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Thursday, January 31, 2008

This Blog

This blog will be undergoing considerable re-design in the coming weeks. I am starting to switch some of my very considerable corporate internal blogging efforts to my public blog. Internally I have posted for years, and this external blog was a minor concern. You will also see a change in tone. Previously posts were mainly republishing some few internal posts.

I will be retiring at the end of February. If you have any thoughts about this blog, or would like to talk to me about Web 2.0 and related efforts, do let me know, my linkedIn profile.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Productive Nanosystems

Foresight Nanotech Institute and Battelle Unveil a Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems
Menlo Park, CA --January 29, 2008 - The potential for nanotechnology to "build molecule-by-molecule" has been greatly discussed with one question invariably being asked: How do we get from here to there? Foresight Nanotech Institute, a leading nanotechnology think tank and public interest organization, and Battelle, a leading global research and development organization, have officially unveiled "Productive Nanosystems: A Technology Roadmap." Productive nanosystems are molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured ... "

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Original Swiffer Channel

A bit behind, I just discovered the Original Swiffer Channel, a Youtube video contest. Clever, though complicated and too much fine print. 186K + hits, mixed comments. Still under way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Minds on Fire

Richard Adler of IFTF writes through Future Commons, could have interesting implications for new ways to look at internal training:
" ... An article titled "Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0," that I've co-authored with John Seely Brown is the cover story in the new issue of the EDUCAUSE REVIEW. In the article, we argue that the biggest impact of technology on education will come from the ability of Web 2.0 to support "social learning" rather than simply providing access to open courseware. We point to the online communities that support open source software as paradigms for social learning through a process of initiation and education that we call "legitimate peripheral participation." ... '

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Intelligent Foam on Store Shelves

The basic idea has been around for a while, but retailers in general are not interested in the added infrastructure costs, also an issue with advanced methods, like product tagging.
"Intelligent foam could keep shop shelves stacked A grid of many individual sensor "cells" can detect products on a shelf (Image: Applied Physics Letters) ... Store shelves that know when they need restocking are one of many potential applications for a novel sensing foam developed by researchers in Europe.

Shelves fitted with a thin layer of the foam can tell when products are out of stock, allowing a store to automatically monitor supply. And the foam could give other objects and surfaces sensing abilities, the researchers say ... "
Technical reference.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Internet is Down, Now What?

May make me sound like a luddite, but this case has to be considered. Crucial systems depend on it so much, how exactly would we react to a major failure of the network? Where is the backup? Computerworld discusses.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Measuring Public Relationships

I have had a few conversations with Katie Paine of KDPaine and Partners, sharp lady. She has a new book out: Measuring Public Relationships, The Data-Driven Communicator's Guide to Success, which has a blog here. Have not read the book yet, but plan to. " .. Paine takes a "cookbook" approach, providing specific steps to measure all forms of public relationships, from social media measurement to tracking relationships with local communities, industry analysts and social networks ... "

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Transit Maps of the World

Transit Maps of the World by Mark Ovenden is a remarkable book. It includes some of the history and all of the graphic maps for all of the world's city transit systems. On the history I have read a history of the London Tube that was better, but that's not what this book is about. I am a big buff of rail transport, always try to make time to seek out all kinds of rail travel, and have ridden on quite a few of the systems described. I found myself tracking old routes I had taken in Brussels and Washington DC. And of course this is mostly about the graphical design aspects of the route maps. The sheer numbing complexity of Tokyo's map, the simplicity of London and Boston's, and the number of historical attempts to express connectedness in an easy to browse way for the newcomer. I never did figure out the Tokyo system, what you need there is some sort of underground GPS capability, would not be surprised if it existed already. Or would also help if you grew up there. Excellent book for examples of graphic instruction design and railway buffs. An easy book to scan as well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Social Networks for Focus Groups

Fairly obvious, good examples in this space, in WSJ:
The New Focus Groups: Online Networks
Proprietary Panels Help Consumer Companies When Del Monte Foods was considering a new breakfast treat for dogs, it sent out a note to an online community of dog owners asking them what they most wanted to feed their pets in the morning. The consensus answer was something with a bacon-and-egg taste ... The online community, called "I Love My Dog," isn't some random chat room or yet another Web site for dog enthusiasts -- the group was created by Del Monte. Its 400 members were handpicked to join the private network, which the company uses to help create products, test marketing campaigns and stir up buzz.".... '
Del Monte work also covered in a detailed MarketTools case study.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Microsoft and MediaCart

Have followed this basic idea for years, and experimented with a number of implementations in lab and real environments. This space is littered with a half dozen attempts at this same idea. This seems to be better thought-through than many. More.
Microsoft to help food companies run video ads on grocery carts
SEATTLE (AP) -- Microsoft Corp. is bringing digital advertising to the grocery cart. The software maker spent four years working with Plano, Texas-based MediaCart Holdings Inc. on a grocery cart-mounted console that helps shoppers find products in the store, then scan and pay for their items without waiting in the checkout line. Microsoft's acquisition of aQuantive, an online advertising company, last year for $6 billion shored up the company's capacity to serve video ads onto these grocery cart screens ... The system also uses radio-frequency identification to sense where the shopper's cart is in the store. The RFID data can help ShopRite and food makers understand shopping patterns, and the technology can also be used to send certain advertisements to people at certain points -- an ad for 50 cents off Oreos, for example, when a shopper enters the cookie aisle. Microsoft said it is still working on how it will present commercials and coupons.... "

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On the Corporate Blog Council

Paul Gillin summarizes some of the criticism of the Corporate Blog Council, which I have commented on here before. He has some good points, there is some paranoia here from both the corporate and public blogger's view, but it's still worth the effort. Might have been better to make it a lower key effort without press releases.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Roy Amara

Roy Amara, president emeritus of the Institute for the Future, died on December 29. His most notable quote: " ... "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run .... ". He worked with us in the 70s and 80s to establish early forms of their ten year forecast. He was an early supporter of Doug Engelbart, inventor of the mouse. More about Amara.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why IT Will Change

Ed Cone interviews Nick Carr: Why IT Will Change ... The future of computing lies with the utility model, says the controversial author. And the implications may be profound.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Collective Intelligence

I picked up Toby Segaran's new book: Collective Intelligence: Building Smart Web 2.0 Applications. This brings together two of my favorite technical topics: Web 2.0and Artificial Intelligence methods. I like the way he covers a number of Web 2.0 intelligence problems: clustering, matching, searching ... and provides short mostly statistical solutions to them. First I had seen this done, and that is worth reviewing. Most of the solutions are likely not scalable for real problems, but they are useful examples.

He uses Python as the language to program each solution. Which is a fine choice, though I have never done anything serious with it, it looks appropriate. He points out that you don't need to know Python to understand the examples. But you do need to know programming to understand the logic involved. This is not a how-to book for someone without coding experience to implement these methods. Also, for problems of any scale, its probably not a good choice to roll, debug and embed your own algorithms. Method libraries exist, which he mentions, which would be a good choice. Or hire an experienced programming team. Some statistical background is also requisite to judge the appropriateness of the methods.

Despite the issues of practicality of using the solutions as printed, this book brings together algorithms and Web 2.0 in a very instructive way, and for that reason is worth taking a look at. Also, Segaran's blog.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Open Social Graph

Charlene Li, in her Forrester Blog, posts about the Open Social Graph. This problem of how 'open' social networking can be is becoming a contentious issue.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Boomer Use of Online

EMarketer article Don't You Dare Call Them "Old", with useful statistics. Via Susan Walker.

The Near-Term Future of Robots at Home

Have followed the progress of home robotics here for some time. Especially the work by IRobot with their Roomba sweeper and Scooba floor cleaner which were sold for a while at Costco. They have seen some tough times, losing big in the third quarter, but now plan some new ideas. The article linked to below provides some useful hints into their plans. This BW slideshow includes reviews of a number of current robot offerings, for fun and household tasks. Though clever, most of these ideas have only implied autonomy, and still have a way to go.
iRobot: Ready to Clean Up
" ... The Roomba maker says it's readying more robots to do the dirty work of cleaning and the fun work of keeping people connected " We're trying to focus on the chief household officer vs. early adopters, or people who are fascinated by robot technology. We're positioning Roomba as a durable appliance that will give you freedom to do more of what you want to do during the day. As you look at your life inventory, and the amount of time you spend doing things you enjoy vs. those you dislike, we're asking, "How can we show you that robots can give you more freedom in your life?" That messaging, and delivering the goods in the product, is important--that robots aren't things of the future, but very practical today ... "

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Lazlo Letters as CGM

I read the Lazlo Letters in the late 70s. Pete Blackshaw makes the point that these were a first example of consumer generated media (CGM), with the technology of the time, print. The examples it uses are of course, mid to late 70s, (that's 1970s, folks) but they are still largely understandable.