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Archive for July, 2009

Thanks to my job, i get in contact with interesting people. As preparation for the Innovation track at Sibos (called www.innotribe.com), our team is focusing on 3 themes:

  1. Cloud
  2. Crowd
  3. Mash-ups

In total we’ll have more than 40 speakers during one week, combined with speedlabs, debates, and R&D pitches. And during the last day, Guy Kawasaki will be part of our VC debate and Buyers Panel.

Detailed agenda available here.

As you have probably noticed, in my private life and endeavors (such as the Think Tank for Long Term Future), i am blurring the lines between real and virtual, between flesh & bone human and robots.

As a matter of fact, i am also blurring the lines between job and private here, and i  don’t see anything wrong with it.

What about virtual reality in a business context ?

Welcome to project Wonderland from Sun Microsystems. They will do during Innotribe @ Sibos a demo on the Virtual Bank Branch Office. In the meantime , have a look at below 2 videos, that once again proof how fast our real and virtual worlds are merging.

First listen to the project manager, Nicole Yankelovich. What’s really interesting is that the sort of people that work on this are true hybrids: a mix of nerds, psychologists, anthropological and ethnographic R&D…

This video is a hidden job advertisement, so you’re warned :-)

But this sort of stuff and skills is really were we as a society should put stimuli and scholarships for our net.generation to be ready for 2030. Those who are 20 today will be 40 by then and our next leaders.

Then enjoy to this wonderful Wonderland scenario tour based on the preview of version 0.5 in their labs:

First time i see things like federation of worlds. I already heard about federated identities, federated clouds, federated services, but this ? No, not yet.

Oh yes, you can also restore a world in his previous state.

However, i still find that the user is forced into the developers mind of properties, cells, etc. No way i can explain this to my dad. It’s like the first time you see Windows: only if you get used to it, you start making sense out of it. You adapt to the programmer’s mind.

Think.

Tank.

Thanks to Amir for providing me the links.

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Thanks to xstof (again ;-), I discovered daily galaxy site.

Two really interesting blog entries related to our Long Term Think Tank ambitions:

The first about robots developing at warp speed.

Hans Moravec,  pioneer in mobile robot research and founder of Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Yes, again that Carnegie Mellon University.

robota_3_3_2

Whilst today, these robots are barely at the lower range of vertebrate complexity, they could catch up with us within a half century."

  1. 2010: A first generation of broadly-capable "universal robots".
  2. 2015: Utility robots host programs for several tasks.
  3. 2020: Universal robots host programs for most simple chores.
  4. 2030: Robot competence will become comparable to larger mammals.

In the decades following the first universal robots, a second generation with mammallike brainpower and cognitive ability will emerge. They will have a conditioned learning mechanism, and steer among alternative paths in their application programs on the basis of past experience, gradually adapting to their special circumstances. A third generation will think like small primates and maintain physical, cultural and psychological models of their world to mentally rehearse and optimize tasks before physically performing them. A fourth, humanlike, generation will abstract and reason from the world model.

Others believe that it is humans who will evolve into advanced “robots”. Their belief is that with futuristic technologies being developed in multiple fields, human intelligence may eventually be able to “escape its ensnarement in biological tissue” and be able to move freely across boundaries that can’t support flesh and blood—while still retaining our identities

Many more video material from Carnegie here.

One is about identities, privacy and social security numbers. I am sure my friends from the Belgian eID project will have a sort of déja-vu when watching the following video:

But in essence, it’s all about the changing nature our own real and perceived identity in a digital world. I should drop the word “digital”, as young people see this as “old-mans-wording”. They not talk about a “digital” camera. It’s just a camera. It’s our “world”.

The other article is about Project Blue Brain.

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A bit scary is the statement: ""We cannot keep on doing animal experiments forever," That is Mr. Markram during this month’s TED Global Conference at Oxford, England.

… a simulation that recreates the activity of a human brain may produce ethical concerns.  Technically a computer that recreates a rat brain would raise similar issues but, as you’re about to see, these guys don’t have any sympathy for rats.

And not that innocent at all:

With the ability to simulate the effects of rewiring, drugs or external electric fields at an individual neuron level we can investigate enhancements (such as new senses, new cognitive modes or neuroelectric interfaces) without all the inconvenient "human rights violations" and "Crimes against humanity" such research normally entails.  We could improve our own minds – and since we’ll have just invented a silicon model operating at computer speeds in a bulletproof shell, we’ll have to.

Again, this is one of the key purposes of our Think Tank: what if all this (technological evolutionary exponential explosion) happens, what are the consequences for our value kit for the future ? For our personal and corporate values, for our ethical context, for the way we want to be human ?

And also, how do we prepare the future generation of leaders for this radically different world ?

By coincidence, one of the links on the home page of Carnegie Mellon University’s Next-Generation Computing faculty points to project Alice 3.0

Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a teaching tool for introductory computing. It uses 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface to facilitate a more engaging, less frustrating first programming experience.

(btw, also note that the classrooms are packed with Mac’s not PC’s)

Again, it’s again about “doing things that matter”

Why can we from Europe not set-up this sort of stimulating initiatives for our Net Generation (or Generation Y or Generation M) to prepare the next generation of leaders to be ready for 2030 ?

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I have a couple of days off, so we can have some lighter (albeit) subjects.

First enjoy this video:

Then read this article on Singularity Hub site, and dream away with all these great subjects like Longevity, Nanotech, Robotics, Genetics, AI, The Brain…

And then click on the link to disturbingly-real-replicants-from-hanson-robotics, and enjoy scary Einstein robot (Video also below). Man, this is really creeepyyyy !

It’s funny when he says at minute 1:20 “Hello, my name is Albert Einstein, i am a physicist”. Would love to hear a trance or techno mix with this sound sample ;-) Gunbee, xstof, Maurice: want to give it a try ? Could be a big hit !

And then there is Zeno Robokind.

For Robokind, wait till minute 3:40 or so, when he/she ? awakens and starts asking questions of life like “Who am I ?” and “What is my purpose ?”. Or also “save the world from the evil” and “…allow users to explore the world of 2029”.

And “Work with us to realize the dream”: Close to our Think Tank Long Term Future (2030) “Inspire People to Dream”

Enjoy !

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Thanks to my twine.com subscription to “Technology Trends”, i found this.

You can read the related article here.

In case you doubted that man-machine are blurring more and more everyday.

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Something is going on at Carnegie Mellon University. Just a couple of days ago, my friend xstof twittered about claytronics research at Carnergie.

It’s about programmable matter. Not really sure what to image ? Have a look at the following video.

image

This model car is made of programmable matter !

Today the New York Times (this is not what you call the average newspaper, i can tell you) had an article about the February 2009 private Asilomar Conference. The title says: “Association’s Presidential Panel on Long-Term AI Futures”

On reflecting about the long term, panelists will review expectations and uncertainties about the development of increasingly competent machine intelligences, including the prospect that computational systems will achieve “human-level” abilities along a variety of dimensions, or surpass human intelligence in a variety of ways. The panel will appraise societal and technical issues that would likely come to the fore with the rise of competent machine intelligence. For example, how might AI successes in multiple realms and venues lead to significant or perhaps even disruptive societal changes?

The focus groups are on:

  • Pace, Concerns, Control, Guidelines
  • Potentially Disruptive Advances: Nature and timing
  • Ethical and Legal Challenges

  • The researchers — leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers and roboticists who met at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on Monterey Bay in California — generally discounted the possibility of highly centralized superintelligences and the idea that intelligence might spring spontaneously from the Internet. But they agreed that robots that can kill autonomously are either already here or will be soon.

    Also in this context, the AI lab of the Carnegie Mellon University was mentioned.

    Tom Mitchell, a professor of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Carnegie Mellon University, said the February meeting had changed his thinking. “I went in very optimistic about the future of A.I. and thinking that Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil were far off in their predictions,” he said. But, he added, “The meeting made me want to be more outspoken about these issues and in particular be outspoken about the vast amounts of data collected about our personal lives.”

    From killing to empathy is only a small step in the NYT article. Here is a robot showing empathy when you have diarrhea.

    image

    If you want some more serious stuff on this subject, i can really recommend the book “Beyond AI – Creating the conscience of the machine” by J.Storrs Hall, PhD.

    xhuman

    He talks about different “Kind of Minds”: Hypohumans, Diahumans, Epihumans, Hyperhumans.

    See also Ray Kurzweil.Net

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    There are 2 recent interesting posts on Google becoming too big.

    Anil Dash had this post about “Google’s Microsoft Moment” on July 9, 2009.

    google-microsoft-chrome-480

    It’s all about the idea that Google’s self-proclaimed identity of “Don’ be evil” does not match some realities of monopoly.

    Also, some of its behaviors start smelling Microsoft’s way of doing things in the old days.

    Google’s recent development work on applications for mobile devices has often been delivered exclusively as applications for their own Android platform instead of as iPhone applications, despite the fact that iPhones are roughly forty times more popular in the marketplace. iPhones are also much more popular outside of the United States than Android, further limiting the actual audience served by these applications. Now, it’s obviously good company policy to make sure to support Google’s own platforms, and Google does an admirable job of using generic open web technologies where possible to avoid having to choose between platforms at all. But choosing to leave the majority of users in a given market unaddressed because they are on a platform that is not part of your corporate goals is short-sighted and leaves a lingering sense of mistrust

    Another great and quite in-depth article is in Wired about Obama’s Top Antitrust Cop Christine A. Varney.

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    The intro of that posting says its all: "I think you are going to see a repeat of Microsoft." Red highlighting by myself.

    Christine Varney’s blunt assessment sent a buzz through the audience at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Varney, a partner at Hogan & Hartson and one of the country’s foremost experts in online law, was speaking at the ninth annual conference of the American Antitrust Institute, a gathering of top monopoly attorneys and economists. Most of the day was filled with dry presentations like "Verticality Regains Relevance" and "The Future of Private Enforcement." But Varney, tall and professorial, did not hide her message behind legalese or euphemism. The technology industry, she said, was coming under the sway of a dominant behemoth, one that had the potential to stifle innovation and squash its competitors. The last time the government saw a threat like this—Microsoft in the 1990s—it launched an aggressive antitrust case. But by the time of this conference, mid-June 2008, a new offender had emerged. "For me, Microsoft is so last century," Varney said. "They are not the problem. I think we are going to continually see a problem, potentially, with Google."

    And also interesting parallel at the end of the article:

    Google is playing nice so far. Its public policy blog soothingly acknowledges regulators’ concerns. "As Google has grown," it reads, "the company has naturally faced more scrutiny about our business principles and practices. We believe that Google promotes competition and openness online, but we haven’t always done a good job telling our story." Schmidt is a regular presence in Washington; he served as a member of Obama’s transition team and now sits on his technology advisory council. And publicly, Schmidt welcomes the oversight. "We understand the role here," he says. "We are not judge and jury."

    mf_googlopoly4_f

    But that doesn’t mean Google will neuter itself to please the government. Just like Gates before him, Schmidt says he has no plans to change his company’s trajectory in the face of regulatory challenges. Microsoft’s belligerence was a function of its will to power, a refusal to believe that the government had the authority or intelligence to take it down. Google still thinks it can get regulators to see it as it sees itself: not as a mere company but as a force for good.

    And what about Mozilla’s Firefox ? Now that Google has launched it Chrome Browser and had announced it’s own Chrome OS, doesn’t all this look so similar to Microsoft killing Netscape ?

    One of the big differences is that Microsoft was not funding Netscape, whereas a big part of Mozilla’s revenues seem to come from Google. The contract seems to run till 2011, but in essence they exist by the grace of Google.

    Mozilla and Google have long had an agreement that makes Google the standard home page when people start Firefox, and sends them to Google when they type something into the search box at the top of the browser.

    Google pays Mozilla hefty fees in return.

    The deal accounted for 88 percent of Mozilla’s $75 million in revenue in 2007, according to its most recent tax filings, and it was recently renewed through 2011. (The gusher of income from Google prompted the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation to set up a taxpaying subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, in 2005.)

    Have this great article in the New York Times following a press update as Mozilla moved offices away from the shadow of the Google campus.

    Kevin Kelleher already wrote in 2004 in Wired’s Googlemania:

    mf_googlopoly3_f

    "Microsoft looks at Google and sees its own past, full of promise. Google looks at Microsoft and sees the future—a swaggering company that dominates the tech landscape" (bingo!).”

    “Bingo” ? Could he foresee Microsoft’s rebranding of their search engine into Bing ?

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    Wow !

    This thing hit me in my face. It’s so right-on. So much in line with what i believe we should do about our value kit to survive the huge changes that will be caused by exponential technology progress.

    This is the Generation M manifesto !

    I just will cut & paste the first sentences to wet your appetite. Here we go…

    Dear Old People Who Run the World,

    My generation would like to break up with you.

    Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world — and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.

    You wanted big, fat, lazy "business." We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.

    You turned politics into a dirty word. We want authentic, deep democracy — everywhere.

    You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people — not just banks.

    You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.

    You wanted an invisible hand — it became a digital hand. Today’s markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted.

    You wanted growth — faster. We want to slow down — so we can become better.

    You didn’t care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunk. We want a rising tide that lifts all boats.

    You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.

    You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic community.

    You wanted more money, credit and leverage — to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff that matters.

    Go and read the full manifesto !

    All this comes from a really smart guy. Umair Haque. He is Director of the Havas Media Lab, a new kind of strategic advisor that helps investors, entrepreneurs, and firms experiment with, craft, and drive radical management, business model, and strategic innovation.

    Prior to Havas, Umair founded Bubblegeneration, an agenda-setting advisory boutique that helped shape the strategies of investors, entrepreneurs, and blue chip companies across media and consumer industries. Bubblegeneration’s work has been recognized by publications like Wired, The Red Herring, Business 2.0, and BusinessWeek, and in Chris Anderson’s Long Tail, to which Umair was a contributor.

    Umair plans to open-crowdsource the manifesto. It already started here.

    Something is going on. This is a movement that swells in power.

    It’s irresistible.

    It’s a drug.

    It’s life.

    It’s the free mind.

    It’s about doing stuff that matters.

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    Some interesting sources of inspiration, with thanks to xstof.

    1) Fantastic on-line magazine H+ (Human +), and transhumanistic inpired: http://hplusmagazine.com/magazine

    ad-omg-read-hplus

    In the intro by the editor of the Summer 2009 issue of the H+ Magazine, there is a wonderful setting-the-scene statement that we can also apply to our Think Tank on Long Term Future:

    Watching the news as we do, we witness incredible breakthroughs nearly every week. These are stories that would have been the “story of the year” if they had happened just a decade ago. But these days, they are quickly swept aside by the next breaking science story. They seem to come at ever increasing speeds. In this sense, we are becoming ever more aware of the implications of moore’s Law being played out in the “NBIC” (Nano, Bio, Info & Cogno) “Information science” fields.

    We hope that (among other things) we can inspire young people to study and get involved in the emerging “NBIC” sciences and technologies so as to help us transcend our genetic/biological limitations. We’re hoping that future generations will be able to live incredibly long and healthy life spans without disease, enjoy higher intelligences (perhaps augmented by computers through braincomputer interfaces), and generally be more productive and happy.

    In the Spring 2009 Issue, there was also a really cool article about the state of Nanotechnology.

    Excerpt from that article:

    If nanotechnology follows Moore’s law (transistors on a chip double every 18 months), this level of nanotechnology could occur in the next 15 years or less. The vision includes:

    • Precisely targeted agents for cancer therapy
    • Efficient solar photovoltaic cells
    • Efficient, high-power-density fuel cells
    • Single molecule and single electron sensors
    • Biomedical sensors (in vitro and in vivo)
    • High-density computer memory
    • Molecular-scale computer circuits
    • Selectively permeable membranes
    • Highly selective catalysts
    • Display and lighting systems
    • Responsive (“smart”) materials
    • Ultra-high-performance materials
    • Nanosystems for APM.

    It also includes numerous links to the coolest sites on that subject, including a link to Eric Drexler’s Nanotechnology Roadmap, dated 2007, and translated in Russian June 2009 (Elie, how is your scientific Russian ? :-)

    2) A Web² PDF Whitepaper that is published at the occasion of the upcoming Web 2.0 Summit scheduled for 20-22 October 2009 in San-Francisco.

    The whitepaper can be found here.

    Some salient extracts, that really inspire me and the folks at our Think Tank:

    Collective intelligence applications depend on managing, understanding, and responding to massive amounts of user-generated data in real time. The "subsystems" of the emerging internet operating system are increasingly data subsystems: location, identity (of people, products, and places), and the skeins of meaning that tie them together. This leads to new levers of competitive advantage: Data is the "Intel Inside" of the next generation of computer applications.

    Today, we realize that these insights were not only directionally right, but are being applied in areas we only imagined in 2004. The smartphone revolution has moved the Web from our desks to our pockets. Collective intelligence applications are no longer being driven solely by humans typing on keyboards but, increasingly, by sensors. Our phones and cameras are being turned into eyes and ears for applications; motion and location sensors tell where we are, what we’re looking at, and how fast we’re moving. Data is being collected, presented, and acted upon in real time. The scale of participation has increased by orders of magnitude.

    With more users and sensors feeding more applications and platforms, developers are able to tackle serious real-world problems. As a result, the Web opportunity is no longer growing arithmetically; it’s growing exponentially. Hence our theme for this year: Web Squared. 1990-2004 was the match being struck; 2005-2009 was the fuse; and 2010 will be the explosion.

    Ever since we first introduced the term "Web 2.0," people have been asking, "What’s next?" Assuming that Web 2.0 was meant to be a kind of software version number (rather than a statement about the second coming of the Web after the dotcom bust), we’re constantly asked about "Web 3.0." Is it the semantic web? The sentient web? Is it the social web? The mobile web? Is it some form of virtual reality?

    It is all of those, and more.

    The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world. Increasingly, the Web is the world – everything and everyone in the world casts an "information shadow," an aura of data which, when captured and processed intelligently, offers extraordinary opportunity and mind bending implications. Web Squared is our way of exploring this phenomenon and giving it a name.

    The whitepaper tackles Web² from following angles:

    - Redefining Collective Intelligence: New Sensory Input

    - Cooperating Data Subsystems

    - How the Web Learns: Explicit vs. Implicit Meaning

    - Web Meets World: The "Information Shadow" and the Internet of Things

    - Photosynth, Gigapixel Photography, and Infinite Images (example)

    - The Rise of Real Time: A Collective Mind

    Thrilling is the thinking on identity and information shadows of objects:

    For instance, a book has information shadows on Amazon, on Google Book Search, on Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing, on eBay and on BookMooch, on Twitter, and in a thousand blogs.

    A song has information shadows on iTunes, on Amazon, on Rhapsody, on MySpace, or Facebook.

    A person has information shadows in a host of emails, instant messages, phone calls, tweets, blog postings, photographs, videos, and government documents.

    A product on the supermarket shelf, a car on a dealer’s lot, a pallet of newly mined boron sitting on a loading dock, a storefront on a small town’s main street — all have information shadows now.

    In many cases, these information shadows are linked with their real world analogues by unique identifiers: an ISBN or ASIN, a part number, or getting more individual, a social security number, a vehicle identification number, or a serial number. Other identifiers are looser, but identity can be triangulated: a name plus an address or phone number, a name plus a photograph, a phone call from a particular location undermining what once would have been a rock-solid alibi.

    This puts a completely different perspective on the thinking about for example the Belgian Electronic Identity Card (eID) which is based on information in the government central database and referred to by the Belgian Social Security Number.

    Why do we still need numbers ? See also my earlier post on “Do we still need identity numbers?”.

    There is also a fantastic reference to Jeff Jonas work on Identity.

    Jonas’ work included building a database of known US persons from various sources. His database grew to about 630 million "identities" before the system had enough information to identify all the variations. But at a certain point, his database began to learn, and then to shrink. Each new load of data made the database smaller, not bigger. 630 million plus 30 million became 600 million, as the subtle calculus of recognition by "context accumulation" worked its magic.

    The last paragraphs are even more stimulating:

    But 2009 marks a pivot point in the history of the Web. It’s time to leverage the true power of the platform we’ve built. The Web is no longer an industry unto itself – the Web is now the world.

    And the world needs our help.

    If we are going to solve the world’s most pressing problems, we must put the power of the Web to work – its technologies, its business models, and perhaps most importantly, its philosophies of openness, collective intelligence, and transparency. And to do that, we must take the Web to another level. We can’t afford incremental evolution anymore.

    It’s time for the Web to engage the real world. Web meets World – that’s Web Squared.

    3) A recent interview with Ray Kurzweil at the occasion of the real start of his Singularity University.

    It little less exciting – at least of you have read his book “The Singularity is Near” – but always inspiring.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-06-26-Inventing-the-Future.cfm

    Let the future emerge !

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    How relevant will the desktop be in the next 5 years ? I don’t know about you, but I do more an more in online tools such as hotmail, gmail, googledocs, etc

    I want to offer you 3 perspectives to this trend:

    - A business to business point of view (Salesforce)

    - A 2007 (!) vision by Aza Raskin from Mozilla Labs

    - The announcement of Google Wave and OS

    I have included 3 video is this post. The first one is short (1:54), the others are longer (1 hour 20 min) and (1 hour 20 min) respectively. But i can assure you they are worth every minute.

    Let’s start with Salesforce. On 9 June 2009, I attended the free Salesforce-event “CloudTour 2009” in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

     

    This was a very, very professionally run event with very professional speakers (drilled like an army). They flew over a number of hotshots from San Francisco for this event.

    Some key facts about Salesforce:

    • 1,2 Billion $ revenue in FY 2009
    • 59,000+ customers
    • 1,5 Million users
    • 100 Million API transactions per day
    • Average response time: 300 Milliseconds
    • 3 releases per year, without any disruption for customers
    • Customers: big to small. Some examples: Solvay, VUM, Polycom, DELL, Corporate Express

    All this to say this is not Mickey Mouse business: these folks exist for 10 years. This is mature business.

    Their tag-line is: NO SOFTWARE.

    Everything runs in the cloud.

    There was a great demo on deep integration in Services Cloud of Twitter, Facebook discussions in Salesforce app, direct visibility in Google search. All in real-time.

    Another demo was about “Building an app in 30 minutes”. They built in essence an expense report app like most companies have. Built and on-line in 30 minutes: With currency conversions, linked to accounts for which the expenses are incurred, with approval workflow, access management etc. All this was point and click. Not one single line of coding.

    Peter Coffee, Director Platform Research had some strong messages about the economics of cloud. He stated that all of the following is commodity and does not add business value, and is ready to go to the cloud: Email, twitter, backup, security, virtualization, OS patches, running an Operating Centre, messaging. He also stated that SaaS, IaaS, PaaS are not relevant in itself. It’s about the apps and the business value add you create with that. And that cloud is NOT about IT budget cost reduction !

    It is about moving from “less low level people on less value tasks” to “high value level people on high value tasks”

    Your IT budget may go UP over the years, as you spent more on high value tasks

    Beware of the expectation it is easy or cheap

    When strolling through the exhibitor space, picked up a comment from a customer:

    Now that I have this, I never want to go back to on-premise. This works. Never any probs of crashes and alike or things that do not work. Unbelievable I ever accepted doing business the old way.

    Let’s have a  look at what Aza Raskin had to say about the desktop.

    “Had” because this is dated May 2007, more than 2 years ago.

    I am a big fan of Aza. See also my post on Mash-ups and Cloud and Semantic Web.

    His bio is fantastic:

    Aza is currently the Head of User Experience for Mozilla Labs, where he works on crafting the future of the web. He’s led projects ranging from semantic language-based interfaces (Ubiquity), to redesigning the Firefox extension platform (Jetpack). Aza gave his first talk on user interface at age 10 and got hooked. At 17, he was talking and consulting internationally; at 19, he coauthored a physics textbook because he was too young to buy alcohol; at 21, he started drinking alcohol and co-founded Humanized. Two years later, Aza founded Songza.com, a minimalist music search engine that had over a million song plays during it’s first week of operation. In another life, Aza has done Dark Matter research at both Tokyo University and the University of Chicago, from where he graduated with degrees in math and physics.

    His GoogleTalk in 2007 was titled “Away with Applications: The Death of the Desktop”. On the opening picture, he looks even a bit like the very young Bill Gates ;-). Aza was born in 1984. So 25 years old now !

    And it is NOT about bashing on Microsoft. He is explaining why it does not make sense anymore to follow what has been.

    He is using some pretty powerful metaphors: the shovel analogy, “it’s not Microsoft’s fault”, Analog vs. Digital watch, “Start with the manual”.

    If you don’t have the time to view the full video, go straight to minute 21 or so. In essence most user interfaces force the user to adhere to the program hierarchy of the developer.

    He goes on with seeing natural language as a universal access to application: like you search the web, you could also search services. Basically, there are 4 “do this” commands: create, select, navigate, and transform.

    Aza will this week also speak at TEDGlobal 2009 in the Connected Consequences track. I have also invited Aza to speak at SWIFT’s Sibos 2009, in the Innotribe track for which i am the overall content owner.

    Enjoy Aza !

    The other announcement that created a twitter & blog storm on the internet was Google Wave. Just google “Google Wave” and you will see what i mean ;-)

    I don’t get all the criticasters. This is really very cool stuff and it is going to change fundamentally how we think of online communication. I strongly recommend to watch every minute of this launch event video.

    On May 29, a couple of days after the announcement, i spotted a Facebook comment from a person with a quite high-level position in the Belux Microsoft organization: "Not impressed by Google Wave. More of the same in a different jacket. Ever watched conversations in Outlook 2010 ?"

    As i am an ex-Microsoft employee, and still have some friendly contacts there, i wrote him an e-mail and explained that i was soon going to write something on my blog on this and the relevance of the desktop.

    I asked to share some links to Outlook 2010 to be able to link my readers to what Microsoft has to offer in this area so that my readers can make up their own mind ? This is the answer i got: “Outlook 2010 is in Technical Preview – we cannot show outside. But if you look on the web you will find a couple of things about it.”

    So it’s “help yourself” at http://www.microsoft.com/office/2010/. Oh yeah, you probably will have to pay for Office 2010. Last week, Microsoft also announced they will offer a FREE on-line version of Office as part of the upcoming Microsoft Office 2010 release.

    To close this post, a really good opinion on this in Hutch Carpenter’s blog “I’m actually not a geek”. One of his latest posts relate to SaaS and also relates to Google’s more recent announcement of the Chrome OS.

    He positions all this in the context of Clayton Christensen’s “disruptive innovation” model, and goes on:

    Which brings us to the PCs of today. They are marvels, providing a slick experience for users and able to accommodate a host of new applications. But if I were a betting man, I’d say the most common activities people do with their computers are:

    • Surf the web, engage in social media
    • Email
    • Write documents
    • Build spreadsheets
    • Create presentations
    • Consume and work with media (video, music, graphics)
    • Use web-based business apps

    Among those activities, what’s the magic of client-based computing? The media-related activities perhaps require the horsepower of a client app. But even those are getting better with web apps.

    I recently decided to switch from hotmail to gmail.

    Competition is good.

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    The title of my very first post in April was inspired by an personal development course i followed in 2007-2009. The course was titled “Leading by Being”. For myself, i discovered my purpose in life as “Inspiring other people to dream”.

    I can do this in many different authentic ways: in my family, at work, with friends, in communities, on-line.

    Based on some initial ideas created during Leading by Being, i started putting together some ideas on what is little by little becoming a think tank looking at long term future.

    My Pamphlet posting of last month was basically the first part of the executive summary for this think tank.

    image

    Since then, we have been sitting together last month with 10 captains of industry of the Flanders region, where the idea was floated and generated a lot of interest. We will have a follow-up meeting after the summer holidays, where we will invite co-thinkers and enthusiasts.

    I would like to go faster, but would like things happen at their natural pace, as the subtitle of this blog suggests: “Let the future emerge”.

    I will keep you updated as this project/movement emerges.

    To keep the subject warm, I am happy to share the 2nd part of the executive summary in its original form, hopefully to generate some on-line discussion:

    We want to create a “think-tank/foundation” on long term future. Long term defined as 2030. A place where “smart people” can meet. Where experts from different technological domains share their insights for 2030. Cross-fertilizing each other’s disciplines. With “smart people” from different contexts & worldviews that can act as our “eyes” and offer a perspective on how we will live, work in 2030. On how our education is best organized. On what our ideal value kit for that era should be, beyond traditional corporate culture. A culture of sharing and exploring, where we live intensely in teams, groups, regions, countries and communities and with deep respect for the individual humanistic identity of all those forming part of it.

    Similar think-tanks of course already exist. But many look at these subjects from an US-perspective only. Or only bringing together technology experts. Few or none do this from our cultural rich and diverse European heritage.

    We believe that from Flanders we can make a difference. Flanders is ideally placed: it’s highly appreciated and most productive multilingual multi-cultural workforce is operating from the cross-road of Europe and fleeing out to all countries in the world. As our interdependency from other countries, regions and continents will become even more important in the years ahead, we believe we have a unique opportunity to forecast together these exciting future scenarios and possibly even lead several of these technological revolutions.

    We also want to make a difference by the inclusion up-front of the Net-Generation in our thinking. We want to give the opportunity to high-potential young adults between 15-30 years to co-create this future. Mentored by those who were part of the Internet revolution 20 years ago, and who are now 35-45 years old. Vice-Versa, we also want to offer reverse-mentorship by Net-Generation high-potentials.

    image

    These new models and scenarios will demand speed, creativity, dynamism, perseverance, courage, knowledge and working together in a multi-cultural context. This new society is – together with the movement of TransHumanists – making a plea for respect for individuality, freedom, mobility and quality of life.

    This work and endeavor is all about designing, exploring and organizing change, learning and fine-tuning as we go. Giving guidance to teams, organizations and leaders on how to surf these waves. Missing the first technology wave of speed and creativity will result in loss of economic relevance. Missing the wave of the new value kit will result in losing our Net-Generation, our brains for the future.

    Who wants to join this movement ?

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