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Innovative Complacency or the Wisdom of the Deceived?

  This is where I see a real problem for developed Asia: a complacency and disinterest in the role of technology and innovation. Or is it the clarity of vision from too much innovation? In a survey conducted by IDC on behalf of Avaya (no link available, you need to sign up to get a copy), key IT decision makers from developed Asian countries (leaving aside Australia for now) were much more likely to downplay the role of innovation in driving business. Singapore came lowest with 14% of respondents believing the statement “innovation is extremely important to drive business.” Compare that to around 40% inContinue readingInnovative Complacency or the Wisdom of the Deceived?

Moleskines Redux

Of course, I claim a lot of the credit for this decade-long trend Why Startups Love Moleskines:  “The notion that non-digital goods and ideas have become more valuable would seem to cut against the narrative of disruption-worshipping techno-utopianism coming out of Silicon Valley and other startup hubs, but, in fact, it simply shows that technological evolution isn’t linear. We may eagerly adopt new solutions, but, in the long run, these endure only if they truly provide us with a better experience—if they can compete with digital technology on a cold, rational level.” I have returned to Moleskines recently, partly because I realised I have a cupboardContinue readingMoleskines Redux

Afghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

By Jeremy Wagstaff There’s something I notice amid all the dust, drudgery and danger of Kabul life: the cellphone TVs. No guard booth—and there are lots of them—is complete without a little cellphone sitting on its side, pumping out some surprisingly clear picture of a TV show. This evening at one hostelry the guard, AK-47 absent-mindedly askew on the bench, had plugged his into a TV. I don’t know why. Maybe the phone gave better reception. All I know is that guys who a couple of years ago had no means of communication now have a computer in their hand. Not only that, it’s aContinue readingAfghanistan’s TV Phone Users Offer a Lesson

Into the Light

Part of my job is explaining the world of new/social media to old media veterans. It’s not easy, either because they’re very resistant to change, or because they tend to see the changes  being wrought on their industry as somehow different to the much bigger changes taking place. It’s not a bunch of separate revolutions—it’s one revolution. For want of a better description, it’s not unlike the transition from the Dark Ages to the High Middle Ages. That’s perhaps overstating it, but compare, if you will, this small vignette. I was chatting with a friend on Skype just now; he had returned to Canada toContinue readingInto the Light

My Technology-free Lunch

At lunch today, it took me some time to realise what was different. It wasn’t just that my four lunch partners were all quite a bit older than me–15 years, at least, and I’m not as young as you think I am. It was, I realised, that in more than two hours of eating not one of us had answered a phone–or even received a phone call, or text message, or furtively checked our email. I’m not sure any of us were packing a BlackBerry. Maybe my companions weren’t even carrying cellphones. It was extraordinary. I was going to ask, but I didn’t want toContinue readingMy Technology-free Lunch

Dark Age Messengers

Maybe I’m missing something, of I’ve been taken in by those TV ads of guys walking across stepping stones made out of frogmens’ skulls, but I expect the big couriers to be somewhat snappier and higher-tech these days. Not based on today’s experience: Call their hotline to get a guy in either Mexico or the Philippines (based on accent, and he wasn’t saying) who scolded me for giving the second line of the address first, and then refused to accept the package as documents when I told him it was a book (it’s actually a pile of edited pages, so I guess it could beContinue readingDark Age Messengers

Heathrow’s Old Windows

Snapped this on my way to Gate 1 at Heathrow’s Terminal 3. I know the London hub has its problems, but I didn’t realise one of them was that its passenger information system — or at least part of it — was running on Windows 95, a 12-year old operating system that has not been supported by Microsoft since 2001. Does it matter that flight information is being run on a system that Microsoft not only no longer sells, but it no longer supports? I guess not, in some ways. Who cares, if it’s still working? (Well, in the case above, where one screen isContinue readingHeathrow’s Old Windows

“It Says Take a Left Up This Impassable Mountain Track”

  photo from Reuters Apparently technology is making us so dumb we need signs to jolt us back to common sense. Reuters reports that Britain has started trials of special road signs warning “drivers about the dangers of trusting their satellite navigation devices (satnavs)”: Some have reported that software glitches have sent drivers down one-way streets or up impassable mountain tracks. One ambulance driver with a faulty satnav drove hundreds of miles in the wrong direction while transferring a patient from one hospital in Ilford east of London to another just eight miles away. At what point, I wonder, did the ambulance driver think thatContinue reading“It Says Take a Left Up This Impassable Mountain Track”

What a CEO Would Really Write in His Blog

My fellow BBC World Service commentator, Lucy Kellaway, lays into Reuters CEO Tom Glocer as the worst case of vapid CEO blogging (via the BBC’s Richard Sambrook). Harsh, because Glocer seems to be a cut above the rest of the old media but she has a point: Blogs are about being honest and authentic, and I’ve seen few CEOs manage to do this. Although the results would be entertaining, if they for once did try not to please but to vent (which is the real distinction between a faux blog and a real one). Here’s an early draft of what a CEO like Mr. GlocerContinue readingWhat a CEO Would Really Write in His Blog

Crying Out for Clarity

Interesting post and thread at Signal vs Noise on the overuse of buzzwords, particularly on job applications. One thing caught my eye, though: the assumption that shorter, briefer is better. One commenter wrote: “I’ve always noticed that the shortest emails come from those with the most power in the organization.” That’s probably because they’re using a BlackBerry. Shorter isn’t necessarily better, although it might be. Clarity is better. Not always the same thing. (Having just read through a dozen award applications I see a crying need for clarity.) Anyway some horrible buzzwords that crop up in the comments or my head: anything with 2.0 inContinue readingCrying Out for Clarity

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