It was a long week at Lotusphere held in Orlando at the Swan and Dolphin--looks like I'll be a regular at that hotel for a while. There certainly was a lot of discussion about social software, not the least on Lotus products in this area. More so, they finally announced externally some of the interesting research areas for social software that we have been using internally for a while at the Innovation labs at the show. I'm not sure there's public sites to point to but here's a quick breakdown of some of them:
Team building games - a sort of virtual "Ropes"-style exercise where team members get together to try to complete a task in SecondLife focused around decision-making, cooperation, planning, executing. Some of the games include creating a tower of blocks, and creating a castle. It sounds simple but the actual value is in how it makes the team of folks think about how they cooperate
Wormhole - an API between SecondLife and web-based applications and databases. This bidirectional link lets you check status of objects in SecondLife from a web page, and vice-versa, the status of objects on the web from SecondLife itself. It's an important connection mechanism between a virtual world and the web.
Cattail - this is a file sharing system that maps to tags, and people used internally in an organization. It helps to offload the act of emailing large presentations around, associate names with documents, and make it easy to search files by people, description or tags
SONAR - this is more of an API that maps the info from many types of social software to people as related to what you do. For example, you can find others who share common interests in their blogs or forums, papers that they may have written or published, documents they have shared, etc. You can configure the relevancy of one of many factors along a sliding scale. It helps to identify others with common interests along each of those factors. You can build a client that uses this relevancy and connectivity information in different ways (e.g. visualization, identification, etc.)
SmallBlue/Atlas - This internal project became a product mid-December. It creates a visualization of a social graph based on different systems of connections. The Atlas product is an add-on to Lotus Connections and uses the data there to see how people are connected to each other across the different tools, e.g. tagging
If I find an external web site for these projects I'll create a link for them
With the school semester back in session, I now have three battodo (swordfighting) classes a week, two of which I have to teach. They basically span all levels now. There's the regular class that my sensei--who has recently been promoted to shihan (master) after 25 or more years practicing and teaching hundreds of students (possibly over a thousand) in a number of different martial arts--on Saturday's at our headquarter dojo that I attend primarily for practice. It's students of all skill levels but all adult. On Friday's I have the class at the Univ of Arizona for college students. Finally, there's a middle-school/high-school level class to teach, full of students from 12 to 17 years of age and of many ranks.
The college class is really more a club and it just started again this Friday, with the addition of three new students. We're lucky in that the university has a very good recreational/sports center with plenty of rooms (with beautiful polished wood floors). We currently use the racketball courts since they are the easiest to reserve ahead of time, but my sempais (senior students) are looking to getting one of the larger rooms which also have the padded mats to work on.
The mats are great but I was surprised just how much they cost (up to $500 for a 5' x 10' section). They're also kinda heavy and not easy to move around, so it's best to have them available in one room permanently. We can use the mats for doing rolls, and kneeling work.
The high-school class has yet to start but I have been the assistant teacher for several years, and each semester we get about ten to twenty students. Some of the students have been with us for years. In fact, two of my college students spent 4 years or more learning at the high-school level and eventually became black belts before they even started college. There is another batch which are nearly approaching that level as well.
What I've seen over the years is that most people either really like the sport, or they give it a shot for a few weeks and then quit. The ones that practice for a long time but leave are usually adults with busy lives. The high-school class certainly helps capture their interest at a young age, which is when they are most able to grow mentally and physically into the sport. We've had many an aimless and largely distracted individual that finds their focus through the practice.
We're also going to return to cutting targets on a bi-weekly basis on the weekends outside of the class which is the real fun part. It takes some time of practice to get to that level but it's something that is in the reach of most people. The cutting practice however, takes several hours of time even for a small group of a dozen people, especially when most of them don't have their own swords and have to share the class one. After years of use and without sharpening my primary katana is getting pretty dull. I need to work on it, or send it for sharpening (which is almost as costly as buying a new starter cutting sword).
For me, three times a week will certainly help me get back in shape, although I have to make sure I practice as well as teach. It's not easy to do a hard and fast sport, while talking and teaching simultaneously. Even when you build up stamina and breathing pace, to get real practice you have to push beyond your own limits.
I like Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs & Steelwhich is now showing as a documentary on PBS.The Putlizer prize winning study of how some cultures and civilizationsmay have succeeded over others because of different inventions in theirhistory, suggests that back in some primitive time, it all started witha geographical advantage: good geography, climate, and luck of the drawin terms of wildlife (potential livestock) led to successful transitionfrom a hunter-gatherer society to an agrarian one.
The progress started with people found new ways of supplying the basicneeds, and as the supply increased, this allowed new professions, andskills to rise. The general statement is that the surplus of availableresources is what allowed people to develop their knowledge to newlevels. It took a long time and often different situations for somejobs to come about but that's how it starts. It could take a dozenfarmers to supply a village enough that one metalsmith might becomenecessary and useful; perhaps a hundred more for merchant; a thousandfor a philosopher, and so on.
That nugget around a surplus of resources I think still holds true inthe information age. The resources we are talking about here are ideas.It may take many, many ideas to come forward, before new viableopportunities arise.
Take this with what people in community and social networking havealways said: the combined value of people in a network is significantly(perhaps even exponentially) better than the sum of individuals in it.(Reed or Metcalfe's "law"). This means that the greater number ofpeople interacting in the network, the more ideas become available,leading to that surplus.
You need to cultivate the full environment of idea exchange,irrespective of whether a high percentage of them lead to a success.Often we miss sight of the need for a surplus, in the popular cultureof seeking to "turn every lead into a sale". What is really necessaryare ways to better support interaction and engagement between people,keeping track of commonalities, and analyzing the leads to try to finda few really good ones.
Nevermind the big Hoover, Dyson or other whole house vacuum cleaners, what someone needs to invent is a small/micro version to use in small areas like say inside computers, around your media equipment, etc. You won't believe how dusty it gets in Arizona, even in a house where we don't open windows or such, and a whole house electrostatic filtration system (like the Shaper Image Quadras but built into the ventilation system).
It could be just as simple as a much more flexible and small attachment to a regular house vacuum. The attachment should be small enough to fit my palm but the hose needs to be long enough to reach all the crevices and such.
This past Sunday our dojo had it's 41st annual black belt promotion ceremony. That's quite a few years (and generations) of students across many different styles. This time around we had black belts promoted in Battodo (swordfighting), Praying Mantis kung fu, Matsunoryu Jujitsu, and Hiraido (Mixed Martial arts). I'm proud to say two of my own sword students, Andrew and Stephen, have just become black belts, and another sword student of my instructor was also promoted. Both my students came through the middle/high school classes and dedicated part of their time over the past four years or so to learn battodo. They started out at around age 14 and matured just as much as developed their skill.
I also was promoted to sandan rank (3rd degree black belt) for years of teaching and training students. It'll be years more before I see another rank. There are also skill competency standards as well as teaching requirements at the higher black belt ranks. For the sword class, it may be a while before we get another person to sandan because of the physical strength and agility difficulty. For example, you have to perform the three basic cuts nearly perfectly across multiple targets at least 90% of the time you try. We have even simplified some of the testing requirements but it still takes a lot of practice to reach that level.
All the same, if you measure across the time, on average for every 10-20 students we have each semester, we get perhaps one or two who stay the road to achieve the first black belt rank. It's a fairly rigorous system in our school; the aim is not quantity necessarily, but proficient students.
I've not uploaded the photos from the recent tests, but if you are interested, you can see many other photos and videos on our battodo social site.
From slashdot. In the US, the federal legal establishment has decided that some bloggers can actually be considered as journalists. This is quite specific to a political blogging site called Fired Up and specifically on journalistic freedom of access to information in government elections, but is a good step. The slashdot article has more info.
I was discussing with my enlightened other about fiction versus non-fiction books in particular business books versus fiction stories. The argument is that non-ficiton books have to be filled with facts to be of use, versus fiction which has to be entertaining. This means that fiction books take much more work to create because you have to think out a lot more of the plot in detail while a business book usually has a point and what you need is a proper series of facts to lead there. I beg to differ in that I feel that most business or technical books tend to achieve the "lower levels" of fact-filling but that doesn't necessarily make them a "good" or interesting book. The interesting ones are those that not only get the facts right but also have to tell a story in an interesting and appealing manner. To that regard, "good" non-fiction books of the like are in my view harder to do. The writer is hampered by details of facts, figures and sequence of events, which are, truth be told, sometimes as gripping as glossy paper covers the books come in.
Unfortunatley, I think this is lost among many business writers. I can consume probably about a 300-page business book in a week or less if it is really interesting, or a month if it not so, or even never if I find it just downright appalling. It seems like writing style is becoming even more significant these days with blogs, forms, and other social software. I'm not sure if anyone is teaching that beyond the do's an don'ts but I suspect is probably a new form of being an English major (not something I really know about).
That being said, I started working on my next book last week--I tend to have a "next" book in the works every other year--and already have about 55 pages in about 4 days; that's about 15% of the total page count that I feel a decent book should be. Now some people look at that as a sign of productivity, but I beg to caution folks that it matters more how useful that is versus how long it is. I'll probably end up with 2-3x the amount of pages than what I'll actually use.
Is there a point? Maybe what they say is true: more is not always better; better is always better.
IBM, Strikeiron, Kapow and Dapper are supporting a new mashup camp and contest on July 19th in Silicon Valley called the Business Mashup Challenge. The goal is to have a two day event where developers can get together for the camp and create different mashups right there and then using the Contest Development Environment (CDE) to do the assembly and publishing of your mashups. There is money and prizes for the winners. The assembly and consumption of services and some of the widgets apparently works through the QEDwiki project (try it out on alphaWorks Services) which is part of the CDE.
BusinessWeek magazine has an interesting online article titled The MySpace Generation that talks about the new generation of people who live, buy, and play online. There's also an subplot about marketing Coke through social networks.
MySpace.com now claims 40 million registered users with 20 million logged on in October alone.
When people think of developing leadership in social
environments, they often think of it in terms of a person developing their own skills
in leadership (1) versus how the group itself executes (2). These are two different things.
In particular, in my chapter on leadership models in Social Networking for Business, it is not focused on #1 individual leadership
skills, but rather on #2, how to consider what the right model is for
leadership in a given social experience. As said many times before, leadership
in a community experience is very different than that in individual social experiences
(e.g., your own blog, or profile page).
In a way, these models are much more “tactical” in the view
that they are what you might apply to one particular social environment
instance (e.g. the Durian-lovers community, Rawn Shah’s blog). These tactical
models may still run for years, and are not necessarily short-term—what we
often equate with tactical situations.
A strategic view, on the other hand, is from the eyes someone
or some team overseeing the Enterprise 2.0 ecosystem of all the social environment
instances. In many cases, they may be looking at thousands or millions of them
within the same organization. In the strategic view, you could consider how
many applications of each of the tactical leadership models exist. This gives
you an idea of how well the people across the organization are ‘skilled’--building their skills per #1 in online social environments--in
working in particular leadership models.
From an employee’s point of view, if you have never worked
in a workgroup of one particular leadership model, it takes a bit of time to
learn and understand how it works. It will require it anyway, because each
instance may have its own particular nuances and variances. However, my point
is that the employee understands the differences in working in different such
tactical leadership models, so they can contribute or lead the group more
These are the soft skills of leadership that we often
talk about, but here in terms of tangible concepts.
Furthermore, from the strategic view, this also shows that
you can have an effective Enterprise 2.0 collaborative system with high degrees
of autonomy, without needing to completely transform the structure of your
overall organization. What the employees are essentially agreeing on is that
within their many online collaborative instances, they will work as agreed
within each instance. The overall organization is still free to change and
transform, but it is possible to be both an open social collaborative organization;
yet still maintain the traditional structure, as long as both covenants allow
and support each other’s approaches and needs.
Right after the RSDC we went off for vacation in Key West, leaving the boy and my laptop with grandma, to get away from it all. After walking around for half an hour in the high humidity, sweating profusely we drop off our luggage at the nice Weatherstation Inn--a really nice Bed&Breakfast that we found and certainly more affordable than the hotels. We then go off in search of a good seafood lunch and find a decent restaurant. We opt to sit indoors in the airconditioning, which is much appreciated in the 80+ degree 90+ % humidity weather.
But of course, they put us in the middle with one table with three infants and children on one side, and another table where the adults spent the entire time talking about how they can take advantage of SecondLife... so much for getting away from it all.
The Cell Processor is the brain of the upcoming Sony Playstation 3. You can download the Linux-based development kit and start working on your next gaming masterpiece with the new Cell Broadband Engine Software Development Kit for free from our alphaWorks site. This also includes a full simulator for the processor system.