The Value of Service

This is a direct lift from the book Microservices for Java Developers – that I got for free. I am passing it on to you – for free, also.

For more than 100 years, our business markets have been about creating products and driving consumers to wanting those products: desks, microwaves, cars, shoes, whatever. The idea behind this “producer-led” economy comes from Henry Ford’s idea that “if you could produce great volumes of a product at low cost, the market would be virtually unlimited.” For that to work, you also need a few one-way channels to directly market toward the masses to convince them they needed these products and their lives would be made substantially better with them. For most of the 20th century, these oneway channels existed in the form of advertisements on TV, in newspapers and magazines, and on highway billboards. However, this producer-led economy has been flipped on its head because markets are fully saturated with product (how many phones/ cars/TVs do you need?). Further, the Internet, along with social networks, is changing the dynamics of how companies interact with consumers (or more importantly, how consumers interact with them).

Social networks allow us, as consumers, to more freely share information with one another and the companies with which we do business. We trust our friends, family, and others more than we trust marketing departments. That’s why we go to social media outlets to choose restaurants, hotels, and airlines. Our positive feedback in the form of reviews, tweets, shares, etc., can positively favor the brand of a company, and our negative feedback can just as easily and very swiftly destroy a brand.

There is now a powerful bi-directional flow of information with companies and their consumers that previously never existed, and businesses are struggling to keep up with the impact of not owning their brand.

Post-industrial companies are learning they must nurture their relationship (using bi-directional communication) with customers to understand how to bring value to them. Companies do this by providing ongoing conversation through service, customer experience, and feedback. Customers choose which services to consume and for which to pay depending on which ones bring them value and good experience. Take Uber, for example, which doesn’t own any inventory or sell products per se. I don’t get any value out of sitting in someone else’s car, but usually I’m trying to get somewhere (a business meeting, for example) which does bring value. In this way, Uber and I create value by my using its service. Going forward, companies will need to focus on bringing valuable services to customers, and technology will drive these through digital services.

This also applies to churches- that are also providing a service. They have to listen to their people carefully, over a long period of time – not just occasionally.

It even applies to schools, who have to listen, and respond to, many people – including their students.

And, of course it applies to politics – if people feel their government is not meeting their needs – they get rid of the government!

The only exception I can think of is Drugs – for which the demand is infinite. This is the ultimate consumer product.

The Many Personalities of Americans

In simpler times, every culture had its own personality – one for men, and one for women. But we no longer live in simple times – we have become developed – and developed many personalities. But still cling to the illusion that we have only one – our real self – that is all right.

One can easily see that Americans have at least two selves – the good self, and the bad self. Just as their Victorian ancestors did. The bad self is usually projected outward – something that has been done for centuries.

This is so simple, it hardly needs commenting on – but for Americans it is not simple at all – it is the basis of their complex personality type. When dealing with them, you are always playing a guessing game – which personality are you dealing with?

To be safe, it pays to assume the worst – that you are dealing with a bad guy – a very bad guy.

This is why America, and most of the developed world, is in big trouble. Capitalism was a huge success – until it hit a brick wall – and stopped working – sometime in the middle of the last century. I experienced this personally – and suffered thereby.

And I have also experienced the solution – the Computer, and its Software. Which demands a different kind of person – one who cooperates, instead of competing. These people are doing very well, believe me.

Once again, we are talking about something so simple, it is easily overlooked – by most Americans, who cannot imagine such a possibility. They are used to War, and and think Peace is for sissies! This is the brick wall I mentioned earlier – that exists in their minds only!

What is going to happen? The broad outlines of the future are clear – the Industrial world is dying – a dying that may take a some time. Something will take its place, that will include the Computer and its Software – but what that mix will be, we do not know.

Microservices for Java Developers


When the Student is ready, the teacher appears.

And in Software, the teacher is free! The software ecosystem (that’s what they call it themselves) is full of companies eager for you to use their services – and eager to use yours also. In either case, the service has to be completely explained – so anyone can use it.

This book does a great job of explaining the whole layout. You cannot understand Software unless you understand its social context.

The world is moving from an Industrial context to a Software context. Which freaks some people out. They are certain that Software will eat them alive.

And in a way, they are right. Software is eating the world – but the world is better off for it!

Trying to Understand Russia

NY Review – The Real Power of Putin

I enjoy reading something intelligent – I’m strange that way.

Here is a quote:

Americans—the quintessential middle-class nation—cherish the notion that a rising middle class expands political freedom and the rule of law; that commerce among nations reduces the threat of war; and that, in the long run at least, democracy produces the greatest good for the greatest number. The distinguished historian Moshe Lewin argued that Gorbachev, Russia’s leading democratizer to date, was part of a rising tide within the Soviet population, an emerging majority of educated, white-collar urbanites, and that perestroika was the product not just of a handful of Communist Party reformers but of the accumulating modernization of Soviet society itself. Deep currents of Russian social history were flowing in the direction of liberalization, and Gorbachev rode the wave.

Except it didn’t quite work that way. The world has gone to hell almost everywhere – and Americans have gone into shock, and refuse to think about anything.

I have a nephew who served in the Peace Corp in the Ukraine, and I asked him to comment on the latest crisis there – he refused. He has crawled under a rock, and plans on staying there. His father, my brother, is now a ardent supporter of Trump! The whole world has gone crazy.

I think that much of this is due to the networked technologies of Television and the Computer – that in most people’s minds are seen as the same thing. A vast force they cannot understand or control.

To put this in a Christian context – the right place to put it, seems to me – these new forces feel familiar – Christ in his Kingdom on Earth – facing the Devil in many places, external and internal – often called terrorists.

This is not the reality of the situation, is is far from it – but it is the perceived reality. And in the era of Television, this is what matters.

I know most people cannot see any connection between technology and politics – they have been taught not to see this – a huge mistake that led to WWI, the Depression, and WWII.

Seeing what these technologies really are is not difficult – any intelligent adolescent can learn them easily.

If they are given the chance.

I’m Far Too Old for This Kind of Stuff

I’m not talking about Sex – something I thought I could never live without, but I have. I am talking about Programming – that has a mysterious appeal that my 79 year-old mind finds hard to resist.

I cannot resist bossing around a computer. It bossed me around for 20 years in Silicon Valley  – now it’s my turn.

This morning, I fired up NetBeans and started learning here. I followed the instructions along, step by step – just barely knowing what I was doing. But I was impressed – as they were sure I would be.

This is what they want – to lock in to your brain stem – and active your reward centers.

If I were thirty years younger, I could have built a new life for myself – in this brave new world.

Can Technology Make People Better?

Yes! We are a technology-using species – beginning with our human language, and our large brain – that let us think.

I often compare myself to the tiny flying insects so common in the tropics. These rascals can do everything – fly, walk, see, smell, taste, and reproduce (in large numbers).

What do we have, that they do not? Consciousness. I am aware of them, but they are not aware of me. I can take a fly-swatter to them – but they cannot do the same to me.

Does this make me better? This is a question the whole world is asking itself. Is having these humans around any good for all of us?

But we can narrow this question much farther – are we any good for us? And the “we” here has to include our latest technologies – including the Atomic Bomb. Which is having less of an impact than Television and the Smartphone.

Which have taken over, without anyone being aware of this.

But this is not all – the complex called Artificial Intelligence is having an even bigger impact. Television made us stupid – but this is eliminating us entirely!

Somewhere along the line, our technologies have gotten the best of us.

This doesn’t have to be a permanent condition – all we have to do is wake up, and realize where we are. But this is not happening – our technologies (especially the latest ones) have changed us permanently – and not for the better.

How this has happened, I have no idea. But the overall result has been a reversal of values – stupidity instead of intelligence. Two things have happened at the same time – people have become stupid, as their computers have become intelligent.

This gives us a new Authoritarian society never seen before (where software rules the world) – one we cannot begin to understand, or control. It may become Totalitarian – ruled by one man, such as Trump. This has happened before, and could easily happen again.

Tech Giants Team Up To Tackle The Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence

All Tech Considered

“When you train a learning algorithm on a bunch of data, then it will find a pattern that is in that data. This has been known, obviously, understood by everybody within AI,” Kambhampati says.

“But the fact that the impact of that may be unintended stereotyping, unintended discrimination is something that has become much more of an issue right now,” he says, “because these technologies are actually making very important decisions in our day-to-day life.”

Note the photograph here – none of these guys (and one gal) are wearing a business suit!