Tag Archives | innovation

Stephen Abrams’ 12 Things to Watch in 2012

Stephen Abram

Stephen Abram

Stephen Abram, MLS is Vice President, strategic partnerships and markets for Gale Cengage Learning. He has been VP Innovation for SirsiDynix and Chief Strategist for the SirsiDynix Institute.

Stephen is an SLA Fellow and the past president of the Ontario Library Association, SLA and the Canadian Library Association. In June 2003 he was awarded SLA’s John Cotton Dana Award. He received the AIIP Roger Summit Award in 2009 and Outstanding Teacher Award from the U of Toronto iSchool oin 2010. He is the author of Out Front with Stephen Abram and Stephen’s Lighthouse blog.

He put together this  presentation of 12 Things to Watch in 2012 for the Education Institute in December of 2011.

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2011 in Review and Trends to Watch in 2012

Year in ReviewPaula J. Hane, Information Today’s NewsBreaks Editor, recently published a year in review article focused on the upheavals in the publishing and library worlds:

Severe weather, natural disasters, the killing of Osama bin Laden, political uprisings, budget crises, celebrity scandals, hot high-tech toys, the death of Steve Jobs, and the U.S. troops leaving Iraq—what will you remember from 2011? Techies will no doubt focus on the iPad 2, iPhone 4S, the Kindle Fire, and the rest of the new Kindle family, and all the new apps for smartphones. Folks in the information industry will likely remember 2011 as one of adapting new technologies and testing viable business models for the new emerging information landscape. Librarians will likely remember it as a year of intense pressure to squeeze more e-resources and services from their (shrinking) budgets.

She continues with a recounting of the topics that were the in the forefront for 2011 including Mobile and tablet computing, cloud computing, Etextbooks, Geolocation, Discovery layers (Summon, EBSCO EDS, OCLC WorldCat Local, Ex Libris Primo), and Semantic search.

In 2012, Paula expects focus to be on even more privacy issues, more growth of tablet usage with a showdown between iPad 3 and Kindle Fire 2, the wider adoption of Touch interfaces, more widespread adoption of cloud computing technologies, and further adoption of EPUB 3.

She also shared some reviews and projections from Bing, Google, PaidContent, ReadWriteWeb, IDC, and Stephen Abram.

Read the full article at Review of 2011 and
Trends Watch 2012
by Paula J. Hane
(Posted On January 5, 2012)

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When it Comes to your Organization’s Social Media Efforts: Plan Ahead

Social media is here to stay.  Every day more and more organizations make use of services like Twitter and Facebook to reach out to their existing and potential customers.

Connecting with customers via social networks provides a unique way to interact with people and keep them informed about news and information in real time, but, as recent events have shown, it is important to have a plan in place detailing roles and expectations within your organization.

A current California lawsuit provides a cautionary tale for organizations with employees participating on social networks on their behalf.

Mobile phone retailer and tech news hub PhoneDog.com had a staff member who tweeted as @PhonedogNoah while working there.  When Noah Kravitz and PhoneDog parted ways, Noah changed his Twitter handle to @noahkravitz and kept the seventeen thousand plus followers he had attracted while tweeting as @PhonedogNoah.

According to The New York Times, Kravitz claimed that PhoneDog told him he could keep his Twitter account in exchange for posting occasionally. It is now eight months later, and PhoneDog, referring to his Twitter followers as a customer list, seeks damages of $2.50 per month per Twitter follower for a total of $340,000 from Kravitz.

Since this story has hit the news, PhoneDog has published their side of the situation in which they present a their view that this has all been a far more complex situation stretching back to promises made and not kept by Kravitz when he left the organization.

And, of course, PhoneDog promoted this message via Twitter.

Curious about the Twitter lawsuit? Here’s the full story http://t.co/iUqjPovu#meritless
Jan 03 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

Embedly Powered

PhoneDog’s Side

Noah joined the PhoneDog team in April 2006.  During that period, PhoneDog.com was in the very early stages of becoming the personality-driven mobile tech review site it is today.  … Over the next four years, we invested in Noah and the site by sending him to trade shows and conferences from San Francisco, Vegas, New York, Barcelona and many places in between. …  During this time, we also expanded our efforts into many forms of social media, starting with our YouTube channel, then to Twitter and Facebook respectively; each with the very specific intent to grow PhoneDog’s social media following and its loyal audience.  From all of our efforts, the site’s popularity continued to grow and Noah essentially became a micro-celebrity of sorts.  What started out as a small part-time freelance opportunity grew into a very well paid career for Noah.

So when Noah notified us in October 2010 that he wanted to leave PhoneDog and the mobile tech industry to pursue something more “meaningful,” we were obviously disappointed.  However, we completely respected his decision and wished him our most sincere best of luck.

Shortly after Noah left the company, we found that Noah’s intentions had changed.  Whatever his motives, he began publishing content for other tech publishers while still being paid by PhoneDog, thereby going against the terms we agreed to prior to his departure.  In addition, he was promoting the competitors’ content to the Twitter account we clearly had and have rights to.

Regardless of who said what, and when, this is a matter that will probably be settled in a courtroom unless both sides come to some agreement.

The best thing to come out of this, for anyone, will be if organizations take a moment to think about their social media strategies and ensure that both the organization and its staff members are clear about their expectations in regards to social network contacts in the event of a parting of the ways.

I find it sad that this matter has come to be a matter to be passionately debated by people who were not part of the original discussions and agreements; however, every new innovation in customer communication needs a cautionary tale.

Unlimited Priorities can help you plan and implement an effective social media strategy. Once implemented, we can help you monitor, improve it and ensure that it stays current.

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Looking Ahead at 2012: Questions and Solutions

With a new year approaching there are some questions that need to be asked — and soon. Unlimited Priorities can help answer these questions and even help your organization implement the solutions you need to meet your goals for the new year.

You and your organization should ask yourselves:

  1. What goals do you expect to reach by December, 2012?
  2. How will you adapt to the increased use of mobile technologies?
  3. Where will you hook on to Cloud Computing data and applications?
  4. How will your business refocus and change to deal with evolving economic issues?
  5. What specific skills will you need to hire?
  6. What is your strategy for gaining more customers/clients?
  7. What are your plans for lowering your cost of operations?
  8. How will you share your time and interest with family and friends?
  9. What new knowledge do you want to acquire?
  10. What new events, activities, and relationships do you anticipate?

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Your Voice Matters

Reviewing the last 111 years, it is easy to check off how technology has reduced physical labor:

•    Cars replaced walking and horses
•    Planes went from dirigibles to propeller driven to jet engines
•    Automatic transmissions replaced manual stick shifts
•    Digital photography replaced film
•    Remote control boxes replaced television rotary dials

Use of voice as an input device also has evolved from the early days Speech to text programs have been around since the 1980s. Voice to text software was launched by Covox in 1982 for the growing personal computer industry with the IBM PC in the lead. Another company founded in 1982, Dragon Systems, continues to be the leader in the speech recognition. Scansoft, Inc. now owns and manufactures their well-known product, Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Voice recognition is not just for getting documents created. For example:

•    Cordless and cell phones introduced us to voice activated dialing
•    GPS mapping and directions equipment allow for voice commands
•    Cars have a growing number of voice activated requests
•    Appliances all over the house and the office are emerging for everyone

An article about the voice control evolution appeared in the December 07, 2011 issue of BusinessWeek. The information points to all of the rumors about Apple TV, Microsoft Xbox 360 game console and the growing number of electronics vendors – Samsung, LG, Sharp and Sony, etc., gearing up to move from button and touchpad controls to voice command and control.

One of the current salvos being launched is Apple including interactive voice recognition, SIRI with their new iPhone 4s. Asking about the weather or the stock market or directions is standard stuff. Any actions that one can do with finger touch are potential for SIRI. You can say ‘send a text message’, then say the recipient’s name from the contact list, confirm which phone number, dictate the message and send.

This is pretty basic stuff. By 2013, voice commands will be everywhere. Saying words distinctly helps with today’s voice input. Alabama born and raised speaks very differently than one from Maine. So the advances in technology will enable tone and inflection differences. After all, we can discern when someone is speaking with a “happy voice” or an “angry voice. There is at least one project underway that will detect a person’s mood by verbal cues.
Today’s Siri and Xbox voice control are growing in use. The expectations are that Apple’s TV set will have voice command; New Windows Operating Systems for PCs and Xboxes will have gesture and voice control; and Google will implement voice activated search beyond what is accessible now. It is also clear that Google TV will return.

The consumer electronics companies will promote interactive TV talk through voice-enabled apps for smartphones and tablets. Xfinity/Comcast already has a downloadable app that provides for customer programming of the DVR. At the TV, remote control functions can be issued through the smartphone’s internet connection. Comcast is testing the addition of voice-control features. LG, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and Sharp will all test similar apps.

Each family member will be able to set their own Voice commands to program show recordings, change channels, access the web. OF course, there could be the battle of the voice controls that will have to be managed by some responsible person, such as an adult. Those individuals who are push-button phobic will have a some speaking issues as they learn how to talk what version of CSI the actually want to record. As with all technology advances; it can be anticipated that the transition to the new will be easier for some, harder for others.

Nuance, maker of the popular Dragon dictation software suites is what Apple has used for Siri as well. It appears that many manufacturers have turned to them to help transform remotes instead of eschew them. Nuance’s Thompson says TV, DVD, and set-top box makers are all working on models that look more like iPhones, some with touchscreens rather than that gaggle of unused buttons. Some of the prototypes are designed around a single prominent button that activates a microphone, he says. Cost will be a challenge, since such a device would need a microphone and Wi-Fi antenna instead of the infrared sensors now commonly used.

Nuance has estimated that 5% of TVs could be voice controlled by Christmas 2012. Of course, there are several problems to solve, such as which command takes preference, and how they would distinguish commands from normal conversation. But, there’s hope. SRI International, the company that worked on Siri before spinning it off into a separate company, has been working on solutions. They’ve been working on a project that can discern people’s moods by verbal cues, something that may potentially be used to differentiate commands.

Mike Thompson from Nuance Communications continues to say that interactive remote controls will have touchscreens rather than buttons. This is similar to the Logitech Harmony series of remotes. For Harmony, there are several different screens that change the action of the button that is pressed. 

Vlingo, an App maker, introduced voice Apps for smartphones late last year. They are expected to announce a voice recognition product for TVs at CES 2012.

We have all marveled at Dick Tracy’s wrist radio. The TV series, Knight Rider, was all about a car that could act better than its human star. Robots have been demonstrated that respond to voice commands and conversation. SIRI on the 4s is a real world demonstration of voice interaction. The key is the capability for human to speak and machine to hear the same thing. If you tell your automobile’s GPS mapping device that you want to go to Las Vegas; be sure that the directions take you to Nevada rather than New Mexico.

People are getting used to seeing others walking around talking to the air that surrounds them. These are people with a Bluetooth headset that is synced with a smartphone that is connected to cellular tower that sends the signals out into cyberspace. It is not just messages and conversations. Voice will be used to open the garage door, turn on the house lights and start the oven warming up to 400 degrees. It will be a novelty for upscale users only at the beginning. Prices will drop quickly and more will be in use by the end of this decade.

Video cameras are expanding along every city streets and intersection. As voice technology advances, we will have embedded microphones in our house, office, cars and all ‘smart’ devices. Devices will be listening to jump into action just as Captain Kirk expressed his commands starting with the phrase; “Computer …”

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Cambridge University puts Isaac Newton material online

Cambridge University Library has just released a new website with more than 4,000 pages of its most important Isaac Newton material. The Library plans to upload thousands of additional pages over the next few months until almost all of its Newton collection is available to view and download anywhere in the world.

Isaac Newton’s own annotated copy of his Principia Mathematica is among his notebooks and manuscripts being made available. In addition, the site includes Newton’s Trinity College Notebook acquired while he was an undergraduate at Trinity College and used from about 1661 to 1665. One of the most interesting works is the Newton’s Waste Book a large notebook where he developed much of his important work on calculus which he began using in 1664 when he was away from Cambridge due to the plague.

The Newton collection was photographed over the summer of 2011 at about 200 pages per day. All of the works are presented in high resolution with an interface that allows users to zoom in to each page to explore the text, diagrams and annotations in detail. In addition to the high-resolution facsimiles, the site also links to the Newton Project to provide transcriptions of many of the pages.

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OCLC Launches the WorldShare Platform

OCLC WorldShareOCLC, together with OCLC Global Council and members, is taking the cooperative’s ongoing strategy to help libraries operate and innovate at Webscale to a much broader level with the introduction of OCLC WorldShare, a new platform and a new brand that signals OCLC’s commitment to greater collaboration in library service delivery.

OCLC is launching the OCLC WorldShare Platform, which will enable library developers, partners and other organizations to create, configure and share a wide range of applications that deliver new functionality and value for libraries and their users.

The OCLC WorldShare Platform facilitates collaboration and app-sharing across the library community, so that libraries can combine library-built applications, partner-built applications and OCLC-built applications. This enables the benefits of each single solution to be shared broadly throughout the library community.

Over time, OCLC will bring together additional OCLC services and applications under the OCLC WorldShare name, including resource sharing, consortial borrowing, metadata management and additional applications. OCLC’s currently deployed library management solutions will continue to be maintained and enhanced in line with libraries’ ongoing requirements under their current brand names.

Much of the thinking that led to this came from the Libraries at Webscale OCLC discussion document.

From the report: Libraries at Webscale [Download from OCLC Reports]

The Web changed our ability to scope both our thinking and our actions. We are no longer limited to simply thinking globally and acting locally. We now have the capacity to think and act both globally and locally, and to do so simultaneously. Barriers have been lifted on how we can communicate, conduct commerce, conduct research, share data, create communities and deliver products.

Leaders can now apply the dimensions of geography and scope to almost every decision they make. Their organizations can tap into tools and resources, and serve communities and markets that are global, national, regional, local—and even personal.

In short, the Web scales.

The discussion document covers these topics:

  • The future is personalized
  • Creating and consuming a universe of content
  • In a flat world, there is one road to success
  • Three key challenges facing higher education and policymakers
  • Big data
  • Parabiosis and particularism: Redefining the 21st century collection
  • Big innovation requires big collaboration
  • Creating collective impact—tomorrow’s strategy for successful nonprofits
  • The shape of clouds: definitions and distinctions
  • Future challenges and opportunities for libraries

For more insight and information on this topic, read OCLC WorldShare Platform: OCLC Brands and Strengthens Its Webscale Strategy by Marshall Breeding.

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Conference Buzz: Special Libraries Association (SLA) 2011

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) held its 2011 Conference on June 12-15 in Philadelphia, PA. The conference theme was “Future Ready”, with an emphasis on the need for information professionals to be ready for the future in the midst of all the changes that are buffeting the industry now.

The opening keynote speaker was Thomas Friedman, columnist for the New York Times, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, and author of The World is Flat (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005). According to Friedman, the major challenge to America today is the merger of globalization and information technology. The global economic playing field is being leveled, and America is not ready for it. He identified four forces that created this situation:

  1. The rise of the PC, allowing individuals to create their own digital content.
  2. August 9, 1995, the day that Netscape went public. Their browser brought the Internet to life and allowed everyone to interact with it.
  3. Transmission protocols and networking, which made everyone’s computer interoperable and connected.
  4. The capability for everyone to upload their content and share it with the world.

As a result, we are in an unprecedented era which is built around individuals and the degree to which they can and must act globally. We are moving from a vertical to a horizontal environment where value will be created by what people create and who they collaborate with.

These three major trends mark the present time:

  • Whatever can be done will be done. Will it be done by you or to you? If you don’t pursue your ideas, someone else will.
  • The single most important competitive advantage you can have is between you and your own imagination.
  • The world is getting flatter and flatter and more and more hyper-productive. CEOs used the recession to become very efficient. The jobs they eliminated are gone and are not coming back. Whatever you do, don’t be average.
  • We are rapidly heading to a world of universal connectivity in which trust, values, ethics, and judgment will matter more than ever, and which will be hugely important to the librarian and information industry.

Opening the Monday sessions, Steve Abram, well-known speaker, former president of SLA, and now with Gale Cengage Learning, delivered a strong challenge to librarians. He said that we have a big opportunity to become the MBAs and CPAs of the next generation economy. We are in the midst of changes that are bigger than the financial or industrial revolutions. Copyright is a major issue because copyright laws will govern how the next economy will work. We must align with what we know now instead of with our old prejudices.

We are at a critical juncture where control is beginning to depend on the device, and our role is moving into a world of sense-making. … There will soon be 150 million books online. Are you ready for that?

The emphasis is not about the technology any more; it is about representing our role in the technology. Librarians make sense of information. We know that improves the quality of questions, and we know that libraries are for learning, discovery, and making progress. What will the end user be like after an experience with our products? Librarians have a vital role in building the critical connections between information, knowledge, and learning. They must be biased toward quality. As technology advances, emboldened librarians hold the key.

A session on misinformation on the Internet drew an overflow crowd. Anne Mintz, author of Web of Deception (CyberAge Books, 2002) said that intentional misinformation has grown since she wrote her book, and it now goes beyond individual websites. Consumer Reports has estimated that annual damage from spyware and other forms of misinformation is now in the billions of dollars. Criminal activity on the Internet is on the rise; it has been fueled by the widespread popularity of social media. Identity theft has also become a much larger problem than ever before; more than 347 million records have been compromised in the US since 2005. The Internet has become much more dangerous than formerly; anyone using it must use sound critical thinking.

It is no secret that mobile platforms are increasingly being used for information dissemination. Three representatives from the Smithsonian Institution reported on some of their pioneering work. The Smithsonian’s strategy envisions the use of shared tools across all its museums, followed by an infrastructure especially developed for mobile initiatives, products, and services. The first mobile app developed for the Museum of Natural History, MEanderthal, allows a user to morph their photo back in time to see what they would have looked like as a Neanderthal. The app has been downloaded 215,000 times in the last 14 months; 90% of those downloads were for the iPhone.

…corporate libraries are an extremely challenging environment in which to work, and part of the difficulty is that they have long had trouble deciding what to call themselves and what label to put to their skill sets.

Corporate libraries have long been leaders in applying new technology, and they have been prominent in SLA. However, with difficult economic times and shrinking budgets, they have been going through a period of severe turbulence. Jim Matarazzo, former Dean of the Graduate School of Information at Simmons College, and Toby Pearlstein, recently retired from Bain & Co., pointed out that corporate libraries are an extremely challenging environment in which to work, and part of the difficulty is that they have long had trouble deciding what to call themselves and what label to put to their skill sets. And in some organizations, they are trying to figure out who they work for. The result is that libraries are not well known in organizations, and when economic difficulties arise, they are one of the first to feel the cutbacks. It is therefore extremely important for the libraries to prove their worth, and corporate librarians must continually be alert not only to what is happening at their firm, but what is occurring in their industry that might affect them. The following questions form a predictive model for corporate libraries; if the answer to any one of them is “yes”, that should be a red flag:

  • Are decisions being made at the top without user consultation?
  • Is the number of library customers declining?
  • Is funding still available for external resources?
  • Is there evidence of a financial crisis in the parent organization?
  • Has evaluation of the library’s services ceased?

As a library manager, you must go out into the “real world” of your company and promote your value. Be aware of where the money comes from and which budget (i.e., capital or expenses). Get to know your financial people very well and help them understand what you do. Look at every one of your services and see if your customers are satisfied with them. Are people really using them? If you stopped doing them, would anybody notice? You can be a master of your fate. Be prepared to participate in scenario planning and position yourself to drive decisions. And assume that every company (including yours) is for sale at any time.

The advice in this session was excellent, and in today’s environment it is relevant for all types of libraries, not just corporate ones.

As usual, there were many outstanding presentations at the SLA conference. Summaries of many of them, such as a stirring challenge on the biggest threat to libraries today (no, it’s not money, it’s copyright practices!), a wonderful and entertaining session sponsored by the Chemistry Division on The Science of Ice Cream, and the closing keynote by James Kane on loyalty are available on The Conference Circuit blog.

SLA 2012 will be July 15-18 in Chicago, IL.

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Technology Trends 4U — 2011

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

Richard Oppenheim

Richard Oppenheim

As 2011 fades in, it is time to look ahead and make predictions of what is anticipated for the next year. Sometimes this is called planning, sometimes guessing. My goal is to offer some educated guesses for your 2011 planning activities.

In the November issue of DCLnews Blog, I wrote a synopsis of 2010 technology pronouncements – “The Digital Forest“. That article’s last paragraph is repeated here for emphasis:

The flood of digital data will deliver more to watch, more to read, more to store and file. We have choices to make to avoid being strangled by data overload. We can all join hands, virtually, and seek wisdom as to what works best for us this month. There must be an App for that.

The digital data tsunami encircling planet Earth will grow as more content from every corner of the galaxy will be loaded onto one or many data libraries. You can choose how and where to dive into the oncoming torrent of data. It is not recommended that you find some remote mountain top and just watch the content flow accelerate.

In 2011, developers will continue their unceasing delivery of gadgets, life-changing products, life-interrupting services, and many opportunities for us to be amused or amazed or confused with how to use and/or escape from changing technology. A lot of the choosing process will have something to do with your age and how you use technology today. For the age factor, the dividing bar is set at about 35ish.

  • Born before 1975, computers and other technology resources were learned as a teenager or adult as an appendage for your life
  • Born after 1975, computers and other technology were part of your growing up and integrated within your life

There are lots of illustrations (have some fun and make your own lists). One of the more visible examples is the transition from film to digital photography. When picture taking required film, and then a store to print using special paper and chemicals, there was one superior film, Kodachrome. As you read this, know that Kodachrome is no longer. Kodak stopped film production in 2009. The last place to develop and print Kodachrome stopped its operations on 12/31/2010.

Things change, technology changes things with increasing velocity. Trends analyses are important to highlight what has been, what is no longer here, and what is coming.

Content Trends

The going forward trends begin with technologies that support increasing volumes of content and connectivity. How often one uses e-mail is another age indicator. Younger folks prefer online chats and text messaging. Facebook has supplanted Yahoo and other sites as a major communications hub. Email sent to more than one person requires inserting multiple addresses, use of ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’. Facebook and text messaging and twitter provides immediate broadcast to a large population. FB reports that it processes over four billion messages daily.

Volume use of all things technology is increasing at an ever-increasing rate. In December, IDC research issued its 2011 prediction report. The IDC report stated:

…the biggest stories of 2011 revolve around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant IT platform (in our view, the industry’s third major platform) — defined by a staggering variety of mobile devices, an expanding mobile broadband network, and cloud-based application and service delivery, with value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics, generating and analyzing unprecedented volumes of information.

IDC estimates that in 2011, there will be 330 million smartphones sold worldwide and 42 million media tablets. IDC predicts that the PC-centric era will end as over half of the 2.1 billion people who regularly use the Internet will do so using non-PC devices. By mid-2012, non-PC devices capable of running software applications will outsell PCs. Demand for tablets, with Apple’s iPad still leading, will increase as the tablet platform takes off in emerging markets.

The other large growth is what is now called ‘Cloud Computing’. IDC predicts that 80 percent of new software offerings will be available as cloud services in 2011. As I discussed in the “The Digital Data Forest” the growth of content from all sources needs to be incorporated for any future business or personal planning. IDC states:

The ‘digital universe’ of information and content will expand by almost 50% — to almost 2 trillion gigabytes. Businesses are drowning in information — and still want more, creating big opportunities for ‘big data’ analytics and management.

You may be worrying about how to keep up with the constant process known as ‘change’. With technology, change will always happen. David Pogue, writer for the NY Times, said in a November 24, 2010 personal tech column:

Forget about forever—nothing lasts a year. Of the thousands of products I’ve reviewed in 10 years, only a handful are still on the market. Everybody knows that’s the way tech goes. The trick is to accept your gadget’s obsolescence at the time you buy it, so you feel no sense of loss when it’s discontinued next fall. (The other trick is to learn when that’s going to happen: new cameras in September and February, new iPods in September, new iPhones in July…)

Your Trends, Your Way

Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network, OWN, has started. With the content from many devices – Phone, Tablet, TV, et al, everyone will be able to create his/her own private networks. The preliminary name for my network is RON. It is not a rival for OWN.

Using available resources from the cable company, various internet providers, smartphones, and friends, there will be one or more networks for each person on the planet. Comcast (Xfinity) provides click through buttons on shopping sites for direct purchase over the internet connected TV. They also provide a smartphone app that allows users to directly program their at-home DVR.

This is just one example of the integration between the internet and the cable/satellite signal deliveries. Sales of DVDs and other physical storage devices will quicken their decline over the next few years. Internet TV access will enable customizing a group of networks that link together. Note that all major sports, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL have each created their own channels. Companies of all sizes will deliver information using video and audio through their own production or linking with entertainment providers.

Connecting with an overflowing inbox will need assistance. A new app for the iPad, Flipboard is a personalized magazine creator app that aggregates nine online media sources, grabs content from links posted such as Twitter and Facebook (including photos and video), and then presents that content in an easy-to-read, magazine-like format.

Continuing this trend, the concepts supporting social networking will expand with companies adapting to the use of social networking for brand identification, commentaries, and announcements. User support will expand with online chats and direct video calls, such as Skype provides. Professionals, lawyers, accountants, and advisors will also expand this form of client connection.

Retail sites, including eBay and Amazon, are integrating with social networks. Facebook announced that shoppers who go to Amazon.com can log into Facebook and get recommendations for purchases based on their declared tastes in music and movies. In November, eBay rolled out Group Gifts, a way for Facebook friends to chip in together for a gift. Facebook is also building analytic tools to let retailers learn more about who’s drawn to certain products. Amazon’s iPad app, Windowshop, shows images and lets users browse as if they were inside a store. Available at www.windowshop.com.

Wister.com is rolling a social style network that enables users to upload review of businesses, such as restaurants, entertainment facilities and even comments about retail and non-retail businesses. Other users can agree or disagree with comments. If a store gets a bad review, the store will have 48 hours to respond to the review. This form of sharing goes farther than just a tweet or Facebook post as the comment will be accessible by anyone on the Wister site.

Information sharing will expand exponentially. Current uses include: calendars, contacts, emails, photos, music, and the younger set’s need for sharing current actions. There are a growing variety of software to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and other business reporting. With all device connections, collaboration will expand providing user friendly features for annotating, note insertion, and image editing. Service sites like www.basecampHQ.com, will provide even more ways to spread the information around the office and around the world.

Mobility Essentials

Key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include: a lot more smartphone apps, event-based marketing, and many location based services. Wherever you are, your hand held device knows the map coordinates and the surrounding streets, buildings, and weather.

New GPS apps will integrate location with content about your past behavior or your calendar to suggest activities that may be appropriate where you are. Initially, you will have to request this information. The upgrades or premium services will support push technology and deliver content to you like an alarm clock. Retail marketing will integrate geo-targeting apps with a database of your purchase history, likes, and dates such as birthdays to make recommendations, alerting you to specific store locations. Already exiting apps, such as RedLaser, can help you locate the same products for lower prices. Future apps will have that information ready without any specific key click required.

Augmented reality is also on its way. Based on your location, you can request images and information for how the surrounding area appeared in a prior time period. Redrawing of the geography would include other buildings, no buildings, etc. depending how far back you want your reality augmented.

Handheld devices can identify, for example, when a policeman or doctor was in the vicinity and immediately alert them to an emergency. Your device will also be able to tap into video cameras around the corner, some location you are going to, or at your house. A few years ahead, this video image will be able to alert you to traffic, crowds or some other identifiable situation.

Sustainability Needs More Energy

Technology can help reduce wasted energy, space, and natural resources. New technologies are available that help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy. For example, in 2010, Google announced its 5 billion dollar commitment to an off shore wind farm along the Atlantic coast.

The U.S. Department of Energy is allocating funds to support the research and development of clean, reliable energy for buildings and transportation. Applicants include teams from university, industry, and national laboratories. Under the program, the grantees will conduct cost analyses for different manufacturing volumes to help gauge the near-term viability and long-term potential of new technologies.

One of the hot suppliers of alternative energy is Bloom Energy. Today, commercial electricity costs about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. Costs with a ‘Bloom Box’ are between 8 cents and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour and break-even after installation in less than 5 years. A few of Bloom’s customers include eBay Inc., Cypress Semiconductor Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Safeway Inc., and Wal-Mart. Replacing fossil fuel suppliers with clean and easy to maintain fuel cell boxes also eliminates any need for combustion.

Google’s web application PowerMeter, enables users and electric companies to track energy consumption. A monitor kit attaches to your electricity meter and transmits data via Wi-Fi. The web app will show how much energy is used. This application is currently being used in San Diego.

Smart meters will track electricity data with fine-grained detail. Home broadband connections opens up online electricity monitoring to a much broader base of potential customers.

Trends and You

Technology products and services are coming fast and their arrival speed is accelerating. It is not possible to keep up with trends, to know what to buy, to avoid feeling confused and late to the party. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is O.K. to step back and ease up on yourself.

It is very important to understand and accept that these trends are coming and will not stop just because you may have worries. Identify what you, your company, and your friends are using, and do your best to stay compatible and collaborative. Hiding in a haystack will not help and the haystack will blow away. Technology will continue to expand everyone’s ability to connect with greater frequency and with a lot greater volume of information. Finding ways to best use this expansion for your benefit is a trend that you need to pursue in 2011 and beyond.

About the Author

Richard Oppenheim, CPA, blends business, technology and writing competence with a passion to help individuals and businesses get unstuck from the obstacles preventing their moving ahead. He is a member of the Unlimited Priorities team. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/richinsight.

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A Web by Any Other Name

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

Why We Need to Know About the Semantic Web

Richard Oppenheim

Richard Oppenheim

Some say “Look out — the semantic web is coming.” Some say it is already here. Others say: “what exactly is semantic about the web?”

Whether or not you have ever heard of the “semantic web,” you need to know more about it. Probably the first step for all of us is to get past the hype of yet another marketing term for technology. We know that technology will continuously create new phrases for new features that enable us to do more than yesterday. This includes terms like personal computer, smartphone, internet, world wide web, telecommuting, cloud computing and a lot more. Twenty-five years ago, only a few folks were even using computers, let alone smartphones, e-mail, social networks, and search engines.

Tim Berners-Lee, the person credited with developing the world wide web, said, “the semantic web is not a separate web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.”

The purpose of the semantic web is to enable words and phrases to provide links to resources, like Wikipedia, to reach across the universe of web-accessible data.

The dictionary definition of “semantics” is a range of ideas that has no defined limits. In written language, such things as paragraph structure and punctuation have semantic content. In spoken language, it is the study of the signs or symbols inside a set of circumstances and contexts. This includes sounds, tones, facial expressions, body language, foot tapping and hand waving.

There are lots of ways to refer to the huge storehouse of data outside our control, such as the internet, the web, cyberspace, geek heaven, or some other term. Whatever term you choose, know that the semantic storehouse is a repository for words, images, and applications that is way too big to measure. It is like trying to count the number of stars in the universe; only rough estimates are available.

To deliver or receive communication, we combine individual elements in small or large quantities to create spoken language, articles, books, web sites, blogs, tweets, photo albums, videos, songs, song albums, audio books, podcasts and more. Words can be from any one or multiple languages. Images can be still or moving, personal or commercial. Each element in our storehouse is always available to be used in any sequence and any quantity.

The semantic web invokes Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of every piece of data immediately accessible by anyone to use in any way they want. His vision expands the use of “linked data” to connect all web-based elements with every other web-based element. Wikipedia provides a peek into how, with its linking of terms from one posting to other entries in other posts. The resounding slogan shouted by Berners-Lee is “Raw Data Now.”

The purpose of the semantic web is to enable words and phrases to provide links to resources, like Wikipedia, to reach across the universe of web-accessible data. A current example is how CNN is expanding its resources. For on-air broadcasting, CNN summarizes its news feeds. You can login to the CNN website to access the “raw” news feeds to watch and listen without an analyst’s intervention.

Growing up, my primary reference material was a paper-based encyclopedia or dictionary or thesaurus. Books in my local town library were available, but it was hard to access books that the town library did not have. Today, all of those resources are accessible at any time without completing a weight training exercise. One fledgling example of this use of raw data is the DBpedia. DBpedia is a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia to expand the linkage of data. As of April 2010, the DBpedia knowledge base contains over one billion pieces of information describing more than 3.4 million things.

In 2010, you will not change your life and adopt only the semantic web over currently-used resources. Every forecast tells us that in the few years ahead there will be lots of new and rich resources available. The semantic web will enable us to collect data elements, assemble them, disassemble them and start anew or continue by adding more data elements. It will be one of the 21st century’s functional erector sets, useful for business support, personal search, and even customizable games.

The semantic web, however, is not a game. And it is, of course, under construction today and will likely be under construction for at least the rest of this century. The skeptics are stating that the goals are too lofty and not realistic. But a quick view of very recent history reveals:

  • The internet was first used by a few universities in the 1960s. Thirty years later, the world wide web started its revolutionary integration with our lives.
  • Bar code scanning was first tested on a pack of chewing gum in 1974. It was another ten years before grocery stores started to adopt the thick and thin bars. Today bar coding has grown way beyond grocery store checkout lines.
  • In 1983, Motorola released the first cellular phone for $3,000. 10 years later, the cell phone industry took its first leap. Today cellular and wireless technologies are essential tools for lots and lots of enterprises and individuals of every age.
  • In the past 10 years: LinkedIn was founded in 2002, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006

Raw data without borders will enable, for example, each of us to create our very own Dewey Decimal filing system, including card catalogue, rolodex, and other customized information.

Technology will always ride the sea changes as new capabilities build on what has been tested and used before. Search engines enable us to ask questions and retrieve answers that are some combination of data, some precise, some tangential to the subject, and some totally unrelated to the topic. Today’s data libraries are single location silos, such as Wikipedia, that hold information beyond the capacity of my local library. With the semantic web, these silos will lose their standalone status. The new linking capabilities will deliver infinitely expanded ways to link data in any one silo with data in almost any other silo. Everything, including national security, will still require protection from criminals, hackers, and assorted bad guys.

Raw data without borders will enable, for example, each of us to create our very own Dewey Decimal filing system, including card catalogue, rolodex, and other customized information. Similar to the smartphone app world, we will have a large selection of end-user applications that integrate, combine and deduce information needed to assist us in performing tasks. Of course, we may choose to perform information construction ourselves. This would be like answering our own phone or typing our own correspondence or driving our own car. We can choose to adapt, adopt, or discard any feature that becomes available. The semantic web is real and it is growing. It has the potential to expand beyond any estimate.

About the Author

Richard Oppenheim, CPA, blends business, technology and writing competence with a passion to help individuals and businesses get unstuck from the obstacles preventing their moving ahead. He is a member of the Unlimited Priorities team. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/richinsight.

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