ad Silicon Tails: March 2008

Monday, March 31, 2008

A bit of IT history

Back when I was in College, the book "Understanding Computers and Cognition" by Fernando Flores and Terry Winograd was one of the most important books I read. In fact it may be one of the most important books on the development and uses of information technology in the past 30 years, in that it helped re-shape the thinking and the discourse around IT and it's optimal use in organizations and society as a whole.

So I was interested to read this story on Mr. Flores' part in early experiments on how to use IT to help run production in a quasi-socialist system in Chile under Salvador Allende. Mr. Flores was both economy and finance minister in the Allende government and left for California after spending three years in Pinochet's concentration camps, received his Ph.D in philosophy and in 1987 co-wrote the above mentioned book. But back in 1971 Fernando Flores was 28-year-old government technocrat, who foresaw how IT and cybernetic concepts could help manage work-flows. I wonder how his thinking changed incrementally between 1971 and 1987, the story doesn't go into that level of detail, but obviously there is a stretch between cybernetics a la '71 and hermeneutics a la '87. NYT story here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The future of Web 2.0: Cool is out; utility is in

Forester research analyst, Charlene Li, is right on here: Time to focus less on "cool" and more on bringing real utility to people with Web 2.0 apps.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Google's chef discovers/invents Pi

Google's PR department is by far the best I have ever seen in action. They make drooling Google admirers out of hard-core business reporters and they somehow manage to make connections between the Google brand and any positively perceived idea, process or attribute known to the public, such as this recent story on innovation (it appeared in Fast Company but was obviously written by Google PR - the magazine just forgot to disclose it). But the latest proof of the Google PR genius is evident in this comment related to a post about the nerdiest day of all - Pi day (3/14):

"Google not only served organic pie today but the pies were custom-made so that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter was exactly pi. Bon apetit."

I thought pi was defined as the ratio of......oh never mind.........although if anyone were to convince us all that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is anything but Pi (at least in Euclidean geometry), it would have to be Google's PR department. And I'm sure they'd be succesful.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My colleague at Yahoo!, Amr Awadallah, created a ten minute short called Yahoo 300 (over Zack Snyder's "300" obviously. Simple stuff, just slapping some sub-titles on, but for those of us who bleed purple, it's....what should I say.....if not entertaining then meaningful.