26 April 2007

Gartner on Mashups in the Enterprise Portal

Guiding Principle: Because anything on the Web can be mashed up, assume people will do so and help them. If you have a resource your people want to mashup, then help them, too.

"If you put something out there on the web, you can assume someone will mash it."

24 April 2007

Phil Rosedale @ gartner symposium

Phil Rosedale - founder and CEO of Linden Labs i.e. Second Life - was interviewed today.

link to webcast - don't know if it's public

Some tidbits from his talk:

He has always wanted to build a virtual world since he was a kid - the enabling technologies (broadband and desktop 3D animation) were adequate in 1999 to get started. His initial goal was to recreate the real world in the virtual - if you can digitize everything, digitize the world. Realized early on that a real economy would be a key and that it had to allow considerable user autonomy and creativity with minimal control. He argued that the press coverage generally focuses on what people are doing rather than the platform and this is evidence of the success of this vision.

He spent a lot of time discussing the economic aspects, and how things like mortgages, insurance, and IP offer interesting challenges. He noted that they very much wanted the land to have real value, in part so it could be used to finance entrepreneurial efforts as it does in RL.

SL has 100,000,000 user-created objects.

The rate at which new land is being added in SL is so great that if you were on line 24 hours a day you wouldn't have time to see it all.

He described a very interesting experiment by Starwood Hotels - they built a 3D model of a new hotel design they had recently developed and invited people in SL to walk through and critique the design - a design review in SL!

He described the coming use of voice in SL - they are attempting to model the sound in 3D so you will have a full sense of presence, and he argued that this will be transformational. (I'm inclined to agree although it's going to be a bandwidth and processing challenge for the near future.)

When asked what he needs from the business world, he didn't hesitate - "Open your firewalls!" I did hear a significant number of "no"s from the audience!

Afterwards I spoke briefly with a CIO from a large hospital - he was pretty excited about the possibilities presented by virtual worlds.

23 April 2007

Second Life is the new AOL

Back in the early nineties I had at least two stretches where I subscribed to AOL. I was fascinated by the "commercial internet" - the Internet in those days was fiercely anti-commercial. But I hated how it worked. Eventually the Web emerged and AOL began its slow march to irrelevance.

Today I heard a Gartner analyst describe Second Life as having a similar niche to that AOL held in 1993. Second Life has all the mindshare and is viewed by many as synonymous with 3D interactive virtual worlds. In other words, they are on to something really important, and they know how to promote the hell out of it, but I find it pretty awkward to try to do anything interesting in it, or to find anything interesting to do (not being a big fan of cyber gambling or cyber sex).

I do think Second Life will play an important historical role by being the first mass-market, non-gaming, 3D virtual platform, but in order for this kind of environment to be really useful it has a long long way to go. But then, I wouldn't want to use Mosaic v. 1.0 anymore either, or Gopher.


Why do technology conferences have excellent pervasive wireless, and then have nowhere to plug in to recharge your laptop?

How Corporate IT is becoming more like Higher Ed IT

IT in Higher Education has often been ad-hoc, immature, unstructured, inefficient and uneffective. Recent years have seen a significant growth in the maturity of IT structures and services. Some have argued that if we could make higher ed IT more like corporate IT, we'd solve most or all of our problems. Of course, this attempt to develop a highly regulated and monitored IT infrastructure has conflicted - sometimes almost violently - with the culture of higher education which values freedom, flexibility, and personal choice (if not always personal accountability).

Ironically, current trends have brought similar cultural challenges to the corporate environment - digital natives, consumerization of IT, and social networks have dramatically changed the way that both employees and customers expectations. The cultural clash that higher education has wrestled with in recent years has now hit the corporate environment. At the same time, external pressures created by Sarbanes-Oxley push towards more control. It's hard to imagine how the corporate world will respond, but I do think that higher education has an opportunity to lead the way to new ways of thinking about IT. The key is to embrace the culture of learning and education, blend it with what we've learned from the Internet, and build a new ecology of information technology.

Management of IT

Successful companies constantly ask "What if?" Obsession with opportunities not competition. Redefine the industry in which they play. Chamelions - continuous reinvention. Risk aversion is the standard. Agile - decentralized, good enough, leading indicators, tap into ad-hoc informal communities, citizens of world, anticipate, trade risk for speed, think greenfield, willing to go low-tech.

In past, added stuff because you could, not because it was needed. New value storyline - permanent shift in IT spending patterns - going to the business units. Most IT organizations can't deliver new value because they are fundamentally about control.

Potential for a new model - no separate IT organization, instead a pervasive commodity embedded in the business units. Hybrid management - IT managed in business outcomes. Business and IT strategy developed in conjunction. Prediction: traditional IT function will die.

3 ideas: 1 be surpurb applies of tech; 2 staff with people who believe IT is not just enabler but can redefine business 3 office of innovation. Let 1000 ideas bloom.

Tech market is supporting too many players but not sustainable. Commoditization - really don't care who the provider is. Business models for providers haven't changed but customers have.

Talking about consumer choice and service design - putting user at the center of all decision making. All about improving customer experience. Integrated consumer experience is new design center.

IT on the verge of failure

Mediocraty has become the norm. Lack of vision. Technology not seen as a force to drive growth, because of a lack of vision. Too many people waiting to be spoon fed a solution. CEO's are waiting for new ideas, and vendors waiting for each other. No belief in first-mover advantage. Everyone wants someone else to take the risk.

Sandy Shen - Chinese Gartner analyst - talking about China's history of innovation. Every company must have a China strategy.

India - IT services around 1/2 of service exports. China the manufacturing powerhouse, India the service powerhouse.

IT in North America is stagnant. Consumerization - iPods, phones etc. are not technology, they are fashion and assumed and embedded. Cingular "fewest dropped calls" - what kind of message is that? Acceptance of mediocraty.

Impact of mobile technology. More than convenience - about improving productivity. And it's mostly about software not hardware - value and challenge moving toward software. Software lagging and becoming the limiting factor.

Companies respond by overprovisioning hardware and bandwidth. Can't design networks and applications separately. Use smart network architecture to ptimizae business applications.

Daryl Plummer

Nothing is simple. Complexity on top of complexity on top of complexity. Systems make us more rigid, not more flexible. New systems e.g. SOA have promise but make things more complex. We have to insolate users but not isolate them. Users should be able to say "I don't care" about the details. Hiding complexity. Enable new human-human dynamic.

Revolution: virtualization. Hiding complexity and decoupling. layers of service on top of legacy. get to same back end from multiple channels. Now talking about Second Life. Creativity through virtualization. Dividing line between real and virtual breaking down. Distance doesn't matter, relationships form and disippate, can't trust what you see, counterfeit reality - virtual image of us. Do you have a right to your own image? IP, business model.

Software as a service - makes analogy to licensing electrical service per person. Move toward buying services rather than components. Price, convenience, satisfaction are primary differentiators. Winners will deliver the best services. Users on tech - I don't care. I want the service.

Implications of virtual servers - from Google to World of Warcraft to SL.

Demand more embedded support for virtualization. Stop being systems oriented and become service oriented.

Peter Sondergaard @ Gartner

VP of Research. "IT is coming of age. WMF - tech progress and open gloabl and financial systems have laid foundation for superlative growth." But IT growth decelerating. Growth is in emerging economies but not here (US)." Discussing staggering growth in India- IT budgets growing 16% annually. Scaling to 100 million customers in 2 years. No models elsewhere in the world so they are breaking new ground. Growth creates 30-50% annual staff turnover. 11%/year salary inflation.

Scandinavia - high broadband, seamless wireless, high IT literacy -> consumerization of IT. Consumers embedded in the IT architecture.

US -> organizations trying to stretch beyond what providers offer. Scale, complexity - lack of innovation among vendors. Is consolidation good for users? No! Is consolidation stifling growth? perhaps. Large IT organizations building their own. If IT can't do it, business managers will bypass IT.


Consumerization of IT: affordable access increases power of the individual and how they interact. Affordable communications, low cost devices, content, destabilizes the balance between social forces. Challenges basic assumption of technology scarcity and uniqueness.

Alternative Delivery Models of IT: new options for acquiring technology. Pay not for use but for access and business outcome - buying a service rather than products. Cannibalize some markets and vendors.

Green IT: Impact beyond hardware vendors - also software. Get out of reactive posture. IT activities affect the environment. Need to be cognizant of environmental impacts of IT technology. Can have positive or negative impact. "Topic is big, and unpredictable"

Shape of IT: Response to the first 3. IT as IT becoming irrelevant to business.

Challenge - how to sustain global growth. Need to take advantage of current prosperity. Easy to be complacent.

live at the Gartner Symposium ITExpo

Just for the heck of it, I figured I'd try blogging live from an event. I'm at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2007 in San Francisco. I hope someone says something interesting.

It's certainly not as much fun as the Reality Distortion Field of MacWorld, but they do have a cool AV setup. There are 2 screens, and the middle one is a "doublewide". Before the talk, they have very loud new-agey music and factoids running on the screens, like the real color of the golden gate bridge (international orange) and who first discovered the Y2K problem (they claim Boeing in 1993). It's a good soundsystem but I prefer the rock/pop at an Apple event.

Speaking of Apple, so far I haven't seen another Macintosh here. This is the belly of the IT beast. Now they are flashing words like "distruptive" and "emerging" and "innovation" - I guess that means "Windows Vista".

Now we have fake smoke and loud noise to herald "Emerging Trends". Rather overdone but it does help wake you up. This would be an awesome setup for video gaming.

Gartner CEO Gene Hall now on stage welcoming us. Suit with no tie. "Specific focus this year: emerging trends. IT investments account for about half of economic growth. All CEO's need technology and they need you (IT wonks) to be on top of your game. IT excellence drives business results. 85% of CIO's identify innovation as important but only 26% have capability. More creativity needed. Innovation is not software upgrades - have to shift focus. New competencies, better services, new ways to win customers, attack costs. Stakes are high. " Actions, creativity.

more in next post

FineDigital's FineDrive M760 : a thin 7-inch PMP with GPS navigation - Engadget

I want one! Somehow I don't think garmin is going to build anything like this soon...

17 April 2007

Rapid Prototyping Resource

I found this a very useful guide to understanding RP technology and terminology.

06 April 2007

Connections Generate Value

I was in a meeting this morning to discuss an international initiative that we're preparing to launch at Art Center, and later, one of the participants complimented me on something I'd said. I didn't say it this way at first, but we boiled it down to "Connections Generate Value". I think this is the business lesson from Web 2.0. At its best, the academic world has understood this for a long time (and often forgot it, to its detriment). This is a new way of working where you get more by giving something away, not because you want to be altruistic, but because you want to be better off in the end. LinkedIn, MySpace, blogs and podcasts are all elements of this. Viacom suing Google YouTube demonstrates a company that doesn't understand this concept.

04 April 2007

The Checker Playing Dog

My use of the phrase "checker-playing dog" comes from the following rather lame joke:

I was visiting a friend and I saw he was playing checkers with his dog. I said, "That's amazing! You have a really brilliant dog!" and my friend said, "Nah, he's not that smart, I beat him two out of three."

I refer a technology that seem to represent some kind of a breakthrough, but isn't necessarily that useful, as a checker-playing dog. One of the classic examples is the Newton. I bought one and hauled it around for a couple of years, and found it fun to play with, but it was more about the potential of a hand-held organizer than the reality. It was heavy, didn't fit in a pocket, the interface was poor, the screen was dimly lit, and it didn't really make my life any better, except that I enjoyed it. But we all know that the Newton was one of the precursors of the Palm, the Blackberry, and the iPhone.

Some technologies seem to hang around a long time and keep reappearing in new guises, but never get past the checker-playing dog phase, like voice recognition (as a general interface vs. a useful niche) and ebook readers.

My favorite checker-playing dog right now is the home-built Fab@home machine. My intuition is that low-cost 3D printers are a disruptive technology, but they might be checker-playing dogs for a while. All I know is, I want one.

02 April 2007

Everybody's a Star

You don't really expect to see your computer science professors on TV, except perhaps on something like Nova. I was watching Star Trek: Enterprise at my son's suggestion (and I guess I'm old school, but it's no Star Trek) when I see a strange ad for a search engine called ask.com and realize that it's Apostolos Gerasoulis from the Rutgers University Computer Science Department. I knew that he had founded a search engine company back in the late dot com days, and there he was as a kind of Dave Thomas of search engines, talking in his inimitable accent about searching for car rims.

I don't know how you go about selling a search engine - I think only Google knows that. But if you want to see the ads, they're here: