Monthly Archives: December 2010

Capitalism 4.0

I try to live my life like an old college professor waiting out the vagaries of youth in favor of the bigger picture. Which means I am just now getting around to pondering our “Great Recession” and the state of our economy.

My thoughts neatly fit into two parts from two authors. The first, discussed here, is from London macro-economist Anatole Kaletsky in his book Capitalism 4.0. The second, discussed in a follow-up piece is from financial journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin in his micro-economic tale, Too Big To Fail.

At first I felt silly to present my deepest thoughts as a book report. Then I realized that the world of economics is in disarray. Many of our leaders, for example Alan Greenspan, are left muttering oopsies while the rest of them are callously hiding, ashamed of their inability to “see this coming.”

It leaves just a few left standing and Anatole is one of them. As a writer for The Times, he has long predicted these troubles. His book shows a broad understanding of the context, reasons for occurrence, and even presents a blueprint for what will happen next:

“The world did not end. Despite all the forebodings of disaster in the 2007-09 financial crisis, the first decade of the twenty-first century passed rather uneventfully into the second. The riots, soup kitchens, and bankruptcies predicted…did not materialize – and no one any longer expects the global capitalist system to collapse.

That “does not mean that the system will ever again be what is was before the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008. A return to decent economic growth is likely by the middle of 2010…but the traumatic effects of 2007-09 will not be quickly forgotten. And the economic costs will linger for decades.”

“For what collapsed was not just a bank or a financial system. What fell apart was an entire political philosophy and economic system, a way of thinking about and living in the world.”

That text pulled from the introduction neatly elucidates what I have been thinking for a while. It’s not that anyone was wrong, indeed everyone was an independent market actor working on behalf of their own interests. He continues:

“Rather than blaming the meltdown of the global financial system on greedy bankers, incompetent regulators, gullible homeowners, or foolish Chinese bureaucrats, this book puts what happened into historical and ideological perspective. It reinterprets the crisis in the context of the…upheavals that have repeatedly transformed the nature of capitalism since the late 18th century.”

It is comforting that amidst the chaos of now we can look back to history to make sense out of all this. Anatole breaks up our past into four distinct periods:

  1. The beginning of the industrial revolution coincided with “social and economic upheaval that started with political revolutions in America and France and the industrial revolution in England.” They created the first era of modern capitalism running from 1815 to the First World War.
  2. A new era began with World War I, the Russian Revolution, and most importantly the Great Depression. A time when “unprecedented political and economic traumas destroyed the classical laissez-faire capitalism of the 19th century and created a different version of the capitalist system, embracing FDR’s New Deal, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and the British and European welfare states.”
  3. The next period came about not through vast societal problems as before, but instead through an acute problem in our financial system. “The global inflation of the late 1960s and 1970s – inspired the free-market revolution of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.”
  4. This leads us to the crisis of today and a new tomorrow.

If we view our problems in this context it may be possible to see a pattern:

  1. “From the early 19th century until 1930, politics and economics were distinct spheres.”
  2. “Then, from 1932 onward, came an almost romantic faith in benign, all-knowing governments and an instinctive distrust of markets, especially financial markets.”
  3. “The political revolution of 1979-80, took the opposite view. This version romanticized markets and distrusted government.”

This means our great capitalist experiment is embarking on Capitalism 4.0, where we will no longer focus on keeping markets and government separate, or even favoring one over the other. We will instead try to blend them together smartly. Such is our next great hope, but, first a little more on our present:

“The Thatcher-Reagan revolution of the early 1980s was widely proclaimed as a rediscovery of true capitalism, and this worldview is still held by most conservative politicians and business leaders. In the great scheme of things, however, the dominance of free market fundamentalism from 1980 until 2009 was just one thirty-year phase in the long history of modern capitalism.

“Many politicians and business leaders consider, for example, that any government interference with free market forces is inimical to the free-market system. They oppose all such interventions on principle as the thin end of a socialist wedge. Given the long and triumphant history of capitalism before anyone heard of Reagan and Thatcher, this is an absurdly narrow-minded view. The changing relationship between government and private enterprise, between political and economic forces, has been the clear feature of capitalism.

A simple lesson from history that seems lost in today’s leaders, a group whose focus on the now ignores the lessons of our past. I hope a few more people read this book, even the introduction where all this is pulled from.

In doing so it may teach the lesson that:

“Capitalism has never been a static system..it is an adaptive social system that mutates and evolves…(and when) threatened by a systemic crisis, a new version emerges that is better suited to the changing environment and replaces the previously dominant form.”

DC Goes to CES 2011

CES 2011 is approaching and the DC Tech community is representing. A quick round-up shows at least 10 of us going. Here is the robot’s guide to the best keynotes, sessions, parties, awards, showdowns, and private events. Let me know if I missed anything!

DC Tech Representing

With a ton of us going it would be great to keep us united to for chatting and support. Here is my shortlist of those attending, please, comment if I left you out:

  • Amy Senger & Steven Mandzik
  • Alex Priest (works for CEA)
  • Shana Glickfield (for NextGenWeb)
  • Rachelle Lacroix
  • Peter Corbett (of iStrategyLabs)
  • Leslie Bradshaw and Jesse Thomas (of Jess3)
  • Jen Consalvo and Frank Gruber (of Techcocktail)
  • Amy Phillips, Amy Webb, & Mario Armstrong (from Baltimore!)

Conference Tracks

Amy and I will be attending for the Digital Hollywood and Technology and the Environment tracks. This year seems to be the year of digital media at CES with so much going on around Movies and TV. Here are my potential favorites:

Our next reason for attending is the green side for the non-profit, A Clean Life. Strange that this track only has two events considering that the conference sells itself as the greenest conference on the continent. Those two sessions:

Last but not least is the TweetHouse. Sure to be the powerhouse of the conference due to the sheer amount energy social networking brings to the table. The sessions:

  • Social Media In Action: Philosophies, Strategies and Tactics
  • Measurement and ROI: How To Quantify Costs and Results
  • Campaigns that Connect: What Drives Engagement, Traffic, and Goodwill?
  • Growing your Community: Fans, Followers, Members, and More
  • Monitoring and Mining Social Data
  • Workflow and Staffing: Maximizing Impact While Minimizing Effort and Expense
  • Apps, Geo and Mobile: Critical Arenas for 2011

Events, Parties, and Keynotes

The rest of CES is where it’s at with the showroom floor and the events galore. The top hits I’ve dug up so far:

Other

Finally, there is a CES iphone app for the conference and if you want to catch some quiet time join Amy and I in the press or blogger lounge.

I Love Lists! The Top YouTube Videos of 2010

Weird. I woke up this morning and made a list. Something reminded me of the World Cup and how much fun that was. I couldn’t resist whipping out my phone to write down my favorite memories of 2010.

Well, it appears the world agrees with me and the Year in Review is officially here. Every major site is releasing theirs and that term (“year in review”) is the new meme for them. Here are the search lists from google, yahoo, and bing (thanks Don Reisinger). Twitter also released a top trends of 2010 with an awesome infograph (and some analysis on “promoted trends”).

iStrategyLabs has the Mobile Year in Review.

All interesting if you love data, but if you want pure unadulterated awesomeness then check out YouTube’s top videos of 2010. These are more than data points they are funny-ass commercials, amateur silliness, ridiculous emotional outbursts, and more. They feel like the real culture of America and if you don’t watch them Sarah Palin will make fun of you.

Top 10 Viral Videos

  1. BED INTRUDER SONG!!!
  2. TIK TOK KESHA Parody: Glitter Puke – Key of Awe$ome #13
  3. Greyson Chance Singing Paparazzi
  4. Annoying Orange Wazzup
  5. Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
  6. Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10
  7. OK Go – This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine version
  8. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE – Trailer
  9. Jimmy Surprises Bieber Fan
  10. Ken Block’s Gymkhana THREE, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l’Autodrome

I highly recommend you watch them all and then let me know what your favorite one is!

Awesome Compilation Video



Even More Top Videos By Month!

Who are the best in DC Tech?

Have you ever met one of those PhD’s from a third world country. You know someone that used to be well-esteemed and then their country fell apart. So when you meet them they are working as a security guard but telling you stories about human genomics?

That’s kinda how I feel leaving the Intelligence Community. For years I have been laboring away inside their networks, building them, growing communities, and finding success. Now I am leaving, branching out into the wider world.

My first step is to survey the DC Tech scene. I’ve found that the Facebook group DC Tech is pretty much awesome and we are on the verge of having our own twitter hashtag #DCTech.

To go beyond that I had to hit the numbers to see who’s dominating:

Top Twitterati in DC (by followers)

  1. Walt Mossberg (120k)
  2. Alex Howard (49k)
  3. Mark Drapeau (17k)
  4. Angie Goff (14k)
  5. Allyson Kapin (14k)

Top DC Tech Website ($)

  1. Viget Labs (58k)
  2. TechCocktail ($35k)
  3. Nclud ($21k)
  4. Jess3 (17k)
  5. iStrategyLabs (13k)

*website worth from cubestat.com

Top DC Tech Website (by Alexa rank)

  1. TechCocktail (16k)
  2. Viget Labs (29k)
  3. Jess3 (59k)
  4. Geoff Livingston (77k)
  5. iStrategyLabs (90k)

Top Women in DC Tech

Twitter:

  1. Angie Goff and Allyson Kapin (both have 14k)
  2. Debbie Weil (9k)
  3. Jill Johnson (8k)
  4. Kate Michaels and Pamela Sorenson (both at 4k)

Websites:

  1. Angie Goff (top website in Alexa rank)
  2. City Girl Blogs (2nd best Alexa rank)
  3. Pamela Sorenson (top website value in $$)
  4. Debbie Weil (2nd best website value in $$)

Full List (in alphabetical order)

Alex Howard writing on Gov 2.0 at Oreilly Radar

All Things D by Walt Mossberg

City Girl Blogs

CTO Vision by Bob Gourley

Debbie Weil

  • Alexa Rank #299,243
  • 1,731 subscribers in Google Reader at 0.5 posts/week
  • Website worth: $9,719
  • Twitter – @DebbieWeil: 9,561

Eye Traffic by Andrew Bates

Geoff Livingston

InfoVegan by Clay Johnson

  • Alexa Rank #1,073,678
  • 705 subscribers in Google Reader at 0.2 posts/week
  • Website worth $2,041
  • Twitter – @cjoh: 4,136

iStrategyLabs by Peter Corbett

  • Alexa Rank of #248,215 - “visitors tend to consist of childless, highly educated, higher-income women between the ages of 25 and 45. We estimate that 57%”
  • 52 subscribers in Google Reader at 0.5 posts/week
  • Website worth: $13,400
  • Twitter – @corbett3000: 6,910
  • Facebook likes: 1,237

Jess3 by Jesse Thomas and Leslie Bradshaw

  • Alexa Rank of #131,274 - “audience tends to consist of highly educated, childless men earning over $60,000″
  • 170 subscribers in Google Reader at 7.0 posts/week
  • Website worth: $16,800
  • Twitter – @jess3: 6,373
  • Facebook likes: 897

K Street Kate by Kate Michaels

Live Your Talk by Jill Johnson

Nclud by Marty Ringlein and Alex Giron

  • Alexa Rank #121,361
  • 84 subscribers in Google Reader at 1.2 posts/week
  • Website worth: $20,643
  • Twitter – @Nclud: 1,015
  • Facebook likes: 96

OhMyGoff.tv by Angie Goff

  • Alexa Rank – #150,295
  • 30 subscribers in Google Reader at 12.6 posts/week
  • Website worth $2,551
  • Twitter – @ohmygoff: 13,821
  • Facebook likes: 7,577

Pamela’s Punch by Pamela Sorenson

Pink Line Project by Philippa Hughes

Sector: Public by Mark Drapeau

Shashi.name by Shashi Bellamkonda

  • Alexa rank #2,052,581
  • 87 subscribers in Google Reader at 9.6 posts/week
  • Twitter – @shashib: 12,222

Shepherd’s Pi by Lewis Shepherd

  • 231 subscribers in Google Reader at 0.5 posts/week
  • Twitter – @LewisShepherd: 3,687

TechCocktail by Frank Gruber and Jen Consalvo

  • Alexa Rank #61,955 – “Compared with the overall internet population, Techcocktail.com appeals more to users who are high-income”
  • 137 subscribers in Google Reader at 15.4 posts/week
  • Website worth: $35,600
  • Twitter – @Techcocktail: 6,763
  • Facebook likes: 4,176

Viget Labs by Brian Williams and Andy Rankin

  • Alexa Rank #28,793
  • 409 subscribers in Google Reader at 0.2 posts/week
  • Website worth: $58,004
  • Twitter – @Viget: 1,591
  • Facebook likes: 240

WomenWhoTech by Allyson Kapin

And for what it’s worth, a little evaluation of this site:

My Guide To The Sundance Film Festival


The first thing you need to know about Sundance is that it’s cheaper than you think. If you are like me then you imagined the event being all exclusive and haughty. On the contrary, the festival is low cost, lodging is plentiful, and the flights and car rentals are among the cheapest in America.

The only thing you will end up paying for is the skiing, but you get what you give. The slopes around Park City, Utah are top notch. As a former Winter Olympics site Park City has everything you will need.

The Sundance Film Festival

The Festival runs over two weekends with a slower tempo during the week, from January 20th-30th. Opening weekend is when the stars come out and the crowds reach their peak. By closing weekend the crowds have left and there is still a full range of events. Most people tend to favor one weekend over the other. While we have friends who favor the celebrity, “seen and be seen” vibe of opening weekend, we prefer the “down to the movies” vibe of closing weekend.

This is especially exciting for those of you movie buffs. Each screening has on hand an ensemble of cast members and crew, though it is most often the director and/or producer in attendance. After the movie “screening” is over they offer you a personal in-depth behind the scenes followed by a Q/A session. Considering the movie list this can range from topics about LGBT to terrorism to Rock n Roll and more. To me it represents an experience like no other and has forever turned me on the to idea of a movie festival.

Tickets to each show are $15. You can pre-buy or purchase the day-of. This part is probably the most confusing since it’s cold and your in a strange new town and the thought of waking up early to get a ticket is strange. Yet, that is what everybody does and it works this way because of the nature of the festival. All year Sundance accepts movies then in mid-December releases the one’s they will be showing at the festival. At this point they are still unknown, never-before-seen, pre-critic, and so on. This means that everyone has a blast guessing which ones will win Oscar nods and which ones will sit on a dusty shelf for a 1,000 years.

These guesses quickly culminate into a few sold out shows weeks before the festival and before anyone has seen the actual movie. These mostly gather around well known actor/director combos. As the festival draws nearer more clips are released, press segments done, and even a few pirated releases. Eventually culminating in the Festival where everyone, including the insiders and well-informed, are still unsure of the best movies. All are stuck buying tickets the day-of. At first I found this the most confusing but after attending the festival I found it enjoyable to get caught up in the mystery.

The thing is that all the films are personally selected to be amazing (something like 200 out of several thousand) so it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, each movie will be playing several times at several locations. Park City has movie theaters and screening locations all over (like the Library) so you won’t miss anything. I say give up on planning and just have some fun playing critic!

Park City Lodging

Finding a place to stay is the most challenging part of the trip. It’s not because places are hard to find but because there are so many options. Stay downtown and rely on the free public transportation. Choose a lodge next to a ski resort and get the benefit of easy skiing. Pick a spot outside of town next to the Whole Foods and get around by rental car.

I favor the rental car option because it makes getting from the Salt Lake City airport to Park City easy. The cost of a shuttle is about $40 and the trip is about 40 minutes. Whereas the rental car is $40/day and split amongst 3-4 people it makes for some nice, warm rides to/from everything.

My favorite spot is with All Seasons Resorts which are these new townhouse resorts built for the Winter Olympics. They have every amenity you need and some even look like a Winter Cabin. They offer a 2-for-1 deal and so for 4 nights and 6 people it ends up costing us $200/person. A slick deal for a party cabin :)

The Sundance.org website offers many deals too but they all boil down to the three options presented above.  Closest to downtown is most expensive, ski resorts high to medium, and our just outside of town medium to low pricing. But, did I mention the last option is very close to a Whole Foods, can you tell I obsess about food..

Flights, Transportation, Other

The only place to fly into (unless you’re loaded) is Salt Lake City airport (SLC). Flight are reasonably priced since Salt Lake is a western hub for most airlines. The drive is about 40 minutes through snow filled mountains (possibly a favorite part of the trip). Getting around Park City is relatively easy. They have free shuttles running everywhere. The only hiccups are when rain/snow get involved which makes waiting outdoors for a ride a slushy cold event.

Parking a rental car can sometimes be a pain. There are limited spaces available and they do try to discourage everyone from driving. Still I never have any problems and usually find it more convenient (as long as I carpool!). Especially, considering that the theaters are not in one place and well, it’s cold out.

Other than the movies there are salons and parties. Downtown there are talks with experts and the like. On opening weekend is an opening party and closing weekend has the awards show and the closing party. All are fun but ticketed events (sometimes hard to find). If you’re interested in these events it is best to purchase a ticket package that includes these events.

Well, that is pretty much it. The only other recommendation I have is to try and visit the actual Sundance Resort. It’s about 30 mins away from downtown and exists as a ski lodge and artist retreat. It was rescued by Robert Redford decades ago and serves as the home and inspiration for the festival. The scenery is beautiful and the creative vibe is awesome!

photos from sundance.org and allseasonsresortlodging.com

Health, Wealth and Community: DC’s Deal on Wheels


If there are two things I love, it’s markets and technology and I’ve noticed both at work in the district when it comes to parking and driving enforcement. Ever since the housing and nightlife market exploded in DC, the city has been making a killing on parking and driving violations. In fiscal year 2009 alone, 2.4 million tickets were issued. To give perspective on the lucrativeness of this number, if all 2.4 million tickets issued were at the minimum fine of $15 and went uncontested and paid, the district had the potential to reap in $36 million dollars and since upping the fines in June 2010, the number is now much higher.

Much of DC’s enforcement boom has come in part of technology. Traffic cameras are recording those of us driving over the speed limit and running orange lights, parking meters now accept credit cards, and parking officials (25% more have been employed by the district this year) are armed with handheld systems with built-in cameras that record license tags and remember parking histories.

Which has happened to me on several occasions and is why I made the decision to temporarily give up my car. I got sick of spending time and money on having a car in the district and it’s is a perfect example of how markets are supposed to work. The demand for resources, in this case parking, goes up, so the price goes up. And then new markets emerge. In this case, biking. Kudos to former mayor Adrian Fenty for his efforts to promote and support this. But with Fenty gone, his initiatives like the Capital Bikeshare program and bike lane expansion pilot are a waste if not fully implemented. Any resources dedicated to biking without the infrastructure to support them are made in vain and the reality is biking lanes in the city are too sporadic to be impactful. It’s a shame because with over 30% of DC residents not owning a car, that leaves many opting for the bus or metro without gaining the health benefits of any physical exercise. Did I mention DC ranks #1 in the country for having the highest medical costs of obesity, per capita, in the country?

My experience of biking as my go-to transportation has been, in a word, awesome. I don’t have to wait to get on my bike (I can’t say the same for the metro, bus or cabs), I always find parking, literally steps away (or sometimes inside) of my destination, I never get ticketed, I have an easy excuse not to go to events not bikeable to me and I get places a lot faster than by cab, metro, car or walking. One of the best aspects of my pro-cycling life, however, has been the physical and mental benefits of getting a workout without thinking about it and not waiting in traffic or for an unpredictable metro car.

If DC truly wants to be a world leader, it will help move us off our addiction of cars, which are an archaic and inefficient technology and unilaterally decrease the value and experience of the city. Everyone can agree that DC already has a bad enough climate in the summer with its ungodly heat and humidity; the last thing it needs is a growing exhaust-producing automotive population adding to the agony.

The bottom line and what Fenty recognized is a bike-friendly culture improves the quality of life for inhabitants of all economics means, it encourages more people to spend their dollars here (both residents and tourists), and it fosters a sense of community that’s virtually impossible to achieve in an automobile-based society.

Until transporters become a reality, biking has my vote for the best way to get around the city. If you agree, you can let the district know by voting at the OneCity Forum (an innovative campaign by iStrategyLabs to enable collaborative approaches to addressing the city’s greatest challenges).

Health, Wealth and Community: DC's Deal on Wheels


If there are two things I love, it’s markets and technology and I’ve noticed both at work in the district when it comes to parking and driving enforcement. Ever since the housing and nightlife market exploded in DC, the city has been making a killing on parking and driving violations. In fiscal year 2009 alone, 2.4 million tickets were issued. To give perspective on the lucrativeness of this number, if all 2.4 million tickets issued were at the minimum fine of $15 and went uncontested and paid, the district had the potential to reap in $36 million dollars and since upping the fines in June 2010, the number is now much higher.

Much of DC’s enforcement boom has come in part of technology. Traffic cameras are recording those of us driving over the speed limit and running orange lights, parking meters now accept credit cards, and parking officials (25% more have been employed by the district this year) are armed with handheld systems with built-in cameras that record license tags and remember parking histories.

Which has happened to me on several occasions and is why I made the decision to temporarily give up my car. I got sick of spending time and money on having a car in the district and it’s is a perfect example of how markets are supposed to work. The demand for resources, in this case parking, goes up, so the price goes up. And then new markets emerge. In this case, biking. Kudos to former mayor Adrian Fenty for his efforts to promote and support this. But with Fenty gone, his initiatives like the Capital Bikeshare program and bike lane expansion pilot are a waste if not fully implemented. Any resources dedicated to biking without the infrastructure to support them are made in vain and the reality is biking lanes in the city are too sporadic to be impactful. It’s a shame because with over 30% of DC residents not owning a car, that leaves many opting for the bus or metro without gaining the health benefits of any physical exercise. Did I mention DC ranks #1 in the country for having the highest medical costs of obesity, per capita, in the country?

My experience of biking as my go-to transportation has been, in a word, awesome. I don’t have to wait to get on my bike (I can’t say the same for the metro, bus or cabs), I always find parking, literally steps away (or sometimes inside) of my destination, I never get ticketed, I have an easy excuse not to go to events not bikeable to me and I get places a lot faster than by cab, metro, car or walking. One of the best aspects of my pro-cycling life, however, has been the physical and mental benefits of getting a workout without thinking about it and not waiting in traffic or for an unpredictable metro car.

If DC truly wants to be a world leader, it will help move us off our addiction of cars, which are an archaic and inefficient technology and unilaterally decrease the value and experience of the city. Everyone can agree that DC already has a bad enough climate in the summer with its ungodly heat and humidity; the last thing it needs is a growing exhaust-producing automotive population adding to the agony.

The bottom line and what Fenty recognized is a bike-friendly culture improves the quality of life for inhabitants of all economics means, it encourages more people to spend their dollars here (both residents and tourists), and it fosters a sense of community that’s virtually impossible to achieve in an automobile-based society.

Until transporters become a reality, biking has my vote for the best way to get around the city. If you agree, you can let the district know by voting at the OneCity Forum (an innovative campaign by iStrategyLabs to enable collaborative approaches to addressing the city’s greatest challenges).

DC Tech Parties for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again and Happy Holidays!

These next few weeks in DC are jam packed with parties and events, the final rush before we all settle down for quiet family nights. Here are my mandatory events:

Whew, I’m tired just pulling this list together.

Did I miss any events?