Latest read: The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Tim Wu’s second book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires is wonderful examination how American information empires were established and stifled innovation at the same time. This is my second book by Wu following his brilliant Who Controls the Internet.
The Master SwitchWu identifies long business cycles surrounding the birth of information systems. While they begin open over time they were consolidated and driven by the market to become closed.

We displays how they become open again following amazing innovations force a business change in order to survive in the new marketplace.

The Master Switch opens with the birth of the Bell AT&T telephone monopoly. This is a facinating story when held against the garage startups of Apple and Google.

There is an amazing look at how countries and cultures also view information empires differently. The case for Wu is the capitalist, independent market approach to radio vs the UK’s BBC dominated by the royal family.

The Master Switch reveals how four key markets actually hold government infrastructure: telecommunications, banking, energy and transportation. These four and their capitalist owners for generations established control over any citizen’s attempt at challenging their monopolies. The lesson Wu establishes is corporate control by closed technologies. Yet one cannot help but understand they magically protected the country from the devastating affects of revolution leading up to and more importantly the horrific aftermath of World War I that forever removed Paris as the hub for film entertainment.
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Latest Read: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution

Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution is a remarkable book about the explosive relationship between Apple and Google as smartphones and tablets came to dominate the PC marketplace. This is a historical view of the final battle of Steve Job’s life and the work by Google to win over the digital battlefield from both Apple and Microsoft.

How Apple and Google went to war and started a revolutionDogfight is a smashing success in revealing how human technology companies really are today and the enormous demands they place upon their employees. They create the tools for our digital lifestyles and the means in which it drives new business models (and society) on a global scale. Its truly magnificent.

Since Dogfight is centered around the last days of Steve Jobs many readers may be intrigued to learn how he was personally making Apple vulnerable to Google’s Android by placing so much trust in Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Schmidt. Interesting lessons for us all.

The most interesting aspect for me was understanding the complex relationship between Google and Apple when Microsoft was in charge of the PC market. Clearly Microsoft missed the smartphone and tablet market and now may be forever a forgone player in that space. Even industry leaders are acknowledging that in the mobile space there are only two OS platforms to consider: iOS and Android. Amazing how Microsoft lost its way.
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Latest read: Big Data at Work

Big Data at Work is a good book for reviewing tested analytics case studies by Tom Davenport. As I began reading this I found myself reading an update to Tom Davenport‘s great analytics book Competing on Analytics that I read in 2008 which IMHO really set the standard. Big Data at Work is the follow up with tested business cases.

It seemed like an eternity that analytics are now realized as a critical business strategy for universities. Peter Drucker said it best: if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.

While much shorter than his Competing on Analytics, Big Data at Work is a must read. In Higher Education alone the Big Data at Work case studies by Davenport can serve as near perfect blueprints in the dynamic world of campus networks and services migrating to cloud.

Davenport needs to convince nobody that Big Data is a growing field, yet even in 2014 the number of colleges offering degrees in Big data science is not yet up to speed. More importantly he shares how traditional Business Intelligence is struggling to adjust to the analytics and big data era.

For as much as Big Data at Work contributes to the requirements in both technology and IT professionals, his suggestions that management stands in the way of more game changers outside of Silicon Valley. Yes Hadoop and MapReduce have forever empowered LInkedIn, Google, Yahoo and other startups. Healthcare, banking and insurance are markets who have already embraced and are excited about the abilities of big data for their customers.

Davenport is pretty upfront about what is needed: colleges have not fully embraced Big Data. Their mistake is assuming Big Data is a Computer Science degree. A good chapter of this book reflects on the inability of management to adopt Big Data for today’s competitive market. Is it surprising to see only a hand full of college programs sending grads to the likes of Google? More and more companies are looking to regional campus partnerships for Hadoop big data efforts. Yet many of those colleges still have no existing undergraduate or masters-level degrees in Big Data.

University cloud computing contracts

Did you hear about the university professor signed up for a cloud service and unknowingly left his department on the hook for two years of service beyond his grant….or the university who had more than 500,000 student records (social security, addresses and grades) hacked? Cloud computing poses special demands upon Universities who can no longer employ the same procurement process used to acquire computers and software since the 1980s.

Are you aware that today many Universities (and K12 School districts) use a popular email marketing program that sells contact information of students to vertical marketing firms who in turn re-sell them to other marketing and product companies?

Today’s aggressive marketplace and the business of cloud services has radically changed the procurement process. Many of us have a fiduciary duty to protect data of our students, research and institutions.  Regardless of how students freely give away their data on Facebook, our institution will still be held responsible to  protect all of our institution’s data.

My views on the impact of Cloud Computing in Higher Education have been slowly evolving. This past May I was given an incredible opportunity to further my learning by participating in an Engineering & Technology Short Course with the UCLA Extension.
Remember those “must-take classes” in college?  UCLA’s Contracting for Cloud Computing Services is one on my list of those opportunities you cannot afford to ignore.  My advice: Find your way to UCLA.

Again, I hope this can help as many people as possible understand the lessons taught in class.  Due to the nature of the beast they are in no specific order. They are all top level concerns:

BACKGROUND
For over a generation traditional desktop PC vendors focused on features and price. Since the late 1980s schools established trust in vendor’s products to conduct business, educate students and store student data. From floppy disks to magnetic tape all data was stored locally on campus.

Today’s globalized internet marketplace is radically different when compared to the modem era of computing. The cloud computing model represents a number of fundamental shifts including Software as a Service(SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) are well established.

And although it’s a bit ahead on the radar we should not overlook the quickly emerging SuperComputer as a Service. While there is no  standard acronym, there are established vendors like SGI’s Cyclone, Amazon’s Cluster Compute, IBM’s Watson, and with forthcoming merge between PiCloud and D-Wave‘s quantum computing….more options for High Performance Computing will be available to many smaller, lean and aggressive institutions.

These new services are directly tied to the “consumerization” of technology: advanced technologies at affordable price points. As a result the new focus is around access.  The shift to mobile computing via netbooks, smartphones and tablets is well underway, yet many school’s do not have a sufficient wireless infrastructure. Students, faculty and administrators are today carrying a laptop, smartphone and probably an iPad. Schools are struggling to to handle bandwidth demands of so many devices in concentrated areas around campus, from the Student Union to the ResHalls.

IMHO the tipping point with Cloud computing and digital devices is the convenience of access. Today many diverse schools have a campus community that simply demands anytime/anywhere access to data. And it’s no longer just email and web.  Its BIG data from data base research to the delivery of HD media. For better (or for worse) society has become trained to demand mobile solutions that easily integrate into the app economy and their mobile lifestyles.
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MDNA: sales vs. torrents

I simply burst out laughing reading the Detroit News‘ article regarding Madonna’s sharply falling record sales.  Her latest release MDNA debuted at #1 last week after selling 359,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. Yet as the article indicated: Madonna set to make the wrong kind of chart history.  Clearly author Adam Graham (@grahamorama) has no idea how torrents have simply crushed the music industry.  If he does understand — it was not mentioned in his article.

Riddle me this: How does Nielsen, Billboard or any other entertainment resource accurately reflect the impact of torrents on sales?  Ah….they can’t. The fact that Nielsen/Billboard still lists “traditional chart history” tells me another analog business is choking to death on the globalized internet.

I have come to accept that illegal downloads are no different than drugs, ebooks, guns or music.  All are in heavy demand.  The only difference: ebooks and music use the internet. Supply and demand.  Nothing more.

Its been a long standing issue for me to see mainstream media really show how inept they are when it relates to the globalization of the internet.  So what exactly did Adam Graham miss?

If you really want to understand the way the world works…

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Latest read: The Numerati

This is not a book about Dan Brown’s character, Robert Langdon and his fight against the Illuminati in Angels & Demons.  This is The Numerati, a slight spin on very advanced mathematics and high performance computing, the future of shopping, medicine, safety, sex, voting and yes …. even work.
the numeratiThe Numerati is a great read regarding the impact of advanced analytics across the board.  I was impressed with mathematicians Baker interviews and the surprising number who eventually work for IBM or the NSA.  Baker has written a book about how the best mathematicians are changing the way we live by processing amazingly vast amounts of data and simply detecting patterns.  The data comes via mouse-clicks, cell phone calls and credit card purchases just to name a few.

It sounds simple.  On the surface with today’s high performance computing and powerful consumer technologies.  But Baker shows how mathematicians are working to draw upon extremely high levels of computational power to deliver products and solutions that will dramatically impact our lives.

At the same time some of the projects mentioned seems more ‘wonderland’ in design. Yet consider the amount of data created by the Large Hadron Collider for example, the emerging world of Big Science is just starting to take off.

Chapters tackle different subjects (mentioned above) and as others. Many have indicated the shopping chapter is the best of the book. It was very enjoyable to read.  Some of the ideas and inventions about health were interesting, some ideas a bit hard to wrap around your brain – like the ability of a floor tile to detect if your elderly father has a change in an existing medical condition.  Another example, how a computer can analyze a sequence of video (over time) and determine in your are prone to suffering Parkinson’s disease.

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Google to build multiple fiber cities ?

Google may launch more than one “fiber city” in America.  This cyberinfrastructure project could will be a tipping point for a few lucky cities.

Tags: experimental network, Google, Network, internet access, Research, Internet2, Broadbandt, gigabit, high speed, trends,

Google offer ending soon for K12

Last year Google announced it would provide industrial strength email anti-spam & anti virus (Postini) to K12 schools for FREE.  Act Now – Deploy later. Google’s offer ends July 2010

Google Apps for EducationAs budgets have been cut across the country for education, this is a smart move for many financially strapped school districts.  Does it pay for a District to force taxpayers to pay for expensive, legacy email programs like FirstClass and Novell when cloud based solutions with robust feature sets are being embraced by K12 and Colleges around the country.

Source article

Tags: Google, Google Apps for Education, education, Postini, anti-virus, K12, trends

Google’s Learning Management System

Google has released their internal learning platform, CloudCourse under an open source license. Built entirely on Google’s own App Engine, CloudCourse is a new entry into a crowded LMS arena.  CloudCourse provides calendaring, waitlist management and approval features.

google cloudcourse LMS
Google CloudCourse LMS

To no surprise CloudCourse is fully integrated with Google Calendar.  Google has also made CloudCourse customizable for schools by supporting service provider interfaces:

Sync services – Sync CloudCourse data with school’s internal systems
Room services – Schedule classes in school locations
User info services – Support for school profiles (employee title, picture, etc)

CloudCourse was built in Python and uses Django (web application framework) and the Closure Javascript library.
CloudCourse
code site and wiki link

Tags: CloudCourse, open source, Learning Management System, LMS, education, python, django, trends

Google puts Wave tutorials on YouTube

Imagine that!  In the “what took so long” category Google has finally released a series of good video training session all about their real-time communication and collaboration tool Google Wave.  I posted last month (read it here) Google is missing a real opportunity surrounding Wave acceptance due to limited access to Wave in groups.

As many have shared on twitter — a lot of people with Google Wave accounts simply “don’t get it” and the new channel on YouTube will provide a great single repository for Wave fans to learn about their real-time collaboration solution.  Wave is a web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking.

wave_youtube

As many have accomplished, Waves around the world have proved to be excellent communication opportunities for individuals.  If Google wants to reach out to small groups and large organizations, they must provide mass accounts to really kick the tires and integrate this promising tool into their infrastructure…..BTW it can help revolutionize a number of outdated ‘workflows’ that are in use today in non-profits, education and business.

Tags: Google Wave, beta software, Collaboration, real-time, communication, test audience, limited preview, trends