Rubén Rivero Capriles

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October 2008 - Posts

Comparing Facebook vs. Linkedin vs Xing vs. Twitter (UPDATED JULY 23, 2009)

International mobility at a moment’s notice has become the norm in the globalized world for the younger generations. Until recently one thought one was up to date with technology with an e-mail address and a cellular telephone. Not anymore. Registering oneself in any of the aforementioned web page or a similar competing service is increasingly becoming a must to stay interconnected in the age of information, and information in the 21st century as we know is a synonym of power.

We do not know our physical neighbors because we move from one house to another, from one school to another university, and then to a job, and then to another state or country. We lose touch with our best friends. We get to our middle age with lots of memories and suddenly realize we have nobody to share them with unless we go for a forum online, hidden with a nickname, and we make an attempt to show our real personalities but concealing our identity for fear of spammers.

Facebook could be a solution for our personal alienation. It compensates our lack of real personal interaction with our physical neighbors, but it opens opportunities that our parents and grandparents would have never dreamt about. Last year I was able to unite matching souls from Chile, Haiti, Colombia and the United Kingdom, who would have never met otherwise. They now have a great opportunity to share their lives in a wholly unexpected way. We, as the internet generation, have a formidable tool to expand our social networks and possibilities to levels unprecedented in human history. Through our increasingly complex international relationships we can effectively break the barriers of war and ignorance much more effectively than any previous kind of diplomacy has ever been able to achieve. Please create ways to improve the use of this magnificent tool. We do not even know the superb capabilities in human interaction which we are capable to evolve. After all, human beings are still social animals, and we are just learning one of the most efficient ways of socializing ever invented.

I recently noticed, however, that Facebook is insufficient for today's needs. As adults we have been able to reach again our long dated friends. After having been connected; however, during one year to most of my friends, after having retrieved enough information about their current whereabouts, I now notice that Facebook has increasingly become an interacting gaming platfrorm. While it is fun to play around with all of those Facebook applications, they do not help in exploiting the opportunity of converting those long dated friends into new key business contacts. For that reason a migration is now taking place from Facebook to the Linkedin platform. Linkedin users submit their curriculum and current career goals and are able to expand their network through a neat presentation scheme that allows users to be introduced to people who they do not know, as long as they share a common contact. This way I have been able to recently expand my business network and hopefully new business opportunities should arise through this process of reducing the degrees of separation between people anywhere. It is still too early to conclude which one of these two platforms, at the end, will prove most useful. I am just pointing out that Facebook has done a great deal for me so far but its shortcomings are prompting me to use some Linkedin services unavailable through Facebook.

In several Spanish speaking countries; however, Linkedin is not widely know yet. It amazes me that my contacts in Canada and the United States have hundreds of further contacts, which enables most users to be within easy reach of a network of millions of people. In contrast, many of my Venezuelan contacts (including myself) have been recently invited to join and we only have a handful of other Venezuelan contacts who in turn also have just one or a few other contacts. So an average Linkedin user in Venezuela has quite small network available within the country, reaching just thousands of people... On the other hand, Xing has taken a better root. I find Xing too complicated for adding contacts. It never publishes any e-mail address and only lets you leave a comment to someone once a week. Not surprisingly, I don't have any contacts on Xing despite having opened my account a few months ago. On many Xing local groups, most users only have a handful of contacts. So with Xing you may know that people exist but there is no way to contact them unless they happen to have a web page or blog and you leave comments directly there. So what I am doing is just looking who is around Xing that I am interested in contacting and then I try to contact that person through Linkedin. No wonder Xing's growth has stagnated.

The worst of them all, of course, is Twitter. I have been unable to find out what Twitter is for. Having to deal with accounts with Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, ISP e-mail account, website e-mail accounts, credit card web pages, checking account web pages, and various other logins and passwords, having to deal with Twitter as well is a redundantly unnecessary inconvenience.

Moreover, despite these technological advances, the economy does not recover. The use of these networks is not actually improving business conditions. Perhaps these social and business web networks are just helping to moderate the downturn. It is all too common to see lots of people with impressive contacts, all of whom are finding it increasingly hard to convert a few leads into sales.

Rubén Rivero Capriles. Caracas, November 2008 - July 2009

Rivero & Cooper, Inc.                                           Rroopstr

On the legacy of Dr. Armand Hammer / Sobre el legado del Dr. Armand Hammer

On the legacy of Dr. Armand Hammer

I have a strong personal reason to be indebted to Dr. Armand Hammer, as he made possible the creation of the United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico, where I had the privilege of completing high school aided by a very generous scholarship.

His legacy today is worth a serious review in these times of conflict between communism, socialism and capitalism. Dr. Armand Hammer went to Russia during the summer of 1921 planning to do relief work for the famine in the Urals. While seeing the hunger of those sick by the typhus epidemic, in contrast with the untapped natural resources and factories still standing in decent shape, he had the business idea of shipping one million dollars worth of grain from his hometown of New York, on the condition that the cargo ship should return with furs, caviar and other commodities. Lenin, then the most powerful man in the world, summoned Dr. Hammer through a telegraph conversation back to Moscow and offered him an asbestos concession. Lenin was at the time reversing four years of communism due to its obvious failures and was planning a retreat to state socialism, and invited Dr. Hammer to create wealth for the Russian people as a foreign concessionaire for a profit. Trotsky was also of invaluable help. In 1923 Lenin died and was replaced by Stalin, who eventually ousted Trotsky and quickly started creating the state of terror and inefficiency that became the USSR for much of the balance of the 20th century. Dr. Armand Hammer remained in Moscow until 1929 when it became obvious to him that his business opportunities were over.  During those final years he was able to build a pencil factory from scratch and was congratulated by many Soviet authorities for enabling the Russians to produce their pencils at a fraction of the cost of their previous imports.

After a short residence in Paris, he lived the rest of his very long life in New York and then in Los Angeles where he took over the virtually bankrupt Occidental Petroleum Corporation and transformed it into what it is today. He was able to complete tough dealings with rulers such as Ghadaffi, the Shah and Trujillo. It would be redundant for me to list here all his business achievements in a capitalist society he understood so well; what I wish to point out is that he became an extraordinary bridge between East and West in his later years. President Kennedy requested Dr. Hammer in 1961 to go back to Moscow to explore new avenues of understanding. Under the astonishment of the officials at the American Embassy, Dr. Hammer was received with honors first by Deputy Prime Minister Mikoyan and then by General Secretary Khrushchev. He was amazed that during his conversations with them, he repeated the same topics already discussed with Lenin: foreign trade, the virtues of capitalism, the shortcomings of bureaucracy, and the hope that capitalism and socialism would one day be blended with the best of both worlds. Dr. Hammer became the unofficial, reliable capitalist voice that could freely speak, understand and be understood by a succession of  Russian and Chinese leaders such as Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev, and Deng Xiaoping. He was able to convey the Russian culture to American presidents such as Roosevelt, Johnson, Kennedy, Carter and Reagan. All of these politicians quickly came in and out of office. Only Dr. Hammer remained as a bastion of intercultural understanding between both worlds for so many decades.

Every time I must deal with Venezuelan socialist bureaucracy and propaganda, I make an effort to recall Dr. Hammer’s legacy and remind myself how he was able to function in any country. It is possible to do business in any political system, even though it is hard and details must be considered ad infinitum. His legacy of international understanding and free enterprise must be kept alive against all odds.

Rubén Rivero Capriles


Sobre el legado del Dr. Armand Hammer

Tengo razones personales poderosas para sentirme endeudado con la memoria del doctor Armand Hammer, quien hizo posible la creación del Colegio del Mundo Unido en Montezuma, Nuevo México, donde tuve el privilegio de concluir el Bachillerato Internacional gracias a una generosa beca de dicha institución.

Su legado hoy en día merece une seria revisión en estos tiempos de pugna entre el comunismo, el socialismo y el capitalismo. El Dr. Armand Hammer fue a Rusia durante el verano de 1921 con el objetivo de realizar trabajos para paliar el hambre en los Montes Urales. Al observar la hambruna de los enfermos por la epidemia de tifus, la contrastó con los recursos naturales sin explotar y las fábricas zaristas todavía en relativamente buen estado, y tuvo la idea empresarial de enviar un cargamento de granos valorado en un millón de dólares a través de sus oficinas en Nueva York, bajo condición de que el buque regresase con una cantidad equivalente de pieles, caviar y otros productos. Lenin, para entonces el hombre más poderoso del mundo, convocó al Dr. Hammer por medio de una conversación telegráfica para regresar a Moscú y le ofreció una concesión de asbestos. En ese período Lenin comenzaba el proceso de reversar cuatro años de comunismo debido a su obvio fracaso y replanteaba un retroceso hacia el socialismo de estado, por lo que invitó al Dr. Hammer a crear riquezas para el pueblo ruso con un margen de ganancia. La ayuda de Trotsky también fue invalorable. En 1923 Lenin falleció y fue reemplazado por Stalin, quien eventualmente exilió a Trotsky y rápidamente comenzó a crear el estado de terror e ineficiencia que caracterizó a la URSS por buena parte del resto del siglo XX. El Dr. Armand Hammer permaneció en Moscú hasta 1929 hasta percibir que evidentemente sus oportunidades de negocio habían caducado. Durante esos años finales él logró instalar una fábrica de lápices desde cero y fue felicitado por variadas autoridades soviéticas, ya que permitió a los rusos producir sus lápices a una fracción del costo de sus importaciones previas.

Luego de una breve residencia en París, vivió el resto de su larga vida en Nueva York y por último en Los Ángeles, donde tomó el control de la prácticamente quebrada Corporación Petrolera Occidental y la transformó en la próspera multinacional que es hoy en día, teniendo para ello que lidiar con personajes tales como Ghadaffi, el Shah y Trujillo. Sería redundante enumerar aquí sus éxitos empresariales en esa sociedad capitalista que comprendió tan bien; sin embargo cabe destacar que asumió el rol de ser un puente extraordinario entre Oriente y Occidente en sus años postreros. El Presidente Kennedy pidió al Dr. Hammer en 1961 regresar a Moscú para explorar nuevos caminos de entendimiento. Con el asombro de los diplomáticos acreditados en la Embajada Americana, el Dr. Hammer fue recibido con honores primero por el Primer Ministro Encargado Mikoyan y luego por el Secretario General Khrushchev. Él se sorprendió al percatarse durante sus conversaciones con ellos que volvieron a colación los asuntos discutidos con Lenin tales como: comercio exterior, las virtudes del capitalismo, las deficiencias de la burocracia, y el anhelo que algún día el capitalismo y el socialismo se conjugasen con lo mejor de ambos mundos. El Dr. Hammer resultó ser la voz confiable y extraoficial que pudo libremente hablar, comprender y ser comprendida por una sucesión de líderes rusos y chinos tales como Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev y Deng Xiaoping. Él fue capaz de traducir la cultura rusa para los presidentes americanos, principalmente Roosevelt, Johnson, Kennedy, Carter y Reagan. Todos estos políticos rápidamente entraron y salieron del cargo. Únicamente el Dr. Armand Hammer se mantuvo como un bastión de entendimiento intercultural entre ambos mundos por tantas décadas.

Cada vez que me toca soportar la burocracia y propaganda socialistas venezolanas, hago un esfuerzo por retomar el legado del Dr. Hammer y me acuerdo de cómo él pudo funcionar en cualquier país. Sí es posible hacer negocios en cualquier sistema político, aún cuando la tarea es ardua y los detalles deben ser considerados ad infinitum. Su legado de entendimiento internacional debe mantenerse vivo en contra de todos los pronósticos.

Rubén Rivero Capriles

Sarah Palin's innovations: further sanctions ! / Las innovaciones de Sarah Palin: ¡más sanciones!

Sarah Palin's innovations: further sanctions!

I am outragred.

Sarah Palin just proposed imposing sanctions to Venezuela.

Why do I, my family or friends have to endure sanctions? Who is she to decide on my economic welfare? Many of my people are used to go and come back and forth to the U.S. because it is virtually a border country. There are about ten daily flights to Miami. It is our neighbor. It is absolute nonsense to start thinking of a war.

Chávez is so scared that his people will lose by a wide margin on the upcoming November local elections that he is exaggerating his anti-US rhetoric. And are McCain and Palin so naive as to fall into his game? Chávez is so narcissistic that his wildest dream is to have his countrymen give their blood for a war on socialism against the empire.

Please, U.S. citizens, most of you have been friends of most Venezuelans for more than two hundred years, please do not fall on this trap.

Obama may have his shortcomings, but at least he is willing to listen to everyone. He is willing to listen to capitalists and communists.

Excuse me if I am endorsing a candidate of an election of a country of which I am not a citizen. But clearly this mentioning of sanctions activated all my mechanisms of self-defense and self-interest.

And above all, it would be so sad that a McCain presidency gives Chavez the pleasure of some sanctions he secretly wishes, because he wants the Venezuelan people to be poor and oppressed so that he can mould our thoughts easier than ever before.

I appreciate your deepest thoughts and considerations to this reality of the rest of the world being fed up with the current, specific style of US government.

Rubén Rivero Capriles


Las innovaciones de Sarah Palin: ¡más sanciones!

Sarah Palin acaba de proponer la imposición de sanciones hacia Venezuela.

¿Por qué razón mis amigos, mi familia o yo tenemos que soportar esas sanciones? ¿Quién es ella para decidir acerca de nuestro bienestar económico? Mucha de mi gente está acostumbrada a viajar y regresar de los Estados Unidos porque para nosotros es un país casi fronterizo. Es nuestro vecino. No tiene ningún sentido el pensar en empezar una guerra.

El Presidente Chávez teme que sus candidatos pierdan por un amplio margen en las próximas elecciones de noviembre, por lo que recurre a la exponencialidad de su retórica anti norteamericana. ¿Son McCain y Palin tan ilusos como para caer en ese juego? El nerviosismo de Chávez es tal que su sueño es percibido como el poder ofrecer la sangre de su pueblo durante una hipotética guerra entre el socialismo contra el imperio.

Por favor, ciudadanos norteamericanos, la mayoría de ustedes han sido amigos de la mayoría de los venezolanos por más de dos siglos. Por favor no caigan en esta trampa.

Obama podrá tener sus defectos, pero al menos está dispuesto a escucharnos a todos, tanto a los socialistas como a los capitalistas.

Pido excusas si estoy apoyando a un candidato particular en las elecciones de un país del cual yo no soy ciudadano. Pero claramente la mención por parte de la Gobernadora Palin acerca de posibles sanciones hacia Venezuela ha activado todos mis mecanismos de autodefensa y supervivencia.

Sobre todo, sería triste que una presidencia de McCain y/o Palin otorgase a oportunistas interesados en el gobierno el placer de que nos impongan las sanciones que parecieran desearse en secreto, para que el pueblo venezolano se empobrezca y pueda ser oprimido, con nuestros pensamientos moldeados según la voluntad de los presidentes de cualquiera de los dos países.

Les agradezco sinceramente sus más profundos pensamientos y consideraciones acerca de la realidad del resto del mundo que ya está obstinado del actual estilo de gobierno en los Estados Unidos.

Rubén Rivero Capriles


Freedom vs self-censorship / Libertad vs. autocensura

This is the first time in my life I write a blog. I have so much to share that a healthy dose of self-censorship must be ensured, right now, as there are rules of etiquette. There are people who will be offended. There are ideas that those in power do not want me to express. There are social issues that must be respected, especially by a first timer. It is ironic how afraid I am to really speak my mind.

I am a Mathematician, a speaker of Spanish, English, French, a writer, a painter, an administrator, an actor. I am also many other obscure things that self-censorship, again, prevents me from disclosing here today. I am too white, too French for being Venezuelan, my culture is too North American for the French, and of course I am a Hispanic in the USA. Perhaps that is why I love Montréal so much, somehow I have always felt home the few times I've been there! I am too much a product of globalization to feel any longer exclusively as a citizen of a nation state whose borders were imposed before we were all born.

When I was in college in the U.S., I never understood how could I get a speeding ticket for driving at 56 miles per hour. I never understood why I had to invent a fake ID to buy a beer. I also didn't understand why the college authorities intervened the campus telephone systems so that I had to call my family back to Venezuela thru some their chosen long distance service instead of the cheaper, more reliable AT&T. Back in Venezuela, complaints are of another nature: two years waiting for my passport to be issued, having to ask permission to the government for my yearly US$400 allowance for internet credit card purchases... and so on.

This is the twenty-first century. I am full of youth, health, hope and ideas. They are not quite organized yet, but there are ninety-one years left to arrange that! This forum is about freedom, so the next natural step will be to analyze how to derail that self-censorship in an orderly way. Big Brother in capitalist and socialist countries has made sure that this writer, and most other writers, are not too sure on what to do with our freedom. Let us find that out. In the mean time I can go back to the essence of essay writing, Monsieur Montaigne. Les essais de Montaigne. He wrote so freely about so many topics, with such a concise style, that he is worth a second reading. In these times of hyper-specialization, when one must refer to experts into every single little field, I feel the need to consult a source universal enough to put a broad world view back into perspective.


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Esta es la primera vez que escribo un blog. Tengo tanto para compartir que debo asegurar una dosis saludable de autocensura, ahora mismo, ya que existen reglas de etiqueta. Hay gente que quedará ofendida. Existen ideas que aquellos que están en el poder no quieren que yo exprese. Hay también asuntos sociales que deben ser respetados, especialmente por ser éste mi primer blog. Es irónico lo asustado que estoy de realmente poderme expresar.

Soy matemático, me expreso en varios idiomas, soy escritor, pintor y administrador. También oculto varios asuntos oscuros que por autocensura, nuevamente, me niego a decir aquí hoy. Soy demasiado blanco y francés para ser venezolano, mi cultura es demasiado norteamericana para los franceses, y por supuesto soy un hispano en los Estados Unidos. Quizás debido a ello es que me gusta tanto Montreal. De algún modo siempre me he sentido en casa las veces que he llegado hasta allá. Soy un producto neto de la globalización y ya no me siento exclusivamente como el ciudadano de una nación cuyas fronteras le fueron impuestas antes que cada uno de nosotros naciera.

Cuando estaba en la universidad en los Estados Unidos, nunca entendí como podía tener una multa por conducir a un exceso de velocidad de 56 millas por hora. Nunca entendí por qué tenía que falsificar una identificación para comprar una cerveza. Tampoco entendí por qué las autoridades colegiales intervinieron los sistemas telefónicos del campus para que yo debiera llamar a mi familia en Venezuela a través de su compañía contratista de telefonía de larga distancia, en lugar de mi preferida y más barata AT&T. De regreso a casa, las quejas eran de otra naturaleza: dos años esperando por mi pasaporte que todavía no ha sido emitido, tener que pedir permiso al gobierno por el cupo de control cambiario por US$400 para compras por internet, y así sucesivamente.

Estamos en el siglo XXI. Estoy lleno de juventud, salud, esperanza e ideas. Estas últimas aún no están tan organizadas, pero todavía quedan noventa y un años para mejorar ese aspecto. Este blog es sobre la libertad, por lo que el próximo paso natural sería analizar cómo ir erradicando esa autocensura de una manera ordenada. Los Gobiernos en regímenes capitalistas y comunistas se han asegurado que este cronista, como muchos otros, no estén muy seguros de qué hacer con nuestra libertad. Tratemos de dilucidarlo. Mientras tanto volveré a la esencia de la escritura de los ensayos, como nos enseñó en el siglo XVII el maestro Montaigne, quien escribió tan libremente sobre tantos temas, con un estilo tan conciso, que merece una segunda lectura. En estos tiempos en que reina la superespecialización, cuando debemos referirnos a expertos para el campo menos relevante, considero necesario consultar una fuente lo suficientemente universal como para que conlleve una visión mundial amplia de nuevo en perspectiva.