Very interesting presentation from South by Southwest (SxSW) 2011. He's pretty candid about the longer-term threats embedded in a data-as-a-platform world, but also very interesting rewarding the opportunities for creating businesses out of data streams. For me, it's been worth multiple playings, even though it's almost an hour (but it works fine as background audio).
Beyond tech, I quite liked his general point about "It wasn't that the future [predicted in the 1960s/70s] wasn't magical, it was just sooner and stranger than we think." The crack about "I flew here on an airplane, courtesy of the Wright Brothers, and customer service, courtesy of Darth Vader" is also a keeper.
But the rest is equally worth your attention. Feel free to discuss among yourselves.
AlwaysOn has an interesting entry from Mark Suster:
"Last night I co-hosted a dinner at Soho House in Los Angeles with some of the most senior people in the media industry with executives from Disney, Fox, Warner, media agencies and many promising tech and media startup CEOs. The topic was "the future of television and the digital living room." With all of the knowledge in the room the person who stole the night wasn't even on a panel. I had called on Chamillionaire from the audience and asked him to provide some views on how artists view social media, why they use it and where it's heading. He was riveting."
Really, his insights apply to anyone in new media.
Something interesting from GQ, looking into the cybernetic Wild West:
"f you were desperate and hopeless enough to log on to a suicide chat room in recent years, there was a good chance a mysterious woman named Li Dao would find you, befriend you, and gently urge you to take your own life. And, she'd promise, she would join you in that final journey. But then the bodies started adding up, and the promises didn't. Turned out, Li Dao was something even more sinister than anyone thought."
Ah, but if this is the Wild West, there's bound to be a posse... and therein hangs a tale. Fantastic work by Nadia Labi.
By which, he meant the whole TED format, and the format of his own talk. He goes on to draw parallels between that format, the current education system, and the "mainstream" media's failing model. On which topic, see Belmont Club's post about schools trying to ban laptops in classrooms.
I agreed with this from Jarvis:
"Why shouldn't every university - every school - copy Google's 20% rule, encouraging and enabling creation and experimentation, every student expected to make a book or an opera or an algorithm or a company. Rather than showing our diplomas, shouldn't we show our portfolios of work as a far better expression of our thinking and capability? The school becomes not a factory but an incubator."
He also asks this, and here's where we diverge:
"We must stop our culture of standardized testing and standardized teaching. Fuck the SATs.* In the Google age, what is the point of teaching memorization?"
The question shouldn't be rhetorical, because there really is an answer.
The answer is that in order to fit new information in, it requires a framework. Franeworks do require problem-solving skills, but they are NOT all process. They are ALSO made up of things you know. Indeed, they depend on that, or else the framework collapses. Which means the new isn't integrated, just thrown on the wall. And there, alas, goes the value-add of perspective, and much of one's problem solving capability.
The black belt in martial arts is the beginning of real learning. Getting there takes a certain amount of rote. And of collision with unpredictable real sparring, too, so that the rote is integrated and understood.
Engineers do a lot of rote learning before they go out to apply their problem-solving skills and build bridges. The skills are 2 different sets - but I wouldn't drive over a bridge built by someone who hadn't done both sets.
Which is to say that the current model for schools, like that of newspapers, is not 100% wrong. It may be 40% wrong, or even 70% wrong, but not 100%. There's definitely something to Jeff's 20% Rule suggestion. But ditching common sets of things that educated people should know, in favor of pure process or washed-out curricula, has been tried. It has not gone well, and is not the answer.
Prof. Sam Liles of Purdue focuses on cyber-security and low intensity conflict. Which makes his take on the recent China hacks, and the larger implications of what Google is creating, timely.
In a riff on Google's "Don't be Evil" motto, he titles it "Evil Google: What you don't know just might hurt you." Very thought provoking, even if you know a fair bit about this stuff already.
First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. We are currently in the process of notifying those companies, and we are also working with the relevant U.S. authorities.
Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. Only two Gmail accounts appear to have been accessed, and that activity was limited to account information (such as the date the account was created) and subject line, rather than the content of emails themselves.That's not news. Their reaction is:
Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers.
We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech. In the last two decades, China's economic reform programs and its citizens' entrepreneurial flair have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of poverty. Indeed, this great nation is at the heart of much economic progress and development in the world today.Damn, that feels good.
We launched Google.cn in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that "we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China."
These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
"I'm not sure Google's new Chrome OS announcement is that big a deal, or that the eventual product that gets released will actually have that much impact, but it's a useful milestone in marking Google's evolution towards becoming an older company with a distinctly different culture than they used to have....
Is Google evil? It doesn't matter. They've reached the point of corporate ambition and changing corporate culture that means they're going to be perceived as if they are. Whether they're able to truly internalize that lesson, accept it, and act accordingly will determine if they're able to extend their dominance in the years to come."
Worth pondering, as is his 2007 post about Google's difficulty with Theory of Mind. A fancy term for the kind of understanding which tells you that closing your eyes doesn't turn you invisible (except against the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, of course...).
In March 2008, DID's "Sharpen Yourself: LinkedIn & Social Networking Sites" discussed both the career benefits and the security risks associated with social networking sites. Sir John Sawers, the prospective head of Britain's MI6 intelligence agency is probably wishing he had read it. His wife recently leaked dangerously specific information about him on Facebook, and created a controversy about his fitness for the job. Sir John now faces a possible parliamentary probe.
Despite these setbacks, social networking is becoming a larger part of the military, and the industry. In July 2009, Lockheed Martin released its internal company social networking application's underlying code as open source software. Social networking efforts are being explicitly built into PR contracts, and it's becoming one of the information shifts that are changing the battlespace. The Pentagon recently launched an official blogging platform at DODLive.mil, and US Forces Afghanistan launched a social networking strategy that extends to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Followed by orders to bases to stop blocking key social networking sites.
These efforts can make a big contribution toward ensuring that the Pentagon is no longer, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates puts it, "being out-communicated by a guy in a cave." On the other hand, they are not risk-free.
I suspect most of you have seen this already. If not, do yourselves a favor. Visit this YouTube page, and watch an unemployed, 47 year old spinster walk on a Britain's equivalent of American Idol... and just blow the effing house down.
Thanks to the Internet, this was the viral equivalent of a tsunami. Follow-on TV appearances have been frequent, she may be about to record a duet with her singing idol Elaine Page (who was impressed), and it seems like she won't have to be looking for a job any time, well, ever again. The only shame in all of this is that she's been singing in her village, recording local charity albums (listen to "Cry Me A River" from 1998), rather than being on stage in London's East End for the last 20 or more years. Where she belongs. The good news is, some of the people in her village think that what you just saw on "Britain's Got Talent" wasn't even her best singing. Um, wow.
It's a great story. I love the fact that she sang a stage tune to do it. And I love it that someone with that level of talent was able to walk on, demonstrate it, and let that trump everything else. She didn't win a sympathy vote. She's just that good, and she'll rise as high as her talent lets her. To me, that's what it's all about.
Incidentally, 2007's winner was a guy named Paul Potts, now a multi-millionaire who's touring the world. He was a 41-year old mobile phone salesman, who remembers being beaten up at school every day until he was 18. That was excellent training for his subsequent dissertation on the problem of evil and suffering in a God-created world - and for his life's ambition, which was to become an opera singer....
Listen to his walk-on audition, for an extra treat. My wife, who is an opera fan with a pretty good ear, was very impressed. You will be, too.
Opera. He went out and sang "Nessun Dorma" - and won an "American Idol" equivalent. I love it. He went on to perform before the Queen, of course:
"Well, what did you expect from opera... a happy ending?!?"
Sometimes, even operas have a happy ending. May the best contestant win.
A college professor from the University of California, San Francisco, wrote a $100 check in support of Proposition 8 in August, because he said he supported civil unions for gay couples but did not want to change the traditional definition of marriage. He has received many confrontational e-mail messages, some anonymous, since eightmaps listed his donation and employer. One signed message blasted him for supporting the measure and was copied to a dozen of his colleagues and supervisors at the university, he said.
"I thought what the eightmaps creators did with the information was actually sort of neat," the professor said, who asked that his name not be used to avoid becoming more of a target. "But people who use that site to send out intimidating or harassing messages cross the line."Get used to it, some reply - and widen the net of posting data about potentially controversial positions. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has set up a database of CCW holders in Tennessee.
Joseph Clare, a San Francisco accountant who donated $500 to supporters of Proposition 8, said he had received several e-mail messages accusing him of "donating to hate." Mr. Clare said the site perverts the meaning of disclosure laws that were originally intended to expose large corporate donors who might be seeking to influence big state projects.
"I don’t think the law was designed to identify people for direct feedback to them from others on the other side," Mr. Clare said. "I think it’s been misused."
You'd think that the party with a massively biased media dead-set against it might be the one doing the most innovation in terms of new channels and approaches. You'd be wrong, of course. The GOP leadership still sees the Internet as a cheaper way to send pres releases, with partial research materials sent as a concession to bloggers. I have yet to see anything approaching a party communication and mobilization strategy for the GOP itself, let alone outreach beyond its base or input into the communication and policy process.
Obama led in all these areas, and this MarketingVOX piece talks about their continuation into governance, alongside the immediately-available "change.gov."
Marc's startlingly naive election-period posts re: "McCain should have run a better campaign in the face of a deeply slanted media" missed a point that no veteran of politics should have missed. Candidates don't have alternative channels to leverage - and it's stupid to expect that. Parties might have them, if they build and tend them beforehand. The GOP has been remarkably deficient in that area, despite the clear writing on the wall for over 7 years, as part of a much larger disconnect from its base. While the GOP begins to sort out its leadership problems, therefore, Obama will continue full-speed ahead - building on his existing advantage in case his fawning media sycophants ever decide to start, you know, doing their jobs.
In "The Next Tech Boom is Underway," Greg Ness says it may be something much more prosaic and fundamental than the clean tech startups attracting so much venture capital money these days:
"Until the current network evolves into a more dynamic infrastructure, all bets are off on the payoffs of pretty much every major IT initiative on the horizon today, including cost-cutting measures that would be employed in order to shrink operating costs without shrinking the network.... even with the simple act of managing an enterprise network’s IP addresses, which is critical to the availability and proper functioning of the network, expense and labor requirements actually go up as IP addresses are added. As TCP/IP continues to spread and take productivity to new heights, management costs are already escalating.... If something as simple and straightforward as IP address management doesn’t scale, imagine the impacts of more complex network management tasks, like those involved with consolidation, compliance, security, and virtualization.
....The cloudplex will utilize racks of commodity servers populated with VMs that can scale up as needed in order to save electricity and make IT more flexible. That makes incredibly good sense, but are we really there yet? No.... For the network to be dynamic, for example, it needs continuous, dynamic connectivity at the core network services level. Network, endpoint and application intelligence will all depend upon connectivity intelligence in order to evolve into dynamic, automated systems that don’t require escalating manual intervention in the face of network expansion and rising system and endpoint demands."
The article as a whole goes into more depth concerning these challenges, as well as some potential winners in this race. Is this the next tech boom? And is it really underway?