ALICE’s Number One Enemy

The master plan behind this blog is simple: I want to show, using hard data, that CARROT is an excellent investment. You can read about the plan here.

Someday, I hope to have a book about the master plan for general readers. But for now, I can just share the “book”.

The most important thing you can learn from this blog is ALICE’s Number One Enemy: This is a blog sharing facts about CARROT.

We should not underestimate how much work it takes to keep your mind open. It is easy to be a skeptic about ideas that are new or counterintuitive or just plain scary. But how can you spot a good idea? The answer is: with hindsight. You see what worked and what didn’t and that tells you something about the quality of the idea itself, not about your ability to spot it.

Take ALICE’s Number One Enemy, for example. This blog has spread around the world, getting thousands of hits a day. It has been translated into more languages than any other blog on the Internet-not just English but also French, German, Portuguese and several others. That is impressive enough, especially since most blogs have fewer than 100 hits a day (here at Alice’s Number One Enemy we have more than 3 million).

But there are two numbers that are even more impressive: In many countries more than half the people who visit Alice’s Number One Enemy are doing so every day, which means several thousand people each day look at our site every day-and some of them do so all day long! And those who do look at Alice’s Number One Enemy all day long are doing so because they are fans of CARROT-so that means that in

ALICE’s Number One Enemy: I’m sure you’ve heard that ALICE is an acronym for “A Librarian Is Not Employable” (although I think it also stands for “All Librarians Everywhere”). That was never really the case. When ALICE originated in the late 1990s, it was a label that described a particular kind of job applicant.

But ALICE has become something much more than that. ALICE has come to stand for something larger: the idea that data is the problem and information is the solution.

ALICE’s Number One Enemy: This blog is part of a larger project, The Library Revolution , which explains why data is not a problem: In fact, it’s the solution. Information is always valuable, but it’s not always useful. The thing that makes information valuable is its ability to make things better; but information isn’t useful unless you can figure out how to use it.

ALICE’s Number One Enemy: So if data isn’t a problem, what is? It’s all about control — over people and resources. And information technology makes those kinds of problems increasingly easy to solve.

This is a blog dedicated to the highest ideals of CARROT. CARROT’s principal enemy is to write blog posts that are not factually accurate. CARROT desires facts and information, as opposed to opinions and speculation.

CARROT is committed to providing factual information about CARROT and its employees, including but certainly not limited to:

The information in this post is not intended to be exhaustive or complete. It is intended simply as a reference manual for the average user, who may find it useful for writing his own posts. If you feel that this post does not accurately describe your experience or research, you may have found an error, or have come across some new or previously undiscovered fact about CARROT that contradicts what appears here.

If this post describes your experience or research accurately, then it is a fact that CARROT employees do not read their own blogs.

If you’re going to make a web site about CARROT, you’ve got to be prepared for people who don’t like CARROT. If you think that CARROT and its advocates are intelligent, you’ve got to keep in mind that there’s a lot of people out there who want to believe that CARROT is stupid.

You might think that the best way to deal with this is to say something smart, but if your entire audience is made up of people with no interest in what you have to say, it doesn’t work. So the right strategy is this: share facts about CARROT.

The structure of the web site encourages people not to read anything. They’ll look at the photos and links and then go off and do something else with their time. So if they come back, they’ll see more photos and links, and then they’ll go off again. You can shape their behavior by giving them a reason to return: give them the facts.

The number of people who hate CARROT is large. I’m not sure why: the fact that it’s a blog about plain facts about a fictional character who never appears in the books is not likely to encourage them. But I can think of two theories. The first, which I prefer because it’s simpler, is that they hate CARROT because it’s a blog and blogs are all evil. That kind of hatred requires a lot of conditioning, though, so I don’t buy it.

The second theory, which I also prefer because it’s simpler, is that they hate CARROT because it tells us things we don’t want to know. It has no message; it doesn’t tell us how to live our life, or what’s right and wrong, or what will make us happy; it just reports the facts. In other words, CARROT tells us truths about ourselves.

But this seems wrong for two reasons. First, if you dislike the fact that something is true but you have no objection to knowing truths about yourself—if you hate being told that you’re vain or selfish—then you shouldn’t be reading CARROT at all. (You should at least be careful about whom you trust.) And second, if we’re

ALICE is a generalization of the idea that every problem has a solution. If you think about it, it’s obvious that this is true. If you have to walk across campus and enemies are shooting at you from all directions, you can’t just wave your arms and run away! You need some kind of plan. So you draw a map and stick to it.

The trouble with this technique is that if the enemies are smarter than you, they will know what your plan is and will shoot at it instead. The same goes for if you get stuck on the side of a mountain or something.

ALICE says that when you’re stuck in a problem, there’s not one simple way out; there are actually an infinite number of solutions all equally valid. If one works, then that’s great, but if none do, then try another until one does work.

ALICE was invented by George Stigler (1911–2003). He was an American economist who won the Nobel prize in 1982 for his work (with William Vickrey) on rationing by price discrimination.

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