Order and Openness


brexit_demographics2Brexit and Trump are forcing the US and Britain to re-think their political groupings because those phenomena don’t fit nicely into the red-state blue-state model, at least the way it has been used for the last few decades.

Eric Kaufmann takes the conversation about political groupings down a level to individual value systems as a way to re-shape our traditional groupings — in particular he talks about an “order” mentality vs. an “open-ness” mentality as a neutral way to think about the core divide. Of course this is just semantic tinkering with the values that underlie the Whig/Torry Democrat/Republican Liberal/Conservative divisions that have existed forever.

But this tinkering is goodness and understanding how attitudes toward disciplining children, family structure, national security, etc. map to the larger groupings clearly helps make sense of the motivational landscape.

I especially like the 3-part model Eric refers to from a consultancy that does “values consulting” (it’s a thing!) — the model identifies Pioneers, Settlers, and Prospectors as key demographic types (click on the embedded picture above — and read the “Pat Dade..” graf in Eric’s article for more detail).

It explains to me how a second generation Parkistani business-owner from a nice suburb of London — who on the surface based on ethnic and geo and class markers might not look like a Brexiter — could still vote for Brexit based on a cluster of values around finances, safety and patriarchy.

Or how a Harvard-educated ex-mayor from Wisconsin can be a Trump supporter based on deep skepticism of the current political system and an admiration for a business approach.

This all just looks like the segmentation the Obama campaigns have been doing for the last decade to target messages to voters. Or the work good digital marketers do every day to sell stuff.


Success Is Just Failure That Hasn’t Happened Yet


I love the current Priceline ad that features the dueling “life advice” soundbites from David Robinson and Latrell Spreewell. Clearly the mix of basketball and philosophy is aimed straight at some kind of pseudo-intellectual 40-55 yr old NBA fan demo. So yeah, bullseye.

But “and one” for Spreewell fans especially. Ask anyone who knows me — Spree is and always has been my favorite NBA player. Period. Obviously not a model citizen, but a guy who has always been effective as an outsider and successful on his own terms. He dreamed superhard and lived on the edges, the dunk nobody saw coming. He was the furiously transgressive miracle-twin to his laid back ‘Bama team-mate Big Shot Bob.

You all can keep The Admiral’s saccharine “hard work and a great attitude” advice — Spree’s re-purposed demotivator is much more interesting to me..

What better way to remind yourself that success isn’t a destination? and that no matter how successful you are someone will always find a way to frame you as a failure? and that even if you define success for yourself — hard to do! — there’s nothing permanent about it..

I’m A Killer

Bartle Player Type Interaction 2Most of my thinking about how people play social games — especially B3TZ — comes from my reading about Bartle’s gamer types.

Richard Bartle was a pioneer in early multiplayer online games in the 70’s and wrote a paper based on some of the data he collected about user behaviors in the game he administered. That paper got turned into a “gamer personality test” that identifies four basic social gaming impulses:

  • Achiever — reward, collection and ranking driven
  • Explorer — motivated by freedom to look around, finding cool things first
  • Killer — wants to dominate another player
  • Socializer — gets enjoyment from meeting new people, connecting with friends

When you take the test you get an index rating for each of these, typically one of the categories is dominant, so that is usually your “type”. There used to be tests that would give you a badge with all four numbers as a way of identifying yourself to a new group, theoretically to find a better fit — looks like those tests are all gone now, sadly.

With the gamification fad a few years ago Bartle got a lot of notoriety (not all of which he appreciated!) and people started applying his profiling model to all kinds of educational and business applications.

Some of the best discussion of the value of these gamer types comes from the Bartle’s extended 8-type model that contemplates the maturity or progression of a player through the play life-cycle.

I’m waiting for someone to add another dimension to this model that generates 16 types total, and then do the work to map that super-Bartle model to Meyer’s-Briggs. Whoops, looks like someone already did that..

Beautiful Decay No. 5

My brain is full of Graeber. I’m currently reading The False Coin of Our Own Dreams, his sweet and funny and wickedly smart attempt at an anthropological theory of value.

Plus I’m melancholy from some future work travel and the comfortable press of way way too much to do, most of it partially done..

It’s in this mental space that I discovered Handiedan, a dutch artist referred by my favorite local gallery, Roq La Rue, who will be showing her most of the month of July.

This is the picture that has done the most brain-smiting for me so far..

handiedan_print_75 (1)

I love her use of visual ornamentation as emotional grammar and her eye for composition vs. incompleteness — and in this piece I’m especially drawn to the language of confidence (money!) and desire (pin-ups). This makes music with my subconscious processing of the Graeber.

I have decided that she is the cover artist for a novel I have been imagining for 20+ years, the one about time-travelling robotic nuns and the Varangian Guard, set in Los Angeles and a silver-grassed version of the moon.



One of the local Seattle eSports startups that I’ve tracked on the Geekwire is Matcherino. Best I can tell, they are attempting to add some new ways for pro gamers to generate revenue — or “engage their audience”.

Normal engagement looks like the pro using their skills and ability to market themselves as cool to get views, comments, and if they’re really cool, donations of actual money. What do the fans get? Association with the pro, maybe even a comment reply or acknowledgement of existence. Standard high school pecking order management.

Matcherino is raising the bar by giving fans some more substantial ways of interacting with pros. So far Matcherino has —

  1. Crowdfund a prize pool for matching up two pros to play together for fan entertainment
  2. Allow a pro to easily play with a subscriber

Apparently there are more engagement features in the works..

I’m not knowledgeable enough on the communication patterns of streaming game fans to comment on how likely these features are to be appreciated, but I’d say any attempt to get pro gamers more money sounds like a good idea — as long as the benefit clearly outweighs the usage cost.

Learned that one from B3TZ the hard way.