As Halloween approaches, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences takes a long look down memory lane—eh, scary forest paths—with a short documentary about “The Blair Witch Project“. Before there was Facebook and Flickr (February 2004), Reddit (June 2005), YouTube (November 2005), Twitter (July 2006), or any other countless social services spreading viral content, there was Blair Witch.

“It was basically the first viral marketing that ever happened”, actress Heather Donahue says, That’s exactly how I remember the movie, which defines the “lost footage” genre and set the blueprint for many viral campaigns that followed. Remember in 1999, viral started from a website, which in some ways makes a better campaign—or did 15 years ago.

Goethe Girl
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The Underemployment Crisis

When I worked as an analyst for Jupiter Research a decade ago, the editorial philosophy was “data-driven analysis”. But sometimes single stories—one or a few individuals—define a trend. That’s my renewed feeling today meeting Tim in the alley behind our apartment.

I measure San Diego’s economy, and in some respects that of America, by the people who dumpster dive our alley. We moved to the city seven years ago yesterday and were taken aback by the number of people who pull redeemable bottles and cans from recycle and trash bins. But the collectors’ character changed in 2009, following the financial crisis of late 2008. No longer did we see just clearly weather-worn homeless, but paler and better-dressed folks not long laid off from office jobs. Professionals. [Read more]

Reaper drops first precision-guided bomb, protects ground forces
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Use Drones to Fight Ebola

The world is at war. Ebola is the enemy. Not Islamic State. Not Russia, Israel, Palestine, the United States, or any other nation or peoples you would like to insert here. No country—pardon the word choice—is immune to Ebola. The disease doesn’t care about cultural, political, racial, or religious differences that divide people. The disease indiscriminately attacks everyone.

Ebola should unite us—a global community rallying against a common enemy. But the disease can, already does, divide us. Fear, not infection, is Ebola’s great weapon of mass destruction. In parts of West Africa, farmers abandon crops for fear of infection; yesterday, I heard a BBC radio report claiming as many as 40 percent of farms in some countries. Fear. Fear of infection will divide us unless we unite first. [Read more]

Free Admission
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No Wonder Free is the Expected Cost

L month, I read frighteningly insightful analysis “How the Internet Killed Profit“. Ah yeah. Facilitated in part by the Google free economy, many things that were profitable suddenly aren’t.  There’s little financial gain giving away valuable content. Free isn’t necessarily bad, just a myth—the great Internet lie that reinforces the justification no one needs to pay for anything.

But as I explained five years ago in post “The Problem with Free“: “Free and the Internet go oddly together, and not necessarily well together…People will pay for anything for which there is perceived or actual value. Free is an acceptable price when there is perceived or actual value”. Pay or free are the same because value matters more. The 2009 analysis responded to Chris Anderson’s assertion that on the Internet “free really can be free”. He is misguided. [Read more]