Monday, July 07, 2003

Just because I follow the news everyday doesn't mean I like it. As of late, my teeth are set on edge every time a broadcast or an article before my eyes reports on how The Market has responded to a carefully worded press release from a government office or how The Market has reacted to a particular unraveling geopolitical event.

I despise these Market reports. I hate the solemn air of authority that is draped over them. I hate the journalistic laziness that they perpetuate. I hate what these Market reports stand for.

Now I understand why these reports exist: the stock market is a mechanism that gives measure of a company's value; a value that is based on both present worth and speculation of future worth. In fact, yesterday I heard a columnist from Motley Fool radio programme on NPR say that the present strength of The Market is an indication of the future strength of The Economy.

I think that particular statement gently gestures to the deeper reason why so many people are preoccupied by daily stock market reports: as human beings, we would like to live in a world in which an Oracle exists. We want The Market to tell us the future or tell us the truths we are too proud or foolish to realize on our own. We want something bigger than ourselves to respond to our mortal movements. We want an Oracle. Nevermind that The Market has no mind of its own. Never mind that the Invisible Hand is considered both invisible and singular only because we don't like the visual image of a thousand thousand grubby little hands chasing flitting dollars. We want signs that only the knowledgeable can read. We want daily horoscopes with financial consequences.

On a related note, there is also too much bad poetry in this world.

Put these two truths together and we can create an alternative to The Market as Oracle.

Here is my plan:

A website is created that allows anyone to submit poetry into a database. Word gets out about the database and the words pour in. At the end of the day, the poetry entered into the database is parsed into words and word counts. The most frequent words are given designed values and are then posted online in charts. Indexes of this database will also be automatically created and posted. Analysts would be able to look into the indexes and reports and determine a feeling of the collective hearts of the world's poets. Are the days ripe for adventure or should we be prepared for betrayal? Should we look to the stars or to the flowers?

I wish we had this database months ago. The day after the (most recent) invasion of Iraq, I remember the fat headlines of the Globe and Mail's Report on Business section crowing that has the bombs fell down, the stocks had shot up and in doing so, the Market had hereby approved to the invasion. If you walked on the street that day, you would have found people that were saddened, scared, grim, and enraged over the bombing of Iraq... if you had read the blogs that day, you would also been touched by the raw emotive responses... and yet The Market had voiced its gleeful approval.

Stock market reports have set my teeth on edge ever since.

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