Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, September 23, 2021

While rifling through the newspaper today, I surprised to come across a slick, heavy-stock, slightly oversized advertising flyer for some forward-looking men’s and women’s fashion.

I wasn’t so much surprised that it would be in the newspaper. But I was surprised to see the Target logo, planted in the bottom corner of half the pages. Glancing at it absently, I’d have assumed it was for Saks 5th Avenue or some other swanky joint.

I guess the home of the Big Red Bullseye is ramping up the marketing on its Design For All line of products. It’s definitely an eyecatching concept, even if professional designers are lamenting this as a degradation of across-the-board standards.

And it’s been working, which has prompted Wal-Mart to inch toward the same hoity-toity territory. The reaction’s going to be predictable: The current high-end retailers will have to get even more exclusive, and aggressively show that off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/23/2005 06:39pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Fashion
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random act
A long while back, I pondered the perceived anti-randomness of the iPod’s shuffle setting. (So long ago, in fact, that my scribblings here predated the actual iPod Shuffle model, which I’m sure frustrates many a Googler coming this way).

It’s a topic that refuses to die, and delving into the inner workings of the shuffle basically uncovered the obvious:

To illustrate his point, [mathematician Jeff] Lait referred to a phenomenon statisticians call the birthday paradox. Roughly stated, it holds that if there are 23 randomly selected people in a room, there is a better than 50-50 chance that at least two of them will have the same birthday. The point: Mathematical randomness often contradicts our intuitive expectations of randomness.

What we want, Lait says, isn’t a list that’s been randomized, but one that’s been stratified, or separated into categories that are weighted by a listener’s preferences. A stratified playlist might select songs randomly but would be smart enough to throw out choices that, say, would repeat a band within 10 songs.

Put another way: When you flip a coin multiple times to generate a random sequence, you expect “random” to result in some roughly equal split between heads and tails. If you get heads 10 times in a row, you automatically suspect there must be something odd going on. Yet there’s no reason to think that, because that’s exactly what true randomness is — a possibility that you’re going to get that sort of result, all things being equal.

Judging from the feedback on that article, looks like a lot of people obsess over this minutae.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/23/2005 06:09pm
Category: Tech
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