More on Society & Culture
11 months ago
What Motivated Amazon to Spend $1 Billion for The Rings of Power?
Amazon's Rings of Power is the most costly TV series ever made. This is merely a down payment towards Amazon's grand goal.
Here's a video:
Amazon bought J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novels for $250 million in 2017. This agreement allows Amazon to create a Tolkien series for Prime Video.
The business spent years developing and constructing a Lord of the Rings prequel. Rings of Power premiered on September 2, 2022.
It drew 25 million global viewers in 24 hours. Prime Video's biggest debut.
An Exorbitant Budget
The most expensive. First season cost $750 million to $1 billion, making it the most costly TV show ever.
Jeff Bezos has spent years looking for the next Game of Thrones, a critically and commercially successful original series. Rings of Power could help.
Why would Amazon bet $1 billion on one series?
It's Not Just About the Streaming War
It's simple to assume Amazon just wants to win. Since 2018, the corporation has been fighting Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Apple, Disney, and NBC. Each wants your money, talent, and attention. Amazon's investment goes beyond rivalry.
Subscriptions Are the Bait
Audible, Amazon Music, and Prime Video are subscription services, although the company's fundamental business is retail. Amazon's online stores contribute over 50% of company revenue. Subscription services contribute 6.8%. The company's master plan depends on these subscriptions.
Streaming videos on Prime increases membership renewals. Free trial participants are more likely to join. Members buy twice as much as non-members.
Amazon Studios doesn't generate original programming to earn from Prime Video subscriptions. It aims to retain and attract clients.
Amazon can track what you watch and buy. Its algorithm recommends items and services. Mckinsey says you'll use more Amazon products, shop at Amazon stores, and watch Amazon entertainment.
In 2015, the firm launched the first season of The Man in the High Castle, a dystopian alternate history TV series depicting a world ruled by Nazi Germany and Japan after World War II.
This $72 million production earned two Emmys. It garnered 1.15 million new Prime users globally.
When asked about his Hollywood investment, Bezos said, "A Golden Globe helps us sell more shoes."
Selling more footwear
Amazon secured a deal with DirecTV to air Thursday Night Football in restaurants and bars. First streaming service to have exclusive NFL games.
This isn't just about Thursday night football, says media analyst Ritchie Greenfield. This sells t-shirts. This may be a ticket. Amazon does more than stream games.
The Rings of Power isn't merely a production showcase, either. This sells Tolkien's fantasy novels such Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion.
This tiny commitment keeps you in Amazon's ecosystem.
9 months ago
When we want to return anything, why on earth do stores still require a receipt?
A friend told me of an incident she found particularly irritating: a retailer where she is a frequent client, with an account and loyalty card, asked for the item's receipt.
We all know that stores collect every bit of data they can on us, including our socio-demographic profile, address, shopping habits, and everything we've ever bought, so why would they need a fading receipt? Who knows? That their consumers try to pass off other goods? It's easy to verify past transactions to see when the item was purchased.
That's it. Why require receipts? Companies send us incentives, discounts, and other marketing, yet when we need something, we have to prove we're not cheating.
Why require us to preserve data and documents when our governments and governmental institutions already have them? Why do I need to carry documents like my driver's license if the authorities can check if I have one and what state it's in once I prove my identity?
We shouldn't be required to give someone data or documents they already have. The days of waiting up with our paperwork for a stern official to inform us something is missing are over.
How can retailers still ask if you have a receipt if we've made our slow, bureaucratic, and all-powerful government sensible? Then what? The shop may not accept your return (which has a two-year window, longer than most purchase tickets last) or they may just let you replace the item.
Isn't this an anachronism in the age of CRMs, customer files that know what we ate for breakfast, and loyalty programs? If government and bureaucracies have learnt to use its own files and make life easier for the consumer, why do retailers ask for a receipt?
They're adding friction to the system. They know we can obtain a refund, use our warranty, or get our money back. But if I ask for ludicrous criteria, like keeping the purchase receipt in your wallet (wallet? another anachronism, if I leave the house with only my smartphone! ), it will dissuade some individuals and tip the scales in their favor when it comes to limiting returns. Some manager will take credit for lowering returns and collect her annual bonus. Having the wrong metrics is common in management.
To slow things down, asking for a receipt is like asking us to perform a handstand and leap 20 times on one foot. You have my information, use it to send me everything, and know everything I've bought, yet when I need a two-way service, you refuse to utilize it and require that I keep it and prove it.
Refuse as customers. If retailers want our business, they should treat us well, not just when we spend money. If I come to return a product, claim its use or warranty, or be taught how to use it, I am the same person you treated wonderfully when I bought it. Remember that, and act accordingly.
A store should use my information for everything, not just what it wants. Keep my info, but don't sell me anything.
7 months ago
How a misplaced item may change your outlook
Losing your wallet means life stops. Money vanishes. No credit. Your identity is unverifiable. As you check your pockets for the missing object, you can't drive. You can't borrow a library book.
Last seen? intuitively. Every kid asks this, including yours. However, you know where you lost it: On the Providence River cycling trail. While pedaling vigorously, the wallet dropped out of your back pocket and onto the pavement.
A woman you know—your son's art teacher—says it will be returned. Faith.
You want that faith. Losing a wallet is all-consuming. You must presume it has been stolen and is being used to buy every diamond and non-fungible token on the market. Your identity may have been used to open bank accounts and fake passports. Because he used your license address, a ski mask-wearing man may be driving slowly past your house.
As you delete yourself by canceling cards, these images run through your head. You wait in limbo for replacements. Digital text on the DMV website promises your new license will come within 60 days and be approved by local and state law enforcement. In the following two months, your only defense is a screenshot.
Your wallet was ordinary. A worn, overstuffed leather rectangle. You understand how tenuous your existence has always been since you've never lost a wallet. You barely breathe without your documents.
Ironically, you wore a wallet-belt chain. You adored being a 1993 slacker for 15 years. Your wife just convinced you last year that your office job wasn't professional. You nodded and hid the chain.
Never lost your wallet. Until now.
Angry. Feeling stupid. How could you drop something vital? Why? Is the world cruel? No more dumb luck. You're always one pedal-stroke from death.
Then you get a call: We have your wallet.
Local post office, not cops.
The clerk said someone returned it. Due to trying to identify you, it's a chaos. It has your cards but no cash.
Your automobile screeches down the highway. You yell at the windshield, amazed. Submitted. Art teacher was right. Have some trust.
You thank the postmaster. You ramble through the story. The clerk doesn't know the customer, simply a neighborhood Good Samaritan. You wish you could thank that person for lifting your spirits.
You get home, beaming with gratitude. You thumb through your wallet, amazed that it’s all intact. Then you dig out your chain and reattach it.
Because even faith could use a little help.
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1 year ago
Elon Musk’s Rich Life Is a Nightmare
I'm sure you haven't read about Elon's other side.
Elon divorced badly.
Imagine you're a parent. Someone isn't home year-round. What's next?
That’s what happened to YOLO Elon.
He can do anything. He can intervene in wars, shoot his mouth off, bang anyone he wants, avoid tax, make cool tech, buy anything his ego desires, and live anywhere exotic.
Few know his billionaire backstory. I'll tell you so you don't worship his lifestyle. It’s a cult.
Only his career succeeds. His life is a nightmare otherwise.
Elon has said he works 120-hour weeks.
As he told the reporter about his job, he choked up, which was unusual for him.
His crazy workload and lack of sleep forced him to scold innocent Wall Street analysts. Later, he apologized.
In the same interview, he admits he hadn't taken more than a week off since 2001, when he was bedridden with malaria. Elon stays home after a near-death experience.
He's rarely outside.
Elon says he sometimes works 3 or 4 days straight.
He admits his crazy work schedule has cost him time with his kids and friends.
Elon's a slave
Elon's birthday description made him emotional.
Elon worked his entire birthday.
"No friends, nothing," he said, stuttering.
His brother's wedding in Catalonia was 48 hours after his birthday. That meant flying there from Tesla's factory prison.
He arrived two hours before the big moment, barely enough time to eat and change, let alone see his brother.
Elon had to leave after the bouquet was tossed to a crowd of billionaire lovers. He missed his brother's first dance with his wife.
He went straight to Tesla's prison.
The looming health crisis
Elon was asked if overworking affected his health.
Not great. Friends are worried.
Now you know why Elon tweets dumb things. Working so hard has probably caused him mental health issues.
Mental illness removed my reality filter. You do stupid things because you're tired.
Astronauts pelted Elon
Elon's overwork isn't the first time his life has made him emotional.
When asked about Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan criticizing his SpaceX missions, he got emotional. Elon's heroes.
They're why he started the company, and they mocked his work. In another interview, we see how Elon’s business obsession has knifed him in the heart.
Once you have a company, you must feed, nurse, and care for it, even if it destroys you.
"Yep," Elon says, tearing up.
In the same interview, he's asked how Tesla survived the 2008 recession. Elon stopped the interview because he was crying. When Tesla and SpaceX filed for bankruptcy in 2008, he nearly had a nervous breakdown. He called them his "children."
All the time, he's risking everything.
Jack Raines explains best:
Too much money makes you a slave to your net worth.
Elon's emotions are admirable. It's one of the few times he seems human, not like an alien Cyborg.
Stop idealizing Elon's lifestyle
Building a side business that becomes a billion-dollar unicorn startup is a nightmare.
"Billionaire" means financially wealthy but otherwise broke. A rich life includes more than business and money.
This post is a summary. Read full article here
11 months ago
A visual exploration of the REAL use cases for NFTs in the Future
In this essay, I studied REAL NFT use examples and their potential uses.
Knowledge of the Hype Cycle
Gartner's Hype Cycle.
It proposes 5 phases for disruptive technology.
1. Technology Trigger: the emergence of potentially disruptive technology.
2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity creates hype. (Ex: 2021 Bubble)
3. Trough of Disillusionment: Early projects fail to deliver on promises and the public loses interest. I suspect NFTs are somewhere around this trough of disillusionment now.
4. Enlightenment slope: The tech shows successful use cases.
5. Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption has arrived and broader market applications have proven themselves. Here’s a more detailed visual of the Gartner Hype Cycle from Wikipedia.
In the speculative NFT bubble of 2021, @beeple sold Everydays: the First 5000 Days for $69 MILLION in 2021's NFT bubble.
@nbatopshot sold millions in video collectibles.
This is when expectations peaked.
Let's examine NFTs' real-world applications.
Watch this video if you're unfamiliar with NFTs.
Most people think NFTs are rich people buying worthless JPEGs and MP4s.
Digital artwork and collectibles are revolutionary for creators and enthusiasts.
NFT Profile Pictures
You might also have seen NFT profile pictures on Twitter.
My profile picture is an NFT I coined with @skogards factoria app, which helps me avoid bogus accounts.
Profile pictures are a good beginning point because they're unique and clearly yours.
NFTs are a way to represent proof-of-ownership. It’s easier to prove ownership of digital assets than physical assets, which is why artwork and pfps are the first use cases.
They can do much more.
NFTs can represent anything with a unique owner and digital ownership certificate. Domains and usernames.
Usernames & Domains
@unstoppableweb, @ensdomains, @rarible sell NFT domains.
NFT domains are transferable, which is a benefit.
Godaddy and other web2 providers have difficult-to-transfer domains. Domains are often leased instead of purchased.
NFTs can also represent concert tickets and event passes.
There's a limited number, and entry requires proof.
NFTs can eliminate the problem of forgery and make it easy to verify authenticity and ownership.
NFT tickets can be traded on the secondary market, which allows for:
marketplaces that are uniform and offer the seller and buyer security (currently, tickets are traded on inefficient markets like FB & craigslist)
Payment of royalties to the creator
4. Historical ticket ownership data implies performers can airdrop future passes, discounts, etc.
5. NFT passes can be a fandom badge.
The $30B+ online tickets business is increasing fast.
NFT-based ticketing projects:
NFTs also help in-game assets.
Imagine someone spending five years collecting a rare in-game blade, then outgrowing or quitting the game. Gamers value that collectible.
The gaming industry is expected to make $200 BILLION in revenue this year, a significant portion of which comes from in-game purchases.
Royalties on secondary market trading of gaming assets encourage gaming businesses to develop NFT-based ecosystems.
Digital assets are the start. On-chain NFTs can represent real-world assets effectively.
Real estate has a unique owner and requires ownership confirmation.
Tokenizing property has many benefits.
1. Can be fractionalized to increase access, liquidity
2. Can be collateralized to increase capital efficiency and access to loans backed by an on-chain asset
3. Allows investors to diversify or make bets on specific neighborhoods, towns or cities +++
I've written about this thought exercise before.
I made an animated video explaining this.
We've just explored NFTs for transferable assets. But what about non-transferrable NFTs?
SBTs are Soul-Bound Tokens. Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum co-founder) blogged about this.
NFTs are basically verifiable digital certificates.
Diplomas & Degrees
That fits Degrees & Diplomas. These shouldn't be marketable, thus they can be non-transferable SBTs.
Anyone can verify the legitimacy of on-chain credentials, degrees, abilities, and achievements.
The same goes for other awards.
For example, LinkedIn could give you a verified checkmark for your degree or skills.
NFTs can also safeguard against counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting is the largest criminal enterprise in the world, estimated to be $2 TRILLION a year and growing.
Anti-counterfeit tech is valuable.
This is one of @ORIGYNTech's projects.
Identity theft/verification is another real-world problem NFTs can handle.
In the US, 15 million+ citizens face identity theft every year, suffering damages of over $50 billion a year.
This isn't surprising considering all you need for US identity theft is a 9-digit number handed around in emails, documents, on the phone, etc.
Identity NFTs can fix this.
NFTs are one-of-a-kind and unforgeable.
NFTs offer a universal standard.
NFTs are simple to verify.
SBTs, or non-transferrable NFTs, are tied to a particular wallet.
In the event of wallet loss or theft, NFTs may be revoked.
This could be one of the biggest use cases for NFTs.
Imagine a global identity standard that is standardized across countries, cannot be forged or stolen, is digital, easy to verify, and protects your private details.
Since your identity is more than your government ID, you may have many NFTs.
NFTs can authenticate digital and physical memberships.
NFT IDs can verify votes.
If you remember 2020, you'll know why this is an issue.
Online voting's ease can boost turnout.
NFTs can protect IP.
This can earn creators royalties.
NFTs have 2 important properties:
Verifiability IP ownership is unambiguously stated and publicly verified.
Platforms that enable authors to receive royalties on their IP can enter the market thanks to standardization.
Monetization without copyrighting = more opportunities for everyone.
This works well with the music.
Spotify and Apple Music pay creators very little.
Creators can crowdfund with NFTs.
NFTs can represent future royalties for investors.
This is particularly useful for fields where people who are not in the top 1% can’t make money. (Example: Professional sports players)
Mirror.xyz allows blog-based crowdfunding.
This introduces Financial NFTs (fNFTs). Unique financial contracts abound.
a person's collection of assets (unique portfolio)
A loan contract that has been partially repaid with a lender
temporal tokens (ex: veCRV)
Not just financial contracts.
NFT can represent any legal contract or document.
Messages & Emails
What about other agreements? Verbal agreements through emails and messages are likewise unique, but they're easily lost and fabricated.
Medical records or prescriptions are another types of documentation that has to be verified but isn't.
Medical NFT examples:
Covid test outcomes
health issues that may affect one's identity
Observations made via health sensors
Existing systems of proof by paper / PDF have photoshop-risk.
I tried to include most use scenarios, but this is just the beginning.
NFTs have many innovative uses.
For example: @ShaanVP minted an NFT called “5 Minutes of Fame” 👇
Here are 2 Twitter threads about NFTs:
This piece of gold by @chriscantino
If you're wondering why NFTs are better than web2 databases for these use scenarios, see this Twitter thread I wrote:
If you liked this, please share it.
Dr Mehmet Yildiz
9 months ago
How I train my brain daily for clarity and productivity.
I use a conceptual and practical system I developed decades ago as an example.
Since childhood, I've been interested in the brain-mind connection, so I developed a system using scientific breakthroughs, experiments, and the experiences of successful people in my circles.
This story provides a high-level overview of a custom system to inform and inspire readers. Creating a mind gym was one of my best personal and professional investments.
Such a complex system may not be possible for everyone or appear luxurious at first. However, the process and approach may help you find more accessible and viable solutions.
Visualizing the brain as a muscle, I learned to stimulate it with physical and mental exercises, applying a new mindset and behavioral changes.
My methods and practices may not work for others because we're all different. I focus on the approach's principles and highlights so you can create your own program.
Some create a conceptual and practical system intuitively, and others intellectually. Both worked. I see intellect and intuition as higher selves.
The mental tools I introduce are based on lifestyle changes and can be personalized by anyone, barring physical constraints or underlying health conditions.
Some people can't meditate despite wanting to due to mental constraints. This story lacks exceptions.
People's systems may vary. Many have used my tools successfully. All have scientific backing because their benefits attracted scientists. None are unethical or controversial.
My focus is cognition, which is the neocortex's ability. These practices and tools can affect the limbic and reptilian brain regions.
A previous article discussed brain health's biological aspects. This article focuses on psychology.
Thinking, learning, and remembering are cognitive abilities. Cognitive abilities determine our health and performance.
Cognitive health is the ability to think, concentrate, learn, and remember. Cognitive performance boosting involves various tools and processes. My system and protocols address cognitive health and performance.
As a biological organ, the brain's abilities decline with age, especially if not used regularly. Older people have more neurodegenerative disorders like dementia.
As aging is inevitable, I focus on creating cognitive reserves to remain mentally functional as we age and face mental decline or cognitive impairment.
My protocols focus on neurogenesis, or brain growth and maintenance. Neurons and connections can grow at any age.
Metacognition refers to knowing our cognitive abilities, like thinking about thinking and learning how to learn.
In the following sections, I provide an overview of my system, mental tools, and protocols.
This system summarizes my 50-year career. Some may find it too abstract, so I give examples.
First, explain the system. Section 2 introduces activities. Third, how to measure and maintain mental growth.
1 — Developed a practical mental gym.
The mental gym is a metaphor for the physical fitness gym to improve our mental muscles.
This concept covers brain and mind functionality. Integrated biological and psychological components.
I'll describe my mental gym so my other points make sense. My mental gym has physical and mental tools.
Mindfulness, meditation, visualization, self-conversations, breathing exercises, expressive writing, working in a flow state, reading, music, dance, isometric training, barefoot walking, cold/heat exposure, CBT, and social engagements are regular tools.
Dancing, walking, and thermogenesis are body-related tools. As the brain is part of the body and houses the mind, these tools can affect mental abilities such as attention, focus, memory, task switching, and problem-solving.
Different people may like different tools. I chose these tools based on my needs, goals, and lifestyle. They're just examples. You can choose tools that fit your goals and personality.
2 — Performed tasks regularly.
These tools gave me clarity. They became daily hobbies. Some I did alone, others with others.
Some examples: I meditate daily. Even though my overactive mind made daily meditation difficult at first, I now enjoy it. Meditation three times a day sharpens my mind.
Self-talk is used for self-therapy and creativity. Self-talk was initially difficult, but neurogenesis rewired my brain to make it a habit.
Cold showers, warm baths with Epsom salts, fasting, barefoot walks on the beach or grass, dancing, calisthenics, trampoline hopping, and breathing exercises increase my mental clarity, creativity, and productivity.
These exercises can increase BDNF, which promotes nervous system growth. They improve mental capacity and performance by increasing blood flow and brain oxygenation.
I use weekly and occasional activities like dry saunas, talking with others, and community activities.
These activities stimulate the brain and mind, improving performance and cognitive capacity.
3 — Measured progress, set growth goals.
Measuring progress helps us stay on track. Without data, it's hard to stay motivated. When we face inevitable setbacks, we may abandon our dreams.
I created a daily checklist for a spreadsheet with macros. I tracked how often and long I did each activity.
I measured my progress objectively and subjectively. In the progress spreadsheet, I noted my meditation hours and subjective feelings.
In another column, I used good, moderate, and excellent to get qualitative data. It took time and effort. Later, I started benefiting from this automated structure.
Creating a page for each activity, such as meditation, self-talk, cold showers, walking, expressive writing, personal interactions, etc., gave me empirical data I could analyze, modify, and graph to show progress.
Colored charts showed each area's strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths motivate me to continue them. Identifying weaknesses helped me improve them.
As the system matured, data recording became a habit and took less time. I saw the result immediately because I automated the charts when I entered daily data. Early time investment paid off later.
Mind Gym Benefits, Effective Use, and Progress Measuring
This concept helped me move from comfort to risk. I accept things as they are.
Turnarounds were made. I stopped feeling "Fight-Flight-Freeze" and maintained self-control.
I tamed my overactive amygdala by strengthening my brain. Stress and anxiety decreased. With these shifts, I accepted criticism and turned envy into admiration. Clarity improved.
When the cognitive part of the brain became stronger and the primitive part was tamed, managing thoughts and emotions became easier. My AQ increased. I learned to tolerate people, physical, mental, and emotional obstacles.
Accessing vast information sources in my subconscious mind through an improved RAS allowed me to easily tap into my higher self and recognize flaws in my lower self.
The brain loves patterns and routines, so habits help. Observing, developing, and monitoring habits mindfully can be beneficial. Mindfulness helps us achieve this goal systematically.
As body and mind are connected, we must consider both when building habits. Consistent and joyful practices can strengthen neurons and neural connections.
Habits help us accomplish more with less effort. Regularly using mental tools and processes can improve our cognitive health and performance as we age.
Creating daily habits to improve cognitive abilities can sharpen our minds and boost our well-being.
Some apps monitor our activities and behavior to help build habits. If you can't replicate my system, try these apps. Some smartwatches and fitness devices include them.
Set aside time each day for mental activities you enjoy. Regular scheduling and practice can strengthen brain regions and form habits. Once you form habits, tasks become easy.
Improving our minds is a lifelong journey. It's easier and more sustainable to increase our efforts daily, weekly, monthly, or annually.
Despite life's ups and downs, many want to remain calm and cheerful.
This valuable skill is unrelated to wealth or fame. It's about our mindset, fueled by our biological and psychological needs.
Here are some lessons I've learned about staying calm and composed despite challenges and setbacks.
1 — Tranquillity starts with observing thoughts and feelings.
2 — Clear the mental clutter and emotional entanglements with conscious breathing and gentle movements.
3 — Accept situations and events as they are with no resistance.
4 — Self-love can lead to loving others and increasing compassion.
5 — Count your blessings and cultivate gratitude.
Clear thinking can bring joy and satisfaction. It's a privilege to wake up with a healthy body and clear mind, ready to connect with others and serve them.
Thank you for reading my perspectives. I wish you a healthy and happy life.