SXSW is in full gear right now in Austin.  As both a Texan and a music fan, SXSW holds a special place for me (and I’m sad to be missing out on the magic).  Jazz Fest in New Orleans is the only thing I’ve experienced that seems to come close to the same magic, and I say that as someone who has been to around 20 different music festivals.

What makes SXSW so unique and great isn’t the headliners.  In many ways, those have been an unwelcome recent addition to the affair.  SXSW is about the undiscovered talent – undiscovered by you, undiscovered by me, and undiscovered by the major labels.

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Long before Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were even twinkles in their fathers’ eyes, the word computer was a job title for someone who computes or performs mathematical calculations.  Depending which online resource you trust most, its use dates back to the 1600’s.  Not until much later, sometime in the 1800’s, did it come to refer to a device rather than a human.  From what I can gather, the word calculator underwent a similar evolution.

I’ve taken you on this little jaunt back in time in part because I’m under the influence of a book that I’m currently reading, Etymologicon, but mostly to make the point that another title – “data scientist” – is likely to follow the same trajectory.

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I’ve taken a long hiatus from posting on here while I immersed myself in the burgeoning world of data and analytics, and today, I’m finally back.  Around the time I left off, I was just starting to explore two new areas of interest: quantitative models as a way to prototypes business model designs and the parallels between programmatic advertising and my former life in algorithmic equities trading.  Both interests quickly converged for me in a new role for me at a marketing analytics company, and soaking up all the knowledge I could has been my focus ever since.

A life not lived isn’t worth examining so I’ve just been living.  Equally true, though, the unexamined life isn’t worth living.  Before this blog, I was in business school, learning as much as I could.  When I entered a period of reflection, this blog became a mechanism by which I continued to evolve my thinking.  I’m entering a new period of reflection with lots of excitement about what’s beginning to percolate.  Stay tuned . . .

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 860 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The tendency to deconstruct business functions into ever finer units of specialization – what I call business reductionism – threatens the kind of coordinated action required to execute on a good business strategy and must be resisted.  The marketing in particular seems to have become susceptible to this sort of reductionism, brought on by the introduction of new marketing technologies , and hope for reconstitution rests on getting back to first principles.

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I prepared this on spec for a prospective employer and figured by sharing it here I might still get some incremental value from the exercise.


I have been learning a lot about digital advertising and mobile as my interest in music has expanded into video and media more generally.  Along the way, I’ve been struck by the resemblance the evolving digital advertising space bears to the early days of electronic trading on Wall Street (naturally, I’m also not the first to make this connection).

I thought I would try unpacking the analogy a bit here to see how well it holds up and whether there are any lessons that could be learned from the equities markets.  (This thought exercise takes up some space so for those so inclined, I’ve made it easy to skip to just the predictions and/or the lessons.)  For an interesting read on the advent of electronic trading, I highly recommend Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys – very entertaining, even for someone like myself who lived it first hand.

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