NY Times Magazine interview with Frank Luntz


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To navigate more by instruments, Sapir-Whorf provides the theoretical mechanism:
. . .
The argument that language defines the way a person behaves and thinks has existed since the early 1900’s when Edward Sapir first identified the concept. He believed that language and the thoughts that we have are somehow interwoven, and that all people are equally being affected by the confines of their language. In short, he made all people out to be mental prisoners; unable to think freely because of the restrictions of their vocabularies.

An example of this idea is given in George Orwell’s book 1984, in which he discusses the use of a language entitled “newspeak” which was created to change the way people thought about the government. The new vocabulary they were given was created to control their minds. Since they could not think of things not included in the vocabulary, they were to be zombies imprisoned by the trance of their language. Soon, Sapir had a student, Benjamin Whorf, who picked up on the idea of linguistic determinism and really made it his own. Whorf coined what was once called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is more properly referred to as the Whorf hypothesis. This states that language is not simply a way of voicing ideas, but is the very thing which shapes those ideas. One cannot think outside the confines of their language. The result of this process is many different world views by speakers of different languages.

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Esther Dyson’s Intellectual Value essay and the New York Times

Some fifteen years ago, Esther Dyson said that with the rise of the Internet the price of information will tend to zero. Profit is to be drawn from events and products. Ms. Dyson did hold the New York Times up as a possible rule-proving exception. This appears not to be so.

With the New York Times promoting its Store and Events, the paper indeed is — as Esther Dyson predicted — following the example of the Grateful Dead.

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This article appeared in Wired, Issue 3.07, July 1995.  


Intellectual Value
– by Esther Dyson
What happens to intellectual property when it gets on the Internet?

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Much chargeable value will be in certification of authenticity and reliability, not in the content. Brand name, identity, and other marks of value will be important; so will security of supply. Customers will pay for a stream of information and content from a trusted source. For example, the umbrella of The New York Times sanctifies the words of its reporters. The content churned out by Times reporters is valuable because the reporters undergo quality-control, and because others believe them – context, again. The New York Times can almost make the truth – for better or worse.
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The William Burroughs Nike commercial

An all ’round great commercial (great concept, great images, great soundtrack, great script, great delivery, . . . and please do COMMENT whatever I left out) is this Nike Air spot featuring William Burroughs as electronic UberShaman.  Striding past his avant-garde disciples — and still possessing the energy and insight of Kerouac’s Bull Lee — Burroughs ascends a video pulpit to address the world — and through the ether-amber of the Internet — for all time.

In a 1965 Paris Review Interview William Burroughs said, “And I see no reason why the artistic world can’t absolutely merge with Madison Avenue. Pop art is a move in that direction. Why can’t we have advertisements with beautiful words and beautiful images?”  Thirty years later, he self-fulfilled this prophesy.

If you control perspective, you control perception.

Fact Control
If you control perspective, you control perception.
Anthony Olszewski

While watching a documentary covering the life of Leni Riefenstahl, I was amazed by the mountain climbing prowess of the young actress. She showed no fear of falling as she clambered up — sometimes barefoot — very steep inclines. I wondered about the seeming sharp demarcation between her two careers: Leni, starlet of the action flick and Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film director.

As luck would have it, a few days later I happened upon a digital video magazine that contained an article describing special effects on the cheap. One of the simplest is to turn the camera sideways and have the subjects crawl on the ground. The resulting video shows someone climbing — as long as the footage does not reveal a tree or some other point of reference testifying to the camera’s lie.

Suddenly, I realized the essential continuity of Leni Riefenstahl’s career: if you control perspective, you control perception.

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SEO and Flash

By Anthony Olszewski

For a Site to impress people, Flash is required. At the same time, Google needs text “sub titles” to make sense of what’s on the screen. The Site must use search engine optimization to entertain two audiences.

The Landing Page method of listing the Flash’s text content is one way to provide guidance for search engines. The auxiliary search term text-enriched Landing Page Links to the Flash Page or Pages.

Having the .swf jewel in a standard HTML setting is something that can be used, too. In addition to the <title>, keyword and description meta tags, and an unobtrusive text navigation footer, static images with ALT tags can often be deployed.

Google does index Flash Pages. The current state of the technology is if you do an advanced search limiting the file type to .swf, you get lots of entries, but without any sort of consistent value. My quick impression is that most of these “Flash” Pages are really defective uses of the technology. Also, Flash is often delivered through a javascript. Search engines can’t be relied on to be aware of javascript. The belief is that If the search engine is blind to javascript, the best SEO-tuned Flash will have no effect.

Google continues to recommend viewing a Page in Lynx to “see” a Page like a bot – only the text that’s fit to print:

Doing a regular Google search, how often are Flash Pages high (or at all) in the results? Is it possible for Flash Pages without any SEO in the code to get a high ranking? Do a search using chocolateas the term. Some people point to hersheys.com as a top-ranking Flash Site. But, even though the Main Page is basically exclusively Flash, the rest of the Site has plenty of text and lots of conventional elements. (See below.)

And, in terms of chocolate, Hersheys can bend the rules.

All of the above ignores Backlinks. Without a way of deploying Links, the most SEO-fecund Site will be like an egg without a hen to attend the hatching process. Patience is not necessarily a virtue.

<meta content=”Shop unique, personalized chocolate gifts from HERSHEY’S brands you love. HERSHEY’S Gifts specializes in personalized candy for birthday gifts, thank you gifts, holiday gifts, wedding gifts and more. HERSHEY’S Gifts also offers MAUNA LOA Macadamia Nuts, Special Message KISSES Chocolates and Fresh from the Factory. ” name=”description” /><meta content=”chocolate gift, chocolate gifts, chocolate, candy gift, candy gifts, gift basket, gift baskets, chocolate gift baskets, food gifts, chocolate personalized gifts, personalized candy, personalized chocolate gifts, birthday gift, birthday gifts, hershey, hersey, Hershey candy, Hershey chocolate, hershey gifts, hershey’s, hershey’s gifts, macadamia nut, macadamia nuts, mauna loa ” name=”keywords” /><title>HERSHEY’S GIFTS – Unique, Personalized Chocolate Gifts Everyone Loves</title>