Tag Archives: wireless

how we can help sepp blatter

for the benefit of anyone who has somehow been able to avoid the world cup, perhaps by trekking through mongolia, or being an american basketball/baseball fan, the biggest talking point in the world right now, but particularly in england and mexico, is the use of technology to aid crucial refereeing decisions in football matches.

in particular, the english are up in arms having had victory/slightly less bad humiliation taken away from them by the failure of a linesman to see a ball bounce a yard and a half over the goal line.

in any other professional sport, this would have been resolved years ago. but football is run by fifa. and fifa is run by sepp blatter.

sepp blatter - he can't hear you

i am sure there are people in the world who love mr blatter dearly. football fans tend not to be among them. his three main hobbies appear to be 1) needlessly tinkering with the rules of the best game on earth 2) being more interested in corporate hospitality than the challenges of sexual health in south africa and 3) rejecting calls for the use of technology to aid referees.

every now and again he takes a day off and does something that is just utterly crazy. like telling women to play football in bikinis (see below)


there is one thing that sepp blatter said recently that struck a slight chord with me – that one of the reasons he doesn’t personally believe in the use of technology is because he doesn’t want the game at the highest level to be significantly different from how it is at every other level. which, as a principle, i think is a good one.

(though, as an aside, sepp clearly doesn’t extend ‘all levels of the game’ as low as anything i have ever played. i can count on the fingers of one hand the number of games i have played with linesmen.)

anyway, at the top level, the problem has been solved. this is what the ball would probably look like. (though why a vaguely intelligent person with a telly couldn’t do the job is questionable.)

however if you take the ‘intelligent ball’ principle, ie assume the availability of a ball with a chip in it, would it not be possible to monitor its position with a simple mobile application, that detects how far the ball has travelled? and given the incredible spread of the smart phone, could this not be a practical reality all over the world pretty quickly?

then we can stop having to listen to sepp mumbling why this isn’t possible, when it clearly is.

allowing him to focus his time on trying to institute a fancy dress football tournament for the over 60s, or whatever delicious madness awaits us next.

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dreaming of the historical potential of 100 years of google…

if you’ve never read ‘fooled by randomness’ by nassim nicholas taleb, it’s definitely worth a look. this is what it looks like in paperback – though not my coffee which is inexplicably covered in coffee. well, coffee spillage was always going to be happen to someone, so i shouldn’t feel upset that it was me.

i can’t quite agree with Malcolm Gladwell that ‘it is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther’s 95 these were to the Catholic Church.’ in fact i suspect in saying this that gladwell is making exactly the mistake scoped out in the book – mistaking a short term blip in intellectual discourse for a a long term see change in a thinking paradigm. but it is rather good.

it is a defiantly unscientific book in many ways, which appeals to me, but also (once you get past layer after layer of egotism on the part of its author) rather a refreshing and human one. in particular, it is salve to the wounds created by those peers or competitors that you see as being slightly more successful than you – don’t worry, says taleb, they are almost certainly just lucky, and if you hang around for a bit, you’ll see them fall flat on their faces (as long as you haven’t got too cocky yourself in the meantime, in which case it’ll be your face you should be worried about.)

the bit that i have been particularly enjoying is around the dangers of having too clear an idea of what is going on at the moment. he counsels traders to try to track their investments on a weekly rather than a daily basis, and laughs with scorn at those who check share prices of wirless devices. i think i will join him, it is a satisfying thing to do. the item below is a trap for fools of randomness.

of course it immediate occurred to me that this mistake is prevalent in all of the worlds in which i am most active – in marketing, in media, in politics and indeed in music and movies. we’ve all got to start checking the results a bit less often, otherwise we will never really know what is going on.

this is difficult of course. i have lost count of the time i have spent talking about social monitoring, instantaneous course-correction, live planning etcetra and nauseam. and if i have an intensely functional problem to solve, like getting as many people as possible into a cinema or onto a website within a couple of days, then this stuff is all pretty useful.

but if you really want to get a perspective on the health of a brand or company, or the quality of a piece of music or film, or the long term political prospects of a party and individual, a bit of patience clearly works wonders – otherwise you run the risk of becoming obsessed with burst of tweets or opinion polls or test screenings that really just reflect the consistent background noise created by randomness.

this takes me back to my post from yesterday (see below) and back to my friend Edmund Burke – a political opposite but a philosophical exemplar for me. if you really want to work out what the best thing is to do, don’t just ask lots of people right now, or analyse the patterns of behavioural data from the last couple of weeks – give it some time, and try to analyse what is really happening based on decent, long terms trends. we will then become less obsessed with trigger events and revolutions, and wiser in our understanding of evolution, and what might happen next. thanks edmund.

what becomes really exciting is when we begin to think at what this deluge of instantaneous data, thus far momentous in scope and detail, but fickle in terms of its trending and caught up in patterns of self-reference, could mean for understanding of human nature, if we start giving layering on to our approach for it a respect for the collective wisdom of time.

the mind boggles at what a historian would be able to do with 100 years of twitter or search data. i hope these sources are jealously preserved, and that someone remembers to look at them and ask interesting questions…once we get over the excitement of discovering the most tweeted subject of the week.

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