Some times it surprises me in a way how little things have changed. This week we had our network event where many of our customers join us for dinner and some interesting conversations. This time we organized it in the museum of communication. Before the meeting they gave a short tour and showed us an old telephone switchboard. You know, where they had to connect phone calls by wiring connections by hand.
Funny thing is , there were two features that already existed for a long time: voicemail and teleconference. When somebody was not reachable you could leave a message at the operator who would call the person at a later time. Also creating a teleconference call was easy but just wiring the different connections together. Pretty impressive .
Other functions that caught my attention: they checked if a line was busy by touching the connection in the switchboard with a plug: when they saw a small spark the connection was busy. Connecting somebody from Groningen to Maastricht worked a bit like a router through gateways: they connected to the next switchboard, they connected to the next switch board etc. Pretty failsafe since switches could easily fall while other routes could still be used. Though it did take half an hour to setup this connection, more than 8 hours for a foreign connection…
Rogier sent me this link. Especially this part was kind of icky:
The man made a note, did some clicking. “You see, I ask because I see a heavy spike in ads for rocketry supplies showing up alongside your search results and Google mail.”
Greg felt a spasm in his guts. “You’re looking at my searches and e-mail?” He hadn’t touched a keyboard in a month, but he knew what he put into that search bar was likely more revealing than what he told his shrink.
“Sir, calm down, please. No, I’m not looking at your searches,” the man said in a mocking whine. “That would be unconstitutional. We see only the ads that show up when you read your mail and do your searching.
“We do not look at your searches but at the add”. Somehow this statement gives me the shivers.
Sometimes you do things that energize you. Sometimes you meet people that, through their drive and energy, lift you up and give you energy. Even wish you could do more.
As Telematica Instituut we are working together with the people from Alp D’huZes to improve the life of people with cancer. About two years ago some people, among them Coen van Veenendaal en Peter Kapitein, started to think about ways to improve the life of people with cancer. Peter has been diagnosed with cancer in 2005. Their goal is to become the largest sponsor of the KWF, the Dutch cancer fund. Their means: by cycling up and down the Alp D’huez paid for by sponsors. Not once but six times in a row. The first year they gathered € 350.000. The second year, 2007, they cycled up and down the Alp D’huez again with 140 people, 7 times in a row. I think something you can only do when you are really motivated through and through. This year they gathered more than one million euros for the KWF. The project we are setting up with them is to monitor and support people with cancer after treatment. Since cancer more and more becomes a chronic disease it is becoming important to support the people that live with cancer. Sport is a good way to feel better and stay active. Goal is to activate people by improving the communication between the patients and people treating them through, amongst others, virtual communities.
It is not just the fact that they are crazy enough to go up and down a considerable mountain but it is the drive and energy they have to accomplish their goal. On the mountain and towards the companies that sponsor them. Listening to their stories I think everybody feels compelled to contribute. The motto is “giving up is not an option”. Heroes…
All people are created equal, but some make a difference.
Salesforce.com is considering bringing to market a new service enabling companies to share leads, opportunities and custom objects with each other (assuming both are using salesforce.com). What would you call this service?
If you have another name suggestion please post it in a comment.
This seems a rather interesting application of Web 2.0 sharing of information. Companies sharing leads in a network through their CRM system. There are of course a lot of questions like how do you protect your leads against competitors, how easy it is to create rules how to share and such. But still, the idea has a huge potential I think.
I am member of a guidance committee for Rathenau instituut in the Netherlands for a project about privacy. In this project we deal with the changing concept of privacy in our society. I talked about it some time ago in this post. It still amazes me how much people put on the net (including what I put on the Net, look at the sidebar of this Blog).
In this project a special website has been developed that invites people to comment on privacy, discuss and share all kind of ideas in a creative way around this subject (the website is www.privacyproject.nl). The information on the side ranges from exhibitionists to people putting an image of their passport on the web to people completely hiding how they look in real life. In the end a television documentary will be made out of it.
There is one item on the site that is I think very interesting. A colleague of mine, Rogier Brussee, has a conspiracy their for some time that Google is in fact a front for the NSA. Funny thing is if you look in the history of Google that they got quite large initial funding in order to pay for all the servers they needed to store all their data. Without it Google would not be able to show how good they are. But at this moment there really was not even a beginning of a business model. So his theory is that the NSA is the one that funded it (this is the organization with one of the largest budgets in the USA so funding 30 million dollar is mere noise to them). Their strong emphasis on “Don’t be Evil” of course fits nicely into this idea…
Just look at what Google knows of you:
It knows what you are interested in based on your searches as well as what link in the search results you clicked (the link you click on is not the real link but links to Google and than transfers you to the site you wish to go. Also you can save bookmarks, the kind of information on your iGoogle page, Google reader to show what blogs you are interested in (subscribed as well as the one you click on to read). The list goes on: adds you click on, the spell checker I use to check this blog so they already know I am writing about this before I post it …)
It knows what you are going to do based on your calendar info. The one thing that really surprises me is that Google does not yet have a tool to store your to-do items since this is a much better way (finer grained) for predicting what people are doing than your calendar).
It knows with whom you communicate and about what, based on your Gmail.
An of course, items like google apps enhance the knowledge about you by knowing what you are writing (though you would have sent it out with Gmail so they would have known anyhow.
Looking at this amount of data they have about a lot of people must the the ultimate dream of the NSA. Looking at the video below it is clear that more people are beginning to be suspicious.
Though I must say that I am totally addicted to Googe: Gmail, Calendar, Apps, Psearch, Scholar, and probably lots of others I use but do not know they are Googles (I use a very nice ToDo app that for all I know may be a front for Google (who is a front for …). I use them all because I like how they work (Hey Google, when are you going to develop this ToDo application, and when you are at it, why can’t I synchronize with my phone through SyncML…. If you do that you also know who I am calling).
When I start to work on something new the first thing you do is find a lot of information about the subject you are going to deal with. However, information only gets you started. In order to really understand a subject it is essential to talk to people that have dealt with it before. You can read a wall of books on how to cure diseases but there is no substitute for a talk with the real expert. In every field the amount of knowledge to make the right decisions is so vast, you simply can not write everything down.
In the past I did a project for bakery’s and my task was to write down how they make the bread. One of the issues was how we could describe the moment the dough is ready to be laid down to rest. Terms like stickiness, feel, elasticity and many others where mentioned but there was no way to get a good description to tell someone knew when it was OK. The only way to learn this was to work together with an expert and be shown how it was to be done.
(this reminds me of a story from Winnie the Pooh. Someone asks Winnie what he likes most in the world. And he thinks in his mind that honey of course is very nice. But the moment just before eating the honey, that was the best….. but he did not know the word for this moment.
For me this leads to the conclusion that we can not rely on written information to understand the complexities of real life. We need the knowledge and interpretation of experienced people to understand what it means.
There I think there are quite some risks in a project like “kindbeeld”, a government project in the Netherlands where all information regarding a child is stored in a system so it is easier to see when something goes wrong, even though the child has moved quite often (the idea is a nationwide implementation). When we all lived our lives in the same villages there was no need for such a system since people knew each other. But the risk with a system like this is that people using this information will give a totally different interpretation of what is meant.
In a project we did some time ago we did not provide people with the information itself but gave back the contact information of the people that wrote down this information. The idea is that it is better to call these people and really get their opinion than to misinterpret the written words.
People (and children …) are a lot more complex than making bread. We should be careful not to overestimate the power of information without context.
I think the most interesting new adaptations of technology are the ones that make clever combinations of the real and digital world. You might say the ones that live in symbiosis, where the digital world feeds on the physical world and vice versa.
Second Life I do not like since it merely involves the digital realm. Meeting somebody from a discussion group in real life creates great physical meetings and makes the discussion later on more interesting, knowing the other person also in real life.
At the moment I am talking to an organisation involved in the safety sector. Practice for them is extremely important. Problem for them is that practice in real life is difficult and expensive. Not all situations can be created in real life (too costly or physically so destructive that it can not be done). On the other hand practice in the digital world does not feel real. It is hard to substitute loud noise, a roaring fire and wind and many people putting pressure on you. In a game you also can get the adrenaline working but different …
The idea of the project is to set up an environment where digital and physical practice is completely intertwined. A group of policeman can be training in a special trainings village while their physical coordinates are transferred to a simulation environment. The commander can than command the real people who are training as well as digital troops. These two world you might say feed on one another, like the fish help the turtle to stay clean buy picking of the algae and getting a good meal by doing it.