31 May 2005

Metcalfe's Law overshoots the mark

Early in March, the New York Times published an article - Researchers: Metcalfe's Law overshoots the mark - about a paper written by 2 researchers refuting Metcalfe's Law, which is quoted as the rule of thumb for computing the value of communication networks. I recently read their academic paper again because of some work I am preparing for a client and a conference.

Andrew Odlyzko and Benjamin Tilly - researchers from the Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota - posit several arguments to substantiate that this rule is a "significant overestimate". Their paper - "A refutation of Metcalfe's Law and a better estimate for the value of networks and network interconnections" - explains why network growth rate is much slower than Metcalfe thought. And...why the dot-com and telecom boom failed.

They reviewed several quantitative models of networks...some dating back to 1974...and compared them to each other. Metcalfe's Law seemed to have an intuitive appeal, and people used it generously to project growth calculations for networks and to demonstrate "a linear relationship between the perceived size and value of a network".

I always wonder why business people grab onto "rules" like this without understanding their foundation, and without understanding the consequences of adopting it into practice. The sheer number of consultants and sales people using a "rule" like this and quoting it can turn it into a standard of practice, which is exactly what happened. This is what I call a borrowed strategy.

Perhaps it time to rethink our business models and make them unique to our businesses...and not borrow them from somewhere else.

30 May 2005

Portugal to get world's first commercial wave farm

This news article from Reuters caught my attention because I used to live in Portugal, and the name of my company years ago was Waves. As I read further, I realized this is quite an innovative solution, making use of nature's water power.

The Scottish company Ocean Power Delivery (OPD) is going to build a wave farm off the coast north of Oporto near the town of Povoa de Varzim - a charming seaside place that's like stepping back into time. These underwater, long, sausage-like tubes will generate 2.25 megawatts of power for the renewable energy group Enersis. OPD is backed by Norwegian Norsk Hydro.

Not only does this effort save people from carbon dioxide emissions, it saves the planet from global warming. I just wonder what the impact is on the local eco-sealife?

National Geographic Sustainable Destinations Resource Center

These initiatives touch me, particularly when National Geographic puts their weight behind something this important - National Geographic Sustainable Destinations Resource Center.

"We want to help residents, visitors, and professionals practice what is now being called geotourism: tourism that supports the geographical character of the place being visited—its environment, culture, heritage, aesthetics, and the well-being of its citizens.

Awareness is the key. Residents who benefit from tourism tend to value and conserve what tourists are coming to see. Visitors reinforce that link when they support businesses that sustain the destination. We hope these web pages help, and we welcome your comments and suggestions."

Jonathan B. Tourtellot, Director of Sustainable Destinations

The Dutch DARE - Digital Academic REpositories

Innovation does exist in The Netherlands! Take a look at what Dutch academics have collectively and effectively created by agreeing to open source their papers and share their knowledge - DAREnet. Digital Academic REpositories (DARE) has archived over 40,000 papers from 16 universities and made them available to the public. This is a permanent storage, which leaves a legacy of knowledge for future generations.

Just click on a name from the list of institutions and you link directly to their depot. Of course, this a project in-the-works -- and much of it is in the Dutch language or still under publisher's copyright. Still, what a step forward for a country that likes to charge you for every little step you take. This is also a relief for many academics and students who can no longer afford the expensive academic and scientific journals.

Check out Cream of Science, which lists 25,000 publications from over 200 Dutch scientists and researchers.

Go Open Source! Yea!

Last supper with my students

Friday, the students from my course at the University of Amsterdam Graduate Business School (AgBS) evaluated what they had learned and, at the same time, took pride in what they had created together - an alumni brand.

What made this this course different from previous times was the advantage of social media. This class worked with a blog and wiki. They used their blog to capture their discussions of what emerged from their collaboration in class and on the wiki. They learned how to track and aggregate intelligence on the internet using RSS and tagging, building the basis for a personal knowledge management system.

What emerged from this course - Brands, Identity & Concepts: working with dynamic network structures using Applied Connective Dynamics - was an alumni brand that will potentially serve as a knowledge society "to foster their personal development by uniting their alumni community". For Anglo-Saxon academic institutions, this is not unusual - alumni have built the repuatations of their universities and positioned them competitively, often leaving these institutions material legacies. For The Netherlands, this is quite unique. Here, alumni associations are simply university-funded social clubs.

These MBA students have defined an integrated value concept that will feed and support them over time as it grows and develops. To reach this goal, they had to struggle with innovative processes and let go of ingrained old-fashioned concepts of doing business in order to learn the impact of inter-dependencies of purpose, values and human behavior in contextual scenarios. And, they had to apply this in real-life by building a brand together.

I wish them the realization of their dreams and the success that goes with it. This group of 10 - The Creators - really got it.

24 May 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Sudoku - Number Puzzles

"suuji wa dokushin ni kagiri" Japanese for "the number is alone"

I ran across an article in the IHT on Monday about sudoku number puzzles. They have become the rage in England, with almost every newspaper carrying them, except the Financial Times. These "magic squares" have appeared in illustrations as far back as the 1500's. The strategy is to arrange the numbers from 1 through 9 in a 9 by 9 grid without repeating a number in any row or column.

The Japanese picked up the concept of these puzzles from Dell in the 1970's because numbers work in their language where English alphabet letters do not. Now they have appeared like a virus

Online Daily SuDoKu
Sample Sudoku Problem
Solver Software
Wikipedia on Sudoku

18 May 2005

Technorati Now Tracking 10 Million Blogs!

David Sifry, founder of Technorati, announced the 10 millionth blog on Sifry's Alerts.

I couldn't resist checking out this milestone 10 millionth blog. It's a Chinese blogger spotlighting an amazing collection of glass blowers, including Dale Chihuly, probably one of the best known glass blowers in the world. The photography alone is worth a visit.

17 May 2005

Building 4 Levels of Capital in our Lives

How do we track and capture value? This discussion keeps coming to the surface because people struggle with the limitation of just counting currency collected or paid out. We want to generate wealth for ourselves and for others. For those in business, we think that money is the driver. But...is it?

What really creates value for us in the different contexts of our lives? How can we create relevant measurement tools to track and capture the real value for our personal development, our relationships, our concepts and our financial portfolio.

Perhaps we need to define the criteria for evaluating the areas that build capital:
-- Human Capital - the value our personal development and growth...and our reputation
-- Social Capital - the value created through relationships with others
-- Creative Capital - the value we create through our ideas, products, and capturing our knowledge
-- Financial Capital - the value of the currency we use to affirm the application or cost of our personal, social and conceptual contributions

Each level feeds and builds on the other. As we evolve as individuals, we make greater contributions through growing our relationships and concepts. This way, we generate wealth on many levels.

People and business and government are all seeking the same thing - validation and wealth. We just have different definitions of these concepts and different tools for measuring them.

Money is not the only thing to count. What are you counting? And...how are you counting it?

12 May 2005

The Birth of a Business School Alumni Brand

The course I teach at the University of Amsterdam Graduate School of Business is coming to a close at the end of the month. What differentiated this group of MBA students from others is that we integrated the course with a blog and a wiki. They used the wiki as a collaborative space and the blog as a discussion space. We used the class time to address the processes and methodologies, and to build content. We also used the face to face time to work out the human relationship issues.

The purpose of this course is to learn how to strategically manage a brand. Using Applied Connective Dynamics, these MBA students tackled the interdependencies of a dynamic network structure of a brand, its identity and the concepts that drive the business. This is a lot to absorb for business focused professionals without an academic understanding of core physics' concepts like emergence, complexity and quantum mechanical parameters of pattern recognition. Add the politics of positioning and the identity methodology of profiling, and people can get quite lost in this maze of relationships that ultimately build reputation. The wake up for them was realizing that you need this content to build a business plan, make a budget and build the appropriate organizational structure to support it.

This year's students have created the groundwork for an alumni brand for the Business School. They want to build the reputation of the UvA Business School through fostering their personal growth through uniting this alumni community. Traditionally in the Netherlands, alumni brands are controlled through the University's administration. You can see the impact of this in the weakness of their brand's competitiveness with other Business Schools in different parts of the world where alumni have built the school's reputation and contributed to its success.

The success of this group and their alumni brand will be something to follow in the years to come. I think they will put something together that will bring UvAgBS alumni together into a community of engagement to grow value for themselves and for those to follow. They are establishing a legacy. It's been fun to partipate with them - and even more interesting to learn so much from them in their struggle to land this authentically in their own lives and in the lives of others.

Success to their preferred future.

10 May 2005

Social Media Generation Gap

What I am beginning to recognize more and more are the apparent gaps created between those engaging with social media and those who do not know of its tools or the impact of those tools. Older people fall into this gap regularly - during business meetings, while traveling, in their families, and even in their art galleries.

I received an invitation to an art exhibition of photography by recognized older artists in Friesland. What amazed me was that the photographic composition and capture had nothing differentiating it from the hundreds of photos we see every day, shared through our mobile phones, Flickr, and all the other social media tools. How will these artists feel when they discover that what they hold precious is now shared as a common occurance daily by millions?

What happens when business people leading corporate business units keep making decisions based on their ignorance of the trends and indicators of changing business models?

How can we close this gap and bring the older generations more in line with what's happening and give them access to the tools that could enrich their lives and relationships with others?

9 May 2005

Grokker - Visualizing Textual Searches

Groxis.com will supposedly release Grokker today to run as a Java plugin for browsers to view Yahoo search results in visual categories.

Pittman partnered with Yahoo because Yahoo responded by creating a standardized way to place contextual ads next to Groxis' circular search result maps.

Grokker works with categories instead of rankings, which opens up opportunities by remixing search content.

I enjoyed the "I grok" so much because it drew me back into the world of Michael Valentine from "Stranger in a Strange Land" from Robert Heinlein. At the end of the 60's, friends of mine hung a large carved wooden sign - "GROK" - from their property in Española, New Mexico as a salutation and marker for those involved in the "understanding". Just as relevant now as it was in the 60's, this book and its concepts could act as metaphor for the cultural conflicts we're addressing today.

4 May 2005

Cracking Passwords Techniques

Ran across a helpful "how-to" from GeodSoft on Cracking Passwords Techniques.

Every time I log in to use my banks online, I cringe. Since I know a few hackers, they always share their stories of how easy it is to crack codes and passwords.

Read this "how-to" and you'll be playing with new passwords too.

The Evolution of Branding

I gave a talk last week on "the Evolution of Branding" at the Club of Amsterdam. Goos Geursen also gave a talk about "Branding is something we did in flatland".

What we both discovered in the discussion groups afterward was a growing sense from people that they wanted to engage and participate with brands. It seems that people want to see more of who they really are reflected in brands.

People are tired of marketing. They want an authentic relationship; no more lies, no more empty promises.

What does this mean for the organizations responsible for brands? Listen. Find a way to create better context for people with your brand so that you'll have a realtionship with them in the future. How? I think that was the point from the feedback - it's an interactive and inter-dependent discovery process.

What are the changes you're noticing about how people engage with brands?

Ultrawideband (UWB) as Future after Wi-Fi

From the NY times article - Bandwidth Advance Hints at Future Beyond Wi-Fi - "the drive to unwire the living room is about to get a push."

The FCC in the USA has opened the way toward using a single standard for a new wireless technology called ultrawideband, or UWB. Because it uses multiple frequencies, it can carry information in smaller packages and pass through data traffic without any interference. If it works (it's still in the developmental stages), it could increase the capacity of radio spectrum dramatically by allowing users to share with already licensed users of this radio spectrum.

This could be the next big thing in wireless technology.

This means we could connect all the TV's, monitors, computers, speakers and everything else without that spaghetti of cables. It also means that it will be the next stage of wireless networking and internet access, wich would replace Wi-Fi.


GarageBand.com is a hub of activity for independent music. You can find tunes for your videos, podcasts or site. They also have links to the radio stations that are playing the music from their member bands.

GarageBand.com helps bands and musicians get their music out there. Their vision is "changing the way music is discovered". Musicians and audience find themselves sharing new ways to create context and grow distribution for music.

Listeners share their feedback through a review system. Everyone gets a chance to enjoy their own kind of music - either playing or listening.

Check out their success stories, too.

Inspiration & Spending Time

A friend sent me this site Scott Stratten: Control, Choice & Perception.

How do you "spend" your time?

Back & Catching Up

Moving is more than an event. It's a journey...and for me, it's been a 2 month intensive effort of renovation and transporting contents from storage and my studio. Even though I still have boxes to open and put away - and my studio to put back together, the major move is finally over.

Over this week I will try to catch up and respond to over 1000 emails, get up to speed with my associates in The Dutch Connection (we're becoming a stichting, a foundation), complete projects that have waited for my contribution...and get back to posting here on my blog.

And...if you can believe it, I slept through Queen's Day here.