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

Archive for September 29th, 2010

No Tweeting On The Greens, Please

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Anybody watch Ken Burn’s follow-up to his seminal documentary, “Baseball,” last evening on PBS?

Entitled “The Tenth Inning,” I just happened to be channel surfing my 157 channels with nothing else on so I tuned in.

And is often the case with Ken Burns’ work, I couldn’t tune out — I watched the first of two parts glued to my seat, particularly with the deep background on folks like Barry Bonds, and especially the section covering the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home-run-a-thon in the summer of 1998, when both broke Roger Maris’ single season home run record of 61, set in the 1961 season and a record that stood for 37 years.

I also wallowed in the recap of the powerful late 1990s Yankees (I’m one of the 10 percent who love the Yanks).

But Burns didn’t pull any punches in this follow-up, highlighting the huge damage that Major League Baseball’s ostrich play on performance-enhancing drugs has done to the game, not to mention the 1994 player’s strike, from which the league is arguably still recovering (and the damage from which the Sosa/McGwire home-run-a-thon Burns argues also helped assuage).

Rest assured, I’ll be tuning into part two this evening.

But of course, what I’m really psyching myself up for is this weekend’s Ryder Cup.

After Jim Furyk’s nail-biting twofer win of The Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup last weekend, I’m totally stoked for the final golfing denouement of 2010.

However, I won’t anytime soon be a fan of the Twitter ban that Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin have imposed on their respective Europe and U.S. player rosters.

For golf fans, and the golfers themselves, the Ryder Cup (which is only played every two years) is one of the most enthralling and nerve-wracking golf tournaments in the world.

Considering the sport of golf has seen its amateur ranks dwindling in membership by over ten percent the past few years, it seems to me the sport and its players should become more transparent, not less.

Though I don’t necessarily want to burden any of the players with Tweets live from the course, it could serve the game well to allow the players to Tweet after hours as the drama of the players’ intense days wind down.

Instead, a code of golfing Omerta silence has been imposed, and we fans will just have to guess what the players are thinking as they sweat out their three days in Newcastle.

That’s okay.  I’m sure the worldwide golf audience will be sure to help fill the Twittering void.

Written by turbotodd

September 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Posted in golf

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Making A List, Checking It Twice

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Dr. Atul Gawande's "Checklist Manifesto" makes a compelling argument for making that list and checking it twice, even in the most expert of white collar professions.

I’m a big fan of checklists.

I’ve been attempting to properly drink the Robert David Allen Getting Things Done Kool-Aid for a couple of  years now.

Inherently, I think knowledge workers like myself have to find improved ways of managing their time, projects, responsibilities, etc., and I’ve discovered that even the most basic and mundane checklist (whether or not you use GTD methodology) increases my productivity and helps me maintain my sanity.

At minimum, I feel as those it’s helpful in offsetting whatever Alzheimherish proclivities I may be developing.

But checklists aren’t just limited to personal productivity.  They’re also a great way to share and implement knowledge, often in the most dire and life-altering of circumstances.

Just ask Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, a 2009 tome on how checklists can assist even the most modern of professionals in its approach to providing a disciplined adherence to essential procedures “by ticking them off a list,” often preventing fatal mistakes and corner cutting.

As Publisher’s Weekly observed in its own review of the book, Gawande examined checklists across a wide range of industries, including aviation, construction, and investing, along with his own medical profession, and was able to demonstrate that even the most simply mandated checklists (hand washing in hospitals) dramatically reduced hospital-caused infections and other complications.

Though I’m all for the medical folks washing their hands to the extreme, particularly if I’m the one going under the knife, I’m even more excited to report that Dr. Gawande will be speaking at the upcoming IBM Information on Demand Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 24-28.

Dr. Gawande is a MacArthur fellow and a general surgeon at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, as well as a staff writer for The New Yorker. In his spare time, he’s also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical school and the Harvard School of Public Health.

In his own Amazon-published review of Gawande’s checklist approach to life, last year’s Information on Demand keynote speaker Malcolm Gladwell had this to say about the book:

Gawande begins by making a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because we don’t know enough), and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t make proper use of what we know). Failure in the modern world, he writes, is really about the second of these errors, and he walks us through a series of examples from medicine showing how the routine tasks of surgeons have now become so incredibly complicated that mistakes of one kind or another are virtually inevitable: it’s just too easy for an otherwise competent doctor to miss a step, or forget to ask a key question or, in the stress and pressure of the moment, to fail to plan properly for every eventuality.

Gawande then visits with pilots and the people who build skyscrapers and comes back with a solution. Experts need checklists–literally–written guides that walk them through the key steps in any complex procedure. In the last section of the book, Gawande shows how his research team has taken this idea, developed a safe surgery checklist, and applied it around the world, with staggering success.

Even before I downloaded the first chapter of Gawande’s book on my iPad and started reading about the helpfulness of checklists, I’d already become an adherent.

Now, I would recommend you make your own list and include Dr. Gawande’s keynote talk at the top of yours for the 2010 Information on Demand conference.

In the meantime, you can learn more about Dr. Gawande via his “Annals of Medicine” column for The New Yorker here.

Written by turbotodd

September 29, 2010 at 6:00 am

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