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Diary of a Rat 2008 Predictions

Diary of a Rat 2008 Predictions

This year, Naseem Nicholas Taleb made a big deal out of his “black swan” theory that basically says many important events cannot be predicted. To this I say, balderdash. Balderdash, I say! All it takes to predict the future accurately is a talent for [stating the obvious]. The real challenge is in predicting the unlikely event — in other words, looking at a pile of eggs and knowing which one will hatch a black swan. In this spirit of adventure, I offer my predictions for 2008…

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Hair and eyeliner against hunger…

In 1984, Band Aid was the first big music celebrity benefit dealie. The musical question is a bit rhetorical (no, they probably don’t know it’s Christmas… in sub-Saharan Africa), but their hearts were in the right place. Worth viewing for Boy George, Marilyn(!) and a pre-trainwreck George Michael alone.

And if you’re in neither a nostalgic nor an altruistic mood this Christmas, well there’s always [this].

Have a Merry.

Is Eric Schmidt leading Google over a cliff?

A bubble in search of a pin…

I’ll tell you, there’s a Pulitzer Prize waiting for the diligent reporter out there who writes the definitive exposé of the role of corporate public relations in driving tech journalism. Of course anyone with a half-functioning frontal lobe fully expects that what they read in tech blogs like Techcrunch and [Scoble] is often just lightly re-heated PR fodder fed to them by the flacks they live by. Occasionally even [wiser heads] succumb to the PR siren song. But it is another thing to see The New York Times publish a 3,600 word article entitled [Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft] that could have been (and was) pieced together from various bits of “news” seeded into the blogosphere by Google’s PR department over the past few months. The article, which slavishly adopts the David vs. Goliath storyline that has been the prevailing narrative associated with the release of Google’s online productivity application suite, ticks off every one of the “talking points” that the good folks in Mountain View have been pushing:

  • Google and Microsoft are engaged in an epic battle for enterprise users of productivity software
  • Google’s vision of “cloud computing” is the wave of the future
  • Google’s massive investment in distributed server farms gives them an early advantage
  • Google’s development model better matches the web 2.0 space where “velocity matters”
  • Google’s application offerings are being adopted at a fast rate

Contrary to what you might have come to expect from an august news source like the New York Times, these propositions are taken pretty much as they were received from Google with hardly any investigation. How many companies, and of what size, have adopted Google Apps? David Girouard of Google is quoted as saying that about 2,000 companies a day sign up for Google Apps. But most use the free version. And how many churn? Don’t know, the Times didn’t ask. What is Google’s revenue growth rate from these investments? Don’t know. How is Google going to manage Sarbanes-Oxley compliance issues for its enterprise customers and how well does their “perpetually beta” development model map against the need for corporate standards? Oops, doesn’t come up in an article about enterprise software use.

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Apple moves into the neighborhood

Apple’s new store at 14th Street and 9th Avenue.

Following up on the [rant] about hyper-development in the nabe… Apple unveiled their third Manhattan store in the Meatpacking district over the weekend. Granted, the long-term residents of the area would probably prefer to still have the [discount grocery store] that used to be at that location, but in the relentless reinvention of the neighborhood an Apple store is at least more useful than another silly fashion boutique. Pix after the jump…

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Glamour and gore at the turn of the century

“Why, I’ll just die of AIDS if I don’t score those Onitsuka Tigers!”

The Meatpacking district in Manhattan used to be a rough industrial zone between the Village and Chelsea where animal carcasses shipped in from the Midwest and beyond were butchered and dressed for restaurants throughout the city. At night, when the factories closed, the area became a shadowy haunt for cruising gays and other sexual renegades who plied their trade on the streets and in the many sex clubs tucked away into its dark corners. Over the past 10 years the area has been targeted by relentlessly voracious developers and has become, inexplicably, a trendy hot spot. The few remaining meat processing plants in the neighborhood sit cheek by jowl with fashion boutiques for Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. A posh bistro resides in the space formerly occupied by an S&M club. Butchers in gore-encrusted white coats give the glad eye to passing stick figures on their way from one overpriced boutique to another and on hot summer days the stench of blood putrefying in the gutter mixes with the scent of designer perfume to create a uniquely noisome aroma that is — more than anything I can think of — a symbol of life in Manhattan at the turn of the century.

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