Sunday, February 28, 2010

The good news about bad moods

From a recent paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology:

...negative moods can improve the detection of deception (Forgas & East, 2008), reduce judgmental errors (Forgas, 1998), improve eyewitness accuracy (Forgas, Vargas, & Laham, 2005), and improve interpersonal communication strategies (Forgas, 2007). The present experiments confirm this pattern by demonstrating that mild negative moods also increase fairness and sensitivity to the needs of others.

New Scientist provides a more detailed description of the experiments.

Reference: doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2010.01.007
tags: psychology, brainstorm, reverse brainstorm, problem, control, creativity

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The state of the net: no privacy, no security.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Hackers in Europe and China successfully broke into computers at nearly 2,500 companies and government agencies over the last 18 months in a coordinated global attack that exposed vast amounts of personal and corporate secrets to theft, according to a computer-security company that discovered the breach.

...hackers gained access to a wide array of data at 2,411 companies, from credit-card transactions to intellectual property.

Note that Facebook has emerged as the number one risk to privacy and security. Our electronic immune system is way behind the new information-based lifestyle.

via CNet.

tags: control, security, problem, evolution, intellectual, property, integrity, information, computers, internet

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thinking aloud

iPhone/iPod/iPad sw application approval process as it exists today is not compatible with enterprise IT practices. That is, to get an application deployed inside a company, the company would have to get Apple's approval. It's unlikely that companies, especially large ones, would go for it. Inserting Apple into the IT decision chain infringes upon internal governance model, creates IP/disclosure, and other issues.

This situation presents an opportunity for Google and Microsoft to aggressively pursue mobile enterprise business.

tags: apple, google, microsoft, infrastructure, tool, control, control point, evolution, process

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As I sit in a hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, reading The Cambridge History of Science and watching an Olympic ice hockey game between Latvia and Russia, I come to a paragraph that talks about modern misconceptions about the past:

The multifaceted “Renaissance man” is to some extent a trick of historical perspective, which creates polymathesis out of what was simply a different classification of knowledge and a different professional division of labor.

Leonardo was a man of what was considered at the time as practical arts: designer, painter, builder, engineer, and inventor. It was his professional duty to be a Renaissance man.

tags: creativity, science, art, history

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dilemma of the day

This was a constant object of theories of probation, but it also incorporated a recurrent theoretical tension: Should a proof proceed according to a method of discovery or a method of doctrine? That is to say, are things (res) best explained in terms of how they were found out or in terms that emphasize their organization for pedagogical purposes? This dilemma was bequeathed to early modern natural philosophers from antiquity and was at the heart of some of the most often-reprinted writings on method, such as Jacopo Acontius’s (1492–ca. 1566) De methodo, hoc est de recta investigandarum tradendarumque artium ac scientiarum ratione (On Method; that is, on the Right Way of Investigating and Imparting the Arts and Sciences, 1558).17 It was a dilemma that a number of seventeenth-century writers on methods of discovery resolved by, in effect, denying that they were concerned with problems of teaching at all.

p. 139 The Cambridge History of Early Modern Science. vol 3. 2006

Sunday, February 14, 2010

eyes - nerves - brain - mind

Charlie Rose hosts a group of brain scientists who explain how our vision works (video). This is the second episode of the Brain Series; in the first one they gave an overview of the series, basic layout of the brain, and questions to be explored.

The picture below shows brain areas responsible for recognizing Places, Faces, Words/Letters, and Bodies. 

A basic diagram of the neuron. Axon can be several meters long, which means it requires a lot of energy to propagate impulses through the brain. That's why thinking and perception is so resource-hungry.

Justo, these are must see shows for our book ;)

tags: brain, mind, biology, science, tool, video, storage, information

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The unstoppable cloud

According to Goldman Sachs, bad economic times are good for rethinking IT infrastructure:

... the macroeconomic downturn has likely accelerated software-as-a-service, or cloud, adoption, as customers are forced to look for lower-cost solutions to mission-critical business problems. Forty percent of survey respondents indicated that they would be more likely to use SaaS solutions in a weaker economy, due to perceived cost benefits, while only 4 percent said they were less likely to use an SaaS solution.

tags: cloud, infrastructure, system, evolution, information, computers,  business, distribution, tool

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toads and innovation

Toads are one of the most common species in the world. The 2/5/2010 issue of the Science Magazine published an article about traits that have helped them proliferate throughout the continents over a relatively short period of time. Here's a summary table from the paper (click to enlarge):

The second part of the table shows that successful toads are quick to take advantage of temporary favorable weather conditions (e.g. small pools of water); produce a lot of eggs (most of them die later); minimize investment into their offspring.

Let's switch our focus and think about snippets of ideas (idealets) instead of toads. Today's communication environment encourages extremely short messages: twitter, youtube, blogs, and now google buzz. Attention span is getting shorter, competition for attention intensifies. Therefore, just like with toad larvae, producing a lot of idealets that ride hot media events and don't require much effort must be a winning proliferation strategy.
The only problem is: toads don't build cultures and cities that last hundreds of years. They live within an environment that is dealt to them by superior powers. This means that companies creating environments stand to benefit immensely from letting info-toads to reproduce and proliferate. They just need to find the right information taxation formula. Google found one - relevent ads - but there must be others.

tags: diffusion, strategy, infrastructure, niche construction,

Half full or half empty?

Mark J.Perry cites US patent data and marvels how creative Americans are: "5% of the world's population have received more than 22% of the world's patents."

I look at the growing gap between patent applications filed and patents granted and wonder how much inefficiency is built into the system. Especially, if we take into account that only a very small fraction of patents is useful. We ought to use better methods to invent.

tags: problem, efficiency, process, method, economics, technology

Monday, February 08, 2010

...and the pursuit of communications

Infotainment has become more valuable than food and gas:

by 2004, the average American spent $770.95 annually on services like cable television, Internet connectivity and video games, according to data from the Census Bureau. By 2008, that number rose to $903, outstripping inflation. By the end of this year, it is expected to have grown to $997.07. Add another $1,000 or more for cellphone service and the average family is spending as much on entertainment over devices as they are on dining out or buying gasoline.

via NYT.

With food and gas there's a natural limit to how much you can (over)eat and drive. With information it's only the time when you are not asleep. We can pack a lot of bits from 3D movies into those hours.

tags: information, entertainment, distribution, payload, economics, niche construction,
A background video for the follow-up class discussion about the future of books:

tags: payload, dynamic, control, information, computers, book, evolution

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The iPad paradox

Up until now, Steve Jobs had been incredibly successful at introducing the public to truly revolutionary devices disguising them as familiar products. For example, iPod was positioned as a better , much better, incarnation of a traditional audio player, either CD or MP3. In reality, it was a device that in combination with iTunes allowed for a completely new level of functionality in creation, transfer, and sharing of collections of music: intuitive custom playlists, podcasts, audio library navigation, and etc. Compared with competition, i.e. conventional audio players, iPod looked like a na'vi among humans. It was a revolutionary system, but it felt familiar enough for people to try and learn to love.

Then came iPod Touch and iPhone. Again, they were presented to the public as greatly improved versions of iPod and mobile phone, respectively. But in both cases audio content play-out and  communications were just a couple of software applications on a great multi-functional mobile computer. The combination of iPhone and iTunes was a different animal altogether, but it was disguised as a better phone+web system. These new Apple gadgets got rapidly adopted by consumers because they felt very familiar with basic functionality and the form factor. It was easy for everybody to try Apple's new technology and then experience the difference. You'd buy an Apple product as a replacement for your old player or cell phone, and later discover a totally new mode of interaction with the world of information.

But iPad is different. Really different. It can't be bought as a replacement. It's not a PC, smartphone,  netbook, e-book, picture frame, TV, or whatever. It's a new thing that, unlike Apple's other revolutionary products, feels completely unfamiliar. Bummer! No wonder, people are confused. They can't say, "iPad is just like my pre-school dream picture book, only much-much better."

tags: dilemma, problem, solution, apple, information, computers, psychology, diffusion

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Medical records, along with internet video, is emerging as a major source of data. The major difference, though, is that analysis of medical data can produce a breakthrough in treatment methods, which, in combination with DNA analysis, may lead to a revolution in health care. IBM is taking a position in the forefront of this slow-developing tsunami:

IBM said Wednesday that it has agreed to buy Initiate Systems, a privately held company that makes software designed to help health care companies manage and share information.

The buyout of Initiate marks IBM's 30th acquisition in the area of information and analytics. Over the past couple of years, Big Blue has been on a roll picking up new companies and ended 2009 with several businesses in its shopping cart.

tags: health, information, cloud, infrastructure, service, tool

The medium and the message

Traditional book is quickly becoming just one of the formats of the future book:

Donald Norman, a Northwestern University professor and an expert on design and engineering, said that while E Ink's technology is well suited for reading long books, "it is too slow and ponderous" for reference works, multimedia and any tablet device that seeks to connect to a wide range of entertainment. He said that to respond to the iPad, Amazon could either drop the price of the current Kindle or "compete and switch to some other type of display."

tags: payload, poly, interface, information, evolution

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Security seems to be the biggest barrier to business use of social networking:

The Sophos report (PDF) said that more than 50 percent of the companies surveyed were spammed through a social-networking site last year and that 36 percent were hit by malware from such a site.
The danger to businesses from social-networking malware is especially high. Most of the companies surveyed expressed concern that the actions of their employees on a site like Facebook could put sensitive corporate data at risk.

via CNet.

tags: information, security, social, network, control, payload, distribution

Monday, February 01, 2010

Green shoots

This is good news for green energy sources because distributed community storage will be key to efficient use of local solar and wind power:

Start-up International Battery on Monday said that it has been chosen to supply lithium ion batteries for a community energy storage pilot project run by utility AEP set to go online by the middle of this year.

In each location, the utility plans to install at least one 25-kilowatt storage unit, able to deliver one hour of electricity, or 25 kilowatt-hours of energy.

Right now, the storage system will work to smooth out peak demand, while in the future it can be used to accommodate various small-scale energy sources. From a system point of view, it is important to note that barriers to green energy are not necessarily technical.

Storage, and specifically large-scale battery systems, are expensive and can be difficult for utilities to justify financially under traditional regulations, which are structured around power plant investments.

That is, old system configurations and incentives favor traditional, century-old approach, developed to attract large-scale industrial providers and consumers. Our infrastructure is still rooted in the 19th century, and it will take a while to change it.

tags: energy, distribution, storage, control, infrastructure, solution, problem