Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sorry I don't e-mail

When was the last time you gave someone an email address and they said "Sorry I don't email."

Some folks from a simpler time might not email people. Perhaps they have communications people or assistants for that. However that group is quickly diminishing. There are very few roles that don't benefit from the instant and accessible benefits of electronic mail.Similar there is internet usage, like it or not, Know it or not, everyone uses the internet.  

The same can be said for social media. Maybe not today, but that day is coming very soon. Eventually everyone will be involved with social media. To say you don't "facebook" or use that "Social Media stuff" would be to identify yourself as part of the dwindling minority.

The ability to get your idea or brand, out to millions of people almost instantly is an incredibly powerful tool. The next step to integrating internet culture is less about just how to use the tools, and more about how to use them efficiently and effectively. Different channels offer different advantages depending on your objectives. No one has a tonne of extra time to spend on social media, but handled prudently it's a great way to interact with a large number of people, be it customers, students, team members or fans. Social Media is quickly becoming a skillset that cannot be ignored and is not a role-specific skill. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The car as a mobile (as in moving) docking station

A great post by Andrew McAfee on the technological obsolescence of car gadgets. In a time where keeping a cell phone for more than 2 years feels painfully long, a touchscreen interface in your car can be asking for trouble.

Car companies are trying to use consumer electronic integration as a differentiator.

My car has the nav/dvd/jukebox and I love it. However  I plan on  keeping this car for quite some time. That interface will be quite the antique by then when compared to other consumer electronics. My biggest concern with this car is the battery (hybrid) but second to that is the touchscreen has my climate controls, radio Everything. I would have to replace that screen at who knows how much, and being a 3+ year old car it's unlikely there will be an updated interface.

If cars were to be more modular we'd need some open interface with rules around it for safety purposes.
No movies or attention-grabbing apps should run while the car is docked. Perhaps then car companies could compete on whose car was most open and accessible. For now they provide us with a great flash while selling us a pan we intend to keep for 5 years.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Technology doesn't automatically change people

Technology on its own doesn't necessarily facilitate change. It can have massive effects but it isn't inevitable or automatic.

The noble idea behind One Laptop Per Child OLPC was meant to represent an enormous change. Making computer literacy cheap and affordable would transform 3rd world countries. Giving students access to computers would allow them to access the infinite and free internet.

The problem was that they gave away computers and didn't show them how to use it. No training was provided to teachers so they could incorporate it into classroom lessons.

This is change management on a massive scale. You're changing the paradigm of how people can access information, how they build knowledge. People can change all by themselves, but a lot of the time they need some help.

Remember even Farmville & Ipods have books about how to use them.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Advice on cutting the cords

In the neverending mission to reduce costs, I'm actively researching ways to work solely through the internet.

The main ways i'm looking at it are through
  • increasing my ISP package
  •  using a voip phone service
  • installing an HD antenna
  • setup a media server
  • Subscribing to netflix, hulu plus
  • buying NBA League Pass
  • getting a newsgroup subscription (gasp)
 The last point definitely presents more of a moral dilemma. The content is there it's easy to access, there are no previews to wait through Copyright warnings etc etc that come on the legal material i own. I wonder whether DRM for free content isn't a bad idea. Try before you buy.

I'm pretty sure even with netflix, hulu plus even a proxy service to make it work i'm still going to be better shape than the 180/mth i'm currently paying.

Anyone done it? have suggestions?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

so little time

As a fully employed father of two, free-time is definitely at a premium. Being an avid basketball definitely fan doesn't help. Being health-conscious and liking sleep makes personal projects damn near impossible.

Yet hear I am with constantly more projects than I care to admit. In an interesting piece in Macleans on the growing trend of out-sourcing so much of our lives in the constant pursuit to find time and reduce stress, one tangential point was about our current psychology

“There’s this sense that we aren’t doing enough, that there’s all this other stuff that we could be purchasing or learning that will make us better,” says Krull, who is also an associate dean at Queen’s. “It’s a brilliant marketing strategy. It plays on that feeling of inadequacy.” Hochschild takes it one step further: “We’re a self-improvement-oriented culture. But it’s gone from self-help to other-help.”
I think this identifies how I feel. I could be healthier, I could be doing more charitable work. Those stairs in the garage aren't good enough. More than being a motivator this breeds a sense of frustration. Things like watching the ball game or heaven-forbid a rerun brings feelings of guilt over procrastination. There's always a sense of frustration with time. I know I function better (physically and mentally) with sleep. However sleep is a very time-intensive project. It begins to feel that i'm already close to max efficiency (just a tad arrogant) that progress in one is at the detriment of another. Then again perhaps i'm just spreading myself too thin and not making measurable in anything

Any suggestions?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Visual.ly wants to be Powerpoint for Infographics - and that's a problem

Who doesn't love a good infographic right? But not all infographics are good. To democratize Data visualization is great in theory but making presentations more accessible seemed like a great idea too.

Instead we end up with word documents and cue cards with animation masquerading  as a presentation.

What makes a good infographic is how it makes the data accessible. Visualization makes it easier to draw conclusions about the data versus just staring at numbers. There is a conclusion to be drawn, an end in mind. To accomplish that  requires design principles, an understanding of the data and the point of the dataset.

How many presentations have you seen that you didn't get the point? Some might have had some great graphics and but in the end there was no convincing, there was no end-goal. Even Mr. Langille admits that many people Hate powerpoint now.

Visual.ly needs to aim higher than powerpoint. I think they will do great in the short-term. With their concept of themes and constraining the datasets to hashtags, FB pages they will be able to ensure quality design. Once they open up to other datasets such as poll data if they open up the themes you could a lot of fugly infographics.

Related Links

Hope for the future

With Greece, global recessions and the possibility of yet another war, it's nice to find some hope for the future. Amidst global belt-tightening the government funded-education is being called upon to do more with less. Programs like full-day kindergarten which have a significant amount of research documenting the benefits are being questioned. Teachers as a union worker are the root of all that ails our economy. When teachers are vilified our collective futures are at risk.

As i've said before, I'm a huge fan of the the Khan Academy. Short and to the point. It explains a specific concept using easy to understand examples.

Now from the makers of some of the most inspirational videos TED comes TED-Ed. The objective is to provide videos to get students excited about broad subjects. They recognize all the great granular instruction out there and are building something complimentary. I'm very happy that people aren't trying to reinvent things and corner the market.

At the same time a very interesting piece from the NYT on a recent   OECD  study with the relationship between countries levels of education and their focus on mining. talks of the inverse correlation between resource-extracting focussed countries vs people-developing countries. While our natural resources are finite it's good to see countries prospering in a more sustainable manner. It's a lesson that all countries can learn from that the easy money with resources isn't always the best way.

To capture and amplify the world's best lessons to excite learners worldwide definitely a noble cause.

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