Of the several responses I’ve gotten in person and on social media so far, there’s really no consensus. It’s actually difficult to fathom. Glad to hear more theories in the comments below. The more unscientific, the better (C;
A Michael Jackson impersonator (C:
Here’s hoping he joins the magician and the mariachi band on the roster of street performers who regularly work the line for tips.
[Commercial break during your favorite primetime show. A few 30-second spots have aired, but just before the show comes back on...]
“Will Saturday bring out the sun? Tune in for Bill’s forecast at 11!”
I’ve got a better idea. How about I Google that info sometime in the next two hours? I mean, might as well, since you just brought it to mind for me.
Like a lot of people, my initial reaction to yesterday’s Howard Beale-like public rebuke of Goldman Sachs by a departing executive encompassed several emotions. Amazement at his gall. Anger at the specific behavior he described. Eye rolling at his apparent naivete that deep-seated greed could exist at Goldman in the first place. And so on.
It’s also pretty interesting to watch the company’s response. Tellingly, one of the first things their flacks did via the financial press was to hammer the point that the ex-employee, Greg Smith, was just an executive director, not a partner at Goldman. So how could he really know what he’s talking about?
(Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn have since released a statement that’s a bit more diplomatic, but still conveys the same overall impression of Smith’s credibility.)
For my money, this idea is utter b.s. I don’t work for Goldman, so why should I care about its chain of command? What I am concerned about is the basic facts surrounding how this company deals with clients and, more broadly, the practical effect Goldman’s practices have on markets and the economy. By this standard, the important thing is what each eyewitness/insider has a vantage point to observe, not what his title is. And we shouldn’t necessarily assume that someone with a better title has better visibility to make good observations.
Case in point: Who do you think spent more time in the course of a typical work day dealing personally with clients, Smith or Blankfein? My money is on Smith, and I mean that as no criticism of Blankfein. It’s just the nature of being CEO of such a massive organization. You delegate and then spend most of your time dealing with your subordinates — ergo, other Goldman people. You obviously have power to dictate how things should work at Goldman, but the people a few rungs down have a really good sense of how things actually work. At big organizations, there’s often a big gap between those two things.
This is why any good beat reporter who covers a big organization values midlevel sources right alongside the senior ones. The midlevel people have perspective to both the outside world and the senior execs, whereas the senior execs to some degree often work in a bubble.
A couple of street signs made me do a double take this week as I was running errands around New York. Figured they’re worth sharing as little slices of city life.
First up is the marquee at the Apollo. Offhand, the theater struck me as an unlikely venue for a Springsteen concert…
A Google search tells me my instincts were right. Tonight is Bruce’s first show at the Apollo in 30+ years as a rock star. Cool! A nice milestone.
On a very different note, the next one just made me laugh. A billboard advertising personal-storage space near Canal Street…
OK, so we’re less than 24 hours from Apple’s announcement of the next-generation iPad. Can we call this iPad Eve? I think a holiday-like term is in order, given the way people tend to freak out over Apple product launches, myself included.
Anyway, I’ve been reading a lot of tech pundits’ predictions about what they — and their supposedly well-placed unnamed sources — think will be in the new device. They all claim deep insight into what Apple’s grassroots users really want, which just makes me more curious to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
If you’re already an iPad owner, what improvements would like to see in the next version? If you don’t own an iPad, what new features (if any) could possibly entice you to break down and buy one? Let me know in the comments, then we’ll see after the event how the real article matches up.
The cartoonist Matthew Inman (a.k.a. “The Oatmeal”) has weighed in with a characteristically hilarious, somewhat obscene take on Internet paywalls.
I think that, underneath the humor, there’s a very serious lesson to be gleaned for media companies and entrepreneurs from what Inman has to say. To the extent that paywalls have been a hot topic lately, the conversation often focuses around very short-term, very self-evident economic issues: Do users have a reasonable obligation to pay? Will they? What price will the market bear? And so forth.
But there’s a whole category of usability issues associated with paywalls that often goes unexplored. This stuff may not be as obvious to CEOs on the surface, but it carries very real economic consequences of its own. That is to say, if companies increase the overall hassle that users have to go through just to get to what they want to see, how many will simply give up and not come back regardless of their ability to pay?
With so many choices at users’ disposal these days, simplicity of interaction is at a massive premium. Paywalls inevitably make websites and apps more difficult to use. Over time, what’s that trade-off worth to you if you’re a media company or a startup?
Within the context of arguing against the legislation known as SOPA, Google engineer Johnie Lee touched on this theme at length back in January in a smart post to his Google+ stream. He and Inman are ultimately saying the same thing, though Inman had a lot more fun with the idea.
It’s the complexity, stupid.