The Richness of Life

It is sad to read this quote at the end of a story about Pulitzer Prize winning author David Halberstam‘s death today in Menlo Park in an auto accident. Halberstam, who lived in NYC, was 73.

"It’s been a wonderful life," he said. "Actually, when I think about my career I am sometimes stunned. I’m stunned by the richness of it. It gave me all the things I ever wanted. I loved being a reporter."

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My MyBlogLog Community Has How Many Members?

I really have no idea how this happened, at 784 members my MyBlogLog community is the 31st largest on that network. GigaOM is #32… I can’t best Om on pageviews, or quality of writing for that matter, but I do have more mybloglog community members. Woo-hoo! Actually, I’d rather have the page views and the income they generate, but I’ll take a win in whatever form it comes in.

Actually, I suspect the surge in membership is because Scott or someone over there put my community badge on their homepage for quite a while. I got a lot of spam as a result, but I also picked up a bunch of new blogs to read, even though my time for such things is severely constrained these days.

On a serious note, I do like this service alot, so much so that I stripped out the sitemeter code from my site and use this for daily stat monitoring (yes, I can’t help but look). Also, I have found the "recent readers" feature to be kind of addicting.

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Harmony When It’s Delivered

I wrote about Harmony over a year ago… it’s absolutely criminal that something this interesting couldn’t get developed and into customer hands more quickly. Dan has a good post about this innovative product project.

SAP doesn’t yet offer Web 2.0-style social networking capabilities in its solutions that tap into the wisdom of employees, partners and customers, but it has an internal service, called Harmony. Dennis Moore, general manager of emerging systems, called it a "MySpace for the enterprise," speaking at SAP Sapphire in Atlanta.

Too bad Dennis wasn’t talking about this at Sapphire LAST YEAR instead of sitting on it for a full year while the space really lit up. Linkedin is doing something like $15+ million a year in revenue, and growing fast, with their service yet SAP stood around and ignored something that went right to the core of what HR systems are supposed to enable: people development. The big HR systems vendors could own this space if they could see that HR systems are about a lot more than managing transactions and "talent management" systems that average people can’t figure out how to use anyway.

"Harmony features are expected to make their will make their way into the SAP’s Netweaver collaboration portal this year”

And that means what, exactly?

BTW, I did get an invitiation to attend Sapphire as a blogger this year, which was kind of a headtrip to be really honest. I decided not to go because of some travel issues and because I’m just not that motivated to write about SAP at the moment. Need some more time and distance to get my perspective back. Nonetheless, I appreciated the invitation and regret not being able to hang out with my Enterprise Irregulars brethen.

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Defrag Conference

My friend Eric Norlin, with Phil Becker and Brad Feld, is putting on a conference in November called Defrag.

Defrag is the first conference focused solely on the internet-based tools that transform loads of information into layers of knowledge, and accelerate the “aha” moment. Defrag is about the space that lives in between knowledge management, “social” networking, collaboration and business intelligence. Defrag is not a version number. Rather it’s a gathering place for the growing community of implementers, users, builders and thinkers that are working on the next wave of software innovation.

Eric puts on a good conference and Defrag will be well worth the cost of admission. Sign up today.

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Research Studies and SASD (Short Attention Span Syndrome)

This from a recent report about health risks due to wireless technology:

A recent authoritative Finnish study has found that people who have used mobiles for more than ten years are 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side of the head as they hold their handset; Swedish research suggests that the risk is almost four times as great. And further research from Sweden claims that the radiation kills off brain cells, which could lead to today’s younger generation going senile in their forties and fifties.

The real risk is that the media reports these research studies as fact without actually adding additional information on the study criteria and opposing commentary. More significantly, these reports don’t ask the obvious questions, such as "mobile wireless technology has been widely available for 10 years, has there been a marked increase in brain tumor reports?".

Research studies attempt to create a model based on observed conditions that result in statistical data accumulation for the purposes of proving or disproving a hypothesis. It is often the case that in our 15 second soundbite mass media marketplace these research studies are reported as fact and that is an incredible disservice to everyone. Indeed, the reporting of these stories as fact could be a greater risk to the public than the underlying subject itself.

Witness the recent "honey bees are being killed off by wireless signals" story that made the rounds a couple of weeks ago. I did not see a single report on tv news that suggested anything other than it was accepted fact that there was a honey bee pandemic due to wireless device proliferation. Indeed, look at this news story as evidence to make my case:

Radiation from cellphones appears to affect the bees’ homing abilities and disrupt their ability to communicate with each other, according to recent studies. There are other theories (from mites to global warming) for the sudden demise of the bee populations, but the fact remains that up to 90 per cent of the bees in some areas have disappeared.

Up to 90% of bees in some areas have disappeared, so anywhere from 1% to 90% and only in some areas. "Recent studies"? Actually, there was one study done in Germany and it involved putting a 1900 mhz base station with peak power output of 250 mW inside a honey bee hive. Not exactly your average bee setup. More to the point, even the researchers themselves acknowledge that they are not attempting to explain what causes Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honey bees and a quick search of the web turned up authoritative material that suggests that the research study is questionable at best:

Apparently, the peer review group selected for the "International Institute for Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics" (where these papers have been either submitted or published) does not include beekeepers, entomologists, or even intelligent 12-year olds who have read a few books about bees.

To summarize, the press reporting was pure speculation by reporters who neglected to ask even basic questions of the authors of the cited papers, and was based upon "science" that would not even get past the editor of one’s local beekeeper association newsletter.

However, none of this prevented every news story I saw on this from reporting basically the same storyline: 1) honey bees are disappearing, 2) people are at fault, 3) we’re all doomed.

Be(e) skeptical, ask questions, don’t believe most of what you read in the press or view on television.

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Lucky Oliver – Another Nail in Getty’s Coffin

The stock photo business has been under attack from web-based alternatives for some time. Digital Railroad and iStockPhoto have been offering disruptively priced professional stock images for quite a while now, and having a good amount of success doing it.

A newer entrant into this market is Lucky Oliver, which despite having IMO a really bad name does have an interesting approach to their market. You sign up for an account and then buy tokens (10 for $10 to 500 for $415) which you then use to purchase images out of the community with the pricing of the image, as low as $1, being a function of what size the image is delivered in.

By focusing on professional quality images offered at really low prices, compared to alternatives, Lucky Oliver is clearly moving beyond the traditional markets for stock images. My company will use this service for images we need for promotional material and online use, it’s a no-brainer given the depth of the library and the pricing model.

Of course, any marketplace for buyers also requires sellers and here Lucky Oliver also makes available enough incentives for someone to contribute their images. First and foremost, they do have a "velvet rope" that requires some qualifications to get across, so there is a human element that evaluates new contributor images along a spectrum of criteria. Once permitted into the market they do a great job of helping you optimize your listings to maximize returns.

I really like this service on a number of fronts, while the quirky personality they are trying to advance feels a little overdone at times it does differentiate them from the other competitors, but mostly I like the "middle market" focus that they clearly have and the payment system also encourages repeat behavior.

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