Retail Ain’t Dead

This year we have seen the death of 2 large brick and mortar stores, Blockbuster and Borders. Is this the end of retail? Will we see other stores close their doors because of the disruptive power of the internet?

The trend that we’re seeing today is tied to the type of product these two companies were selling. What did these two companies sell? They sold content. They did not have the foresight or maybe they didn’t believe that the virtual would take hold. Whatever the case may be, they didn’t understand that making things easier for customers was going to prevail. Would you rather go to a store and look for a book that may or may not be there or log onto a web page and order it from one of their many warehouses?

What’s so special about content? Why is it’s distribution so susceptible to the internet? The answer is that it’s fluid. Information in general is fluid. It can come in the form of sounds, images or symbols. The web already gives us a very efficient medium to transmit this information to millions. This doesn’t mean that people wont buy books. What these internet content companies have done is create a portal that displays information on the availability of the content AND at the same time allowing you to obtain that content immediately if that’s what you want.

You can expect content to continue this trend. Music, thanks to iTunes has already been shifted to the internet. News is still fighting it’s way into the web but it will surely have to accept its fate. Currently, the biggest fight is occurring in the movie space. Netflix and others are fighting an uphill battle against movie studies to license their content. But no matter how hard these content companies fight, they will be on the web and they will make money while doing it. Netflix will help monetize the industry just as iTunes monetizes the music industry.

Again, does this mean retail will be gone? As I mentioned, content is just easier to sell on the web. But will all content sellers be on the web? No. I do not envision movie theaters, opera houses, boutique content shops, music concerts and things of that sort going away. Why? These places add something special to the content. In the case of movie theaters, opera houses and concerts, there is a social element added. You are sharing an experience with strangers that share your interests. There’s something to be said about that. In the case of boutique content shops, they might have some nostalgic connection or they offer something that you can’t get on the web.


What a great return!

I haven’t written on this blog for a long time. It doesn’t mean that I haven’t had ideas. I recently got a new job and it has been mentally draining. I usually get home and have no motivation to keep thinking. However, I have decided that I need to make the most of my free time. With that said, I welcome my own return to my own blog (I’m not sure that make too much sense).

And what a return it is! Yesterday, I closed my first deal at my company. It was a lot of work but I am very happy with the result. I am looking forward to my next deals. You should be looking forward to them too! It means I’ll be in a much better mood!

The blog won’t really change in the type of content. That is, it will remain a platform for my thoughts and ideas rather than a platform to talk about me and my life. There will be some of that, but no more than in the past.

Are we our own psychics?


I’ve known about “Why?” for about 2-3 years now and have heard their song “Fatalist Palmistry” a million times, but it wasn’t until 3 weeks ago that I really focused on a lyric.

• i know a psychic who reads her own palms
and her findings are personal
• she keeps her fists shut tight and she sleeps on her side,
• well maybe she knows something i don’t know.

Ooooh, how interesting! A psychic that can read her own mind. I know what you’re thinking, “You’re stupid, Dan. She can read her mind because it’s hers! Psychics don’t exist, they just take cues from their clients and construct vague yet applicable statements.” I wholeheartedly agree with most of those thoughts.

First of all, I’m not stupid. Second of all, psychics don’t exist. However, what a strange lyric. It seems that we are our very own psychics. We have a window to our own conscious lives. At the very least, we are psychic beings in nominal way. The word “psychic” comes from the greek work for mind or soul.

Could it be that there are psychics? In a certain sense, I think so. The most obvious example is found in those cases when you finish your friend’s sentence. This probably doesn’t seem like a psychic power, but it really is. How is it that you were able to do that? Well, you know a lot about this person. You’ve learned about their lives and many other things. However, I don’t think that loading all this information into a computer would allow it finish your friend’s sentence. What is truly important is how this information is organized. This is where the mind  comes in. It stores certain information in certain areas. Important data at the “top”, less important data at the “bottom”. When you’re with your friend, your mind is in a certain state. A state that is ready primed to respond to this particular person. It becomes aware of your friend’s presence and dispositions.

We are fully-synthesized with ourselves (at least ‘normal’ people are). We know what we have done. We know what we like and dislike. But, as mentioned above, we also have certain information about others’ minds and are able to store that information and cull it when necessary.

So, next time you’re watching TV and see something interesting and you look to your roommate and immediately realize that they are thinking the same thing, be aware that you have read their mind and them yours. You are psychics!

Your Future Trainer

Every once in a while you meet a person that you size up as a person who has a long term plan for themselves. When I watch the video above, Steve Jobs seems like one of those people. This short clip already shows hits of what it is he wanted. He wanted a machine that is there to assist you with all of your mental needs. At the time it wasn’t feasible to make a computation device that we can all carry around, but today we have that power. It is the iPhone that Jobs really wanted to ultimately make. The iPhone is truly the bicycle of the mind.

Computers are very good at one type of thing; computing. Their motherboards are riddled with our logic impressed upon them. If a mechanical computer (not what we use today, however, there are still some very strong connections to these older types) makes a calculation error it’s because the logic gates are not set up correctly. These logic boards are control our devices. We use what we know about nature and have our computers act upon those. For example, the behavior of light has been modeled mathematically. This is good for us because we can now use a computer to correctly and precisely control pixels. Want a white pixel? Have the computer calculate the right frequency of blue-green-red pixels and you got white. You want tan? Same story.

This is great but it’s something that we’ve found is correctly and precisely modeled by math. A lot of things that humans do have not been so correctly modeled yet. (Don’t let this make you think we won’t, I think the information we’re feeding social networks and other places will ultimately lead to some very accurate mathematical “human-models“.) Basically, we’re a tough nut to crack, but we do things that are pretty easy to track mathematically based on some facts about us as individuals. Here comes the Apple iPhone, your Personal Trainer.

One day our iPhones might tell us what to do and when to do it. Is this good? I think it is, but like any other thing, moderation is key. Having a computer tell you when to do something that you are interested in doing may be helpful.

Apple wants your phone to tell you when to go to the gym and what to do when you’re there. It also wants to tell you when to eat and what to eat. You’d have a trainer in pocket. This is a real cool idea. My favorite part about it is that you are able to compete with your friends. Who doesn’t want to compete with friends? Also, who wants to be ostracized by friends? If you say you’re working out and they see you aren’t anywhere close to the gym or that you’ve logged X number of hours but your log says differently… you get my drift.

End to an Era

For 3 years I have worked at the UCLA Call Center and today, it’s over! I have truly enjoyed my time there if not for the people that helped me get through it. I am excited to start my new job on Monday (stay tuned for a post on Monday evening). I’m going to miss you all and look forward to hanging with you guys on the weekends. SMILE WHILE YOU DIAL!!

Here’s a picture of our supervisors taken from the UCLA Fund page.

Facebook Connect: Business

Facebook has been expanding into almost every aspect of our lives. I’m sure many of you have already seen been asked to sign-in or sign-up using your Facebook login. This has made our personal lives a lot easier. Facebook’s advantage is that it’s tied to your real identity.

Although it’s made our lives easier by allowing us to sign up for services with a click of a button, it has not done much to help us with our professional lives. I know that LinkedIn is the most popular professional network, but it’s not something that most people keep up. Maybe it’s that me and others are young and don’t really get it yet, but so far, I only go to it when there is an update on my resume. My friends seem to do the same. Facebook, however, has much more knowledge about me and can make a big difference for employers and potential employees.

LinkedIn has a very powerful “apply” button. It’s basically Facebook Connect for applications. It’s a beautifully simple! You find a job you are interested in, you push the apply button and you are done. You have applied to the position and given the employer all of your professional information.

I’m not sure why I don’t have a LinkedIn option all the time! Many times what I encounter is a request to submit my resume and cover letter and then a request to input that very same information into little slots! Sometimes they have me upload my resume and their system put’s all the info into slots… And I’m supposed to make sure it’s all been transferred correctly. Why? I don’t understand why this would be at all helpful to them. Pick a method and stick to it.

Facebook can bring something new to the table. It can streamline the application process and it can give employers a ton of important information. First of all, you get intense verification. An employer can quickly check if their recruit is really from the school they say they are, if they currently work for the company they say they work for and possibly what their interests are.

I don’t think employers should be able to see all information but they should be able to verify important claims in a candidates resume. Facebook could come up with ways for companies to create verification processes. For example, let’s say that you have a real estate license, you should be able to verify that under you business section. If you have a driver’s license, you should be able to verify that via your local government. This would be helpful for both candidates and employers.

Facebook would stand to win here. By creating business verification suites they will be able to charge companies to use their API. IBM could use Facebook HR to look for 21 year old male who graduated from an Ivy League school, has 3 state certifications and likes Green Day and Pizza. The power of Facebook is only growing and if they carefully roll out a suite of business tools they might be able to tap another source of revenue.

Hiking is Fun

About 3 weeks ago a co-worker of mine mentioned that they were going to hike at a local trail. When it was announced, I was already all booked up. I was kind of upset. However, when I got back home I found out that my plans were cancelled so I would be able to go! I quickly contacted my co-worker and asked if I could go. The hike was on!

The trail is Temescal Canyon near PCH in Los Angeles. For the last 3 weeks we have been working on running more and being faster on our times. We usually start at around 7 am and let me tell you, it’s a great way to start your day! You just feel energized by the end of it.

Here are a few pictures from the hike so far. I will update when we move on to the next hiking trail!