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.
Umair Haque spoke on the first day of Supernova, and appeared on the “Crisis? What Crisis? Strategies for a Connected World” panel on day 2.
In our talk, he summarizes his talks, giving us understanding of his theories about thick and thin value created by companies. He also discusses the way that companies can create more thick value – in other words, how they can be more productive for the company as well as society as a whole.
Linda Stone‘s history of working at the cutting edge at places like Apple and Microsoft has lead her to recently coin the phrase “Continuous Partial Attention” – the constant shifting of attention so a person doesn’t miss anything going on. The millennial generation who grew up watching this are not in sync with this value, and are looking for different balance in their lives.
In this interview, Linda tells us about their value system, and how this may affect the future of work in the Network Age.
After the final plenary session at Supernova, Supernova Group Founder & Conference Organizer Kevin Werbach interviews Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation Alec Rossabout the most important changes they’ve seen, and their predictions for the biggest changes to come.
Here is the video (@chr1sa presentation starts at the 10:00 mark in this clip):
In his presentation, Chris noted that personal “3-D printers” can now be had for about $750, down from about $25,000 in 2004, which puts them in the range of a mid-quality wide-screen TV for a typical household. So, what does this mean?
Here are seven implications that I see:
1) The rise of an App store for designs
In the same way the Apple redefined how distribution of first music, then applications, was done via its iTunes Store and App Store, there will be the rise of an “App Store for Designs.” From it, individuals will be able to download “designs” that can be printed on their 3-D printers in their office (or garage, or even kitchen). The implication: whoever owns the distribution of the bits will own both the distribution and manufacturing worlds. As I type this, I realize that creating a 3-D printer would be a perfect product line extension for Apple, and enable Cupertino to replicate (pun intended) the strategy it pursued first in computing then with the iPhone into even more areas of the household.
2) The rise of a new open-source movement
Of course, as someone creates the App Store for Designs, there will be an open-source counterpoint. They key bit, again, will be findability and usability for the mass-market. Watch the Android market (and, in particular, how apps end up on Android phones) for clues to see how the open-source side of the personal manufacturing market evolves.
3) Disruption of supply chains
If you are a manufacturer or distributor or transporter of any commodity-type hard good that’s under, say, the size of a breadbox, prepare to have your world rocked. Just looking around my home office, I see hangers, a file box, picture frames, bookends and a portable camera tripod that all are candidates for MIY (“Manufacture It Yourself” or “Make It Yourself”). A glance into the kitchen reveals the same results: stirring spoons, cups, plates, bowls and utensils all could be made on-demand, right here, right now.
Unless you are (a) creating designs or (b) creating or distributing the feedstock that goes into a printer, at-home manufacturing is your Tunguska event. Deal with it.
4) A counter to the offshoring of manufacturing
Ok, Detroit. Here’s your chance. Ok, NAFTA-haters, you too. All the stuff that’s cheaper to make overseas or south of the border no longer needs to be. If you’ve been downsized, hone up your design skills, or join the Assemblers Local 517.
5) Assemblers Local 517
Just because everyone can manufacture their own things at home, doesn’t mean that everyone will want to. IKEA cracked the code on “design for transportability” and, in the process, outsourced assembly (and a few hammer-smashed thumbs) into all of our living rooms. Smart designers in the MIY realm will create designs that can be assembled into a final product, much in the same way that IKEA designs the Bjørn bookcase to be put together by the end customer.
This means that there’s an opportunity for a new role for the neighborhood handyfolk: the Assemblers.
6) A “new green”
We need to start thinking about out to how to make affordable, sustainable (either recyclable or compostable) feedstock from the get-go. There is a huge opportunity here. Think about it — we have the chance to eliminate the carbon impact of transportation (again, oftentimes from overseas) for billions of manufactured goods every year. Let’s not screw it up.
Again, judging from the incredible stacks of paper that are strewn about my “paperless” home office this morning, we are going to be 3-D printing stuff willy-nilly. Can’t find a bottle opener? Print one. Need a doorstop? Print it. This will lead to an even greater creation of disposable stuff in a disposable culture. Let’s make sure that that disposable set of coasters you printed up don’t end up being taken out of the loop, but instead get refashioned into next week’s utensils and then into next month’s shower squeegee and next year’s whisk broom, none of which should have to cross an ocean on a container ship.
7) FedEx and UPS play out their strategy
As I was thinking about the supply chain and distribution impacts, I realized the two folks in the economy who also will be hugely affected by this shift are FedEx and UPS. Now, both organizations have moved past their transportation-only roots and into local markets here in the States, where FedEx purchased Kinko’s and UPS purchased Mail Boxes Etc. This means that both organizations are sitting on the “danger/opportunity” saddle point. On the “danger” side, there is the likelihood of massive dropoff in the amount of “stuff” that will be shipped through both of their networks. That said, there is huge opportunity here. Both offer local points-of-presence in tens of thousands of neighborhoods, an existing culture of “printing” and a control of the supply lines for feedstock. If FedEx and UPS are smart, they will turn those former Kinko’s and MBE locations into the corner manufacturing centers. In fact, they both have the opportunity to jump in front of this game now, and be the ones to challenge Apple to create the Design Store noted earlier. Yes, the Network Age is the time and place where FedEx and UPS compete with Apple in the manufacturing industry. Rock on.
In this interview, danah boyd of Microsoft Research discusses how, while people may share a lot of their information online, often they’re shaping what they hope we’ll perceive about them. Danah discusses how identity and perception are evolving in the Network Age.
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.
At yesterday’s Supernova opening day event, Adam Greenfield discussed how humans have gotten used to using our urban spaces. One thing cities have done is to let us “reinvent ourselves” and “wrap the cloak of anonymity around us.” Today’s Network Age technologies, including social networks, have changed some of these rules and assumptions. As our profiles and ‘permanent records’ follow us, how will behavior and norms change in response? What are the implications of our connectedness for cities and urban design?
danah boyd is a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She recently completed her PhD in the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley.
Dr. boyd’s dissertation “Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics” focused on how American youth use networked publics for sociable purposes. She examined the role that social network sites like MySpace and Facebook play in everyday teen interactions and social relations. She was interested in how mediated environments alter the structural conditions in which teens operate, forcing them to manage complex dynamics like interacting before invisible audiences, managing context collisions, and negotiating the convergence of public and private life. This work was funded by the MacArthur Foundation as part of a broader grant on digital youth and informal learning. At the Berkman Center, danah co-directed the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to work with companies and non-profits to identify potential technical solutions for keeping children safe online. This Task Force was formed by the U.S. Attorneys General and MySpace and is being organized by the Berkman Center. Dr. boyd received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University and a master’s degree in sociable media from MIT Media Lab. She has worked as an ethnographer and social media researcher for various corporations, including Intel, Tribe.net, Google, and Yahoo! She also created and managed a large online community for V-Day, a non-profit organization working to end violence against women and girls worldwide. She has advised numerous other companies, sits on corporate, education, and non-profit advisory boards, and regularly speaks at industry conferences and events.
danah maintains a blog on social media called Apophenia.
Network Age Briefing: Privacy and Data Security in the Network Age
Noon EDT / 9am PDT (60min)
Wednesday, November 4
Can we still have “privacy” in the Network Age? How do individuals, as well as services such as Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter, protect themselves and their information online? What can we do about it, if anything? Join us on November 4 to discuss “Privacy and Data Security in the Network Age” with noted expert Samir Jain.
About Samir Jain:
Samir Jain is a partner in the Communications, Privacy, and Internet Law group at WilmerHale, where his practice involves litigation, regulatory work, and counseling on a wide range of cutting-edge e-commerce, privacy, and communications issues. His areas of expertise include online intermediary liability for third-party content, privacy and data security, electronic surveillance, national security and public safety, advertising, online child safety, and regulation of information and telecommunications services. Mr. Jain has been recognized for his exceptional national standing in both “Privacy and Data Security” and “Telecom, Broadcast, and Satellite: Regulatory” in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2007-2009 editions). Mr. Jain has represented members of the online industry such as Amazon, AOL, craigslist, eBay, Google, and Yahoo! in many of the leading cases defining the scope of the immunity afforded to service providers for third-party content by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Mr. Jain speaks and writes regularly about Internet and communications law issues. He also is an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School, where he co-teaches a course on Electronic Commerce Law.