Quote to Note: Enterprise Search As a Black Hole

October 19, 2016

Here’s a quote to note from “Slack CEO Describes Holy Grail of Virtual Assistants.” Slack seeks to create smart software capable of correlating information from enterprise applications. Good idea. The write up says:

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has an audacious goal: Turning his messaging and collaboration platform into an uber virtual assistant capable of searching every enterprise application to deliver employees pertinent information.

Got it. Employees cannot locate information needed for their job. Let me sidestep the issue of hiring people incapable of locating information in the first place.

Here’s the quote I noted:

And if Slack succeeds, it could seal the timeless black hole of wasted productivity enterprise search and other tools have failed to close.

I love the “timeless black hole of wasted productivity of enterprise search.” Great stuff, particularly because outfits like Wolters Kluwer continue to oscillate between proprietary search investments like Qwant.com and open source solutions like Lucene/Solr.

Do organizations create these black holes or is software to blame? Information is a slippery fish, which often find “timeless black holes” inhospitable.

Stephen E Arnold, October 19, 2016

Quote to Note: Big Data Governance

August 10, 2016

I read an interview with a wizard from Talend, which I did not know had French roots. The write up is “Interview: Christophe Toum, Talend on Why Big Data Needs Big Governance.” I noted two passages which I found refreshing.

The first address the unpleasant topic of being organized. The code word for this all-too-human characteristic is “governance.” I highlighted this passage:

At Talend we believe Big Data without governance will quickly become a big problem…Big Data needs even more governance.

My view is that more of an annoying administrative, human subject matter intensive investment required, the less governance will be applied. Just a thought based on my experience.

The second comment elicited one exclamation report from my subdued pale blue highlighter:

Controlling who can access and use this data, what data is verified and trusted, by whom and how, is a big deal.

No kidding.

Stephen E Arnold, August 10, 2016

Quote to Note: One Computer Error Can Lead to a Plan. A Plan?

August 8, 2016

I read “Delta’s Massive Computer Outage Is Part of a Much Bigger Problem.” This is an authoritative write up. The newspaper publishing this insight is owned by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and possibly the world’s smartest man. Here’s the quote I highlighted in hot pink:

Computers and automated systems have increased the efficiency and productivity of businesses in ways that were unimaginable a century, or even decades ago. But whether because of cyber attacks or just plain computer errors, the inter-connectivity built into almost all aspects of our lives means that one problem can quickly cascade into a catastrophe. So companies need to have a plan in place for when something goes wrong.

Yes, a plan. Anyone remember Tandem computers? Next time Amazon goes Wiley Coyote, I will contemplate this parental suggestion.

Stephen E Arnold, August 8, 2016

Quotes to Note: The Thiel-Hulk Matter

May 26, 2016

The downsizing New York Times is channeling the Gawker thing. I read “Tech Billionaire in a Secret War with Gawker.” [Note: You may or may not be able to view this. Speak to the Gray Lady, not me.] The billionaire is Peter Thiel, a founder of PayPal and a number of other high profile and wildly successful companies. He is, I learned, a member of the PayPal mafia. Who knew?


I was not sure what a “demigod” was. I turned to Google. The first hit is this illustration apparently from a video game. Who knew?

I am not interested in the news story about a person who wants to fight for truth, justice, and the Silicon Valley way. I am not sure who Hulk Hogan is. That’s okay. The write up contained some quotes to note. I don’t want to lose track of these. I might want to spice up a report or a lecture with these allegedly accurate statements made by a powerful, rich wizard. Here you go:

  1. The story is not a story. It is a “bizarre and astounding back story.” [The New York Times] I once read similar headlines in the IGA store waiting for a human to check out my toothpaste and sparkling water purchases. Who published stories with these words? I think it was the National Enquirer.
  2. “I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations.”—Peter Thiel
  3. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” is the Founders Fund tag line.—The New York Times quoting a Web site.

Great stuff. I wonder how Palantir Technologies, a company founded by Mr. Thiel, who is characterized as having “demigod status”, about the leaks to Buzzfeed. Should that reporter be concerned about legal action? I hope not.

Stephen E Arnold, May 26, 2016

Google Chestnuts: Page as Shakespeare

February 3, 2016

I read “20 Inspirational Larry Page Quotes.” I need to be inspired. A company based on GoTo/Overture “inspiration” is equipped to offer guidance and maybe hope.

Alphabet, the new name for Google which still exists, embraces Loon balloons, the challenge of “solving death,” and the UK tax dust up. Each of these is, in its own way, inspirational.

Here are three quotes which soon may appear on AllPosters.com motivational posters store front.

On Alphabet Google’s work (which includes selling ads): “I do think there is an important artistic component in what we do. As a technology company I’ve tried to really stress that.”

On anti trust and collusion among competitors regulations: ““Big companies have always needed and cooperated in areas where it made sense.”

On corporate governance and management oversight: “We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.”

Words to live by.

Stephen E Arnold, February 3, 2016

Quote to Note: Smart Software

December 26, 2015

I read “Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen on Technology in 2016.” The write up recycles the Google ideas which will keep the firm’s revenues pumping along. Tucked into the rah rah for smart software was a quote I circled as particularly interesting. Keep in mind that the statement comes from a firm in the online advertising business with some wild and crazy ideas tossed into its mix of products and services. Here’s the statement:

Those who design AI should establish best practices to avoid undesirable outcomes.

Two questions crossed my mind: What’s “undesirable” and what’s “outcomes”? With folks driving into Google cars and the somewhat interesting “solve death” activities, the comments about the future are interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, December 26, 2015

Quote to Note: Axil Springer

December 25, 2015

I read “A Giant in Print Reboots.” (If the link does not resolve, snag a copy of the dead tree edition of the New York Times for December 21, 2015. Navigate to page B 1.) Like other “print publishers embrace the digital revolution” articles, the “giant” Axil Springer is really going to go a new direction. I noted this morning that about 25 years ago, the consumerist Internet began.

Axil Springer owns a chunk of the Web search engine which keeps a senior Alphabet Google executive awake at night. You know this search system, don’t you, gentle reader? You use Qwant.com everyday, don’t you?

Tucked in the article is a quote to note. I circled:

I would not exclude that in 10 years’ time our company could be 100 percent digital in terms of revenue and 80 or even 90 percent international.–Mathias Döpfner, Axel Springer CEO

Pushing out the transformation to 2026 lines up with the time horizons on which some print publishers operate. My view is that a decade is a long time in today’s somewhat volatile business environment.

Stephen E Arnold, December 25, 2015

Quote to Note: Wolfram on Artificial Intelligence

November 28, 2015

There’s a long interview with Stephen Wolfram in “Interview with Stephen Wolfram on AI and the Future,” which I found when pruning my archives. Here’s one of the quotes I noted:

Recently, computers, and GPUs, and all that kind of thing became fast enough that, really—there are a bunch of engineering tricks that have been invented, and they’re very clever, and very nice, and very impressive, but fundamentally, the approach is 50 years old, of being able to just take one of these neural network–like systems, and just show it a whole bunch of examples and have it gradually learn distinctions between examples, and get to the point where it can, for example, recognize different kinds of objects and images.

Hmm. Half a century. Progress comes from faster chips and clever implementations of well known methods. Interesting.

Enterprise search is also old. Improvements have been slow and seem to be lagging behind other fields. Is it the vendors or is the nature of the problem? The self appointed experts, failed webmasters, and former middle school teachers now working as taxonomy experts are pitching governance, semantics, and assorted packets of artificial butter.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2015

Quote to Note: Axil Springer on Planning

November 5, 2015

Here’s a delicious statement attributed to Mathias Doepfner, an Axil Springer big gun. For context, remember that Axil Springer bought the Financial Times for something north of $1.3 billion. Now the quote:

“A takeover of this size … is neither planned nor foreseeable.”

Maybe an impulse buy like Google’s purchase of Motorola? I assume that Volkswagen did not plan or foresee the consequences of its emission control software behavior. German management approaches certain decisions in an interesting way: Neither planned nor foreseeable.

Stephen E Arnold, November 5, 2015

Algorithmic Transparency: Are You Concerned Too?

October 24, 2015

I read “FTC Chair Edith Ramirez Outlines Concerns about Big Data.” The write up contained a stunning quote to note; to wit:

The agency is concerned about “algorithmic transparency,” she said, and how “algorithms can be manipulated.”

Wong asked about connected health devices. “We are very concerned about this,” Ramirez said, adding: There is this flow of health information that is happening outside of the regulatory space. We want to make sure that very sensitive information is being protected.

Interesting. Will vendors reveal what their numerical recipes are doing? A better question: If the vendors revealed their algorithms, would most people know what the algorithms were doing? Asking for transparency and understanding are, in my opinion, two different activities.

Stephen E Arnold, October 24, 2015

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