media

The best way to avoid cocaine overdose is to not do cocaine at all

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In 2016, the technology startup VidAngel offered a movie streaming service that empowered users to mute potentially offensive audio and cut potentially offensive video from Hollywood films. Copyright litigation forced VidAngel’s service offline in December of that year. But, in the preceding eleven-and-a-half months, VidAngel managed to transmit roughly four million filtered streams and, for each of them, to record not only which filters were applied, but also how many minutes of the resulting film each user then watched.

[W]e use the VidAngel data to study the market for filtered motion picture content. Among our findings are that video filters are primarily used to filter scenes involving intimacy, rather than those related to violence; and that, while the most common filtered audio is the word “f*ck,” users are even more likely to mute the words “Christ” and “dink.”

{ UCLA School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper Series | Continue reading }

You know I hopped into my car, didn’t get very far

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On Thursday, AT&T unveiled a service called WatchTV, a “skinny bundle” of 31 television channels, many of them under AT&T’s control after the Time Warner merger, as well as on-demand content from those channels. Subscribers to AT&T’s two new unlimited data plans get WatchTV for free, and the pricier plan includes HBO, the crown jewel of the Time Warner merger. Non-AT&T customers who want WatchTV can get it for $15 per month—but without access to John Oliver and Silicon Valley, which would cost another $15 through HBO Now. […]

Growth through acquisition is how Google and Facebook became so dominant in their respective markets. Facebook has a tool called Onavo that identifies the user bases of rival social networks so it can buy them up if they start to take off. Google bought its ad network by acquiring Doubleclick, AdMob, and other firms.

{ New Republic | Continue reading }

Time to rebuild the

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Across four experiments participants chose between two versions of a stimulus which either had an attractive left side or an attractive right side. […]

In each experiment participants showed a significant bias to choose the stimulus with an attractive left side more than the stimulus with an attractive right side. The leftward bias emerged at age 10/11, was not caused by a systematic asymmetry in the perception of colourfulness or complexity, and was stronger when the difference in attractiveness between the left and right sides was larger.

The results are relevant to the aesthetics of product and packaging design and show that leftward biases extend to the perceptual judgement of everyday items. Possible causes of the leftward bias for attractiveness judgements are discussed and it is suggested that the size of the bias may not be a measure of the degree of hemispheric specialization.

{ Laterality | Continue reading }

art { Adrian Piper, Catalysis III, 1970 }

There’ll be no more high, but you may feel a little sick

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no master how mustered, mind never mend

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Brothers Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato named their clothing brand “Steve Jobs” in 2012 after learning that Apple had not trademarked his name. […]

The Barbatos designed a logo that resembles Apple’s own, choosing the letter “J” with a bite taken out of the side. Apple, of course, sued the two brothers for using Jobs’ name and a logo that mimics the Apple logo. In 2014, the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of the Barbatos and rejected Apple’s trademark opposition. […]

While the Barbatos currently produce bags, t-shirts, jeans, and other clothing and fashion items […] they plan to produce electronic devices under the Steve Jobs brand.

{ Mac Rumors | Continue reading }

art { Left: Ellsworth Kelly, Nine Squares, 1977 | Right: Damien Hirst, Myristyl Acetate, 2005 }

News is what somebody does not want you to print. All the rest is advertising.

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On January 4, 2012 an explosion killed a man in an apartment in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. Police arrested another occupant. One month later, on February 4, a second man was arrested in connection with the explosion. On February 27—six days before the March 4 Russian presidential election—Russian state controlled television station Channel One broke the story that the two detainees had been part of a plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister, and presidential candidate, Vladimir Putin. “Channel One said it received information about the assassination attempt 10 days [earlier] but did not explain why it did not release the news sooner.”

Two points of this anecdote are noteworthy. First, information about the alleged plot was not released as soon as it was available. Instead, state television dropped the bomb- shell at a later, strategically-chosen time. Second, voters drew inferences from the timing of the release.

In this paper we analyze a Sender-Receiver game which connects the timing of information release with voters’ beliefs prior to elections. Early release of information is more credible, in that it signals that Sender has nothing to hide. On the other hand, such early release exposes the information to scrutiny for a longer period of time—possibly leading to the information being discovered to be false. […]

We show that fabricated scandals are only released sufficiently close to the election. […] Perhaps more importantly, we make predictions about the time pattern of campaign events. We show that for a broad range of parameters the probability of release of scandals (authentic or fabricated) is U-shaped, with scandals concentrated towards the beginning and the end of an electoral campaign.

{ When to Drop a Bombshell, 2016 | PDF }

The concentration of scandals in the last months of the 2016 campaign is far from an exception. Such October surprises are commonplace in US presidential elections. […] Political commentators argue that such bombshells may be strategically dropped close to elections so that voters have not enough time to tell real from fake news. Yet, if all fake news were released just before an election, then voters may rationally discount October surprises as fake. Voters may not do so fully, however, since while some bombshells may be strategically timed, others are simply discovered close to the election.

Therefore, the strategic decision of when to drop a bombshell is driven by a tradeoff between credibility and scrutiny. […]

This credibility-scrutiny tradeoff also drives the timing of announcements about candidacy, running mates, cabinet members, and details of policy platforms. An early announcement exposes the background of the candidate or her team to more scrutiny, but boosts credibility. The same tradeoff is likely to drive the timing of information release in other contexts outside the political sphere. For instance, a firm going public can provide a longer or shorter time for the market to evaluate its prospectus before the firm’s shares are traded.

{ When to Drop a Bombshell, 2017 | PDF }

‘The past is always attractive because it is drained of fear.’ –Thomas Carlyle

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{ The American Museum of Natural History window and New York Philharmonic window at Bergdorf Goodman | More: 2017 Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows }

In this wet of his prow

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It has become common practice for retailers to personalize direct marketing efforts based on customer transaction histories as a tactic to increase sales.

Targeted email offers featuring products in the same category as a customer’s previous purchases generate higher purchase rates. However, a targeted offer emphasizing familiar products could result in curtailed search for unadvertised products, as a closely matched offer weakens a customer’s incentives to search beyond the targeted items.

In a field experiment using email offers sent by an online wine retailer, targeted offers resulted in decreased search activity on the retailer’s website. This effect is driven by a lower rate of search by customers who visit the site, rather than a lower incidence of search.

{ Management Science | Continue reading }

related { This research demonstrates that a marketing claim placed on a package is more believable than a marketing claim placed in an advertisement }

How say you by the French lord, Monsieur Le Bon?

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Citigroup is suing AT&T for saying thanks to its own loyal customers […] Citigroup has trademarks on the phrases “thankyou” and “Citi thankyou,” as well as other variations of those terms.

{ Ars Technica | Continue reading }

Nous partîmes cinq cents ; mais par un prompt renfort, nous nous vîmes trois mille en arrivant au port

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Most fans in many popular sports pay less for their tickets than conventional economic theory would predict.

Which poses the question: are team owners therefore irrational?

Not necessarily. There are (at least?) four justifications for such apparent under-pricing.

First, say Krautmann and Berri, owners can recoup the revenues they lose from under-pricing tickets by making more in other ways: selling programmes, merchandise and over-priced food and drink in the stadium.

Secondly, Shane Sanders points out that it can be rational to under-price tickets to ensure that stadia are full. […]

Thirdly, higher ticket prices can have adverse compositional effects: they might price out younger and poorer fans but replace them with tourists […] a potentially life-long loyal young supporter is lost and a more fickle one is gained. […]

Fourthly, high ticket prices can make life harder for owners. They raise fans’ expectations.

{ Stumbling and Mumbling | Continue reading }

oil on wood { Ellsworth Kelly, Seine, 1951 }

Bene ascolta chi la nota

Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, asks his editor (Hunter S. Thompson) if he could submit a novella instead of a “thinkpiece” to Rolling Stone. Hunter S. Thompson replies:

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Abandon all hope, you who enter here

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The authors identify customers, termed “Harbingers of failure,” who systematically purchase new products that flop. Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail—the more they buy, the less likely the product will succeed.

Firms can identify these customers through past purchases of either new products that failed or existing products that few other customers purchase. The authors discuss how these insights can be readily incorporated into the new product development process.

The findings challenge the conventional wisdom that positive customer feedback is always a signal of future success.

{ Journal of Marketing Research }