Month: October 2010

Reality is in the eye of the beholder

I feel like doing a light entry today. So let’s talk about the notion of reality, shall we? And also try to answer the question as to whether you should get fired for changing a color… I’ve talked about photoshoping models and actresses before. Shockingly enough, my blog entry has not stopped the practice. The web site, for example, was recently under fire for publishing untouched pictures of Jennifer Aniston. If anyone still believed that models and celebrities in real life look like they do in magazines, those pictures are disturbing. Or consider the untouched pictures of Madonna’s Dolce & Gabana ads: In both cases, of course, representatives of the stars demanded and threatened to bring the pictures down, without success. Apart from flattering celebrities and the products they endorse, though, people can use these same techniques to make more worrisome changes. Consider these two images, for example: The one on the right is President Obama and other Arab leaders at the last round of Middle East Peace Talks (note to self: those alone deserve a few future entries). The image on the left was run by the Egyptian Al-Ahram, and was subtly changed to show the Egyptian president leading the group. When discovered, the newspaper called the picture “an illustration” and refused to apologize. Or consider this picture, of Malaysian politician Jeffery Wong Su En, getting knighted...

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Corporate Manipulation part 1

Corporate manipulation may be classified into two, the consumer manipulations and manipulating other corporations. Manipulating consumers is relatively easy if you’re a large corporation. You have dedicated staff, a lot of resources, and you know a lot more about what you’re doing than the typical consumer. Manipulating other corporations, however, would seem to be a lot tougher – after all, they’ve got the same assets you do. It turns out it’s not particularly hard to manipulate other companies – as long as you have a dominant market share. Let’s take some examples. Take Intel, for example. Intel makes the chips that go into most PCs, and as such it is a colossus – worth over $100B today. It dominates its industry – more than 80% of the chips that go into PCs come from Intel. You would think that a company with that sort of position would have little need for manipulation – and you’d be wrong. In 1995, for example, Intel was behind its main competitor, AMD, who was making better, cheaper chips. Intel doesn’t sell to consumers – it sells to computer makers, who then sell to consumers. As more and more of these manufacturers defected to AMD, Intel found itself under pressure. The key manufacturer, at the time, was Dell. It became urgent for Intel to make sure that Dell would buy its chips, and, more...

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