Category Archives: Technology

Working with Alice

I read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture while traveling recently and upon my return looked up www.Alice.org.  I have tried on a few occasions to learn object oriented programing, and I get a bit of it, but not to the point where I could actually program anything.

I downloaded the software, followed the tutorials and began playing with Alice 2.2.  I then downloaded Storytelling Alice and showed my daughters, ages 12 and 7.  They loved it.  Each went to a computer and started writing stories.  My older daughter showed the younger one how to do it.

To date, the stories have been fairly basic.  I’d like to get a hold of the teaching material used by schools, then we could get into developing some actions that will serve them well down the road.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to let them play and experiment with this great product.  Thanks to everyone involved in the project!

Gen X and Leadership

Tammy Erickson has an article on the Harvard Business Publishing Blog titled, “Why Generation X Has the Leaders We Need Now“.

As a Gen X’er myself, I’m always interested in how the group is defined and I have to admit that the traits Erickson notes are very recognizable.

She explains how environmental change will impact how we lead:

Future leaders in all spheres will have to contend with a world with finite limits, no easy answers, and the sobering realization that we are facing significant, seemingly intractable problems on multiple fronts. Perhaps the biggest change from the past: leaders will have to listen and respond to diverse points of view. There will be no dominant voice.

This clearly speaks to a networked world wherein transparency, honesty, and integrity are critical to individuals and companies.  One’s reputation will become the determining factor in who consumers or other individuals chose to listen to amongst all the noise.

What else did she say about Gen X to lead her to believe we are poised to lead, let me paraphrase:

  • Resourceful and Hardworking
  • Self-reliance via distrust of institutions and a well developed network
  • Avid adopters of collaborative technology and comfortable in both digital and global world environments
  • Unconscious acceptance of diversity
  • Inclined to innovate
  • Ability to isolate practical truths
  • Fiercely dedicated to being good parents
  • Practical and value-oriented sensibilities

Having read the piece, I’m now much interested in reading her forth-coming book, “What’s Next, Gen X?: Keeping Up, Moving Ahead, and Getting the Career You Want.”

Google Reader Usurps Novels

I had been doing a pretty good job of stepping away from things this past year by taking time off each night and reading a book, often fiction.  The activity is a great release, which allows me to step-back, get away, and recharge.  I also enjoy keeping track of these books through Goodreads, a social networking site for bibliophiles, despite the fact that my only ‘friend’ on the site is my daughter.

For the past several months the novel reading dipped – from January to mid April I’d read 12 novels, since then zero, though I am working on one now.

The reason?  My shift from full-time employee to contract/consultant services professional, which required me to be on the bleeding edge of multiple-areas at once.  The way to accomplish this:  Google Reader (you can set-up Reader with a Gmail account, which I’d encourage everyone to have).

I’ve long used this product to stay informed on topics of interest, but I used it on a weekly basis, not daily.  Reader has a “Trends” button on the left sidebar that gives you data on your Reader habits.  I now have 58 subscriptions and in the past 30 days I’ve read 1,299 items and shared 60 of those.

The shared items are ones I don’t want to ‘lose’.  These are often ones I will email to friends or come back to read again and take notes.  My next evolution will include comments as I share along with discussions with clients and industry experts on the shared items.

For those interested in learning what is of most interest to me, I feed these shared items to the NunamakerInteractive web site (shown below the blog feeds if you are already there).  These items are the ones I feel anyone in the social or new media space should be paying attention to as they are critical to either your online success or the direction we may be headed.

Rate of Advance

I read a post the other night, Transcending Moore’s Law: Is This the Most Important Chart in the Technology Business, that referenced and led me to the thought-provoking original by Steve Jurvetson, titled, “Transcending Moore’s Law“, which discussed an updated graphic initially developed by Ray Kurzweil.

Here are the highlights:

  • Kurzweil plots computational power on a logarithmic scale, and finds a double exponential curve that holds over 100 years
  • the computational power that $1000 buys has doubled every two years. For the past 30 years, it has been doubling every year
  • Notice that the pace of innovation is exogenous to the economy
  • Consumers of technology purchase computational speed and data storage density. When recast in these terms, Moore’s Law is no longer a transistor-centric metric, and this abstraction allows for longer-term analysis
  • What Moore observed…was a derivative metric, a refracted signal, from the bigger trend, the trend that begs various philosophical questions and predicts mind-bending futures
  • As Moore’s Law crosses critical thresholds, a formerly lab science of trial and error experimentation becomes a simulation science and the pace of progress accelerates dramatically, creating opportunities for new entrants in new industries
  • This non-linear pace of progress has been the primary juggernaut of perpetual market disruption, spawning wave after wave of opportunities for new companies

Market disruption.  Isn’t this the primary objective of everyone?  To deliver the product or service that changes everything?  Every software product that is launched and used is done to improve our efficiency and expand our abilities online.  Every social network is developed to change how we interact with others.

Without question, the underpinning of all future advances will come from the core computational power of our computers – their speed and their data storage.  The curve expressed in the graph presented by Jurvetson points to an exciting and productive future despite the current state of our economy.