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Quotes to Note: The Thiel-Hulk Matter

May 26, 2016

The downsizing New York Times is channeling the Gawker thing. I read “Tech Billionaire in a Secret War with Gawker.” [Note: You may or may not be able to view this. Speak to the Gray Lady, not me.] The billionaire is Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal and a number of other high profile and wildly successful companies. He is, I learned, a member of the PayPal mafia. Who knew?


I was not sure what a “demigod” was. I turned to Google. The first hit is this illustration apparently from a video game. Who knew?

I am not interested in the news story about a person who wants to fight for truth, justice, and the Silicon Valley way. I am not sure who Hulk Hogan is. That’s okay. The write up contained some quotes to note. I don’t want to lose track of these. I might want to spice up a report or a lecture with these allegedly accurate statements made by a powerful, rich wizard. Here you go:

  1. The story is not a story. It is a “bizarre and astounding back story.” [The New York Times] I once read similar headlines in the IGA store waiting for a human to check out my toothpaste and sparkling water purchases. Who published stories with these words? I think it was the National Enquirer.
  2. “I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations.”—Peter Thiel
  3. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” is the Founders Fund tag line.—The New York Times quoting a Web site.

Great stuff. I wonder how Palantir Technologies, a company founded by Mr. Thiel, who is characterized as having “demigod status”, about the leaks to Buzzfeed. Should that reporter be concerned about legal action? I hope not.

Stephen E Arnold, May 26, 2016

Google Chestnuts: Page as Shakespeare

February 3, 2016

I read “20 Inspirational Larry Page Quotes.” I need to be inspired. A company based on GoTo/Overture “inspiration” is equipped to offer guidance and maybe hope.

Alphabet, the new name for Google which still exists, embraces Loon balloons, the challenge of “solving death,” and the UK tax dust up. Each of these is, in its own way, inspirational.

Here are three quotes which soon may appear on motivational posters store front.

On Alphabet Google’s work (which includes selling ads): “I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do. As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.”

On anti trust and collusion among competitors regulations: ““Big companies have always needed and cooperated in areas where it made sense.”

On corporate governance and management oversight: “We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.”

Words to live by.

Stephen E Arnold, February 3, 2016

Quote to Note: Smart Software

December 26, 2015

I read “Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen on Technology in 2016.” The write up recycles the Google ideas which will keep the firm’s revenues pumping along. Tucked into the rah rah for smart software was a quote I circled as particularly interesting. Keep in mind that the statement comes from a firm in the online advertising business with some wild and crazy ideas tossed into its mix of products and services. Here’s the statement:

Those who design AI should establish best practices to avoid undesirable outcomes.

Two questions crossed my mind: What’s “undesirable” and what’s “outcomes”? With folks driving into Google cars and the somewhat interesting “solve death” activities, the comments about the future are interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, December 26, 2015

Quote to Note: Axil Springer

December 25, 2015

I read “A Giant in Print Reboots.” (If the link does not resolve, snag a copy of the dead tree edition of the New York Times for December 21, 2015. Navigate to page B 1.) Like other “print publishers embrace the digital revolution” articles, the “giant” Axil Springer is really going to go a new direction. I noted this morning that about 25 years ago, the consumerist Internet began.

Axil Springer owns a chunk of the Web search engine which keeps a senior Alphabet Google executive awake at night. You know this search system, don’t you, gentle reader? You use everyday, don’t you?

Tucked in the article is a quote to note. I circled:

I would not exclude that in 10 years’ time our company could be 100 percent digital in terms of revenue and 80 or even 90 percent international.–Mathias Döpfner, Axel Springer CEO

Pushing out the transformation to 2026 lines up with the time horizons on which some print publishers operate. My view is that a decade is a long time in today’s somewhat volatile business environment.

Stephen E Arnold, December 25, 2015

Quote to Note: Wolfram on Artificial Intelligence

November 28, 2015

There’s a long interview with Stephen Wolfram in “Interview with Stephen Wolfram on AI and the Future,” which I found when pruning my archives. Here’s one of the quotes I noted:

Recently, computers, and GPUs, and all that kind of thing became fast enough that, really—there are a bunch of engineering tricks that have been invented, and they’re very clever, and very nice, and very impressive, but fundamentally, the approach is 50 years old, of being able to just take one of these neural network–like systems, and just show it a whole bunch of examples and have it gradually learn distinctions between examples, and get to the point where it can, for example, recognize different kinds of objects and images.

Hmm. Half a century. Progress comes from faster chips and clever implementations of well known methods. Interesting.

Enterprise search is also old. Improvements have been slow and seem to be lagging behind other fields. Is it the vendors or is the nature of the problem? The self appointed experts, failed webmasters, and former middle school teachers now working as taxonomy experts are pitching governance, semantics, and assorted packets of artificial butter.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2015

Quote to Note: Axil Springer on Planning

November 5, 2015

Here’s a delicious statement attributed to Mathias Doepfner, an Axil Springer big gun. For context, remember that Axil Springer bought the Financial Times for something north of $1.3 billion. Now the quote:

“A takeover of this size … is neither planned nor foreseeable.”

Maybe an impulse buy like Google’s purchase of Motorola? I assume that Volkswagen did not plan or foresee the consequences of its emission control software behavior. German management approaches certain decisions in an interesting way: Neither planned nor foreseeable.

Stephen E Arnold, November 5, 2015

Algorithmic Transparency: Are You Concerned Too?

October 24, 2015

I read “FTC Chair Edith Ramirez Outlines Concerns about Big Data.” The write up contained a stunning quote to note; to wit:

The agency is concerned about “algorithmic transparency,” she said, and how “algorithms can be manipulated.”

Wong asked about connected health devices. “We are very concerned about this,” Ramirez said, adding: There is this flow of health information that is happening outside of the regulatory space. We want to make sure that very sensitive information is being protected.

Interesting. Will vendors reveal what their numerical recipes are doing? A better question: If the vendors revealed their algorithms, would most people know what the algorithms were doing? Asking for transparency and understanding are, in my opinion, two different activities.

Stephen E Arnold, October 24, 2015

Quote to Note: Google Friction in Happy Ad Land

September 9, 2015

Tucked into the business section of the September 7, 2015 New York Times was a story with the not too SEO friendly title “Competitors Say Google Is Slowing App Installation.” The write up is not indexed in Google News. I just checked.

The short item talks about mobile ads for apps. The article recycles a Google blog post which  talks about penalizing “please, install our app” ads. Yikes. Penalties.

But for me the important item in the article was this quote, attributed to a Xoogler named Mike Dudas. He said:

This seems like a really strong move in deterring people from installing apps.

Ah, freedom. I too enjoy the smell of napalm in the morning. Wait. I have a question? Who is the enemy? Android centric developers? Do I hear the thump thump of choppers?

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2015

Quote to Note: What Alphabet Spells

August 16, 2015

I read “News Corp’s CEO Bizarre Obsession With Made Up Lies About Google.” I am fascinated with “real” journalists approach to information. Here’s the passage I noted:

That Google’s newly conceived parent company is to be called Alphabet has itself created a range of delicious permutations: A is for Avarice, B is for Bowdlerize, through to K for Kleptocracy, P for Piracy and Z for Zealotry.

The Alphabet Google is making news without the fancy words. I am not sure what kleptocracy means. More interesting to me was this item, which I assume is true: “Google Skirted Drone Test Rules by Using a Deal with NASA.” Google’s approach seems more efficient than other firms’ methods.

I do like that kleptocracy thing, however.

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2015

Quote to Note: How to Make Search Relevant

May 16, 2015

Short honk: I read “Intranet Search? Sssh! Don’t Speak of It.” It seems that enterprise search is struggling and sweeping generalizations about information governance and knowledge management are not helping the situation. But that’s just my opinion.

But set that “issue” aside. Here’s the quote I noted:

The only way this situation [search is a problem’] will change is with intranet managers stepping up to the challenge and telling stories internally. The problem with search analytics (even if you do everything that Lou Rosenfeld [search wizard] recommends) is that there is no direct evidence of the day-to-day impact of search.

Will accountants respond to search stories? Why is there no direct evident of the day to day impact of search? Perhaps search, along with some other hoo hah endeavors, is simply not relevant in today’s business environment? Won’t more hyperbole filled marketing solve the problem? Another conference?

The wet blanket on enterprise search remains “there is no direct evidence of the day to day impact of search.” After 30 or 40 years of implementations and hundreds of millions in search development, why not? Er, what about this thought:

Search is a low value utility which has been over hyped.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2015

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