“Millions of markets of dozens” rather than “dozens of markets of millions…”

digital literacy, tech

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As the Silicon Valley executive Joe Kraus once told In Business, instead of ‘dozens of markets of millions’, we now have ‘millions of markets of dozens’. Just think E-bay. Companies have started to listen to mass-customisation guru Joe Pine, who spoke on the programme a few years ago and said that “consumers don’t want choice, they just want exactly what they want”.

The World Turned Upside Down

is a series on BBC World by business reporter Peter Day. A reflection on 25 years of reporting, the episode I stumbled upon was a wonderful narrative about the change in manufacturing practices leading up to the first internet boom.

(Side note: I’ve often fantasized about the seminal documentary series on the history of the internet. As far as I can tell, it has yet to be done. This was a pretty great piece of radio though.)

The quote in the title comes from Joe Kraus explaining why Google killed the Excite search engine — Google figured out how to market to ‘the long tail’ by giving service providers access to specific small markets. Simple idea. Revolutionary. But, in retrospect, so simple.

So this story led me to check out Joe Kraus’ blog which sent me to that page called “We’re Creating a Culture of Distraction” where he discusses why we are prone to pay attention to distracting things (for our ancestors it meant avoiding danger) and how that reflex affects us now:

To illustrate, let me ask you if you know what the most profitable part of a casino gaming floor is? Slot machines. Slot machines are extremely powerful earners because they employ a principle called “random payout”. Turns out if you pull a handle and it pays out predictably, you very quickly figure it out and stop pulling. But, make the reward random and people have a very hard time stopping. Some pulls are nothing, some pulls give you a little, and occasionally, you get a jackpot.

And then, in proper distracted fashion, I looked at Kraus’ twitter which led me to an article in Forbes How To Fix Online Mobile Advertising about a stunt by Ari Mir, co-founder and CEO of Pocket Change – a Google Ventures-backed Silicon Valley start-up that offers a virtual currency platform for apps. Mir created a fake product called chocoYum to challenge conventional uses of mobile advertising.

Blah blah blah. This is the rabbit hole I went down WHILE listening to BBC World Service streaming through my KPCC radio app on my phone after getting home from a 13 hour shift on set of Marriage Bootcamp Season 2. (there are so many links and hashtags I could have appropriately added to that last sentence. I enjoy the way Forbes includes stock tags when mentioning public companies…)

And the only thing that all of this makes me think is that I gotta do something better with my life.