She crisscrosses the entire neighborhood doing 10km.  I have even met her up on our mountain with a gaggle of other women cackling and laughing as they ran.

Both of them are pharmacists.  Guess who’s store is always full?

Categories
Business Technology

Facebook just fired your marketing department and made me invaluable

What a shock.  About 60-70% of your marketing plan has just been made obsolete by Facebook’s changes.  It’s not their fault.  You are idiots to have ever believed them.  The signs were always there.  First they said “everyone make pages!”  So you did.  Some companies even forsake a website and make the Facebook page a main hub of activity.  Now it sits there almost useless, collecting a few likes from your employees if you are lucky.  Then they said “do video!”   So you obeyed and pumped money, changed teams, bought equipment for that too.  Guess what?  Now they are saying video is no longer what they want.  Less than a year later!   You paid for special advisers, you paid for adverts, you went to training, listened to podcasts, followed the “developments”.  What “developments”?  Let’s face it.  Nobody has a clue, they are just running after Facebook and paying for it.  Those clever clogs that said “we will handle your social presence” just got royally screwed.  They are now officially useless.   And clueless.

I hate to say “I told you so” but, no actually, I love to remind you about it.  From day 1 of it’s existence, I have written that Facebook is a scam.  Mark Zuckerberg has the mentality of a hacker.  Not the cute ones you see in films helping the hero by remotely opening doors and getting information about the enemy.  No, Facebook is the largest organization ever built to perpetuate a completely selfish attitude to business which can be summarized as:

Grab what you can, when you can.  Who cares about everyone else?

This sounds like a line from a film about Wall street and many would even justify it possibly.  But not in the way Facebook implements it.  Facebook systematically changes its rules and ecosystem to screw everyone else.  It starts with the user.  It’s only purpose is to keep you on the platform.  It doesn’t offer anything useful, just a semblance of a real tool.  Remember those?  Real tools, like the ones in your CRM or your ERP.  Things you actually do work with.    While some idiots were getting excited and promoting Facebook groups as “better than old fashioned online forums”, people at Facebook were laughing, knowing it was just a scam.  They had put it together in a couple of weeks and were already on their next thing.  You were promoting a duck long dead.

The entire industry of Facebook watchers is now proposing workarounds.  It is their way of not admitting the problem.   “Stick to live video!” they say.  Fantastic.  Heck I work for a company that sells equipment for this, anything from a 5,000 euro small set up for a school or company to a 5 million studio for a TV channel, we can make a killing.  Only it would be completely stupid to let you do it for Facebook.   Of course you need a better plan, one that keeps the assets in your ecosystem and only uses Facebook as, when and if it is worth it.  Until they change their minds again next week.  “Turn to Messenger!” they say.  “Use bots!”   Sure guys, anything you say.  Let’s all use an infantile messaging system with no decent API, no decent search and lacking all the great tools we know and love in serious tools for business.  Business hasn’t changed.  You still need a database with your data somewhere you can control.  Something like a CMS, or a web front end or anything that won’t change next time Zuckerberg wakes up on the wrong side of his bed with a new best idea.

The only thing I will agree on with Facebook is the need for long comments and deep discussion.  I am an excellent online troublemaker.  Kicking up a fuss with long comments and causing a commotion is what I enjoy best in my free time online.  So far I thought of it as a disadvantage, something to keep away from business accounts.  But my time has come!  Despite Facebook’s idiotic commenting technology which makes following an argument rather difficult, it seems the universe if finally in need of my natural calling.

If nobody is seeing that business page and nobody is commenting on your posts feel free to contact me for help.  Oh by the way I just tripled my prices but you shouldn’t worry about that, after all Facebook is much worse.   At least I am honestly telling you about it up front…

Categories
Business

Google will never buy Kevin Durant

When the Golden State Warriors got Kevin Durant we were impressed.  What was already a super star team just got even …super starier.  The Warriors couldn’t even hide the fact as he single handedly won matches and LeBron tried to defend 2 or even 3 players on his own at times.  As the finals ended today, (4-1 exactly as I had publicly predicted by the way) I find it hard not to draw parallels with Google.  

 

Between Google and Facebook, online advertising has demolished the old names in media.  Hundreds of million of dollars are flowing every day in a new direction.  But only Google has the intelligence to handle it well.  It isn’t wasting time in messaging apps because messaging apps do not contain much useful information from which to figure out what ads to show you.  Facebook has the 4 most resource hungry apps for Android.  Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and of course the Facebook app itself.  For no good reason.  As they integrate Instagram with Facebook more and more, you can’t help but wonder why we even need four separate apps from Facebook.  While they experiment with screwing up your timelines, Google is getting the job done.

 

Google keeps improving Android at such an amazing pace, even now, that Apple only has to copy a few features every time to manage to entertain its audience.  Which is sort of the point.  Nobody was anywhere near Google in Artificial Intelligence.  Yet Google didn’t launch anything magic until it needed to.    It could blow everyone out of social tomorrow.  Some of us remember that day when our Google searches showed us what our friends were doing and what they thought of our Google searches.  It was a freak day, maybe I was on some A/B test.  I saw what Google could do if they used more of what they know about me and my friends.

 

Google will not though.  It is not about having 4 All NBA players on your team.  It is about hiding their talent unless it becomes necessary.  If Golden State blew out the Cavs today by 160-80 everyone would be furious.  Call it sportsmanship if you like, I call it clever business sense.  Basic human understanding.  Nobody likes a freak.  Society does not tolerate outliers.  Business and government tend to target whoever does too well.  Google will never make a fuss about buying a Kevin Durant.  They got Ray Kurzweil and didn’t make a fuss.  He got natural language recognition working way better than everyone else.  Siri is a joke but Google is making sure you don’t feel bad about it.  In fact it is quite likely that Apple and Facebook end up borrowing technology from Google in order not to fail; they are now officially too big to fail.

 

It takes a little bit more to make a Champion.  And more after that if you don’t want everyone to hate the Champion.

Categories
Business Marketing

Good cop – bad cop: why only Facebook is evil

In a lot of our discussion about the future we tend to bunch Facebook and Google together.  After all they are two Goliaths that rely on advertising.  Unlike Microsoft that has spread its income sources, or Amazon who is in a different arena all together.  Grouping them together however is unfair, misleading and dangerous.

“….the great organ of social life, the prime element of civilization, the channel through which native talent, native genius, and native power may bubble up daily…”  The quote is not from a recent Zuckerberg motivational speech but from James Gordon Bennett, who published the Morning Herald in 1835, one of the first newspapers which tried to sell an audience to advertisers.

Facebook has a simple and similar target.  To get us to spend more time on their platform.  Wasting time?  Sure.  With fake news?  Of course.  It is the newspaper of our time and it is a tabloid newspaper for sure.  Facebook will do anything to get you to stay.  It will interrupt you and make sure you get no work done.   It will buy out other platforms like Instagram only to gradually turn them into…Facebook.  It will copy features from Snapchat with no shame if Snapchat or any future smaller company isn’t willing to be bought by Facebook.  Facebook has no purpose by definition.  Mark Zuckerberg has excelled since his college days in dreaming up new ways for people to waste time.  There is no purpose.   He simply thrives on studying your time wasting habits per se, whether it is flicking up and down a timeline, looking at photos of friends or creating controversy.  (Which his systems always reward in one way or another.)

The opportunistic approach is best illustrated in the erratic way it deals with its customers.  Advertising on Facebook is not a science.  It can’t be.  Because they are always changing it in order to make whatever worked yesterday not work tomorrow unless you pay more.  The scandals about false video impression numbers and all the other scams Facebook has got caught for so far are just the tip of the iceberg.  The elephant in the room is that Facebook ads simply do not work as well as they want you to think they work.  Why?  Because people shop much less when they are simply wasting time.   Nobody will tell you because digital marketers are too busy taking the money you are no longer spending on “old media” and giving you fancy stats that impress you.

Contrast that with Google.  You know, that place you go when you actually want to get things done.  When you research a product purchase.  Where you find out useful stuff about your world.  Google has a much tougher job.  They have to give you services like Google Maps which are simply so useful and so much better than any other option and then find ways to monetize them without losing the title.   Advertisers that understand the difference are much more effective for their customers.  Lazy advertisers simply give in to the marketing director who only understands Facebook ads because that is what they use every day.  A Facebook ad “impression” is in no way similar to a Google Ads “impression”.  Facebook reminds me of Nazi Germany radio wardens, people that walked the streets to corral citizens all together and force them to listen to Adolf Hitler speak on the radio.  We need shared experiences and Zuckerberg is going to give you the ones he can sell.  While Google figures out machine learning, automatic translation and organizing the world’s knowledge for everyone Facebook adds smiley faces, dislike buttons and the amazing new way to say something with a colored background.

The way Facebook treats fake news is a wonderful illustration of its hypocrisy.  Much like the first tabloid newspapers almost two hundred years ago, it seeks out and promotes anything lurid and boisterous.  In the old days newspapers based on advertising for revenue had people in courts looking for scandal or even reported on the slave trade for effect.  Facebook today pretends to be politically correct but makes sure similar content reaches you.  And plenty of it.  It is a bit like newspapers pretending not to control the classifieds section or not carrying blame for readers’ letter in “opinion” pieces.

In the mid 19th century, the first “trolls” were in fact journalists working for cheap newspapers in a constant effort to increase circulation so that they could sell advertising.  Some things never change…