28 September 2005

Cordys Cordial 2005 Conference

This morning I attended the keynote speeches at the Cordial 2005 Conference hosted by Cordys at Jan Baan's beautifully restored 17th century estate, Kastell de Vanenburg, in Putten.

Paul Ostendorf, a Dutch Futurologist, gave us a wide scope of technology advances and their potential impact on how we would use them in his speech, "Influential trends in business and IT". He supported his talk with films and charts woven together to create an engaging session. He covered the costs for moving 1 GB through different formats and channels; chips and information exchange; the impact of nano- and bio-technology. His message was that these new technologies are driving the revolution into a new economy of knowledge-fed services and away from a labor-intensive industrial economy. By 2060, computer capacity will exceed human capacity regarding contribution to getting the job done. The old model is: labor, commodoties, capital. The new model is: knowledge, data, creativity. The big issue is how to move this magnitude of data into shared knowledge.

Jonathan Marks, Rudy Hoeboer and I got a chance to chat with him during the break. We asked him "How will we teach people to think conceptually in order to be able to build the algorithms to move that magnitude of data into concepts of knowledge?" How do we address the lack of ability in most cultures to think conceptually and to formulate mathematically and strategically? This is about changing a culture. Look to South Korean culture for some direction here.

Greg H Garrison, Director and Visionary of Price Waterhouse Coopers, gave a very dry but comprehensive framework on "The transformative business benefits of a real-time, Service Oriented Architecture". He lost much of his audience if body language was a signal. At the end of his session, I asked about the impact and consequences of proprietary technologies (like Microsoft) on creating integrated inter-corporate IT systems, with regard to alignments and compatibilities that would allow for quickly adapting and customizing. His answer was more of a possibility to have an "and, and" solution. My question had more to do with exclusive environments that have more to do with controls - rather than inclusive environments that have to do with new ways of sharing and contributing.

I left during the presentation by Guus Brinkel, CIO of ETAM Retail Services, of
"Best in Class with best of breed". It was so old-fashioned "sales pitch" style. With my current travel agenda and meeting schedule for the next several days, I opted to leave early and invest my time in something more valuable.

What I did realize is that even though Cordys has probably got some pretty good enterprise software for integrating systems, they seem to have hijacked the term "collaboration" software for how the technologies will work together instead of the human beings will.

If I were to share some feedback with Cordys, I would say "Add the human being. Align all of this with how the human being is going to use it and how the human being will drive the applications."

I'm sure Jonathan and Rudy will have more to share of their experience today.

26 September 2005

The Importance of a Lingua Franca

In our home, we collectively speak a miriage of languages, including our own mixture blended into our own intimate language. It basically combines Netherlands, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Gaelic, Ute and French. Each of us chooses words or phrases or a particular language because we can really express ourselves better through this combination of languages.

When we were very young, my sister and I also had our own "secret" language. This grew out of living in a family where we could speak one language to one parent or grandparent to keep the message secret from the others present. Have I naturally grown into this habit as an adult because of a predilection as a child?

This made me look into "lingua franca", which Wikipedia explains rather well.

Today's cross-cultural collaboration environments require a "lingua franca" that embraces the delight of idiomatic expression from each of our languages. It may also help us understand one another's cultures even better as we undertake to explain the concepts behind these expressions. It also provides us with an opportunity to share and export our culture in a very user-friendly way.

Do you have any expressions from your language that would better explain particular circumstances than English or Dutch? Please help us grow our "expression vocabulary". We would like to build an enriched, new vocabulary on our wiki.

UPN premiers "Everybody Hates Chris" on Google Video

"Everybody Hates Chris" premieres this Thursday on TV in the USA...but the first episode will premier today on Google Video.

According to Reuters, "The entire pilot of the new television show, which is based on the childhood of comedian Chris Rock, is available via Google Video at http://video.google.com/chris beginning on Monday.

The announcement comes as Web search companies like Google and rival Yahoo Inc. work to strike content deals with companies that produce news, television shows and films."

I tried to access it on Google Video, but as of this evening, it was not yet available.

This could be an interesting bridge between TV and computers. I would like to see more videoblogs available, from documentaries to travel diaries. Another application for Google Video could be a resource for online learning.

Portable Firefox 1.0.7 (USB Drive-Friendly)

John Haller has a great tool so that you can jump from computer to computer and still have your Firefox browser with bookmarks, extensions and everything.

"Portable Firefox is a fully functional package of the Mozilla Firefox web browser optimized for use on a USB key drive. It has some specially-selected optimizations to make it perform faster and extend the life of your USB key as well as a specialized launcher that will allow most of your favorite extensions to work as you switch computers. "

This would be great for me because I often jump between 3 different computers. Unfortunately in this circumstance, they are all Macs. Portable Firefox is Windows-only for now.

This was an official collaboration project with Mozilla Development.

If anyone else gives this a try, please let me know how it works for you.

BlogOn 2005 Social Media Summit

The BlogOn 2005 Social Media Summit will be held October 17-18 in NYC.

According to Chris Shipley, it's time now "to get down to business" - the Business of Social Media, the focus for this year.

In the blog, they're asking people to participate in the Blogging in the Enterprise Survey. Give it your attention and you just might win a NanoPod...and a $500 discount on the entrance fee.

People have already started to contribute to the blog. I noticed that someone has mentioned Nev's Podcast interview with Jeremy Wright about Wright's new book, Blog Marketing.

I am going to track what's going on during the summit. Last year was very interesting because it was so fresh and everyone was learning everything. Wonder what this year will hold.

24 September 2005

Jeremy Rifkin & The European Dream in Amsterdam

Thursday evening, I attended a lecture given by Jeremy Rifkin at Christofori in Amsterdam - a treat from my colleague, Jonathan Marks. This evening is part of a lecture series put on by the John Adams Institute. Rifkin was there to talk about his new book, The European Dream. Tracy Metz - author of "PRET!" - was the moderator for the evening. She's an American who has lived in Europe now for over half her life...and she had read Rifkin's book. We were in good company that evening, a nice mix of Dutch and American intellectuals, including Gert Mak, a well-respected Dutch author, who got a chance to later to share his thoughts.

Rifkin told us that The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future Is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream was a work he hoped would inspire both European and American politicians. He's quite fascinated with the European Union in its unique role in the world at this point in time as an emerging governmental proposition. Rifkin calls the EU, "network Europe", and its efforts, "network politics".

Waht struck me most of about this lecture was his articulate style backed up with an informed intellect. He captured us as he bounced us through his admiration and knowledge about the issues facing the EU as its grows itself into something that's democratic and yet still has a social contract. According to Rifkin, The EU concept is anchored in a social economy with quality of life at its center...whereas the US has a market economy with the individual at its core.

Both unions have a lot they can learn from one another, particularly in this age.

I am halfway through the book. It's fascinating, enlightening and is so well written that you jump on board and float straight through his thinking. I recommend reading it.

Playing Flickr at Post CS in Amsterdam

Playing Flickr - a public media experience installation - is an overwhelming interactive visual format covering the windows at Restaurant 11 on the 11th floor of the Post CS building in Amsterdam. You can send an SMS with a tag and photos with that tag appear - from Flickr.com.

Playing Flickr was created by Willem Velthoven. The software was developed by Cuno de Boer at Mediamatic Atelier.

Visit Restaurant 11 at the Post CS building just east of Central Station and have some fun with this. Playing Flickr is open from 8pm to 10 pm.

Performance of Int'l HS Students in USA

Mitchell Weisburgh, Chairman of PILOT Online Learning Solutions, posted an eye-opening article in his newsletter. He compares the differences between foreign students studying in the USA with the American students. He has discovered a paradigm shift in the performance of American students compared to the foreign students. 30 years ago, American students out-performed the foreign student visiting their schools. The visiting students could not compete in the honors classes.

"Today, it’s a completely different story. Virtually every AFS high school student comes to the US ahead of our kids in math, statistics, chemistry, physics, and biology; even ahead of our elite kids."

Even their language skills of the visiting students are superior because they are required to have a proficiency in English as well as their own language. Most American students do not speak another language unless they have grown up in a multi-cultural family.

Strangely enough, I notice this in our working groups. Many British, Canadians and Americans find it difficult to speak the language of the foreign country where they reside. Perhaps the old-fashioned rigors of practicing and speaking a language should be required...online learning programs make that so easy now.

22 September 2005

Google Sued!

According to Larry Lessig's blog, Google has been sued.

"Google has been sued by the Authors Guild, and a number of individual authors. This follows similar threats hinted at by the American Association of Publishers. The authors and the publishers consider Google’s latest fantastic idea, Google Print — a project to Google-ize 20,000,000 books — to be “massive copyright infringement.” They have asked a federal court to shut Google Print down."

Looks like Hurrican Rita is Powerful & Dangerous

Just read in New Scientist and a bunch of other RSS feeds that Hurricane Rita could be one of the 3 top most powerful and dangerous hurricanes ever to hit the USA.

Since I have lots of friends (and clients) in Houston, this has really caught my attention. Everyone there is hunkering down and getting prepared for a real hard hit. My friends, Dorothy & Dave, live in a section of Houston that always floods, so I hope that they can find somewhere safer to stay with their pets.

What is also very sad is that there is a healthy chance that western Lousiana Gulf Coast and New Orleans will also suffer - again - from the impact of this.

Predicted path of Rita:

You can track what's going on through AlertNet from Reuters.

Tutorial for PHP/MySQL

What a great tutorial. You no longer have to feel like an idiot.

Written in clear English, this tutorial really explains:
-- why you need to learn PHP scripting language
-- how it interacts with a database
-- what a MySQL database is
-- how to include it into your website

There are 8 easy-to-follow parts:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Setting Up The Database
Part 3 - Inserting Information
Part 4 - Displaying Data
Part 5 - More Outputs
Part 6 - Single Records & Error Trapping
Part 7 - Updating & Deleting
Part 8 - Finishing The Script

Thank you FreeWebmasterHelp.com.
And...thanks Digg for pointing my nose here.

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents

Reporters Without Borders has published a PDF handbook as a help-guide for bloggers living in countries where mainstream media is censored. You can download it here.

"...with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation."

It offers the basics on how to set up a blog, publish it, and get it into the search-engines. It's purpose is "...to establish its (blog) credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles."

-- Bloggers, the new heralds of free expression
-- What’s a blog ?
-- The language of blogging
-- Choosing the best tool
-- How to set up and run a blog
-- What ethics should bloggers have ?
-- Getting your blog picked up by search-engines
-- What really makes a blog shine ?
-- Personal accounts
-- How to blog anonymously
-- Technical ways to get round censorship
-- Ensuring your e-mail is truly private
-- Internet-censor world championship

21 September 2005

Dealing with Challenges to Collaboration

Boing Boing posted a very interesting insight from friend, Biella Coleman, an anthropologist whose thesis on nerd culture addresses ethical dilemmas in the Debian project. You can download the thesis: THREE ETHICAL MOMENTS IN DEBIAN to learn more.

This paper explores many issues we face in collaboration. What intrigued me was how people addressed these challenges and came to realize that the challenge was not as important as HOW they dealt with the issues.

"The third ethical moment I investigate is crisis. Many of these crises have an acute phase in which debate erupts on several media all at once: mailing lists, IRC conversation, and blog entries. While the debate during these periods can be congenial, measured, rational, and sometimes peppered with jokes, its tone can also be passionate and uncharitable, sometimes downright vicious.

During these moments, we find that while developers may share a common ethical ground, they often disagree about the implementation of its principles. Though the content of these debates certainly matters (and will be discussed to some extent), my primary focus is on the productive affective stance that these crises induce. I argue these are moments of assessment, in which people turn their attentive, ethical being toward an unfolding situation and engage in very difficult questions. In this mode, passions are animated and values are challenged and sometimes reformulated.

Crises can be evaluated as moments of ethical production in terms of not only their functional outcomes but also their ability to move people to reflexively articulate their ideals — an important condition of possibility for further action. Such dialogical and conflicted debate reflects the active engagement of participants who renew and sometimes alter their ethical commitments. Thus, crisis can be vital to establishing and reestablishing the importance of normative precepts."

How many times along the way - as we grow something together and have to depend on participation and collaboration - do you find yourself struggling to move the project forward without giving up what you truly believe in?

Firefox 1.0.7 Newest Release

Just upgraded to newest release Firefox 1.0.7 for Mac OS X.

"Release Notes

Firefox 1.0.7 is a security and stability release. We strongly recommend that all users upgrade to this latest version.

This version includes several security and stability fixes, including a fix for a reported buffer overflow vulnerability and a fix for a Linux shell command vulnerability.

Specific changes in Firefox 1.0.7

* Fix for a potential buffer overflow vulnerability when loading a hostname with all soft-hyphens
* Fix to prevent URLs passed from external programs from being parsed by the shell (Linux only)
* Fix to prevent a crash when loading a Proxy Auto-Config (PAC) script that uses an "eval" statement
* Fix to restore InstallTrigger.getVersion() for Extension authors"

19 September 2005

Angelina and Jeff in Africa

From the IHT today: "MTV is airing a program called "The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa." The hope is that the combination of A-list superstar and A-list economics geek can spark American interest in ending global poverty. The short film features Jolie and Sachs in Sauri, Kenya, a dirt-poor, steaming hot, HIV/AIDS-infested village. They visit what passes for a hospital, where several patients share the same bed.

Jolie is right when she says that putting money into village-level programs could do much to alleviate poverty. These are simple, smart and effective things: purchasing treated bed nets for battling malaria, providing malnourished children with a meal at school. In countries with corrupt strongmen, these programs can bypass the government. In countries with decent leaders, they work alongside the leaders' efforts.

It's time to transfer all those nice wishes at the top of the world food chain to those at the bottom."

It will certainly save that 80% administrative cost.

15 September 2005

Google Blog Search

Now you have a place to search for blogs on your areas of interest. I immediately filled in "folksonomies". 966 referenced links showed up!

Give it a try and see what you experience.

13 September 2005

Stumbling Block to Innovation in NL Identified

In an interview in The Telegraf (Dutch newspaper), the Swedish professor Kjell Nordström called The Netherlands on the carpet for its poor economic performance. He points out that the Dutch national motto - "doe maar gewoon...", which I'll loosely translate here into "don't stand out, or over-do it" - has been disastrous for economic growth. He says that this kind of mentality leads to the normalization of all citizens, and that this is deadly for innovation.

Nordström recommends making room for, and rewarding, the crazier ideas. "Prosperity comes through innovation. Innovation comes from unconventional people, often called weirdos."

Nordström, Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, has co-authored a couple of management books - Karaoke Capitalism: Daring to be Different in a Copy-Cat World and Funky Business. I think he also brought out an illustrated edition of Karaoke Capitalism: Management for Mankind, published by the Financial Times. Just enjoy a quick read through the reviews.

Wow! Many performance-driven expats living here have been complaining about this for years. Personally, I think this motto has created a nation of workers who have used it to only look at efficiency from an ant's perspective, punish any efforts toward excellence, as an excuse for lack of customer service, and to create a community of people who have an "entitlement" attitude. Those creative or inventive spirits here have often felt overwhelmed by this normalcy syndrone. It means that you have to color inside the lines in the same coloring book as everyone else. If you start with a blank sheet of paper, they take it away and give you the book with a lecture. My own experience here has often provoked the comment "Why do you want to disturb everything. It's fine. Leave it alone. Nobody works like that here." And, I was in a creative industry.

Here in The Netherlands, we keep trying to demonstrate that innovation is playful. We go to all the "innovation platform" events to open a new kind of dialogue and address the issues like this. Unfortunately, they are deaf to us, ripe with "subsidized" mentality, and rarely making room for the contributions from more exotic types called "strangers". They keep telling us they have a system, and we just don't understand or fit. It takes too much effort to deal with something that does not fit in the system. But, that is exactly what is required to trigger innovation.

Innovation could come alive here if Dutch culture would just create the space for it to happen. It requires a little bit of effort and a willingness to include the strange and wonderful. Look at some of those strange and wonderful innovators in the world, like Einstein, Picasso, John Nash, Walt Disney, Bill Gates. They did not do it alone, but they certainly led the category development.

Perhaps now, having this mirror held up, and also having it reflected in an international arena as the reason for poor economic performance, this will help open the Dutch minds and create even just a wee bit of space for experimentation here. Who knows - it might even deliver surprises with great value attached...and also be fun doing it all together, including the strange and wonderful.

Many thanks to Peter Luiks for bringing this article to my attention.

Source: zibb.nl/De Telegraaf
Auteur: Michiel de Visser

12 September 2005

Skype release for Tiger with Widget

Skype just released Version for Mac on September 8th. Just playing with it now. Wonder how much I'll actually use that widget, cute as it is. I'm still getting used to the whole widget concept. Since I have my own quick key method for everything, I have a tendency to forget the Dashboard.

Tomorrow, I'll actually try and call someone. Now I can also say "Skype me!"

10 September 2005

Dinnerbuzz - Social Guide to Dinner and Drinks

Dinnerbuzz is an online social guide to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. They say that they want to make it easy to find a place for dinner or drinks anywhere in the world. It seems very American at the moment.

What I really liked was the tagging element. This is a great application for tagging. Check out the tags they already have. What if we were to expand those with a more culinary descriptive language?

"Dinnerbuzz is a community of people sharing information about the places they've visited. When you post, your tags are shared with everyone. Tags make it easy to find places you might not have known about before. And since Dinnerbuzz enables you to filter tags locally, finding interesting places (and people) is quick and easy!"

How about if we start to add places we like to eat in our cities - from Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.

Conscious Awareness

Conscious awareness probably sounds like saying the same thing twice. Conscious awareness is about being authentically present with what is happening around you.

Many of us race through our day trying to cope with an over-abundance of input, choices, and tasks we must accomplish. We miss many opportunities simply because we are "unaware". So, how do we tune ourselves into who and what is really important and to what can - or could - contribute to enriching our lives and our work?

This simple act of presence requires a different mindset. Letting go of impatience and irritation with situations and people creates a space where we can see a situation more clearly and also see and sense our role in that situation more realistically.

Try an experiment with yourself. Instead of jumping to conclusions, judging people and situations, and expecting something to happen a certain way...try to observe what's going on and get a sense of what's at play. What are the circumstances and who is playing into the situation and where are you in this stage? How are you experiencing this...and how are others experiencing you?

Let me know what shows up in a new way and brings unexpected opportunities with it.

8 September 2005

Business Models & Roles We Play

Lately, I've been coaching a lot of people about the importance of really understanding a business model and their roles inside those frameworks. Wanting to make something happen and the ability to see a clear path to actually realize that can be worlds apart. Generally, it has more to do with mis-alignment and less to do with the wonderfulness of the idea or project.

Business models set up a framework to capture value in a particular way. People working inside those frameworks with responsibility for financial performance have a clear agenda of how to keep the machine oiled and running.

Perhaps, we need to spend more time figuring out our true roles and our own business models so that we can easily identify a good fit for our ideas and projects with other business models. Personal development paths integrated into our professional paths can lead us into worlds that bring continual enjoyment and enrichment.

I want to create a fun ways to help people bring this into their professional life. Not only would it help the individual, but it would certainly help organizations get the right people into the right roles. That would make our world as customers much more enjoyable. This is the Future of Fun Ideas.

Let me know if you've run across a company that seems to be doing this well. I'd like to film interviews with people inside that organization on how it impacts their job enjoyment - and their performance.

6 September 2005

Installed Tiger OS 10.4 on laptop

After coping with the impact of hackers attacking our servers and data bases over the weekend, I decided to upgrade my Apple PowerBook G4 to Tiger OS 10.4.2. Tender from having lost everything we've built on the wikis and sites, I spent two days just backing every thing up on an external hard drive. This process took hours. Just to make double-sure, I saved everything to my iPod as well. This process went so quickly because transferring data through Firewire 800 is speedy. This sold me on the value of buying a new LaCie 250 GB hard drive with Firewire.

Tiger OS 10.4 did not seem so different at first. DASHBOARD is a playful and visual interface, where WIDGETS rule! They are tools, interfaces to music or feed-cams, news, games, and also a widget with access to more widgets. All I have to do is roll my mouse into a corner and - voila! - the screen darkens and comes alive with all the widgets. I spent hours playing with possibilities and having fun. How many of these that I will actually use...well, time will tell. SPOTLIGHT - also instantaneous with a quick slide of the mouse to one corner - brings all open windows into reduced versions on a darkened screen. Very sexy and handy.

iTunes has now identified Podcasting as a resource. So with one click, I entered a world of search-and-find any podcast relevant to my interests. I highly recommend IT Conversations, which you can now also access through iTunes. Doug Kaye took IT Conversations to another level when he captured and distributed the talks given by Malcom Gladwell and others during PopTech last fall. One of my favorite Podcasts of all time is Frans Waal on Primates & Human Political Behavior.

Over the past two days I've slowly begun to discover little applications like Automator, which at first glance do not seem like much, but ultimately offer a way to manage and link tasks and processes together. Hitting the PRINT button is more like opening a management tool for packaging and distribution. Choices include a drop down menu for saving into .pdf format in multiple ways, including compression possibilities. If I don't want to print, I can FAX.

Tiger is definitely more playful. I don't even think I've yet realized all the wonders of what it will do for me.

If anyone has discovered hidden gems, please share!

4 September 2005

Hackers destroyed our servers & data bases

All of our sites connected to one particular server have been breached. We can not recover anything, so we will need a bit of time to rebuild. Please have patience.

This affects:

This has affected not only me, but my other partners associated with the Institute for Collaboration, Creativity & Culture (IFCCC) as well.

Rob van Andel was hit the worst because the data bases for his gaming sites are gone. Ton Zylstra will work on rebuilding the wiki, forum and blog for us over the next couple of weeks.

3 September 2005

Compelling Interview with the Mayor of New Orleans

I listened to a compelling Interview with Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans through a link from Joho the Blog. In this interview, he speaks his mind and heart and pleads with anyone willing to listen. He asks for help in a very constructive way, identifying the need for organized troops and assets like hundreds of buses with drivers to remove people from the devastation. He explains the situation and the how politics is hindering progress. By the end of the interview, I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat because I finally understood what they have to face in trying to cope with all the elements involved in this disaster.

Before talking on the role of Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin had never held political office. He was vice president and general manager for Cox Communications where he transformed the local operations of the cable company into one of Cox's most profitable assets.

In giving such a forthright interview, he has broken all the rules of politics. Bravo. Listen to his interview and then go online and find a way to help.

2 September 2005

What if...America would invest in itself?

After watching the news films and reading all the media about the hurricane disaster in along the gulf coast in the USA, I realize that American politicians need to make some defining decisions about the future of their country. How can such a political giant treat its own people as if they were worthless? I ask this question because they are investing millions of dollars in a war in a foreign country that does not want their presence or involvement. They are not investing in their most important asset in their own country - their human beings.

People caught up in the disaster of this hurricane are fighting for their lives and for the lives of their children. They desperately need help. Beyond this, there is now proof of an emerging poverty class that makes up 12.7% of the population. 13 million children under the age of 18 live in poverty. The number of Americans living in poverty increased by 1.1 million in 2004. Please download the 2004 Census Report of Poverty in the USA to fully understand the impact of these statistics.

The reason that this hurricane has had such an impact on human life has more to do with the destructuve forces of poverty than it has to do with destructive forces of weather.

What if the American government would take half the money they spend on the outside world, wars and defense...and apply it to the health, education and welfare of its children? What if America would strategically rebuild the infrastructure of its human network based on this? Could the possibility arise that real innovation on a socio-economic level might evolve from this investment?

I seriously question whether the wealth of a nation should only be measured in money and defense power. What about measuring the wealth of a nation based on the well-being of its children?