Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Marketing and knowledge

If marketing is an effort to ring in new customers by relating product/services to them, and if knowledge exchange involves sharing deep stories about the effect of things, then marketing is indeed a form of knowledge exchange. 

If companies publicized why their news was good for the world rather than just provide the good news to the world, marketing may just begin to make more sense. It may also get tremendously easier. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013



Once, there was a small town,
Which was very simple. 

People lived by their will,
By what drove them to act,
And they lived peacefully.

A young woman was once
Robbed near her family,
And nobody said shit.

You see the town just lived,
Day in, day out, it lived,
On intuition.

And intuition,
Called for continuous
Existence. No matter (what). 

So she went on living,
Without her precious things,
But her instinct was hurt.

Nobody seemed to care,
Nor did she want them to,
She was simply puzzled.

Then a strange man arrived,
He was not from the town,
And he brought her things back.

"Why did you steal from me?"
Asked the young woman.
She was a bit confused.

He said: "It was a test.
I wanted you angry.
You people need to wake."

She replied: "That we are.
Awake for tomorrow.
Asleep for yesterday."

Him: "But what about rules?
And what about having 
The freedom to break them?"

Her: "The only freedom
Is that which is among
Those who saw you become."

Him: "But they shall change too.
So why risk complying?
You are much more than that."

Her: "I am only me.
We are us. You are you.
Godspeed, or join me here."

And thus was the story,
The town grew to be big.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Public vs. Private work: An inevitable division?

I think about the difference between public and private work a lot. That is, the difference between a public school and a private one, or between an awareness campaign sponsored by an NGO and a music show sponsored by a phone company.

It used to make no sense to me that there had to be a division; that "work" should mean anything that produced some value to mankind, whether it was done in public or in private; and that anything else really ought to be considered non-work, an obstruction.

Of course there is the obvious, well-defined difference of money: While private work is self-funded, public work is oftentimes funded by public finances (taxes, etc.) and in-kind grants.

But there is something deeper, at the core of an institution, that is hinged on how it wants to think about fairness that could be the inevitable division between public and private work.

One observation I made recently is that many differences in decision-making come from the degree to which an institution wants to be fair in its dealings.

A public institution, such as the government itself or a non-governmental, non-profit organization, will usually want to be super fair. For example, when it procures computers for schools, it will want to vet all potential suppliers and then distribute the computers in an equitable manner. The priority is to ensure that the most deserving schools get the best deals. At least, this is how it is done in theory.

A private institution, such as a mobile phone company, will usually prioritize an outcome of some sort over the way in which it will achieve it. For example, it is likely to work with the cheapest-best possible supplier it has in its own phonebook and pick a particular school and deliver the computers much sooner than the public institution. There is no special consideration for other potential suppliers or other potential recipient schools. The priority is getting a school hooked with computers.

These examples might be far-fetched. But fairness is worth considering as the main divisor between public and private work. While public institutions try to be as fair as possible, private institutions admit they cannot afford to think about fairness.

This has other implications: How fast decisions are made, when progress is achieved, who benefits and with what. Whether private work is more efficient than public work or vice versa is hard to tell. But I find that we can never achieve perfect fairness, and we should understand this when we try. It's cool to assume things sometimes.

Claiming perfection - and complete fairness - just does not seem humble enough for our capabilities as human beings. Yet, claiming imperfection - and admitting unfairness - also runs the risk of complacency. Perhaps this is why there is an inevitable division, at least in this day and age, between public and private work.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Questions on social media (3)

In the first post of these series, I basically asked how people will choose what they read in the future. In the second post, I asked what will information will be available when they go looking.

Now I would like to ask: What will be an 18-year-old's motivation to read about a random status update from his or her's counterpart on the opposite side of the world?

There is a ton of information out there these days. You can hardly avoid it when you log into your social media accounts, even after all the filtering and careful choosing of "friends". You might have logged on in search of something specific, but you tend to get distracted by the waterfall of everything else.

So, if this grows, what will motivate one to check on the waterfall at all? Will there be mechanisms to further customize one's content to their own tastes? Will we develop an interest in peer-to-peer learning that is complimentary to formal, productive, more industrial learning?

My gut tells me there is no formal, productive or industrial motivation to read randomly today, yet people do read randomly. We're further developing a taste for sensation and drama that is losing touch with what actually happens outside our houses and workplaces. If this continues, new worlds may be created. And when new worlds are created, then we might as well bounce to Mars tonight. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The education economy (I)

Who demands education and who supplies it? In this post, I refer to "education" as formal education, that is the learning that takes place in school classrooms.

There is a consistent tendency among people and institutions today to assume that education is demanded by students and their parents or guardians and supplied by teachers and schools. So, when anything happens to go well in education - a certain year showing exceptionally good results, or a surge in engineering professionals - schools are rewarded. Similarly, when anything devastating happens in education - a year of terrible results, or an increase in exam-time suicides - schools are blamed. 

But this assumption begs a question: Where is the students' and parents' or guardians' demand for education rooted? Is it an esoteric demand that comes from within the household at any given inspirational moment? Or is it an exoteric demand that comes from outside the household, nudging the household itself to want it?

My belief is that the demand is exoteric. That society has created a demand among people for education that is sufficient to make every new household want it automatically.

Then, education is really demanded by society.

If indeed education is demanded by society, then can the commonly-understood suppliers meet this demand? That is, is it teachers and schools that meet the entire society's demand for education? Or is it the students themselves who, after attaining a certain qualification, move from the classroom into the world to manifest their learning in something productive for society?

My belief is that the students, with the help of their parents and guardians, meet society's demand for education.

Then, education is really supplied by those who learn. 

If we consider this perspective on the economy around education, then perhaps what we expect of it will change. Perhaps we ought to scrutinize society's demand for education and the student's supply of knowledge onto society when critiquing or complimenting education.