Category: Themes

Welcome to My Writer’s Sketchpad

Ruminations is where I share works in progress. Please follow the pointers below to learn more about me and the stories you’ll find on these pages. Thank you for visiting. Please return and tell a friend.

Who is Tom Abate and what does he write about?

Eclectic notions arising from my experiences and observations.

Stories and commentary based on research, interviews, and observations.

Satire, fiction, humor, and advice from the Dead Blogger’s Society.

Experiences and events that formed my character and inform my work and beliefs.


February 18, 2023

How human attention is packaged and sold as a commodity

Subprime Attention Crisis: Advertising and the Time Bomb at the Heart of the Internet

Internet consumers take for granted that information should be free, at least to them, because so much of it’s been supported by advertising. New York Times columnist and podcaster Ezra Klein recently interviewed Tim Hwang about his book, Subprime Attention Crisis, which explains how the $500 billion internet advertising industry makes information seem free by auctioning off human attention to the highest bidder. Hwang is a Berkeley Law School graduate who has worked at Google, led a Harvard-MIT project to study the...
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February 13, 2023

Journalism, please meet the 21st Century.

We'll need to develop a new breed of watchdogs to protect self-governance in our increasingly complex society.

In 1992 I parachuted into the newsroom of the San Francisco Examiner just as the post-Watergate hiring boom was coming to an end. The World Wide Web emerged while I was a reporter and columnist covering Silicon Valley. I had studied political science and knew enough economics to understand that any commodity became more valuable when it was scarce. This dynamic became an occupational hazard as new technologies to make and distribute information and entertainment began flooding the market. As...
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November 11, 2022

The perfect politics of the pearl

When it comes to solving problems, humans could learn from oysters.

Oysters live in shallow waters and feed by sucking algae through tiny openings in their shells. If a grain of sand or other particle lodges in its flesh, the oyster coats the irritant with minerals and proteins to form thin layers of nacre, the milky white substance that hardens into pearls. Australian researchers recently sought to understand how this simple creature heals itself so elegantly. They used a tiny saw with a diamond wire to slice a pearl into cross...
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October 6, 2022

In a coup de cash, The Cloud has monopolized eCommerce.

Let’s reboot the internet to restore the innovative spirit that built it and recreate a public network that helps grow businesses from the ground up.

The Cloud is not a technology. It is a business model that creates consumer monopolies. This model employs a variation of the adage that it takes money to make money. Cloud startups raise venture capital which they spend to attract consumers with low prices and convenient delivery. Some startups spend too much, too soon, with too little effect. VCs stop subsidizing their losses, and they go belly up. But successful cloud startups win dominant markets by devouring the sales of...
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