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It’s sad that Woolworth’s is closing. Where will all the chavs buy their Christmas presents?

Owen Jones, quoting a tittering dinner-party participant in his recent book, CHAVS The Demonization of the Working Class

Dwight Garner opens his review of Chavs with Jones’ story of the dinner party. Perhaps a dozen people of many walks and both genders, with no obvious predilection toward snobbery, nonetheless quickly and casually snap a whip of derision toward the hapless chav. On which Jones asks, “How has hatred of working-class people become so socially acceptable?”

The word chav has come to convey a thuggish conception of the working class in England. It describes the flash of zirconium-encrusted pendants and track-suits, perhaps dressed up with an edging of Burberry plaid and encircled with a pair of bug-eye, imitation Prada sunglasses, that festoons the imagined ignorant and menacing prole. What may have begun as a criticism of poor taste came to qualify an entire class of individuals, and somehow, it was ok. But why?

Garner collects a handful of answers. He suggests that it may have to do with the increasing degree of wealth and privilege that characterizes the political and cultural elite in England. Much is made of David Cameron’s Concorde-arranged, super-sonic commute to the New York birthday party of Peter Getty, the scion of John Paul Getty.

The Labor Party is no less to blame. Once the guardian of England’s working class and a symbol of upward mobility, they “didn’t really like these people very much” anymore.

But Garner misses the main shift that has cultivated the notion of and the attitude toward the chav. Touching on the culpability of the chav, he quotes Jones: “Those who were poor or unemployed had no one to blame but themselves.” But he doesn’t assign its origin, which sits in the shift toward a market-based meritocracy.

A market-based meritocracy registers one’s merit on the basis of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. Wealth will accrue according to one’s merit, and in a market, wealth is the measure of success. Those titans of industry, those John Galts, are each the envy and the measure of success, and success and standing equates to wealth, doled out or denied by the machinations of the market, but in a market-based meritocracy, some poor working slob has only themselves to blame for their station.

What Garner misses is the drastic acceptability of what’s bubbling beneath the surface, “If they were worth a damn, they’d be rich.” There’s no room for respectability among the working class in a market-based meritocracy. The notion of and attitude toward the chav, however appalling, is a necessary outcome. That’s why hatred of working-class people has become so socially acceptable.

another Adam Curtis classic, named after the Richard Brautigan poem, along with a rockin’ soundtrack from Pizzicato Five.

I’m sympathetic to the protest movements and to challenging power in society, but youre not going to do it through self-organizing networks where you all sit around and there are no leaders and there is no guiding vision except self-organization. It’s a retreat, and in many respects it’s a cowardly retreat on the part of the left from confronting the fact that power is getting more and more concentrated in our society, but they don’t have an alternative, and they retreat like bureacrats, like librarians into process…processes of organization, without actually inspiring me with vision of another way of organizing the world.

Adam Curtis, interview in Little Atoms

The reality is that LinkedIn has been used as a proxy expert network by many for some time now

Ross Dawson, a self-described globally recognized leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author, opining on the state of expert networks.

Not really. It turns out that LinkedIn went down the expert network road some time back, but to no avail. It hired management consultants. It built out a research-staff. It held preliminary discussions with hedge-funds, investment banks, and others, but in the end, it shut it down. So no, it’s not an expert network, and it hasn’t been one for some time now.

Ross is a smart guy. Why the mistake?

The mistake lies in a simple confusion of concepts. LinkedIn is a professional network. It’s organized like a directory. It has experts. You can use it to find experts, but calling LinkedIn an expert network is a lot like calling the membership-directory of the IEEE an expert network. Sure, there are a lot of talented engineers in there. You can even sort them by employer, location, and with the IEEE profile-data, very specific expertise, but at the end of the day, it’s just a more detailed phone-book. It’s a directory, and a directory does not an expert network make.

Expert networks not only allow you to find an expert. That’s the easy part — the part you can do with a directory like LinkedIn, an IEEE directory or the phone book. Expert networks provide tools to facilitate the full life-cycle of an interaction between an expert and a client. These entail the stages over which Ross glosses when he says, “It is a little more effort to negotiate terms and make payments than it is on an existing platform, but it isn’t hard to do.” That’s a lot like saying, “all you really need for a restaurant is some food and a kitchen, right?” Neither statement is all you have to worry about to get started, and neither venture is that easy.

An expert network solves three problems. First, discovery. It surfaces those experts, niche or otherwise, whom you need to know. Second, it manages the engagement from qualification to contracts and compliance to connections to compensation. Third, it builds a repository of all past connections for both experts and clients. It’s the combination of everything – the systems, policies, compliance – that makes it work. Otherwise, it’s just a directory.

LinkedIn has provided a boon to expert networks. They’ve made it immeasurably easier to discover experts and arrange to reach them. Firms like Gerson Lehrman Group, Guidepoint, Coleman Research, Cognolink and others are probably very large clients of LinkedIn’s premium features. LinkedIn has even signed a little discussed, though exclusive and expensive, marketing partnership with DeMatteo Moness, a minor expert network. Notwithstanding the exclusivity of the arrangement, DeMatteo remains a marginal player.

The evolution of expert networks is just beginning. Ross is right to expect changes, but he’s missing some of the detail that will illuminate where the model is actually headed.

He’s not alone, though. The many smokescreens, from the insider trading scandal emanating from so many connections fostered through Primary Global, to the fabulously successful IPO of LinkedIn, have either written expert networks off or suggested that they’re nothing more than a directory with a little more effort. From a competitive standpoint, it’s taken everyone’s eye off the inner-workings of what really makes them tick and scared them from even experimenting with the model. It couldn’t be a better opportunity for companies like Gerson Lehrman Group to consolidate their position in an industry defined by unrelenting growth.

With China, you have the ultimate ‘this time is different’ syndrome. Economists say they have huge reserves, they have savings, they’re hard-working people. It’s naïve. You can’t beat the odds forever.

–Professor Ken Rogoff: via NYT

Retail cannot be algorithmically driven. Great retail is all about that sense of adventure and discovery. The next wave on this space is really rich social interaction, using video, using media, to achieve that.

Jules Pieri, founder of Daily Grommet, remarking on the implicit tension between algorithmic and human curation. Eli Pariser frames a similar tension with his notion of the filter bubble: via Bloomberg

The president calls this a structural issue—we usually call it progress.

Russell Roberts, George Mason University and a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, writing in an op-ed in today’s WSJ

The structural issue Roberts floats is innovation-led unemployment, a conceit he attributes to Obama. If technology leads to productivity improvements, and with productivity improvements, employees can produce more, then employers can also produce more, but they can do it with fewer employees. For fear of this, Roberts claims that Obama is against technology, productivity, and progress.

Roberts correctly equates technology’s impact on productivity with progress, but he is wrong to suggest that President Obama is either too dim or too backward to embrace it. Read the rest of this entry »

A former financial analyst at NVIDIA pleaded guilty today of criminal conspiracy and insider trading charges. Sonny Nguyen, 39, agreed to provide material nonpublic information he gathered in his role at NVIDIA to peers in an insider trading ring that allegedly spanned, among others, Winifred Jiau, a commonly used expert Primary Global Research LLC network of consultants.

Though “Wini” has not yet plead guilty, she has come under allegations of participating in and promoting insider trading through her engagement with Primary Global. It seems that Nguyen was perhaps one of whom she meant when she was quoted as saying, “As soon as I get it, I give you guys a buzz.”

It would almost seem that the probe is widening, but it’s not. If anything, it appears to be narrowing.

Today’s news began with open speculation by the WSJ that investigators shifted their focus to the principals of Primary Global: Unni Narayanan and Phani Saripella. The shift would appear to match the circumstances. Nguyen claims to have provided Wini inside information. Sam Barai, best known for his colorful instructions to his analyst who had been cooperating with investigators, pleaded guilty today and, according to the WSJ, “the probe of Messrs. Narayanan and Saripella, both former employees of Intel Corp., is being aided by one of their former clients, former hedge-fund founder Sam Barai.”

Investigators have illuminated what looks like a rich vein of corruption, circumscribed by a series of bad actors, both admitted and alleged. If no more convictions come of this, at least it will serve as a lesson describing the importance of compliance policies, procedures, and systems organized by industry-leaders, such as Gerson Lehrman Group, when speaking with outside experts, and at most, it may provide the contours of a gripping movie.

Our biggest fear is Raj was found not guilty

Lee S. Ainslie III, managing partner of Maverick Capital: via WSJ

The expert network brand has been severely damaged. Most insider-trading investigations to date have more to do with direct, corrupt relationships between insiders and their investment brethren. But these became synonymous with the handful of exchanges alleged to have been facilitated by the likes of Guidepoint Global and Primary Global. Through a failure of analysis, insider trading and expert networks became one and the same.

Whether it was Rajat Gupta and Raj Rajratanam or the alleged extracurricular activities of various attorneys and accountants accused of passing along material nonpublic information to a scurrilous group of investors in search of an edge, though they weren’t facilitated by a network, they certainly stained the networks. The consequences will be pervasive and persistent for the industry, and we can already see a handful of changes – among them, compliance, consolidation and repositioning. Nonetheless, the consequences will be good, and they will reinforce the benefits of expert networks. Read the rest of this entry »

The ripple effects across trading from the lack of fundamental demand are very real.

Jose Marques, global head of electronic equity trading at Deutsche Bank AG.

Even inside information from an ‘expert network’ would not have helped.

–Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Not even an expert network would have helped, says Yves Smith of the earthquake in Japan, rather blithely suggesting that an expert network is nothing more than a vehicle with which to exchange material non-public information. Would it were the case. If only inside information equated to expert networks, imagine how easy enforcement of insider trading would be! Shut down the networks, Smith might say, and we will purge the rot of a rigged game from the system.

But inside information and expert networks are different things. To conflate them is a failure of analysis and a lazy view on the role of expert networks, the problem of inside information, and research in general. Read the rest of this entry »

The Speculations of Mr. Spectator

  • the Folly of him who lets his Fancy place him in distance Scenes untroubled and uninterrupted, is preferable to that of him forcing a Belief... 12 years ago
  • Books...are the Presents to Posterity of those who are yet unborn.... 12 years ago
  • the World is a Copy or a Transcript of those Ideas which are in the Mind of the first Being...those Ideas...are a Transcript of the World... 12 years ago
  • 'The Time was when all the honest Whore-masters in the Neighborhood would have rose against the Cuckolds to my Rescue' -letter... 12 years ago
  • a father, who having arrived at great Riches by his own Industry, took delight in nothing but his Money... 12 years ago
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