Monthly Archives: December 2004

Book Notes: The Tipping Point

I was recommended The Tipping Point by my colleagues at Ambient Devices (who design and sell way cool technology for the masses, by the way). The book is about the analysis of how epidemics, fads, etc spread, approaching it from a social and psychological standpoint. It suggests there are four key components to a “Tipping Point Architecture” (my term): Connectors, Mavens, Stickiness, and Context.

The individual case studies and examples are just fascinating. Why did Hush Puppies turn around so quickly? Why did crime drop in NYC so drastically? Did you know 2 year olds have more complex conversations with themselves than they do others? Simply fascinating trivia, and the author does a great job with the examples, using them to kick off a chapter, leaving the reader intrigued as to the relationship between the case study and the “Tipping Point.”

Taking a holistic view at epidemics, the author really gives you something to think about in terms of Connectors, Mavens, Stickiness, and Context. Trying to open a new business? How do you reach your Connectors and Mavens? What makes your idea “stick”? How do you give it the right context (or how do you launch in the right context? What about launching a fundraising drive? In and of themselves, these ideas are not novel. But it gives a nice scope of what it takes for ideas to take off.

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AOL succeeding at filtering spam

Apparently AOL is seeing a reduction in spam. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come in the spam killing space.

Book notes: Does IT Matter?

I’m going to try something new with my blog; keeping book notes online as I read a book.

I finished Does IT Matter?, and it’s was a good read. Strangely enough, I agree with his basic premise: that IT does not provide competitive advantage these days. It has really stimulated my thinking about my career and where I need to take it.

My favorite quote from the book so far (p. 92): The fact that competitive advantage has become more difficult to sustain doesn’t make it less important; it makes it more important.

The book also introduced me to the concept of leveragable advantage (ok, it didn’t introduce me to it; rather it gave a name to a concept that I describe to many and get some blank stares). This is the notion that one activity or initiative is used as leverage for the next activity, and so on. In other words, each initiative is a stepping stone, and not a destination. This is a key component of my philosophy where there is no such thing as sustainable competitive advantage from a single invention. The only competitive advantage is leverageable advantage.

All-in-all, I agree with the author’s analysis of the value of IT in it’s lifecycle today. IT has become ubiquitous, and with it carries more risk than competitive advantage. I don’t agree with all of his recommendations; at the same time, I don’t think that was the purpose of his book.

I will have to go back and read the section on the commoditization of software. In general I agree with Nicholas Carr’s assessment; I would like to use his rationale to further drive companies to invest in innovative software technologies.

What I don’t necessarily agree with are Carr’s recommendations for business managers. While I agree with his conclusions on the state, impact, and future of IT, translating that to action is not Carr’s specialty. I will get into this at a later time when I have more time to pontificate =)

Nice Christmas

Spencer had a good time yesterday, perhaps because most of the stuff Santa brought him was licensed by The Incredibles, including:

  • Boots
  • Underwear
  • PJs
  • Telescope/Projector (or TV as Spencer calls it)
  • Action Figure Set
  • Interactive Omnidroid (his favorite)

Spencer even picked out The Incredibles game for mom.

But it wasn’t all Pixar. Santa brought Spencer his first Hot Wheels set, a couple of Dinosaur building sets, some paint, a Spiderman Playdough set, and even some Buzz Lightyear PJs.

Perhaps the most interesting (to Dad, anyway) toy Spencer received was the VTech VSmile video game/learning system. It’s a relatively cheap unit ($49 at Toys R Us, colorful (purple and orange?), with a controller designed specifically for kids – the joystick and action button are both large designed for hands instead of fingers.

The graphics look like the old Super Nintendo system games; VTech is probably licensing some old technology (or even using some technology whose patents have expired, maybe?) and applying it in the 3-7 year old space. Strangely enough, this is related to what I do at work in the innovation space. Rather than overserving the market (with graphics and capabilities that 3-7 year olds would not appreciate), they are delivering the right amount of performance, which allows them to drive down cost.

In the afternoon, we had friends’ over, deep-fried a turkey, and had a nice dinner. Spencer and Emma played with Spencer’s new loot. And of course Brian and I spent plenty of time on the XBox (he killed me in golf). Amy even cut Molly and Emma’s hair.

Proof that Santa doesn’t exist

I don’t know why, but I always find this funny. Maybe it takes a geek to appreciate it =)

Merry Christmas everyone!

OSGi for Eclipse 3.0 plug-ins

Did not realize that OSGi was the basis for Eclipse 3.0 plugins. I must say, that is a good idea – perhaps OSGi found it’s niche?

A little surprise someone hasn’t abstracted OSGi to XML yet. Imagine MS using an XML-based OSGi architecture for plugins to Windows…

IBM Reflexive UI

Looks like IBM is trying to follow the XAML lead. I’m curious, why didn’t they just write a XAML-to-Swing engine? Do we REALLY need YAML (yet-another-markup-language)?

That’s the problem with open-source, free contributions, etc. Everyone wants to contribute, nobody wants to reuse.