Friday, July 15, 2005

Hot Phone Sex And The Morphology Of Storytelling

Hot Phone Sex And The Morphology Of Storytelling

I ran across this Wired News post about how computer-aided phone sex has the potential to revolutionize the industry.

23-year-old Friday Goldman (think it's her real name?) has created the Phonesexatron, a computerized guide to generating phone sex fantasies that allowed her company to boost per-call revenues 43% in less than 6 months.

"The basic formula involves picking an item from each of three columns - Setting, Sex Act, Character - and putting them together into an arousing narrative. As the guide puts it: "car wash + hot blow job + muscle-bound hunk = hot car wash blow job story!""

It sounds like Ms. Goldman has found a striking (and profitable) application of the classic "Morphology of the Folktale," which showed that Russian folktales all had a very similar underlying structure.

It would be interesting to see what other types of literature could be generated based on a collection of common tropes...Morphology of the Tom Cruise Movie, perhaps?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

10 Years On...

10 Years On...

Want to feel old? It's been 10 years since the Netscape IPO, an event that took the Internet mainstream, changed Silicon Valley forever, and was the defining moment for the beginning of the Internet bubble.

Reading this Fortune retrospective made me think of the days back when I was but a callow 20-year-old on my first job, marvelling at Netscape's billion-dollar valuation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"Game Theory" for Marketing

"Game Theory" for Marketing
Eric Sink at ShareGear has a terrific article that explains marketing concepts in terms of games. Rather than read any commentary from me, why don't you go check it out yourself.

It's a long post, but well worth the time investment.

Why Isn't It Fun To Read?

Why Isn't It Fun To Read?

Suspense writer Ed Gorman pens this post arguing that American literature is on "a suicide path" because of the boring nature of literary fiction.

I couldn't agree more. While much literary fiction is very good, most literary authors seem to disdain "page-turnability" as a critical component of their work.

I have a strong background in English literature (and the degree from Stanford to prove it), but I've said on many occasions (and in many a writing workshop) that the literary obsession with inner conflict and turmoil is unhealthy.

As I told my classmates after reading "Best American Short Stories 1994," "After I finished the book, I felt like committing suicide. Man, what a downer!"

If you are interested in reading thought-provoking books that combine strong characterization with page-turnability, and you don't mind reading "genre" fiction, I highly recommend the work of Lois McMaster-Bujold.

Privatizing The War On Terrorism

Privatizing The War On Terrorism

My buddy Matt's humorous commentary on Colin Powell becoming a quasi-VC prompted this thought:

What if, instead of our current spending on the war on terror (and in Iraq), we took the X-Prize approach and offered huge sums of money for accomplishing various goals?

That way, we could tap into the entrepreneurial spirit, rather than leaving things up to the oh-so-creative government bureaucracy.

While it may be hard to find Bin Laden, if we offered $1 billion for delivering him up, I'm sure that a lot of folks would try some pretty creative techniques. Either that, or his relatives would sell him out as did Saddam's.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hulk Hogan: Technology Early Adopter

Hulk Hogan: Technology Early Adopter
I have a new favorite TV show and hero: Hogan Knows Best.

In it, professional wrestler Terry "Hulk" Hogan deals with the vagaries of being the dad of two teenagers. When a 22-year-old guy she met on the Internet comes to take his 16-year-old daughter out on a date, Hogan fights back by using the GPS system he has installed in her car to track her movements.

Alas, I don't think I'll have piledrivers and suplexes to intimidate the young swains who come for my daughter, but I plan to have a trick or two up my sleeve!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Words To Live By

Words To Live By

Alan Kay, by way of Fred Wilson: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."

Tastes Like Chicken

Tastes Like Chicken

I can't wait until the day that we grow meat in vats. First of all, I would be able to eat meat without feeling guilty (darn you, Babe!). More importantly, I'd never have to trim fat and gristle again.

My wife says that she knew I was in love when I overcame my own revulsion to handling dead animal flesh to cook for her.

Why Anti-globalists Are Dumbasses

Why Anti-globalists Are Dumbasses
It's no surprise, given the name of this blog, that I'm very much in the Austin Powers camp ("Yay capitalism!"). That's one of the reasons that I like reading Coyote Blog, although he's much more of a hard-core Libertarian.

In his latest post, he dissects the anti-globalization protesters who plague things like last week's G-8 summit. Essentially, he argues that the protesters want to help poor countries (good), want the wealthiest countries to help those countries (pretty reasonable), and want to encourage those poor countries to avoid the capitalism that helped the wealthiest countries get that way (say what?).

There are certainly some aspects of capitalism as practiced in the United States that are unseemly. Criminal CEOs. Rampant lobbying (which is just bribery by another name). Rogue companies that flout regulations and deliberately endanger the public.

But it's hard to see how the alternatives of nationalization and socialism can do better. In fact, it's proven that they do worse.

Critics of capitalism should focus on enhancing capitalism, not trying to replace it with wishful thinking.

What Do You Wannado When You Grow Up?

What Do You Wannado When You Grow Up?
Wannado City, a theme park in Florida, allows kids to roleplay grown-up jobs in real-life settings using real-life objects.

I think this is a great idea. I know that I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, and something like this sure could have helped.

Of course, I didn't see "entrepreneur" or "writer" on the list of occupations that kids can try out. I guess sitting in front of a computer all day didn't seem like a fun theme park ride!

I also think it would be really cool to do this very same thing online with an MMOG.