September 12, 2013
[mail] In the Sorting Office … depressing long-read on what the happens after the Royal Mail is privatised … ‘Every week Dutch households and businesses are visited by postmen and postwomen from four different companies. There are the ‘orange’ postmen of the privatised Dutch mail company, trading as TNT Post but about to change their name to PostNL; the ‘blue’ postmen of Sandd, a private Dutch firm; the ‘yellow’ postmen of Selekt, owned by Deutsche Post/DHL; and the ‘half-orange’ postmen of Netwerk VSP, set up by TNT to compete cannibalistically against itself by using casual labour that is cheaper than its own (unionised) workforce. TNT delivers six days a week, Sandd and Selekt two, and VSP one. From the point of view of an ardent free-marketeer, this sounds like healthy competition. Curiously, however, none of the competitors is prospering.’
July 27, 2009
[music] How it feels to be sued for $4.5m by the RIAA‘I came home from work to find a stack of papers, maybe 50 pages thick, sitting at the door to my apartment. That’s when I found out what it was like to have possibly the most talented copyright lawyers in the business, bankrolled by multibillion-dollar corporations, throwing everything they had at someone who wanted to share Come As You Are with other Nirvana fans.’
[life] Malcolm Gladwell On The Psychology of Overconfidence‘Running an investment bank is not, in this sense, a game: it is not a closed world with a limited set of possibilities. It is an open world where one day a calamity can happen that no one had dreamed could happen, and where you can make a mistake of overconfidence and not personally feel the consequences for years and years—if at all. Perhaps this is part of why we play games: there is something intoxicating about pure expertise, and the real mastery we can attain around a card table or behind the wheel of a racecar emboldens us when we move into the more complex realms. “I’m good at that. I must be good at this, too,” we tell ourselves, forgetting that in wars and on Wall Street there is no such thing as absolute expertise…’
March 9, 2001
[globalisation] Delhi Calling. Call centres go off-shore — when you call your bank or mobile phone company you may well be talking to somebody half-a-world away. ‘Each computer screen shows Greenwich Mean Time and the temperature in the UK, in case a staff member feels the urge to reveal that India is enjoying yet another day of blue skies and sunny weather. “We find showing new staff videos of Yes, Prime Minister is particularly effective,” says Raman Roy, Spectramind’s sleek, pipe-smoking chief executive. “They get a two-hour seminar on the royal family. We download the British tabloids every morning from the web to see what our customers are reading. We make our new staff watch Premier League football games on TV. And we also explain about the weather, because British people refer to the subject so frequently. It is a science,” he adds, proudly.’
March 6, 2001
[expletive deleted] BTopenworld CE insults Net users ‘A senior exec at BT has slurred the good name of British Net users describing their online activities as a “passive and sometimes rather weird kind of entertainment”. BTopenworld CE, Andy Green, delivered his insults during a debate organised by the Parliamentary IT Committee (PITCOM) on the White Paper on the Regulation of Telecommunications.’ [via Digitaltrickery]
January 8, 2001
[brands] The Guardian looks at the rebranding of Anderson Consulting as Accenture‘Not a decade ago, the amount of money and effort spent on rebranding would have been unanimously dismissed as the most self-indulgent navel-gazing, and it’s not hard to find even senior management consultants who still think it is. But this is the age of the brand: from breathless boosters such as the management guru Tom Peters to the anticorporate writer Naomi Klein, a consensus is emerging that it is brands, not commodities, that are the real centres of economic value. Tommy Hilfiger, the ultra-hip clothing label, manufactures no clothing at all; Virgin is nothing but a logo. This heady environment has spawned its own evangelists, such as Scott Bedbury, marketing chief in his time for both Nike and Starbucks: “A great brand taps into emotions [and] emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions,” he says. “A great brand is a story that’s never completely told. A brand is a metaphorical story that’s evolving all the time, [and] stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience.”‘