What is a geek?

Went to an Earth Hour candlelight BBQ last night and ended up having one of those late night conversations about ‘what is a geek?’ and ‘who is a geek?’

I’d never really thought about it like that before & so have been pondering notions with Twitterbuds this morning. But am very interested in what other people define a geek as, and who they think is a geek.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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Pumas, Planets and Pens: How Cues in the Environment Influence Consumer Choice

Just read a very interesting article on this research paper: “Dogs on the Street, Pumas on Your Feet: How Cues in the Environment Influence Product Evaluation and Choice,” where Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger suggests that what you see in your everyday world can influence what you buy. This indicates that association is a powerful tool in getting people to purchase.

An example he gave was participants in one study who were shown more images of dogs liked sneakers from the Puma brand more than those who had not seen the images — because dogs are associated with cats, and cats with Puma. “Marketers … think they have to come up with a catchy slogan or slick advertisement to create a buzz,” Berger says. Instead, companies can get a payoff by creating a link between their product and a cue in the environment.

More details here: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewfeature&id=1927

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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Is IT becoming extinct?

Krigsman over at ZDNet asked this very interesting question.

I reckon that IT is diverging into two separate streams – firstly mission critical systems, that must be highly reliable and resilient. Secondly non-critical systems that are being democratised. I don’t think any of us want to use medical or financial systems that are user generated, not tested and not highly secure and fault tolerant? But for other business systems I see socialprise as taking over.

So we see the divergence. Where high levels of reliability, redundancy and resilience are required IT departments & engineers are critical. But for the rest roll on the revolution!

Corollary: IT departments will get smaller & become irrelevant

The important thing that web technology is now enabling is ordinary people can generate, change and control it without need for many specialists. This means that business units can control their own technological destiny.

Also things like SaaS will continue to change the game. Thus economies of scale that old time IT departments delivered will become less relevant. They will become less relevant because to deliver economies of scale you remove freedom, choice and control from the business. Up until now the business people just had to live with it. Now they are beginning to have viable, cost effective & reliable alternatives.

We should see some interesting battles between IT fighting a rearguard action against this phenomenon and the business units pushing ahead so they can achieve their business goals.

Scott Adams is not really joking in Dilbert when he refers to the IT department representative as “Mordac preventer of information services”.

NB: Caveat on all of this is exclusion of mission critical systems from above.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire
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Now your plants can Twitter too!

New Twitter app: Botanicalls, where your plants tweet to let you know how they are doing.

As it says on the website: “Botanicalls Twitter answers the question: What’s up with your plant? It offers a connection to your leafy pal via online Twitter status updates that reach you anywhere in the world. When your plant needs water, it will post to let you know, and send its thanks when you show it love. “

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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General Colin Powell: 18 Lessons from a very successful leader

General Colin Powell is a leader that I admire. I ran across this list in my travels and thought it worth sharing.

Lesson 1: “Good leaders sometimes make people unhappy.”

Lesson 2: “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of a relationship”

Lesson 3: “Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”

Lesson 4: ” Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.”

Lesson 5: “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted, the leader must be doubly vigilant.”

Lesson 6: “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

Lesson 7: “Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.”

Lesson 8: ” Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”

Lesson 9: “Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing”.

Lesson 10: “Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.”

Lesson 11: “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.”

Lesson 12: “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Lesson 13: “Powell’s Rules for Picking People” – Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done.”

Lesson 14: (Borrowed by Powell from Michael Korda): “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Lesson 15 Part I: “Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired.”

Lesson 15 Part II: “Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.”

Lesson 16: “The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proven otherwise.”

Lesson 17: “Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you’ve earned it: Spend time with your families.”

Corollary: “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”

Lesson 18: “Command is lonely.”

[Source: Little Africa]

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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Global Warming or Global Cooling?

I was listening to the ABC Radio on the way home the other night and heard a conversation between Counterpoint’s Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Now many think that the IPA is a neo-con front, but it was a seriously interesting set of data under discussion. The podcast of their conversation is here.

The story has also been picked up by The Australian

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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Some interesting perspectives on the Skills Shortage & Talent Wars

So nothing appears to have changed – we continue to hear the rhetoric of talent wars and continue to see the demonstrable lack of interest or investment in the ‘talent’ that is already there.

Blame CIOs for the IT Skills Shortage

We can’t hire enough “talent.” Oh, and we’re eliminating 3,000+ jobs

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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