Todd "Turbo" Watson -- IBM Corporation
Greetings. As we head into SuperBowl weekend, it seems that from all reports, the Kama Sutra worm couldn't find any love, which is a very good thing. I, personally, wasn't looking forward to rebuilding all the PowerPoints, Word docs, and related intellectual capital I'd worked so feverishly on under such tight deadlines for the past 15 years. And I was glad to have been given the kick in the derriere I needed to update my antivirus update. I hope all of you out there fared as well. Meanwhile, it's time to gear up for that favorite American pasttime, the SuperBowl.
Since my Dallas Cowboys went off their winning streak in the mid 90s, my favorite thing about the SuperBowl has been the TV ads, particularly those $20 million 30 second spots featuring monkeys and sock puppets. Ah, the good ol' days of dot com advertising. I look forward to counting advertising dollars wilting away by the millions per minute on Sunday, and am hoping for some real marketing genius this year. And also wondering what that one big surprise will be.
Fourth and Long
The National Football League (NFL) and IBM recently partnered on an initiative to help the NFL better bring you even better coverage through their NFL Films division by leveraging IBM's digital media technologies. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the NFL Film shows.
Every weekend, I would wait intently for the previous week's recap show -- remember, this was long before ESPN recaps -- and watch and wish that I would grow big enough to play in the NFL someday. Alas, I ended up playing more golf than football, but I can still hear the crunch of helmets and shoulder pads and that narrator's voice.
Next week, after the knee pads and Astroturf have been put away, and the winning quarterback has jetted off to Disneyland, my colleagues at ibm.com and I will take a closer look at the future of sports. Being a sports junkie, nothing is sacred. Golf, NASCAR, the Olympics...it's all fair game and it's all being changed by technology.
Until then, enjoy the game...and the commercials.[Read More]
turbotodd 100000388Y Tags:  cio information_management media ibm_software 7 Comments 4,283 Views
The feature on this week's ibm.com home page is "The Future of Sports," and as I read through drafts of some of the story's components -- including listening to the excellent future of sports podcast - it dawned on me that there may have never been a better time to be an athlete or a sports fan.
Full disclosure: My name is Todd, and I'm a sportsaholic. I grew up in north Texas, near Dallas, where football was as close to a religion as one could get without going to church, and where Little League baseball diamonds were a fixture permanently etched into the landscape. In my adolescence, I played both baseball and football, and also dabbled in soccer, basketball, cross country, golf, and even rodeo (yes, we do consider rodeo to be a sport...same with NASCAR...but more on that later).
I was never a star player, particularly in team sports, but I relished the opportunity and experience of playing both organized team and individual sports, and my participation taught me no end of lessons: teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, sacrifice, perserverance, how to throw my golf putter into a lake with style and finesse but also with the appropriate amount of anger...all qualities that I would inevitably call upon in later years for my business life.
Sporting Solutions for a Small Planet
In my travels for and work experiences on behalf of IBM, I've been most fortunate to have escaped the boundaries of my own geography and culture, and witnessed what sports means around the world, both virtually and up close.
Instant replay: On one of my international business trips, to Munich, I watched in fascination at the complete preoccupation of my European colleagues with the 1998 World Cup, and realized that no matter where in the world you are, football is football...except in Europe, where soccer is football, which my European colleagues were quick to point out...but my real point in mentioning it was this: sport is sport around the globe, certainly even as one man's sport is another man's bore.
I also learned that sport, like politics, is mostly local, even as it plays a crucial and necessary role in shaping national and even state identity...but it's mostly local. My tribe...err, I mean my team, is always better than your team, except when my team loses, in which case it's time to elect a new president...err, I mean hire a new coach.
Yet with the dramatic changes in technology over the past decade, what was once local has become instantaneously global.
Just this past weekend, by way of example, I watched as Tiger Woods played (and eventually won) the Dubai Desert Classic, a golf tournament halfway around the world -- sometimes in real-time and at others in instant replay. I had no end of options to read about or follow it closely, including the IBM-sponsored PGATour.Com But the best part was that I had any option at all, something avid sports fans didn't have when growing up with Jim McKay and ABC's "The Wide World of Sports."
The agony of victory and thrill of defeat was all well and good in the wide world of sports, up until about the time the shackles of broadcast commercial TV delayed replays or blackouts and forced you to miss the one game you really wanted to see in that not-very-wide-world-after-all. Call it the agony of oligopoly, where the channels of opportunity were limited by the scarcity of broadcast spectrum and, in turn, the limited number of sports media outlets. The endless capacity of the Internet precludes that from being an issue for the virtual world of sports.
IBM: Helping Fans Get Closer to the Action
Sport has always been very much an "on demand"-oriented endeavor, especially in terms of the need for instantaneous information and results. Thus, the global and individual accessibility of the Internet pairs nicely with the required immediacy of sports.
IBM's innovation in bringing technology to sports occurred early on in the Internet game, beginning with our early IT sponsorships of the U.S. Open, the Masters and PGA Tour, the Olympics, and others. In those experiences, we learned a great deal about the utility and applicability of our technology and the unique power of the Internet to address some very time-sensitive business problems, the lessons of which informed and shaped our product development.
These efforts helped us more effectively address other customers' problems through the lessons we learned from these sports sponsorships, some harder than others. Like the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, when IBM stumbled onto the javelin after being unable to deliver a critical scoring results feed to the news media, who were using the timely information in that feed to inform the rest of the planet. Lesson learned.
That very same year, IBM delivered live results of Tiger Woods' historic and relentless march up the fairways of Augusta to take his first green jacket. The Java-based Internet scorecard developed expressly for the Masters was the first of many innovations in our sports coverage efforts (read my account of a more recent one about the "Point Tracker" from last September's U.S. Open).
And from what I can surmise as I scan the fast-changing digital media landscape, this game is just getting rolling. IP-based digital media online is probably the most recent and important evolution for sports coverage in recent years, and is opening up whole new opportunities for athlete and fan interaction. You've also got fantasy sports leagues, online and console gaming, IPTV...all putting fans closer and closer to the action, and sometimes even directly into the driver's seat.
Gentlemen, Turn On Your Remotes
Take NASCAR, as an example. Just recently, Time Warner Cable sent me an invitation to subscribe to its new "NASCAR In Car" digital cable offering, which will allow me to watch "6 drivers on 6 in-car camera channels with live team audio and real-time in car-data." Does that mean I also get to experience driving into the wall of the Texas Motor Speedway at 180 MPH??? (Read a recent story in CIO magazine to learn how technology is changing NASCAR and helping it build its booming business.) Without the ability to provide multiple feeds through an IP-based broadband pipe, such a feat would have been impossible even just a few short years ago.
The point is this: Moving forward, no matter where in the world you may be, technology is going to allow you to follow your favorite team or athlete no matter where in the world they may be at the moment of, at - and even after -- the event, and increasingly via the device of your choice (Anyone see those ESPN Mobile TV ads in the Super Bowl last night? You thought people talking on the phone at the movies or restaurants was an etiquette issue? Just you wait until you can watch them jump up and down cheering at your cousin's wedding when the Steelers go for two and make it.)
People's behavior and the technology opportunity will certainly have to catch up with one another and make some adjustments, but the best news of all is that fans are going to be able to become a more integral partner in the experience, making the convergence of technology and sports the new team to watch.
I'm personally very much looking forward to the day when I can play in a virtual 3-D foresome with Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger. Until that time, I'll keep practicing my course management on the X-Box.[Read More]
Following up on my post about the future of sports...we're a few days into the Olympics and I've become a complete couch potato. And I'm blaming it all on technology.
First, there's my "Enhanced TV" feature that Time Warner Cable added to my already killer HDTV signal. I can switch between stations covering the Olympics like a true channel surfer.
Two, my DVR built into the Time Warner set top box (I swear this is not a commercial for TW). I can record two separate programs at the same time at once, then play them back in fast forward action mode (with the exception of the sport of curling, which completely eludes me...sorry, it just looks like shuffleboard on ice, and I figure I can hold off on that until I'm permanently living on a cruise ship...but I do support the American curlers!)
Three...get this, as it falls into the camp of "My VCR is still flashing 12:00s..."...I finally learned how to do picture on picture with my digital cable remote!...the Turin Winter Olympics are suddenly a whole new world (Hint: Click that "On/Off" button at the very bottom of the remote to get pic on pic).
And four, I've discovered some nifty Web addresses to help me program this Olympic madness...the MSNBC Winter Olympics TV Schedule, for example. And also the NBC Olympics RSS feeds, for those so inclined to subscribe to RSS feeds for results in specific events.
Now if I could just another 24 hours to the day so I can keep up with it all.
turbotodd 100000388Y Tags:  personal_productivity privacy innovation information_management database 4,459 Views
I don't need any help with watching more television. I watch way too much of it as it is.
But being a big proponent of time-shifting and creating a more intelligent interlock and filtering mechanism between digital cable and the Web, I couldn't help but mention "MeeVee" which I recently stumbled across.
MeeVee positions itself as a TV search company (think Google for cable), and just announced today a second round infusion of VC cash to keep its TV listings up to date.
Their 30 second elevator pitch goes something like this: They're the Amazon.Com TV Guide on the Internet. They intend to provide several mechanisms on their site by which to recommend and provide a "personalized TV guide."
Marcus Welby Meet Grey's Anatomy
With respect to MeeVee and TV, I'm all about personalized recommendations for anything...when they work.
Although Amazon's collaborative filtering mechanism works fairly well for my tastes, I take my TV watching a whole lot more seriously than I do ordering stuff off of the Internet. When I'm ordering something via the Web, I generally already knew what it was that I wanted to buy.
That's a very different animal from relying on the collective intelligence of the Internet audience, from whom I'm looking to tell me what TV shows I might like to watch that I'm not already watching.
I'll spend some time on MeeVee, and even if they don't make their Kitty Hawk escape from their earthbound Web 2.0 orbit, it's good to know there are people out there worrying about how to improve my TV watching habits.
Especially amidst the backdrop of 57 channels and nothin' on.[Read More]
We announced today our new and improved database, DB2 9 (the database formerly known as "Viper." Although we never had a really cool Sanskrit symbol to visually represent it or anything).
I've just linked you to the high-level skinny, but there are a few really cool features worth highlighting, including Ruby on Rails support. From a pure tech perspective, DB2 9 greatly improves XML performance, and its new compression technology can help cut storage costs by up to 80% (Register for the Webcast to learn more about the potential storage savings.)
And just to prove there really are actual living, human beings who develop this stuff, and not a bunch of droids locked up in an underground bunker 1,000 feet below Armonk, we've agreed to bring some of them out into the fresh air to chat with the world. Be gentle...they frighten easiliy. And before you pummel them with questions, you might want to check out the DB2 9 demo.[Read More]
I'm a bit of a news junkie, if that wasn't evident. My social studies teachers always told me it was important to keep up with what's going on in the world, to read the newspaper, to watch the evening news, etc. Of course, now with the explosion of personal media (blogs, podcasts, news aggregation engines and filters, etc.), it's all a bit overwhelming.
To my mind, filters are more important than ever. Within IBM, I've often distinguished between the old and new media as being the difference between hunting-and-gathering and the Domino's pizza guy. With hunting-and-gathering, during the first decade of the WWW and the early evolution of search engines, we primarily characterized our behavior in terms of going out and looking for information.
Next, with the advent of various content syndication standards (namely RSS 1 and 2, and Atom), we saw the Domino's pizza delivery guy arrive on the scene. Now, we can "subscribe" to information, filtering it upfront and indicating our specific interests so that only the most relevant information (hopefully) arrives on our virtual doorstep.
What I rapidly see happening is a whole new layer of structure both necessary and inevitable with the firehose of information being developed and distributed. Call it the "Super Duper Wisdom of Crowds Hyper Meta Information Filter" (My term!) This filter will, increasingly, with all the rapid-fire evolutionary technologies like social bookmarking, tagging, etc. work in conjuction with the increasingly meta-oriented search capabilities -- whereupon we search existing searches (Rollyo, etc.) for that single and elusive information nugget -- then have our RSS newspaper delivery boy drop it off on our doorstep.
Here's the problem with all this: One could spend more time filtering and sifting and looking for information than consuming the information itself.
Maybe I should just start back up my subscription to the New York Times?
Speaking of filters, topix.net just announced a new search filter out at the Search Engines conference. Check it out here and see how you can search for news results over the past year and beyond. It seems especially useful for backtracking and searching for past news stories on a specific topic or from a specific region (city, zip, etc.)[Read More]
GigaOm tells us that open-source PBX and telephony software maker, Asterisk, has received $13.8M in Series A funding from a Boston-based telecom specialist venture fund, Matrix Partners.
Asterisk runs on Linux, BSD, and Mac OS X and operates with many standards-based telephony equipment, and provides voicemail, directory features, call conferencing, interactive voice response, and call queing.
Meanwhile, IBM announced its third software acquisition in a little over a week's time. This time, it was enterprise content management software provider FileNet, based in Costa Mesa, CA. FileNet's software is intended to help companies manage content throughout their organizations while automating and streamlining business processes.
We're gonna be some busy beavers back at the IBM Software Web dam.[Read More]
turbotodd 100000388Y Tags:  terrorism civil_liberties information_management security 4,057 Views
I don't know about you, but I'm about CNNed, MSNBCed, FOXed, and PBSed out on terrorism and national security.
But having just finished reading Ron Suskind's "The One-Percent Doctrine," having just taken a quick round-trip flight to San Jose myself, having wondered about some good friends who were still in the U.K. when the recent bombing plot was revealed and whom I knew would be trying to come back to the U.S. with their two small children in tow, having learned about all these new acronyms (to me, anyhow) like "TATP" (which stands for "Triacetone Triperoxide," just in case you've been curious)....after all that, I realized continued vigilance was still crucial despite our collective weariness.
Of course, our continued vigilance should be exerted both in a continued focus on improving our ability to know what's going on out there, while also balancing the risks of our needing to know with the inadvertent (or purposeful) misuse of information.
IBM's Jeff Jonas recently participated in the Markle Foundation's Task Force on National Security, which last month issued recommendations on how to reconcile national security needs with civil liberties requirements.
Its report (PDF, 4.8MB) offered a "new 'authorized use' standard for government handling of legally collected information that bases authorization to view information on how the information is going to be used, rather than on the nationality of the subject or the location of collection."
In his own public remarks made when the document was released last month, Jonas observed that "The Task Force has never called for the wholesale transfer of data between systems or agencies; rather, we have called for leaving the data with the original holder."
He pointed out that this approach enables users to discover who has information specifically relevant to their case, and that holders of such information can then grant access, based on policy, to each information request. Such a "discoverability" approach delivers on the "need to share" goal by first answering the question "share what with who?"
Connecting...while protecting...the dots.[Read More]
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the need for better filters of information. If you're an Information Age junkie like myself, using tools like RSS, social bookmarks, e-mail filters, and any other garden variety of personal information management tools can be overwhelming at times.
The whole point of all this great technology was that it was supposed to allow us to be more liberated from singular sources of information, allowing us to keep in tune with many more sources of information.
And it has.
But boy, can trying to monitor them be exhausting.
So I had suggested in the previous posting there was a very quickly emerging need for such smart information filters and aggregators, whether they be through new businesses or individual tools.
This morning, I read about one such filter in an article on the Financial Times online. Monitor110, scheduled to launch next year, is apparently providing an automated system that will "trawl through more than 40 [million] internet sources -- from blogs to regulator filings -- on behalf of hedge funds."
Check out this page from the Monitor110 site to get an idea of the kind of real-time information hedge funds will be receiving.
What I found most interesting about the story was a quote from the COO for investment research at Citigroup, Scott Lessing, who was quoted as saying that "the service could help analysts who currently track blogs 'only to the extent that it provides an idea which the analyst can independently verify.' "
Would that be a grudging, but formal acknowledgment, that there is great potential to find nuggets of information gold in them thar Internet hills?
Ah, but the quote goes on: "It's important to know that the smoke is out there, and that others see it. They may be more information value in online trends in the aggregate: 5,000 more web mentions of a product than the week before could be an important signal for an analyst covering the product's manufacturer."
Ah, so there's also potential collective wisdom from the maddening Internet crowds as well? The site hasn't launched yet, but according to the FT story, 10 hedge funds have already signed up, so they must think there's fire out there somewhere amidst all that smoke.
The IBM Information Fire Department refuses to stand by and watch the whole Internet go up in smoke. If you want to create some information heat yourself and integrate all your disparate data sources, check out this Website explaining our new IBM Information Server.
Aggregating my Aggregation
Meanwhile, in Wired magazine's "Monkey Bites," they listed the best and worst of Web 2.0 recently, and tuned me into NetVibes, which has been characterized as a "Web 2.0 personal portal featuring AJAX." Others are calling it just another RSS reader.
Curious, I checked it out yesterday, and decided it was much more than just another RSS reader, and am going to give it a whirl as my own next personal portal (Warning to Yahoo, MyYahoo has been my window to the Web for several years, but you've got some serious competition now, in my opinion).
In my work, I have to access all kinds of various Web-based information sources (both inside and outside IBM) on a daily basis, and I have been spending WAY too much time trying to navigate my way to those various sources, as well as just monitoring key information sources useful to my job.
Within about 10 minutes, I had completely customized the front page of NetVibes with a number of key blogs (via their RSS feeds) that I monitor, as well as added my Flickr photos, a weather map, an Alexa traffic widget that helps me monitor the traffic of several Websites, my del.icio.us bookmarks...the list goes on.
But the best part was being able to mix and match and move the boxed apps from one part of the page to another with my mouse. No programming, no HTML required.
This is smart computing. Kudos to the NetVibes team based in London and Paris, which apparently just received a $15 round of financing. As my dad used to tell me, don't spend it all in one place![Read More]
Every time I go on a business trip, it seems, there's an earthquake somewhere in the vicinity. Okay, maybe not every time, but certainly several in recent years.
The first time, I was having breakfast at a hotel in downtown San Jose, attending a mid-to-late 90s Internet World (before they moved to LA). The table started shaking. I looked over at the people dining across from me. "Yeah, we saw it too" their wayward glances suggested.
The second time was last summer. I estimate I was on the 29th floor of a downtown Tokyo hotel, right along the outer perimeter of the Roppongi.
I was fast asleep after a 14 hour flight in coach, trying to adjust to the fact that I had flown into the future, dreaming of fresh sushi and even fresher sake, when I was awakened by a shaking bed. Actually, it was more of a rolling wobbling bed. But the point was, it was on the 29th floor of a downtown Tokyo hotel and it was clearly an earthquake.
Tying this all back to the conference notion of "Taking Back Control" and providing "Information on Demand," I promptly got online the next morning and submitted my earthquake mishap to the authorities: to the U.S. Geological Survey, to be exact, which has a nifty Website where you can report all such earthquake incidents. Entitled, appropriately enough, "Did you feel it?"
The U.S.G.S. map from the small quake revealed many others had reported it, which provided some comfort -- again, it wasn't just me.
Although I did wonder what happened when there was a really bad quake and no one had Internet access. Isn't that equivalent to a tree falling in the forest when there was no one around to hear about it?
And then, of course, the 6.6 in Hawaii (I said the vicinity...) yesterday. Fortunately, that wasn't too terrible a one either.
Meanwhile, there's this:
Walking to breakfast early this AM I passed an IBM executive who is speaking at the conference. Kudos to him, he was jogging, psyched to be presenting at the conference later in the day and getting all revved up in a nice morning high-paced constitutional.
But was disturbing was that rather than singing the theme from "Rocky," he was chanting something about "IT Service Management."
Hey, you could never accuse us IBM folks of not being deadly serious about our technology. We even hum it when we run!
Duh duh, duh duh, duh duh duh duh duh....duh duh, duh duh, duh duh duh duh duh duh...
And now, off to the arena for the kickoff session...along with me and my estimated 5,000 new friends.[Read More]