Review: Absolute Value – What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information

4 Star, Best Practices in Management, Information Society
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen

4.0 out of 5 stars Formula book, somewhat shallow, misses major opportunity, February 16, 2014

This book was a gift. The subtitle (What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information) overcame my reluctance and I gave it it a quick read, which is all it deserves. This is a formula book, and as one reviewer notes, would have been just fine as an article. The “innovation” in the book is the discovery that brand and prior experience are less relevant today to purchasing decisions that are now heavily influenced by up to date social commentary and readily available peer reviews.

At one level I find the book interesting as a quick once over of the obvious. At another level I am quite disappointed. There is nothing in this book about true cost economics or open source. If you want to be pretentious and talk about Absolute Value, it would help if you actually had a clue that Absolute Value includes virtual water, virtual fuel, virtual child labor, and virtual tax avoidance, among other things.

I appreciate the discussion of how false reviews and paid reviewers are losing ground to better systems for policing such abuses, and I am interested when they discuss the failure of most market research, which focuses on past experience and conventional concepts.

The importance of corporate monitoring of social media for all mentions of all of their products is presented in a useful manner. I particularly like the examples in relation to rapid recognition of flaws from specific production lines — this is about feedback loops.

The book ends weakly with a few examples of sites such as Goodguide,, and BrightScope.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

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Vote and/or Comment on Review

Weblosky Extract: Jay Rosen on State of Journalism

Blog Wisdom

Jay Rosen has a terrific post about the state of media.

Jay analyzes the scene:

… the filmmakers are showing us what the mass audience was: a particular way of arranging and connecting people in space. Viewers are connected “up” to the big spectacle, but they are disconnected from one another. Or to use the term I have favored, they are “atomized.” But Howard Beale does what no television person ever does: he uses television to tell its viewers to stop watching television.

He goes on to ask what would happen today in response to a “Howard Beale” event…

Immediately people who happened to be watching would alert their followers on Twitter. Someone would post a clip the same day on YouTube. The social networks would light up before the incident was over. Bloggers would be commenting on it well before professional critics had their chance. The media world today is a shifted space. People are connected horizontally to one another as effectively as they are connected up to Big Media; and they have the powers of production in their hands.

Jay follows with an expansion of his comments, and concludes with a set of recommendations for today’s journalists. (The post is a must-read for journalists and news bloggers.)

There’s been too much hand-wringing over the supposed collapse of journalism as we know it, but journalism’s never been more exciting, never had the kind of tools and channels of information available today. We’re seeing, not collapse, but evolution.

WEBLOGSKY: Jon Lebkowsky's Blog

Phi Beta Iota: Emphasis added above.  The cited post by Jay Rosen is extremely rich in organization and content and therefore a REFERENCE as well as a Weblosky Extract.  Epoch B “bottom=up” everything, open everything, and a restoration of human scale and human values, are all at tipping points.

Event Report: 20 Nov 09 NYC Counterinsurgency–America’s Strategic Burden Featuring Nagl, Kilcullen, Sheehan, Bergen, Coll Among Others


COIN20 Trip Report
COIN20 Trip Report

21 November 2009

Memorandum of Transmittal by Robert David STEELE Vivas

Subject:  Counterinsurgency Conference Overview

Mr. Jason Liszkiewicz, Executive Director of the Earth Intelligence Network (EIN) and resident in NYC, attended the 20 November 2009 conference on counterinsurgency (speakers identified on page two), and provided me with the notes on pages 3-9.  Below is my own exploitation of these notes.

IGNORANT US POLICYMAKERS.  We have policymakers with crippling illusions about how the world is—worst ever—people in policy positions do not understand the problems they are making policy on—Congress is unsophisticated about Afghanistan; Washington-area decision-makers vastly misunderstand the enemy—Taliban is a super-bug  adapting super-fast.  This is NOT about Al Qaeda having a home base.  Congress lacks next of kin engaged.

CORRUPT AFGHAN OFFICIALS. Afghan government officials own 32% of the Palm Islands in Dubai—election was “industrial-strength fraud”—tsunami of cash (US, Saudi, others) drives corruption.  NOTE:  No Afghans on any of the panels.

US LACKS AREA KNOWLEDGE & STRATEGY. We really do not “get” the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India  context, detail, etcetera.  US “strategy” of “ten cities” is a mirror of the Soviet strategy before defeat.  Doctrine is not a substitute for Strategy.  Water (Indus River) is central to Pakistan-India relationship (Kashmir is about water).  Question NOT being asked: how do we do this without a US ground presence?  “Cheap coat of paint” approach to challenges.  “Tactics without strategy is noise before defeat.”  Saudi money, Pakistan-Taliban axis will outlast US money and US ground presence.

COUNTERINSURGENCY MANUAL LACKING. Counterinsurgency manual is not realistic and warps policy debate—the reality of poppy crops is not in the manual, not in the “strategy/doctrine”

UN, AID, NGO OOB NOT WORKNG. UN not working, its role not thought out, shortfalls in specialized everything.  Local corruption and family-political angling for contracts lead to some IED’s intended to block or redirect contract funds.  AID  giving contracts to Americans, not Afghans.  US has no ability to create ministries from scratch.  Civilian capabilities non-existent or not understood by military when they do show up.  No inter-agency planning in part because the civilians have no idea why they are there or what they should do.

LOST IN TRANSLATION. Continue to lack Pashto translators.   More Pashto speakers within NYPD than in all US forces across Afghanistan

EXIT OPPORTUNITIES. Afghan Army most respected institution in country, best fighters but worst policemen.  US ground presence makes things worse.  Solutions have to be Afghan.  Afghan population wants sovereignty and independence.  US troops simply surviving, not campaigning.

On page 10 I provide the “Lessons Learned” from my 1992 study of USMC operations.