Gongol.com Archives: March 2010
Brian Gongol

March 1, 2010

Business and Finance Midwest Airlines could be killed off
Midwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines were both purchased in the last year by Republic Airways. Now, they're talking about creating a "unified brand" for the two. It's a typical move -- companies do a lot of acquiring, then re-branding. And while it could certainly make sense to simplify the backend of operations by merging things like maintenance and reservations systems, killing off a brand name just doesn't ever seem to make sense. Republic's latest balance sheet shows $84 million in "goodwill" -- which, to a large extent, is the brand value of the company and its subsidiaries. Destroying those brands is an expensive proposition that rarely makes sense. Brands can evolve over time, but doing away with them wholesale rarely makes sense; after all, the acquiring company paid some kind of premium to obtain the brand name in the first place. Why pay for it just to destroy it? Related (in the vein of needless destruction): Beautiful train stations that were demolished and replaced by uglier and less useful things.

Broadcasting ABC News to dismantle most of its news bureaus outside Washington, DC
And with ever more of the news being produced from the Washington/New York City corridor, expect the quality of coverage to decline as it becomes one big echo chamber.

Business and Finance Knowledge decay hastens the rise of the judgment economy
People who want to stay employed (or in business) over the long term have to adapt to changing conditions within their business as well as to changes tangential to the business. In the words of Ian Pearson, "[Y]ou don't want to be the animal who is so fantastically well adapted to one tree that they will die if that tree is cut down." Technological change, hastened by competition from around the globe, means that what we know can be of rapidly-diminishing value. What use is memorizing a list of facts when the Internet is close at hand, everywhere? But the decline of knowledge itself as a competitive advantage is matched by the rise of judgment as a matter of supreme importance. Knowing how to look up an answer on the Internet isn't all that valuable; having the judgment to discern whether to trust Wikipedia or a different source is. Knowing the distance between San Diego, CA and South Padre, TX isn't all that valuable; having the judgment to recognize the difficulty in policing a 1500-mile border between a rich nation and a developing one has value. Knowing a stock price is of little value; having the judgment to figure out which ones are under-valued can turn a person into Warren Buffett (whose judgment is famously sought by investors worldwide. We aren't in the "knowledge economy" anymore; we're in the era of the judgment economy.

Computers and the Internet Twitter is still trying to find ways to make money
More evidence that Twitter, Facebook, and Google are all likely to be overtaken by rivals within the coming decade.

Science and Technology Dubai considers building a vertical farm
We'll have to see whether vertical farms turn out to be sufficiently profitable to be built. Most likely their value will remain economically inefficient until we can find a breakthrough source of clean, cheap energy. Like desalination, vertical farms may have a few limited applications for now, but in the long run they just don't make enough economic sense in a world of expensive energy.

Science and Technology Beautiful true-color photographs of Earth from space

Broadcasting Podcast: Thinking like the boss

Broadcasting Podcast: Browsing in your sleep
A question: What would it take to get you to install an always-on Internet connection in your head?

Water News Time to check your sump pumps

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