vrijdag 30 november 2012

TED: Paolo Cardini: Forget multitasking, try monotasking - Paolo Cardini (2012)

People aren’t just cooking anymore -- they’re cooking, texting, talking on the phone, watching YouTube and uploading photos of the awesome meal they just made. Designer Paolo Cardini questions the efficiency of our multitasking world and makes the case for -- gasp -- "monotasking." His charming 3D-printed smartphone covers just might help.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/PEzvbxQdBfQ/paolo_cardini_forget_multitasking_try_monotasking.html

donderdag 29 november 2012

TED: Munir Virani: Why I love vultures - Munir Virani (2012)

As natural garbage collectors, vultures are vital to our ecosystem -- so why all the bad press? Why are so many in danger of extinction? Raptor biologist Munir Virani says we need to pay more attention to these unique and misunderstood creatures, to change our perception and save the vultures.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/OQhZk_3fTAk/munir_virani_why_i_love_vultures.html

woensdag 28 november 2012

TED: Janine Shepherd: A broken body isn’t a broken person - Janine Shepherd (2012)

Cross-country skier Janine Shepherd hoped for an Olympic medal -- until she was hit by a truck during a training bike ride. She shares a powerful story about the human potential for recovery. Her message: you are not your body, and giving up old dreams can allow new ones to soar.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/q3yV4tRSTXI/janine_shepherd_a_broken_body_isn_t_a_broken_person.html

dinsdag 27 november 2012

TED: Jonas Eliasson: How to solve traffic jams - Jonas Eliasson (2012)

It’s an unfortunate reality in nearly every major city—road congestion, especially during rush hours. Jonas Eliasson reveals how subtly nudging just a small percentage of drivers to stay off major roads can make traffic jams a thing of the past. (Filmed at TEDxHelvetia.)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/n0CRmcKiU_4/jonas_eliasson_how_to_solve_traffic_jams.html

maandag 26 november 2012

TED: Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! - Ernesto Sirolli (2012)

When most well-intentioned aid workers hear of a problem they think they can fix, they go to work. This, Ernesto Sirolli suggests, is naïve. In this funny and impassioned talk, he proposes that the first step is to listen to the people you're trying to help, and tap into their own entrepreneurial spirit. His advice on what works will help any entrepreneur.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/0cca_8IfNRI/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen.html

vrijdag 23 november 2012

TED: Candy Chang: Before I die I want to... - Candy Chang (2012)

In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: “Before I die I want to ___.” Her neighbors' answers -- surprising, poignant, funny -- became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What's your answer?)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/tdO_i6VPHAQ/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html

donderdag 22 november 2012

TED: Louie Schwartzberg: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude. - Louie Schwartzberg (2011)

Nature’s beauty can be easily missed -- but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day. (Filmed at TEDxSF.)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/7jK6zJvXrko/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude.html

woensdag 21 november 2012

TED: Teenaged boy wonders play bluegrass - Sleepy Man Banjo Boys (2012)

Brothers Jonny, Robbie and Tommy Mizzone are The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, a trio of virtuoso bluegrass musicians who play with dazzling vivacity. Did we mention they're all under 16?

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/hG9KEwAS1lw/teenaged_boy_wonders_play_bluegrass.html

dinsdag 20 november 2012

A Mess Of Family Dynamics Alleged In Lawsuit Against Silicon Valley Entrepreneur And Color Founder Bill Nguyen

Bill Nguyen

There is usually a certain gentility to Silicon Valley. For all of its spectacular successes and vastly greater numbers of lesser-known failures, most people are quite polite about things. A startup doesn’t implode disastrously as much as fade away. Executives pursue other opportunities, rather than risk telling all and damaging reputations that — in this small world — may matter later. Entrepreneurs are often eccentric and lousy managers. That’s almost a given and not worth talking about. Because above all possible pettiness, this is a place where stars are born and we are all in this together.

There are, of course, gems of exceptions.

And this latest one will stand out in the history of this place at this time. It is a rare glimpse into the families of two founders and how the start up culture of Silicon Valley is often so close, so personal, and in this particular case, spectacularly nasty. It ultimately accuses serial entrepreneur and Valley denizen Bill Nguyen  (pronounced “win”) of being not only a corrupt manager but an openly abusive father. This seems to have little to do with technology or market strategies gone wrong. It is very personal.

The lawsuit just filed against Nguyen, along with his now fading away startup Color Labs and the board, starts out with rather typical allegations. Color co-founder and former top executive Adam Witherspoon cites “unsafe working conditions” and “wrongful retaliation”. These aren’t shocking. Color popped up last March with much buzz. Before even launching it had a $41 million venture funding round. And so its swift fall as talent fire sale to Apple (the site goes dark shortly) could easily come with some bruised egos.

However Witherspoon’s allegations take a dramatic turn from there. He and Nguyen started out simply as friends. Their young sons also formed a companionship and eventually Nguyen invited Witherspoon to join him in launching his photo and video sharing startup, Color. Witherspoon moved his son and wife, who also became a Color staffer, from Hawaii to Silicon Valley. It was stressful, as startups are, but then something different happened. The two boys started to fight, per Witherspoon’s complaint.

How awkward. Your son isn’t getting along with your boss’s son.

Then Witherspoon’s allegations take a turn for the bizarre. The filing describes a Christmas scene two years ago at Lake Tahoe, a popular Bay Area vacation getaway. Witherspoon’s wife witnessed Nguyen kicking his older son in the stomach. It was a show of force, she believed, meant to intimidate her own son. He and the older Nguyen son has excluded the younger Nguyen son from their play.

In today’s no-spanking parenting culture this accusation is eye-brow raising, to put it mildly. Unless, and this is quite possible, Dad and son were simply engaging in a wrestling match for fun. The Witherspoons wanted to flee from the Nguyen’s mountain retreat, but felt trapped because of their employment at Color. So they stayed. And Nguyen proceeded to tell them that their son’s “behavior was out of control”. It is unclear what he was referring to.

Per the Witherspoons, then Nguyen told other Color employees that their son was a “uncoordinated” and a “wimp”. A joke perhaps? It almost doesn’t matter. This doesn’t come off as polite stuff, especially when aimed at young children. Again, these are allegations, not truth.

It gets worse. The complaint describes a dinner scene in 2011 — the two families are socializing again, it seems — where Nguyen “grabs his son by the back of his neck” and tosses him down a hall. Mother cats do this to their kittens; Silicon Valley parents don’t. Somehow that incident prompted Nguyen to tell Witherspoon’s wife that his family would no longer socialize with hers, and hint that her failings as a parent were the cause. He then suggested the Witherspoons visit a child psychologist in Redwood City. They did, which seems an odd move, and it didn’t go well. The Witherspoons allege that the psychologist reported her findings about their son to Nguyen.

This being Silicon Valley, this happened next: Nguyen “unfriended” Witherspoon on Facebook. A diss, but it stung because Color’s software is tethered tightly to the social network. It felt like an office retaliation.

More awkwardness ensues. The two respective sons are enrolled in the same public school in Palo Alto. The Witherspoons ask that their son be transferred to a different school. This wish is met. Per the Witherspoons, Nguyen had been openly boasting to Color employees that he was “coaching” his son to “beat the shit” out of the Witherspoon’s son.

The rest of the complaint is nasty not so much in family affairs as management abuses. It alleges Nguyen had his nanny and ski instructor paid out of Color’s funds. Employees were ridiculed and intimidated by the appearance of a Nguyen buddy who happened to work at the Office Inspector General. The implied threat: this guy can ruin your credit and put you on no-fly lists if you mess with the boss. Color’s CFO was fired after raising questions about Nguyen. And finally, the company’s board of directors, led by veteran Sequoia venture capitalist Doug Leone, had Nguyen step aside from day to day operations.

When Nguyen brokered the sale of Color (its engineering team, if not product) to Apple this fall, Witherspoon claims he was excluded from the discussions, the opportunity to go to Apple, and later received an inferior severance package. He wants a jury trial. There’s no mention of Witherspoon’s performance at Color. Lawyers for Color and the company’s PR contact did not respond to requests for comments. Nguyen hasn’t yet spoken publicly about the filing.

Nguyen himself was not a golden child. He spoke with Forbes openly about this in a 2006 story about the other startup he sold to Apple, a music sharing site called LaLa. He constantly disappointed his parents, Vietnamese immigrants, with grades that ranged from As to Fs and a 1.4 grade point average his senior year. At 16 he moved out of the house to sell cars. Only he knows how this life experience has shaped him as a father and leader. He surely enjoys flouting convention, and it has worked out nicely in the form of startups that quickly sell to technology leaders.

Yet now Color will be known for more than a flip sale, including (rightly or wrongly) its founder’s parenting style.

from Upside Potential http://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriabarret/2012/11/20/a-mess-of-family-dynamics-alleged-in-lawsuit-against-silicon-valley-entrepreneur-and-color-founder-bill-nguyen/

TED: Amos Winter: The cheap all-terrain wheelchair - Amos Winter (2012)

How do you build a wheelchair ready to blaze through mud and sand, all for under $200? MIT engineer Amos Winter guides us through the mechanics of an all-terrain wheelchair that’s cheap and easy to build -- for true accessibility -- and gives us some lessons he learned along the road.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/jyZrbP2eWmU/amos_winter_the_cheap_all_terrain_wheelchair.html

Bad News For SAP And Possibly Oracle: Customers Revolt, Get Discounts

The lovely thing about the enterprise software industry: highly profitable, predictable maintenance contract revenues that make the giants of the industry look like utilities with upside.

Well, until now.

This morning analyst Peter Goldmacher of Cowen and Company has a report out describing a severe weakening in this once beautifully inevitable business model. A “handful of large SAP customers” have recently told him stories of getting big discounts on their maintenance contracts.

It was time to renew, they pushed back on SAP and got a typical small discount. Yet when they threatened to look elsewhere for their IT needs, SAP came back with whopping 50% discounts. Cowen cites that “executive level engagement” was involved in these negotiations which means the deals sizes were indeed large and perhaps this is a theme the company is aware of broadly and grappling with.

This matters for SAP’s results. Maintenance contracts make up 50% of the company’s total sales and roughly 85% of operating margins. Goldmacher figures maintenance has grown organically, in constant currency, at a two year compound annual growth rate of 10%. SAP has planned regular, annual 3% hikes in its maintenance contracts through 2017. New license sales are seeing support rates of around 22%, which has been the norm in the industry for quite some time.

Is SAP an outlier or a harbinger of things to come for others, and namely its main rival Oracle?

It’s hard to tell. The customers Goldmacher talked to felt they weren’t getting value out of their SAP maintenance contracts. That could be unique to SAP. However, that is also a sentiment I’ve heard echoed by many IT buyers who feel that the maintenance contract model is broken, outdated, and not to their advantage. With competition heating up from cloud vendors, including Salesforce, Netsuite, and recently-IPOed Workday, customers do have a better case to make that they have options.


from Upside Potential http://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriabarret/2012/11/20/bad-news-for-sap-and-possibly-oracle-customers-revolt-get-discounts/

maandag 19 november 2012

TED: Daphne Bavelier: Your brain on video games - Daphne Bavelier (2012)

How do fast-paced video games affect the brain? Step into the lab with cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier to hear surprising news about how video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/xBUoXRFGg48/daphne_bavelier_your_brain_on_video_games.html

The global brain is like a child’s brain – let’s nurture it

In my book Living Networks I wrote about how the networks in which we live are coming to life, making us all part of what we can quite accurately think of as a global brain.

I wrote an extended introduction to the book that went into this concept in depth. However this was not included in the final published book, so I later shared it as an article, Autopoiesis and how hyper-connectivity is literally bringing the networks to life.

One of the wonderful outcomes of that was that the film-maker Tiffany Shlain, who has long thought on very similar lines, reached out to connect.

Tiffany has just released a marvellous 10 minute movie, Brain Power: From Neurons To Networks, that reflects these ideas. Watch it below, preferably on full screen.

In a recent post on HBR, Tiffany writes:

Both a young child’s brain and our young, global Internet brain are in highly creative, experimental, innovative states of rapid development — just waiting to make connections. So, here’s a question for the 21st century: How do we help shape both of these young, rapidly growing networks to set a course for a better future? These were the questions that led me to make my short film, embedded below. In making the film, I used social media to ask thousands of people how they thought about the Internet and the brain. What I heard back amazed me and reinforced the analogue between the current stage of the Internet’s development and a child’s brain, and the importance of developing both in the right way.

The analogy between the Internet – or more broadly the network of all connected devices – and a child’s brain is powerful. Each is early in its development, and can be shaped in positive and negative ways.

Each of us, in making choices that are best for ourselves, will in fact nurture a richer global brain. We need to connect, yet not over-connect. We need to balance our individuality and our collectivity. Along these paths we are creating something beyond ourselves, the next phase in humanity’s evolution.

The post The global brain is like a child’s brain – let’s nurture it appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TrendsInTheLivingNetworks/~3/ek_7LtPlXys/the-global-brain-is-a-childs-brain.html

vrijdag 16 november 2012

TED: David Binder: The arts festival revolution - David Binder (2012)

David Binder is a major Broadway producer, but last summer he found himself in a small Australian neighborhood, watching locals dance and perform on their lawns -- and loving it. He shows us the new face of arts festivals, which break the boundary between audience and performer and help cities express themselves.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/QWR6RAbE8e0/david_binder_the_arts_festival_revolution.html

Why conversational skills are needed to create a high-performance, engaged, networked organization

I have been frustrated recently in having been too busy to blog about all but a handful of the insights generated in my many client engagements over the last months. Fortunately things are close to easing up into the end of the year so I’ll try to cover a bit of the backlog.

This afternoon was the last of 3 Round Table discussions I moderated as part of the 21st anniversary celebrations of the Graduate School of Business of the University of New England. This sessions’ topic was the art of conversation.

It was a rich discussion, and there was much to take from it. I was interested in the skills we identified that are clearly vitally important to successful organizations, yet often significantly underdeveloped.

Conversation is vital for today’s organizations for many reasons, including:

- Customer engagement. We now all understand that markets are conversations, and organizations must have great ability to build real conversations with their customers in a world of social media.

- Staff engagement. Conversation with staff is essential for them to understand the organization’s purpose, and to become engaged and aligned with it.

- Organizational networks. The development of strong networks that allow the most relevant capabilities to be applied to emerging problems or opportunities happens through conversation.

- Project performance. The value of diversity in project teams only is brought to bear through conversation.

- Sense-making and strategy. Conversation is perhaps the most powerful tool individuals have for making sense of the world. As organizations are challenged by a rapidly shifting world, it is through internal conversations that they make sense of and create appropriate responses to those changes.

Fostering conversation can be helped by appropriate technologies and processes, but most importantly it requires skills, both at executive level and through the organization. These skills include:

- Conversational skills. As we all know through experience, many managers do not have strong skills in conversation, in listening, questioning, probing, sharing, aligning, and relating to action. Difficult conversations for managers include not only the more obvious ones such as poor performance reviews, but also how to give positive feedback without raising expectations of financial rewards.

- Social media skills. While internal social media platforms are being rolled out in many organizations today, a small minority of staff really understand how to use them well, the etiquette, the implications, and the possibilities.

- Communication channel skills. One of the chapters in the first edition of my book Developing-Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, published in 2000, was on managing communication portfolios. What I discussed then still applies today: we need to understand the characteristics of all of the communication channels we have available to us, so we can select the best portfolio of channels for the purpose.

- Context skills. Managers must not only be good at conversations, they must good at fostering the conditions for conversation, including enabling open expression, and allowing diverse views to be expressed and resolved in a positive frame.

So how do we develop these skills? The most important point is the recognition of their critical importance, and establishing programs that facilitate ongoing development of these skills. Recruitment needs to take into account the important of conversation skills.

Clearly there needs to be recognition of these critical capabilities in management education, as is certainly the case at UNE’s GSB. Over time let’s hope that conversation is treated as a core skill that all managers need to focus on and develop to help build tomorrow’s successful organizations.

The post Why conversational skills are needed to create a high-performance, engaged, networked organization appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TrendsInTheLivingNetworks/~3/NESWTpjejKc/the-skills-needed-to-create-a-high-performance-engaged-networked-organization.html

donderdag 15 november 2012

TED: Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics - Leah Buechley (2011)

Designing electronics is generally cumbersome and expensive -- or was, until Leah Buechley and her team at MIT developed tools to treat electronics just like paper and pen. In this talk from TEDYouth 2011, Buechley shows some of her charming designs, like a paper piano you can sketch and then play.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/O9qG_ZYN1bg/leah_buechley_how_to_sketch_with_electronics.html

dinsdag 13 november 2012

TED: Arunachalam Muruganantham: How I started a sanitary napkin revolution! - Arunachalam Muruganantham (2012)

When he realized his wife had to choose between buying family meals and buying her monthly "supplies," Arunachalam Muruganantham vowed to help her solve the problem of the sanitary pad. His research got very very personal -- and led him to a powerful business model. (Filmed in Bangalore as part of the TED Global Talent Search.)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/5wdIUqaZftI/arunachalam_muruganantham_how_i_started_a_sanitary_napkin_revolution.html

maandag 12 november 2012

TED: Julie Burstein: 4 lessons in creativity - Julie Burstein (2012)

Radio host Julie Burstein talks with creative people for a living -- and shares four lessons about how to create in the face of challenge, self-doubt and loss. Hear insights from filmmaker Mira Nair, writer Richard Ford, sculptor Richard Serra and photographer Joel Meyerowitz.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/TUZ3-p0XLCg/julie_burstein_4_lessons_in_creativity.html

vrijdag 9 november 2012

TED: Jeff Hancock: 3 types of (digital) lies - Jeff Hancock (2012)

Who hasn’t sent a text message saying “I’m on my way” when it wasn’t true or fudged the truth a touch in their online dating profile? But Jeff Hancock doesn’t believe that the anonymity of the internet encourages dishonesty. In fact, he says the searchability and permanence of information online may even keep us honest.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/sZVW3HeXCNw/jeff_hancock_3_types_of_digital_lies.html

donderdag 8 november 2012

TED: Georgette Mulheir: The tragedy of orphanages - Georgette Mulheir (2012)

Orphanages are costly and can cause irreparable damage both mentally and physically for its charges -- so why are they still so ubiquitous? Georgette Mulheir gravely describes the tragedy of orphanages and urges us to end our reliance on them, by finding alternate ways of supporting children in need.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/-oMymJdt9gQ/georgette_mulheir_the_tragedy_of_orphanages.html

woensdag 7 november 2012

TED: Gary Greenberg: The beautiful nano details of our world - Gary Greenberg (2012)

When photographed under a 3D microscope, grains of sand appear like colorful pieces of candy and the stamens in a flower become like fantastical spires at an amusement park. Gary Greenberg reveals the thrilling details of the microworld. (Filmed at TEDxMaui.)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/9j_-K7dheRw/gary_greenberg_the_beautiful_nano_details_of_our_world.html

Celebrating and reflecting on 10 years of blogging

I just realized I missed my 10th anniversary of blogging. My first post on the Trends in Living Networks blog was on October 5, 2002, beginning:

The emergence of the “living web”: In just the same way as the networks are coming to life, the language that we use to describe this new world is emerging and evolving. In the last few months, the blogging community has started using the term “living web” to describe the flow of information in the networks.

This blog was launched to accompany the publication of my book Living Networks, which opened with a description of corporate blogging, and went on to look at how social networks would arise and impact business.

The title of the blog, “Trends in the Living Networks”, was pointing to the ongoing nature of a blog, picking up on what is current, in counterpoint to the static nature of a book. Of course the blog is now simply my primary vehicle for sharing content and ideas on a day-to-day basis.

There is much to reflect on from those 10 years of blogging.

Blogging has long become mainstream, and in fact in its original form largely supplanted by micro-blogging – largely in the form of Twitter – and social networks such as Facebook, which are largely derived from the format of blogging. However for many of us who were blogging since before social networks emerged, blogging is still a core activity, complemented by other media and formats.

When I registered the domain rossdawsonblog.com I actually thought the word ‘blog’ might not have real longevity, however it has proven to last fairly well.

As I predicted, the boundaries between mainstream media and social media have blurred beyond recognition, with traditional media companies using blog formats in earnest, and many platforms that began as blogs now rivaling long-established media.

My experience for a long time now is of feeling frustrated that I am not able to share more on my blog. Blogging is a core part of my work, however client work and working on ventures have to take precedence.

I will increasingly work with other people in creating content, however I feel my blog is still my own personal space, so I need to carve out the time to write on it as I can.

Perhaps my blog style and format is too established. I use it primarily to provide quick insights from work I am doing, with some other perspectives and content thrown in. It would be nice to do some longer-form pieces, however I tend to put the deeper-dive content into books or reports. I will try to experiment a bit more.

Blogging has been central to my life for much of the last decade. It is an ongoing commitment, which undoubtedly adds to the stress and pressure of a busy life. However its value has been immense to me.

My ability to reach people with my ideas and to be found is significantly founded on the visibility of my blog. A significant proportion of my client work over many years has come about directly through my blog.

At least as importantly, blogging consistently has helped me to research well and frame my thinking. I continually get asked about what you need to do to be a futurist. Many of the disciplines are the same as those of blogging: scanning for interesting insights, thinking them through and giving them structure, and communicating them usefully to others.

Unquestionably, blogging is an invaluable path to making sense of a complex world.

Will I blog for another decade? Undoubtedly.

I will no doubt use a variety of platforms new and old for sharing ideas and content. But right now it looks like the word ‘blogging’ has at last another 10 years of currency, and I expect to be regularly adding for many years to come to the 1,520 blog posts I have written so far.

The post Celebrating and reflecting on 10 years of blogging appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TrendsInTheLivingNetworks/~3/h_85mV7gs40/celebrating-and-reflecting-on-10-years-of-blogging.html

dinsdag 6 november 2012

Payroll Tax Be Gone: Angel Investor Ron Conway Discusses Election Victory In San Francisco

Angel of tech: Ron Conway (credit: TechCrunch)

“This is about jobs,” angel investor Ron Conway told me earlier today as he anxiously awaited the vote tally on the proposition he backed in San Francisco. Conway might just be tech’s most prolific early-stage investor. And now, he’s shaping policy in tech’s mecca. “We have no opposition. But with tax propositions, you never know which way the voters will go,” he added.

The voters went with Conway. In what looks like a landslide with so far 22% of precincts reporting, voters favored Conway’s Proposition E 70.1% to 29.9%, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

As the national payroll tax debate heats up with cuts set to expire in January, America’s most liberal city has signaled taxing jobs isn’t productive. Instead of a 1.5% tax on payrolls, or essentially workers, San Francisco firms will pay a gross receipts tax that varies according to industry.

This is a key victory for Conway and technology firms that often hire up before finding revenue-making business models. “In the long run this makes this city a magnet for technology companies and jobs, especially entry-level jobs,” said Conway.

That last part will take some work, as tech firm jobs tend to be highly-skilled. An organization that Conway is also supporting, called sf.citi, is in the early stages of interviewing directors of H.R. at technology companies. The plan is to unearth their hiring needs then go to local colleges and non-profits to encourage education and training in those areas.

Conway’s sf.citi is an industry group with 350 member companies that make up 90% of the technology community in San Francisco. This is the group that for months has been in local government meetings and more recently pushing the proposition online.

It worked. “Before this, any company had to go into city hall by themselves. We’re finally accomplishing a lot,” said Conway.

This is a big shift for a city not known for cozying up to business, and Conway’s new power as a policy force has sparked the expected controversy and attacks. A recent widely-read cover story in San Francisco Magazine challenged the notion that all things tech were good for city’s future. The good: jobs. The bad: only certain kinds of jobs and high housing prices for everyone else. But these might be decent problems to have considering the slump the city was feeling after the dot-com bubble and financial crisis.

Two years ago a prominent venture capitalist hosted a San Francisco mayoral candidate at his home for an intimate discussion about the city’s future. This candidate (who didn’t win) compared San Francisco to the pretty, popular girl in high school whose good looks mask a vapid personality.

The message: San Francisco has succeeded despite itself, but the gig can’t last.

Heads nodded in agreement. As any local business owner will tell you, San Francisco is a terrible place to start, grow, and most of all, hire.

Since then, Conway has begun to reshape America’s most famous or infamous (depending on your point of view) liberal city. As an angel investor he has backed Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Airbnb, Zynga among hundreds of other lesser-known names. He typically gets involved in these companies early and is known for being hands off, though remarkably reachable when an entrepreneur needs an introduction or a nudge. Conway was born in San Francisco, but spent his professional and family-raising years in Silicon Valley’s leafy burbs. He came back as an empty-nester, got interested in fixing the city’s notorious homeless problem, then started to notice his own startups weren’t keen on staying in the city because of a unique tax that hits hiring as well as proceeds from initial public offerings.

Conway has rapidly emerged as the pro-business, or as he likes to put it “pro-jobs” counterweight to this city’s popular girl problem. He befriended and backed Ed Lee, now mayor, and has worked with his administration to craft policy-shaping plans, notably ending the payroll tax. He wouldn’t divulge his next big battle.

from Upside Potential http://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriabarret/2012/11/07/payroll-tax-be-gone-angel-investor-ron-conways-discusses-election-victory-in-san-francisco/

TED: Emma Teeling: The secret of the bat genome - Emma Teeling (2012)

In Western society, bats are often characterized as creepy, even evil. Zoologist Emma Teeling encourages us to rethink our attitude toward bats, whose unique and fascinating biology gives us insight into our own genetic makeup. (Filmed at TEDxDublin.)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/rJJ_bx73Bzs/emma_teeling_the_secret_of_the_bat_genome.html

TED: Jake Wood: A new mission for veterans -- disaster relief - Jake Wood (2011)

After months or years fighting overseas, 92 percent of American veterans say they want to continue their service; meanwhile, one after another, natural disasters continue to wreak havoc worldwide. What do these two challenges have in common? Team Rubicon co-founder Jake Wood gives a moving talk on how veterans can effectively contribute to disaster relief responses -- and in the process, regain purpose, community and self-worth.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/EqsHQ4WfCsE/jake_wood_a_new_mission_for_veterans_disaster_relief.html

The imperative of designing and building agility in customer service

Last week I was involved in two events for cloud-based contact centre application company IPScape, facilitating a media luncheon and hosting a customer event where I did the keynote and moderated a panel of experts.

An article in Computerworld titled Companies ‘still grappling’ with basics of customer service: IPscape reviewed some of the content at the events. The article notes:

IPscape CEO Simon Burke said that “the vast majority of organisations are still grappling with the absolute basics” of customer service, including how to minimise how much time customers spend on hold or being routed through automated telephone systems. Other companies are recording conversations for training purposes but have a difficult time accessing the recordings afterward.

“Fear of change” has held back many companies from enhancing customer service, Burke said. Even if a call centre agent recognises improvements, the agent may not tell upper management because of a perceived unwillingness to change, he said.

It is somewhat frightening that still in 2012 companies are getting the fundamentals of effective customer service in place. It is of course not nearly as easy as we would like to imagine to get even the basics right, yet the bar continues to rise. The article later notes:

Increasing consumerisation of IT is forcing companies to change, said entrepreneur Ross Dawson, chairman of Advanced Human Technologies. “As the world becomes more and more complex, the only organisations that will succeed will be the ones that have as much flexibility and are agile enough to cope with the pace of change and seize … opportunities as they come up.”

The need for flexibility and agility is a fundamental truth applying to every facet of organizations.

However customer service is right at the point of the issue. Ultimately, value is created at the intersection of the organization and its customers, and for consumer-facing organizations this is in customer service.

Cloud-based applications provide an important technical platform for agility in customer service. However ultimately it is about the organization as a whole, including its strategy, processes, workflow, staff, and culture. The challenge – and priority – is to design an organization that is agile, responsive, and truly excellent in customer service.

The post The imperative of designing and building agility in customer service appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TrendsInTheLivingNetworks/~3/F_iHLhIKtco/the-imperative-of-building-agility-in-customer-service.html

maandag 5 november 2012

TED: Matt Killingsworth: Want to be happier? Stay in the moment - Matt Killingsworth (2011)

When are humans most happy? To gather data on this question, Matt Killingsworth built an app, Track Your Happiness, that let people report their feelings in real time. Among the surprising results: We're often happiest when we're lost in the moment. And the flip side: The more our mind wanders, the less happy we can be. (Filmed at TEDxCambridge.)

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/5bqaC0T4NEA/matt_killingsworth_want_to_be_happier_stay_in_the_moment.html

The future of news: automated, crowdsourced, and better than ever

ABC journalist Mark Colvin last week delivered the Andrew Olle Media Lecture, a prestigious annual lecture on journalism. Mark is a Twitter afficionado as well as journalist with over three decades of experience, making him a great choice for the lecture this year.

The full transcript of the lecture provides rich stories from the history of journalism in Australia, and an incisive view of the present.

On the topic of crowdsourcing, Mark says:

These are some lessons I’ve learned, in nearly four years on Twitter.

Crowd-source. That can mean anything from checking a date to asking people, as the Guardian regularly does now, to help scour through big government document dumps and Commission reports.

It’s amazing how much more information you can find with thousands of willing helpers. I spoke to an archaeologist just a couple of days ago who’s crowd-sourcing the attempted translation of five and a half thousand year old cuneiform texts.

Ask your readers, listeners and viewers to contribute.

That Cobar bushfire I covered in 1974? Now we’d have mobile phone photos and videos, eyewitness accounts, Skype interviews with people who’d posted on social media, and all probably hours before the first reporter even got her boots on the ground.

Be a presence on social media, giving as much as you. Don’t just plug your own stuff: encourage conversation and join in others’ discussions.

Mark also discusses the automation of news content, a topic I’ve written about several times on this blog.

In the US, a company called Narrative Science is already selling thousands of stories about Little League Baseball games and stock market movements to local papers and outlets like Forbes.com.

This is really happening, and fast.

Computer algorithms doing our jobs.

Narrative Science’s cofounder, Kristian Hammond, believes that in 15 years “more than 90 percent” of news stories will be computer-generated.

Narrative Science is already working on a way to suck out the data from Twitter and produce news.

If you’ve tracked the progress of a natural disaster on Twitter, for instance, you’ll know this can be done.

At that moment I will start demanding royalties by the way.
Local newspaper chains in the US have also started outsourcing news stories to the Philippines, because it’s really really cheap.

What all that means is that rolling and local news will be worth almost nothing.

Computerised stories will be so cheap that Microsoft or Telstra or the AFL, which already have their toes in the water, will be able to do a huge amount of the job now done by newspapers.

Once again it’s simple economics.

News itself is going from a scarce product to a superabundant one.

The overall tone of Mark’s comments is pessimistic, pointing in detail to the financial travails of all but a handful of news outlets in the world today. He rightly concludes:

All I can give you is my profound conviction that good journalism – journalism of integrity – is a social good and an essential part of democracy, and we have to do everything we can to try to preserve it.

Certainly the story that Mark tells – one well familiar to those in the frontline of the news industry today – is on the face of it not a happy one. Yet we need to look at the possibilities of the landscape today.

Just over a week ago I ran a workshop in New York on Crowdsourcing for Media, which included an overview of 12 elements of news that can be crowdsourced in different ways. I’ll expand on that analysis soon.

Mark takes a positive view of crowdsourcing in his comments. Indeed, in almost all cases the crowdsourcing of news combines amateur contribution with professional insight and experience, creating better combined capabilities.

We could look at the automation of news content as a negative. Yet if some kinds of news can be reported adequately by machines, why have skilled humans do that? There are ample domains in journalism where we can be confident that machines will not be rivalling human capabilities for probably decades, which is considerably longer than it will be for many other professions.

Automation and crowdsourcing of news, combined with professional journalistic skills, undoubtedly provide a richer landscape of news reporting than we have had before.

As I write in the Second Edition of Getting Results From Crowds:

As different elements of the media process are broken out for crowd participation, there will be many highly valued roles for journalists and other media professionals to complement broader amateur participation. The rise of crowds in media has the potential to create a richer media landscape for all.

Of course the piece of the puzzle that is far from resolved is the financial models that will pay for the professional journalists in this picture. I do believe that those news organizations that truly explore the emerging sources of value in news will find those models, possibly including crowdfunding of some initiatives.

Let’s do what we can to create that richer world of news, enabled by automation, crowdsourcing, and the blossoming of social media.

The post The future of news: automated, crowdsourced, and better than ever appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TrendsInTheLivingNetworks/~3/EpCvAPrYqsU/the-future-of-news-automated-crowdsourced-and-better-than-ever.html

vrijdag 2 november 2012

No Marathon This Sunday, And Why That’s For The Better

Earlier this week, New York and San Francisco felt even farther apart than on a typical day. As photos spread of Manhattan subways submerged and that awful, simple darkness, San Francisco‘s Market Street was awash in a few thousand dollars worth of orange and black confetti. The Giants, of course, had just won the World Series. It was a good week for San Francisco. But especially for those of us with colleagues, friends and family back east, it just didn’t feel right.

Sure, we can’t take the streets to deal with the damage. Ours is largely passive sympathy. And yet, how can we be celebratory as hundreds of thousands are struggling to get by without the basics like electricity and shelter?

That’s why Mayor Bloomberg did the right thing today in cancelling the much-anticipated New York Marathon.

New York is a resilient and proud city. I was working for Forbes in Manhattan when terrorists rammed planes into the Twin Towers. I was astonished to see a massive city snap back so swiftly and elegantly. As military trucks rolled through the lower East Side, restaurants bustled with activity. We were all in it together, in this amazing, awful thing.

Nothing says “we’re back” like hosting nearly 50,000 runners through a 26.2 mile course. But New York is far from being back. Power is still out in swaths of the city. There are long lines for gas. And public transport is not yet fully operating. The sad family stories are now getting ink. Lives were lost, children died. There’s news, too, that another storm may hit the area as early as next week.

Mayor Bloomberg could have done this earlier. News changed his thinking. This morning The New York Post nailed it with this story about power generators being set up to host media covering the marathon. A Facebook campaign to cancel the event gathered steam, and individual runners were re-thinking their devotion to the sport, including former Forbes writer Tomas Kellner.

So the facts didn’t change here, but sentiment did.

It is a rough outcome for these runners who for months have poured their time and energy into training for this marquee event. They should be given a second chance. And now something amazing will happen. New York gets to host thousands of able-bodied volunteers.

For those who step up and help out — give them medals.

from Upside Potential http://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriabarret/2012/11/02/no-marathon-this-sunday-and-why-thats-for-the-better/

TED: Faith Jegede: What I’ve learned from my autistic brothers - Faith Jegede (2012)

Faith Jegede tells the moving and funny story of growing up with her two brothers, both autistic -- and both extraordinary. In this talk from the TED Talent Search, she reminds us to pursue a life beyond what is normal.

from TEDTalks (video) http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TEDTalks_video/~3/N7aHf0_aoNw/faith_jegede_what_i_ve_learned_from_my_autistic_brothers.html

donderdag 1 november 2012

A New Label For Kids Today: The Distracted Generation

A good story often tells us what we suspected, but didn’t want to just go out and say. The New York Times has done just that.

In a story this morning, writer Matt Richtel combines the findings of two studies that posed interesting questions to teachers about their students’ attention spans. The results, though admittedly subjective (these are teachers sharing observations), are stunning.

-In the Pew Research Center findings, nearly 90% of 2,462 teachers said that digital technologies were creating “an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.”

-In the Common Sense study, 71% of 685 teachers said they thought technology was hurting attention span “somewhat” or “a lot.”

-About 60% said it hindered students’ ability to write and communicate in person.

-Almost half said it hurt critical thinking and homework skills.

-The upside: these kids are good researchers thanks to the Web and Google.

The wrinkle in Richtel’s story is one of perspective. Some would argue these kids are screen-addicts who can’t focus, and therefor will struggle academically and probably creatively. The other point of view suggests educators and parents need to adapt to this generation’s unique way of learning. This is where researchers and the media generally prefer not labeling things “good” or “bad” but rather “unique”.

This is of course debatable. But when you put together what skills children need to succeed, focus is likely a decent factor.

I discussed this topic generally in September with author Paul Tough (who recently penned the popular book “How Children Succeed”). He emphasized “persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and optimism” as key factors in determining a child’s success later in life.

It isn’t that being distracted limits your ability to be curious. Many great entrepreneurs I’ve written about over the years would have likely been diagnosed with some form of an attention disorder and given pills for a fix. Thank goodness they weren’t. But for most of us, concentration and focus do matter.

from Upside Potential http://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriabarret/2012/11/01/a-new-label-for-kids-today-the-distracted-generation/

Slides for Crowdsourcing for Media and Content workshop in New York

Last Friday in New York, shortly before Sandy shook things up, I ran a Crowdsourcing for Media and Content workshop as part of the Crowdsourcing Week global series of events.

Media is one of the domains which has been the most impacted by crowdsourcing over the last decade, in a wide variety of guises. The intent of the workshop was to dig into the many ways in which crowdsourcing can be applied in creating media and content, and how to do so most effectively.

Below I have shared the slides used in the workshop. They were designed simply to provide some context to the flow of the workshop, and certainly not to stand alone as content, but they may be of some interest even if you did not attend.

I will write up some of the key themes of the content we covered in more detail as soon as I get a chance.

The post Slides for Crowdsourcing for Media and Content workshop in New York appeared first on Trends in the Living Networks.

from Trends in the Living Networks http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TrendsInTheLivingNetworks/~3/Z7iQk5hZ2VE/slides-for-crowdsourcing-for-media-and-content-workshop-in-new-york.html