Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, July 28, 2007
When Buzzwords Collide, Study Firms and Consultants Thrive
Study: Companies apply ROI to Web 2.0, despite softer benefits:
    Companies are aiming to apply traditional ROI and business benefit measures to Web 2.0 tools despite the difficulties in measuring the "softer" returns, such as the improved productivity and communication that wikis, blogs and RSS bring to a company, a new survey has found.

    There are tangible business benefits, such as a drop in support center calls because of rich Internet applications or a database system replaced by a corporate wiki, according to the Forrester Research Inc. study released this week, but they remain elusive for most IT decision-makers. Instead, most companies point to softer benefits, such as business efficiency and competitive advantage as the true value from Web 2.0 technology, according to the report.
That is, it's hard to use one buzzword metric to justify a buzzword technology/architecture/whatever-the-hell-Web-2.0-is. However, if you're going to define the terms and the very principles of accounting, no wonder you're going to come up with the solution you want (which is: Web 2.0 is worth spending money on, particularly if you're going to spend it on us/the people who commissioned the study).

Hey, I won't knock it; I am in a profession whose benefits are hidden but whose lack is obvious. But I have a hard time selling on benefit/analysis kinds of things MBAs like. I have to try to sell it on do it right, and the customers will come.

Book Report: Sweet and Sour by Andrew A. Rooney (1992)
This book collects a number of Andy Rooney's newspaper work from the late 1980s and early 1990s. As they're not based on current events, they're aging well, although a couple of his cast-off ideas have come to pass (a news scanner? Hello, RSS). As you know, I am a fan of the author (see also Years of Minutes and Word for Word).

So I like the author, I read his books, and I get, more and more as I age, where he's coming from.

Unfortunately, the book finishes with a couple of eulogies that Rooney wrote for some long time friends and co-workers, which is a real downer of a way to end a book; coupled with the fact that Tangled Vines ended with eulogies, and suddenly old Brian is feeling a bit of end-of-life melancholy.

Books mentioned in this review:

Thursday, July 26, 2007
Book Report: Tangled Vines edited by Lyn Lifshin (1992)
This book is a collection of poems about the mother/daughter relationship. So I read it at my son.

Honestly, I bought this book at the tail end of our trip to the St. Charles Book Fair this year, when the box of books I was buying grew heavy and from some rows over the lad grew ill-tempered. So I saw a book I thought was by Lyn Lifshin and threw it in the box because my beautiful wife likes her. Heather later pointed out that Lifshin only edited it, but I had it anyway.

So I read it.

After reading a pile of McKuen and the Sonnets of Eve, an anthology was nice. You know that if you don't like a poem, you won't have to suffer through another fifty or so just like it.

And I have to say, you chicks have some odd relationships with your mothers/daughters. The early poems are fraught with envy of the youth of the daughters, some serious dwellings on the pending sexuality, discord, and eventual understanding in the eulogy. I'm glad we males have simpler competitive relationships with only the desire to supplant/prevent supplantation on the throne of Olympus.

A quick enough collection, with enough good pieces, to be worth the time. It's got its share of fluff, though, and some outright poor pieces with too much "I" in them to be good poems.

Books mentioned in this review:

Hollywood Moviemakers Lack Business Sense; Instead, They Have "Conscience"
According to the Washington Post, numerous filmmakers are going ahead with anti-war films:
    On Sept. 14, Warner Independent Pictures expects to release "In the Valley of Elah," a drama inspired by the Davis murder, written and directed by Paul Haggis, whose "Crash" won the Academy Award for best picture in 2006. The film stars Tommy Lee Jones as a retired veteran who defies Army bureaucrats and local officials in a search for his son’s killers. In one of the movie's defining images, the American flag is flown upside down in the heartland, the signal of extreme distress.

    Other coming films also use the damaged Iraq veteran to raise questions about a continuing war. In "Grace Is Gone," directed by James C. Strouse and due in October from the Weinstein Company, John Cusack and two daughters struggle with the loss of a wife and mother who is killed on duty. Kimberly Peirce's "Stop-Loss," set for release in March by Paramount, meanwhile, casts Ryan Phillippe as a veteran who defies an order that would send him back to Iraq.
So Hollywood is going to try to educate us how to think, again. I have a bit of advice, Hollywood: If you're interested in how the heartland (read: your customers) thinks about their country and its military, perhaps some comparisons are in order.
TitleBudgetBox OfficeDifference
Rambo: First Blood Part IIn/a150,415,432n/a
First Blood15,000,00047,212,90432,212,904
Born on the Fourth of Julyn/a70,001,698n/a
Courage Under Firen/a59,031,057n/a
Three Kings75,000,00060,652,03614,347,964
I realize this is not a comprehensive survey of box office and really reflects my own taste as much as anything else, but the more, erm, message-driven reeducational sorts of films don't seem to do so well as the patriotic or less nuance-principled films, at least domestically.

But maybe Hollywood isn't making films for us any more; perhaps they're focusing on the foreign markets or on impressing themselves and the Academy.

However, allow me to predict that this story will participate in next year's "Box Office Revenue/Ticket Sales Continue to Decline" story. Followed, no doubt, with industry claims that piracy is causing it instead of disconnect between the moviemakers and movienotgoers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
That Must Be Where The Swear Words Are has a premium section.

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Complete Misunderstanding of Concept of Failure
Perhaps the complete misunderstanding of the concept of failure is a precursor to actual success. For example, Kelly Clarkson speaks about the new sound on her new album, and the potential consequences of changing her sound on her new album:
    It's my favorite thing I've done. It could sell two million or 12 million. I don't care. I just want people to hear it, instead of 100-year-old executives making decisions on what's good for pop radio.
Well, there are other possibilities. But if the floor of your expectations is 2,000,000 records sold, you're more likely to cut an album than someone who realizes you could sell none.

Monday, July 23, 2007
Mission: Accomplished
James Joyner looks at a Congressional Budget Office report requested by Congressman John Murtha, D-PA about the feasibility and impact of bringing back the draft, and Joyner wonders:
    One wonders, then, what he hoped the CBO study would accomplish.
Well, here it is in Time magazine.

Reports indicate that the government is studying the feasibility of reinstituting the draft. Never mind that, once again, these initiatives/studies/legislative proposals come from Democrats who really only want the word "draft" in the news. The important thing is that the public, helped along by the message-managers in the media, will think this is a George W. Bush / Republican thing.

Behold the beauty of the rhetoric:
    So then what about the third, most controversial option — is it time to reinstitute the draft? That option has a certain appeal as the Army fell short of its active-duty recruiting goal for June by about 15%. It is the second consecutive month the service's enlistment effort has slipped as public discontent grows over the war in Iraq.

    Bringing back mandatory service has been the refrain of many who want to put the brakes on the Iraq war; if every young man is suddenly a potential grunt on his way to Baghdad, the thinking goes, the war would end rather quickly. It's also an argument made by those who are uneasy that the burden of this war is being unfairly shouldered by the 1.4-million-strong U.S. military and no one else.
The war unfairly shouldered by an all-volunteer military. An option put up by the journalist for a problem that he has inflated (military recruiting not meeting its goals).

I don't think a draft is going to happen; however, what's important to certain elements within our nation is that grandmothers, mothers, and the young fear it enough to elect the "protectors" of youth. Even those same "protectors" are the ones studying and trying to reinstitute the very bogeyman they slay.

Sunday, July 22, 2007
Book Report: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (1844, 1999?)
I got this book as a selection in the Readers' Digest World's Best Reading (remember them?) back when I thought having a number of books in handsome hardback editions was a good way to expend that gratuitous money I was making. As I got random books from old college syllabi, I eventually determined that book fairs would provide easier access to the great literature I wanted. Still, I'd seen the movies (The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers), so I thought I'd give the book a try.

It's a pretty good book; I read it faster than Anna Karenina, and I liked it better. It's a swashbuckler; instead of The Russian Question, we get court intrigue. Oddly, both books started out as serials, but The Three Musketeers strikes me as more engaging and entertaining.

I guess watching the films first helped me to get context, much like reading a Cliff Notes will give you an idea of how things will go so you're engaged in getting there.

So I liked the book enough that I'm more impressed with the form, that is, serialized novels that have made their way into our literary canon. Which is a good thing since I have so many Charles Dickens books lying about.

In a stunning turn of events, this book marks the fourth and final book from this list that I had on my to-read shelf that I hadn't yet read. I've read them all this year.

Maybe I need another hobby. Nah.

Books mentioned in this review:

You know, I'm already starting to confuse Destiny's Child with En Vogue.

Somewhere, Beyonce Knowles feels that trembling in her celebrity.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."