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Friday, April 30, 2010

Cuddle Hormone

Does the 'Cuddle Hormone' make men more empathetic? And where do such focused solutions end up? " ... "This study is the latest of several that suggest that intranasal oxytocin seems to 'sensitise' people to become more aware of social cues from other individuals - and more likely to be sympathetic to them." .... " . Via the BBC.

How Procter is Luring Back Customers

A WSJ piece about how P&G is luring back customers in tough times.

Augmenting and Virtualizing the World

In Gigantico, a series of videos being produced by Chris Grayson on this topic. The link here points to the first video, which specifically talks about augmented reality. A number of useful case-studies, in particular applications of AR in eCommerce. Good examples for those interested in virtual retail. Note the examples of the 'virtual makeover', which despite their approaching realism in recent years, have not yet succeeded in general. We tested everal implementations. Some new examples by Fujitsu and Samsung are shown. The first episode on Youtube, gives background and is also worth seeing.

World's Fair Sparks the Future

Wired article on the technology inspirations of the 1939 World's Fair. The WP post is also interesting. Was before my time, but I was inspired by the 1964/1965 Fair, which included a database retrieval demonstration by IBM, whose output device was a card-punch. We have come a long way. This year, the Shanghai Expo 2010.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thank God for Out-of-Stocks

I was at a training meeting at a major manufacturer this week that emphasized retail design to decrease out of stocks. Herb Sorensen sees it differently.

Enormous Promise of Location

Good piece in GigaOm, on the enormous promise of location. Good as an introductory piece to forward. I have been involved in a number of mapping, Geographical and tracking systems in industry over the years. And yes, it is right now when all the stars are aligned and the software is good, mashable and ubiquitous. Add that to that it has all become mobile. This is the time to create some very interesting new things.

ZapThink on KYield

I mention Kyield again, with which I am involved. The IT consulting firm Zapthink just did an overview of Kyield. Mark Montgomery, CEO of Kyield gives a detailed and insightful response.

Consumer Loyalty with Foursquare

In the NYT, comments from FMI, another example of location-based loyalty: " ... Companies including PepsiCo and Starbucks are using the location-based Foursquare network to reward customer loyalty. The network gives companies live notification of when customers are close to retail locations, so it can lure them with tailored offers ... "

Checking in to Objects

I have mentioned the concept before, 'checking in' to objects rather than locations. Adage mentions it in a recent post. The Stickybits App is one of the first applications of this for mobile and worth taking a look at. Can change the notion of loyalty to items in the store, rather than location, and from the retailer to the manufacturer. It then moves an aspect of control to the manufacturer. The response of the retailer should be interesting. I agree with some of the commenters, we need to examine the incentive of the shopper to do this for many products.

Smell Sensors

The idea is not new, creating a smell profile and using sensors to find it. Some new directions.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Analytics Strategy Paper from Clario

I have mentioned Clario in this space several times and have done some simple tests, they have published a new White paper on Analytics integration, short but useful.

" ... Developing a strategy for integrating analytics into your decision making process is critical to the success of your business. This new whitepaper from Clario® Analytics President Randy Erdhal discusses common hurdles facing companies implementing an analytics strategy, how technological advances have addressed these hurdles, and guidance to facilitate the introduction of analytics into your company ... ' .

Download the white paper from here. Also, they have an upcoming webinar on May 5, send them a request for more information.

The Power of Play

An upcoming conference on using game play for serious ends. In September 2010, Created by Thought Bank LLC. They are looking for sponsors.

The Power of Play.... The evolution of games and their growing impact on business and social communities ... Does game "play" represent an opportunity for businesses with such things as collaboration, innovation and work tools or does it represent a considerable challenge? “Are we ready to share work with "play"? ... . Contact Natalie L. Wood

Internet Addiction Study

Students suffering from Internet addiction.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BHG Innovation Center

I have not covered this topic for some time. We visited retailer Beijing Hualian in 2000 to help with the early consulting for the Chinese Retailer's innovation Center. Word is that it will be officially opened this summer. Here are some general details, some inspired by our own innovation centers.

Some Knowledge is not Bulletizable

Another piece akin to Tufte's view of Powerpoint. My view of Powerpoint has softened over the years, but using it for everything can be mind-numbing.

Life as a Healthcare CIO

Mark Montgomery of Kyield recommends this post in the blog: Life as a Healthcare CIO.

B2B Accepts Social Networking

A fairly obvious conclusion based on just cursory observation online, In ECommerce Times: " ... B2B organizations have largely accepted online social media technologies as useful marketing tools, and they're working to adopt the best practices of their B2C peers... "

Monday, April 26, 2010

Boot Camp Digital

Lots of good things in the Boot Camp Digital Blog by Krista Neher. Including audience measurement, social media strategies, marketing your business on Facebook, social media tips and tricks and much more. You can get a free introductory consultation. Or join their excellent mailing list from their home page.

The Edge on The Ash Cloud

An Edge Special on how decision makers acted in response to the transportation crisis caused by the Icelandic ash cloud. A very good interpretation by a number of analysts. Implications for decision makers. In past years I have flown over Iceland and seen eruptions from the sea and always wondered about the consequences.

Collective Pleasure

The Engine Group posts on: Individual Choice Doesn't Take Away Collective Pleasure.

Too Much Online Training?

This short piece questions the over-use of online training. I was involved with an analysis of face-to-face vs online methods and in-person was clearly better. Yes, it depends much on the quality of both, the difference in cost is clear, the format is important. Still the importance of the topic and the real social engagement value should be considered.

New Findings on Blog Readership

There have been a number of reports that both blog reading and writing have decreased among younger age groups. Twitter and other social media largely being blamed. Some contradictory results reported.

Stephen Hawking and Aliens

I saw the first few episodes of the Stephen Hawking Discovery Channel series on the Universe . One of the things he has received much publicity about is his advice not to talk to aliens. I have an academic background and still strong interest in astrophysics. Watching this series provides an introduction to the implications of recent, and not so recent, discoveries in astrophysics.

Overall well done. He provided a good view into the paradoxes of time travel and the potential of using relativistic physics to solve at least the problem of future time travel. He is less clear about the huge difficulties behind any of the solutions he proposes. Difficulties of distances to be traveled and energy required. This reminded me of Sagan's series, which positioned the enormity of the universe, yet Hawking is more engineering minded and less spiritual. Some of the individual pieces are available on the Discovery Channel site.

The animation was quite good, though I worry about separation between visualizations of what are actually supported findings and broad clever generalizations. Worth seeing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Religion and the Brain

In Mind Hacks, a short description and links to new fmri study of religion and the brain. You may recall that Martin Lindstrom also included a set of studies based on his analyses of the biometrics of religious leaders in his book: Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy, recently re-released in paperback with some additional material.

I had the opportunity to talk to Lindstrom about this study. He outlined the particularly interesting and unique aspects of this study and agreed that much more had to be done in this arena. Understanding the universal neural aspects of human spirituality deserves much more work and ultimate understanding. As might be expected for a marketing futurist he is particularly interested in how these learnings might influence product marketing and context.

Addressing Innovation and Productivity

I have mentioned KYield a number of times here. Here an overview of what they are about. I am on their advisory board.

Semantic Solution for Challenges Facing Modern Organizations

Kyield is a semantic enterprise system designed to substantially improve innovation and productivity throughout the organization while reducing human-caused crises. The system is based on a solid systems approach that emerged from over a decade of applied R&D in a pioneering incubator and lab.

The Kyield system accommodates all common file types, including email, documents, and multi-media presentations. By employing descriptor 'wrappers' with embedded intelligence, the system enables improvements throughout the digital work environment, representing a revolutionary leap over incremental innovation offered by previous generations of enterprise software.... '

TIBCO Spotfire 3.1

I see that the new version of Spotfire has increased emphasis on predictive analytics.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How Brands Grow: The Book

Correspondent Byron Sharp, Professor at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, University of South Australia, has a new book: How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know. Here is the book's web site. I have mentioned the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute's work in this blog a number of times.

I have not read the book yet, but will when I get a copy and report back here, here is one testimonial:

"all marketers need to read this book...or be left hopelessly behind"
- Joseph Tripodi, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, Coca-Cola Company.


Ham Radio Still Growing

To my surprise, in Slashdot, report on the growth of Ham radio. It doesn't require connectivity and in disasters, providing there is a power source, will still work.

Simplicity in Packaging

A look at why complex times need simpler packaging.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cognitive Neuroscience Tapes

A number of interviews with neuroscientists as shown on the Charlie Rose show are now online, an overview is posted at the Mindhacks Site. I have happened to see only one of these, but they appear to be a good introduction to modern brain science for the thinking person.

The Tesco as a New Measure

In the BBC News: UK retailer positions the Tesco as a new unit of measure.

How Google and Facebook are Using R

The techniques described are not new, but very much worthwhile for anyone hoping to do predictive analytics. I have just been re-introduced to the language with the online book: R in Action, by Robert I. Kabacoff. Excellent introductory book on the topic.

Autonomous Display Concept

What seems like an outrageous new concept: What's next after a flat display? Something completely different:

" ... Designer Julia Tsao presented a seemingly outlandish yet provocative idea for a futuristic display at this week’s Emerging Communications conference.

The project, called Curious Displays, does away with fixed form factor convention and is instead made up of hundreds of half inch autonomous blocks programmed with swarm intelligence ... "

Delta: An Unworkable Consumer Model

Doug Lautzenheiser posts about a recent experience he had with up-charges by Delta Airlines. I have now flown out of Cincinnati for thirty-three years. Traveling all over the globe with them or affiliates. After I retired I was immediately downgraded because I did less traveling, after having posted only somewhat less than the million miles required to keep my frequent flyer credentials. Now in the past few years they have begun to systematically charge for any kind of change of itinerary, sometimes absurdly so. Doug provides a good example in his post. Delta ... from here on I will make every effort to not use your services, and will talk this up at every opportunity. Screwing your best thirty year customers is not a sustainable model. Find another.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Thought Bank

Just brought to my attention via Steve King: The Thought Bank:

' ... Our mission is to help companies become more effective thought leaders and increase their visibility and client engagement in the world as corporate social citizens. As the business world dynamically changes, thought leadership is playing a greater role in how many of these changes are taking place. People are becoming a part of the new era of brand development. Many product focused brands are also now transitioning to people focused brands through social media, communities and increasingly through thought leadership. People represent how a product and company are perceived by their customers and the market at large. A company's credibility, market reach, standards of conduct and recognition are affected by the value and brand of their people. Thought leadership is the new marketing platform for people and the companies they represent ... '

More to Networking than Social Networking

Social networking has taken off in many forms over the past few years. It works in the sense that connections that were difficult in the past can now be made and nurtured. Yet it is inefficient thing, where you have to wade through many other things to get to the items of value. RedWriteWeb points out that networking is beyond just social networks. Worth remembering.

Hyper Realism

Intriguing Wired report on a new faster graphics methodology that directly utilizes voxels, the 3D equivalent of pixels. Look forward to the possibilities for their applications in understanding complex data.

Total Engagement via Games

Although published late last year, this book was recently brought to my attention: Total Engagement: Using Games and Virtual Worlds to Change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete by Byron Reeves and J. Leighton. The book's site is here, and there are also a number of book excerpts. The Amazon site also has a 'look inside' link.

Serious Games have been a long-time interest of mine. Have been reading Total Engagement for several days now in a borrowed North Georgia mountain cabin. (Thanks Sammy). Think about any job as a game, often a very badly designed game. If it were designed to be engaging, collaborative and very efficient at its goal (say making money or helping people) it could not only do a better job at its goal, but also engage, entertain and make the people working at the 'job' happier. Its funny, but there are many examples of engaging multi-player games that are played by millions of people world-wide. Why not use them for real jobs?

There is a real gem of value in this book. I know lots of people that may see any games as non-serious by definition, but it is exactly that assumption that keeps us from solving many problems efficiently.

The authors include a number of examples of potential serious games from their interviews with companies, including my former enterprise, which did have a reputation for being less creative in this regard. There are corporate problems that games might solve, as one chapter suggests. It is still not an easy thing to do, but this book outlines how to start. Bravo ... this books lays out the direction for any company to use games as a problem-solving tool.

We connected with Byron Reeves at Stanford a number of times and reviewed his Seriosity work, which also has a blog. And is active on Twitter. Some of Byron Reeves ideas were also inspirational for our early online consumer advisory work. Also see the Serious Games Twitter Stream.

I will continue to follow up with additional thoughts derived from this book.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Visa to Buy Cybersource

In StorefrontBacktalk: Visa buys more than a security company for 2 billion. Comments on its being more than just a security company play. See also Cybersource's press release, which positions the purchase as speeding up eCommerce.

Do Your Knowledge Workers Have a Bitsmith?

In HBR: The concept of a bitsmith for knowledge workers. An area of particular interest to me of late:

" ... Along with my colleagues Jeff Hesse and Terry Holliday, I have been trying to understand what makes some teams of knowledge workers more productive than others. In particular, we have focused on people who work in firms that create lots of value as measured by earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation (EBITDA) per employee.

In our work so far, we've discovered the primary difference in how they do work is that they have the power to shape their work environment — which means that they can customize, upgrade, and even create new information technology to propel their productivity ... "

Ensuring Clean, Consistent Data

A TDWI / SAS Paper on ensuring clean, consistent data. I have just been involved in a project where this could have saved us much money and time. Read it.

Seeking the Brain's True Capacity

A short article in New Scientist. In computing we have precise measures of how much storage exists. In the brain, neither the method of storage nor how much room the brain has is clear. People who learn to recite very long number strings give us only hints at what we know or can know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Brain Lies Also

Very good video of a talk by Neuroeconomics researcher Drazen Prelec at MIT. ' ... A pioneer in a “dangerously hot research area ... '. Three cases are studied.

The Arrow of Time

Ever wonder what the meaning of time is? A wonderful set of Ted lectures by Sean Carroll on the arrow of time. Mind-bending. Via Delaine Hampton.

Librarians in the Information Age

A few days back I posted about the US Library of Congress saving all Tweets. I just came upon a book: This Book is Overdue ... by Marilyn Johnson. Which covers lots of related issues. She reminded me of the loss of the content in the first e-mail, sent in 1964.

I am a library enthusiast, and have worked with libraries dealing with the goal of getting enterprises to use and support their services. Johnson's book is good, covering many of the changes in the role of public information specialist in recent years. She does over simplify some of the changes and directions and grabs onto some current and likely short-lived methods. Her view of librarian as activist and determiner of truth can also exceed its scope. Still, a good book, worth reading for anyone interested in libraries, librarians and their future.

Lego and Adidas with Augmented Reality Packaging

An interesting example of Lego using extended packaging to excite potential buyers, partnering with Metaio, see also, related work with Adidas.

'LEGO Group Brings its Augmented Reality Boxes to All Its Stores Worldwide
After a very successful evaluation phase of the "DIGITAL BOX" in selected stores, the Danish toy manufacturer is working with metaio to roll out the AR boxes to all LEGOr brand stores worldwide ... '

Monday, April 19, 2010

God as a Mathematician

Herman Wouk on God as a mathematician. Is it, as Wouk suggests: The Language God Talks ... "? . More on writer Herman Wouk.

Low Cost Winners

In Harvard Business: The Secret Sauce of Low Cost Winners. " ... it is a culture that is "proud to be cheap" in good times and bad. Their people cut erasers in half, turn off the lights when they leave the building, bring their lunch to work, fly in the back of the bus, and stay in Day's Inns. More important, they are always on the alert for ways do things on the job more cheaply, without compromising quality and service standards. Nothing is wasted, nothing is redundant, and nothing is overlooked when it comes to doing it on the cheap ... "

Data Singularity

On the Data Singularity
by Michael E. Driscoll
"... In a nutshell, the Data Singularity is this: humans are being spliced out of the data-driven processes around us, and frequently we aren’t even at the terminal node of action. International cargo shipments, high-frequency stock trades, and genetic diagnoses are all made without us. Absent humans, these data and decision loops have far less friction; they become constrained only by the costs of bandwidth, computation, and storage– all of which are dropping exponentially ... "
Via Michael Cristiani

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flowing Data

Newly discovered company. Note the emphasis on letting experts discover hidden patterns. That's useful, but I think it better to let experts and less-than-expert people with new ideas also work with the data. Not crowd sourcing, but value sourcing.

Flowing Media: Your Data Has Something to Say
Interactive graphics that engage a mass audience. Realtime displays of social media streams. Visualizations that let experts find hidden patterns. Let your data do the talking ... '

Data Everywhere

Economist article on the superabundance of data. The value and the complexity it produces. New techniques, hardware and pushing the manipulation of this data down from the high end analysts to the end users is crucial.

Power Aware Computing

From the CACM:
Recipe for Efficiency: Principles of Power-Aware Computing
Prior work on power management reflects recurring themes that can be leveraged to make future systems more energy efficient ...

4 Block World on Computing

In the whimsical four block world: Computers getting cheaper an better.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Big Japan Offers Smartphone Bar Code Scanner

I am informed that Big Japan is offering a free software developer kit (SDK) for their smartphone bar code scanner. Much more here. A number of Apps including ShopSavvy use their SDK today. See my recent review of barcode scanning systems.

Medical Lab on a Chip for the Home

The idea of having a medical testing chip in every home reminds me of a number of ideas floated for a biometric toilet, presented by a number of Japanese firms in the 1990s.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ning Fails at Free

We looked at the free social networking service Ning, created by Marc Andreesen. Now it has gone to a pay service, though users can migrate to alternative networks. An instructive example where the free economic model did not work.

Business Intelligence in the Home

From the Spotfire blogging team. The number of devices in the home that now have an IP address. You are not alone. The implications? The new forms of data? Good blog to follow.

Blogs Making a Small Business Grow

Walter Riker in Ease of Blogging points to a recent article on using blogs to make a small business grow. He continues to write well on bogging topics. Add it to your feed. Keep it up Walter.

Library of Congress to Archive Tweets

The US Library of Congress has announced that it will archive all public tweets. See more in it's blog. To be mine-able, for ever and ever, all your mundane thoughts. I had been starting to think that Twitter's attraction was that it was all throw-away. Maybe not.

" ... That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions ... "

Update and repost: I received quite a few emails regarding this message, and it has seen lots of other comment on the Web. It is good to also mention the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, which does a similar thing for the whole Web. I have used it for several research topics and it is worth understanding as to it's contribution to the permanency of the Internet record.

Open Source

E-Commerce Times on the benefits of Open Source. Good introduction.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Google Buzz Update

Good Adage Media article which updates Google Buzz. Includes excellent stats on Buzz usage versus Twitter, Facebook, Wave and Myspace. The stats show that it barely alive and there is evidence that Google is doing little to advance it as yet. Read this if you are interested, some useful observations.

Parallel Mathematica

Writing parallel programs to take advantage of new multicore processors is seen as a very esoteric thing. Jeff Todd of Wolfram Research just sent me a more information about how it can be done with Mathematica 7. In particular I like their mention of higher speed simulation, which can be used for predictive analyses. Note also the ability to scale up to more processors.

' .. With Mathematica 7, you can now write compact parallel programs for any multicore machine, and greatly increase the speed of specific database queries, financial applications, Monte Carlo simulations, image generation, and much more. Built-in features allow you to instantly scale programs up to larger systems, such as a collection of office computers or a dedicated cluster with hundreds of cores ... '

See their video which supplies examples.

Mobile Location in Retail

Treosystems is a company that we worked with in our innovation centers. A leader in the accurate gathering and delivery of product location and wayfinding in retail. They have been using kiosk based solutions for years in thousands of locations. Now they are going mobile:

" ... TreoSystems announced today its partnership with Flip Pocket, a leading provider of custom mobile applications, to expand its innovative iPAL product locator system as a mobile application for consumers.

TreoSystems delivers item locator and wayfinding solutions to the retail industry designed specifically to help both customers and employees find products faster and easier in large stores. Normally deployed on self-service kiosks in stores, with this announcement shoppers will be able to download the iPAL application directly to a variety of mobile platforms, search for an item in any of the retailer’s stores, and be shown not only the exact location of the item within a particular store but also suggestions for related items they may need. Other pertinent information can also be presented, such as store-specific coupons or promotions, shopping lists, product information and pricing, all designed to enhance each shopper’s store experience .... '

Full press release here.

TweetDive Launched

Of interest, a good practical example of associative memories:

" ... Saffron's launch of Tweetdive, an open-source demo app showing how associative memory technology works. Interestingly, TweetDive uses the world of live Twitter feeds as a data source, and illustrates how the "Experience" (memories) in the data can establish connections, analogies and trends fromTweets about a given subject area ... "

Complete news release.

Traffic Data

Nice visuals in Flowingdata on traffic. Not so much about analysis, but about what the flow of traffic looks like. Augmenting data with color can make insight jump out at you. Inspirational for doing better visuals and allowing people to interact with them.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Buzz Adds Sharing Button

New ways to publish buzz. Have now been using Buzz since its launch. Have been pushing these blog posts and Tweets to it. Works fine among my Google mail correspondents, some of them see my communications show up and they read them. What does not seem to happen is any additional enlargement of the conversation space. That happens via search on Twitter or in blogs. Does not seem to happen in Buzz. Why?

Augmenting City Visits

From the CACM: Augmented Reality Brings Movie Magic to City Visits:

" ... Using a combination of personalized location-based services and augmented reality, in which multimedia content is superimposed and merged with real-time images, a team of European researchers and city authorities has created a device to bring a little movie magic to city visits by tourists, cinema lovers, inquisitive local residents and film professionals.

The device, which resembles a pair of binoculars with an integrated camera and LCD screen, was tested in San Sebastián, Spain, and Venice, Italy, and is continuing to be developed with a view to creating a commercial product. It uses a hybrid tracking system to provide location-based information, and cities' wireless communications networks to download and share multimedia content ... '

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interactive Data Graphics in Media

Elissa Pellizzon Fink of Tableau Software wrote to me about this example of showing embedded complex interactive graphics online, via Tableau:

"We have a new product that is more of an online media product. It lets the operator of a big website insert interactive data visualizations all over the place. The visualizations drive web traffic and dwell time and other online business goals. It’s all hosted by us. It’s sold as a subscription. Here is an example of major customer (CBS Sports) using the product: It’s delivering fantastic results for their web properties, which are big business for them ... "

McDonalds Social Media Chief

How can it not be serious if McDonald's has just added its first social media chief?

Epic Systems Trend Compass

I was just sent a promo piece by Epic Systems on their visualization system called Trend Compass. With a brief examination, it creates bubble charts and includes a time slider on the X Axis that allows you to control a simple time animation. Nice for some kinds of time-dynamic data. You could argue that it over complicates data presentation when that is not needed. Worth a look. Here an example I liked on US employment and another on the stock market.

' ... TC is a new concept in viewing statistics and trends in an animated way by displaying in one chart 5 axis (X, Y, Time, Bubble size & Bubble color) instead of just the traditional X and Y axis. It could be used in analysis, research, presentation etc. In the banking sector, we have Deutsche Bank New York as our client ... '.

Office vs Google Docs

Have been an Office user since the beginning and just in the last year have started to use some of Google Docs. Some new features, like easier sharing have made me dive deeper yet. There is still a functionality difference, but the rewrite is helping. The underlying gnawing argument about trusting everything to one vendor and the cloud is out there too. If I give them too many pieces of the puzzle does it necessarily erode my privacy?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Twitris at Knoesis

Demonstrated at the Kno.e.sis Center at Wright State University today: Twitris, a semantic technology based social signal analysis system, where you can Twitter through space, theme and time. Video overview here. Some clever aspects to the analysis. I was only able to get it to work well in Firefox.

Simulating Evacuation

In ACM News: simulating the evacuation of 70,000 avatars from an e-stadium. We did a number of projects that deal with the simulation of shoppers in a store, so these projects are always of interest. I would like to see how much different the results of a model like this are from classic queuing approaches.

Will Gen Y Lead us into Recovery?

Report Sees Recovery Led by Gen Y:

' ... Members of Generation Y, not baby boomers, have money to spend and will end the recession with their purchases, says a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Retail Forward. Companies must become adept at reaching this group, which uses technology such as mobile applications and price-comparison Web sites to find bargains ... '

More Google Map Maker Locations

I was reminded of Google Map Maker by this post. A means for users to share more about their part of the world. It appears to continue to prosper, with many new countries added. They now have 160 edited regions. Worth a look.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One Million PayPal App Downloads

Evan Schuman, of StorefrontBackTalk, overviews the PayPal IPhone App, now with over one million downloads.

Cycles of Data Impoverishment

From well known visualization methods expert Stephen Few, the problem of data impoverishment, see his examples:

' ... It is not difficult to present data in clear, accurate, and meaningful ways. The skills that are required to do this can be easily learned. They involve simple principles, most of which have been taught for many years. So why are most data displays so impoverished? ... '

Alice, 3D and Seeking True Virtual Experiences

I recently saw Burton's Alice in IMax 3D, and have long loved the story itself. I was struck though my the limitation of the 3D experience. It provided some layers of depth, but not much better than those in the Vincent Price films of the 50s. You saw the same examples of the makers of the film playing to the effect, not attempting to provide a virtual immerse world. Sometimes losing the story itself. So when will we get that next level of reality, augmented and presented in a way we can really experience it? Lose ourself in it? A recent development at the MIT Media lab shows another direction. The link provides a video. ' ... Surround Vision isn't quite VR either, but it's an interesting way of breaking the perception barrier, allowing a viewer to pan around a scene outside the perspective offered by one display ... '

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I see that Nicholas Carr has been running something called Luddite Week on his blog, with lots of little historical snippets, cautions and minutiae. Just now reading it. The last article discusses some articles by Pynchon and others on the topic. Worth looking at if you are interested in the direction of computing tech.

Can EEG Activity be Analyzed in Real Time?

A Neuromarketing discussion started by Ron Wright Of Sands Research in Linkedin (You may need to join this discussion group to chime in).

Friday, April 09, 2010

Knowledge Creating Company

Of interest: The Knowledge-Creating Company (Harvard Business Review Classics) (Paperback)by Ikujiro Nonaka

Wearable Brain Analyzer

Hitachi is launching what looks to be an easily wearable and portable Encephalograph recorder. Very pricy but interesting. ' ... The new encephalometer was developed based on the "optical topography method (NIRS: near infrared spectroscopy)," a brain monitoring method that Hitachi developed in 1995. Far-red light passes through a skull, etc and is scattered and reflected inside the brain. By measuring the degrees of the scattering and reflection, the encephalometer estimates the change in blood flow inside the brain. Specifically, it monitors hemoglobins ... '

Knoesis at Wright State

Kno.e.sis: Brought to my attention, I will be attending their formal launch on Monday and report back. See also their current news.

' ... Our cutting-edge research in the use of semantic and services science for data integration, analysis, and process management complements daytaOhio's mission to leverage innovation in data-intensive technologies for economic expansion.

Kno.e.sis research focuses on realizing a knowledge society with semantics and services as key enablers. Our work leads to prototypes and their evaluation with the participation of academic and commercial partners, technology development and licensing followed by real-world deployment, and commercialization with our partner institution daytaOhio ... '

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Winning at the Shelf

Webinar from Quofore on April 13, 2010 at 11AM EST: More information and registration.

Open Innovation Success Factors

Good piece on Open Innovation:

' ... an article that supports my own observations. The report is about a qualitative interview study on the state of implementation of open innovation in the world’s 30 largest healthcare and manufacturing companies. The study has been carried out by the UK consultancy group PA Consulting.

In the report, open innovation is defined broadly in the understanding of Henry Chesbrough as open innovation as the practices of a company to work with partners, agencies and other companies outside its organization to foster innovation ... '

Hidden Costs of Complexity in the Enterprise

Mark Montgomery of KYield discusses hidden costs of complexity in the enterprise.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

How Games can Build Leaders

An interview with Stanford Prof Byron Reeves of Seriosity. " ... On Leadership: Stanford professor Byron Reeves on how online multiplayer games like 'World of Warcraft' are creating the next generation of leaders ... ' . See also my first look at his book on the subject: Total Engagement. Currently reading.

Fewer Shopping Trips

Progressive Grocer reports on the continuation of fewer shopping trips and fewer purchases per trip. Interesting statistics.

Interested in a Procter Franchise?

I recently posted about P&G doing franchising of product oriented processes. Well known products like Tide and Mr Clean. As part of the Procter alumni network I just got a broader document about participation. You can read it here. Includes links to the sites and more information.

Interview with Zakta

An interview with long time connection Sundar Kadayam about his very innovative search and knowledge system Zakta. We used some of Sundar's previous systems. Also some useful pointers about startups. Zakta is unique, give it a look and compare it with other knowledge search venues.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Brand Names in Scrabble Games

In the BBC: Proper nouns are now allowed in new versions of the Scrabble board game. Think of the opportunity for product placement! Though how many people play board games any more? Via the always alert correspondent Richard James.

Foundation of Semantic Web Technologies

I had a very good conversation today with Prof Pascal Hitzler. Author of the books: Semantic Web - Grundlagen and Foundations of Semantic Web Technologies. He is now a professor at Wright State University in nearby Dayton, Ohio.

Very instructive interaction, looking forward to reading his books. Will report on them here. Also check into his research on a number of AI topics at his site above. On Semantic Webs.

Procter and Gamble Franchises

An overview of P&G's activities in the world of franchising. Including Mr. Clean car washes and Tide Dry Cleaning.

Observational Models Fed to my Phone

There are some things that terrestrial observers can learn from astrophysics. Even if you are mostly interested in commercial applications. Its an example of how to observe data and use it for models. Most recently NASA has established a stereo observation platform around the sun. " ... STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) is the third mission in NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission, launched October 2006, will provide a unique and revolutionary view of the Sun-Earth System. The two nearly identical observatories - one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind - will trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth. They will reveal the 3D structure of coronal mass ejections; violent eruptions of matter from the sun that can disrupt satellites and power grids, and help us understand why they happen...." .

I now have their system on my IPhone and their data is fed to me. A metaphorical example, at the very least, of how to feed very complex data to analysts and ultimately to management. Add some predictive analytical methods and you have a full real-time platform for understanding a system. Like the sun, or a supply chain, a manufacturing facility or a retail system.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Predictive Analytics as a Game-Changer

In Forbes, a short article about how a number of companies are using predictive analytics to change the game. I again do not consider this to be very new, we did it for many years, but new software and massive amounts of readily available data make it easier to do now.

Stain Brain App Updated

I see that Procter & Gamble's Stain Brain IPhone application has been updated. Recall I described here how this is an application that has evolved over a dozen years in a number of formats. It was actively delivered to consumers well before smart phones.

It's a history of recent company consumer communications. The new version, the update states, pays more attention to user contributions for stain solutions. In other words it is going more social. So will it recommmend a home stain remedy rather than Tide? Is this a new direction by CPG away from direct profits from more sales and more engagment with the shopper? Worth a look as I will.

1913 Tax Form

Have seen this many times, but it is worth repeating, often. Mark Perry posts the US 1913 tax form, and comments: ' ... There were only four pages total including all forms and instructions, view it here. In contrast, just the current 1040 instructions, without any forms, runs 175 pages. Individual income tax rates started at 1% in 1913, and the maximum marginal income tax rate was only 6% on incomes above $500,000 ($11 million in today's dollars).... ' . See his links at original post. Note, it is about to get much worse, in complexity and amount.

Collapse of Complex Business Models

I agree they should be as simple as possible, but are often patched up affairs to match the expectations of those that believe in them. Clay Shirky does make some good points along the way. Have now seen several fail miserably that were simple but just oversold.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Bayesian Information Retrieval

In the Noisy Channel: Information Retrieval using a Bayesian Model of Learning and Generalization. Well written, good piece with many instructional background links. Have long been interested in the methods of Bayesian reasoning and simulation. We experimented with several uses. It has many potential applications, and this one is particularly intriguing.

Grand Unified Theory of AI

In MIT News, quite intriguing, though I don't quite understand how it can be applied immediately to real problems I am acquainted with. ' .. A new approach unites two prevailing but often opposed strains in the history of artificial-intelligence research ... '

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Best of TDWI: Business Intelligence

Best of a number of good articles on Business Intelligence from TDWI. I have mentioned a few of these before, here they all in one piece. The download does require registration.

Videotaping the Shipment

In StorefrontBackTalk: Discussion of an Amazon patent that videotapes a shipment box as it is filled and sealed. Then attaching a link to that video clip to the shipment. Aiming to reduce unwarranted product returns. See the full discussion. Overall an interesting concept with broader application.

Simulated Car Racing

From the University of Wurzburg, simulated car demolition derby using artificial intelligence controllers. Still a believer that there is value in using gaming interactions to better understand what intelligence really is and how to effectively simulate it. Here is a good example

Twitter Predicting Movie Box Office

Good overview of social media prediction opportunities, based on the HP social computing lab paper: Predicting the Future with Social Media. Of course a Twitter stream could be manipulated.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Watching You Read

In the NYT: Theory of Mind and brain scanning, applied to fiction. Literary scholars turn to science.

Magnets and Minds

From a friend. I agree this is scary. it is inevitable that as we know more about the functionality of the brain this kind of manipulation will have to be closely watched.

' ... A new study by neuroscientist Liane Young and colleagues at Harvard University does exactly that: the researchers used magnetic signals applied to subjects’ craniums to alter their judgements of moral culpability. The magnetic stimulus made people less likely to condemn others for attempting but failing to inflict harm, they report in PNAS... '

See also Transcranial Neural Stimulation (TNS). It is unclear to me if this is a technique in the same realm as described above.

Mastering Argument is Discovery

In CIOInsight, a good piece on mastering the art of argument. '... Disagreements happen, but respecting all opinions and engaging in argument can lead to innovation and progress, writes Kris Girrell, who offers three suggestions for fostering constructive arguments. "There is no real creativity in agreeing," Girrell writes. "... [I]n healthy, robust disagreement, there is newness and discovery ... ' .

Robotic Presentations

Richard James points me to the blog Phil Presents, by Phil Waknell (ex-P&G, ex-HP). Which covers a number of topics, including robotic presentations. He now runs a company called Ideas on Stage.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

RFID Journal News Roundup

We followed the technology of RFID for a number of years as it applied to retail on shelf and inventory applications. We tested many related ideas in the innovation centers. I still follow this technology and find that the RFID Journal and its news alerts are a good source. Here is their latest news roundup.

Meaning Driven Brands

A look at the meaning of brands in Design Mind.

Wolfram Alpha Mobile Site Drops Price, Seeks to be Data Engine

It is reported in ReadWriteWeb:

' ... Once upon a time, Wolfram Alpha tried to charge $50 for its iPhone app while, at the same time, offering a free iPhone-optimized mobile site. Then, the company shut down the mobile site of its "computational knowledge engine" altogether. Now, however, Wolfram is reversing this strategy and is not just bringing back a new and improved version of its mobile site, but the company also just announced that it will reduce the price of its iPhone app to $1.99 on Saturday and will issue a refund to every customer who bought the app at the full price ... ' .

I will be likely to try this more often in a mobile format. It would be further useful to connect the mobile app to sensor data in the IPhone. Related to that: Wolfram Alpha Wants to be a Google Maps for Data. Nice idea.