Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Week 7 - Think Tanks

A think tank is an organization, institute, or group that conducts research and engages in advocacy for many different things. For example, social policy, economic issues, science or technology issues, or military advice are some of the common areas addressed by a variety of think tanks (1). There are many different opinions about the value of think tanks that range from the National Institute for Research Advancement’s option that think tanks are “one of the main policy actors in democratic societies” to Ralph Nader’s criticism that the private nature of think tanks biases their results to some degree. Other organizations more boldly state that “A think tank is an organization that claims to serve as a center for research and/or analysis of important public issues and in reality is little more than a public relations front that serves the advocacy goals of their industry sponsors” (2).

As I researched this, I found a number of useful resources. Columbia University’s website has a list of resources including books and websites that address the topic of think tanks (3). There are also a number of books that debate the value of think tanks and compare them to interest groups.

If an organization is aligned with the values of the think tank, their work may provide some interesting insight into the policy changes that are being proposed. However, one should be careful to understand the bias of the think tank organization that they are working with. It should also be noted that often the think tank participants may be recruited leaders in a particular field which does not infer that all participants are trained academics. If the research being conducted can benefit from the direction being advocated as far as policy, then think tanks may offer a perspective that should be considered.

1 The American Heritage Dictionary. "Think Tank." 2000. and Merriam Webster's Dictionary. "Think Tank."
2 “Think Tanks,”
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Think_tanks Accessed August 26, 2008.
3 “Think Tanks and Policy Centers,”
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/lehman/guides/ttanks.html Accessed August 26, 2008.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Week 6 - Innovation Concept

One area that has been evolving, but could still use further improvement is the area of education. As mentioned in As The Future Catches You, education will become an increasingly important differentiator not just at the individual level, but at the national level. Both societal and personal issues impact one's ability to improve their knowledge.

A possible solution would be to utilize technology to aid, augment, or even possibly replace current learning technologies. One potential solution is to use intelligent agents as part of an agent-based tutoring, potentially within a synchronous learning environment, to support learning. The agents could be used to tailor and tune content delivery to each individual based on individual learning strengths and weaknesses. In addition to tailored content delivery, the agents could facilitate collaboration between parties involved in similar learning experiences.

Advancing this technology could make education more accessible to individuals regardless of their personal circumstances. It also has the potential to provide an element of consistency as the standard for knowledge that should be learned in a particular subject area.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A comment on weather predictions...

There is a whole chapter of The Fortune Sellers (Chapter 2) dedicated to weather forecasting. Tropical Depression, I mean Hurricane, I mean Tropical Storm Fay is a classic example of weather forecasting weakness. There are many factors that impact storm intensification, however, the forecasters were at a loss because there were no historical models that matched the behavior of this storm. The frustration with all of this is that they make the prediction with the associated doomsday warnings. As a result, everyone scurries around to prepare based on the prediction for their area but the end result is completely different than the prediction. Following the storm, they ask why people were so apathetic and unprepared. Could it be because they listened to the prediction and prepared accordingly?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is a layer on top of the current web that will attempt to make the web less of a catalog and more of a guide. It will utilize artificial intelligence for “intelligent” web applications. It is believed by some that the “openness” of Web 3.0 will facilitate collaborative software development that will make SaaS a reality.
This article gives a great overview of Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0:

However, it should be noted that apparently the definition of Web 3.0 is still being debated. Tim O’Reilly believes that while a change is underway is will be called something other than Web 3.0 because it will span other technologies like sensors, speech recognition, and mobile technology. Others believe that Web 3.0 refers more to a time period than specific technology. The article “The Best Definition Imaginable” contains a roadmap of different technology predictions that comprise the various stages of the web.

Other Great References:
“Entrepreneurs See A Web Guided by Common Sense,”
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/business/12web.html Accessed August 12, 2008.

“Today’s Web 3.0 Nonsense Blogstorm,”
http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/10/todays-web-30-nonsense-blogsto.html Accessed August 12, 2008.

“The Best Official Definition Imaginable,”
http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2007/10/web-30----the-a.html Accessed August 12, 2008.

"Key Trends,"
http://www.suite101.com/view_image.cfm/432384 Accessed August 12, 2008.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Prediction and Web 2.0

Here is an interesting article about predictions and how a company is using Web 2.0 to "bet the mentality of the masses trumps the wisdom of a few": http://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid182_gci1315185,00.html

Week 5 - Successful (Failed) Prediction

The failed prediction also became the basis for a successful prediction. At the time this prediction was made in 1195 / 1996, bandwidth was scarce, computers were slow and expensive. Larry Ellison’s original idea was that the PC was….and, as a result, would be replaced by a network device. A small, inexpensive, and untethered network device would access all data from a central network as opposed to its individual hard drive. This would also minimize TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) as updates and bug fixes would automatic and administrative costs would be minimized.

One of the main premises of this prediction was that evolution would occur as the result of Java advancements even though Java functionality barely worked. Although it was talked about at the time, there was really very little that came close to a true Web application. As a result, network computing came and went.

However, at the same time it came and went, a standard emerged that included Web-connected PCs and server-based applications that dynamically generated HTML. Today, the internet has expanded beyond use for text, links, and images. It is used to send e-mail, research items of interest, or conduct business. Software is now delivered into the browser. Networked applications are real, but they are called Web applications – Ellison’s vision of the network computer.

"Inside the NC,"
http://www.byte.com/art/9611/sec11/art2.htm Accessed July 27, 2008.
"Oracle, IBM ready Network Computers,"
http://sunsite.uakom.sk/sunworldonline/swol-09-1996/swol-09-nc.html Accessed July 27, 2008.
"Cheaper Computing, Part 1,"
http://www.byte.com/art/9704/sec6/art1.htm Accessed July 27, 2008.
“Ellison resurrects network computer,”
http://news.cnet.com/Ellison-resurrects-network-computer/2100-1001_3-233137.html Accessed August 9, 2008.
“Larry Ellison and the Network Computer that Wasn’t,”
http://www.mondaymemo.net/031103feature.htm Accessed August 9, 2008.
“The grand obsessions of Larry Ellison,”
http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/1997/01/13/editorial1.html Accessed August 9, 2008.
“Perspective: The second coming of the network computer,”
http://news.cnet.com/The-second-coming-of-the-network-computer/2010-1028_3-5459006.html Accessed August 9, 2008.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Week 4 - Failed Prediction

The failed prediction that comes to mind comes from something that I actually experienced:
"Oracle Corp. CEO and Chairman Larry Ellison told a group of customers here that the first network computer conforming to the company's specifications will be launched in October(1996), and priced at $299. Ellison predicted that there will be 100 million NCs in use by the year 2000. "Virtually every major telco in the world is in conversations with us about ... buying the NC and giving it away like cellular telephones," Ellison said.

The 1996 customer demonstration utilized a keyboardless, diskless NC with 8 megabytes of RAM was demonstrated. The configuration used a Zenith television as a monitor, a mouse, and ran Oracle's interOffice groupware application. While they couldn't see using the NC in the short term, it piqued the interest for the long term. "Not right now, but somewhere down the road," said Philip Theiss, Vice President of Global Financial Process Development at Estee Lauder Companies in Melville, New York.

The NC brand (owned by Oracle) was mainly intended to denote a range of desktop computers from various suppliers that were supposed to be significantly cheaper and easier to manage than standard fat client PCs. As a result of declining PC prices and configurability of PCs, the NC brand never achieved the popularity predicted.

"Inside the NC,"
http://www.byte.com/art/9611/sec11/art2.htm Accessed July 27, 2008.
"Oracle, IBM ready Network Computers,"
http://sunsite.uakom.sk/sunworldonline/swol-09-1996/swol-09-nc.html Accessed July 27, 2008.
"Cheaper Computing, Part 1,"
http://www.byte.com/art/9704/sec6/art1.htm Accessed July 27, 2008.