Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for October 2009

Stop in Dallas

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I’m stuck in purgatory at the Dallas Ft. Worth airport Hyatt (not the Grand Hyatt…the other one).

It’s a long story.  I tried to play some offense on my travel back from Vegas due to ever-changing weather and travel conditions yesterday, and despite the fact that I didn’t once gamble during my time there, the house won out and I got stuck for a day at the airport.

Fortunately, the nice people at the Hyatt have let me have the room until 3 pm, which has allowed me a productive Friday.  From there, I’ll be spending some time in one of the lovely Admiral’s Clubs here.

I’ve never stayed at one of the Dallas airport hotels before, probably because I never had much reason to.

But in case you ever do, know there is lots of noise, which would be because airplanes are constantly taking off and landing.

I also think I picked up a nice bug in Vegas.  What happened there apparently didn’t stay there after all.

Otherwise, I have nothing more substantive than that to post at this time, except to share a brief anecdote from my childhood.

When I was a young boy scout while growing up near Dallas, I remember taking a boy scout trip to the, then, new Dallas Ft. Worth airport.

I remember seeing the new space-age trams (which ended up being dreadfully slow and recently replaced), the new runways, all the new terminals, etc. and thinking to myself, wow, how cool and futuristic.

I even remember one of the airport spokespeople estimating for our boy scout troop how busy the airport would likely be by the year 2000.

And I remember thinking to myself, wow, by the year 2000 I’ll be 33 whole years old.

Here it is, almost 10 years after the year 2000, and I’m stuck here in travel purgatory.

If you’d told me back then how central a role this particular airport, and airports in general, would come to play in my life, I’d have laughed at you and told you you were a crazy adult.

Scout’s honor.

Written by turbotodd

October 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Finishing IOD in the Clouds

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Good morning, Las Vegas, and good morning to the hardcore IODers who are still here filling their heads with lots of good information.

As for me, I’ll be filling my own head this morning in the exciting “Cloud Computing Un-Conference,” being led by Cloud Camp leader Dave Nielsen (Banyan A/B, 8:30-Noon).

If you can’t make it back to this or other IOD conference sessions today, be sure to continue the dialogue after the event by joining one of IBM’s online communities in the Information Management space.

Also, please keep a lookout in the next few weeks for the IOD Virtual Conference where, from the comfort of your own office (or the beach), you’ll soon be able to view recorded sessions from this year’s event — including keynotes, general sessions, and both business and technical track sessions.

You’ll also be able to visit our virtual Expo Center, in case there were folks you didn’t have time to get by and see during your time on the ground here in Vegas.  In the meantime, you can hear from some of the conference presenters that Scott Laningham and I interviewed here on the YouTube.

If you weren’t aware of the new online Information Agenda Catalog, which was launched at IOD, this new online solution will give you a single view of available Information Management solutions, including those from IBM Business Partners, IBM Global Business Services, and and the IBM Software Group.

Finally, for those of you in Europe, don’t forget that Information on Demand will be coming to Rome on May 19-21, 2010.

Well, Dave has just kicked off the Cloud Computing Unconference, so I’ve got to get to some unconferencing!

Written by turbotodd

October 29, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Q&A With Malcolm Gladwell: Connecting Facebook, Jimi Hendrix, and Steve Jobs

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As I mentioned in a prior post, I had an opportunity to do a quick “walk and talk” interview with The New York Times best-selling author and New Yorker writer, Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell’s first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, changed the way many of us think about the way information is shared and disseminated, and how individuals influence one another and, in turn, the crowd.

In many ways, Gladwell was well ahead of his time in that this key book really pre-dated the advent of the widespread use of social media and media democratization, and what his New Yorker colleague James Surowiecki later came to term “crowdsourcing.”

In the few short minutes I had to speak with Malcolm as we walked over to his book signing, I asked him about this evolution and some of his other key “memes.”

Turbo: Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to speak with me, and great job on the keynote today.  You know, I saw from some background material about you that you had majored in history, and I was interested in finding how you came to write about social science.

Gladwell: I don’t even know, really.  There were so just many interesting insights from the social science world that never saw the light of day.  And as a writer you’re always attracted to areas where you can uncover things that people aren’t familiar with. And there was just so much so opportunity in social science, that that’s how I got interested in it.

Turbo: Looking back at The Tipping Point, and recognizing the year that it came out (2000), to my mind your work really pre-dated a lot of the things that have come about around social networking and crowdsourcing. I’m curious if you’ve gone back and really thought about the implications in the book, mavens and so on…how does that play out now online, if at all?

Gladwell: Interesting.  Two things, I think.  The online world, I think, amplifies the power of people, so a connector can become even more connected, a maven can be even more influential, a salesman can be more persuasive.  That’s part of what’s going on there.

But I don’t think the Internet automatically turns all of us into socially influential people.  I think the same patterns have just been imprinted on it or just been magnified.  But the other thing, I think, is that the paradox is now that it makes face-to-face encounters more important.

The scarce commodity now is the kind of thing you can only get in person. So to the extent that I was interested in very personal forms of influence, I think that message is even more crucial than ever. I mean, I think that in a world where anyone can communicate with you so easily, someone can get in the door and have a direct encounter with you, is going to have even more sway, and create a great competitive advantage.

Turbo: That’s great, thanks.  Getting back to the themes of the conference, your book Outliers seemed to me to rely more on data…I may be wrong…but for my money, it really seemed to demonstrate the value of hidden gems in data sets.  Kind of like what you were talking about today in the keynote. “We don’t know what we don’t know.”  So I’m curious how you came to identify the trends in the book of things like the birthdays of the hockey players and correlating their performance, and also the correlation of the famous IT executives’ birthdays (Steve Birthday, Bill Joy, etc.).

Gladwell: Well the IT thing was…I don’t know how I stumbled on that.  I just started talking to all these guys and was just struck by how they were all just about exactly the same age.  You know, I interviewed Bill Joy, and then I interviewed Bill Gates, and they were both about the same age. And then I realized, Steve Jobs is about the same age! And you know, then I did a search and you know, so many of them are!

And of course, there’s a logic behind it because I had stumbled across earlier, in the sociological literature, the importance of the 1830s, which was this magic decade for rich people. So I was looking for that kind of pattern.

You know, last night at dinner we were talking, and you could do the same thing with guitarists. All of the great rock ‘n’ roll guitarists…almost all of them, with one or two exceptions, like Jimi Hendrix…are white English males, born between the years…it’s like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson…these guys, they’re all the same age, and they’re all from the same little country, right? So you can play these games endlessly, these pattern games.

(I got this last question in as we approached the book signing table, which already had a line around the corner.)

Turbo: So let’s end on this.  If Blink focuses more on the opportunity to listen to intuition more closely, and Outliers focuses on both data and the group contribution to success, where in the middle do we as humans meet?  Where is the sweet spot for both individual and collective progress?

Gladwell: Oh wow, that’s a huge question…We’re always talking about individuals, so I sort of leave that to others. I like to think much more about collective community processes.

Turbo: Okay, thanks a lot for your time.  Appreciate it.

Gladwell: Thank you.

Written by turbotodd

October 28, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Malcolm Gladwell IOD Keynote: Social Power is You

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This morning’s keynote session was superb across the board.

IBM Information Management VP of Asia Pacific, Mark Register, kicked off the day but putting the first few days in context, advising the crowd it was high time to focus on taking the learnings from days 1 and 2 and put them into practice and lead change as key individuals in their organizations to deliver on the promise of information management.

Merv Adrian, founder of IT Market Strategy, later joined to explain that now was the time for information management to take its place at the head of the queue.

It’s no accident that business intelligence once again tops Gartner’s CIO list of focus areas, Adrian explained.

But now it’s time to deliver on business expectations, and for the IT folks to get in the driver’s seat and forge that relationship with the LOB that’s been far too elusive for far too long.

To deliver on their expectations, we need to move beyond automation and move into a more transformative IT, one where information is the raw material, but the tools, processes and approaches we take deliver new and actionable intelligence based on that raw information.

Analytics should guide the priorities, and recorded, specific executable processes become the enabler.

Logic is moving closer to data, and big data drives new workloads: We’re collecting it, so why not use it?  And it’s the discovery tools that facilitate the stewardship of that insight.

Adrian also explained that the art of the possible has been radically changed by stream computing.  I

got a full debrief on stream last night from some IBM researchers that I’m still digesting, but I have to say I think he’s absolutely right.

Think of all the data out there available today, even on your drive to work, that if it were collected and analyzed in real-time, could prove extremely beneficial (our friends with the City of Stockholm are doing just that with their smarter traffic system, which has lowered emissions and traffic substantially).

After Adrian, Mark Register introduced the featured speaker of the morning, noted author Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell kicked things off by joking that it struck him ironic that IBM was hosting a business analytics conference in….Las Vegas.

What were the odds?

Gladwell went on to explain his big themes, that radical change happens far more quickly than you could ever imagine (instead of seeming to be dragged out into inevitable perpetuity).

He reminded us that radio took off as a medium once the “tipping point” was reached, the tipping point being the radio announcing of a key boxing match in New Jersey back in the early part of the 20th century.

Suddenly, there was a compelling reason for people to buy a radio, and it was David Sarnoff’s energy and enthusiasm, the sheer force of his persuasion and connectedness to key players in his community, that brought about a transformation that changed the world forever.

A boxing match.

Gladwell explained that key acts of transformation almost always start with a reframing of sorts.

Think seat belts.

When adults were encouraged to wear seat belts, nobody bit.  When they were reframed as a way to protect kids, their use took off like crazy.

The iPod: MP3 players existed before the iPod, but Steve Jobs reframed the iPod as a single, simple device with a simple interface and simple advertising.

The music world, and how we consumers consumed music, changed almost overnight.

In addressing the key concerns of this audience, he posed the question as to how you frame the discussion about information transformation in your organization?

He explained that they, the audience, are not bringing their organizations a big black box.  They are bringing them the democratization of intelligence.

How do you do that more effectively?  You do it the way David Sarnoff brought RCA that radio opportunity: by sheer force of will and persuasion.

Sarnoff was basically just some Jersey kid…RCA gave him no money, no resources.

But he was the kind of kid who know someone who knew someone who had a radio, and knew someone who know someone who knew some boxers…and everything got connected and a transformation reached its tipping point.

What did Sarnoff have?


Social power, the most underestimated factor in any transformation.

A person who has it is able to win the respect of his peers because of a unique skill, of persuasion and personality.

A person not unlike Malcolm Gladwell.

(BLOGGER’S NOTE: I had the opportunity to conduct a 1-1 walk and talk interview with Malcolm just after his keynote.  Keep your eyes here on the Turbo blog to read that interview in the very near future!)

Written by turbotodd

October 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Day 3 @ IOD

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Good morning, Las Vegas!

I hope you enjoyed the indoor beach party.

What decade did you hang out in?

No decade?  You don’t know what I’m talking about because you hung out in your room?

Well I can completely understand…gathering all that new intelligence was exhausting, but I have to say, I woke up today feeling much smarter, both about myself and the planet, and am very much looking forward today to Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote.

If you don’t know Malcolm’s work, you’re missing some key insights into the human condition, investigations driven by Malcolm’s sifting through lots of data, and relationships between data, to better understand ourselves and our world.

His talk kicks off at 8:15 AM this morning, and shortly after his talk he’ll be signing copies of his books at the IOD bookstore.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day…keep an eye here on the Turbo blog for further IOD session recaps.


Written by turbotodd

October 28, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Turbo Video Dispatch #4: Turbo Finds Some New Intelligence

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No jokes about the headline, please.  I’ve always been a little slow, so I need as much new intelligence as I can get.

Before you click on the video, a quick housekeeping tip: Tonight’s networking event is being moved indoors to Baynote rooms A, B, and C (not the Mandalay B rooms A, B, C, as I reported in the video).

As if it makes any difference…by the time I figure out how to navigate this place, it’ll be time to leave!

Enjoy the video update!

Written by turbotodd

October 27, 2009 at 10:46 pm

New Intelligence for a Smarter Planet

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Steve Mills kicked off today’s keynote session at the Information on Demand Conference here in Vegas with a look at how we can build “New Intelligence for a Smarter Planet.”

As an IBMer myself, I’ve followed the evolution of this initiative (I hesitate to call it a “campaign”) with great fascination, both as a marketer but also as a student of the world.

For me, the essence of smarter planet is this: We on the globe face some substantial challenges, but if we do things smarter, and if we better gather and use information and data that is everywhere around us, we can make some substantial forward progress, save lives and resources, and create a better world.

It’s a hard value proposition to argue with.

Yes, we believe IBM technology can, and already is, playing an integral role in facilitating this evolution towards a smarter planet. Specifically to this conference, IBM Software and Information Management software.

Steve started his discussion with a few thousand attendees this morning by articulating some of these pressing problems: We live in an incredibly fast changing world, we have enormous inefficiencies, there are loads of opportunities to change things for the better.

By way of example, he mentioned that fresh water is soon to be the scarcest commodity on the planet, but that if we work smarter, not harder, we can improve our use of the limited water resources we do have.

He explained that a smarter planet is one that is instrumented, interconnected and intelligent.

Instrumented meaning the opportunity to measure inputs and outputs in ways previously unimaginable, to the end of obtaining new and invaluable data.

Interconnected meaning everything, including people, objects, pipelines…use your imagination…are connected one to the other.

And intelligent, meaning we use the instrumentation and interconnectedness to derive new value and insights about the world around us.

Sounds easy, but with the information explosion we’re witnessing, we generate and collect more data than we take advantage of.

Steve informed us that 52% of users say they don’t even have confidence in their everyday information.

All of which leads many to pose the question: What does it mean, and what does it take, to be smarter?

And to provide an answer, Steve then discussed a number of IBM customers who are already well on their way to creating new intelligence (with some assistance by a distinguished panel of several of the IBM customers featured):

  • Galway Bay, Ireland, for example, which is creating a smarter water management system.
  • Geisinger Health System, which uses IBM InfoSphere Information Server to help doctors deliver better case through evidence-based medicine.
  • The New York City Police Department, which built a crime-information system using Cognos 8 Business Intelligence software and which has criminals in NYC running for the exits
  • HRAFN, a food producer in Norway using IBM Sensor and Actuator technology to track food through its lifecycle and ensure its safety and compliance with regulatory bodies

If you’ve not read the overview of what constitutes a new intelligence for a smarter planet, you can do so here, and just below you can click to watch the TV spot we recently produced to highlight the importance of fostering this new intelligence.

Putting data into action!

Written by turbotodd

October 27, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Tuesday AM @ IOD

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Hey there, IODers…the full tent is in full swing here in the Mandalay Bay H, the Zippers have just left the stage, and we’re now watching a video about Smarter Cities.

Speaking of which, a quick announcement: Tonight’s networking event is being moved indoors to Baynote rooms A, B, and C.

Hope to see you there!

Written by turbotodd

October 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Mashing Pumpkins: New IBM Cognos Mashup Tool

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I remember my first mashup.

It changed the way I thought about the Internet.

You’re hearing from someone who still remembers gopher and WAIS, mind you.

But you never forget your first mashup.

Mine was HousingMaps…as I’m sure it was for so many others.

But to see the geospatial relationship between Craig’s List apartment listings and Google Maps…well, it was like seeing Geranimals for the first time.

The mixing and matching provided an elegant intersection of two critical information sets, and in the process revealed all kinds of information that otherwise would have remained hidden.

But there’s another first…So far as I know, this is the first time IBM has ever released breaking news, unembargoed, to bloggers in advance of the major media.

For my money, even as an IBM communications person, we’ve just passed a milestone not unlike the bump we passed over with the advent of HousingMaps.

And so here’s the news: As part of its continued focus on business analytics, IBM is announcing tomorrow…err, tonight…an expansion of its industry-leading enterprise mashup portfolio.

This includes the latest version of IBM Mashup Center, as well as a new offering from our friends at Cognos, the IBM Cognos 8 Mashup Service.

IBM is also announcing some new clients that are already gaining value and helping their organizations use information as a strategic asset (another key meme emerging here at Info on Demand 2009).

Here’s the mindblower: Every day more than 15 petabytes of data are created, and mashups can help folks make sense of too much information (there it is again).

Mashup technologies can empower not only the business decision makers — they can also help decision-makers at the employee level to gain new insights from previously hard to access data (from places far and wide, say, like the Cloud?)

By way of example, Kent County in the U.K. is using IBM mashup technology to bring transparency to government, by offering its citizens a pilot program with 570 different information feeds that can be combined and shared online.

Sunshine, my only sunshine…you make me happy, when MPs are expensing their moats….

So let’s say you’re moving out to Ramsgate and you want to build a mashup that reveals several variables: average household income, school enrollment levels, location of doctors accepting new patients…you get the gist.

In terms of the hard news, the new IBM Cognos 8 Mashup Service provides an API that automatically and securely exposes content from IBM Cognos 8 Business Intelligence as a Web service for use in other operational applications, business processes, and mashups.

This capability is going to help Cognos BI end users to more easily (and quickly) make informed business decisions in their daily context.

People like me!  People who are constantly being asked for the latest and greatest Web metrics data, for example!

Call it useful IT for the common people!  Woo hoo!

By way of example, say you have Dilbert the sales manager who is responsible for many retail outlets.

This new tool will help Dilbert easily overlay sales reports onto his GIS app to gain a quick, visual snapshot of store performance and, more specifically, identify trouble spots where they’re not selling as many Dilbert pellets.

That way, he knows who to sic Dogbert on to increase those pellet sales!

In conclusion…did I really just write that?…The latest version of IBM Mashup Center software is expected to be available in November, IBM Cognos 8 Mashup Service in December.

You can check out details of the Cognos solution on SlideShare.

Written by turbotodd

October 27, 2009 at 2:04 am

Turbo Video Dispatch #3: Todd and Scott Deconstruct 1 Trillion Connected Things (Including Cows)

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Written by turbotodd

October 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

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