Pistis, Tinkering for Civic Engagement

Royal Portal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres

The Royal Portal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Some say these images are direct references to scenes described in the ancient Coptic Gnostic text, The Pistis Sophia.

From a TechCrunch article, “Brigade Media Raises $9.3M From Sean Parker To Shake Up American Democracy:”

The company thinks that American democracy is adrift.

The main bent at play is a view that this country’s democracy is not “scaling” the way that it might — essentially that as our society has changed, our governing structures have failed to keep pace. This has led to a disconnect between average citizens and their elected leaders.

The description in this article also describes what we are working on at Pistis Database Services. Recent projects include Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts in New Rochelle, NY and Los Angeles, CA.

In future elections we will be addressing such things as America’s stagnant communications infrastructure.
We need to elect leaders on the basis of their commitment to changing America’s stagnant communications infrastructure.
There is much to be done at every level of government, but cities are the most promising battleground right now. Mayors, Republican and Democrat alike, are in the business of providing their citizens with services, and fiber infrastructure is just like a city street grid: Economic development, quality of life, new jobs and a thriving competitive market all depend on its presence.
~ “The Wire Next Time” by Susan Crawford

At Pistis, we will also be addressing the fact that the standard research techniques of corporate America are cheating us of many great experiences. Malcolm Gladwell describes this as the “Kenna problem:”

If I ask you why you think what you think, can I trust your answer?

This process [standard market research] is fundamentally flawed. It is completely screwed. We totally overrate the significance of what we find out when we go through this kind of formal process and the consequence of that overreliance on this system is that we are cheating ourselves of all kinds of wonderful experiences that we would otherwise have [such as Kenna].

About 10 years ago, I developed a local entertainment television show called Live From VA that interviewed such guests as: Academy Award winner Mo’NiqueRussell Simmons & Rev RunKanye WestPharell Willams & Chad Hugo (the Neptunes), and Katt Williams. The underlying idea for the television show was to develop a tech company based on the strengths African-Americans, for example music. Considering the recent $3 billion sale of Beats By Dr. Dre to Apple, maybe there is something to this basic philosophy.

Chad Hugo & Pharrell Williams Live From VA.

Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams doing a plug for Live From VA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtdSeiIgsTE

With the help of Skymind, we will be using deep learning techniques for political campaigns and developing music artists. From the Wired article, “The Mission to Bring Google’s AI to the Rest of the World:”

[D]eep learning… seeks to remake computing by more closely mimicking the way the human brain processes information, giving machines more power to “learn” as time goes on.

The technology has so much promise, it has sparked a kind of arms race among the giants of tech. Google and Facebook recently hired the two academics who originally laid out the concepts behind deep learning, and earlier this month, Chinese search giant Baidu followed suit when it snapped up another academic at the heart of the movement. But Adam Gibson, an independent software engineer based in San Francisco, doesn’t want this new technology locked inside the biggest names on the net. He believes deep learning techniques should be available to any website, company, or developer interested in using them. And that’s why he’s launching a new startup called Skymind.

One of our services at Pistis is database marketing and the basic idea in database marketing is to build a close personal relationship with each customer that is based on quality, service, friendship, loyalty, and communications. And, not based on discounts. You would not give a neighbor $5 for helping you move furniture. It would be an insult. Instead, you offer a cup of coffee or a beer, and 15 minutes of chat around the kitchen table. That is the kind of relationship that database marketing creates. Discounts send the wrong message: we are cheap guys whose basic product is overpriced. We want to buy your loyalty. We don’t care about you. We care about your money.

All businesses have Gold customers – a small percentage that provides 80% of your revenue and profit. With a marketing database, you can identify these Gold customers. Then you develop programs designed to retain them. You use resources that you could not afford to spend on all of your customers. Profits come from working to retain the best, and encouraging others to move up to higher status levels.

Employee satisfaction is also very important to growing a business. According to Christopher Groening at University of Missouri:

We found that keeping your employees satisfied with their work experience, providing them with challenges and allowing them to have a sense of ownership in the business can have a tremendous effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The need for employee satisfaction and greater equality to increase innovation is reinforced by Nobel Laureate and Columbia University’s director of Center on Capitalism and Society Edmund Phelps:

Little [innovation] will happen… without a wider embrace of the old ethos of imagination, exploration, experiment and discovery. It is that ethos that laid the foundation for the broad-based prosperity of the American middle class in the postwar years, and without its revival, no amount of government intervention can fully mitigate the widening inequality that the slowdown in innovation has helped create.

Roger Martin in Fixing the Game, reveals one of the culprit behind the sorry state of American capitalism. Our deep and abiding belief that the firm exists to maximize shareholder value has led to massive growth in stock-based compensation for executives and a naive and wrongheaded coupling of the “real” market with the “expectations” market. At Pistis, we believe that real long-term economic growth comes from developing strong communities and not from being focused on short-term economic gains.

Pistis is the Greek word translated as “faith” in Matthew 21:21: “if you have faith and do not doubt…” Pistis can also be defined as “trust, loyalty, commitment, and engagement.” Pistis grew out the social and business activist organization called StartUpTown  (https://startuptown.wordpress.com/). Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan and Antifragile, wrote in a Forbes article called “You Can’t Predict Who Will Change The World:“

“It is high time to recognize that we humans are far better at doing than understanding, and better at tinkering than inventing. But we don’t know it. We truly live under the illusion of order believing that planning and forecasting are possible. We are scared of the random, yet we live from its fruits.”

Nassim Taleb

We at Pistis understand the power of tinkering and realize the need for marketers and creatives to approach online, mobile and tablet-based advertising much differently than the way it is done on TV and print. The future of creativity online is rooted in being able to solve people’s problems and making sure interactions are mutually beneficial to both marketer and customer.



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