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Linda Stone on Inspiration Replication

From David Weinberger’s interview with Linda Stone at Supernova, the idea of how to replicate inspiration across this country.

Comments Off | Howard Greenstein | December 17th, 2009 | Networks for Change, Video

David Weinberger and Anil Dash on Expert Labs

At Supernova, David Weinberger interviewed Anil Dash about his new project, Expert Labs.

David’s original post is over here.

1 Comment | Howard Greenstein | December 8th, 2009 | Networks for Change, Video

Alec Ross on Innovation in Diplomacy

Alec Ross is Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Clinton at the State Department, and is in charge of maximizing the potential of technology and innovation in service of America’s Diplomatic and Development goals. He is trying to “take advantage of the innovation in connectedness and use the tools of the 21st century to create the best possible outcomes and solve age-old problems.”

In our talk, he describes a villager in a small town in Africa who’s as connected with his cell phone as many of us are, showing that the world has changed, and it is up to us to pay attention and adapt.

Alec also talks about how to break down the traditional high wall between government and the innovation and tools of the technology industry.

David Weinberger also grabbed an interview with Alec Ross, posted here from his blog.

1 Comment | Howard Greenstein | December 6th, 2009 | Networks for Change, The Changing World, Video

Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy CTO of the US

Deputy US Chief Technology Officer Andrew McLaughlin spent some time after his panel on Day 2 of Supernova 2009 talking with me about the President’s agenda on technology in Health Care, IT part of the Smart Grid, the Role of Technology in Education, and CyberSecurity, as well as Patent Reform and Net Neutrality. He describes his interaction with the entrepreneurs at Supernova, seeking new ideas for solutions to the government.

He also gives insights as to what new projects the Government is working on to help taxpayers better understand how their money is being spent, and what projects are connecting the Federal and State governments to improve communications.

Thanks again to Andrew for taking time to speak with us at Supernova.

1 Comment | Howard Greenstein | December 5th, 2009 | Networks for Change, Video

Clips from Thursday’s thought leaders

Telecom plumbers and interior designers — there’s still a gulf between hardware and software.  It’s clear that the “over the top” software players are demonstrating that phones and, at some point, televisions, are about more than our traditional expectation for a dial tone or a live screen:  people want equipment that will work anywhere, sound great and remain easy to use.  This means the big telecoms must think of themselves as platforms that enable applications.  Without an orientation to user oriented applications, their traditional business models will be eclipsed.  Of course, telecoms must relinquish control of communication to the user.  Perhaps the bridge across the gulf is the user since everyone wants access to the user base.  Maybe telecoms and providers will create user segments around features instead of geography or use levels.  The resulting paradigm shift would mean that the users who expect a rich experience from their phones will dictate the features they want — so telecoms and services alike must resolve the technical issues in the context of user expectations.  This all begs the question:  when will the service providers be perceived less as disrupters and more as a conduit to the user?  Maybe after regulatory, political and legacy interests truly align with user preferences.  And that may be a long time in coming.

Serious data and understanding the customer — you still have to create information in the context of the user.  Destroying data is a touchy subject.  Once it’s gone, so is access to potential information about product, service and user experience.  Buried within the mounds of data clogging up systems are nuggets of information that define individual user movements, which can be aggregated to a level of knowledge not enjoyed in the past.  And beyond the data itself, there are the questions of technique for deriving information and forging new connections within the customer relationship.  The primary acts of data management — collection, storage, indexing, accessing, analyzing, inferring — require larger-scale computational ability and a point of view that prevents any one of these acts from becoming a research bottleneck.  And companies must give up the illusion that they are in control of data; it’s got a life of its own.  So if you look for opportunities to use data to ask more questions of the customer, you’ll find a path to knowing what to keep and what to toss.

The hypersocial organization — it lives beyond the tools and the tricks in a land with the customer.  It’s back to Human 1.0.  Successful companies think inclusively; instead of marketing and employee segments, it’s one tribe with different talents and features.  Successful companies think about how knowledge flows, not claiming ownership to knowledge but to the networks and highways that move the knowledge.  They do everything with the humanity of the customer at the center of the corporate focus.  And successful companies embrace the messiness that comes with being social instead of hierarchical.  Everyone in the company is a touchpoint to the user, who, to be part of the company culture, must be able to experience it as an insider, not an audience member.

In the final analysis, the Internet is human.  That’s the takeaway of dozens of Supernova conversations, whether they happened on Twitter with folks miles away from the conference or with the person right next to you in the room.  The Internet, in all its technology and technicality, is a tool for intimacy.  We just have to carve out the boundaries that protect our privacy, our talents, our corporate competitive differentiation, our social interaction, our governing systems.  The thing is, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the Internet to pause.  Like people, the Internet keeps flowing and leading us to new discoveries about ourselves and the data we produce.  With luck, our closer proximity will generate and sustain the kind of trust only humans can do.

Comments Off | Mary Trigiani | December 4th, 2009 | Networks for Change

Supernova Day 3 Live Stream Recordings

Update: We’ve got a higher resolution version of the final panel video – this player will play all segments in order. We’ve left the original UStream videos on this page below as well.

Here’s part 1 of the Closing Plenary Session with Moderator Kevin Werbach and Alec Ross, Craig Newmark, and Jimmy Wales

Part 2:

Comments Off | Howard Greenstein | December 3rd, 2009 | Networks for Change, Video

Thought leading clips from the morning sessions

Translating traditional strategic practices in a digitally networked world.  Beyond personal, product or economic innovation, institutions must innovate everything from their operations, to their attitudes, to their roles in industry and society.  Our institutions are built upon infrastructures that cannot absorb digital networks much less re-tool around them.  Large organizations will exist but they will be fundamentally different in structure and priority from how they operate today.  Knowledge flow, not information flow.  Relationships, not just transactions.  The rationale of connecting people, not just the ability to do so.  Context as well as content.  Corporate infrastructures will not be the competitive differentiators they once might have been unless they invent new ways to create trust in relationships.

It’s not a financial crisis but the pivot of a shift in institutional performance.  A long-term deterioration is back of the undoing of the financial markets:  measuring the wrong indicators, inflating the value of outdated indicators, quarterly obsession.  Research is showing that there is no correlation between productivity, product and process innovation, or customer value and return on assets.  In fact, in the case of customers, they are realizing value at the expense of institutions, in multiples.  And creative talent, who crave passion for their work, continue to leave institutions, taking knowledge with them — thus depleting a key 21st centure asset. Collaboration has not been rewarded, only touted.  The global economy, whose infrastructure was shaped by Wall Street priorities, has been about the income of institutions, not their outcomes.  Organizations must devise business models that are pull driven — pulling people, connections, relationships into their domains — not push oriented — pushing sales, products, services on the customer.

The right kind of startup can find the right kind of money.  This market is a good filter over mediocre ideas; quirky concepts with potential value just do not cut it for the good funding sources.  [When there's stupid money, dumb stuff gets funded.]  You don’t need capital to try an idea — and sometimes, your side ideas are the ones that gain traction, so other people’s money isn’t desirable.  Sustaining the bootstrap mentality after investment capital is attained is critical to success in this environment.

The best business model for startups is subscription based.  It’s less risky for everyone, especially investors, if startups use free services as the bait for hooking subscriptions.  The gambling VCs are currently few and far between, tending to fund things like outmoded inventory plays.  If the traffic is there, it’s hard to ignore — but make sure you can monetize that traffic in ways other than advertising.  When it comes to platforms, make sure you own the email addresses, because then you can stake a claim to user relationships.

1 Comment | Mary Trigiani | December 2nd, 2009 | Networks for Change, The Changing World

Some gleanings from the first afternoon

How to bestow trust.  Werner Vogels of Amazon:  Look at the vision of the company and how the company not only delivers to it but cannibalizes it.  My take:  When you adopt and alter a vision, you assume ownership of it.

Our current metacrisis.  Umair Haque of Havas Media Lab:  We are in a great compression, and the negative turning point was not last year but some point many decades ago.  Inexpensive products, touted as delivering value, actually impart meaningless value because they create economic harm — borrowing something, or using someone, to make a product or service and not paying it back.  My take:  Beyond re-defining value and explaining the harm of capitalism gone awry, organizations of all kinds must answer the question, for themselves, of how they create value while inflicting the least amount of harm.  That there is no one answer is part of the answer.

Why expertise may now mean something entirely different.  Anil Dash of Expert Labs:  The fundamental opportunity in a government is improving the model for filtering expertise, not just information.  It’s more than transparency; it’s recognizing, then acting upon the recognition, that the knowledge of this country or this world is not concentrated among the few people with access to the President twice a year.  My take:  As a government student in college, as a marketing operative since then, and as a transplant to Silicon Valley twelve years ago, it’s safe to conclude, finally, that my journey, like that of many others, is about how to help people find representation and connection.  This is the time to act.  Even with all the challenges and the change that will be painful for some, we can build an infrastructure that is more than transparent — an infrastructure that is truly participative and embodies the voices of a democracy.

When manufacturing will be a force in America again.  Chris Anderson of Wired: The next ten years are about applying new technologies to the physical world in much the same way we have applied them to services.  My take:  The unbelievable is truly possible in American manufacturing if the industry can see past its pain and discomfort.  It’s possible because of the very force that manufacturing verticals have criticized is ready for manufacturing prime time.

Where Hollywood can meet Middle America, or even Silicon Valley.  Peter Guber of Mandalay Entertainment:  Hollywood is in the business of emotional transportation, not just filling seats.  Humans are wired to hold data in terms of emotion and experience.  My take:  Of course.  But the art is in how the artist looks at other people and uses every tool at his or her disposal to shape the experience.  This industry that was threatened by talkies, then radio, then television, then iTunes needs to drink the tech kool-aid.

Comments Off | Mary Trigiani | December 1st, 2009 | Networks for Change

The NY State Senate in the Network Age

Rarely do we (downstate) New Yorkers look towards our Capitol in Albany for technology innovation. However, with the changes in government this past year, we’ve started to hear about a shift in systems for the better. The Sunlight Foundation’s Ellen Miller noted this back in June in “Grace and Brilliance Under Fire in Albany,” writing about NY State Senate chief information officer Andrew Hoppin and his team. Hoppin and his team also came to the 7o0 person NY Tech Meetup in June to discuss their plans with the NYC tech community as a whole.

At the recent Yahoo! Open Hack Day in New York, I got to sit down with Noel “NoNeck” Hildago who works with Hoppin as Director of Innovation and check on their progress. Noel told me about some of the projects the NY State Senate is working on, including open source efforts and ways to increase transparency in how bills are made. Most notably, this effort is happening in a bi-partisan way – both Democrats and Republicans are getting new technology innovations and fixes in their offices.

I believe that for New York, this effort does represent what Kevin Werbach talks about when he mentions “Networks For Change” and describes the way technology can impact public policy and social impact. Please weigh in and contribute to the conversation below in the comments.

Comments Off | Howard Greenstein | November 2nd, 2009 | Networks for Change

The creative class: Networked, high performing and disillusioned

Not surprisingly, employee morale and commitment has worsened during the recession — and in response to company actions to cope with the downturn. A recent survey finds that high-performing employees have been substantially more affected than the rank-and-file.

Lin Grensing-Pophal, Human Resource Executive Online, October 2009

… the creative class: a fast-growing, highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Members of the creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries—from technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the arts. They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit.

Richard Florida, Washington Monthly, May 2002

Watson Wyatt and WorldatWork just released a survey that tracks, among other things, employee engagement, and Lin Grensing-Pophal explains how companies can do a better job of engagement in a recent article. But that may not be enough, going forward out of the recession. The survey’s results inspire a look back to an issue economist Richard Florida raised several years ago: how the drivers of employee performance are changing.

Today, the combination of networking tools, with a power burst from social technology, and a recession that now appears to be the result of an infrastructure crashing under its own incongruities — foreseen by folks like Florida — is forcing companies to look not just at compensation methods but at how they categorize employee positions from the get-go. It’s no longer the distinction between management and rank-and-file that makes sense in a service-dominated economy, if it ever did in a manufacturing dominated world, but the quality of performance along the scale of creativity and actual contribution. We’re in the midst of another major industrial shift that is exciting at the same time it is mind boggling. And its impact will be felt not just inside corporations but around the cities and towns they populate.

… the economy is different now. It no longer revolves around simply making and moving things. Instead, it depends on generating and transporting ideas. The places that thrive today are those with the highest velocity of ideas, the highest density of talented and creative people, the highest rate of metabolism.

Richard Florida, The Atlantic, March 2009

Comments Off | Mary Trigiani | October 21st, 2009 | Changing Networks, Networks for Change, News, Strategic Change, The Changing World