Oh dear. The applicancization of the PC.

Jonathan Zittrain holds the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University and is a principal of the Oxford Internet Institute. He is also the Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Visiting Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, where he co-founded Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society in 1996. With students, he began Chilling Effects, a web site that tracks and archives legal threats made to Internet content producers….

I’ve read many of his academic papers, and I’ve ordered his new book,  the Future of the Internet and how to stop it. People will be reading him 200 years hence. His paper on the Generative Internet  should be compulsory reading for anyone studying the internet or working in technology industry.

Jonathan, please tell me you are using the word applicancization for a bet.



It is a word only in the sense that this is a wheel. (thanks Bepster)

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HR, Baseball, Cricket and statistical deviation.


(photo from the cc flickrstream of diongillard. thanks)

If I was to live in America, I would become a baseball fan. I grew up with cricket, so despite my current German domicile,  I’m a cricket fan.  In many ways the games are different, but both games are bound by the common thread of bat and ball.  Also, both games rely on extensive use of numbers and stats to provide both real time and historical data.

If one mentioned that England were 34/5 , it would enable me ( or any cricket fan)  to make a precise judgement about the state of the game.  Several hours of play summarised with 2 numbers.  From this one can make some deductions about the wicket, the bowling and the brittle state of the English batting line up.

It is this clever use of numbers to create an immediate summary of the game that makes it easy to follow a cricket game while getting on with the rest of your day.  2 seconds on cricinfo brings me up to speed.  A test match can last 5 days,  but cricket, allows and encourages one to get on with other things while at the same time feeling part of the action.  Cricket is the master of continuous partial attention, long before the phrase was invented.

As junior schoolboys someone would sneak a radio into class hide it in his desk, and then pass around a scrap of paper with the score on when anything happened.  I think the teacher knew what was going on, but as long as play was relatively slow, he didn’t seem to mind.

I suppose the modern equivalent of that is the cricinfo applet running on my toolbar, and DRM permitting, the tones of Aggersm Boycott and Blofeld on TMS.

I really enjoyed reading Andrew McAfee’s post on baseball statistics and IT competitiveness. Even if you aren’t a baseball fan read it.

Full House is a true geek’s book. It combines paleontology, evolution, and baseball statistics to advance an elegant argument: that we humans have a counterproductive tendency to focus on averages and trends over time, rather than on variation around the average. For Gould, variation is where the action is.

Image a world where HR people were able to derive as much value and pleasure out  of  analytics as cricket and baseball fans do.  At the moment most HR  departments can’t even really  keep score. 

55 grammes, 11 bar and software design.

Sometimes design and engineering are about big and complex stuff. Suspension bridges, common rail diesel engines and polish payroll.

Sometimes design and engineering are about stripping things down to the barest minimum, with focus on a single purpose.

Like my new emergency bike pump.


It weighs 55 grammes but produces enough pressure to pump a tyre up to 11 bar.  It is made of carbon fibre. My hope is that I never have to use it.

I also have a big heavy floor pump, which I use several times a week.

In theory, they both do the same thing. But they couldn’t be more different.

When designers and developers  sit down to think about enterprise software, they  need to go deeper than just what the software is supposed to do. Not only do you need to get into the mind of the user, but you need to get into the mind of the user in the specific context in which they will use your solution.

Too often with enterprise software we end up lugging floor pumps up the hill.

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A little bit of Italy this weekend


As part of my training for the 8 day adventure later in the summer, I’m heading down to Italy for a ride this weekend, called the Gran Fondo Pinarello. It is also a chance to catch up with a good friend, Mark, and get to see a bit of Italy I’ve not visited.

Pinarello is a bicycle maker, steeped in tradition, but still very innovative. The Italian cycling industry deserves serious study by the innovation theory gurus. Despite increasing global competition, and several fundamental shifts in core materials, it continues to thrive and innovate within the very restrictive constraints of the UCI racing bicycle rules.  I bet the supply chain stuff is interesting too.

I think Gran Fondo is Italian for you idiot, why didn’t you register for the shorter version?

I’ve not done as much training as I hoped, as work has been busy. I’ve just wrapped up the HCM software hype cycle., with a lots of help from Jim. Here’s hoping that my legs emerge out of the trough of disillusionment that I reckon will hit at about 150kms. That last hill looks nasty.  It has a really long name. Presa XIV del Montello.

Treviso is a beautiful town.


Thanks to the flickrstream of Simone.

It isn’t that far from Venice, but alas not as flat. It is also a wine region, famous for prosecco and the  Radicchio Rosso di Treviso


(from Jerry Cherfas’ flickrstream)

I’ll report back with details on my return.

generation y and powerpoint fonts

I’m on the train to Paris at the moment, trundling along  at  320 km/h in a magical chunk of German-French engineering, the ICE. I’m connected to the web via bluetooth to my Nokia N95, luckily there is also a power socket in the train. I’m doing a mix of work and vaguely work related feed browsing, well more browsing than working…

Why would anyone want to fly to Paris and deal with airport security theatre?  Anyway, enough about rail travel.

Via the prodigious feedtorrent that is Steve Rubel, I came across this very clever presentation from Sacha Chua, who now works at IBM.

This made my morning.

I’m doing some work about the impact of web 2.0, Generation Y etc on recruiting processes and practice, so next time some one asks me about generation Y and the workplace, I think I’ll just point them to the Sacha here. Read her post on onboarding, for instance.

For those of you interested how she’s made the slides…

Thanks Sacha, subscribed.

The Alps and Zimbabwe

A couple of years ago Sig, Dean and I rode up Mont Ventoux in France. It was great fun, and we also raised some money for a noble cause, Warchild. Our friends from around the world were remarkably generous, donating  a tidy sum.

Photo from the fantastic cycling blog of Will Davies. flickr stream here.

This year,in August, I’m being even more of an idiot.  I’m doing  a week long Alpine ride with a bunch of cycling mates, all of whom are leaner and meaner than me.  This time the money will go to the Zimbabwe Benefit Foundation. It is a very reputable charity, and has Desmond Tutu as its patron.

Violent and sustained attacks against civilian voters in Zimbabwe are leaving behind hundreds of mutilated and injured men, women and children. Many of them have also had their homes burned and their possessions destroyed. ZBF has launched an emergency response to support victims with medical supplies, blankets, food packs and basic building materials throughout the country. We appeal for your help now.

I discovered the charity via the Sokwanele blog, which provides brilliant but harrowing coverage of  the goings on in Zimbabwe.

The donations page over on the justgiving.com site, here. It would be great if you could head on over there with your credit card handy.


Here’s hoping that by the time I’m back from the Alps, Bob is no longer in charge.

I’ll post a cyclogeek post soon, with the route, altitudes and so on.