Monday, April 13, 2015

Why We So Afraid of that Cloud?

You'll hear a lot of folks flinging the term around today, some as an epithet, others as a panacea. Cloud computing, or simply The Cloud has come to mean a lot of different things to different people and industries.

Some will tell you that it's a magic elixir that opens a new age of computing and business solutions and makes things possible that never were before. Others will tell you that it's a dangerous trend and that it cedes control of our corporate and cultural data assets to a faceless service provider determined to dissolve our privacy and likely to compromise our proprietary knowledge.

Neither is completely true and we'll see a shift begin from dominance by the latter myth to dominance by the former. If the two camps were tasked with carving up Grandma's best pie, the anti-cloud forces would by far take away most of the delicious calories.

From my observations, and given my opinions about what's possible with The Cloud, it seems that perhaps the division should be canted slightly in the other direction.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Do You Know or Do You Understand

You've been fooled. We have ALL been fooled.

We were brought up in an education model that prizes knowing things.

If you proved in school that you know a thing, you got a gold star.

If you faced a list of ten things and proved that you knew 9 out of 10, we gave you a score and told you that it was good. We told you that if you knew fewer than 7 of the 10 things, you had failed.

The details, and the levels may vary, but don't get wrapped up in fascination about the margin of variance. The principle is, we taught you that knowing stuff was good and not knowing stuff was bad. We taught you that knowing more things made you better, and knowing fewer things made you less valuable.

We created a relationship to knowledge in our culture that prized knowing things as the gold standard, sometimes at the expense of understanding. Certainly, although we have sufficient means to measure understanding of a knowledge domain, we've failed to use those tools consistently, and we definitely missed the opportunity to place the emphasis there.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Location Aware

...some long time ago, I wrote a bit about location aware services but things have changed a lot since then. Gowall has gone-alla, and Foursquare has morphed into Swarm with Foursquare behind it. Instagram, Facebook, Yelp! and Twitter all have strong location-aware tie-ins now, and the game is really just now heating up in the US and abroad.

The importance of this increases as more activity among millennials and Gen-Y flows away from desktops and onto mobile devices. More and more the marketplace is saying, "if you want to talk to us, you need to come out here where we are."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Open Letter to an Old Friend

You used to be "too good to be true!" We loved you and looked forward to hearing from you every time the mailman came down the sidewalk.


We don't blame you for shifting your attention to streaming. Many of us did that too and were glad that you were out in front on that.

But here's the thing:

I won't be renewing my account. You often don't have the movies that I want to see available for streaming. You don't have a way (any more) for me to search to determine whether the movies I want are in your catalog unless I have an active account.

And the recent articles (here, and here) about how your management has somehow decided that because 20% of people don't mind spoilers, and many of the rest of us will (sometimes reluctantly) watch a series even after you deliver a spoiler -- makes me wonder if your decision makers actually studied basic statistics and marketing implications of customer satisfaction during college.

The waters are beginning to be infested with hungry media delivery players, and where Netflix once had a beautiful edge from being an earlier player, it looks instead like you're not getting the clue from the marketplace.  Shape up, or watch the others pass you by!

In the meantime, if you mend your ways, be sure and let me know. I'd love for us to be friends again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Why We So Ignorant?

In just a short visit with Hans and Ola Rosling, it's easy to see why we have so many misconceptions about the world.

If you need proof, just watch as Hans shows how an audience of educated people, a Swedish university population, and even the US and world media score lower than chimpanzees on key questions about the state of conditions in the world.

By the way, hang in there. Ola does provide an answer that shows us how we can stop being so ignorant. With the holidays coming up, you'll want to pay close attention so you can share this insight with old drunken Uncle Jack. He's sure to thank you!


Of course, you can do something about this. That's why the talk exists. Share the word, and if you see your way clear to help, join Ola in supporting the Ignorance Project. You'll find more about it here.

TED Talk: How not to be so ignorant about the world

It's worth the few minutes you'll spend learning about how much we don't know.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Speaking of the Edges



This passage from Kim Stedman's recent rant perfectly sums up something I've been dying to say:

News about important edge case solutions, is not currently being targeted to people who might have it. It is currently broadcast everywhere, all at once, in an  information dissemination  pattern similar to that used by  hormones  (which flood the whole body until the right organ hears them),  radio  (which does that same thing to the air), or TV advertising (which does it to your brain). This is the method society is currently using to distribute this information to the 3 in a thousand people for whom it actually makes a difference. This is a terrible method of communication and wastes everyone’s energy and time.* It is also and massively discrediting.


She's talking about a particular trend in health and nutrition, but the principle applies much more broadly in the marketplace. The principle that spattering a message onto 1000 listeners to find the 3 for whom it's relevant is at the core of mass communication, mostly broadcast.

When we realize that most of the noise being made around us is concerned with the narrow and the extraordinary, we can get down to the real business at hand.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Through with Passwords? Almost.

...if you're like me, you hate passwords with a passion.

They're almost gone from our lives, but it won't happen for some time yet. (Even if it takes another 2 years, that's about a generation and a half in Internet Years.) In the meantime, there is hope!