Friday, November 09, 2012

"Inappropriate message text." by Apple

Since leaving IBM, I have become a fan of Apple computers.  It started as a way for me to expand by understanding of what the other side saw in the renewed Apple systems in 2001; And I liked it very much.  Then I realized that my PC-based friends and family members kept on calling for support about the ever-growing attacks on their PC.  All I could do to reduce the deluge, of unpaid support requests, was to recommend that they buy a Mac.  And they did... and they stopped calling.  Joy of joy, not only had I made the jump, but I convinced more than 20 people to do the same.  All are still friends today, and never blamed or cursed my recommendation.

With comfort comes the price of surrendering to a higher entity that is supposed to ensure that you remain happy.  Although still very happy with my latest MacBook pro with SSD and Retina display, I am noticing that Apple is getting increasingly sloppy and automated.  Ok we know that the Apple store employees are trained to deflect issues and criticism.  A form of mind control that is easy to see through, as long as the technology works as intended.  But when the system is failing to give me satisfaction, then I am less amused because no one, and I mean no one, can help.   Last night I wanted to engrave a Smart Case for my new iPad 4th Generation and when I entered "A posse ad esse" My engraving was rejected.   I discovered, through process of elimination that the latin word "esse" was not appropriate according to Apple's censorship algorithm.  Ironic since the sentence is latin for "From possibility to reality".  So I called the 24/7 support line to only find out the the Apple employee had ZERO authority in placing the order for me as he was also confronted by the same limitation.  As any Apple employee faced with an unsatisfied customer, he repeated what he saw on the screen, apologized and hung-up.  The problem is that my little issue is insignificant, but I have encountered similar reactions to more important and technical issues.

I do not wish to go back to Windows and the PC world.  But my view of Apple is rapidly diminishing, and I can see the day where an emerging alternative capable of allowing media and applications to migrate could create the fall of the Apple from the tree. Ouch, my head!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Coaching the International School of Boston's Fencing Varsity Team

(30 years later and still at it!)

Here is a little blurb about an activity I hold dear to my heart: fencing.

I have accepted the honor to coach the International School of Boston/Le LycĂ©e International de Boston, despite my crazy travel schedule.  The tournament season is short but exiting as it will be the first year, after the creation of the School's fencing club ten years ago, that the school will be competing with other New England private schools.

Competitive fencing requires new skills and dedication.  Self-discipline, strategy, athleticism, a strong emotional composition, and respect for oneself and others are core elements in the sport of fencing, and are elevated in competitive varsity fencing.  The fencing varsity team has to meet higher expectations, and thankfully they have been taught by Rob Hupp that fencing is a sport that is best practiced with self-awareness and fair play at a time when too many sports are focused on winning at all costs.

Our fencers’ education is the fair and noble practice of the sport that provides them with an unpaired advantage and path to becoming formidable fencers.  I intend to leverage this strong foundation and guide them physically and spiritually towards becoming competitive, accomplished athletes through both defeats and victory.

Competitive training includes training the mind.  Many of the fencers have heard me say that fencing is like playing chess with your body.  I will spend a significant amount of time on the development of strategic thinking, observation and mind-body coordination.  It is all about control.

I hope that this unusual blog post reveals a longterm commitment that has been formative.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Why I think Twitter is not making its advertisement quota.

Initially Twitter created an unprecedented platform to capture people’s expression through the primal desire for humans to be popular with no clear monetization model.  Twitter has since evolved into a universal communication arena trying to capitalize on its asset through advertisement.  In 2011, Twitter failed to meet its revenue objective despite becoming as well known and used as Google or Facebook.  The comparative discrepancy in revenue can be attributed to the fact that Twitter users, those susceptible to click on an ad, are all about pushing information; not consuming it.  And the vast majority of Twitter queries are from users seeking to monitor the impact of their own communication campaigns, not consuming ad.  The Achilles’ heel of Tweather, with respect to relevant on-line advertisement, is its weakness in making information consumption interesting and engaging to its users.  I believe that Tweather offers such a solution.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The future, as instructed by Zuckerberg during TechCrunch Disrupt

I had the privilege to be at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco when Mark Zuckerberg had is first public interview since the IPO.  At first I was wavering if I should go see him, given the damaging IPO and the history we all have come to accept as defining his character.  The brush with fame took over and I decided after all to see the men in the flesh answer questions that were obviously predictable.  He was very upbeat, positive and exemplified how in America we learn from our mistakes and step-up to the plate.  In all fairness I think that he did what was expected of him to improve confidence.  A few things though captured my attention.  His criticism of HTML5 as a sub-standard option for the mobile applications was not a surprise, but his focus on mobile as the end-all of the future of consumer computing left me perplexed.  I, for one, do not believe that the future is the mobile phone as the terminal of user interaction.  

When Zuckerberg focuses on this vision, in my opinion, he actually mirrors the criticism regarding the failure for Facebook to have capitalized from advertisement on the mobile platforms.  This is when the CEO looses his vision, he simply invested his strategy on the short term expectation to monetize of the fact that many people use the mobile device to communicate.  I, on the other hand, have a very different vision about the future of the mobile phone and how people will interact with information.  Let’s say that I believe that the phone will be a information wallet capable of interfacing with pervasive touch screens equipped with human interface exchange features accessing our personal and community information.  But I digress.  

One big disappointment, although expected, was that he left after his last question and did not take any questions from the audience.  This was perhaps a good decision from the  board of director, but I am not so sure that it worked out for Mark who was starting to have the audience warm-up to him!

What was fascinating to me is that after Zukerberg’s interview, every one was asking about HTML5 and mobile native applications.  It immediately became the single focus of every conversation surrounding any, and I mean any, site and application shown at TechCrunch.  It was amazing to observe the power a a few words and, how they could set an “important” expectation from investors, and force the retooling of product development teams.  

Overall it was interesting to hear him and see the impact of his claims and strategy on the attendees when left.  Fame definitely is a great influencer, especially when you have an agenda to execute. My takeaway is that innovation was clearly not in what he was communicating.  Basically it kept all the issues, other than how can Facebook make more money, open and on the table for grab! 

 (My screen showing the tweather report during the event as Zuckerberg was making his way to the stage) 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Timely Reporting from Tweets

In an on-going effort to further illustrate Darwin's Temporal Organic Correlation power, I would like to draw your attention to's ability to play the movie of tweets on any given topic.   In fact I just observed that the CBS's tweets, as a source of people's reaction to current events, was not as effective as showing in a timely manner a significant natural disaster occurrence.  It actually demonstrates that if you have an interest in a given topic, tweather reports will reveal information a lot faster than if you wait to observe how people respond (tweet) to the formal media.  

The event in question relates to the earthquake that just provoked a tsunami alert in Costa Rica.  I included the screen shots since the and tweather reports constantly update themselves with current information.  You will notice that tsunami event took almost one hour to be picked-up by the CBS followers.

I invite you to go to to see what is trending without the pain of being overwhelmed with endless tweet streams, and create your own tweather report.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Using to measure the media audiences

Tweather reveals the emerging headlines from Twitter's streaming content.   Tweather is all about the movement of what is happening across tweets by revealing their relevance, bringing discovery and awareness through Tweather Reports.

So tonight I was playing with Tweather and looked at the different news media tweather reports:

What I discovered is that, not the news media themselves but, the people who follow them display different interests and demographics through their tweets.  CNN followers were the most varied and they focused on the Iran and the New Orleans storm, whereas the NY Times was clearly political, and Fox News also on politics with a single focus on Juan Julians.  I looked at all of these for the time frame from midnight to 1am on August 29, 2012.

This was a use-case I did not anticipate.

PS: Tweather will be at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 as a sponsor exhibitor. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leaving the custodian of everyones' everything: Facebook

As a supporter, creator, and early adopter of social network tools, I find it particularly difficult to unplug myself permanently from Facebook.  The problem is not with the concept itself, but rather with the growing risk to my family, personal security and privacy.  I have decided to maintain my LinkedIn and Twitter as they are easier to manage and far less revealing.  Nonetheless, I think that it is a matter of time before they too also present a risk.  I figure that as long as I do not share lifestyle, time and location-specific information, that they at least offer a relatively safe form of connection to my professional networks.
I have always been concerned with the approach taken by social network solution to use a centralized information management and storage system.  Alternatives exist and I have been working on an architecture for over 14 years that that might take down the current model whilst allowing people to maintain their beloved social network activities.
This time the tipping-point came for me from an article that I read about a Dell Tycoon who spends $2.7million on security when his daughter offers their privacy away on Twitter.  The drop of water short-circuiting mainframe.   Furthermore, household insurance companies are now starting to include disclaimers when to "social network" your whereabouts.  These are the precursors of today's social networks' architecture downfall.
I have canceled my Facebook account 3 times, and this one is for good until content, privacy and security are within the control of the user and not the custodian of everyones' everything.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Why do people tweet more about the Olympics than read tweets?

Well first, and strangely enough, it is easier to create a tweet or RT than find or read tweets.

I don't know if you have noticed that those searching for tweets are usually companies or individual more interested about their own impact than actual people seeking to be informed on Twitter.  It is all about the "what are they saying about me or my brand?"

My work about making sense of information overload, collaboration systems, and social networking operates from the premiss that value can be found in seeking and discovery useful information that is often unstructured.

The recent overwhelming influx of Olympics tweets, and how they are being used, has revealed many issues beyond brand protectionisms.  One issue can be best expressed as "How do I make sense of all these Olympics tweets streaming and crashing my TweetDeck? And do I really get the gist of what is emerging by reading and sorting through them?".

I think that if people thought that tweets did not need to be found, but instead needed to be processed to deliver a more and consolidated expression of what is emerging, that people would seek discovery from tweets instead of depending on their connections' interests to reduce the noise, (an issue that I address in one of my prior blogs).

A company called Tweather LLC has incorporated Darwin's core engine into its temporal representation of Tweets.  They just released two days ago a site dedicated to the Olympics.  The result is fascinating in that they are able to show the movement of real-time trends using animation to help people see what is happening before looking at the actual tweets.

I invite you to take a look and leave me comments about it.  Remember that it is a prototype and that features will appears as they improve the site.  But for now it does the job and I use it to follow the trends of the USA team athletes.  Share it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg asking students to perform click fraud at Harvard Business School

I can't believe the stupidity and ignorance of Facebook executives.  Do you remember when click-fraud was a BIG issue for on-line advertisers?  Basically advertisers complaining about sites' owners clicking on ads to increase their revenue from Google's ad-sense.
Basically Sheryl Sandberg is asking Facebook users to do just that.  Just read this article about what she said  Do they even understand the industry they are in? The level of incompetence, arrogance, gross over-valuation, and alledged intellectual property theft is simply shocking.  If I was advertising with Facebook, I would ask for a refund on clicks simply because the clicks may have been driven by a pathetic plea from Facebook to generate unworthy revenue.  I want my prospects to genuinely click on an ad, not being asked to do it to save a company that is clearly incompetent. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A story about my Plantronics Bluetooth headset

The miracle headset
I am not one to promote products (although I do love gadgets), but this time I felt that I needed to share this story about my faithful Bluetooth headset by Plantronics.

It started over two years ago when I lost my headset and a good friend of mine (Charlie) had the same kind but did not like the silicon in-ear support.  So he gave it to me as a replacement.  

Since then I have been using it and never lost it.  About 6 months ago my wife told me that my headset made it through the wash and dryer.  To my surprise is actually worked without any issue.  I was impressed and attributed the save to the fact that the battery might have been dead and that the dryer did the rest.  

Well two days ago was a different story.  I did the wash, and sure enough, I left my headset in my workout shorts.  Now this time it was charged and on.   I noticed it out of the wash and tested the on button when it was still wet.  Nothing!  I finally felt that the laws of physics got the best of this resilient device.  In a desperate and last attempt to resuscitate, I decide to plug it in the charger...nothing... what could go wrong at this stage anyway?  I felt like a cat trying to revive a dead mouse in hope that I could get a last "byte" out of it.  To my surprise, the next morning it was fully charged, and I have been using it without any issues for the last 24 hours.

Luck or impressive engineering?  I will try to avoid the charming third time.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Google Alerts & the Speed of Sound

A few years ago I created the Darwin Awareness Engine to overcome information overload when trying to remain aware about what is going on, but more importantly I wanted to avoid reading content that did not offer value unless it was indicative of something emerging, new or unexpected.   At the time I used RRS feeds and Google Alerts in an effort to stay on top of topics that mattered to me.  I also wanted the information to be fresh, (unlike Google search that is the victim of SEO popularity gangster and old information that is useful but not necessarily timely).

Short of spending an enormous amount of time blog-hopping and searching, using very precise and advanced queries, my options to discovering the unexpected and recent content remained very limited.  Google Alerts appeared to be the only accessible option to entering a topic.   But here is the problem.  Google Alerts are NOT ALERTS.

An Alert is supposed to be heard when something is happening.  That means NOW, not days after.  I did not realized that the internet was limited by conventional laws of physics "Capt'n".  Apparently even a warp-drive could help here.

Now lets' have fun with a concrete example:
  • The speed of sound is approximately one mile in five seconds (768 mph in dry air at temperature of 68 °F)
  • I received my alert on "Awareness Engine" on March 11, 2012 at 9:57am
  • The blog entry it referenced was created on March 7, 2012 at 9:21am
  • It took 4 days, 0 hours, 36 minutes for Google to send me this alert
If this post was read in Boston, the speed of sound would have carried the message around the earth  for 73,728 miles.  That is 3 times the earth circumference before Google Alert discovered it.  So now I have to find a sub-speed-of-sound means of transportation to get this blog to Google for its alert to find it.  What can travel from Boston, MA to Mountain View, CA in 96 hours?  Here are the options:
  • Greyhound 39 mph (A little tho fast for Google Alerts)
  • Whippet 35 mph
  • Jackal 35 mph
  • Mule deer 35 mph
  • Rabbit (domestic) 35 mph
  • Hawkmoth — 33 miles per hour (This is the ideal candidate!) 
  • Giraffe 32 mph 
  • Reindeer 32 mph

Considering this outcome of this highly scientific test, the Hawkmoth appears to be the preferred mode of information transmittal method for Google Alerts!

No wonder why Google is now tapping into social networks to overcome its limitation around real-time search and alerts (read my other blog post for more on this topic).

In contrast, Darwin Ecosystem's customers start by giving us a list of RRS feeds and Google alerts that they use to track what matters to them (80% ends up in the trash can).  No surprise here, and we shared the same pain of wasting time and not being informed in time.  Even worse, not knowing what they don't know, but should know.

Here is where the Darwin Awareness Engine differs.  We dedicate an Awareness Edition to the topic(s) of interest and we let the system fetch information as it happens on the Web through queried RSS search feeds that are exempted of SEO and popularity ranking.  This means that you get the blogs, news and other Web 2.0 content as it is being posted and relates to your topic(s).  Additionally, the Darwin Awareness Engine, offers a REAL alert that not only alerts you when new information comes in, but an alert that is also capable of distinguishing a change in the context since the last time you consulted the system.  Yes, the Darwin Awareness Engine gives you alerts about emerging themes and does not bother you when the same old, same old keeps showing-up.

Friday, March 02, 2012

How the New Social and Highly Targeted Search Results is Limiting Awareness

So you think that page ranking is not good enough?  “Ok” said Google. “Let’s make the information your social network promotes be the new way of search.”  In some circles this is seen as brilliant.  Now you can search and see the world according to those who share similar views and interests.  What?... let me repeat (because this is what is really going on); “Now you can search and see the world according to those who share similar views and interests”.  If you feel comfortable with this, then you are right; it is comfortable.  And this is why it is WRONG!  Can you imagine that the World Wide Web is now becoming YOUR echo chamber.  You and your friends are now singing the same song.  How incestuous is that? Very.  As a matter of fact it is now easier than ever to know what you like, but even more dangerously, keeping you liking what they know you like.  This is a mega marketing machine’s dream come-true.  

The more you consume information that comes from your closed-in social network, the more predictable you are and the less likely you are to be aware of what is happening outside your closed community.  This form of isolation gives you a false sense of safety in numbers, and it is the key recipe for stagnation and loss of discovery.  This means that you are very unlikely going to be aware of new trends outside your own little world.  These are the very same trends and serendipitous discoveries that allows us to innovate and grow.

If you wonder why Google needs +1 so bad, there is an answer:
  1. To overcome their weakening page ranking algorithm because SEO services are constantly preventing the organic elevation of content through self-promotion
  2.  To overcome their inability to improve their search ranking algorithm when newly-created and relevant Web 2.0 content is prevented from being elevated
  3. To seek crowd-based relevance and predictability to improve the targeted ad placement business mode
  4. To compete with a non-search engine company that knows more than Google does about its users; Facebook.

This is simply indicative that Google is now so big that it has barely grown beyond its Web 1.0 algorithm, and it is now pairing its service with social networks to improve relevance for advertisement placement (their core business).  The price Google pays for this, or will pay, is not insignificant.  With this approach, Google has managed to diminish the reach and the initial value of their search engine at a time when more diverse and time-critical information is available on the Web.  

It is difficult to predict if the move to social-network driven search will become the new reality of discovery.  Some might say that it is the new reality considering the amount of time spent on Facebook or Twitter.  Then what about awareness?  Where does one turn to know what they don’t know, and gain awareness beyond the boundaries of social networks and the growing limitations of search?  I think that this is the fundamental question that has inspired me to create Darwin Ecosystem.  I also think that this will encourage others to explore ways to improve a form of awareness that leads to discoveries, innovation and the simple pleasure that comes with learning new things.

(I hope that Woody Allen does not mind me using this image from Sleeper.  I think that it is pretty representative of what Google think our on-line communities are like. - find Google on the picture.)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Darwin's position and distinction regarding Latent Dirichlet Allocation.

I am posting on my blog (and not because it is too technical to post on our business-driven site.

An aquintance with expertise in Knowledge Management asked me about how Darwin compares to DLA. I felt that the question was important enough to share part of my answer with my followers. I believe that it brings a deeper perspective about my thinking regarding Darwin's organic temporal curation as way to push the inference of meaning to the user.

Here is part of my explanation to the LDA question:

"DLA and it is quite different from our model. We use Organic Temporal Correlation complemented by a visualization model that facilitates the detection of patterns to obtain rapid cognitive inference of meaning from the user. Basically, we make it easy to observe and qualify patterns and we do not use any semantic analysis. Hence, the reference to revealing order from the chaotic system that is the Web in our case. DLA is different from that it uses probability density function and that Dirichlet distributions are mostly used as pre-distributions in Bayesian inference. It makes it somewhat similar to probabilistic latent semantic analysis except that the Dirichlet distribution is a prerequisite in DLA. The advantage is that as a generative model, it offers a capability for modeling data or a process for constructing a conditional probability de nsity function. Although we do not have an immediate need for DLA, I can anticipate that we will eventually incorporate it to achieve the latter.

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