Dollars and future sense

“The Future of Money” by Daniel Roth (Wired.com, March 2010). If you thought it was just about dollar and cents then think again. Roth puts one of the world’s oldest traditions in a whole new light. If you like to speculate about the future (pun intended) then this one’s for you.

Also be sure to check out the sidebar bit, “From Credit Card to PayPal: 3 Ways to Move Money”, as well as, “The New Ways to Pay” (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

What you see is what you get (or not)

“Is There an Ecological Unconscious?” by Daniel B. Smith (New York Times Sunday Magazine, 27 January 2010). The majority of this blog is devoted to the more technical if not clinical aspects of life in the business world. But as they say, “All work and no play makes Mark a dull boy.” Speaking from personal experience I have no doubt that there is a positive and necessary connection between my mind, body & soul and my ability to maintain a healthy connection to the world around me.

Yes, Wired’s pro-technology approach – “How Twitter and Facebook Make Us More Productive” by Brendan I. Koerner, 22 February 2010 – makes some sense. That is, humans are wired such that we need to take breaks from the immediate task at hand. However, maybe the true productivity advantages come not from dialing up a browser and Facebooking but from stepping away from the desk and taking a quite moment outside? Maybe there really is an advantage to having a corner office with a view?

Furthermore, if you subscribe to the ecological unconscious ideals then it would seem that they might also explain the increase prevalence of human disconnect (e.g., the need for anti-depressants) in our society. Are we building a world that more and more of us are not fit to live in? Is a (short term looking) productive work environment the same thing as an ongoing healthy human living environment?

The tipping tweet

“In Praise of Online Obscurity” by Clive Thompson (Wired Magazine, 25 January 2010). Interesting, if not stating the obvious – if you add enough chefs, the kitchen breaks down. Or at least the intimate kitchen as one originally planned it tips away and something else then takes form.

None the less, Clive’s observations and reminders are great food for thought as one takes on the challenge of scaling up a “community”.  The key might be that just like any other relationship, in order to maintain a sense of closeness it takes work. Often lots of it. The set it and forget it approach will not bread a sense of closeness. Make sense, eh?

If you consider the crowd clay, then what do you do to constantly mold and remold that mass? And at a broader level, is Clive saying that sheep are born to be lead? Interesting.

Failure is like Red Bull, it gives you wings

Wired magazine (www.Wired.com) has collected a series of articles on failure. The title of the grouping is, “How To Fail: Screw ups, disasters, misfires, flops. Why losing big can be a winning strategy.” Take some time, these are sure to put the value of “R&D” into proper perspective.

“Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up” by Jonah Lehrer

“Stay in the Game: The Fall and Rise of Alec Baldwin” by Scott Brown

“Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem” by Clive Thompson

“Time Your Attack: Oracle’s Lost Revolution” by Daniel Roth

“My Greatest Mistake: Learn From Six Luminaries” by Wired Magazine

“Accidental Art: Three Alternate Histories” by Christoph Niemann

For those who like to look up at the stars then “Six Luminaries” is the obvious first read. Other than that, just dive in. Don’t be afraid to pick the wrong one. And for those of you who like to believe that the key to success is perfection. Well, you’re making a big mistake.

Still looking for a good summer read?

“What You Pay For (a review of Wired’s Chris Anderson’s new book ‘Free’)” by Virginia Postrel (New York Times, 10 July 2009). Mr. Anderson is often a voice worth listening to and thus his latest book is worth investigating. The question seems to be, is the biz model he champions where things are or where they are going? If you believe it’s where we are then the next question is, “What’s next?”

Big Brother is Googling

Google watch:

“Google Plans a PC Operating System” By Miguel Helft and Ashlee Vance (New York Times, 8 July 2009). What so many have been saying for so long. Time will tell if this will be good news for the rest of us.

“Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out” by Fred Vogelstein (Wired Magazine, July 2009). The classic battle between good and evil. But who’s good and who’s evil?

“Secret of Googlenomics: Data-Fueled Recipe Brews Profitability” by Steven Levy (Wired Magazine, 22 May 2009) Who would have thought that a tweak or two on an auction would becomes a billion dollar money machine?

The best way to win the game is to change the game

“Beyond Detroit: On the Road to Recovery, Let the Little Guys Drive” by Charles C. Mann (Wired Magazine, June 2008). Another articles from Wired’s latest issue that focuses on The New Economy. Here is a must read paragraph. If you’ve tasted victory in the past then chances are good that it will have even more meaning to you.

The only escape from this conundrum is to pursue what Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has called disruptive innovation—the kind of change that alters the trajectory of an industry. As Christensen argued in his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, successful companies in mature industries rarely embrace disruptive innovation because, by definition, it threatens their business models. Loath to revamp factories at high cost to make products that will compete with their own goods, companies drag their feet; perversely, financial markets often reward them for their shortsightedness. Good as they are, the European and Japanese automakers are established companies. At this point, they are as unlikely to pursue disruptive innovation as Detroit has been. That gives the US auto industry an opening. To take that opportunity, it will have to behave differently—it will have to step far outside the walls of the Rouge.

There it is again, success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. From time to time it is possible to arrive but sooner or later the sands will shift and the quest will have to continue. When it does, be sure to think about what your competition won’t do or can’t do and then do that. Use their success against them and change the game, at least for a moment. Repeat as necessary.

When dinosaurs fall like dominos

“The New New Economy: More Startups, Fewer Giants, Infinite Opportunity” by Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine, June 2009) If you’re trying to make sense of what has happen and of what’s to come Mr. Anderson sheds some valuable light on the matter. As expected, there are two AU caveats:
1) Capital was traditionally only available to fairly large companies. The internet changed that. Investors can not only move money quicker and easier, they now have a tool for mitigating risk by providing a better way to identify and evaluate the smaller companies with the potential to be the next big thing. (Note: This relationship also works in the other direction. The internet provides a platform to companies seeking investors.) The large companies have reached growth capacity, the smart money is looking for better returns, and there are small upstarts lining up to accept that backing. The internet provides the frictionless fluidity to make that happen.

2) From the consumers’ side the internet provides each individual a choice. No longer are consumers forced to consume the me-to, mass marketed products and services that are the by product of the large companies’ cookie cutter (i.e., economies of scale) approach. Also, consumers are no longer at a disadvantage in terms of the availability of information. They know what they want and they know where to get it. Big is out. Small and personal is the new black.

The real question is, will the USA be the next debt ridden, too-big-to-fail dinsaur to fall?

Grab an iced tea, kick your shoes off and relax

Change of pace this time. These two from Wired magazine should get your grey matter jazzed to think a little deeper:

“American Stonehenge: Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse” by Randall Sullivan (20 April 2009)

“Mission Impossible: The Code Even the CIA Can’t Crack” by Steven Levy (20 April 2009)

Btw, the May issue features guest editor Mr. JJ Abrams.

All privacy issues aside

10 Best Uses for RFID Tags by Mike Olson, Wired Magazine (www.Wired.com, Issue 17.03, March 2009). Like it or not, RFID is coming. The questions – how to use it in new and innovative ways.

1) Accept and integrate RFID into the retail shopping experience by using them to trigger video and other images on large screen TVs around the store. Using RFID to help customers get more info about a product they’re interested in would also be a big plus.  It would be like taking the web experience and turning it into a real life experience.

2) Similar to the article’s mention of Clubs using it, what about ski resorts? Why are they still using those silly barcode scanners? Yes a liftie would still have to police the line but getting rid of that handheld scanner should free them up to actually attend to the wants / needs of the  guests.