Mindfulness from blood-sport

Americans haven’t found a constructive was to discuss inequality and power distribution. We like quick, violent arguments and fights that focus on zero-sum outcomes: one group wins, another losses.

Things like GameStop throw all that inequality and weirdness on the table and so we have a chance to discuss it and act aghast.

In this instance, the aghastness is:

  1. Why can’t I have some of that money?
  2. Is this illogical system worth all the sacrifice and worship we give Finance?
  3. Is this the best thing to spend our time on?

Also, it’s a good story – entertainment with clear villains, but also ambiguous heros.

There’s little, if anything, about race and gender in the discussion, morals even. This is a huge change from years of culture wars. This is just like watching gladiators, context free of any culture wars. It gives you that focus one one thing to exclude all the stuff you’re anxious about. In a gentler system, this would be called “mindfulness”: focusing on “the now” to stop the voices in your head.

For the most part, gladiators were slaves (I think). In the case of GameStop, both sides volunteered.

What I’m saying here is that you can’t have sympathy for either side if you base sympathy giving on: they had no choice or were somehow tricked into the negative situation.

I don’t think that means much, but it does highlight another American oddity: we don’t really think about downside as a real thing. We are raised to value the underdog, and much of our folklore is about the underdog winning. However, that doesn’t happen much. We can’t deal with the concept that people just lose, that you get defeated, that there’s no way to win. We get upset when that happens to us as individuals: it’s not fair!

I don’t know other cultures much, but my sense that this idea that you deserve success is part of American-think.

This idea that you would be resigned to your fate is incredibly un-American. In fact, it’s perhaps the worst sin you can commit: idle hands and all that. When people are poor and underprivileged (until very recently) American culture assumed it was just because they didn’t try hard enough and have given up. Boot-straps and all that.

We can’t conceptualize that most people don’t win most of the time. There must be cultures that are more aligned to this style of thinking.

That’s part of what makes mindfulness and “living in the now” so hard for me to…believe? If I’m not always struggling, planning, worried…bad things will happen. If I give up and accept things as they are, then things will go bad, I’ll lose all my money, security, etc., happiness.

This, of course, isn’t the point of mindfulness. It’s not giving up and letting yourself float around in a sea of shit. But, it’s hard to even think otherwise with this American notion that the only way to be happy is to fight, to work for it and suffer along the way.

modernize large app portfolios by starting very small

> “Oftentimes, we get clients who will say, ‘We need to assess those 10,000 applications that we know have to go to the cloud before we do anything on them.’ And we try to change that around and ask why: ‘Why do you have to look at all of them?’
> “ . . . I haven’t found a customer that doesn’t know some of those critical applications that are very painful, that go down all the time or whatever the criteria is. They all have something that keeps them up at night, that they get the calls [about] at 3 a.m. They know they’ve got to think about those first.

🔗 [Refactor or lift-and-shift: How to prioritize modernization efforts](https://tanzu.vmware.com/content/blog/refactor-or-lift-and-shift-how-to-prioritize-modernization-efforts)

Joan Didion interview, 1978 – _Paris Review_ – The Art of Fiction No. 71

> I didn’t realize until after I’d written it that it was essentially the same ending as Run River. The women let the men commit suicide.


> INTERVIEWER: So the process of writing the novel is for you the process of discovering the precise novel that you want to write.
> DIDION: Exactly. At the beginning I don’t have anything at all, don’t have any people, any weather, any story. All I have is a technical sense of what I want to do. For example, I want sometime to write a very long novel, eight hundred pages. I want to write an eight-hundred-page novel precisely because I think a novel should be read at one sitting. If you read a novel over a period of days or weeks the threads get lost, the suspension breaks. So the problem is to write an eight-hundred-page novel in which all the filaments are so strong that nothing breaks or gets forgotten ever. I wonder if García Márquez didn’t do that in The Autumn of the Patriarch. I don’t want to read it because I’m afraid he might have done it, but I did look at it, and it seems to be written in a single paragraph. One paragraph. The whole novel. I love that idea.


> INTERVIEWER: You say you treasure privacy, that “being left alone and leaving others alone is regarded by members of my family as the highest form of human endeavor.” How does this mesh with writing personal essays, particularly the first column you did for Life where you felt it imperative to inform the reader that you were at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in lieu of getting a divorce?
> DIDION: I don’t know. I could say that I was writing to myself, and of course I was, but it’s a little more complicated than that. I mean the fact that eleven million people were going to see that page didn’t exactly escape my attention. There’s a lot of mystery to me about writing and performing and showing off in general. I know a singer who throws up every time she has to go onstage. But she still goes on.


Jack Kerouac interview, 1968

> Yes, we’ve all been influenced by movies. Malcolm Cowley incidentally mentioned this many times. He’s very perceptive sometimes: he mentioned that Doctor Sax continually mentions urine, and quite naturally it does because I had no other place to write it but on a closed toilet seat in a little tile toilet in Mexico City so as to get away from the guests inside the apartment. There, incidentally, is a style truly hallucinated, as I wrote it all on pot. No pun intended. Ho ho.


> The part of Zen that’s influenced my writing is the Zen contained in the haiku, like I said, the three-line, seventeen-syllable poems written hundreds of years ago by guys like Bashō, Issa, Shiki, and there’ve been recent masters. A sentence that’s short and sweet with a sudden jump of thought in it is a kind of haiku, and there’s a lot of freedom and fun in surprising yourself with that, let the mind willy-nilly jump from the branch to the bird.


> I know a lot of stories about Buddha, but I don’t know exactly what he said every time. But I know what he said about the guy who spit at him. He said, “Since I can’t use your abuse you may have it back.” He was great. [Kerouac plays piano. Drinks are served.]


> Oh the Beat generation was just a phrase I used in the 1951 written manuscript of On the Road to describe guys like Moriarty who run around the country in cars looking for odd jobs, girlfriends, kicks. It was thereafter picked up by West Coast Leftist groups and turned into a meaning like “Beat mutiny” and “Beat insurrection” and all that nonsense; they just wanted some youth movement to grab on to for their own political and social purposes. I had nothing to do with any of that. I was a football player, a scholarship college student, a merchant seaman, a railroad brakeman on road freights, a script synopsizer, a secretary … And Moriarty-Cassady was an actual cowboy on Dave Uhl’s ranch in New Raymer, Colorado … What kind of beatnik is that?

🔗 [Jack Kerouac, Paris Review – The Art of Fiction No. 41](https://theparisreview.org/interviews/4260/the-art-of-fiction-no-41-jack-kerouac)


Relearning the value of complaining

In my real life, I don’t complain. Even when I get cut.

But complaining is bi-directionally valuable

What I get wrong is that people complaining want immediate action, a fix. This makes complaint stressful, both for me to do and hear. I don’t want people doing things for me, to carry that debt on my books. And when someone complains at me, I get stressed out that I know have to work, and do the right thing. Either way, complaining just opens up another opportunity for struggle and failure.

Instead, complaining is mostly a form of blowing off steam, and even friendship.

I’ve read that angry and defeated apes will hit lower status apes to blow off steam.

In some way, complaining is that, without the hitting. You feel better, and people can also bond with you.

And with me, when I don’t complain, it metaphorically builds up until I get anger and, worse, resentful.

I don’t understand the mechanisms of it at all, and therefore find it hard to do and benefit from, but: sharing your bad feelings and experiences with someone – complaining -, being “heard” is critical for mental well-being.

Digital privacy is more about hiding secrets from your neighbors than from big corporations selling you soap.

> In 2010, Tony Judt warned, not long before his death, that the traditional way of doing politics in the West—through “mass movements, communities organized around an ideology, even religious or political ideas, trade unions and political parties”—had become dangerously extinct. There were, Judt wrote, “no external inputs, no new kinds of people, only the political class breeding itself.” Trump emerged six years later, channelling an iconoclastic fury at this inbred ruling class and its cherished monuments.
> …
> But the problem of political representation in a polarized, unequal, and now economically debilitated society remains treacherously unresolved.

🔗 [What Are the Cultural Revolution’s Lessons for Our Current Moment?](https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/01/what-are-the-cultural-revolutions-lessons-for-our-current-moment)

Getting more eyeballs for your boring-ass enterprise tech videos – analysis and LIFE HACKS from four months of long and tiny b2b videos by channel and numbers

Looking at four months of numbers, here’s my theories of how to get more attention for my enterprise tech videos:

  1. Make short ones, each with one point – 1 minute to 10 minutes.
  2. Post the videos natively to Twitter, YouTube, or whatever channel – don’t rely on people clicking on YouTube.
  3. YouTube is, in general, the worst performer for eyeballs.
  4. LinkedIn is the best all around performer (but, I haven’t found detailed analytics, like seconds watched versus just auto-play).
  5. I haven’t done enough analysis of CTAs (“click here to go to my landing page and move further along the sales funnel to giving us CASH!”) but they’re near impossible – Twitter looks good, but I don’t have enough visibility into the end-to-end funnel.
  6. Thus, following 5: focus on ideas you want in people’s heads (brand, thought lording, reputation, etc.) over clicks/transactions.


I do a lot of videos for my work – selling kubernetes and appdev stacks for enterprises, along with the services/consulting that go with it (hey! VMWARE TANZUUUUUU!). Over the past two months I shifted from longer form vidoes (30-50 minutes) to tiny ones.

Sort of counter-intuitively, tiny videos take just as much work as long ones – lots and lots of editing, making subtitles, making zaney thumbnails, and all the usual uploading posting around. Sometimes tony videos take more work than just uploading longer, 45 uncut minutes.

The results are dramatic though: the shorter videos I do get a lot more views and “engagement” than the longer ones. This fits common SEO, social/influencer hustler folklore: no one likes long form content. After over 15 years of podcasting and presenting and blogging, I know that folklore isn’t, you know, universally true.

The Charts

The following tables are incomplete, it focuses on the tiny videos. See the taller table that follows for the numbers for the longer videos. (Click for the larger version of each chart.)

Table 01 shows the Dec 2020 and Jan 2021 tiny videos I did. I’ve been very time constraint of late (we have to – er, get to – home school a seven and ten year old, and also need to watch a 10 month old), so I’ve shifted to doing these small videos in the time I can find, often when I’m taking my baby daughter on a walk and she finally falls asleep:

Tanzu Talk tiny videos (and some long), Dec 2020 to Jan 2020

Table 01: Tanzu Talk tiny videos (and some long), Dec 2020 to Jan 2020.

Table 02 shows the tiny videos I did back in the Spring (2020). I was similarly time-constrained – technically (and, mostly – hey, my therapist has helped me recognize that I’m a workaholic, but, like, the content I produce for work is my passion – my work isn’t just yelling at supply chain people and arts and crafting PowerPoint slides and pivot-tables…OK…I’ll take a breath…) I was on paternity leave, so I had to snatch the times I could. I uploaded these videos to my personal YouTube site (the Dec/Jan ones are on the VMware Tanzu channel), so their YouTube views are shit:

cote.pizza tony videos, Spring 2020

Table 02: cote.pizza tiny videos, Spring 2020.

I call these “cote.pizza” videos because that’s the URL for a CTA I had.

Then, for comparison, Table 03 the views for all the Tanzu Talk videos – most of them are long form and were only hustled with YouTube links in Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.:

All Tanzu Talk videos, tiny and long, 2020

Table 03: All Tanzu Talk videos, tiny and long, 2020


There are some key findings:

  1. The short videos get a lot more traffic.
  2. Posting the videos natively to Twitter and LinkedIn gets a tremendous amount more traffic than posting links to the YouTube videos. You can see this in Table 01: the videos in December were promoted with links to YouTube, but the ones in January were posted natively to Twitter and LinkedIn. (Some videos were previews of longer ones, like the DevSecOps for Fed one).
  3. I haven’t done a video-by-video analysis, but very few people (if any) will click on a link to YouTube that I post in Twitter or LinkedIn. I don’t know if they click on CTAs either. (There’s some views from Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok too, but I’m leaving those off from this write-up – they’re not high or consistent enough to consider – you’re better posting Nutella videos to those channels.)
  4. I have no proof of this, but I think adding in subtitles helps. Instagram will auto-generate sub-titles for you, and you can rely on YouTube’s auto-generates srt’s to upload to LinkedIn and Twitter, but I’d use something like Descript to make a “perfect” srt file.
  5. My Minecraft Yeller Thumbnails are the radest shit you will ever see in b2b marketing. COME AT ME. (I discovered Adobe Spark Post which is fucking awesome for this shit.)

Concerns/open questions

The major component I’m missing is following what happens when people click a CTA link. I encoded most all links I use for attribution to me, but I, of course, didn’t tell any of our web-funnel acquisition people this, so I don’t know how get those numbers. This would be extremely valuable info.

On the other hand, the price range of software and services (six to seven figure deals) I help sell is so high that having just one click, or just someone having seen and been influenced by my video evne though clicked nothing trackable.

Also, I’m concerned about echo chambers. Many of the “engagements” (likes and stuff) I get are from co-workers, which I value tremendously! There are, though, a sort of knowable set of “customers” who also engage. I need more insight into how far out of the echo chamber I’m reaching.

Let me state this clearly: I have no idea if all of this is helping the business. BUT IT SURE IS FUN TO DO!

All of that aside, let me tell you a (depressing?) secret: the only thing people care about are raw views. There may be some quibbling about completion rates, CTA following, etc.: but at the end, people will just remember the raw numbers. (Still, I’d like to have more visibility into the money I’m helping bring in and retain, but, hey, as I like to say, “I get paid either way.”)

Next shit to try

  1. “Everyday someone’s born who never watched The Flintstones – Looking at the numbers, not that many people have seen my longer form videos. Very few have watched to the end. If I slice-up and reserve some of those at tiny videos, it won’t be feed them left-overs reposting, it’ll actually be new for many people. I think this is something that us insatiable, completist readers don’t get and why we find re-posting/ICYMI’ing so vile.
  2. People love stuff about auditors/governance and security…but, really, you can’t predict what people like.
  3. Post in LinkedIn – you’ve got ten minutes, that’s a lot more than Twitter’s 2m30s.
  4. In Twitter, you can share access/use for the videos with other people. I need to share this with the people who run @VMwareTanzu and other accounts and see what success they get with posting those videos natively. Based on purely gut feel after looking at some of the videos, this will drive a lot more eyeballs.



Some additional notes as I think of them:

  1. Many of the longer form videos were streamed in Twitch at first. For my stuff, there’s around, I don’t know, 30 maybe 50 or 60 views after streaming in Twitch. During, it’s like zero to five, but usually, like one or two. I don’t really consider Twitch to be, uh, the “right fit” for my content. I think my co-workers who actually code (that’s like watching someone game, right?) have much more success.