Economics


03 Nov 2009
The Mystery of Finance

Having attended an Investment Event last night I started to wonder about how and why people invest.  I am currently reading Quicksilver by Neil Stevenson which is set in the 17th/18th century which is a period which marks the invention of finance, paper money, short selling and many other wonderful things.  Almost as soon as money was invented so was fraud, bubbles and bankruptcy.  At one point in Quicksilver everyone discovers that the Goldsmiths kind of early bankers have empty vaults and all their money has gone.

Surely we have learnt something from these kinds of shocks, well clearly not as the recent history of banking shows.  So thats great but what does it teach us about now.  Well it is clear that within 5 years there will be more online revenue in the games industry than through retail.  When you go for lunch everyone has an idea for an iPhone app (always a good sign of a boom) 10 years ago it was ideas for websites or was it tulip bulbs I forget.

We all like to follow the crowd and investors more than most, this is generally good if you can get in early enough but strangely investors are running scared of iPhone and haven’t even really noticed that download games change the rules.  There have been a couple of big investments I think Glu mobile got a fair amount of money but most UK investors have a strange disconnect they know iPhone is successful but don’t seem able to unpin the risks.

02 Apr 2009
MIPTV and the astonishing fact of its relevance to Onteca

blog-for1An industry event that appears to be useful and thought-provoking. Then again we are living in ‘interesting times’, especially for old media. I’m tempted to point out ‘all their base r belong to us’, were that not all a little 1997.

In the meantime, it looks like the ARG horse is still being flogged, Was there ever a point  in time when this particular format was alive, rather than just a seam of digital fake-gold seeded in the internets to lure investors? Thing is, giving life to simulacra is what we do, so maybe the next iteration will go beyond the existing tiny demographic into a mass market or two.

Oh, and they have finally noticed that ‘gaming is a force to be reckoned with‘.  Astonishing, although the speaker admits the old media industry is still sceptical. The guy who posted the article added his own comment, as you will see if you look closely at the following: (http://www.reedmidem.com/mipblog/index.php/2009/04/02/108-arse)

Onteca’s forays into the merging of of gaming and TV have shown plenty of scope for the field. In fact our collaboration with the BBC for the Brainbox Challenge series of games has become a talked-about proto-type of the genre, demonstrating the truly disruptive potential of this approach.

Onteca is going to do  further work in this area. Three of our programmers have just returned from BBC training in MHEG, a language for creating terrestrial interative TV. Under a hundred people in the country can code using this rather useful language.

Good job, though, that we didn’t pursue our plan to create a widget for helping content creators to make interactive TV. As it seems Yahoo had the same idea. Reason why Onteca has a policy of not getting over concerned with IP;  if your idea is any good, someone else is thinking along the same lines anyway.

Still, looks like an entertaining event. Made us hungry for more. Roll on BTween, which is in Liverpool this year.

17 Feb 2009
Game Creation teaches Young People – New York and Wirral

Over on Boing Boing, my own favourite blog, I noticed that they are rather excited by a new school that engages young people by utilising the process of Games Design. Making games is almost as much fun (even more fun?) than playing them, and involves a range of different subjects from story-telling through text and image, to advanced mathematics, to design, to historical research. As well as the IT skills you would expect.

Boing Boing are excited by ‘Quest to learn’, a school in NYC.

‘Man, that sounds good enough to move to NYC for,’ says the chap at Boing Boing. Well he doesn’t need to, as long as he is living on the Wirral. ‘Over-the-water’, Onteca has been running a very similar course for dis-engaged young people for the last two years. It is going well.

Glad to see our American Cousins are catching up with the Innovative approaches we are developing in Merseyside.

02 Feb 2009
The state of the world

Quite serious but well thought out audio clip about the future of the world economy

robertpeston everything_will_change

31 Jan 2009
Why the recession/depression has hit bottom

This is a strange kind of post when politicians are getting shot down for mentioning ‘green shoots’ – in a reference to Norman Lamont and the 90s recession.  But you can get all the real information here, this recession will be V shaped, as in very quick and steep down, and possibly up again at the same rate.  But the big question and unknown is where the bottom will be.

We may have hit bottom this week. All the banks share prices have doubled this week but why?  Remember, bank shares are a symptom not a cause. In fact last week all UK banks other than HSBC were going out of business, why the change?   Well, in the far off US of A house prices stablised for the first time in 3 years.  This in theory puts a bottom on the losses the banks in the UK will experience, based on the UK economy following USA, and also that we have lots of US debt over here.

Will it stick?  Well it might this crash however is cyclic, and to misquote Paul Krugman, is the mother of crashes. We have over priced housing, as in Japan early 90s, bank runs like both the 1930s and the 1910 trust fund crisis, and possibly, though thankfully not yet in the UK, a currency crisis like Asia/Argentina in the 1990s.  In fact the Irish are complaining we devalued the £ on purpose,which i am sure we did. Not that we had any choice.

We may have seen the bottom, therefore. In about 4 years we will escape from the crash, I am old enough to have had a father (he was 49 when I was born) who remembered and talked often of the Great Depression.  It genuinely influenced his actions until the end of his life (he was mean with money). I hope this is not the world my children will live in.