Category Archives: Technology

Aggregation aggravation

It seems to me that one of the fundamental advances and problems with web 2.0 is that it poses expertise against aggregation. The ‘old’ system (and here I would say that these are overlapping, not coterminous ways of doing things) is one of expert reviews, or critics. You want to know what movie to see, […]

Abstract finance: Securitization

One basic idea to help understand contemporary finance is securitization. To explain what securitization and how it works, first think about the following: what happens when you and your best friend decide to open a business together. How are you going to divvy up responsibilities, management decisions, profits, and losses? One way is to just […]

Human eror or cmoputer error?

Another story today about the relationship between technology and human discretion. Apparently, Google picked up an old story that was undated on the internet (really from 2002), and re-posted it as a story from today: that United Airlines was headed for immanent bankruptcy. Wanna see what happens when people suddenly think that you are a […]

Effects of Markets 2.0

In markets 2.0, I refer to the data that is generated as part of normal market transactions. The 2.0 references web 2.0, where the ‘social data’ generated by web interactions and transactions has acquired a kind of life of its own. I make no super-special claims that markets now are wholly different from markets in […]

A sociological analysis of the current market crisis

For my talk at the UCSD Culture conference, I spoke about market crises, commensuration, and market linkages. The slides are a .pdf of my keynote presentation, available here (the keynote presentation for those who can manage it, is a zip file available here). And this post goes along generally though not perfectly with the slides:

They know the score

Two cases, separated by 150 years, about technology, missionaries, and institutional change: The first: In 1818 the directors of the London Missionary Society sent a mechanical clock to grace the church at its first station among the Tswana in South Africa. No ordinary clock – its hours were struck by strutting British soldiers carved of […]

What is XBRL, and Who does XBRL help?

Put it on your radar screens, the next big thing is going to be XBRL. It stands for extensible business reporting language, and it is meant to commensurate business reporting via standardization. So instead of entering text into an annual report, companies, governments, NGOs, anyone who would like to comply with governmental mandate will be […]

Black Swans, Risk Management, and Undersea Cables

I’ve taken issue before with Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s black swan thesis, that high-impact, low-probability events are responsible for market crises and accidents. The more general implication is, as Taleb and Pilpel note: What matters in life is the equation probability × consequence. This point might appear to be simple, but its consequences are not. Suppose […]

Privacy, data, and the new Sociometrics

As always, Technology Review provides a great glimpse at the innovations coming down the pike. In this case, by innovation, I mean the continued ascendancy of sociological insight wrapped up in physics, taken up by engineering, and brought forward as the ‘next big thing’: you can actually identify people’s social networking in real-time and help […]

Airplanes and Accidents

Well, this was bound to happen. I mention an article tells us there haven’t been enough data points for airline crash investigators, and a plane crashes. As usual, it was a mix of tech and happenstance – apparently, on-board computers sent a demand for more power to the engines, but they did not respond. It’s […]