Dave’s Trades

I have been considering expanding the media format for TradeWithDave.com.  Because the reaction to the site has been so positive and the traffic growth continues to steadily increase I am considering expanding the media to include some modest video content.  This video from Mark Dice motivated me to put the word out to the loyal readers and see what they think.  Here’s the video from Mark and below it is a short explanation of what I am considering for the future of the site.

First of all, I realize that the content and format for the current TradeWithDave site is quite simple.  It may be so simple that it is boring.  When I go to some other websites that have had “upgrades”, sometimes I am shocked at how difficult it is to use the sites.

For example:

Atlantic Monthly’s Quartz site www.qz.com never works for me.  I can’t even scroll down the page and read the articles.  Looks like they spent a fortune on their design, yet I can’t read the site.

Barry Ritholtz over at www.ritholtz.com is religious about upgrading his website.  The more he upgrades it the harder it is for me to use the site.  I know he cares about his readers and has prolific content, yet I find myself not going there because I don’t feel in control of the user experience.

The folks over at www.Reason.com and Reason.tv call themselves staunch libertarians but I think they could be a bit more conservative on their web development because the more they add to the site, the more it crashes when I try to view it from my mobile phone.

Dave knows what a great looking website looks like and he knows that his site doesn’t look that great.  Dave has run some companies that had some really slick marketing.  I have produced millions upon millions of high quality 4-color fashion and merchandise catalogs, massive websites that include beautiful graphics and multimedia, elaborate television commercials, produced fashion shows and on and on.  I know what great looking stuff looks like.

My Dad was a graphic artist and syndicated cartoonist and so are two of my brothers (artists/designers) and one of my brothers produces tv commercials and such in Hollywood.  Designing elaborate and complex marketing, communications and branding projects is a lot of what I have spent my career doing so when I started the blog I decided that I did not want all that complexity and subjectivity.  I just wanted a simple WordPress blog that I could easily populate with an article, a few links, the occasional Youtube video and some rights-free photography.  All the while my wife would say something… “Why don’t you make your site… uh… nicer?  You should sell more stuff too.”

She’s right and we will make the site “nicer” and we will sell more stuff too (insert book plug here for Increase Guaranteed), but this post is about an idea that I have for video content and I want to see if I can get some feedback from the readers.  The idea behind the TradeWithDave video “show” would be a short video segment.  It would probably be about 3 minutes in length and would probably run about once a week.  It would be somewhat similar to Mark Dice “consciousness of value” video above but it would not involve other people.  Dave isn’t going to photograph or video other people without a signed release.

What the content of the “trades” video series would entail is to contrast two items of value and the “arbitrage of human consciousness” between those two values as measured in some form of exchange (money, gold, silver, sea shells, etc.).  For example I might compare and contrast the price of some highly inflated item (a $1.8 million 489 pound fresh tuna for example) with a highly deflated item (an abandoned $7,000 “row house” in a blighted section of downtown Baltimore).

In the above example, Dave’s counterparty would receive the sushi and Dave would receive 257 abandoned row houses in disrepair… plus change. You get the picture. We’re not talking one row house for one tuna in an even trade. We’re talking 257 bombed out row houses… land included. That’s a couple of city blocks for a 1/2 pick-up truck load of Chicken of the Sea.  That’s Dave’s kind of trade.

http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2011/05/20/have-we-got-a-vacant-house-for-you/

There’s lots of challenges with producing video although it is getting easier with each passing commoditization of Apple products.  First of all Dave would have to shave.  Maybe that could be the first video in the series comparing the lifetime cost of Gillette razor blades with a straight razor.  What would Dave title that show?…. oh yeah…. ShaveWithDave.  Don’t get me wrong Dave shaves a lot.  Remember Dave was in the high-end clothing business for nearly twenty years, so he cleans up, but I like cleaning up on my own schedule and I also like blogging on my own schedule… another old guy advantage of waking up at 5:00 a.m. (or earlier).

There’s also some concern with Dave getting his image out there, Facebook facial recognition, etc., etc.  Tell me it’s not a big deal and you’re telling a guy who traveled for business for five years straight when I flew at least twice a week and was on the Department of Homeland Security TSA “watch list” for over two years.  I am pretty sure it happened when I made a last minute decision to abandon a flight due to a change in plans and I just left the plane I was on (luggage and all) and ran and bought a ticket on another plane.  I don’t think they like that, but I wasn’t thinking about that at the time.

Is the whole matrix, surveillance, panoptic, Zuckerberg is tracking you and so are your credit card records and car E-Z Pass not to mention your GPS on your mobile phone thing an issue?  Indeed they are.  It’s why you will find a huge footprint of Dave’s blog on the web, but you won’t find a huge footprint for Dave.  I actually considered those issues seriously for over six months before launching the blog, but I knew I had to do something so this is what I chose to do and I thank everyone who has read a single sentence and especially for those who have told their friends about the blog or taken the time to email me at tradewithdave (at) gmail (dot) com.

While I am simultaneously in retrospective – prospective mode, I will mention why Dave does not have a comments section.  There is no doubt that this website would be much bigger than it is if it had an open comments section.  If you know anything about feedback loops you know that without a feedback loop you hamper system growth and that with a vibrant feedback loop you enhance growth dramatically.  I’ve considered everything from unmoderated instant comment threads to moderated comment threads to an open comment thread for “qualifying” members.  I haven’t been able to come up with something that I was comfortable with beyond the same “letters to the editor” model that is available for angry readers to email me directly.

I have a lot of respect for blogs that have open comment threads.  There is no doubt that it costs this site a lot of traffic not having a comments thread and I will continue to consider ways to expand the inclusive nature of the site but I don’t want to become under such a state of attack that it causes me to decide to quit blogging.  I know that is a cop out, but I’m working on it.  If you’re really angry and you really have something to say, just email me and ask me to publish your comments.  I try to keep the site family friendly too because my ten year-old gets up every morning and he sits next to me on the couch while I am working on articles and posting to the site and when he’s sitting there he reads every word and asks me questions like “Papa, who’s the Bernank?”

Will I do the video “trades?”  Will the production quality be really low, really high or somewhere in the middle?  If I had to guess it will be me sitting in the front seat of my car with some interesting site in the background (say a wholesale sushi market contrasted against the real life background of the the set for the TV show The Wire) shooting the video on my Iphone after I comb my hair.  Let me know what you think.  As far as distribution goes, if you’re a big TV producer and you’re looking for a 3 minute segment to replace Andy Rooney on Sixty Minutes… call me maybe.

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