system two

system two
start-up thinking in the enterprise

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

the dead girl.....



Why the the f**k is there an Iranian girl, coughing up bloody and dying on my computer screen as I sip my coffee this morning?

Does anyone linked to Iran - that most fascist and backward of Islamic states - truly believe that this is an acceptable way of behaving towards it citizenry in the 21st century?

Of course they don't - but (as with all religious people) those within the Iranian regime who give orders to fire indiscriminately at their populations - are burdened by guilt. And guilt corrodes our humanity.

Aside from the fact that the historical story of the Christian faith (and that of all the other major religions) is so obviously just a mash up of different superstitions and pagan rituals – guilt is what I truly despise about religion – both the presumption and tolerance of it. Such a heavy burden, when trying to figure out who you are.

Yes we all know religious people have a lower IQ than atheists, yes we know that religion is just a device to keep rich people – well rich – and yes of course we know the Catholic Church and all other “faiths” have been buggering, slaughtering and humiliating their customers for 2000 years – but its guilt that makes religion such a deadly poison in our modern society.

If we are ever to consign religion to the dustbin of history, we will not do so with rational, Dawkins style belief. We will do it by figuring out a way of helping vast swathes of the world's population come to terms with their guilt.
From bible bashing red neck racists - to misogynistic mullahs - to tight lipped, “church going” middle England. If we can figure out a way of helping those people come to terms with the guilt they cherish - then there is a chance we can rid the planet of religion - the world's most destructive meme.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Clay Shirky Talk...

Best I've seen since Dawkins I reckon

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Wobbly bridges, marching bands, traffic jams and 21st centruy marxism....vol.1

I've been working on a project for several years relating to  algorithmic trading - computer controlled hedge funds.

Much of my free time has been consumed by it. It has the potential to make money - but it also represents a contribution to the debate on how turbo-capitalism and the dogma of the free market are impacting our society.

By crunching a mind boggling amount of data (3 old PC's sitting in my office running macros pretty much constantly for 3 years) I am some way to demonstrating, that at certain times of the day, in liquid markets, you might need to do little more than place a trade in the prevailing direction of a market, and in aggregate, never lose.

Markets, like biological ecosystems, have participants - speculators and investors - who up until the beginning of the last decade, achieved a balance (of sorts) between their competing interests, based on limited liquidity and superior returns in other, non-equity investments.

After 2003 - the ecosystem began to become visibly disturbed (you can see it in the data). The phenomena of "algo" hedge funds exploded on the back of super cheap compute, cheaper money and dissatisfaction with post industrial, low growth, western markets. The effect on the FTSE has been considerable. At specific times of the day, hedge funds (speculators) now account for more than 70% of all trades.

My hypothesis is that these funds are now devoting so much capital to speculative trading they are beginning to create their own momentum. Momentum which at specific times of the day is disrupting random walk.

(this post was written before the phenomena of the flash crashes became common parlance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Flash_Crash)

To put it another way, aggregated behavior is leading to otherwise innocuous trends becoming magnified. It is the financial equivalent of armies failing to break step marching over a bridge - where hundreds of small steps, when made together, create a powerful momentum which can destroy the fabric of the structure on which they are impacting.

London knows a thing or two about wobbly bridges here. This article on the phenomena of traffic jams, with its identification of “"sonic points” also seems like a useful analogy.

Liberalisation of financial markets, an oversupply of money, the emergence of cloud computing and some very bright Phds could be starting to prevent markets working efficiently. The more participants who know about these specific time periods the worse, in theory, it’s likely to get. A small group of people discovering a casino always pays out on black at 11:45 doesn't stay small for long.

Could the market be dying in the digital age? Was the concept of a free exchange of risk, only a stable one in analogue times - checked by imperfect information and quasi-moral limits to speculation and greed? It is certainly interesting to ponder whether fewer asymmetries of information, which should lead to a more “perfect market”, have the opposite effect.

Imagine if this were true....

A world forced to re-adopt an inclusive, non-beggar my neighbour model for co-existence, not out of choice, but because the principle methodology of defining price – the market – was broken by digital technology and good old-fashioned human greed.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

In 100 years this will be a crime against humanity..

Uniforms for £1.50?

Who gives a shit that some poor 5 year old in some 3rd world sweat shop made it right?

This is our generation's holocaust.

our grandchildren are going to look back and think - what the f**k were they doing?

they knew billions of kids were living in abject poverty, they knew their entire way of life was based upon the misery of others - and they did nothing about it.

A scar on our generation.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Could newspapers be the new ad agencies?


Newspapers are setup to generate, filter and talk about new ideas - they just happen to be ones around the concept of what we think of as news.

This role of meme collectors / distributors seems awfully close to what a lot of people are thinking conventional ad agencies will become - collectives who immerse themselves in "the stream", picking up memes relevant to the clients they represent, and developing conversations to create visibility in the digital world.

Perhaps as well as mining his databases here - Murdock should also consider whether he couldn't re-tool his businesses to become ad agencies.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

banking risk.....

Santander seem to be taking a hell of a risk by ditching well established brands such as Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley.

Do users really have any sort of emotional connection to Santander? To me Santander sounds like a dodgy Spanish developer.

In a market which is seeing increased competition from more local - human forms of banking- going with such a bland, meaningless name feels like a big mistake.

And while we're on the subject of banking marketing mistakes - a word to Aviva - you'd better make sure you mean what you say when you spend millions telling us we're "no longer numbers".

My pension happens to be with Norwich Union - and it turns out according to moneybox on radio 4 - over the course of the next 30 years - if I stayed with you - because of your higher fees - I'll see upwards of £250k less in my pension pot....