Month: November 2007

Social Lending Changes Banking & Finance Forever?

What ever you think of them, the new class of social lending platforms are spreading globally and arguably are taking off in their respective markets –

The leader is zopa who have around 140,000 members although they say they are officially still in Beta.

I just wonder why doesn’t move beyond its current business and launch their own, they already have authentication and non-repudiation and payments covered. Surely one or two of their 165million users would try it?

Now that would be taking the bull by the horns.

Cheers, Peter.

Brand Association – Moving Up Market

Brand association is such a great way of moving your own brand in a certain direction such as moving up market in order to charge more.

Association with classical music and symphony orchestras in gorgeous old style symphony halls have been done to death in my opinion.

Bizarrely this approach still works though.

Here is a great example – the latest VB Beer Advertisement.

Sure it is funny but VB (stands for Victoria Bitter after the state in Australia and of course named after queen Victoria) is a working class beer but has a great history of being a true heartland story and while this is clearly tongue in cheek it is executed flawlessly in keeping with their tradition of keeping it real.

Congratulations to the people behind this one, very very well done.

Cheers, Peter.

PS: Pete’s hot tip – watch out for the VB price increase coming soon to a liquor store near you (we call them bottle shops aka bottle-o here in oz).

What Goes On Your Tombstone? Scholar, Patriot, Statesman

Sounds gruesome but it is intended to inspire self examination.
Just how would you be described by your friends and family in your eulogy (the speech at your funeral) or on the stone above your grave.
Of course in many cultures, stones are not used, but the principle is the same.
How would you describe yourself and how would others? More questions follow, the most important however is -Are you living life to the full now? Some people obviously do.
One statue I found recently in Hyde Park had the following engraved in gold.


Perhaps this person deserved such a a grandious description, perhaps not.
Who and what appears on your statue (if any 🙂 is fairly irrelevant, probably what is more important is how you impact the people and world around you, how you treat people, what you achieve, is the world better for you having been in it?

Cheers, Pete.

Tank versus Dam

Local dams might be the answer to tanks.

Local dams also offer lots of lower risks than big central dams and other benefits neither the big dam or a local tank can offer.

Lets explore the three –


Deploying tanks in every home is a great way to truly localise water supplies, particularly in suburban areas that have good roof catchment areas. So they definitely add value but are they the best solution for all situations, I’d say unfortunately tanks are not a 100% solution because –

  • rain falls unevenly across suburbs (some have too much that goes to waste in overflow and some have not enough)
  • water consumption is uneven across households
  • roof area (rain water catchment areas) by household vary according to many factors including type of dwelling e.g. high rise apartments (also called ‘flats’ in some countries)
  • the cost of plumbing overflow from millions of small household tanks back into a central collection point is prohibitive in time and money and disruption and in many low lying suburbs simple gravity means further negative impact on the environment with pumps.
  • tanks have a cost to the environment in construction and installation that must be multiplied by millions of households so there is a material cost but it is not as obvious as the cost of more centralised solutions

So something in between household tanks and big monolithic centralised city (MCC) dams (like Sydney’s Warragamba dam) might be better.

Big Dams

Of course big MCC dams are centralised and get economies of scale in many ways but they have their issues too –

  • Algae bloom (like Sydney is experiencing right now) means there is a concentration risk – if something happens to the one dam, millions of people suffer
  • Terrorism targets are worse – e.g. poisoning supply with MCC dams for the same reason of concentration risk although admittedly the security can be done better because they are usually more remote (surrounded by native bush/forest catchment areas) and centralisation enables more cost effective security
  • They are usually distant from the communities they serve – costs of pumping, routing are higher.
  • May be located according to rain fall that varies over time (such as when housing growth reduces natural green areas and this impacts rainfall) and there is another concentration risk there too – this one is particularly difficult to control.

Local Dams

So the local dam idea has some merit, imagine one in the nature reserve near you if it has a gully or valley –

  • Natural valleys are proven collection points, less expensive land acquisition and clearing.
  • They are often already clear with nature reserves, parks etc around them becaus ehte land is harder to build on and local councils have them declared as parks or nature reserves
  • Downstream usually has no issues with dwellings because it is already a stream or river and the outflow/overflow is less than an MCC by orders of magnitude.
  • There is still a degree of centralisation so the cost of pumping back into ‘the system’ is more sensibly shared across thousands of households (better than tanks) and is much lower capacity (and hence cost) than a full MCC style pumping station.
  • It adds the the local wild life’s ability to be sustained in good and bad times, same for flora.
  • Significantly reduced concentration risk because if the supply is compromised, assuming a city has 20 or thirty smaller dams the loss of one or two through algae bloom or poisoning or pumping station failure is still tiny relative to the total available.

My colleague Marc Lehmann also has some good points on this and prompted me to finally write down some of this stuff. I’ll do another post on this with more detail and the relationship with storm water harvesting some time too.

Cheers, Peter.