Where are the signals about signals?

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Apr 282011

One of my staff just got back from O’Reilly’s Where2.0 in Santa Clara. I wish I had gone, but . . . (So much to do, so little time.)

The interesting things that he brought back would fill the back of a half-ton truck easily. Exciting things like Facebook’s new coupon service that’s going to (probably) hammer Groupon. But in and among the tidbits of information a few ideas and words kept coming back like the leitmotif of the industry.

“Context” — seems we’ve moved passed the contextual web and into the contextual mobile web.  Who would have ever thought that the geographic context would be relevant in a Web/mobile world? (Hint:  I come to my mind.)

“Intent” — this one is hardly specific to the mobile/geo-location world, but its prominence is insightful.  Essentially we’re talking about understanding the the current inforamtion and/or data by means of not only the context, but the actor’s (perceived) intention.  In this case we’re probably talking about actual direction and . . .

“Velocity” — we’re interested in the speed, pace, and differentials of what’s happening. Buzz indexes had some prototypical stuff about velocity implicit in their models, and information cascades develop in no small part because of the velocity of information movement. Here it’s likely the actual physical movement velocity, but it applies to information, etc. equally well.

“Signals” — finally there is recognition that most of the information that is being generated is nothing but the ever-growing noise in the background. Real information is only in a few signals that have to be decoded. It’s about time.

These, particularly the last, caught my attention, because of the book I’m releasing next month which started its life with the working title, “Signals and Noise.” It’s now called The Spaces In Between, and much of this type of thinking forms the foundation for it.

Very interesting.

Preparing for FEI

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Apr 262011

I may have mentioned that I will be on for a session at the 2011 Front End of Innovation conference next month. So, in addition to polishing final draft of the book I’m bound and determined to get out VERY soon, I’m preparing for the presentation part of the session.

This is hard. (Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself.)

Attendees at the conference come from all areas of business and elsewhere, run the range from academic to practitioner, engineer to designer, entrepreneur to executive to the people who actually do the work of innovating. The opportunity is a bit intimidating. On the one hand, only at a conference like that could you have 10, 20, or 100 focused and smart people in the same room working on the same thing–to learn something. On the other, I and everyone else will be speaking to 10, 20, or 100 people who probably have as much or more experience and knowledge about the area of innovation as I do.

At best, everyone should come out learning one thing. That’s what I’m shooting for. At the very best, they should come out learning one thing and inspired to look at the world just a little differently (for a while).  The the ultimate best, they should learn one thing, see the world differently, and say, “That was entertaining. It could have gone on for another hour…”

No doubt others have had this problem:  how, in such a short time (15-20 minutes) can you impart knowledge of value AND be entertaining, without being Malcolm Gladwell. If anybody has the secret and is willing to share, please send me a note.

 Posted by on 26 Apr 2011

Wealth causes disease?

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Apr 212011

I would never make make fun of cancer and cancer patients. That said, this article in today’s Globe & Mail quoting a study that links wealth to higher incidents of breast cancer is begging for it.

Read the article if you choose. The study essentially makes a two step correlation: less wealthy women produce more children earlier in life; child production affects estrogen exposure because missing menstrual cycles will do that; exposure to higher levels of estrogen appears to correlate with higher incidence (15%) of breast cancer. Fair enough.

The headline that skips the important parts attracts attention. It just begs to be made fun of though. And that’s unfortunate.

On the other hand, this kind of headline/body copy dissonance is not unlike what goes on in other theatres of life like the work of sales or business development, in innovation, and so forth. Could be a fascinating correlation in itself.

 Posted by on 21 Apr 2011