Archive for November, 2005
An intriguing article that may help those interested in best meeting project expectations in a team-setting. Here is my take on that- for rewards, it is often best if expectations are lower than the actual; for punishments, it is often best if expectations are higher than the actual; so that in both cases, the resulting momentum is kept pointing upward. The old adage of “under-promise over-deliver” follows along the same line.
“… The probe, called the Stroop Test, presents words in block letters in the colors red, blue, green and yellow. The subject has to press a button identifying the color of the letters. The difficulty is that sometimes the word ‘Red’ is colored green. Or the word ‘Yellow’ is colored blue.
For people who are literate, reading is so deeply ingrained that it invariably takes them a little bit longer to override the automatic reading of a word like ‘Red’ and press a button that says green. This is called the Stroop effect.
Sixteen people, half highly hypnotizable and half resistant, went into Dr. Raz‘s lab after having been covertly tested for hypnotizability. The purpose of the study, they were told, was to investigate the effects of suggestion on cognitive performance. After each person underwent a hypnotic induction, Dr. Raz said:
‘Very soon you will be playing a computer game inside a brain scanner. Every time you hear my voice over the intercom, you will immediately realize that meaningless symbols are going to appear in the middle of the screen. They will feel like characters in a foreign language that you do not know, and you will not attempt to attribute any meaning to them.
This gibberish will be printed in one of four ink colors: red, blue, green or yellow. Although you will only attend to color, you will see all the scrambled signs crisply. Your job is to quickly and accurately depress the key that corresponds to the color shown. You can play this game effortlessly. As soon as the scanning noise stops, you will relax back to your regular reading self’…
In highly hypnotizables, when Dr. Raz’s instructions came over the intercom, the Stroop effect was obliterated, he said. The subjects saw English words as gibberish and named colors instantly. But for those who were resistant to hypnosis, the Stroop effect prevailed, rendering them significantly slower in naming the colors.
When the brain scans of the two groups were compared, a distinct pattern appeared. Among the hypnotizables, Dr. Raz said, the visual area of the brain that usually decodes written words did not become active. And a region in the front of the brain that usually detects conflict was similarly dampened.
Top-down processes overrode brain circuits devoted to reading and detecting conflict, Dr. Raz said, although he did not know exactly how that happened. Those results appeared in July in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…”
“… Ten years ago this December, I wrote a memo entitled The Internet Tidal Wave which described how the internet was going to forever change the landscape of computing… Five years ago we focused our strategy on .NET making a huge bet on XML and web services… We will build our strategies around internet services and we will provide a broad set of service APIs and use them in all of our key applications… This coming ‘services wave’ will be very disruptive… This next generation of the internet is being shaped by its ‘grassroots’ adoption and popularization model, and the cost-effective ‘seamless experiences’ delivered through the intentional fusion of services, software and sometimes hardware… I’ve attached a memo from Ray which I feel sure we will look back on as being as critical as The Internet Tidal Wave memo was when it came out…”
From: Ray Ozzie
Date: October 28, 2005
To: Executive Staff and direct reports
Subject: The Internet Services Disruption
“… This isn?t the first time of such great change: we?ve needed to reflect upon our core strategy and direction just about every five years… In 1990, there was actually a question about whether the graphical-user-interface had merit… When we reflected upon our dreams just five years later in 1995, the impetus for our new center of gravity came from the then-nascent web… In 2000, in the waning days of the dot com bubble, we yet again reflected on our strategy and refined our direction… It is now 2005, and the environment has changed yet again- this time around services…
… In the US, there are more than 100MM broadband users, 190MM mobile phone subscribers, and WiFi networks blanket the urban landscape… We should?ve been leaders with all our web properties in harnessing the potential of AJAX, following our pioneering work in OWA [Outlook Web Access]. We knew search would be important, but through Google?s focus they?ve gained a tremendously strong position. RSS is the internet?s answer to the notification scenarios we?ve discussed and worked on for some time, and is filling a role as ?the UNIX pipe of the internet? as people use it to connect data and systems in unanticipated ways. For all its tremendous innovation and its embracing of HTML and XML, Office is not yet the source of key web data formats- surely not to the level of PDF. While we?ve led with great capabilities in Messenger and Communicator, it was Skype, not us, who made VoIP broadly popular and created a new category. We have long understood the importance of mobile messaging scenarios and have made significant investment in device software, yet only now are we surpassing the Blackberry… The same is true of Apple, which has done an enviable job integrating hardware, software and services into a seamless experience with .Mac, iPod and iTunes, but seems less focused on enabling developers to build substantial products and businesses.
… Only a few years ago I?d have pointed to the Weblog and the Wiki as significant emerging trends; by now they?re mainstream and have moved into the enterprise. Flickr and others have done innovative work around community sharing and tagging based on simple data formats and metadata. GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting are very popular low-end solutions to remote PC access and online meetings… VoIP seems on the verge of exploding- not just in Skype, but also as indicated by things such as the Asterisk soft-PBX. Innovations abound from small developers- from RAD frameworks to lightweight project management services and solutions…
… 1. The power of the advertising-supported economic model… 2. The effectiveness of a new delivery and adoption model… 3. The demand for compelling, integrated user experiences that ‘just work’…
Seamless OS… Seamless Communications… Seamless Productivity… Seamless Entertainment… Seamless Marketplace… Seamless Solutions… Seamless IT…
Business Division- a. Connected Office… Should PowerPoint directly ?broadcast to the web?, or let the audience take notes and respond?… b. Telecom Transformation… c. Rapid Solutions- How can we utilize our extant products and our knowledge of the broad historical adoption of forms-based applications to jump-start an effort that could dramatically surpass offerings from Quickbase to Salesforce.com?…
Entertainment and Devices Division- a. Connected Entertainment… b. Grassroots Mobile Services… c. Device/Service Fusion…
… Complexity kills… Another simple tool I?ve used involves attracting developers to use common physical workspaces to naturally catalyze ad hoc face-time between those who need to coordinate, rather than relying solely upon meetings and streams of email and document reviews for such interaction…”
* “Building a Better Boom: …The Internet is exciting again, and once again folks are rushing in. In some categories – like search or social networking, for example – there are scores of start-ups vying for pretty much the same market, and it’s certain that, just like last time, most of them will fail.
But regardless of all this déjà vu, we are not in a bubble. Instead we are witnessing the Web’s second coming, and it’s even got a name- ‘Web 2.0’, although exactly what that moniker stands for is the topic of debate in the technology industry. For most it signifies a new way of starting and running companies – with less capital, more focus on the customer and a far more open business model when it comes to working with others. Archetypal Web 2.0 companies include Flickr– a photo sharing site; Bloglines– a blog reading service; and MySpace– a music and social networking site…
Start-ups are leveraging nearly a decade’s worth of work on technologies that are now not only proven, but also free, or very nearly so. Open-source software can now do nearly everything that Oracle, I.B.M. and Microsoft specialized in back in the 90’s. And the cost of computing and bandwidth? You can now lease a platform that can handle millions of customers for less than $500 a month. In the 90’s, such a platform would have run tens of thousands of dollars or more a month…
Or just ask Joe Kraus– a founder of the once high-flying Excite portal. Excite ran through millions in venture capital, then tens of millions of I.P.O. money, before its spectacular demise [Mr. Kraus had left before then]. His latest start-up- JotSpot, is built on open-source software, and cost less than $200,000 to begin.
Mr. Kraus exemplifies the second reason I believe we are not in a bubble: this time, the financiers aren’t driving. Instead, the entrepreneurs and geeks – often one and the same – are. The lessons of Web 1.0 are never far from their minds, and the desire to create something cool that might foster some good in the world is often equally paramount with the desire to make money. The culture of Web 2.0 is, in fact, decidedly missionary – from the communitarian ethos of Craigslist to Google‘s informal motto- ‘don’t be evil’.
Ah, yes, Google. That brings us to the third reason we are not in a bubble: vastly improved search technologies. Recall that the demise of Web 1.0 was predicated in large part on the collapse of the Internet advertising business – people were spending millions buying billboard-like ads that, it turns out, nobody was paying attention to…”
— John Battelle; Co-producer, Web 2.0 conference; Author, “The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Reinvented Business and Transformed Our Culture”
* “What is Web 2.0”: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software
* NYT Article
* Memorandum Excerpt, Alleged
It’s time to move these to del.icio.us:
http://labs.google.com/ Google’s showcase
http://next.yahoo.com/ Yahoo’s showcase
http://research.microsoft.com/ Microsoft Research
http://traffic.poly9.com/ Traffic, weather and news glues for Google Maps
http://opensource.nokia.com/ Nokia in opensource WAP
http://www.webstyleguide.com/ Web style guide
http://robin.sourceforge.net/ Browser-based desktop
http://www.writely.com/ Browser-based word processor
http://www.ktdms.com/ Document management system
http://www.openfiler.org/ Browser-based network storage software distribution
http://www.debugmode.com/wink/ Tutorial and presentation creation software
http://www.lexisnexis.com/sourcelists/ Legal and public records
http://www.issues2000.org/ Candidates on issues
http://senseable.mit.edu/grazrealtime/ Mobile Landscape
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/10/08/tech/main927858.shtml “Could cell phones stop traffic?”
If you think about it, sooner or later this had to happen- developers finally mustering the courage to embrace arty Macromedia Flash for distributing spatial information in a big way, like Geocentric. Actually, Google has been using Flash for a different distribution for quite some time now. But this release by Yahoo and its under-1000 dollar price-tag should help Flash emerge as a more visible player in the online mapping game.
Did the earlier musings portend this?