notes on Clausewitz

I found an old notebook from 2001. I was flipping through it to see what I was doing then and found some notes from a book I was reading this book on Clausewitz — some really good stuff that applies in lots of domains outside of War.

  • Theory Shouldn’t be Dogma - The best theories guide analysis and aid in understanding.  The worst prescribe actions under specific conditions.  Interesting to note that Innovator’s Dilemma does the former, while Crossing the Chasm does the latter.
  • Fog of Uncertainty - No decision is absolutely certain, nor is the knowledge its based on.  You should recognize the areas of uncertainty (rather than pretend they don’t exist) and understand the uncertainty.  But you should make decisions anyway.   Uncertainty creates opportunity.     Also, consider this: how can you increase your opponents uncertainty?
  • Friction - no plan is ever executed  exactly as written.  Unpredictable things happen to prevent this.  make allowances and pay attention to execution.
  • Overwhelming Force - always bring to bear an overwhelming force against your targets, to bring about a decisive conclusion as quickly as possible.
  • Minimal Targets - identify the minimal set of targets necessary to achieve your goals.   Bring your force to bear against those and only those targets.
  • Speed of Movement - the speed with which your forces can be redeployed against new targets can act as a force multiplier.
  • Don’t Rely on Surprise - too often strategies are built around achieving surprise.    Surprise is difficult to achieve and unreliable at best.
  • Defense is Neutral/Negative -  A defensive posture is easier to take, but usually doesn’t advance you towards your goals.
  • Never Leave Forces Idle - always make the most of your forces by pro-actively applying them towards your objectives.

The Long Tail whips P2P

I followed a link from Due Dilligence to an excellent article in Wired on how media-based business (music, books, movies, etc) is fundamentally transformed by the ability to keep *everything* in stock and deliver it for almost nothing. When you can aggregate all of that demand, there is some demand for virtually everything. In fact, it turns out that there is more money to be made on the low-demand things than on the high demand things, in aggregate. This demand has previously gone unmet because it was never possible for physical stores to meet that need conveniently.

I have long suspected this was the case — but this article makes the case very compellingly and backs it up with real world examples of the long tail in action.

Ironically, this is a business that P2P can’t touch. P2P networks are great at finding things common within the network. When the thing you want is rare, the chance that a peer that has it will see your request is fairly small. And the chances get slimmer when you remember that many P2P clients are only occasionally connected, many are freeloaders that don’t or can’t serve their music, or and many don’t have enough bandwidth to give reasonable service. While P2P is a convenient way to get popular things free, it sucks for obscu re stuff — in theory and in practice.

So, it’s not that there isn’t big business to be had in digital media on the Internet, it’s just that it’s fundamentally a different business. In the physical world, media companies are star makers. They select an artist from the talent pool, then invest heavily in production and promotion to turn that artist into a popular phenomenon. The promotion is key — it’s what boosts demand to a level where WalMart can get the inventory turnover it needs to justify giving the album shelfspace.

On line, the business is knowing your product and knowing your customers, so that you can match customers to products that match their tastes, no matter how quirky. It’s a different business, but the rewards are bigger than ever.

In fact, if you can make money on the long tail, you don’t have to worry about losing the demand that P2P is good at meeting — the demand for the popular stuff.

upgraded to MT-2.661

I upgraded to MT-2661 (from 2.63). The big new features are:

* Atom support – see the Syndication section of the side bar.
* Comment Throttling – prevents abuse by enforcing a waiting period between comments from the same IP address.
* No URLs in comments – comment URLs are now handled via a meta redirect rather than including them directly. Not sure I like this.

apple refurbs are slow to ship

I’ve had an G3 iBook for over a year now. I love it — a Unix based OS with clean look and real ease-of-use along with a suite of apps that feel like commercial software (, iTunes, iPhoto, etc). But the G3 is a little slow.

I recently discovered the refurb section on the Apple store and decided to take the plunge one of the refurbished aluminum G4 PowerBooks.

They initially promised a ship date 3 days after the order was placed. A month later, I’ve been told for the third time that they are still not able to complete the order. In the process, I’ve had several unsatisfying customer service experiences after long holds on the phone (I needed to change the shipping address because of the delay).

I remember waiting a month and more for PCs from Dell — so, it’s not like I’m not willing to wait. But I wish Apple had given me an accurate ship date before I ordered. All in all, it’s left me feeling less enthusiastic about doing business with Apple.

hello, world?

I’ve switched my blog from Radio Userland to MoveableType — more comfortable making changes to perl than to Radio and I like the fact that mt runs on my hosting provider rather than on a specific desktop somewhere.

also, where as my old blog was everything rolled in to one (albeit with categories), mt will will allow me to create distinct blogs. the first effect of this is no more using this blog to bookmark interesting things I find — there’s a seperate blog for that at bookmarks