Thursday 28 December 2006

The weakest (Internet) link - Asia

Reported here, here and elsewhere:

"Telephone and internet services were disrupted across Asia after a powerful earthquake struck near southern Taiwan"

Apparently 40%-60% of capacity was initially lost due to damage to two undersea telecommunication links.

People affected have my sympathy, but its funny as isn't this the type of thing the "net" supposed to survive? Hmm - well according to sources quoted in Wikipedia this is just a myth:

"The ARPANET was not started to create a Command and Control System that would survive a nuclear attack, as many now claim... Rather, the ARPAnet came out of our frustration that there were only a limited number of large, powerful research computers in the country"

It certainly makes you think twice about the Web Office concept and utility computing, or at least if they are based on the public internet communications infrastructure.

Wednesday 20 December 2006

Upload Me

I've blogged about life caching before and - via the Middle Zone Musings blog - here is a great profile of Microsoft computer scientist Gorden Bell by Clive Thompson for Fast Company on his experimental work in this space. Bell is "trying to record every single experience he has, every day: Every phone call, email, conversation, web page, snapshot of everything he sees".

Thompson does an excellent job of exploring not only what is remembered, but the implications for remembering, forgetting and what happens when digital memories are accidentally lost - including the comment that all this technology "might be slowly degrading his real, carbon-based brain's ability to remember clearly." Hmm - that's got me worried too as I treat this blog as bit of a memory aid!

But reading Danah Boyd's post from last week on being virtual, I wonder if Bell isn't a little off track for a more fundamental reason - as Web 2.0 and social software is showing us, we're still social animals even when we augment our ability to communicate with technology... so its not about remembering for remembering's sake, but sharing. Or as Boyd puts it, "These technologies haven’t been adopted as an alternative to meatspace; they’ve been adopted to complement it".

Update: See, even the new Wii game system is impacting back into the "meatspace".

Half full or half empty?

Despite my recent focus on Enterprise 2.0 and so on, I'm still concerned with the issue of IT and its broader impact on organisations, like this report and comment from Andrew McAfee on a speech by Robert J. Gordon about IT and productivity (or rather the lack of).

Gordon's thoughts are worth thinking about because he has changed his view on the contribution of IT to productivity from a positive view to a more pessimistic stance. McAfee summarises Gordon, saying "His broad point was that IT definitely delivered a productivity jolt to the US economy in the late 1990s, but that that era is past."

McAfee is still generally optimistic, believing that "Like previous general purpose technologies IT is having a deeply transformative effect, which will take many years to play out completely."

I also wonder if perhaps we are a little too focused on productivity and instead should also look for opportunity value created by IT.


Saturday 16 December 2006

Summer Reading Online

The summer break (in Australia) is almost here, so my thoughts at the moment are turned towards looking for ideas for summer reading and Christmas present ideas for my own wish list!

Based on a recommendation from Anecdote, I recently used my meager earnings from click throughs to Amazon to order a copy of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson.

However, for some holiday reading I'm also looking for some interesting sci-fi to read and came across a couple of interesting Canadian writers, notable for both their stories and their approach to sharing their work via Creative Commons online:

Doctorow goes to extraordinary lengths to share his work electronically - check out the different versions available for his latest book, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.

Of course the point is that I would never have "discovered" any of these authors or blogged about them if their work hadn't been available online - a point made by many others.

Friday 1 December 2006

A missing Enterprise 2.0 element - shifting?

Ross Dawson recently presented on "Web 2.0 marketing" and you can watch a recording of it online or read a summary of his key points. Remembering that the focus here is on digital media and marketing, Ross breaks Web 2.0 into the following:

  • Participation
  • Social media
  • Emergence
  • Visibility
  • (Time) Shifting
  • Conversation

Thinking now of Enterprise 2.0, the one thing I haven't seen mentioned before in this context is "Shifting" - Ross describes this as:

"One of the most critical shifts with Web 2.0 is power to the consumer. One of the most pointed examples of this is the ability to shift media and other content onto other platforms and devices. This means that online content is transcending the fixed internet, particularly to mobile devices, as well as merging consumers’ experience of TV, radio, news, Internet, and more. Time-shifting, space-shifting, and format-shifting are embodied in the new consumer tools. You can listen to a podcast whenever and wherever you want. Now video glasses allow consumption of video content in a large screen format while you’re on the move."

Is this relevant to Enterprise 2.0? Well, I did hear before about a firm that provided iPods to its staff as a way to distribute internal communication more effectively. And in many organisations, the original "sneakernet" that email replaced has returned in the shape of USB fueled filesharing. Mobility is also an issue that many organisations have addressed in recent years, but typically the technology used - i.e. the means of access - have been strictly on the organisations terms... so Web 2.0 is probably going to shift control back towards the employee.