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Bandwidth Item from DARPA

April 5, 2016

Short honk. If you follow the activities of the US government, you may be interested in “DARPA Wants to Give Radio Waves AI to ‘Stretch Bandwidth.” The idea is an important one. The reason is that the US government requires bandwidth to move around certain interesting data. Worth noting. Now about the value of bandwidth “owned” by commercial entities?

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2016

Forget Girolamo: Renaissance Florence Outdid Silicon Valley

January 28, 2016

You remember, Girolamo Savonarola, don’t you? Sure, he was the feisty character who did some forecasting, suggested death and hell fire for those into secular art, and a wild and crazy approach to the Big Guy.

Well, forget him. Forget the city state thing, the disease, the child labor, and the starvation of those who did not have land, jewels, and political clout via birth, commerce, or religious affiliation.

Look at the innovation. The Harvard wonks have and the “proof” is exposed in “Renaissance Florence Was a Better Model for Innovation than Silicon Valley Is.” I learned:

Florence reminds us that even devastating events can yield surprising benefits. The city’s Renaissance blossomed only a few decades after the Black Death decimated the city, and in part because of it. Horrible as it was, the plague shook up the rigid social order, and that new fluidity led directly to artistic and intellectual revolution.

I thought money did the trick. Oh, well. Let’s think about how to make Silicon Valley into a baby Florence. Here’s a list of ideas derived from the Harvard ivory tower:

  1. Do the patronage thing. A rich person helps a talented young person. Altruism. More billionaires should help out the folks with great potential.
  2. Whip up some mentors. The faculty at Stanford might fill the bill unless the wizards are too busy consulting or running their own companies.
  3. Look for potential. That mesio in the Mission might be the next Bill Gates. Give the fellow a saw buck and a Tesla. No experience? No problem.
  4. Start a disaster or take advantage of what ever bad thing comes along. The point is to be prepared to act.
  5. Buddy up to the competition. Anti trust, collusion, price fixing, no poaching deals—yep, become pals.
  6. Do the Leonardo and Michelangelo two step. Look at what others are doing; for example, sculpting in the street and dupe it. Imitation is part of the “me too, me too” approach to innovation.

Now where will Silicon Valley put those churches? Think of the store fronts that can be dotted along the San Mateo Bridge. How I wish I was back in college so I could learn more about the wonders of Florence.

But there is that plague thing and, of course, Girolamo. Search was pretty good, just a manual thing available to insiders.

Stephen E Arnold, January 28, 2016

More Bad News for Traditional TV

November 17, 2015

Traditional TV is in a slow decline towards obsoleteness.  With streaming options offering more enticing viewing options with less out of pocket expenses and no contracts, why would a person sign on for cable or dish packages that have notoriously bad customer service, commercials, and insane prices?  Digital Trends has the most recent information from Nielsen about TV viewing habits, “New Nielsen Study On Streaming Points To More Bad News For Traditional TV.”

Pay-for-TV services have been on the decline for years, but the numbers are huge for the latest Nielsen Total Audience report:

“According to the data, broadband-only homes are up by 52 percent to 3.3 million from 2.2 million year over year. Meanwhile, pay-TV subscriptions are down 1.2 percent to 100.4 million, from 101.6 million at this time last year. And while 1.2 percent may not seem like much, that million plus decline has caused all sorts of havoc on the stock market, with big media companies like Viacom, Nickelodeon, Disney, and many others seeing tumbling stock prices in recent weeks.”

While one might suggest that pay-for-TV services should start the bankruptcy paperwork, there has been a 45% rise in video-on-demand services.  Nielsen does not tabulate streaming services, viewership on mobile devices, and if people are watching more TV due to all the options?

While Nielsen is a trusted organization for TV data, information is still collected view paper submission forms.  Nielsen is like traditional TV and need to update its offerings to maintain relevancy.

Whitney Grace, November 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Finnish Content Discovery Case Study

July 31, 2015

There are many services that offer companies the ability to increase their content discover.  One of these services is Leiki, which offers intelligent user profiling, context-based intelligence, and semantic SaaS solutions.  Rather than having humans adapt their content to get to the top of search engine results, the machine is altered to fit a human’s needs.  Leiki pushes relevant content to a user’s search query.  Leiki released a recent, “Case Study: Lieki Smart Services Increase Customer Flow Significantly At Alma Media.”

Alma Media is one of the largest media companies in Finland, owning many well-known Finnish brands.  These include Finland’s most popular Web site, classified ads, and a tabloid newspaper.  Alma Media employed two of Leiki’s services to grow its traffic:

“Leiki’s Smart Services are adept at understanding textual content across various content types: articles, video, images, classifieds, etc. Each content item is analyzed with our semantic engine Leiki Focus to create a very detailed “fingerprint” or content profile of topics associated with the content.

SmartContext is the market leading service for contextual content recommendations. It’s uniquely able to recommend content across content types and sites and does this by finding related content using the meaning of content – not keyword frequency.

SmartPersonal stands for behavioral content recommendations. As it also uses Leiki’s unique analysis of the meaning in content, it can recommend content from any other site and content type based on usage of one site.”

The case study runs down how Leiki’s services improved traffic and encouraged more users to consume its content. Leiki’s main selling point in the cast study is that offers users personal recommendations based on content they clicked on Alma Media Web sites.  Leiki wants to be a part of developing Web 3.0 and the research shows that personalization is the way for it to go.

Whitney Grace, July 31, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Another the End of Article with Some Trivial Omissions

July 19, 2015

Far be it from me to find fault with an economics essay published by the British open source, online hip newspaper The Guardian. I want to point you at “The End of Capitalism Has Begun.” Like Francis Fukuyama’s end of book, the end seems to be unwilling to arrive. Note: if you find that the article has disappeared online, you may have to sign up to access the nuggets generated by The Guardian. Another alternative, which is pretty tough in rural Kentucky, is to visit your local convenience store and purchase a dead tree edition. Do not complain to me about a dead link, which in this blog are little tombstones marking online failures.

There is some rugby and polo club references in the article. The one that I circled was the reference to Karl Marx’s “The Fragment on Machines” from his thriller  The Grundrisse, which connoted to me “floor plans.” But, my German like my math skills are not what they used to be. Anyway, who am I kidding. I know you have read that document. If not, you can get a sniff at this link.

According to the Guardian, the point of the fragment is:

he [Marx] had imagined something close to the information economy in which we live. And, he wrote, its existence would “blow capitalism sky high.

The end of capitalism?

Another interesting item in the essay is the vision of the future. At my age, I do not worry too much about the future beyond waking each morning and recognizing my surroundings. The Guardian worries about 20175. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I don’t mean this as a way to avoid the question: the general economic parameters of a post capitalist society by, for example, the year 2075, can be outlined. But if such a society is structured around human liberation, not economics, unpredictable things will begin to shape it.

Why raise the issue?

Now to the omission. I know this is almost as irrelevant as the emergence of a monitored environment. What about the growing IS/ISIS/Daesh movement? The Greek matter is interesting to me because if the state keeps on trucking down the interstate highway its has been following, the trucks will be loaded with folks eager to take advantage of the beach front property and nice views Greece affords.

I noted a number of other points away from which the essay steered its speeding Russian Zil. How does one find information in the end of world?

I think about information access more than I ponder the differences between Horatio in Hamlet and Daniel Doyce in Little Dorrit. To get up to speed on Daniel Doyce, check out this link.

Like Fukuyama’s social analysis, this end of may point to speaking engagements and consulting work. The hope is that the author may want these to be never-ending. Forget the information access and the implications and impacts of IS/ISIS/Daesh.

Let’s hope online search works unless it is now the end of that too.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2015

What Is Watt? It Is the Innovation That Counts.

July 11, 2015

Years ago I worked with a polymath named Fred Czufin. Czufin was an author, writer, consultant, and former Office of Strategic Services cartographic specialist. Today Czufin would be buried in geocoding.

Why am I mentioning a fellow who died in 2009.

Czufin introduced me to James Watt. I knew the steam engine thing, but Czufin was bonkers over James Watt’s innovative streak.

I thought of Czufin, my ignorance of an important scientist, and our reasonably fun times when we collaborated on some interesting projects.

I read “A Twelve Year Flash of Genius.” The write up sparked anew my effort to chip away at my ignorance of this 18th century inventor. Watt struggled with the engineering problems of early Newcomen pumps. Mostly these puppies exploded.

Watt went for a walk and cook dup the idea of a condenser. Eureka. Steam engines mostly worked. Even my server room air conditioner contains a version of Watt’s invention.

I am not going to take sides in the flash of genius approach to innovation. One can argue that the antecedents for Watt’s thinking littered the laboratories of his predecessors, tinkerers, and fellow scientists.

My hunch is that there was no single epiphany. The result of sifting through many facts, fiddling around, and then trying to figure out if and then why something worked made him a bright person.

As I think about James Watt, I wonder when a similar thinker will come up with a breakthrough in information access. Most of the search systems with which I am familiar are in their pre-condenser stage. They blow up, fizzle, disappoint, hiss, and produce more angst than smiley faces.

My hunch is that Czufin would be as impatient as I about the opportunity a modern day James Watt can deliver. Search has more in common with Newcomen’s pump than a solution to a very important information problem.

Stephen E Arnold, July 11, 2015

Information Theory: An Eclectic Approach

June 8, 2015

I love information theory. If you want to get some insight into selected themes in this discipline, check out “Journey into Information Theory.” The course or “program” falls into two sections: Ancient Information Theory and Modern Information Theory. What is interesting is that the Ancient category zips right along from written language to Morse code. Where the subject becomes troublesome for me is the Modern section. The program moves from “symbol rate” to Markov chains. To my eye, there are some omissions. But it appears that the course or program is free.

Stephen E Arnold, June 8, 2015

Is Collaboration the Key to Big Data Progress?

May 22, 2015

The article titled Big Data Must Haves: Capacity, Compute, Collaboration on GCN offers insights into the best areas of focus for big data researchers. The Internet2 Global Summit is in D.C. this year with many exciting panelists who support the emphasis on collaboration in particular. The article mentions the work being presented by several people including Clemson professor Alex Feltus,

“…his research team is leveraging the Internet2 infrastructure, including its Advanced Layer 2 Service high-speed connections and perfSONAR network monitoring, to substantially accelerate genomic big data transfers and transform researcher collaboration…Arizona State University, which recently got 100 gigabit/sec connections to Internet2, has developed the Next Generation Cyber Capability, or NGCC, to respond to big data challenges.  The NGCC integrates big data platforms and traditional supercomputing technologies with software-defined networking, high-speed interconnects and visualization for medical research.”

Arizona’s NGCC provides the essence of the article’s claims, stressing capacity with Internet2, several types of computing, and of course collaboration between everyone at work on the system. Feltus commented on the importance of cooperation in Arizona State’s work, suggesting that personal relationships outweigh individual successes. He claims his own teamwork with network and storage researchers helped him find new potential avenues of innovation that might not have occurred to him without thoughtful collaboration.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 22, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at

Automating Innovation: Another Beyond Search Moment

May 7, 2015

What future Bill Gates or Larry Page can resist the notion of automating innovation. The notion that invention is 99 percent perspiration is definitely the equivalent of making horseshoes with a fire, hammer, and a strong arm.

I read Inno 360’s article “5 Things We Do to Automate Innovation.” Note that this is not automating information analysis which garnered Banjo $100 million in funding. Inno 360 deals with innovation, the Tesla type of battery insight.

The write up identifies five steps:

  1. Semantic search
  2. Visualizations
  3. Outreach
  4. Collaborative evaluation and vetting management
  5. Content management.

I find this list of items quite interesting. Each item is a basket containing numerous and often widely divergent technologies, definitions, and features.

If you are intrigued by a company asserting that it can do automatically that which a handful of humans achieves, navigate to I cannot define semantic search and content management. I don’t know what collaborative evaluation and vetting management means either, particularly in terms of automation. I have a good handle on visualizations. These are pictures, and I know that many cyber OSINT systems can generate visual outputs.

Automating innovation is a new angle, and I think it may be quite a remarkable achievement if it works. Innovation in information access is needed. Humans have not made much progress in the last 50 years when it comes to information access. The search box seems to the go to solution.

Stephen E. Arnold, May 7, 2015

Listen Up, Search Experts, Innovation Ended in 1870

May 2, 2015

I just completed a video in which I said, “Keyword search has not changed for 50 years.” I assume that one or two ahistorical 20 somethings will tell me that I need to get back in the rest home where I belong.

I read “Fundamental Innovation Peaked in 1870 and Why That’s a Good Thing,” which is a write up designed to attract clicks and generate furious online discussion and maybe a comic book. I think that 1870 was 145 years ago, but I could be wrong. Ahistorical allows many interesting things to occur.

The point of the write up is to bolster the assertion that “society has only become less innovative through the years.” I buy that, at least for the period of time I have allocated to write this pre Kentucky Derby blog post on a sparkling spring day with the temperature pegged at 72 degrees Fahrenheit or 22.22 degrees Celsius for those who are particular about conversions accurate to two decimal places. Celsius was defined in the mid 18th century, a fact bolstering the argument of the article under my microscope. Note that the microscope was invented in the late 16th century by two Dutch guys who charged a lot of money for corrective eye wear. I wonder if these clever souls thought about bolting a wireless computer and miniature video screen to their spectacles.

The write up reports that the math crazed lads at the Santa Fe Institute “discovered” innovation has flat lined. Well, someone needs to come up with a better Celsius. Maybe we can do what content processing vendors do and rename “Celsius” to “centigrade” and claim a breakthrough innovation?

Here’s the big idea:

“A new invention consists of technologies, either new or already in use, brought together in a way not previously seen,” the Santa Fe researchers, led by complex systems theorist Hyejin Youn, write. “The historical record on this process is extensive. For recent examples consider the incandescent light bulb, which involves the use of electricity, a heated filament, an inert gas and a glass bulb; the laser, which presupposes the ability to construct highly reflective optical cavities, creates light intensification mediums of sufficient purity and supplies light of specific wavelengths; or the polymerase chain reaction, which requires the abilities to finely control thermal cycling (which involves the use of computers) and isolate short DNA fragments (which in turn applies techniques from chemical engineering).”

Let’s assume the SFI folks are spot on. I would suggest that information access is an ideal example of a lack of innovation. Handwritten notes pinned to manuscripts did  not work very well, but the “idea” was there: The notes told the lucky library user something about the scroll in the slot or the pile in some cases. That’s metadata.

Flash forward to the news releases I received last week about breakthrough content classification, metadata extraction, and predictive tagging.

SFI is correct. These notions are quite old. The point overlooked in the write up about the researchers’ insight is that pinned notes did not work very well. I recall learning that monks groused about careless users not pinning them back on the content object when finished.

Take heart. Most automated, super indexing systems are only about 80 percent accurate. That’s close enough for horse shoes and more evidence that digital information access methods are not going to get a real innovator very excited.

Taking a bit of this and a bit of that is what’s needed. Even with these cut and paste approach to invention, the enterprise search sector leaves me with the nostalgic feeling I experience after I leave a museum exhibit.

But what about the Google, IBM, and Microsoft patents? I assume SFI wizards would testify in the role of expert witnesses that the inventions were not original. I wonder how many patent attorneys are reworking their résumés in order to seek an alternative source of revenue?

Lots? Well, maybe not.


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