Media Clip of the week: Hans Rosling (Director, Karolinska Institute)

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Quote Media
Clip of the week

For this week, instead of the usual
quote from a podcast or blog, I’ve decided to do a “Media Clip of the Week”. Why?
You’ll understand when you watch the video clip below (or watch
it here)
of Hans Rosling
from the 2006 Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED)
conference
which was held FEB 22-25 in Monterey, CA.

 


Hans Rosling is director of Sweden’s
renowned Karolinska
Institute
and an expert on public health. As you can imagine, his talk
about worldwide public health issues consists of a multitude of scientific data
and is extremely heavy on graphs and charts. However, what makes this so
special and awe-inspiring, is the combination of Hans’ charismatic ability to “work
the slides” and draw the audience into the data, together with his amazing
chart-rendering presentation tool that simply turns a typical data-set into a
symphony of statistical information. As Brent Edwards said in his Innovation
Science
blog, “Hans gives a tour de force data-driven
overview of world development that uses data displays that would make Edward Tufte
weep with envy.”

 According to Garr Reynolds from Presentation
Zen
:

If you want to know how
he did all those graphics, go to gapminder.org. It's all there. Hans is saying the
problem is not the data, the data is there. But it's not accessible to most
people for three reasons: (1) For researchers and journalists, teachers, etc.
it is too expensive. (2) For the
media it is too difficult to access.
(3) For the public, students, and policy makers, it is presented in a boring way. His solution is to make
the data free, let it evoke and provoke an “aha” experience,” or
a “wow!” experience for the public.

Actually, I was highly impressed by
every single one of the presentations published on the TEDTalks
section (definitely check out Sir Ken
Robinson’s talk
as well) and even Al Gore
did a great job, with a hilarious initial run until he
started getting a bit too serious with his slides. In fact, I must say that I was really amazed
by the overall design and quality of the entire website—if only every
conference could achieve such high standards!

All I have left to say is WOW–What an
amazing conference!

Here are some reviews of the
presentations and more links to resources:


- TED
(official website)
- 2006 TEDTalks (2006 presentations)
- TEDBlog (official blog)
- A
comprehensive write up
on the Presentation Zen blog
- A
nice summary
on the Innovation
Science blog

Collaborative Technologies Conference 2006: Media and Links

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So, my highlight of last week was
having dinner with a bunch of folks who were participating in the 2006 Collaborative Technologies Conference
(CTC), which was held here in Boston
on June 19-22.

I was invited to the dinner by Kathleen
Gilroy (CEO, Otter Group), and we had
a wonderful evening with great food (at Rendezvous) and lots
of “geek-speak” (chit-chat) together with six other people, including: Rod Boothby (Innovation Creators), Ross Mayfield (Social Text),
Ian Wenig (Zoho),
Vic Nishi (XStream
Software
), Stu Downes (Lotus
Collaborative Specialist
), and Lars
Ploughmann
(Zonoma).

I was unable to attend the
conference myself, but I heard lots of good/interesting stories about it from
the folks at dinner. For example, I heard there was a “wisdom of crowds” game
that involved two groups competing against each other collectively, in order to
determine which “crowd” worked better together (personally,
I would have thought that “crowd” versus “expert” would have been more
appropriate
). Also—and I got a chuckle out of this one—apparently Stowe
Boyd informed
Andrew McAfee
of the wrong date for his presentation, so they had to change the schedule
around (hmmm…I thought Stowe was an expert on this social
collaboration stuff
).

There were also plenty of other
stories and “what do you do?” or “what do you think of…” questions
going around the table, but since there was good food and wine involved,
conversation also strayed on to topics like the future of Zimbabwe and
why Red Snapper is the new Black Bass.

Anyway, instead of dishing out second
hand news that I gathered from people at the dinner table, here are some really
good resources and reviews of the CTC 2006 event, including the official audio/video
recordings…

1. Official CTC 2006 Presentaitons (PDF)
    - All speakers

2. Official CTC 2006 Video (WMV)
downloads
:
    - Jason Fried (37 Signals)
    - Matthew Glotzbach (Google Enterprise)
    - Michael Rhodin (IBM)
    - John Seely Brown (former Chief
Scientist, Xerox)
    - James Surowiecki (Author, The
Wisdom of Crowds
)
    - Tom Malone (MIT Sloan and Author, The
Future of Work
)

3. Official CTC 2006 Audio (MP3)
downloads
:
    - Interview with Luis Solis (CEO of
Group Systems)
    - Interview with Richard Lusk (CEO)
and Jnan Dash (CTO) (Foldera)
    - Jana Eggers (GM of Intuit's
Quickbase)
    - Reid Conrad (Near-Time Systems)

4. Official CTC 2006 Wiki

5. Rod
Boothby’s concise comments
about the people he met/interacted with at CTC

6. A comprehensive
overview of various sessions
at CTC by Jeffrey Treem (Edelman)

7. Lars
Ploughmann’s seriously cool mindmaps
of the CTC presentations

8. Stu Downe’s take on CTC 2006

9. Ross
Mayfield’s thoughts
on John Seely Brown’s talk at CTC 2006

Quote of the Week: Suw Charman (Strange Attractor Blog)

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OK, so I’m
a day late for this QOTW to be part of the week of June 19th, but I’m
gonna sneak it in here anyway. After all, it’s still the weekend and the work
week starts on Monday.

So, I was downloading
and listening to some of the Supernova 2006 podcasts,
when I came across a PodTech interview
with Suw Charman (Corante blog: Strange Attractor). I have
mentioned Suw in the past (see Gettin’ ETech
Support
), but I hadn’t heard this interview before.

Now, I was part
way through the interview and thoughtfully agreeing with many of the things
that Suw was saying, when I realized that this was actually a podcast from Supernova
2005, relating to Suw’s June 13, 2005 white
paper on Dark Blogs
—a term that refers to business blogs that are behind
firewalls or password-protected.

Despite
the interview being almost a year old, I was amazed at how many themes that Suw
brought up are still relevant and applicable to anyone interested in starting a blog
(or implementing any kind of ETech) for your business today.

Here’s some of what Suw had
to say in the interview:


With Dark
Blogs, it’s not so much an issue of popularity, I think. With all private blogs—whether
they’re a personal password-protected blog or an internal corporate blog—the reason
that you’re blogging is to communicate information…It’s not about traffic
anymore.

And the
issue around traffic is a bit of a red herring to some extent, because we’ve
been focusing on blogs based on how many readers they’ve got, how many
[subscribers], how many links-in, and that kind of stuff. And these are all
interesting metrics up to a point, but they take away from the core purpose of
blogging, which is to allow people to communicate and converse around the
topics that are important.

[People
are] using them in very different ways; but at the end of the day, what is
important is the fact that it’s adding value to [a] persons working day…You’re
creating a team environment, but you’re also dealing with peoples’ needs and
enabling their working processes.

People are
using it as a business tool—not for self expression. So it ceases to be about
whether it’s fun to blog and becomes about “Does this help me”? “Does this
solve a problem”? “Is this useful”? And if you have any business tool, any
piece of software at all; [and]  if it
fits into your working day comfortably, if it’s something that is easy to use
which provides value to you [or] which is of benefit to the people around you,
then you’re going to use it.


Suw also
had the following to add, relating to the case study
that she mentions in her white paper, which examines the implementation of an enterprise
blogging application (Traction Team Page)
to gather
competitive intelligence
in a Pharmceutical company:


…You’re not
actually selling them a blog. You’re not actually saying “hey, we’ve got this
great blog and it’s fantastic.” What you’re actually saying is “we have a new
intranet site about competitive intelligence” and they open it up in their
browser and have a look at it; and they find certain things interesting, they
figure out how to leave comments and they use it because IT’S EASY…And this is
one of the key features of blogs that makes them so suitable to use internally,
because you don’t have the 5-day training course, you don’t have a 300 page
user manual—you don’t need them.


Suw really
put things into perspective for me. So, if you’re having trouble getting
buy-in for an internal blog, just let whomever is putting up resistance
listen to this interview and read Suw’s
blog and white paper
, and I’m sure it will
at the very leastcause that person to pause and
reconsider for a brief moment.

This one goes on the Getting’
Etech Support
list for sure.

Yahoo Hack Day: 24 hours of Peer Innovation

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I recently blogged about Google's
Innovation Equation
and discussed how other
companies are implementing similar
models to drive innovation within their organization.

Well, it looks like Yahoo has their own innovation equation, called “Hack Day.” Their fourth Hack Day was held on June 15th, very much in the same
spirit as Jot's
“Hackathon”
. Basically, Yahoo designers were given 24hrs to build
innovative new projects and then present their ideas within a minute and a
half. Here's
a write-up by Chad Dickerson (Hack Day Organizer) on the preparation and
inspiration that went into the event. According to Chad, these are the minimal
(official) rules:

(1) Take something from
idea to prototype in a day
(2) Demo it at the end of the day, in two minutes or less (usually less)

Their very apt slogan for the event
was”Mashup or Shutup” and they had a total of 102 project
submissions, according to Mike Arrington from TechCrunch, who was invited to witness
the event first hand and blogged about it here.

There were trophies, pizza, and what
sounded like a real fun time for everyone. And the fact that everyone was having a
positive experience within the work environment was probably a good driver for
“out of the cube” thinking and also a great way to enthuse, inspire,
and motivate them. Here's what Mike A. had to say in his write-up:

The trophies weren’t the
only award, though, or even the most important incentive. Each project is
carefully documented and tracked, and a few will evolve into Yahoo products or
product features in the future. There’s big bragging rights associated with
this, and it’s a sure way to make a name for yourself among your peers.

Chad D. sums up his thoughts and
reflections on Hack Day in this
post
and here are a couple of quotes that worth thinking about if you’re
considering (or trying to get buy-in for) such an event:

Companies of all types
are naturally very goal-oriented and there is always the temptation to create
constraints on activity to nudge that activity in a very specific direction to
meet some sort of short-term need or goal. There’s no denying that Hack Day has
immediate positive business implications for Yahoo! but the constraints are few
and are only put in place to prevent completely unproductive anarchy. If you
think this is easy, it’s not. There’s always the temptation to form committees,
add more rules, and create a more heavyweight process….

Another positive outcome
of Hack Day is the spontaneous emergence of people from within the organization.
There are lots of stars at Yahoo! but the company is large enough that you
might not meet some of them. Also, some hackers are shy and hesitant to show
some of the personal stuff they’ve been working on, but the shyness seems to
melt away on Hack Day. Since hierarchy is completely meaningless on Hack Day,
it’s all about how cool your hack is, not the org chart.

More write-up's on Hack Day by: Jeremy Zawodny, Dav Glass, Michelle
Hedstrom
, Gordon
Luk
.

Quote of The Week: Andrew McAfee (Assoc Prof, HBS)

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This week’s QOTW comes from the June
10th entry of Prof. Andrew
McAfee’s blog
at the Harvard Business School.
It actually contains a few different quotes from other people as well. So, here’s
an excerpt of what Prof. McAffee had to say about “Enterprise
2.0: The State of the Meme

A very thoughtful email I
got from reader TR made a great point: “Wikis/Blogs etc. are effective
because they're simple and people can get things done quickly. I know this is a
simple point, and I know you've made it (when describing Wikis), but what if
this point overwhelms all the others in significance?”  Indeed, what
if?  I love writing about highfalutin concepts like emergence, but
it's important to not lose sight of the fact that people use these tools
because they work for them, and they work in large part because they're so easy
to use.  We should all tape to our walls wiki inventor Ward Cunningham's driving question:
 ”What's the simplest thing that could possibly work?”
 Doing so might help us overcome our innate desire to use technology to
impose structure, and also help companies deliver IT more cheaply.

I really like this quote because it validates
the “2.0” portion of Enterprise 2.0, in that Web 2.0 is really about empowering the end-user and making access
to information/interaction on the web as easy as possible. Similarly, Enterprise 2.0 is not
just about SOA
or SaaS, but
it’s also about empowering the enterprise user with the right tools to do their
job as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Especially in this day and age,
where almost every department/group uses some kind of web-based or web-related
technology for their daily work, aren’t there too many occasions when the main
user is left “helpless” because the IT department just doesn’t have the time to
help them figure out the million dollar, enterprise-level, super software that
does everything except make it easy to update the information that you really
need to have appear on the page?

Remember how search engines initially
started to include more and more options on their search page?
First, they turned into search + news pages; then into full blown portals; and then some even went on to become early “community sites”? And what did users
want to do? Well…SEARCH!!! And in the end, we all know who eventually came out on
top of the battle of search engines, don’t we? Now, what do you see on their main
search page? Simplicity…

In the end, it’s not about the bells
and whistles or the “enterprise-level” tag. It’s really about who’s using the
application and whether you’re empowering them with it or merely putting a
stumbling block between what you need them to do and what they are actually
going to be able to do. And that’s where I believe Enterprise 2.0 can make the difference.

Web 2.0 and the CEO

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Last week, Business Week published a
great article by Robert Hof (Silicon
Valley bureau chief)
entitled “Web
2.0 Has Corporate America Spinning
” as part of their “CEO Guide to Technology
series.

There is just
so much good information in this article that you really need to read it all—together
with the ton of links to other related Biz Week articles, such as A
VC's View of Web 2.0
, E-Mail
Is So Five Minutes Ago
, and MySpace
for the Office
. Here are some interesting bits from the article:


And though these Web 2.0 services have succeeded in luring
millions of consumers to their shores, they haven't had much to offer the vast
world of business. Until now.
Slowly but
surely they're scaling corporate walls. “All these things that are thought
to be consumer services are coming into the enterprise
…”

For all its appeal to the young and the wired, Web 2.0 may end up making its greatest impact in business. And that could usher in more changes in corporations,
already in the throes of such tech-driven transformations as globalization and
outsourcing. Indeed, what some are calling Enterprise 2.0 could flatten a raft of
organizational boundaries—between managers and employees and between the
company and its partners and customers…”
It's the biggest change in the organization of the corporation
in a century
.”

…the notions behind Web 2.0 clearly hold great potential for
businesses—and peril for those that ignore them. Potentially, these Web 2.0
services could help solve some vexing problems for corporations that current
software and online services have yet to tackle.

Despite all the activity so far, it's still early days for
this phenomenon some techies (who can't help themselves) call Enterprise 2.0.
For now, the key challenge for executives is learning about
the vast array of Web 2.0 services. And that requires more than simply checking
in with the premier Web 2.0 blog, TechCrunch

It's also critical for executives to try out these services
themselves…

Executives, long used to ruling from the top of the corporate
hierarchy, will have to learn a new skill: humility
. “Companies that are extremely hierarchical have
trouble adapting,” says Tim O'Reilly, CEO of tech book publisher O'Reilly
Media, which runs the annual Web 2.0 Conference “They'll be outperformed
by companies that don't work that way.”
Ultimately, taking full advantage of Web 2.0 may require –
get ready — Management 2.0
.

One of the related links in this
article leads to a very insightful and enlightening interview
with Tim O”Reilly
, where Tim talks about the paradigm shift that Web 2.0 is
generating and provides many real world examples and applications (which I like
a lot). It’s definitely worth listening to all 28 mins of the interview, but
here are some highlights that (hopefully) capture the essence of it:

ON PARADIGM SHIFTS:
When you
look at these paradigm shifts, you realize that companies that don’t get it end
up losing very badly.
So for example, in the PC revolution, Digital Equipment
Corporation was headed by Ken Olsen, who said “the PC is just a toy.” He didn’t
get it. He lost out.

…I think that we’re in
this period of tremendous change in the fundamental rules of the computer
industry…a key part of web 2.0 [is that] you don’t sell software. You just
perform.
You deliver a service with it and you monetize it in some
other way. And that’s a huge challenge to existing business models.

ON HARNESSING COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE:
Amazon [is a] really interesting case.
Amazon has the same product catalog as all their competitors,
but they were much better
at harnessing their users to annotate that data and, as a result, their data
got better and better and better; and they have pulled away from the pack
…They have a business
that is not naturally a “network effects” business. Google leveraged the
natural network effects of the web. Ebay is a natural network effects business,
but Amazon isn’t.
What you see is a series of concentrated, consistent,
persistent efforts that they make to harness their users to improve their
product and I think that’s where the real lesson is for companies.

ON APPLYING IT TO YOUR BUSINESS:
…I think companies can also create
various kinds of interesting network effects in the way they relate to their
employees. By looking at and studying what’s happening on the consumer
internet, you can see the shape of what’s possible in a networked world and
then you have to apply this to your situation.
Creating those effects
where communication networks are in place within a corporation allows
innovation to bubble up from the bottom; from the edges.

I think
the lesson to be learned from all this is that executives of any business
really need a wake up call if they have been treating Web 2.0 as a passing fad
or a phenomenon restricted to geeks and teens. Web 2.0 is here. And it’s now. And
it’s going to have a powerful affect on any business. Top management needs to
get off
their pinnacle of hierarchy
and start
focusing on many of the Web 2.0 principles—like “collective intelligence” and “network
effects”—that are facilitating this paradigm shift towards Enterprise 2.0.

In
summary, here’s one final quote from the Tim O’Reilly interview:

Studying what works and
why it works and throwing away what’s just marketing hype is in fact the
challenge for any CEO today who is trying to understand how the internet is
changing business…
There is a fabulous blog by Kathy Sierra, called Creating
Passionate Users, that I would say “hey, put that high on your [reading list]”
because it’s a lot about the spirit of Web 2.0—how do you get your users
engaged?

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