KPI’s for Life: Adding Beauty

Posted in Life, News and Politics, tech | Tagged , ,

My son was born almost 11 months ago and is just starting to walk on his own.  Seeing him learn to stand on his own feet and the look of sheer glee on his face as explores his world is  magical.  Watching him and his big sister become more and more themselves is basically the best thing in my world.  I think most parents experience something similar, having kids gives us a chance to see the world through new eyes and experience familiar things for the first time once again.

Like many parents I find myself reconsidering priorities and modes of thought.  In my professional life I spend a lot of time thinking about metrics and key performance indicators (KPI’s) because so much of what I do revolves around tracking and reporting.  It’s far too easy to get so caught up in the work that one loses sight of the KPI’s that really matter – things like being a decent human being, teaching my kids good values, leaving the world a better place than I found it. What I’ve come to realize is that fundamentally they all come back to one thing – adding beauty to the world.

In tech startup-land it’s common to frame actions in term of whether or not they “add value” to the company or to clients.  It’s a useful shorthand and a good reminder that if a product or service isn’t adding value there’s no reason for people to consider paying for it.  Being cool is nice, adding value is essential.  As a professional, my interactions with customers and coworkers are determined by this simple metric: does what I am about to do add value?  I find having a simple clean metric like this immensely helpful in cutting through the noise of office politics, my own ego, and anything else that can cloud the issue.

At the same time, it’s far too easy to get sucked into thinking about things only in terms of monetary value – we see the horrific impacts of such thinking in every clearcut forest, every destroyed fishery, and in the impending existential crisis of climate change. These things are the result of an ideology that defines value in strictly monetary terms.  For example when one works for a logging company a pristine old growth forest has no value but the lumber you could extract by clear cutting it does; and so we clear cut our forests with abandon and leave the natural world – the ecosystem that makes our existence possible – in ruins.

I’d like to propose a new KPI: Adding beautyContinue reading

Conquest culture

Posted in Feminism and Men's Liberation
Painting of Spanish Conquistadors by Graham Coton

I’ve been thinking about gender and culture a lot lately.  Part of that is my daughter transforming practically overnight from an infant to a walking talking little person with her own ideas and opinions, part of that is the immanent arrival of her little brother, and part of it is the ongoing string of revelations around rape and sexual harassment.  How can I raise my children to make sure that they are neither victims or abusers? Feminist writers have written at length about rape culture, and if you’re not already familiar with the term I would strongly recommend reading up.  As I’ve thought about it over the years though I’ve become more and more convinced that the issue goes much deeper – right to the heart of culture’s like ours that normalize and glorify empire. I call it “conquest culture”. Continue reading

My Daughter is not a princess

Posted in Feminism and Men's Liberation, Life, Poems

So this last weekend my wife and I hosted a Burn’s Night dinner for a few of our friends.  It was great and we’re planning to make it an annual tradition.  My favorite part of the night was after dinner sitting in a circle drinking whiskey and having everyone recite their favorite poem (sometimes with a little help from google for folks who didn’t have something memorized).  I used to go to poetry events all the time when I was writing and performing more regularly and didn’t realize how much I had missed it.

In any case, later that night I found myself inspired to write something new for the first time in a while. This one popped up in my head half-formed as I was tossing and turning and I just had to get out of bed and write it down, knowing it would be gone by morning if I did not.

My Daughter is not a Princess Continue reading

A Close Look At Mobile Ad Fraud

Posted in tech | Tagged , ,

I have a new article up on MediaPost looking at the various types of ad fraud in the mobile media space and how brands and their partners can combat them.

Media quality remains a top challenge for digital marketers. With mobile ad spending accounting for 70.3% of total U.S. digital advertising spending, many of the techniques used to perpetuate fraud as well as detect it have migrated from desktop to mobile. Mobile ad fraud comes in several varieties; let’s take a look at several of the most prominent.

Read more at: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/312740/programmatic-insights-a-close-look-at-mobile-ad-f.html

Tying digital media and actions to in-store behaviors

Posted in tech | Tagged , ,

Many brands struggle to prove ROI for their digital media spend. These 3 simple strategies can to tie real-world conversions to digital advertising.

Unlike TV and Radio advertising, digital media offers the possibility of tracking individual ad views to purchases. Many brands have made this leap for their online and in-app purchases, but a much smaller number have taken the next step and started tying digital media to real-world activity – or even realized that it’s possible!

That’s a huge missed opportunity – for modern advertisers being able to accurately link media to sales is an essential step in proving the value of campaigns. There are three main strategies that can be used to do this deterministically. Continue reading

There be Dragons!

Posted in Life

My daughter took her first steps this week and my heart almost exploded.  Being a parent is something I was scared of for a long time but found myself wanting more and more.  I find it’s changed the way I think in all sorts of unexpected ways. – for example I suddenly spend a lot more time thinking about children’s stories. I’ve believed for a long time that the stories we tell each other are one of the most powerful ways we transmit values and a sense of belonging as a culture.

I’ve taken to watching movies aimed at children, searching for positive messages I can feel good about sharing.  On a flight recently they had the new “Pete’s Dragon” remake and I gave that a look, but quickly turned it off in dissapointment.  Which is a shame, the original Pete’s Dragon was a family favorite when I was growing up.  So I decided to re-watch it with a more critical father’s eye. Continue reading

Deep links and Cross-platform targeting

Posted in tech | Tagged , , ,

Two new posts up on corporate blogs for my job.  One is a product announcement on our new deeplinking solution:

Announcing: Smart Link

The second is an explanation of how data from that tool is being used along with other data to power our new cross-platform and cross-device targeting technology:

Cross-Device and Cross-Platform Targeting

(Hopefully) interesting stuff if you work in the mobile advertising and media space!

PII, Analytics, and Advertising

Posted in tech | Tagged ,

I’ve been thinking about privacy and the inherent conflict between the drive by advertisers to want to know more and the need to respect end users personal information.  I ended up writing two articles about it.  The first is up on the RadiumOne corporate blog and talks about threats to end user Personally Identifiable Information (PII) presented by the growing trend toward integrating mobile analytics tools with programatic media buying solutions and how RadiumOne is addressing that issue.

The Fight to Keep Personally Identifiable Information Private on Mobile

The second post is up on iCrunchData news and goes a bit more into the nuts and bolts of digital media targeting, as well as some of the threats to user data posed by solutions that don’t use the data themselves but store it on behalf of third parties.

Why Modern Advertising is Based on a Contradiction

Enjoy!

Home

Posted in fiction

Vedika was tired and angry, but mostly tired. Anger was exhausting. Her husband’s father was infuriating even in the best of times – he belonged firmly to a generation that seemed stubbornly incapable of thinking of women as equals and seemed to regard her dedication to her career as a character flaw. The deafening silence of his judgement for the fact that the apartment she shared with his son was not spotless made it difficult to hear anything else. The old man wasn’t overtly rude of course, but it was clear he believed his son would have been better to marry a nice girl from back home than this half-breed woman with an Indian name and green eyes. She did not want him in her home and she especially did not want him passing on his ideas about a woman’s place in the world to her son, Arvind.

For his part, the old man kept his counsel to himself. He hardly spoke to his son and even less to his daughter in law. Ajay, her husband, sat on the couch with a mound of papers fanned out on the coffee table in front of him. Medical records from India and America both, alongside a pile of insurance papers and another pile of brochures for assisted living facilities.

Pita, I know you value your independence and I don’t want to take that away from you, but after your fall last week we need to make sure you are someplace safe.

Pita had fallen on the steps up to his apartment and lain there for several hours until a young couple coming down had found him and helped him to his apartment. Vedika and Ajay had tried to get him a cell phone several times but he complained that the numbers were too small and refused to carry it or keep it charged. When his landlord had called to tell them about the fall, Ajay had panicked.

The old man was, well, getting old. He had worked hard his whole life and, while he had never managed to amass much money, had paid Ajay’s way through college without a lot of student debt. It had not been a gift – it was a contract, an obligation. Ajay had dreamed of being an artist and drawn constantly as a young man but when he had expressed interest in art college the old man had gone into a rage and burned his sketch books. He had not travelled to this strange land and worked and saved for so long so his son could be a starving artist! Ajay would be an engineer and that was the end of the discussion. There had been tears and words of rage but in the end the old man got his way. The two had hardly spoken since, it was only her husband’s sense of duty that made him insist on the old man moving in. Ajay and Vedika had fought bitterly, she did not want Pita in her home! But they could not afford to put him in one of those assisted care homes. In the end, tears or no, it was as simple as that: Pita could not live alone any longer and there was nowhere else for him to go.

The old man didn’t like it any more than she did, it was obvious. He had always been independent and didn’t see any reason why something as mundane as old age should keep him down. She almost admired him, in spite of herself. Meanwhile, the conversation was getting heated and both men were starting to get louder. She hushed them, it would not do to have the neighbors talking and Arvind was asleep in the next room for his after-school nap.

Pita gave her a look of disdain but lowered his voice and turned to his son: “Ajay, I raised you to be responsible and respect your elders – not bully them!”

I am not bullying anyone, but it is not safe to leave you alone at your age. You took care of me alone for years after mom died. Let me do my duty as a son and take care of you now.

Pita was silent, struggling with the fact that he knew his son was right but could not bear the thought of life as an invalid. The thought of giving up his independence to be a guest in someone else’s house, even his son’s, was unbearable; but there was no way out. He was trapped. His shoulders slumped.

All right son, you win. I will give notice on my apartment this month.

It’s not what I want, I’m not winning anything dad. I’m just trying to be a good son and take care of you.

Fine! What do you want from me? Do you want me to be grateful?

Ajay noted with shock that the old man’s eyes were filling with tears. He tried to embrace him but was rebuffed.

I will be alright, I am not some invalid that needs to be coddled. Just give me time.

Enough

Posted in fiction | Tagged ,

Jake sighed as he slumped against the steering wheel of his truck and moved back into the lane.  He had moved over to the side to let a motorcycle past because the truck filled the whole lane.  It had been years since he’d been on a bike, the girl who loved to ride on the back of his cruiser when they were dating had mysteriously morphed into a wife who made him sell his bike because she was worried he’d get killed riding it.  At least that meant she wanted him to make it home, right?  Things could be worse.  Some couples burned hot for a few years and then faded but they still lay in bed on Saturday mornings laughing and cuddling like newlyweds.  He smiled, thinking about her eyes looking up at him. Continue reading