A Couple of Lessons – Responsibility For The Responsible

Responsibility For The Responsible!

Hello all:

I trust this finds everyone well.  We have all the usual worldwide things going on: disasters, wars etc and then in the valley we have huge funding events happening e.g. Color getting $41M. I was thinking ’bout some lessons lived and learned whilst reflecting on past lives and a couple of items came out of the “wet-ware” subconscious: 1) Do The Right Thing 2) Make Decisions Like Your Paycheck Is Irrelevant. (style note: after all these years of Mac programming and working at Apple I still use object style capitalization).  Whilst these item do not appear to be tech worthy or money making – someone said I should teach a Tech Psychology 101 class.

Do The Right Thing

A very successful person in the tech industry who at this point I consider close to iconoclastic said,  “Just Do The Right Thing.”  I am not going to get into the metaphysical aspects of Right/Wrong here suffice to say what this person was making a comment on was have a clear conscience and do not be biased as to the correct technical and business decision.  In the long run you will benefit and you can always look back and know that what you did as a technical professional was well and just.  This was coming during a very complicated and involved several people with agendas.  For those who are not in the tech industry you would be amazed at how emotional coders, architects and program directors are with respect to some of these decisions.  Then I think that nowadays they are very close to rockstars so what not be emotional?  That said when you have a difficult decision to make “Do The Right Thing.”

Make Decisions Like Your PayCheck Is Irrelevant

Once again someone well known in the industry was walking with me at a conference trade show and due to the level of their success and the amount of well tech power they possessed I used this time to ask questions.  I asked them what is consistent in your success?  Without missing a beat this person said, “Work like your paycheck doesn’t matter.”  Of course your probably saying if this person is that successful they can afford it.  Well dear readers they were not talking about money they were talking about reputation.  Money is temporary.  Reputation lasts a long time – possibly until the big sleep.  It took me a while to truly get my head around this because well time is money and money is time.  Yet the more I pondered this statement the more it made sense (and cents).  Time went on and I started espousing some of these tenets.  Eventually I came upon a situation where I knew one of my colleagues was going into a meeting that could change the face of I/O connectors (think USB and FireWire wars) and I told him say what you know and operate like you do not need a paycheck.  He came out of the meeting and said you know I will always operate in that manner.  It completely freed me from figuring out what to do in high pressure situations.

Responsibility For The Responsible!

First and foremost one thing I do wish is I could have met the person who espoused this statement.  I actually came very close when I was in The Valley circa 93′.  Yet that is a story for another time and place.  The two previous items roll up into this tenets.  For those that are changing the world via technology we have the power to create and destroy.  For some this is the game because well they have made millions and billions, just as the artist who can create to destroy which is part of the art.  Yet even though we create technologies that change the very social fabric of humanity we are still dealing with the human form on a daily basis (caveat emptor for better or worse) and as such we have decisions that will live with us. Conflict is a given.  It is going to happen.  Humans adore war.  Many a people in the tech industry have destroyed many an art – books could be written on the amount of code and product that hit the trash and <delete>.  Part and parcel of this is the aspect of doing what your told instead of being responsible and doing the right thing.  Software is the most scalable industry period.  There may never be another industry as scalable (smart grid maybe but not yet).  The multi-cast nature of changing entire groups of people via one application or a widget is phenomenal not to mention the monetary reward.  As I am fond of saying – Idea2Bank as fast as possible yet this comes with some aspect of Responsibility For The Responsible.  There are those that can and those that cannot its a very stratifying industry.

At the end of the day do what you know – say what you think – create the software you know is true.  Software only knows brutal honesty – either it works or it doesnt and you should be a reflection of that creation.

Until Then,

Go Big Or Go Home!


A D A P T I B I L I T Y !

Well low and below I was having some tea this morning and going through my thousands of RSS feeds and one of the survival method blogs wrote about the following subject matter:

Why Do People Fail To Adapt?

1. Not seeing what is happening. Sometimes folks just aren’t informed on what is going on. Hard to make logical conclusions and adapt to them if you don’t have the information.

2. Refusal to accept the new reality. Folks will just stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. Often this happens with a family who can’t afford to maintain their current lifestyle. They will try to borrow and juggle bills and try to hold onto the greased string as long as they possibly can. Like tearing off a band aid going slower makes it worse. Better to have a couple really rough months than a couple pretty rough years.  Also there are those starving farmers in Africa. Ya know the ones you always see on the aids commercials? The ones who keep planting pathetic little gardens on their 1/2 of an acre farm in the Sudan where 9/10 years there is a drought that kills all the crops.

3. They limit their options. They refuse to try the kind of food that is available and starve instead. They refuse to move to find work. They hope old jobs will come back instead of focusing on retraining and finding new employment.

4. They give up – Adapting, at least in the context we are talking about, is usually unpleasant. Like any other human situation, there is a huge psychological factor. When something bad happens, I am not saying you shouldn’t be sad. Eat a carton of ice cream, or drink a half bottle of booze or whatever it is you do. Go to sleep, wake up and get the heck on with your life. It will eventually get better.

Wow.  Say it aint so?!   Lets do an item-by-item analysis here.

Item #1 Not Seeing what is happening.

Being aware and not being stupid.  Ok this is almost a circular argument as solipsism is seeping in here.  Really?  Please make logical and rational decisions. Pretty obvious and appears to be a given if your building software.  In many cases not being informed is another way of saying you do not have the background to process the information.

Item #2 Refusal to accept the new reality.

This is a big one.  In many cases people cannot cope with vast changes in technology or any type of culture.  I mentioned homeostasis in my last blog.  Resistant to change.    It is a conundrum of sorts.  They want better yet they do not want to deal with a new reality or they have the inability to understand a new reality.  This is occurring in the world of database technology.  (thought I would throw in some software terms to make it tech based).  It is hard when someone busts your whole reality of what you thought was possible.  We no longer need huge co-locations to run companies.  EC2 changed what is possible.  People are still fighting it.  Machines that learn?  OMG they will take jobs away!  It reminds me of the 1950s robot scare (not that I was around then I just read about it…)

Item #3 They Limit their options

Doesn’t this appear counterintuitive when you take it out of the context of life and death or not creating competitive software?  Options! Choices! Menus! Features!  Heck Sonic Burger makes a killing on menu features and options.  So does Microsoft Office – something like 1739 features?

Item #4 They give up adapting.

If you just quit, you get what you deserve. This doesn’t mean keep doing the same thing over and over and over and over and expecting a different result – that is crazy.  If you just quit and literally give up you deserve what you get.  Go Home.  Walk on home boy.

There is also a flip side to adaptation and that is knowing when to hold the line and not change to the latest bright shiny object or algorithm.  This is also adaptation albeit using experience.  Being Patient is an adaptive.  Mr Alligatorinae pictured above is a great animal at being patient.  Be Patient – Adapt – Emerge.

Until Then

Go Big Or Go Home.

Original site can be accessed here:


Mercenaries For Hire

Blackwater Mercs Likely to Stay in Iraq, Despite Gov't Ban | WIRED

In my last post I discussed talent.  Most companies buy companies either for a defensive move or for talent.  Few and far between are the exemplar purchases for intellectual property.  Although it is mandatory you have those ideas at least patent pending with some form of provisional application – yet i digress.

It has become very apparent to me we are heading into a talent shortage.  Specifically in the areas of Data Science.  It reminds me of the glory days of signal processing in the early to mid 90’s.  We couldnt find people who knew how to code a (fast) Fast Fourier Transform let alone think about distributing that processing.  I see Data Science related careers in that same situation.  I also see the physical and soft sciences merging with the two as it pertains to gaining knowledge from the data.  Need to find a lot of people and do not want to outsource it?  Do not have the cash to make a company acquisition?  Call in a team.

The above picture is of the good folks at Blackwater.  Most people or companies do not like mercenaries.  Why? Mercenaries are usually not very fun.  Most people enjoy pithy campy fun.  Mercenary teams are not the type of consultants you find in Office Space.  On the contrary, these guys and gals know what they are doing – get in – get out and move on.  They are expensive but will usually overhaul any situation.  They have a huge amount of experience and are very calm under chaotic conditions.  I am reminded that those who do a dangerous thing with style is a professional.  I see a day when teams of Mad Max Mercenaries are plying their trade on Craig’s List or eBay.  eBay is probably a better venue as then they can have a cover LLC and incorporate subdivisions as needed based upon specialty.  Sound crazy?  Maybe.  Sounds like a possible Idea2Bank to me.

Until Then,

Go Big Or Go Home!

Data as Cash

Is this helpful?

What is your data worth?  Do you know the worth of your data?  I bet if there were a privacy breach I bet you would find out at that moment.  Otherwise, what does the data actually do?  Information storage, for information’s sake, is a copy it is also hoarding.  Information assembled in an intelligent high, affinity fashion is worth a lot these days.  

i will say it is worth more than the software that makes it so.

By definition, what does that mean for the software that accesses that data?  Is it as important as the actions taken on the data?  Is it really about the application itself or the results of the information that the application creates across multiple data stores?

To take this a step further, I believe it is no longer about the data sets in situ but how multiple data sets can be fused together with context, geo-spatial and behavioral information.  It is no longer about the software but what the software does with the data – and lots of it.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that distributed map reduction systems are now the norm for any massive-scale compute data-intensive service.  However, there is a catch here.  Digital lifestyles are one massive data collection opportunity.   These digital breadcrumbs are the stuff of congressional hearings on privacy.  The problem is how we can place a recurring revenue stream on this data.  We inherently know it is the new cash.  Distributed data that describes itself is the DataSpace.  The DataSpace is the vault or vaults which create useful information.  This fluidity of data is a very important concept in the proper functioning of Data as a Service (DaaS).

Knowledge Fusion and Assumptions

Knowledge Fusion is a term that historically draws on many dataspace concepts and techniques developed in other areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine discovery, machine learning, search, knowledge representation, semantics, and statistics. It is starkly different from other decision-support technologies in as much as it is not purely retrospective in nature. For example, language-based ad hoc queries and reporting are used to analyze what has happened in the past, answering very specific business questions such as, ‘How many widgets did we sell last week?’ When using these tools, the user will already have a question or hypothesis that requires answering or validation. Knowledge Fusion is very different as it is forward-thinking and aims to predict future events and discover unknown patterns and subsequently build models – these models are then used to support predictive ‘what-if’ analysis, such as, ‘How many widgets are we likely to sell next week?’ based on the context and meaning of the data as it is utilized.  KF also allows this context and meaning to infer further linkages from the initial query.  How is this knowledge fusion processed and accessed?  Why is it needed?  Let’s start with some technical assumptions from the BOOM paper:

1. Distributed systems benefit substantially from a data-centric design style that focuses the programmer’s attention on carefully capturing all the critical state of the system as a family of collections (sets, relations, streams, etc.) Given such a model, the state of the system can be distributed naturally and flexibly across nodes via familiar mechanisms like partitioning and replication.

2. The key behaviors of such systems can be naturally implemented using declarative programming languages that manipulate these collections, abstracting the programmer from both the physical layout of the data and the fine-grained orchestration of data manipulation.

Based on these assumptions, I would like to add some  observations from my experiences:

3. The more data we have the easier the machine learning and data mining algorithms.

4. Clean Data is paramount.  85% of the time spent on creating value out of data is cleansing and creating views and modeling.

Another platform that I believe will greatly see adoption is the folks at Systap, LLC with BigData.  Check it out here. These guys are really looking at the future of fully distributed linked data and massive Resource Description Frameworks.  They are also taking into account concerns such as high availability, transactional processing, B+ trees, and sharding.  i hope to see this trend in the enterprise.

Revenue Models for DataSpaces

A caveat emptor at this juncture:  One of my biggest issues with semantic intelligence, knowledge fusion, knowledge discovery, machine learning and data mining is that people believe it is a MAKE IT SO button! Click here and all your dreams will come true. People believe it will give them business strategy answers or generate the next big thing.  Folks y’all still have to think.

While this is all well and good. What do we base the importance of data upon?

  • Revenue Per Employer (RPE)?
  • Keywords Per Transaction (KPT)?
  • Bulk Rate DataLoad (BRD)?
  • Business Lift Based Query (BLQ)?
  • Affinity Per URI (APU)
  • Insert your favorite monetization acronym here…

Securing The Query

An interesting trend is finally happening in the industry.  Folks are realizing that you must secure those mixed and mashed queries.  At the recent Semantic Technology 2010 Conference, there was a panel discussion on security in the semantic world that specifically dealt with dynamically applying access controls.  These technologies allow people to slice and dice the DataSpaces based on proper access control and the meaning of the data streams.  For a great white paper and overview, please visit this link.

The ability to secure specific person-meaning queries in an of itself will usher in completely new monetization models for data.  I like to call this the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup model.  You have chocolate.  You have peanut butter.  Put them together, and you have something really good.  Remember, data does not have calories just consumes bandwidth, disc space, and compute resources  – depending on usage – your mileage may vary.

Until then,

Go Big Or Go Home!

The Origami of Instinct

We, as a society, are losing our instincts. I believe that instinct plays a role in successful startups. In a startup, it is imperative and essential you possess a passion for being the strongest, fastest, smartest or combination of all of the aforementioned with respect to the technology or business model you are creating. There are no gray areas concerning creating a successful agile business. You cannot pass off the blame or pass the buck in this environment. This is one reason that so many come back to the startup world. This is survival of the fittest. Yet some do not view it this way. They view a method of tearing down instead of raising everyone’s performance level.

Playing to Success; Playing to Failure

Some play to success or play to failure. Playing to succeed is the process that I prefer and honestly only know how to perform within the context of my career. Playing to success means that you involve as many people as possible in the discussions to make the pie larger for everyone. You also involve people that are BETTER than you.   I like to term this “Wolves Drinking Out of the Same Pond.” If all the wolves drink from the pond and protect the pond, it will create a more extensive and healthier pond for all the wolves (companies) involved. Playing to success is connecting the Elite of the Elite together. If you look at the world of successful startups, the people involved are usually multi-faceted over-achievers. They are great business types AND world-class rowers; they are world-class programmers AND accomplished musicians. Then most add extracurricular endeavors like marathon running, martial arts, or extreme sports. Most read self-help books or some non-fiction daily; if it is fiction, it usually is something arcane, or they are re-reading, Milton’s Paradise Lost. These people usually seek out others of like kind to aid them. Also, most do not need self-help books, yet they strive to make themselves better at all costs.

So let’s return to the importance of losing our instincts. Our ability to perceive fight or flight situations are becoming less and less. We do not, daily, need to detect these situations or do we? We no longer need to smell the air to detect an adversary. What does that do to our pre-cognitive processes when engaging with an adversary (read competitive company). Is tearing down the new competitive startup advantageous?

On the contrary, startups should ban together. The startups are the wolves. We have the advantage, we have the speed, might and willpower, and passion for creating faster and more focused entities. Exits are Acquisitions. So why wouldn’t we want to increase our ability to detect Fight or Flight? Do you think that Venture Capitalists can’t detect when you are not entirely committed or are unsure of the answer you were just asked? You bet they can detect any fright mechanism. Use at your disposal what led you to arrive at this juncture. To increase and practice your senses (all 6 of them), and I bet it will make you a better entrepreneur. If it doesn’t, at least you will have improved yourself. For those that already know, you already have, and I will see you at the pond.

The Can’t Do Voice

Most will not find this pertinent to making money or startups. However, it is very pertinent. Undo the “can’t do” thoughts in your head. Can’t do’s have no place in a startup.

This is an excerpt from a larger work entitled “A Day at the Zoo” by the now-deceased Dr. C.S. Hyatt

Sa-Shu-Ah – by Crag Jensen

Close your eyes, relax and float downstream.

Hello – I am the man on the Radio
I am the man on your television News Channel
I am the man behind the pulpit and the man who works for the Government
I am the man whom you must believe in because I am the man whom you fear the most.
I am – alas- the man who has been planted inside your head since you were too young to even talk – to walk- to reason or question.
Yes, it’s true – I am the man who never tires of telling you what to do – how to vote – what to eat – what to buy – what to believe in – where to go – when to go – and how to go.
I am the man who sits inside your head and dictates – dictates – dictates. I am, therefore – and in essence – your personal – government approved & church sanctioned – dictator.
I am not you, but I will be all that is left of you at the end of the day because you have long since relinquished the responsibility of being who you really are because it is much, much, much easier to listen to and obey me – rather than to break free of me and actually accomplish something worthwhile in your – so-called life.

No Don’t waste it
Don’t be a slave to your programming – anymore
When you can open – yes you can open the door.
And Set yourself free.

And though I wish you well – only time and work will tell
Just how you will fare – true success is all too rare.

But whatever you do wherever you go – don’t forget
To keep on undoing yourself (undoing yourself, undoing yourself…)

The Death of Keywords and Domain Names

I was considering the death of keywords and domain names.  Here is what I believe is going to happen over the next year if not sooner:

1) Keywords will be supplanted by relational phrases

2) Domain names will be supplanted by Twitter Usernames

So before your sitting there saying god this guy is a complete dumb ass just roll with it for a second or two.  Finally with the advent of infrastructure on the web becoming stable many of the technologies that were around circa 89′ / 99′ have come back into the fray.  Here is a laundry list in no particular order of importance: Machine Learning, Data Mining, Natural Language Processing, Semantic Intelligence, Predictive Analytics.  Some have parts of others and some are considered umbrellas of other technologies.  The importance of the infrastructure being in place is phenomenal.  We used to have to worry about things like co-location,bandwidth,storage etc and now it is a given.  EC2,S3 and the like have made these worries a non entity and we can get down to the business of creating intelligent computing – finally.  Twitter Trending a (#) hashtag on follow Friday is nothing more than creating your own intelligent content delivery (iCDN) system abliet at this time human powered.  There is the ability to have relational and semantics across those and also fusing the symbolic with the semantic.  Don’t think its possible?  http://www.mashmeup.com  Enter a complete URL and watch what happens.  No Keywords.  No Adwords.  So what does that leave to bid on in the world of search or ads?  What if you didn’t have your precious AdWords to buy or Keywords to put into your SEO?  We have to come up with a different model.  How about a model of barter arbitrage based on the immediate viewership in the moment?  Just In Time Content Creation that can be trended and optimized.  When we used to think about this there was no animal such as device edge caching.  Done.  There was no animal-like Support Vector Machines in real-time.  Done.  We are at a precipice where this is possible and we are seeing it.  There is however the issue of privacy and creating a personalized in moment web world for you that I will discuss on a different bloggatorium.  That said we will start bidding on information in situ and not based on the banal keyword.  I can hear it now.  Keywords were so 2010.

Given we will not longer have keywords to bid on what’s in a name?  Mashable.  Jack.  PerezHilton.  You get the picture.  I am sure most of you have already barnstormed the TwitterVerse much like the heyday of the early days of domain names.  There are still some nuggets out there.  However, just look at the traffic.  It is amazing to think that Twitter was an accident.  I like to call Twitter the Narscisstic Attention Deficit Disorder Network (aka NADD).  There have already been some rumblings on the back channel of how much is the going price for the top 10 slots.  Immediate hits on your page (back to my first point).  How does the Twitter Username semantically relate to what is happening in the moment?  How about changing your Twitter UserName to fit the moment and then bid?  A new Stock Market Model.  The opportunities.

Then again I could be totally wrong.