Tug-Of-War

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Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#1  Postby Epiphyte » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:23 pm

Here's a recent paragraph from a plant blogger...

Unfortunately, I feel like I'm not that much closer to resuming regular posting than I was a week ago; things keep coming up. Purged the 3-and 4-inch Anthuriums, moved a bunch of the survivors around, potted up 64 new seedlings, started a bunch of Anthurium and Leuchtenbergia seeds, replaced some light fixtures, had a (routine) doctor's appointment, another (less routine) doctor's appointment is coming up, I've been mildly sick (just a sinus infection; unrelated to the doctor stuff), I moved a batch of Schlumbergera seedlings into the plant room on 17 October, I still haven't found new places for the Coffeas that summered outside this year to live during the winter, there are a couple family visits coming up, and so on and so forth. Just a lot of stuff going on. None of it's a big deal, some of it's actually nice, but all of it takes time and energy to deal with, and the blog is the logical thing to drop while all this is happening. - Mr Subjunctive, More of the Same


My comment...

**********************

I spend lots of time trying to explain that society doesn't undervalue things like conservation. The issue is that the amount of money that people voluntarily spend on conservation will be less than their perception of its importance. As a result, there will be less conservation than people truly want.

So I especially appreciated your detailed explanation/justification for your plan to supply less blog entries. I can't help but wonder how your decision would be affected if the amount of money that your readers donated to your blog was equal to their perception of its importance.

When we buy plants we certainly do try and get a deal. But compared to the amount of money that we spend on conservation and plant blogs, the amount of money that we spend on plants is a lot closer to our perception of their importance. This means that we do a much better job competing plant producers away from the other uses of their limited time (alternative occupations, family, friends, hobbies, etc).

One analogy is tug-of-war. When it comes to obtaining plants, the amount of effort we put into pulling the rope is relatively close to our true preferences. But when it comes to obtaining plant info (blogs, Flickr pictures, forum threads, Youtube videos)... the amount of effort that we put into pulling the rope is a lot less than our true preferences. Either we suspect that an adequate supply of plant info doesn't depend on our equivalent effort... or we hope that other people will pull hard enough.

**********************

For reference, it's been a month since Spiky Obsession posted a new blog entry and nearly a year since Botany Boy posted a new entry. I enjoy their entries so I do wish that they would post more regularly. But it's not like I've ever donated any money to their blogs. I certainly could make some donations, but I'm pretty sure that the solution isn't simply expecting/hoping that more people, especially other people, will pull harder on the rope.

It's definitely the case that better solutions will be supplied once more people better understand the problem.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#2  Postby Gee.S » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:04 pm

Blogs have never been my thing. I'm not suggesting they don't have value -- far from it -- just not my thing so far as sharing my obsession. My thing, if it isn't obvious, has always been discussion forums. I've served as webmaster, administrator, and moderator for all manner of discussion forum over the past 15+ years. As administrator of this discussion forum, I feel a sense of responsibility to its members -- and that IMHO, is one of the biggest differences between a discussion forum and a blog. If you have a blog going, even a very popular one, there is no need for responsibility to subscribers. It's your blog, and you can post to it whenever you damn well please. And that's OK.

As social media continues to dominate the Internet in an unprecedented manner, other forms of communication and online exchanges suffer. Which is a shame. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, et al, are absolutely terrible information repositories. Post a pic, get all your Likes, then move on to the next one. Rinse, repeat. Sorry, but I don't see much value there, and unfortunately, blogs have undoubtedly suffered most. So in the end less subscribers translates to less motivation to post, on a path toward inevitable demise.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#3  Postby Stone Jaguar » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:30 am

"As social media continues to dominate the Internet in an unprecedented manner, other forms of communication and online exchanges suffer. Which is a shame. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, et al, are absolutely terrible information repositories. Post a pic, get all your Likes, then move on to the next one. Rinse, repeat. Sorry, but I don't see much value there, and unfortunately, blogs have undoubtedly suffered most. So in the end less subscribers translates to less motivation to post, on a path toward inevitable demise."

Indeed. The one thing that strikes me about many popular garden bloggers and YouTubers is that they are seriously outmatched by the task, so the quality of their content is low. There simply aren't that many genuinely skilled plantsmen/women who have the time and inclination to invest time in writing regular posts or blogs on the 'net. Of the growers that I know around the world, those that I admire most and who have the most noteworthy collections of exotica have ZERO presence on plant fora, social media, etc. I think all of us can relate to a sense of pride in "showing off" a rare/well-grown plant on a gardening forum, but the psychic capita accrued by this has a pretty short half life. At this juncture - to my mind - there is no doubt that the informed interactions, Q&A, sharing of "tips", and good old-fashioned gossip still found on the better plant fora trump all the noisy static on social media in a definitive way. I also sense an almost imperceptible sea change in how some view the wisdom of putting there lives out on FB/Instagram for all to see, and a downturn in the amount of traffic on some plant sites there as well.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#4  Postby Epiphyte » Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:21 pm

Stone Jaguar, one of my favorite plant people was Barbara Joe Hoshizaki. She wrote the Fern Grower's Manual and was extremely generous with her extensive knowledge and wonderful plants. It's not that she didn't have the time to share online. Sure, she was super busy, but she was certainly happy to take the time to share her knowledge in letters, over the phone or in person. The reason that she didn't share online is because doing so was a herculean task for her. This is the case for most of her generation. It's a different story with younger generations. Except, in most of their cases they don't have years and years of accumulated knowledge and experience.

Right now there's a relatively small intersection of people who have lots of good info to share and have no problem sharing it online. But it's still the fundamental economic fact that a plant is a private good while info freely shared online is a public good. When we pay for the best plants we help compete the best producers away from other uses of their time. When we don't pay for the best plant info we don't help compete the best producers away from other uses of their time. Logically the supply of the best plants will be far better than the supply of the best plant info.

Personally, I wouldn't oppose some sort of Netflix type system. Members would pay a reasonably low monthly fee and have unlimited access to a wide variety of plant info. Except I would want to have the opportunity to use my fees to help highlight the best plant info. Members should have the opportunity to use their money to grade/rank the info.

On the orchid subreddit members have the opportunity to vote the info up or down. But if voting was a good way to determine the social importance of plant info... why not use this system for plants themselves?

If we simply voted for plants rather than spend our money on them... can you imagine what would happen to the supply of rare plants? They wouldn't receive enough votes. Voting is always tyranny of the majority which is always a problem since the experts are always going to be in the minority.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#5  Postby Gee.S » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:12 pm

You don't have to pay the "best people" for the "best information". Go to a car forum, you'll be amazed at the information you can rustle up in fairly short order.

Smart retailers/wholesalers take what time they're able to provide the "best information" to promote good will and customer relations. I built a very successful net business based upon that very model. I'll also add that in many circumstances I would trust a consensus from 10 moderately informed sources over a single "expert", but that's just me...
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"American aloe plant," 1797, from Greek Agaue, proper name in mythology (mother of Pentheus), from agauos "noble," perhaps from agasthai "wonder at".

"Some talk the talk, and others walk the walk, but we stalk the stalk"
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#6  Postby Stone Jaguar » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:28 pm

Access to 10 moderately informed sources is a good way to learn the ropes, access to a genuine expert is what will help you to excel.

The net's omniscience can be overrated. Books are great things to have handy. As a conspicuous example and while dated and occasionally inaccurate, there is better information on growing carnivorous plants in Peter D'Amato's "The Savage Garden" (1998) than on all the web CP fora out there.

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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#7  Postby Gee.S » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:34 pm

Like I said, it's just me, but experts do not always agree. So the consensus vs. expert dynamic is oft reliant on whether subject matter has an objective or subjective lean.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#8  Postby Epiphyte » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:13 pm

Gee.S, what would happen if hummingbirds were introduced to Africa, Asia and Australia? They would increase the demand for certain types of flowers. As a result, more of these types of flowers would be supplied. Basically, the supply would respond to the change in the demand.

If plant enthusiasts started to spend more money on Agaves then the supply would respond to the change in the demand. More Agaves would be supplied.

We'd all be really screwed if supply did not respond to changes in demand.

The inherent challenge with the best plant info on the internet is that it's a public good. Just like Wikipedia is a public good. People can use it without paying for it. As a result, the amount of money that people voluntarily contribute to Wikipedia is a lot less than their perception of its importance. So the quantity/quality of Wikipedia entries is less than people truly want it to be. Although, if every Agave enthusiast did voluntarily donate more money to Wikipedia this would not improve the supply of entries about Agaves. This is simply because the money would not be given to the volunteers who donate their time and knowledge to improving the supply of entries about Agaves.

Just like if I donated money to this forum it wouldn't improve the supply of threads about epiphytes.

We pay taxes because the amount of money that people would voluntarily spend on public goods like biodiversity conservation would be a lot less than the importance that people assign to them. If the free-rider problem wasn't a real problem then taxation could be entirely abolished.

But just like giving money to Wikipedia doesn't reveal the importance you assign to entries about Agaves, paying taxes doesn't reveal the importance you assign to biodiversity conservation. So the supply of conservation can't respond to changes in demand... or even the demand itself. The solution to this problem is to let people choose where their taxes go. The amount of your tax dollars that you spent on conservation would reflect its importance to you. The total amount of tax dollars spent on conservation would reflect its importance to society. With this system the supply of conservation would be able to respond to changes in demand just like the supply of Agaves is able to respond to changes in demand. So we'd all be a lot less screwed.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#9  Postby Stone Jaguar » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:42 pm

Hummingbirds have well known Old World parallels in the sunbirds, so I s'pose one can argue there has been convergent evolution towards production of colorful, elevated, tubular corollas in many flowering plant families that are bird pollinated over there as well. I guess this proves your point, though not sure which party (i.e. birds or plants) bends who to their will more.

Last time I checked, we pay taxes because if we don't we are subject to incarceration and - by extension - loss of life if one physically opposes the loss of liberty. A more coercive relationship would be hard to imagine. Makes for bad comparative examples, IMO.

Since you appear to be interested in economics, you know that the tragedy of the commons dictates that free riders will always prevail to the detriment of all unless vigorously checked by the rest of us.

Demand for information of perceived value drives the business models of print publishing, paywalls for digital publications on the net and other pay-per-view media. I see there is still a vibrant market for printed books on plants and gardening, notsomuch for subscription driven plant fora. I suspect the lack of editorial oversight plays a big role in the different outcomes, but not entirely sure that's the case.

This is about as far off into the weeds as any thread I've ever seen on this forum, but I suppose it's helping to keep Agaveville weird.

Happy Trails,

J
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#10  Postby Spination » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:33 pm

Epiphyte wrote: I enjoy their entries so I do wish that they would post more regularly.

It's definitely the case that better solutions will be supplied once more people better understand the problem.


These two sentences extracted from your OP seems to be the crux of all your other discussion, which isn't terribly clear when muddied with all the other tangential ramblings. Specifically, that first sentence identifies the issue of your concern. Once isolated, the second sentence as a conclusion doesn't even make much sense, irrespective of all the other stuff in between.

Just to be clear, and to encapsulate - this thread is about gardening/plant blogs?

And in relation to that, your disappointment that some of your favorite blogs are blogging less?

Now that we have that straight... I view those blogs as entertainment. When I want to know something specific, that's not where I go to find out. Instead, they are something I enjoy perusing, when I have time. If I have a need for specific plant knowledge, I am likely to find it right here, or by a Google search, or one of my reference books. Much more efficient than searching a blog for diary-like entries...

That said, I think an example of a great blog is Danger Garden, and one I enjoy reading when I have the time. It does seem to me as time marches on, I seem to have less and less of it available for discretionary reading or pure enjoyment. Similarly, from the quoted text of the plant blog you shared - finding time to post blog entries seems also to be the major issue in play judging from the list of reasons given for posting lapses.

If there is a problem to understand, as you suggest, I would suggest that the essence of it is - Time. Time for the blogger to post entries regularly. Time for the reader to read regularly. I don't believe trying to force analogies of economic theory is even relevant, much less therein the solution for the real problem of time. If the blogger has the time, they will post for the pure love of it. And, if the reader has time, they will read for the same reason.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#11  Postby Epiphyte » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:04 pm

J, sunbirds are nice, but I prefer hummingbirds. Don't you? It's interesting that nobody really complains about the introduction of honey bees to the Americas. I wonder if anybody would complain about the introduction of hummingbirds to Africa, Asia and Australia. Not that I'm recommending or endorsing their introduction. I'm just wondering how the response would compare to the response of honey bees being introduced to the Americas.

Plants and pollinators bend to each other's will... but I'm not sure who bends more. It's a given though that introducing hummingbirds to Africa, Asia and Australia would eventually result in far more species of hummingbirds.

Yeah... you're right that taxes are coercive. But I'm pretty sure that taxes would be less painful if people had the option to directly spend them on things that actually match their preferences.

Do you subscribe to Netflix? What would happen if subscribers were given the option to directly spend their subscription dollars on their favorite content? What would happen to the supply of shows and movies about plants? There used to be a plant show on Netflix called "How To Grow Your Planet". I was super surprised when I saw that a section of the show was filmed in Loran Whitelock's garden. Of course the section was way too short! I kept trying to psychically will the camera guy to show more of the garden.

On Youtube there are plenty of videos about plants. Most are pretty low quality though... like mine!

The best of both worlds (large supply of high quality plant shows) would involve subscribers having the option to spend their money on their favorite content.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#12  Postby Epiphyte » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:59 pm

Spination wrote:If there is a problem to understand, as you suggest, I would suggest that the essence of it is - Time. Time for the blogger to post entries regularly. Time for the reader to read regularly. I don't believe trying to force analogies of economic theory is even relevant, much less therein the solution for the real problem of time. If the blogger has the time, they will post for the pure love of it. And, if the reader has time, they will read for the same reason.

I don't think there's anything inherently difficult to understand about time itself. Most of us wish that we had more of it!

The inherently difficult thing to understand is the necessity of using our money to accurately communicate the amount of benefit that we get from how other people use their time.

Let's say that I use my time to grow an Aloe that you like. You buy the Aloe from me. The amount of money that you spend on the Aloe communicates the amount of benefit that you got from the time that I spent growing it. It's unlikely though that the amount of money that you spend on the Aloe accurately communicates/reveals the amount of benefit that you got from the time that I spent growing it. Chances are good that your payment will be less than your benefit. In other words, chances are good that you got a deal.

Here's the very simple question... does it matter how much benefit you derived from that specific use of my time? Yes. It matters. The amount of benefit that we derive from other people's behavior should influence their behavior. If lots of people derive lots of benefit from my behavior of growing Aloes... then I should engage in more of this behavior. Doing so would greatly benefit others and myself.

When it comes to buying Aloes, most people don't really think about exactly what's going on. Because if they did, then they'd fully grasp the inherent problem with spending an amount of money on plant info that is a lot less than the amount of benefit that it provided them.

Take my Aloe video for example. So far it has received 43 thumbs up. This is positive feedback. But it really doesn't inform myself, or others, about the total amount of benefit that was created by this particular use of my time.

Let's imagine if Youtube charged members a very reasonable fee of $1/month. But, members would have the option to spend their subscription pennies on their favorite content. Each month anybody who derived some benefit from my Aloe video could spend anywhere from 0 pennies to 100 pennies on it. The more pennies that were spent on my video, the greater the amount of benefit that it created, and the greater the incentive for myself and others to use our time to try and supply even better Aloe videos. So the market would work just as well for Aloe videos as it does for Aloes.

Of course the same system could be used for this forum. We could pay $1/month and use our pennies to communicate the amount of benefit that we derive from a thread. The more pennies that were spent on an Aloe thread, the greater the amount of benefit it created, and the greater the incentive for members to use their time to try and supply even better Aloe threads. So the market would work just as well for Aloe threads as it does for Aloes.
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Re: Tug-Of-War

Post Number:#13  Postby DesertDweller » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:46 am

Stone Jaguar wrote:The net's omniscience can be overrated. Books are great things to have handy. As a conspicuous example and while dated and occasionally inaccurate, there is better information on growing carnivorous plants in Peter D'Amato's "The Savage Garden" (1998) than on all the web CP fora out there.
J


Quoted for truth. I'm also a fan of Adrian Slack's books. :U

I do miss the days when I had the time and moderate sized collection of carnivorous plants. They were fun to grow, but too high maintenance for me to care for these days.
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