We need more opinion, not political correctness: tomatoes rule!

I write. I write a lot. I write without second thought and press “publish” before I even review my text most of the time. And so should you. Here’s why.

Opinion pieces are not like other journalism or business communication. In your mind, that is something dangerous or risky. Because you are focused on objectively informing. You are clearly not out to influence the reader. News, or a business report simply array the facts. Like this quarter’s sales break down. Sure, the way you present facts makes a difference but you pretend to avoid opinion. And what good is that? You are essentially saying “I don’t know what this all means, please someone else tell me.”

No, no, I want you to do two things much more important than just look at sales figures. First of all I want you to rethink something we all had as a fixed idea. Fresh eyes on something. Have you ever considered that tomatoes are incredibly clever? Within a few hundred years they went from a relatively unknown species, limited to a small part of the planet, to conquering the entire globe all year round. If my analogy is good and you stop reading and think for a minute, you might see the world in an entirely different light. You might think of something interesting and useful for your task in hand in fact.

Masterful communicators don’t stop there.  They add the second element which propels good writing or business communication.  Fire.  Emotion.  Passion.  For the love of tomatoes, let’s stop eating bland varieties!  See how that doesn’t work?  Lack of flavor in tomatoes surely is not that important.  I set it up well and then lost it.  Why?

Passion doesn’t appear magically from the sky.  Good presentation skills or fancy writing can’t conjure it up either.  Passion is about the flow of ideas between two states.  Like a liquid moving between two bowls of differing altitude.  There needs to be a problem for there to be passion, a difference.  So if you want to communicate your opinion effectively, you need to set up that difference.  What difference?

This is a very scientific way to explain it but we are living in the age of algorithms.  What we need to do is to set up our model of how the world works first.  In business this is often our current practices.   On a personal level it is “how I think the world works”.    Political correctness crashes and burns even at this, very basic, phase.  If you can’t clearly show your model, there is no chance you will evoke emotion.   If I talk about “the liberal world view” most of you will passionately position yourself in relation to whatever you think that is and whatever else I am discussing.  Same if you say “this is how we have been doing business until now” before you make your case for change within your organization.

If you think back to an opinion piece that touched you it often started with an individual.  Poor Ahmed on a boat from Syria, here is his story and how he ended up in a prison in Sweden.  Or an amazing old man that still works the old print machine for a small local newspaper in Iceland that is supporting a community.  They start from one person and connect all the model of the world view which is in friction with that one, indicative and symbolic human.

Don’t hide behind the mask of a politically correct, bland and “safe” way of communicating.  Find that person.  Tell us the story.  Be that person.

This is a coup! How does Europe get the right to tell the internet what to do?

As the world watches him flip flop over major topics like migrant families and trade war threats, I have to grant Donald Trump a point.  Take all the nasty stuff he said about China on the campaign trail (before he started sucking up to Asian dictators) and apply it to the European Union.  Obviously GDPR has not yet played on Fox news and he hasn’t figured out what the European Commission just pulled off.  It unilaterally forced a ridiculous and extremely vague legal requirement on the entire planet!

“A Data protection officer (DPO)—a person with expert knowledge of data protection law and practices, must be appointed to assist the controller or processor to monitor internal compliance with this regulation.”  Wait a minute.  Just because a European citizen might click on my website, I have to hire some expert?  And worse still, I am not allowed to ban Europeans from visiting my website or to show them a different version?  Protectors of the internet should not be cheering GDPR, we should all be fighting it!  This is a coup, or #thisisacoup if you want to make it a trending hashtag.  You should want to if you care about the internet.

We have done our best to keep the internet free.  We fight for net neutrality.  And we are going to let some Euro-bureaucrats force vague and already technologically irrelevant regulation on the entire planet?  GDPR is not about tech, your IT people can’t make you compatible.  Neither is it a marketing issue.  GDPR isn’t even a legal issue.  How many lawyers do you know that understand databases or UI?  GDPR is 100% political.  Our national governments weren’t even asked, it is regulation instead of a directive.   European citizens didn’t even get the chance to see it ratified in national assemblies.  And – sorry to see this in writing – I am rather hoping Donald Trump notices some report on Fox news and helps us out this time around.

This is a coup.

My prime minister and your president are a similar type of idiot-genius marketers

When Donald Trump became president I did a blog post about his similarities with the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras.  I was of course mainly impressed with their marketing capabilities.  The unorthodox way they gamed the political system to win.  Some time down the line, it gets even worse.  I am not sure if all populist leaders don’t have some secret forum where they exchange ideas.

For starters they don’t have a left or right, conservative or socialist direction.  They don’t care.  Whatever sounds good, whatever tweets best.  Tariffs where a “socialist” thing, now it’s a Trump thing in an almost nationalistic way.  In no case is it felt necessary to research something.  He will head to meet the leader of North Korea unprepared.  He might even fall asleep during the meeting like Tsipras seems to do in major international leader meetings.    They both have a unique way of projecting their reality, their complete and utter stupidity, their short term, childish “truth” as if it is the actual truth.  It is like watching a two year old lie about the broken vase he is holding.

Like a rather immature two year old they both change their minds erratically and avoid any specifics.  Forget a detailed memo explaining how a major change will happen, here are a couple of tweets I shot out last night.  Go figure.  They get swayed by whoever they last met or whatever they saw on television.  The gaping lack of basic understanding of how the world works poses absolutely no obstacle to them scheming on the grandest of levels.  Our prime minister even set up the Greek Space program recently.  Sure, it is probably just a way to line the pockets of his friends, but that is irrelevant to the fantasy world he is projecting.

Trump and Tsipras hold on to simple ideas.  Really simple ideas.   Imports are bad.  Let’s kill them.  If it gets the crowd cheering they will just default to the simple “truth” in a world where nothing is simple.  And no matter how ridiculously obvious it is that these people are bowing to whatever their friends ask for, those simple “truths” keep being repeated until they drown out everyone else.  Tsipras is co ruling with a party full of people that believe that we are being sprayed from the air to influence our decision making.  Trump takes advice from Navarro.  To say these are far out extreme conspiracy theorists is an understatement.  The simple, obvious, appealing “truth” is all they care about and they somehow manage to persuade a lot of people that is the whole story.

Their opponents are in disarray because by moving pseudo ideologically they have destroyed the structure of politics as everybody else knew it.  The ultimate market redefinition.  Like going into the hayday of a Pepsi-Coke war and getting everybody to stop drinking all together because liquids are unnatural and you can get all you need from cucumbers and watermelons.   Tsipras and Trump have a lot to teach us.   Get off your soap boxes and see how you can use their methodology in other markets.

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Of course we need to get them out of politics as soon as possible.

 

Digital storytelling with an inflated piece of leather

You can go to seminars.  Watch inspiring Ted talks.  You can study storytelling from Homer to Homer Simpson until you are yellow in the face.  But we all have plenty to learn from the NBA.  I just spent my best sleeping hours watching Game 3 of the Finals and the storylines are too many to count.

Over here in Europe it is hard to explain to people.  They are used to the pathetic low levels of entertainment that soccer offers.  They don’t mind watching multiple extremely boring games as long as once in a while someone dazzles them for a few minutes or scores a goal once every forty minutes.  They put up with rigged matches and applaud Juventus, happily forgetting the unbelievable scandals that sent that very same team out of the picture a few years ago.

Every sport gets better when you know the storylines, the players, the drama.  The NBA however is the only sport that makes sure you can’t miss them.  Let me illustrate my point with just the most recent posts from the official NBA Instagram account today as I find them:

On the left a pretty straightforward “match up” type story.  LeBron versus Curry.    If some post Jungian psychologist wanted to frame this, we would say it is the anticipation stage of the story.  Dramatic graphics, blue versus red, this is an eternal struggle as a poster.  A black man with white clothes is keeping the ball away from a white man in dark clothes, their bodies locked, their wills at odds.  The two greatest players of our time with the word “AT” between them.

Each player in the NBA has a tiered set of myths.  LeBron is not just about his “legacy” or “Greatest Of All Time”.  He is “chasing the ghost” and “returning to Cleveland” as a modern day Ulysses.  On the right he is flying, the illusion of invincibility of the dream stage in any story as the hero has some success but…not quite.  There is always something more.  Like the endless supply of StormTroopers that Luke Skywalker shoots, the endless levels of a computer game.

The NBA excels in making stories out of older players too.  Here we have LeBron, alive, in colour, next to a faded retro Bill Russel.  Michael Jordan still makes millions from selling shoes on the back of this sort of myth making.  And even much lesser players are kept around contributing to “the big NBA family”.  Today I choked up as with a few simple gestures the NBA made a fuss about a person in charge of TV something or other.  That’s how good they are!

In fact today as we watched, the sportscaster said “wow, those two are setting the stage to take a role in the future here”.  He was referring to two players with microphones, another NBA first whereby we can listen to the players during the game.  It really brings the action, the passion and the human stories to life.  These two players, according to the sportscaster, will likely take a place as commentators.  Indeed there are many great players now entertaining us, analyzing moves and making sure we understand what is happening.  Shaq a prime case study of such a transition.   On the left “4XMagic, legends reunited”.  Players don’t drift off and disappear as happens in other sports and other leagues.  If you make it to the NBA, you can be here for life, simply changing roles in the story.  It is like DC or Marvel characters, ever weaving narratives along the way.  The Warriors’ coach was a sportscaster before becoming a champion.  Before that he was a champion with the Bulls as a player.  It never ends.

In fact the NBA is so amazingly good at making stories of everything that all the social responsibility things they do seem relatively “normal”.  LeBron can donate a hundred million for children from rough areas to study and we don’t even flinch.  After all he is himself David Copperfield or Aladdin or some other mythological hero in his own story of rags to riches.  You can watch a feature film about it.  He produced it.  And that was before the unbelievable way he brought the title to Cleveland after so many years.  Rocky Balboa revisited with a very real “local boy” aspect, he deserves the statue even more than the one erected for Stallone’s film hero.

The NBA hardly allows a single bit of information to flow to social media or any other media without making sure it can be framed within stories.  Steph Curry, the amazing little boy that nobody took seriously, like the Lord of the Rings bringing a title to a team which was at the bottom of the league for so many years.

The NBA produces so much content that fans can produce their own mini movies simply repurposing video.  Some of them are quite good actually.  Other fans produce short films with “footage” from games they edit together into a story or a video clip.

But they do so much more.  I was amazed at the insightful comments of my younger son until I discovered the source of his basketball wisdom: short clips on Instagram which are converted with graphics reminiscent of NBA 2K showing how a team or a player executed a particular play.  And it’s not just the spectacular stuff.  Any and every aspect of the game are brought to the forefront.  A particularly good example is the replay.  While other sports like soccer avoided it like the plague (probably so that they could more easily rig matches), replay became integral to the NBA.  They branded it, they gave it a story.  Much like the frustration stage in a good story, when the hero struggles, is treated unfairly or is confronted with a seemingly unbeatable enemy.  The referees go to the monitor.  They wear big headphones so they can concentrate.  We see it all, nothing is secret or vague.  In fact now in the TV coverage they added a new character;  the wise man who knows the rules and explains what is at stake.  Again branded, this mini story within the main narrative ;the replay center brings a happy end to that particular scene with justice.  We all saw that LeBron wasn’t stepping on the three throw line so here is one extra point for you retrospectively.

Most of what the NBA does is then copied in other sports.  Only it is hardly ever quite as good.  A large part of this has to do with the sport itself, the rules and the setup from its beginnings.  An even larger part has to do with the fact that the players actually enjoy these roles we assign them.  They participate. They embellish.  They have their own marketing teams adding and playing with the themes.  Some of the most creative adverts and brands around them are constantly building on the story lines.

If you have seen Space Jam or don’t know the story of Michael Jordan, his foray into baseball and his triumphant return, you have seen  the Odyssey, Orpheus or the Ramayana.  It is a classic story, a true story, an amazing story where the rise is followed by the frustration stage.  His invincibility was lost, nightmarish enemies and threats appear and in the climax of the plot all hope is apparently lost.  Like LeBron’s Cavaliers losing 3-1 in the finals.  I lost good money betting against my Cav-fan son that they couldn’t turn it around.  It had never been done by any team, let alone against the most amazing super team of all time.  But in the resolution, Jordan, LeBron and the other NBA heroes get out there and overcome the odds.  They are super heroes and we have witnessed and felt what ancient Greeks felt in a good tragedy.

A lot of people try to copy the NBA.  And so they should.  So we all should when our job is communicating.  This is ten adults in shorts bouncing around an inflated piece of leather after all.  If you don’t watch it, if you don’t take in a little of the plot, you will just say it is “boring”.  The fact that they have me awake at 4am enjoying the drama shows I am hooked.  The fact that the TV ratings are through the roof and revenue from all NBA related goods above the roof prove I am not alone.

Human beings try to assign meaning to puffs of clouds, to random numbers and to events in their lives related to the stars.  Some say that is what God is.  Our desperation to add meaning to the mystery of life.  I’m not sure about all that.  If there is a God, I am starting to suspect he too is copying storytelling techniques from the NBA.

 

 

 

In praise of fake profiles

If you are in sales or marketing and above 25 years of age, you are probably wrong.  The assumptions you base your decisions on are severely limited.  We often thank our kids for ideas, for keeping us “in touch”, but it is much much more complicated a matter.  And extremely important.   I have hundreds of fake profiles.   Not sure if “fake” is the correct term.  I pretend to be someone I am not as a form of market research.  In fact it is often the first thing I do when presented with a new project.

It starts with a fake Google account.  This is vital.  Search results are personalized.  You will never get it all perfect, but if you at least persuade it that you live wherever you are researching and then make sure you do Google searches logged in from this fake Google profile, the world you are seeing will be a little more like your target.  Sign up for whatever products and services you are looking for from this signed in Chrome browser.    You have to try and live the part.

With Facebook things are even more dangerous.  That person in marketing you think is “up to speed with all this new stuff”, well, just isn’t.   If I have a really successful Instagram account, or a very active personal Facebook profile I only see what that particular profile’s take on the world is.   Some days I might whiz through multiple profiles to check up on them, just housekeeping.  Hard to describe just how different it feels to be in each newsfeed.  Some are simply based in different locations, with friends from a particular island or city.  Age differences are even more stunning.  The same political event which fills your friends’ timelines when you are 50, doesn’t even appear when you are 16.

It isn’t fashionable anymore, but I always make sure my fake people have a website, blog or other public trove of information on whatever topic I am researching.   This gives me unique insights into what people are looking for.   It is the “honeypot” approach.  In content marketing it is easier to just start testing ideas like this.  And when the first organic google searches land my way, it is like Christmas day!  Somebody wrote what they wanted to know in Google and came to me, fake me, this particular person.  Why?  How?  What cyberspace hole did I fill with what I just did?

If anything, building a fake profile is a humbling experience.  Because you realize just how complex a web social beings like humans create.  We earn trust.  Slowly.   A “follow” by a 13 year old is a very, very, very different action to a “follow” by a 60 year old.  He then posts what he just had for breakfast without thinking about it, while the senior citizen is carefully crafting a comment as if he is writing to the Economist.

Marketing people are often fooled by their own brand.  In the case of social media they are also sidetracked by their personal profiles and habits.  These are extremely dynamic, immature new mediums, still jostling for position, changing architecture and interfaces.   There is no agreed way to assess them, no specific assigned meaning to what we all do with them.  So get off your high horse and mingle with the natives.

The debate-izer of online noise

Was recently checking out imzy (www.imzy.com invitation only, they gave me a dozen if anyone wants one) and it got me thinking about the time we spend trying to reach a conclusion online.   Imzy has quite a reasonable user interface for a community type website.  It is surely better than Facebook’s and uses better thought out colour, graphics and notifications for what it does.  But I want more.

Very often in online discussions the whole thread becomes unreadable. Comments, responses, nested responses, people answering at the wrong place, others waffling on and some with gems of wizdom. What would be fantastic is some more automated way of turning a 150 comment saga into a “pro and cons” type exposition.

Having the “most liked” comments on top isn’t the best way.  It might just be that the online bullies are liking each others’.  My idea might need an actual person (whoever is running the show on the particular topic/page) to manually whizz through the comments and throw them into a basket of sorts.  Ideally it will present a tree like graphic which expands and contracts to demonstrate which facets of the topic had been covered.  That way we won’t be going around in the circles so common with online debates.

Older users of online forums will counter that we can do the same thing with categories and locked topics and featured topics and….well, you get the picture.  They are obviously “older users” and have missed the whole digital revolution.   Fast and furious, cute and cuddly, interactive graphics which are “good enough”.  Stuff we can take in our peripheral vision, that’s what we want now.

In the late 1380s in London the fashion was debating societies. At the end of the show the person running the two hour event, presented everyone with the conclusions, as in a summary of what had been said for and against.   For all of us who love discussion and truly seek the truth rather than trying to enforce our opinions on others this would be a wonderful thing to strive for 600 years later.

Trump, trinkets and the triumph of the twats

Next time you meet a dog, try this.  Take a fresh juicy steak and say:  “If you sacrifice this meat, you will earn a special place in Dog Paradise!”  No, a dog will not give a hoot, a steak or half a dry poo for the afterlife or any other such vague idea.  It is a uniquelly human thing to put religion, politics or fantastic creatures of our collective imagination above basic needs.

Sathya Sai Baba was a charlatan who amongst other ridiculous tricks “magically” produced trinkets for his audience.   That was not what they travelled to see him about though.  It was his ideas.   The trinkets were just part of the morning ritual.  A lucky few got to meet with him and be blessed.   Less lucky few suffered his sexual advances.  Silently.  For an idea.

It is our capacity to join forces for big ideas and trinkets that makes us humans such an incredible force to be reckoned with.  No matter what you think of Donald Trump, he has won.  The world is split into Trump lovers and Trump haters and both these groups go to pretty impressive extremes for him.  Much like they would a few centuries ago for their king.  In France they traded the idea of a Sun king for that of a Republicby killing their previous way of understanding how the world was ruled at the guillotine.

What this monumental advance of our species has achieved is to bring idiots like Trump to the forefront.   Twenty thousand years ago, you had to be a good runner, a strong fighter, able at fishing and hunting, fast at fashioning tools and a lot of other things.  Every day.  All the time.  But big ideas in politics and religion brought together more people than ever before, in groups larger than ever before.  And so we could support the twats.

Those with no obvious gift, strength or ability found niches.  You could make a living producing nothing edible.   One clever weird looking man claimed he heard the voices of his ancestors.  In the old days they would have killed him as a misformed baby.  He surely would never get a woman.  Now he had twenty virgins in the next room waiting for him to be sacrificed.

The leader of the clan was no longer the strongest or wisest.  It was the useless fool who insisted no matter what.

Social media diet inspired by primitive, happy humans

Heck, they do it all the time with eating habits.  Why not make a social media regime and sell it?   So here are my tips on how to be happier through changes in your social media habits.   All scientifically tested and based on decades of research:

  1. Eat everything.  Hunter gatherers where more gatherers than hunters.  Always on the look out for berries, or roots, or well, anything edible.   Do the same with your social media.  Don’t be picky which platform to use.  They all taste slightly different.  When you stumble on one, use it.
  2. Gorge on opportunities.  When a stone age wanderer found a tree full of fruit they didn’t sit around debating; they ate as much as possible before some other tribe of humans or monkeys came and ransacked everything.  When you find a new niche, milk it.  Getting a lot of likes for Einstein quotes?  Go for it!
  3. There are three ways of walking the earth.  Ancient nomads where mostly alone all day, with a very small troupe of relatives, 10-20 usually somewhere within shouting distance.  That is how they lived for days and months on end.  Occasions for meeting strangers or bigger gatherins where extremely rare. Emulate this in your use of social media.  Pick a platform for those really close and important to you.  Email, Google plus, ello, instagram, whatever.  Live there most of your day with them.
  4. Be vicious.  Our ancient ancestors were brutal.  Some killed newborns at a whim if they didn’t look nice.  Old people were knifed from behind if they couldn’t keep up, or just left up a mountain.  No regrets, just unfriend, block, send them to cyber heaven.
  5. Boldy go wherever there might be greener grass.  Our nomad ancestors never stopped exploring.   What’s that?  Snapchat?  Hell yeah, let’s try it.  No matter if it looks barren, heck they walked across miles of ice to get to America, you some sort of chicken?  Old places have stale opportunities, look for new vistas.
  6. Burn it all down.  When some enterprising bunch of sailors arrived at Australia 45 thousand years ago, they wiped out all but one of the large marsupials that roamed that continent.   They just burned down forests for fun.  Don’t save for tomorrow what you can use today.  That folder full of “good stuff I found to use some time”?   Well, the time is now.  Go for it.

I could go on with more points but of course I am developing the idea in a book.  And series of seminars, world tour and self-help audio.  Because as my ancient primitive ancestors knew, everything has a price.  Trade wherever you can!

From brain to IPO. Map out your communications

Let’s take a typical day of little Miss X, CEO of an exciting new startup.

Little Miss X wakes up from a nightmare.  She jots down what she remembers of it in a diary next to her bed to take to her shrink.  This is information just for the two of them.  Clear cut case.  She doesn’t put it anywhere else and she will probably burn the diary; it is all written in shorthand that nobody else will understand anyway.  She then goes to the toilet.  This too concerns nobody else other than her husband.  “Sweetie I’ll go first and you can shower while I prepare breakfast” she says as she goes.  Another interaction which doesn’t need to be on Facebook or anywhere else.  We are still in a very private sphere of Little Miss X’s world.  She doesn’t tell him about a strange lump she feels on her breast, he doesn’t need to worry about that.

But the minute she sits on the toilet and opens Facebook on her cell phone she is out and about.  For starters, all her friends know she is awake.  They see her “Likes” on their posts, then a few of her comments and emoticons.  Her sister sends a message:  “Goodmorning sis!  Nervous about the big event today?”  Miss X posts a picture from her trip to Bali, a Budha at sunrise.  Only her Facebook friends can see it and she is very picky about who is her Facebook friend.  Privacy concerns apart, this is still what she considers a private area.

Over breakfast she scans the news online.  There is an article about her industry in the New York Times.  She posts a small comment on her personal blog, careful not to mention the article directly, but answering the main points.  After all the blog has all the legal disclaimers.  It is her personal opinion, not her company’s official position or anything like that.  But already her mind is at work.

On the drive to the office she snaps a pic of a rainbow landing on the billboard announcing their IPO.  No time to waste, post that straight to the company’s Facebook page.    “A bright new start” seems like a good title in view of what is coming up today.   Sally in Marketing will see it and maybe use it somewhere else later too. 

Little Miss X get to her desk and sits behind the computer.  Now she is at work proper.  Reviewing the press releases and other official communications of the day, thinking about her speech.  From the lump in her breast which absolutely nobody knows about, to her words in front of the cameras in a few hours which will get retransmitted in as many ways possible.  Her success as a person and a businesswoman hinges on mapping them out:

This information goes there.   That information you can expect to find here.”   If you are my personal friend and you send me a message via Facebook I will probably respond immediately.  If you follow my personal blog and write a comment, expect a friendly and unofficial vague response within the day.   If you find the rainbow on the billboard great, someone in marketing will write something marketingey within 15 minutes.   If you don’t like my speech during the IPO I will get full business on you and hit you with data, facts, figures very carefully.”

We all need to be clear about these information flows.  When I say “map it out” I literally mean a map.  You have Pinterest page which you never check up?  Write it on your Pinterst bio:   “I don’t use Pinterest much, check out my Twitter feed if you want to keep up with my latest.”    Started that Path account back when it looked cool?  Well update it.   “If you want to get in touch, I hardly ever check up on this account, so please don’t send a message here.  Catch me on my personal blog.”   LinkedIn?   Sure, but I check it up about once a week.   Draw up all your communication channels and tell everyone about it.

Be clear or be smeared.

Google is evil. But not like you imagine it is.

“Ah, yes, you’re the guy that has a thing against Google.”

It wasn’t the best of introductions but I knew what he was on about. I do have “a thing” with Google.  I am jealous as hell!  Because a select few people in Google are literally the closest a homo sapiens has ever come to being an all knowing God.

This is not some conspiracy theory.  Some time ago Google started hiding search results.  Out of on thousand people coming to a website via Google search, almost nine hundred are now a blank slate.  Google doesn’t tell us which keyword sent them here.  “Unknown search terms” is their way of admitting they are evil.

Worse still, the kind of keywords not appearing in results is far from random.  Google has used all their deep learning algorithm prowess to skilfully select categories so you can’t game or reverse engineer it.  Even in languages other than English, their technology is awesome.  90 per cent of the planet is using a search engine which then sends them to results based on a completely secret method.  And then it tells us nothing about where and how it did it.

So what?  Well, for starters, Google can hide or promote any idea, product, brand or other entity.  There are extreme examples, whereby a government or rich person pays them to do it.  Relegating a search result to page two of search results is usually good enough, though I have seen cases where the unwanted result disappears completely after on phone call.  Completely.  Like it never existed.

But that isn’t the biggest issue.  The real question nobody is asking is “how does Google sell all this knowledge?”  If you want to know what teenagers in your region will be buying tomorrow, Google can tell you.  Yes, it can sell you the information.  The corellations between search results and real life transactions and trends are pure gold.  Google knows if your next export idea is good or not.  Google knows what will sell and what will fail.  Much like they did with influenza, Google knows better than anyone at any time in human history, what is going to happen tomorrow.

All large organizations have more or less secret divisions.  When Microsoft decided to target governments all around the world, they didn’t call the division “blackmail and coerce department”.  It was lobbying.   Unfortunately Google works in much shadier ways.   Kings of industry have personal and secret relationships with Google.  Not their “head of sales” or “head of Research and Development”.  It is outside the office where this sort of information is exchanged.  Like insider information for the stock market only much much more powerful.

Google not only knows which government will win the elections, Google can greatly influence the result.  Google doesn’t even care, they can sell advertising and information to everyone on all sides involved.  Their rising levels of secrecy and the pittance of data they do allow us access to proves Google is more powerful to do evil than any other organisation in the history of mankind.