don kerr

4 years ago · 4 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Take this algorithm and shove it!

Take this algorithm and shove it!

Forty years ago Donald Lytle (a.k.a. Johnny Paycheck recorded ‘Take this job and shove it’. ( country & honky tonk artist, (born in that hotbed of country music Greenfield, Ohio) was more than a one-hit wonder but only by a little bit. He sure had an impressive array of hats though. Just not so many cattle! You ranching-country folk will understand the meaning.

Unlike my fellow Beezer and friend Kevin Pashuk I won’t take until you’ve read 75% of the posting until I get to my point. I can’t afford the chance that you won’t get there whereas Kevin is so skilled he can maintain your interest. I think it has something to do with his raging introversion - we just are so damn patient with him ‘cause he always ends up somewhere smart and relevant.

Lately I’ve read so much on beBee about what constitutes a view, what makes up a relevant, what is a legitimate visit, and so on and so on and blah de freakin’ blah that I am adapting Paycheck’s song and retitling it Take this algorithm and shove it!

Lookit’, I like a good set of stats as much as the next person.

Actually, no I don’t.

They bore the pants off of me but I acknowledge that to true social media wonks and patrons of platforms they are the holy grail. It’s just I can’t imagine how folk get so riled up about them to the point where darts get thrown, knives are unsheathed, and tiny little bothersome grenades are tossed into someone’s trousers.

Some time ago I heard the author of an intriguing book on CBC Radio. Her name is Cathy O’Neil and her book is Weapons of Math Destruction. Here’s how her website ( describes the book:

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.

Tracing the arc of a person’s life, O’Neil exposes the black box models that shape our future, both as individuals and as a society. These “weapons of math destruction” score teachers and students, sort résumés, grant (or deny) loans, evaluate workers, target voters, set parole, and monitor our health.

O’Neil calls on modelers to take more responsibility for their algorithms and on policy makers to regulate their use. But in the end, it’s up to us to become more savvy about the models that govern our lives.

So here’s me, now, trying to become more savvy and I gotta tell you - I am a writer. Been doing it since I can remember. Been doing it professionally since 1977. That’s right, the same year Johnny recorded his seminal song and granted, it’s not as long as Jim Murray's been at it but hell, he picked up his first papyrus scroll just after Moses came down from the Mount.

Anyway, since Jim Murray lives too far away to sit down to have him explain, and Gerald Hecht lives waaayyy too far away, and Phil Friedman is totally occupied with either of the perfect Hollandaise or his Twitter storms, and John Vaughan would probably drag me out to some New Jersey swamp ‘cause I’m so stupid I’ve gone right to basics.

What the hell is an algorithm anyway? We toss the word around quite cavalierly. Even I have posed as being someone who had even an inkling of what I was writing about. I’m coming out right here and right now.

I wouldn’t know an algorithm if it slapped my bare ass and called me Betty!

So, here’s what says:

An algorithm (pronounced AL-go-rith-um) is a procedure or formula for solving a problem, based on conductiong a sequence of specified actions. A computer program can be viewed as an elaborate algorithm. In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm usually means a small procedure that solves a recurrent problem.

Algorithms are widely used throughout all areas of IT (information technology). A search engine algorithm, for example, takes search strings of keywords and operators as input, searches its associated database for relevant web pages, and returns results.

An encryption algorithm transforms data according to specified actions to protect it. A secret key algorithm such as the U.S. Department of Defense's Data Encryption Standard (DES), for example, uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt data. As long as the algorithm is sufficiently sophisticated, no one lacking the key can decrypt the data.

The word algorithm derives from the name of the mathematician, Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khwarizmi, who was part of the royal court in Baghdad and who lived from about 780 to 850. Al-Khwarizmi's work is the likely source for the word algebra as well.*

*Holy jumping Jehosaphat! Do you think Drumpf and his boss Bannon know about this whole thing being part of a Muslim conspiracy. Screw Obama’s wiretapping - or wire tapping as Sean Spicer prefers it - this clearly is the source of the River Nile of troubles plaguing the lying sack of ^&() currently occupying the White House.

But, I digress.

Before anyone else does it, I will point out that there is a complete separation in my perspective as a writer and as an entrepreneur. I have no expectation of commercial return from my involvement on beBee. It is well and truly my ‘social’ media. The joy and stimulation I get from interacting with fellow Bees from South Africa to Bali to Spain to Singapore to Australia to England and Ireland far outweighs any thoughts of gaining business.

So the 88,000 views my stories have gotten on beBee since I first posted one year ago, are representative of a whole hell of a lot of people reading my stuff that wouldn’t have anywhere else.

Are some duplicate visits? Probably. Are some included in the count my visits? Sure.

But I just don’t care about the unassailable validity testing that some seem determined to pursue.

If, I were using the platform as a cornerstone of my business building efforts I would probably feel differently and more compelled to dive into the thoughtful and thorough analysis that some have contributed here.

beBee works for me. It is pretty much ideal for my purposes. It gives me pleasure and intellectual stimulations. It offers the opportunity to engage in, at times spirited, conversation and yes some of the content does provoke in me reactions that may not be suitable for work.

I hope the platform succeeds. I believe that in our world any amount of international exchange and openness should be encouraged and supported. Parochialism and populism are the bane of modern-day discourse and beBee can help prevent the spread of isolationism that is counter-productive to our growth as people.

So, back to Johnny Paycheck, you can take this algorithm and shove it. And to the 88,000 or however many folks who’ve supported me by reading my stuff during the past year - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

© Copyright 2017, Don Kerr, Don Kerr Writes - All rights reserved.

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Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #35

As we are evolving towards a world driven by algorithms and technology, a lot of marketers fear that robots will take over their job and that machines will replicate humans. But...... Creativity is still in the hands of humans. It is about having that big idea. To then transfer a creative idea into a successful product/service, that is where algorithms and technology step in. Building strong brands will more than ever be relevant, just as getting a true connection with your consumers. A strong brand remains everything. Do you struggle to get your posts seen by your network? Take those algorithms and shove them ! After working hard for years on building your network, it is very frustrating that you can not reach all of your followers. Reach 100% of your followers on beBee !

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt

4 years ago #34

We all should feel lucky that the combination of marketing, people and group effort has resulted in an amazing bebee experience. But before the luck runs out and after a certain threshold of growth when the competition turns dirty, one will have to have clarity on the distinct features and functions that no other platform can give. When subject to scrutiny, we are still highly vulnerable. Algorithms have served as a critical input for human progress, arent we being tough on it rather than the context in which it has been used? I really like your writing and i would say writers and content have been the usp of bebee till now. But each has a niggling small doubt in the back of the heads which seems unimportant right now. I would say that people here have been very polite or poor in scratching the surface of that doubt, but it indicates a lot needs to be done. That is another way of saying that your focus ln the positives would inspire many readers to dish out more quality content.

don kerr

4 years ago #33


don kerr

4 years ago #32

Thank you Paul. And I too have read you #51

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #31

Don, You had me at "shove it." I always liked the blue collar badass viewpoint of the song. And over the years I've seen it used for all kinds of rants but I've never seen it linked to a Muslim Conspiracy. You know, of course, that those same fellers are responsible for Arabic Numerals? Just remember that Murray's latest contains an algorythm, too (mispelling intended).

Paul Walters

4 years ago #30

Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr Bit like selling books really.Have met people who have actually purchased my books but never read them!! Go figure, just to r assure you that I am one of the 88,000 who reads the entire article

don kerr

4 years ago #29

good night.

don kerr

4 years ago #28

that is still 8 more than my immediate family.

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #27


don kerr

4 years ago #26

Damn but you sure are sensitive. I think you contribute many smart things here and I read your analyses with great interest. I just don't jones on the stats as much as maybe I should. And, to answer Robert Bacal, if the stats were actually only 800 people reading? Well, that's 800 more than me and my immediate family.

don kerr

4 years ago #25

Agreed. The book is quite disturbing in many respects.

don kerr

4 years ago #24

Thank you sir. Your understanding is not lame compared to mine which will, I am sure, be pointed out in some detail.

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #23

beBee works for you. beBee works for everyone ! Congratulations to all of you ! You got a BEE flag rewarding our most active bees ! Olé Olé Olé ! Didn't you get it ? You can get it ! Bzzzzzzzzzz🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝🐝

Jim Murray

4 years ago #22

So you ask a question and you answer it. Very good. I like that...easy on the brain. To me an algorithm is basically a set of traffic lights at an intersection, say like Bay and Bloor in Toronto. Posts line up there. The lights scan the posts and directs them to the side of the street they need to go to based on whatever the programmers figure are the deciding factors, usually keywords or images. That's probably pretty lame, being as I wrote this with a quill on some low grade papyrus, but it's how I image it works. Good post Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr

don kerr

4 years ago #21

Phil Friedman Ah grasshopper,, you are progressing well

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #20

Gerald Hecht, here's the problem. There are multi-value logics, not just the two-value (T/F) logic of the propositional calculus coming down from Aritstotle. For example, we can have three values (true, false, unkown) but since computers are binary (two-value) you cannot, to my mind, truly have a multi-value logic embodied in a computerized algorithm. Rather, what you have is a simulation of multi-value logic executed in a two-value environment, in which you have multiple two-value nodes arrayed on the same level. At least that's what Don Kerr told me. :-)

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #19

Thanks Don. We'll see how skilled I am at grabbing the check at the Ke4 Street Cafe on Thursday.

don kerr

4 years ago #18

Robert Bacal Well that's a tease that's just to tantalizing to leave hanging isn't it?

don kerr

4 years ago #17

Heard that!

don kerr

4 years ago #16

Well, Phil Friedman, my Beezer friend, I agree with you.

don kerr

4 years ago #15

My pleasure.

don kerr

4 years ago #14

John Vaughan Listen, I admire the analysis you provide and have said so before. I'm just not so wrapped up in the underlying analytics. But as I said in another comment here, even if only 25% of the 88K represents full readership that's still more than I would have achieved elsewhere and it won't surprise you, I hope, that we writers have a desire to be read so yeah, I pay attention a bit. Just not as fixated as others may be.

don kerr

4 years ago #13

thanks Gerald Hecht, Betty appreciates that your slap on her behind was gentle.

don kerr

4 years ago #12

See here's the thing about raging introverts - you skipped right over the 'skilled' attribution with which I anointed you!

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #11

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn have adopted algorithmic timeline. and Organic Reach on Social Media is Declining. After working hard for years on building your network, it is very frustrating that you can not reach all of your followers. beBee: The platform where you can reach 100% of your followers

Pascal Derrien

4 years ago #10

I have been living in a sea of metrics profesionally speaking and this on a larger scale than beBee for a very long time, the old proverb say numbers dont lie but I dare say you can make tell them whatever story you want.....but the numbers dont write stories the last time I checked :-)

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #9

Thanks Gerald Hecht for remembering the Vegemite experiment. Keep it quiet though... I may just do further research with the new batch of bees.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #8

Well Don, my Beezers buddy, this is something we can disagree on. Not, however, on the nature of algorithms, which are, as you have pointed out, simply systematic two-value logical decision trees, however large and complex they may ultimately be. Nor certainly on the quality and value of your writing -- which are superb to my mind. You indicate that you are happy with the fact "... the 88,000 views my stories have gotten on beBee since I first posted one year ago, are representative of a whole hell of a lot of people reading my stuff that wouldn’t have anywhere else." I certainly would not suggest that you should not be happy. But I would point out that it is the precisely the question of whether or not the 88,000 "views" registered actually represent the number of reads your pieces have received. I think most people questioning this are not talking about variances of a few thousand due to counting (or miscounting), but of whether a systematic distortion in the system might be producing numbers in excess of ten times more than one might find on other platforms, given the counting systems they use. The entire matter could be put to rest if social media platform ownership and management would just disclose on what their "vie" counts are based. And if, in a perfect world, they would agee to standardize on that so any comparative numbers would be meaningful. Great piece, and great title. Mine was slightly different:

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #7

OLE OLE OLE ! thanks for your support Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr "beBee works for me. It is pretty much ideal for my purposes. It gives me pleasure and intellectual stimulations. It offers the opportunity to engage in, at times spirited, conversation and yes some of the content does provoke in me reactions that may not be suitable for work." Do you struggle to get your posts seen by your network? Is your Organic Reach Falling?

don kerr

4 years ago #6

Thank you#2

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #5

Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr Now 88 001 views! This is vintage Don Kerr - what a great read!

Gert Scholtz

4 years ago #4

Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr Now 88 001 views! This is vintage Don Kerr what a great read!

Kevin Pashuk

4 years ago #3

Are you calling me a rambler (which was a not so good automobile from my youth), or quirky (which I will take in the positive sense), or scattered, but eventually come back to the point? I'm sitting here not sure whether to feel honoured or dissed. Which gets me to my point... I did love this post, and your love of writing over stats.

John White, MBA

4 years ago #2

I freakin LOVE this piece, Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr., from the title all the way through to the final thought. Bravo, mi amigo! Olé!

don kerr

4 years ago #1

Kevin Pashuk You are mentioned/tagged in this post.

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