The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Protecting My Living Room

01/10/2021

At first, Google’s search engine was a modern-day-miracle, enabling almost anybody to quickly find almost anything.  And, it was FREE!

Later, it was disappointing to learn their business model was legalized spying on their users, by selling information on what each user searched for.  During that same period, there were increasing number of job openings for “big data analysts” and there were articles about new companies, with a business model called “data mining.”

In 2011, there was a Oscar-nominated movie called “Moneyball” about the Oakland A’s baseball team.  It’s budget for hiring talented new players was tiny for traditional hiring practices.  They developed a new method of ranking prospects called sabermetrics, which was a method of making decisions based on obscure datapoints, such as swing-speed, BMI, or average distance from the plate.

Recently, a good friend, who was a long-time Cowboys football fan like myself, said that teams don’t matter anymore, since players are “plug and play computer modules.”  Huh?  He is more loyal to the modules than the team, I guess?

I’ve thought about that a long time and concluded that is a very sterile view of “community”.  In our incessantly cynical world, it is refreshing to be in a stadium of a hundred thousand strangers all screaming in support of one team – screaming in support of anything is refreshing!  Plus, I remember all the fun times when neighbors would get together to watch a game.  That wasn’t about any one player.  It was about enjoying agreement with people you care about — too rare in a cynical world.  Team loyalty may be the antidote to cynicism?

Besides, it is enjoyable to kid around or make fun of one another good-naturedly.  My wife calls it “dumb guy-humor.”  She’s right, of course, but it’s still fun.

I don’t need Big Data to tell me that . . . anything is better than a living room full of engineers and geeks talking about modules, statistics, and data points.

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