‘Capital Insights’ with Jack Kern: Technology in Multifamily

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein   In the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test there is a line that says, “…we are all doomed to spend our lives watching a movie of our lives – we are always acting on what has just finished happening.

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein
 
In the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test there is a line that says, “…we are all doomed to spend our lives watching a movie of our lives – we are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t.”

The increasing use of technology in the multifamily arena has become so prevalent it’s hard to believe we can’t survive without Twitter, or Facebook or Friendster or some other GPS enabled service. To have the ability to find an apartment 24 hours a day, everyday and put the selection in the hands of the customer is a real advancement. Despite early reservations about the commoditization of apartments and unified pricing, the industry has reacted well and embraced technology. I find that keeping up with it can be a daunting task. I never knew that I could find a hamburger at two in the morning or that flowers could be ordered the instant you got a break from the argument over, well eating a hamburger with onions at two in the morning.

One of the more interesting applications I’ve seen recently is where you go online and discover your inner-Golden Girl or which now deceased celebrity you most resemble. There are seemingly endless choices to pick from and when I looked at friends’ pages, they were all some recent incarnation of people like John Wayne or Judy Garland or Humphrey Bogart. It occurred to me that as a somewhat skeptical researcher I should take the test just to see what major celebrity I’d be paired with. Imagine the intrigue as I thought about the many adventurers, stars and celebrities that I might be matched against. You can probably then understand my surprise when this is what I got:

Congratulations. You most resemble current living legend Vinko Bogataj. You have the grace of an elephant after a bottle of wine, the finesse of an inebriated monkey and the tactile capacity of an orangutan. Your single most redeeming factor is the ability to park a car between the white lines at the mall, but otherwise you come from the shallow end of the gene pool and can make most use of your considerably limited talents by becoming a blogger. (For those uninitiated, Vinko Bogataj is best known as the guy on the old ABC Wide World of Sports Show as the agony of defeat. He essentially fell down a mountain during a ski race and that clip was used on the air for years on end.)

Another exercise in attention deficit disorder is finding friends on sites so you can link to them. Recently I thought it would be fun to link to an old girlfriend. It turns out, women have really long memories and I’d kind of forgotten about her, her sister and the break-up over it. Getting flamed by an old flame isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. In one click. they can tell the site administrator exactly what they think of you and bam! you are banished from that site for some indeterminate time period.

It’s important not to spam future residents but the practice of evaluating them hasn’t exactly kept pace. In someone’s profile on Facebook or the many copycat derivatives, you can observe quotes, behaviors and choices that would cause the resident acceptability score to fall through the floor. Just imagine how the apartment is going to look after that band of friends shows up for the party. Sometimes too much information is just that.

I’m going to wait a few weeks and try that personality test again. I just always thought of myself as an explorer and maybe next time I’ll be paired with someone really cool, like Maurice Chevalier or Charles Lindburgh, not that guy that used to wash their cars.

(Jack Kern is the Managing Director of Kern Investment Research, Germantown Maryland. You can reach him at 301.601.1900 or JKern@KernIRC.com. He was going to send out tweets on Twitter about his life and adventures, but let’s face it. He’s a research guy and how interesting could that possibly be?)