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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #196

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person “must see”.

Check out these six links that we’re recommending to one another:

  • Voracious Worm Evolves to Eat Biotech Corn Engineered to Kill It – Wired. “If something doesn’t kill you, as the saying goes, it makes you stronger. That’s sort of how evolution works, so when scientists devised a form of corn that poisoned a common pest, they told farmers to plant normal corn alongside it — so the bugs that survived didn’t build a resistance. Guess what? Like vaccines and global warming, people were happy to enjoy the benefits of the science but less quick to heed its warnings. The rest, you can probably figure out.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Lumo Play – Give It 100. “My friend Meg Athavale, from Winnipeg, is in Silicon Valley for four months as part of Highway1 – a hardware startup accelerator. She wants to take interactivity and projection mapping and turn it into a kid’s toy. Meg’s been at this for a few years now and her time at Highway1 will take her to Taiwan and China to work with manufacturers. It’s a far cry from Winnipeg, where she’s better known for poking fun at the mayor. And, she’s keeping a journal, creating a video log of her experiences every day. Out of the Winnipeg chill, into the Logan’s Run-like fishbowl of San Francisco Maker tech. I suspect it will get interesting fast.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science – The New York Times. “Ever was it thus, I suppose, but billionaires seem to be getting much better at being billionaires faster than governments are getting better at governing, and here’s yet another indication of this direction.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • International Women’s Day 2014: What’s the difference between men and women’s brains? Very little, says neuroscientist – The Independent. “In the nature vs nurture debate, I’ve always been a ‘both’ kind of guy. Certain brains are pre-disposed to certain kinds of development; when exposed at a certain environment, they’ll grow in one way or another. Multiple by several billion times, and repeat over and during a lifetime. But: do girls and boys have different brains, biologically? I’m inclined to think yes-ish. Here’s a recent neurologist saying no-ish.” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • We already live in the age of robots–we just don’t call them that – Quartz. “Does it need arms, legs and a face for us to call it a ‘robot’? Don’t laugh. This is a serious question. For a few years now, I’ve been fascinated with the growth of robots in our society. I’m a huge proponent that while everyone is paying attention to how robots are going to automate our workforce (as in, no more jobs for us, humans), that the real opportunity is in how robots are going to help us augment our work (make us stronger, allow us to focus more on the creativity and strategy, etc…). Well, in the meantime, it seems as though everyone (including journalists) are having a problem defining what a robot is. Is your bank machine a robot? What about the ATM? How about all of those Amazon drones that are coming?” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • A Tale of Two TEDs: Ideas Conference Triumphant on 30th Anniversary – Wired. “My head is spinning. If you could have dinner with ten fascinating people, who would it be? What if you could have dinner with people like Clay Shirky, Barry Schwartz, Nilofer Merchant, Steven Johnson, Scott Belsky, Jane McGonigal, Susan Cain, Amy Cuddy and Baratunde Thurston, would that be cool? I had dinner with those people (and a few others – can’t forget Curt Beckmann and Andrew Blau) on Wednesday night at TED… and that was the free night, the unorganized evening, so Nilofer and I pulled some friends together to hang out. I know… I know… it sounds like I’m name dropping. I apologize. My head is still spinning. It was a week that had me both fired up about the potential of what could be, and drained from the amazing connections, conversations and ideas that have filled a Moleskine. With each and every passing year, I get more and more excited about what the TED conference does for my professional and personal development. This article does a great job of explaining the diversity and some of the issues that TED faces. Ultimately, I feel that the conference is a lightning rod for contention (check out the comments) simply because it has become so popular. Personally, I can’t think of another event (with the exception of Google Zeitgeist) that I look forward to – with each and every passing year – as much as TED.” (Mitch for Hugh).

Now it’s your turn: in the comment section below pick one thing that you saw this week that inspired you and share it.

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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #186

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person “must see”.

Check out these six links that we’re recommending to one another:

  • When tech culture and urbanism collide – Ascent Stage. “This year’s International Startup Festival‘s theme is, The City and the Startup, and we’ve been looking for relevant content. This piece by John Tolva argues that tech companies are bad urbanists, and that the old myth of a company ‘started in a garage’ suggests a suburban bias, even as tech titans live in cities like San Francisco.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World – A Sheep No More. “I’m a visual thinker, so I love maps. And here’s a great resource: forty maps of the world that help you understand a variety of topics. Knowing where Google street view is available tells you a lot about the world’s economies; seeing the only 22 countries that Britain didn’t invade reminds us of how far the empire once reached; and so on.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Darkest Place on the Internet Isn’t Just for Criminals – Wired. “Now that we know that everything we do on the internet is watched by government spies as well as the all-knowing eyes of Google and Amazon, it might be time to start taking privacy seriously.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • A Glimpse Into The Future of NPR, From It’s First-Ever Creative Director – Fast Company. “I’m a bit of a ‘radio’ junkie, or anyway, an ‘audio’ junkie, since I do almost all my listening to podcasts these days (using the Stitcher app, mostly). It turns out that most of the ‘podcasts’ I love are public radio shows from around the world: BBC, Australia Radio National, and NPR. And most of the best stuff these days is coming from National Public Radio, NPR. In the early days of podcasting, NPR really jumped in with two feet. They have continued to build not just an impressive network of ‘radio’ shows, but a lot of stuff tailored to modern, web-connected podcasty listeners: shows like This American Life, RadioLab, On The Media, Bullseye, and 99% Invisible. What’s in store for NPR in the next few years? Read about its new Creative Director, Liz Danzico, and what she’s got in mind for our ears. (As a sad sidenote, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, once a source of much tasty audio, has declined to the point that it is hardly recognizable).” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • How to Build a Productive Tech Economy – The Atlantic. The Atlantic has an amazing online property called, The Atlantic Cities, that focuses on urban centers and the evolving world and the cities that we live in. This article by Richard Florida (who is the author of The Rise Of The Creative Class, along with many others) looks at cities and their real abilities to turn themselves into a technology hub. We often head mayors and other leaders talk about the need for their cities ad states to become ‘the next Silicon Valley.’ Well, Florida has some data and thoughts on what is (and what is not) possible…” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • TED isn’t a recipe for ‘civilisational disaster’ – The Guardian. “There is a very persuasive TEDx talk that is making the rounds titled, New perspectives – what’s wrong with TED talks?, that is also an article in The Guardian titled, We Need To Talk About TED, by Benjamin Bratton. I can understand Bratton (and others) perspective, but I just don’t agree with it. The fact is that I have been going to TED for many years and believe (without sounding all snooty about it), that it’s hard to understand what the event is like until you attend it. I often tell people that the TED Talks (which is what everyone talks about online and watches) account for, probably, five percent of the whole TED experience. It’s easy to sit back, watch an 18-minute talk and wonder what that is going to do to truly change the world or solve some of our very real problems, but I thought that TED’s curator, Chris Anderson, did a great job of trying to explain to the masses what the conference is really about. For my dollar, no other event has inspired me more. From business success to community involvement and more, I learn so much at each event that I can’t imagine having a successful year with TED not being a part of it.” (Mitch for Hugh).

Now it’s your turn: in the comment section below pick one thing that you saw this week that inspired you and share it.

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What To Get The Person Who Has Everything (Without Breaking The Bank)

Do you know who has been naughty and who has been nice?

‘Tis the season to fight for a parking space at your local mall to dealing with unruly people as they battle the aisles to find the perfect gift for those that they love. There are few people who love this part of the holiday season. If you’re grappling with what to get that person who has everything, here are some suggestions that may be a little bit off of the beaten path:

  • Write. Get them a nice notebook (my preference would be a larger hard-covered Moleskine) with some Pilot Precise V5 pens. Let them know that this notebook is meant for inspirations, ideas, thoughts and other starters to help them build a better life. As cool as Evernote is, there’s something about writing down one’s thoughts in a great notebook with some fine ink.
  • Read. There are tons of great new books out there for you to buy (just check out Amazon or your local bookseller), so why not get them something that they probably wouldn’t buy for themselves? A subscription to some magazines. Fast Company, Wired, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Atlantic or even The Paris Review (if they love to write and read). The idea here is to buy them a subscription (or many) to a magazine that they like, but that they would never subscribe to. Plus, they’ll think about you every time a new issue arrives!
  • Mobile. If they use their smartphone all of the time, consider getting them a Mophie Juice Pack or some other kind of additional power pack. Most people complain about how bad the battery life is on their smartphone, but won’t spend the bucks to buy one of these battery rechargers. I’ve enjoyed my Mophie, and it has been there for me when my battery was fleeting. If they already have an additional power pack, buy them a handful of cases for their smartphone. This way they can change up their look whenever they like. I’m also  a big fan of the Belkin docks for iPhones and iPads. These docks are great for keeping by your bed or on your desk. They not only charge your smartphones and tablets but you can replace your traditional clock radio with these.
  • Computer. Whether their main computer is a laptop or a tablet, get them an extra charger (or two). Most of us bring our devices to work or we travel with them, but we only have one power supply. If you buy them a couple of these, they can leave one at home, one at the office and have an extra one to keep in their briefcase for travel. They’ll love you for it. Trust me.
  • Travel. If your loved one travels, get them the ultimate carry-on bag (I stand by my Eagle Creek Tarmac 22), but if that’s too steep of a gift, get them some of Eagle Creek’s amazing Packing Folders and Pack-It Specter Sac Set. If you want to do something really loving, enroll them in either Nexus or Global Entry so that they can breeze through the security and custom lines at airports all over North America.
  • To go. Buy them another backpack for their computer. They can use it on the weekend or to take to the coffee shop instead of having to carry around their day-to-day briefcase (which is usually stuffed with a whole bunch of stuff they don’t need for a quick jaunt on the weekend). Check out the incase line of backpacks or Ogio. The trick here is to keep it light, small and compact. It’s just for running to the cafe with a laptop/tablet, notebook and not much else. Let them know that this is their weekend pack.
  • Give. Most people don’t really need anything. Make a donation in their name to a cause that matters to them. Sometimes the best gift is the gift of helping those who need it more than most of us do. Not being preachy here, but it’s true.

Any other ideas? Feel free to share some of your better/different ideas…

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The Price Of Personalization

What kind of advertising do you want?

It’s a serious question. It’s a question that most consumers don’t ask themselves, but they should. I was invited to speak at Vogue magazine’s leadership conference in New York City the other week. One thing is certain about that magazine: people buy it for the ads as much as they’re buying it for the content. They’re not the only ones. Many people can’t wait to go to the movie theater to see which previews they’re going to show. When an upcoming movie is going to be previewed before certain movies, there are individuals who go to the film just to catch a glimpse of the preview. Personally, I look forward to the monthly editions of Wired and Fast Company in paper format, to not only enjoy the content, but the ads that are a part of it.

Sometimes we forget about the role of advertising.

Advertising doesn’t have to be a nuisance or annoying. The true role of advertising is that it acts as a commercial vehicle of information delivery. The intent of it is to create interest, desire and even action in consumers. Not all consumers. Just the ones that it is aiming to appease to. Sadly, we have spent decades being bombarded with ads everywhere (and not very good ones at that). So, here we are. The day and age when certain types of media outlets can now target and deliver an ad that we, the consumers, might find that much more relevant. We’ve seen it in the nascent stages of behavioral targeting and now in a much more pervasive way with remarketing.

But, there’s a big problem with marketers today.

In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, I delve much deeper into the problem of how marketers have done a terrible job of explaining the difference between privacy and personalization. It has become such a problem, that the pitchforks came out when I suggested that personalization is a good thing in a recent national newspaper article (Financial Post – Bell’s move to track customers’ web history, TV viewing sparks probe by privacy regulator). There are a couple of things that must be better defined for everyone to understand why I (and all marketers) feel so strongly that personalization creates the best win-win scenario:

  1. Private account information must remain private. That highly personal and sensitive information (who you are, where you live, your account information, payment methods, etc…) should never be shared or used without the explicit permission of the account holder.
  2. All other information that is being used to create a more personalized experience must be both anonymous and clearly explained to the account holder.
  3. Permission must be granted by the account holder to have their usage tracked for marketing personalization.
  4. The ability to opt-out – at any time – must also be clear and permitted.

Why we must not confuse privacy with personalization…

I believe this to be an amazing moment in time for brands, advertisers, media companies and yes, the consumer, as well. The more personalized the advertising, the more useful and good the experience will be for the consumer. The more personalized the advertising, the more media companies can charge for ads (hopefully, this means that the quality of ads will improve along with the price of admission). The more personalized the advertising, the more brands will ensure that they’re not wasting their time, money and/or energy on people who are only being annoyed or disrupted by the engagement (that would be an expensive waste). Still, we can’t get over this whole “privacy” thing. It’s too bad. If you ask consumers – over the history of time – what kind of advertising they would prefer, the answer has never changed. In all of the research, you will always see the same answers. They want “relevancy,” “personalization” or ads that, “speak to them.” Well, that time is here, and instead of embracing it, they’re rightfully being scared off because marketers have done a terrible job in the past of both protecting their privacy and rights, and clearly explaining that we can now personalize and optimize their experience without breaching any real privacy issues that can uniquely attribute their usage to anything but the usage.

It’s too bad.

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Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #139

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #138

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #112

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Content

What’s your endgame?

You won’t be surprised to know that so few brands actually have an answer to that one, specific, question. Without an answer to that question, you wind up getting the type of branded content that we’re all being inundated with, da…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #100

93Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandw…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #88

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #86

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…

Thinking Smarter

I’ve been thinking a lot about thinking lately.

I know, that’s very "meta" of me. When was the last time you spent five minute thinking about not only how you learn, but where it’s all taking place? People often laugh when they hear that I a…

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #74

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…