There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Experience vs. experience and Cathryn Sloane’s experience

Along with everything else that’s been going on over the last few days, we’ve had one of our usual techie “tempest in a teapot” weekend moments. That’s when some tech story emerges that occupies a huge portion of the technosphere for the better part of a weekend, only to be forgotten soon afterwards.

This week’s tempest in a teapot came courtesy of Cathryn Sloane, and her post entitled Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25. Here’s a brief excerpt:

You might argue that everyone, regardless of age, was along for the [Facebook/Twitter] ride, or at least everyone under the age of 30. I’m not saying they weren’t, but we spent our adolescence growing up with social media. We were around long enough to see how life worked without it but had it thrown upon us at an age where the ways to make the best/correct use of it came most naturally to us. No one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they may think they do.

Sloane has been beaten up nearly everywhere (or at least in those portions of the tech world that aren’t talking about James Holmes or Joe Paterno’s statue), so it would be fruitless to pursue that avenue. But her thesis can cause us to think about exactly what “experience” is.

To start with, I’ll advance my thoughts on the matter. If you’ve read the tymshft blog with any regularity, you know that I believe that while the SPEED of certain technologies may have particular ramifications for society, the technologies themselves often do not result in anything new. My EXPERIENCE tells me that Facebook is just this generation’s bulletin board system, and Twitter is this generation’s CB radio. Because I have been around the block a few times, I can claim that I have the EXPERIENCE to tell when Facebook or Twitter are being used in a stupid manner.

But Sloane, although it is not obvious at first glance, is also speaking of a type of experience. Of course, Sloane and those of her generation were immersed in the EXPERIENCE of Facebook and Twitter. Oddly enough, their lack of experience with bulletin boards and CB radios is, in a way, an EXPERIENCE in and of itself. Those without the experiences of the past are not afraid to try “new things” that are really old things. Let me illustrate this by a conversation between myself and Sloane.


Cathryn, are you an idiotic bozo? Don’t you remember what happened when people first set up their web pages and loaded them with animated GIF angels and auto-play schlocky MIDI files?


Well, it was stupid in the 1990s and it was stupid today, and therefore we should never ever ever do it.


If I were starting a social media consultancy, I’d ideally want to get a mix of people with different kinds of experience. I’d want some old pros around who knew what came before and remembered the mistakes of the past. But at the same time, I’d want some young pros who wouldn’t be afraid to try anything, even if the old pros said that it wouldn’t work.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ramesh Jain wrote about experience several years ago.

We define so many experiences that are combination of our emotions as well as what we learnt from the experience. I don’t study and explore emotional aspects, but I am interested in how knowledge gets created and that makes me interested in the relationship between insights, knowledge, and experience.

Your thoughts?

Siesta fans, when was the “bi” in bi-phasic?

Current economic issues are affecting the lifestyles of some people:

Soaring unemployment, rising taxes and belt-tightening family budgets across Spain could finally spell the end of the traditional Spanish lunch and siesta.

The two-to-three-hour midday breaks with time built in for a snooze during the hottest part of the day were once the Spanish worker’s universal way to beat the afternoon heat. But it is becoming a luxury for cash-strapped employees who are working longer hours and having to make do with less in the country’s steepest downturn since the 1930s.

Reuters points out that the actual siesta is no longer practiced in urban areas, but that people still like to take long lunches.

Since I was curious about the history of the siesta, I went to a Siesta Awareness page, which said the following:

Research shows that the majority of people suffer from tiredness twice in every 24 hour period. We are what’s called Bi-phasic; we need two periods of sleep; a long one at night and a shorter one during the day. The early afternoon brings a drop in energy levels, not as severe as night time, but sufficient to make it difficult to concentrate and think clearly. By having a short nap we can help ourselves think more clearly by more productive and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Oddly enough, I had recently read something else about bi-phasic activity which didn’t mention the middle of the day at all. Chris George shared an item from the National Post:

Before artificial lighting “colonized” the darkness (to borrow a term from the historian Craig Koslofsky), a nightly wakeful interlude was expected. Lighting and caffeinated beverages promoted active, chatty evenings. This, historians believe, believe pushed back the Western world’s bedtime. The modern ideal of a continuous eight-hour slumber was born.

But prior to that, the idea of a “first” and “second” sleep was so routine, one researcher wrote, “it provoked little comment at the time.”

This was the insight of A. Roger Ekirch, a professor of history at Virginia Tech. In his 2005 book At Day’s Close, he argued that: “Until the close of the early modern era [roughly the year 1800], Western Europeans on most evenings experienced two major of sleep bridged by an hour or more of quiet wakefulness.” This period was known as the “watch” or “watching.”

So, depending upon whom you believe, we are inclined to sleep all night and take a break midday, or we sleep in two intervals and take a wakeful break in the middle of the night.

Or perhaps we do both. We take a midday rest, work the rest of the day, go home, sleep a while, wake up in the middle of the night and socialize, and then go back to sleep until morning.

But that would make us tri-phasic, I guess.

Getting lost over a much larger area

One of the consequences of the tremendous increases in transportation capabilities is an increase in our ability to get lost over a much wider area.

Let me explain.

Recently, on an episode of the Petros and Money Show, co-host Matt “Money” Smith described an automobile trip he made many years ago. Smith, who lived in Los Angeles at the time, wanted to drive to Las Vegas. Back when he made this particular trip (which was around the time that Sam Kinison died), the way to get from Los Angeles to Las Vegas was to drive eastbound on Interstate 10, then drive northbound on Interstate 15, cross a lot of desert, then arrive at Las Vegas.

So, late one evening, Smith set out in his car, driving eastbound on Interstate 10 and crossing a lot of desert.

Now many of you can see where this is going, but remember that Smith couldn’t see it at the time. He thought he was doing fine, but he wasn’t seeing Las Vegas at all, so he pulled over to ask for directions – and discovered that he was in Blythe, California, a long way away from Las Vegas. You see, Smith missed the turnoff where he was supposed to get on Interstate 15, so instead of heading north and east, he was instead heading east and south for several hours. He was 200 miles away from where he was supposed to go, and while Blythe and Las Vegas are connected, they’re certainly not connected by an interstate freeway.

So why am I writing about this in tymshft? Because our advances in transportation allow us to get lost over a much larger area.

Think about it. What if Smith had set out on his trip 100 years ago? You probably could have driven from Los Angeles to Las Vegas back then, but you would have been much more careful about how you proceeded. And you wouldn’t have been driving at 70+ miles an hour, so even if you did get lost, you wouldn’t have gotten that far out of your way.

And what about the time before the car was invented? Of course Las Vegas didn’t exist back then, but if you were going to make a trip of comparable length – say, a trip from Richmond, Virginia to New York, New York – there’s no way that you could end up 200 miles out of your way and not know about it.

Of course, back in those days you could quite literally get lost in your own backyard – something that couldn’t happen to most of us today.

Agriculture…in Detroit

For most of us, the general trend that we observe is urbanization. Farmland becomes settled as residential, commercial, or industrial areas, and then perhaps becomes more large scale.

We rarely think about the trend going the other way. But if you look at the course of history, it happens a lot.

And it’s happening today in the city of Detroit, Michigan:

After years of debate, the Hantz Farms urban agriculture project in Detroit could become reality with Mayor Dave Bing hoping to present a plan to City Council this summer to sell a collection of vacant city-owned parcels that could be used to grow and harvest timber.

This has to overcome several obstacles. One of them is governmental:

Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, said the tree-planting project known as Hantz Woodlands is allowed under the city’s current zoning code. But before the project could plant agricultural crops or sell any produce, the city would have to approve a new zoning change to permit agriculture in the city.

There are various other impediments. Local groups who want to do the same thing are asking why “a wealthy white man” is getting this opportunity. State prohibitions on over-regulating farmers rub the city government the wrong way, because it doesn’t want limitations on its power to (over-)regulate.

Now this might not be the solution in all areas. There are abandoned tracts all over the place, but they could host residents and businsses in a few short years. In this case, however, the solution appears to be warranted. The city of Detroit has held some of this property for over 35 years, and the selling price for 175 acres is $600,000.

Treating your security expert like a king

Vipin Samar, vice president of database security technologies at Oracle, was recently quoted in an Oracle Magazine article.

Samar thinks security professionals can learn a lesson from history. In medieval Europe, castles had multiple defenses—wide moats, high walls, iron doors, and even counterattacking archers to repel different types of attackers. “Similarly, in the IT world, you have to defend your databases from casual onlookers, opportunistic insiders, and state-sponsored hackers,” he says. “Data is your king, but if your defensive moat is a firewall of pawns, it is easy for an enemy knight to jump across and checkmate your king.”

What is your wallet?

Over my eight-plus year blogging career, I have embarrassed myself countless times. This time, however, I’m going to do it intentionally.

Back in the 1970s, when I was in high school, I wore a calculator on my belt.

But I have never owned a pocket protector. (Odd, because I have more use for a pocket protector than I do for a calculator.)

I did, however, carry more socially acceptable items on my person when I was in high school. I wore a watch on my arm. I carried keys in my pocket. And I carried a wallet in my other pocket.

I began thinking about wallets recently when I read Loren Feldman’s observations on wallets.

As Feldman notes, times have changed.

Take that watch that I wore on my arm in high school. I still happen to wear a watch, but many people just use their phones (smart or dumb) as their watches. I actually went without a watch for a month or two, but I began wearing a watch again because I had to make a business trip to France and my phone wouldn’t work over there.

Now what about the keys that I carried in my pocket? Those are going away too. Perhaps you have a garage door opener – it might even be embedded in your car. And if you enter your house through your garage, perhaps you don’t even know where your keys are any more. And if you stay in a hotel, you usually don’t have a traditional “key” per se. You usually have a plastic card that you use to enter your hotel room.

But where should you put that plastic “key”? In your wallet? What if you don’t have a wallet? There is less and less of a need for a wallet these days – or at least the item that you traditionally think of as a “wallet.” Google has something that they call a “wallet” that has no leather (real or faux) whatsoever.

Capital One is fonding of asking the question “What’s in your wallet?” In some cases, the things that are on a traditional wallet could just as easily be placed on a smartphone (sorry, no dumb phones allowed in wallet world).

  • As Feldman noted, you don’t have to carry pictures in your wallet any more. You can just bring them up on your smartphone screen, either from internal storage or from an external source.
  • I don’t need to carry money around for my Starbucks addiction any more. There’s an app for that.
  • And if you argue that your government-issued ID card is a physical item that can’t be placed on a smartphone, check out what the United Arab Emirates is proposing to do.

In short, it’s possible that the wallet that we carry around today may go the way of the 8 track tape.

Tommy James and 1968 videos

One night I was listening to an online version of “Crimson and Clover,” and I ended up reading a Songfacts interview with Tommy James. James not only discussed “Crimson and Clover,” but also discussed crime bosses, Christianity…and early music videos:

Well, we wanted to do videos. And “Mony” was the very first video we had ever done. To me it seemed very sensible to make a film of your hit record, and I couldn’t figure out why nobody was doing it. You’d find things would run sometimes on television, there’d be like a movie with a song in it, and they’d take the film clip and run it. But nobody was really making videos. And so we hired a film company, went in and did a video of “Mony.” We actually did a video of “Ball of Fire,” and we did a video of “She” as well. But we couldn’t get them played anywhere. So “Mony” was one of the first videos made. It was 13 years before MTV. We couldn’t get it played anywhere in the United States. TV would not play video made by musicians, they just wouldn’t do it. So the only place we could get our video played was over in Europe in the movie theatres. In between double features, they played “Mony Mony.” And the reason you see it in black-and-white is because it was shown on the Beat Club in England, and it was a film of a film, and it was shown in black-and-white. So when they shipped it back to the United States it was in black and white. But the original video was in color. So it was me and Daffy Duck for a long time. (laughing) And Daffy wanted to close. So I had problems with Daffy.

Who put the I in RAID?

Marla Hughes shared a post from Nikolaos Dimopoulos entitled How to build an inexpensive RAID for storage and streaming.

Depending upon your age, the phrase “inexpensive RAID” may be redundant. FOLDOC explains:

RAID ==>

Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks

(RAID. Originally “Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks”) A project at the computer science department of the University of California at Berkeley, under the direction of Professor Katz, in conjunction with Professor John Ousterhout and Professor David Patterson….

The original (“..Inexpensive..”) term referred to the 3.5 and 5.25 inch disks used for the first RAID system but no longer applies.

Well, I guess it applies if you follow the lead of Nikolaos Dimopoulos and buy a Lenovo computer.

The discussion inspired me to dig out my copy of The RAIDbook, the Fourth Edition (1994). Page 4 of the 1994 book references “Redundant Arrays of Independent Disks,” but page 182 of the book references a seminal 1988 paper by Patterson, Katz, and Garth A. Gibson entitled “A Case for Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks.”

So the change from “inexpensive” to “independent” took place in a few short years.

But a lot has happened since 1994. Take this quote from page 4 of The RAIDbook:

A billion bytes of magnetic storage, that twenty years ago required as much space and electrical power as several washing machines, can now be easily held in one’s hand.

18 years later, Dimopoulos speaks of a RAID using 1 terabyte hard drives. That’s a trillion bytes, for those keeping score at home. You would have needed one thousand hands to hold a terabyte of storage back in 1994. I can’t imagine how many washing machines that would have been in the 1970s.

Embedding Change in Your Firm’s Culture (Mel Lester)

From Mel Lester:

Corporate culture is defined by the shared values and behavioral norms that determine how things get done within an organization. It’s influence is pervasive, yet companies often attempt to change some aspect of their operations without considering the role of culture. That’s typically a recipe for failure.

More, including four strategies, here.

P.S. Lester has also written What’s Wrong With Your Proposals.

Post Navigation