September 23, 2016
I read two stories. These stories seem unrelated. The first is “Defense Department Reaffirms Its Commitment to Venture Investing.” The second is “Facebook and Twitter Join Coalition to Improve Social Media Newsgathering.”
Let’s look at the short item about the US Department of Defense reaffirming its interest in funding new technology. In my forthcoming, Dark Web Notebook, I point to a Web page which contains a run down of more than 100 open source software components. The software does information collection and processing functions. But the main point is that the organizations creating the code is one of the more interesting lists of entities performing next generation innovation for the Department of Defense. The write up cited above states:
Not everyone is comfortable with a government entity backing what can be sensitive technologies (not to mention the privacy issues wrought by the NSA’s practices and deployment of new tech tools).
My view is that In-Q-Tel is a more visible entity than some of the Department of Defense activities. DoD, in fact, has been in the innovation far longer than In-Q-Tel. One might suggest that substantive innovation emerges from the DoD programs; for example, the DoD is the progenitor of the Internet. My view is that more disruption may be evident in what the DoD is funding than in what the In-Q-Tel organization is funding. The write up misses an important point in my opinion. DoD looks out the windshield of innovation and In-Q-Tel looks at the world via a rear view mirror. Case in point: funding open source software related to Dark Web actions. In-Q-Tel funding companies which often have been in existence for years prior to receiving an infusion of cash and some help making sales calls in the US government.
The second write up also underscores a need for change. The idea is that old fashioned approaches are not needed. New fangled approaches are the cat’s pajamas. The problem is that the new fangled methods make some interesting errors. To fix this, high profile social media companies are going to invent a fix via a coalition.
A method with practiced for news gathering exists. Traditional newspapers illustrate the method. The process works reasonably well. More accurately, the process worked when resources were available to employ individuals who conducted interviews and performed research.
The traditional method changed with software able to count who clicked on what, people with many digital friends, and systems which collect information and figure out what is important.
Now after some interesting mistakes, Internet giants are eager to improve what I call the millennial news method:
Channel 4 News, the Telegraph, the New York Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, ABC News in Australia and Agence France-Presse are among more than 20 news organizations to have signed up to the partner network, which is being organized through Google-backed First Draft.
Now Facebook (big dog) and Twitter (starving dog) are in the game. The point is that the millennial methods appear to work. Unfortunately fake news and other oddities creep into the smart systems. The new methods also help foster tension between the remaining traditional news outfits and the comparative newcomers or disruptors.
The idea of teaming up to improve smart software is interesting. The goal, of course, is to obtain high value information at the lowest possible cost; that is, with the fewest number of humans as possible.
When I read these two articles, I noted three ideas which struck me as worth thinking about:
- Methods exist which work yet interest gravitates away from what works to a need to find a better, more innovative process
- The perception that traditional methods practiced by the Department of Defense and old school newspapers are less useful than “new” approach may slow down innovation or, even worse, get the focus fuzzy.
- The Silicon Valley fascination with the bright and shiny may produce wasteful, duplicate efforts.
Stephen E Arnold, September 23, 2016
September 10, 2016
An MBA infused article caught my attention. The title was a magnet, and I was not hunting for Google related information. Nevertheless, I read “Larry Page’s Grand Plan for Google Looks More Like a Mess than a Success.” Before I comment on the write up, I must admit I liked the euphony of “mess” and “success.” Ogden Nash would have approved I surmise.
The main point is that Google leveled up and created Alphabet. The idea was that a Ling Temco Vought style outfit would be more in tune with the Loon balloon business, the solving death business, the Google Fiber business, and the other alleged money engines the online ad firm was inventing or, at least, me-too’ing.
The write up points out that some financial discipline is in evidence. Google Fiber and the quite exciting Nest initiatives are under scrutiny. I noted this passage:
the company’s self-driving car project still hasn’t announced any business plan and a bunch of people have left. The life sciences division Verily has been accused of peddling “slideware,” and Google just killed its ambitious build-it-yourself-phone.
Right, the modular phone. Great idea. What happens when the little gem is dropped or the coefficient of friction decreases with use and the electronic bits drop into the garbage disposal?
The write up adds:
right now, the parts of the company that were once the perfect marketing for luring potential talent and showing off Google as the world’s most influential tech pioneer, look more like a mess than an advertisement.
Okay. That seems to be a bit negative.
Here in Harrod’s Creek, we love the Alphabet Google thing. The MBA-ish write up does not ask this question, “Why does Alphabet Google assume that its new initiatives will succeed?” The DNA of Google is anchored in the proteins of GoTo.com and Overture.com. This means Yahoo purple in these Alphabet Google progeny.
How is that family tree performing? After 15 years, Google has one revenue stream. Google’s success with “innovations” seems to be counter to the image the company tries to project. Do MBAs understand the mentality of “go to” members of the math team and science club? The last time I drove down 101 I noted a strong scent of musk when a Google self driving car crept past me. Interesting.
Stephen E Arnold, September 10, 2016
September 5, 2016
I noted a flurry of articles about one of Alphabet Google’s most recent technical breakthroughs. If I understand the information in “Google Is Going Head-to-Head with Uber on Ride-Hailing,” the online ad supporter search giant will compete with Uber. Uber is, I believe, a taxi service without the sticky seats and interesting dashboard decorations.
According to the write up:
Waze Carpool is unlike Uber and Lyft in that it is not designed as a money-making enterprise for drivers, but rather as an ultra-cheap platform that helps people coordinate their rides to-and-from the office.
I noted that Alphabet Google experienced a Yogi Berra déjà vu moment. Navigate to “Alphabet Executive Steps Down From Uber Board Amid Growing Competition.” The Alphabet Google outfit employs a lawyer. That lawyer served on the Uber board of directors. Uber seems to be a company in the taxi business. The situation reminded me of another Googler who served on the board of Apple. When Google had the brilliant idea to create a mobile phone business, the Googler resigned from the Apple board. Yogi Berra. Déjà vu.
I learned about Mr. Drummond’s departure from the Uber board:
Drummond joined the board after Alphabet’s venture capital arm GV in 2013 invested about $250 million…in Uber, among the firm’s largest investments and a deal in which Drummond was involved. “I recently stepped down from Uber’s board given the overlap between the two companies,” Drummond said in a written statement sent to Reuters. “Uber is a phenomenal company and it’s been a privilege working with the team over the last two-plus years. GV remains an enthusiastic investor and Google will continue to partner with Uber.”
Is it possible that the Alphabet Google thing invests in companies and learns about a specific approach to business. Then the Alphabet Google thing processes that information and does an bit of reinvention? Probably not.
The fact that Alphabet Google is inventing a new approach to the gig economy is just one of those epiphanies which keep the Sillycon Valley world spinning.
I find that the usefulness of Google search results in my research is softening. Perhaps “softening” is not sufficiently firm. I have to work to locate on point information using the Google search system. I hope that the profits from the new venture are pumped into the firm’s search and retrieval system. I see many tiny green notices flagging results which are ads. I have to click through pages of results to locate information germane to my query. I have to work around the flabby syntax which Google makes available for those who want precision and recall. I have to use many different search strategies to locate a document I have in front of me because Google’s index seems to be on an ultra slim fast type diet.
I love innovation. The me too approach to innovation is an inspiration to original thinkers everywhere. Does Stanford teach a class in legal me too innovation? If not, perhaps the course should be offered. Guest lecturers can explore the Google Yahoo ad methods, the Google Apple mobile phone breakthroughs, the Google Uber insights. To add substance the the course, there might be a talk about Amazon Netflix synergies.
Yandex, the Russian search outfit, seems to have a dearth of fresh ideas too. I noted “Russian Search Giant Yandex Announces Self-Driving Car Partnership.” One thought I have is that search may be a dead end. Therefore, search vendors are chasing other folks’ ideas in order to find a less expensive, less challenging way to generate revenue? Me tooism may be a global trend.
Sillycon Valley innovation may not stand on the shoulders of giants. Innovation may be integrating another outfit’s business models. But only the best bits. Who wants to support drivers when smart software created by smart people can make life into an absolute doddle. The me too approach to innovation may create as many flavors of ride sharing taxis as there are types of dry breakfast cereal. What’s not to like?
Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2016
August 19, 2016
I read “A Year after Google Transformed into Alphabet, the Only Thing Clear Is How Much Its Bets Are Losing.” (Now that is a title.) The write up explains that even for the Alphabet Google thing creating sustainable revenue streams is not as easy as solving trivial problems like death. Whoops. Death is not yet cracked. However, Google has cracked the Loon balloon as a wireless component.
I learned from the write up:
Google is still growing—its revenue last quarter was $21.3 billion, up 21% from a year earlier—but similar signs of life have not been seen in Other Bets. In the last four quarters, it’s lost over $3.7 billion, and only generated roughly $500 million in revenue, which works out to less than 1% of Alphabet’s quarterly sales.
In the grand scheme of online ad revenue, what’s the big deal?
This passage caught my attention:
Alphabet’s Other Bets includes things like Google Fiber, the company’s initiative to bring high-speed fiber-optic broadband to the US; Boston Dynamics, a research firm working on humanoid and dog-shaped robots for the military; and Nest, the internet-of-things company Google bought in 2014 that makes smart thermostats and other as-of-yet unnecessary gadgets. In the last year, Nest’s CEO Tony Fadell has left Alphabet amid claims that he was creating a “toxic” work atmosphere, and Boston Dynamics is apparently being shopped around for a buyer as Alphabet struggles to monetize its work.
My hunch is that the article is designed to suggest that the Alphabet Google thing has a problem. I am not sure its “bets” are the challenge. My thoughts flow to Amazon. Mr. Bezos’ outfit has generated additional lines of revenue and seems to be creating new services which complement the core business and open new revenue streams. There’s package delivery, subscriptions, and the cloud business. Even the space initiative and the dead tree newspaper are showing signs of life.
Perhaps the issue is what Google pursues versus what Amazon is doing? Which company is more likely to take a wild and crazy idea and make money from that notion? Some say Amazon; some say Google. Are these company names synonyms for innovation or concentrated market control? Time to go fishing with my Android tablet and a lure from Amazon.
Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2016
July 21, 2016
The article titled Coveo Sweeps Early 2016 Awards Programs on Coveo promotes some of the many honors and recognitions that the Coveo company and its apps have earned. Among these is the Gold Stevie Award they earned for Sales and Customer Service through Coveo Reveal. The article details the competition for this prestigious yet unknown award,
“More than 2,100 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition, an increase of 11% over 2015. Finalists were determined by the average scores of 115 professionals worldwide, acting as preliminary judges. More than 60 members of several specialized judging committees determined the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging.”
Coveo Reveal is the first cloud-based, machine leaning search platform for the enterprise. Its main users are customer service professionals, who are able to gain a stronger understanding of areas that can be improved in the overall search process. No surprise that it is winning awards, but we are unfamiliar with this Stevie recognition. According to the American Stevie Awards website, the award has been around since 2002 is named Stevie as in Stephen after the Greek derivation: “crowned.”
Chelsea Kerwin, July 21, 2016
There is a Louisville, Kentucky Hidden Web/Dark
Web meet up on July 26, 2016.
Information is at this link: http://bit.ly/29tVKpx.
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
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:
- Do the patronage thing. A rich person helps a talented young person. Altruism. More billionaires should help out the folks with great potential.
- Whip up some mentors. The faculty at Stanford might fill the bill unless the wizards are too busy consulting or running their own companies.
- 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.
- Start a disaster or take advantage of what ever bad thing comes along. The point is to be prepared to act.
- Buddy up to the competition. Anti trust, collusion, price fixing, no poaching deals—yep, become pals.
- 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
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
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.
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