Thursday, January 31, 2002
Are irrational monetary choices 'bad' choices? This article makes the point that perhaps they are, and that even when we understand the logical faults in our thinking, we make the same choices all over again.

But is this really a surprise? Part of this disconnect comes from trying to join human action to one-dimensional concepts like money. That we perceive value and money as more complex than they really are is just a testament to human awareness of complex situations that include context; we don't think on a linear vector of worth, and yet economics (micro and macro alike) expects us to do so. We're contextual animals who pay attention to everything in our field of view at the same time and make our decisions by weighing thousands of variables at once, unless one is stunningly compelling. So, no. I'm not surprised that we can't establish how much we'd be willing to pay for a theatre ticket or a piece of sushi. I'm just amazed that we have economic markets that manage to link up willing buyers and sellers.


Tuesday, January 29, 2002
***The archives are back after a Blogger-induced absence. Check them out if you get a chance; they catalogue a full year of 'brio'***


Monday, January 28, 2002
Here is the story of how a web community pooled its intellectual resources to recover a stolen iMac. How? By getting the stolen machine to report where it was...


Friday, January 25, 2002
It doesn't get much sadder (or more desperate) than this.

Instead of doing something fulfilling with her life, a woman who clearly has some guts has decided to offer herself up for bids.

What, eBay isn't good enough?


Monday, January 21, 2002
And finally, after 6 years of bleeding money from every orifice, Amazon.com announces that it's turning a profit.

What are the other three horsemen again?


Thursday, January 17, 2002
As much as I loved Naomi Klein's 'No Logo', this article in The Stranger has some sensible elements to it.

And as for the idea that all brands are bad, I don't agree entirely. I think that sometimes they do sap the creativity out of markets, but when new products or genres of services emerge, my hunch is that we use logos as heuristic devices to help us make sense of what's on offer.

The widely-pilloried Starbucks is a good example; when the modern coffee house raised itself up from primordial ooze in the early 1990s, it was a difficult thing to explain to some people: a place to have a drink that wasn't a bar, a place to have a snack that wasn't really a restaurant, a place that encouraged people to come in and sit for a while and perhaps read the paper. North Americans and Brits hadn't really seen this sort of chimera before (apart from visits to Austria). So instead of having to recite a litany of characteristics of this new, ineffable sort of restaurant-bar-diner-sofa space, we simply called it by its name. Since then, Starbucks has become metonymic in the same sort of way that Band Aids have.

That said, some part of me still loves imitators.


Monday, January 14, 2002
Rarely do candid pictures make me laugh until I cry, but this one-- a cautionary image that shows what can happen when you leave toddlers alone for even a few minutes-- did just that.


Tuesday, January 08, 2002
The 'His Dark Materials' trilogy is every bit as good as 'Harry Potter' (but sharper and darker), and finally, it appears that Philip Pullman is starting to break through in the USA. If you haven't read 'The Golden Compass' (or 'Northern Lights', as it's called in the UK), you really should. It's perfect winter-time reading for a chilly day with very little sun.

Plus there's a rumoured film in the works...


Monday, January 07, 2002
Have you seen the new iMac? It's amazing.


Thursday, January 03, 2002
In Washington, we had an acquaintance who packed up his little duffel and set out to make a fortune panning for gold in Dotcom River. We heard that he was involved in setting up a local-area entertainment guide that bought up tons of domains, each one simply www + a zip code + com. The idea was that when you wanted to find something of interest close to home, you could just type your zip code into a browser, and voila. Except that this enterprise fell flat on its face in 1999 or so...

So imagine my surprise when I (for no good reason, mind you), typed in the zip code of my little house back in the US and found a pretty sophisticated Flash movie!

I tried a few more, to no avail, but then thought of one of the most famous zip codes of the late 20th century, and was redirected appropriately.














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