Page 161 – ANZAC Day 2008

I picked up this meme from Stilgherrian (they are catching like colds those memes) and thought I’d give it a try too. The results are interesting.

Grab the nearest book.
Open it to page 161.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Use what’s actually next to you.
And the sentence is:

“Then to bed, perhaps for a smoke, with dire consequences always possible in a straw barn.”

The book is Death’s Men – Soldiers of the Great War by Dennis Winter. I’m reading it today because it is ANZAC Day.

The sentence doesn’t make a lot of sense by itself, but the chapter that contains it is called ‘Into Rest’. It is about the rests behind the lines that the troops experienced on the Western Front in World War I. The horrors that the troops suffered are almost inconceivable, but it does show what amazing things the human spirit can endure. Reading this book I have utmost respect for people who can go through such awful experiences and then return to society and live a ‘normal‘ life.

People who think war is a good thing should really read this book – it is a dreadful waste of all resources and an inhumane activity.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning
We will remember them. Lest we Forget.

Time for mental detox week?


Previously known as ‘turn off the TV week’ brought to us by the folks at ADBUSTERS and it is supposed to be held 21-27 April, but you could really try it any time.

The idea is to “take your TV, your DVD player, your video iPod, your XBOX 360, your laptop, your PSP, and say goodbye to them all for seven days. Simple, but not at all easy. Like millions of others before you, you’ll be shocked at just how difficult – yet also how life-changing – a week spent unplugged can really be.”

Not sure if I can commit to unplug all my gadgets for a week? But perhaps it is a good thing to try?

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Survived BarCamp Canberra #1

Happy to report that I survived BarCamp Canberra #1 in spite of the fact that the town was overrun by Australia 2020 Summiteers.

Instead we were ensconced in the cosy ANU computer science building for some geek mayhem. I was impressed by the variety, passion and enthusiasm for technology that was displayed in the people there. It is quite inspiring to see so many people interested in similar things cooperating and sharing ideas.

I truly believe that if we want a vibrant and successful ICT industry in Australia it will not just happen via the big end of town. We need a ferment of ideas and active online and offline communities of practitioners. My question is how do we take the great collaboration and sharing that happened on the day and make it business as usual?

Many of the presentations from the day are on Slideshare

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#BarCampCanberra finally here

Made it down to Canberra for their inaugural Bar Camp at ANU – good turn out and some interesting presentations so far. Will post a summary later tonight.

It was a good drive down from Sydney this morning, but lots of police on the roads and a few radar traps. Weather

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G’day World and the Juxtaposition of Adverts

It often amuses me to see the ads that Google places on Cameron Reilly’s G’day World site. Today was a combination of apocalyptic insights and some Christian podcasts.

Given his oft repeated religious beliefs Google’s ads are pure gold 😉

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Innovation – nature or nurture?

Have been thinking a lot about innovation recently and pondering if it is the result of nature or nurture in the workplace.

In business we spend a lot of time encouraging innovation with suggestions from staff and brainstorming activities. But I still wonder how much of that drives true innovation?

Given my background in history and philosophy of science (see Dad it did come in handy one day) and thinking about how scientific discoveries are made I remain unsure if what we are doing in the corporate world is really going to drive innovation. Can you really hothouse innovation? What kind of environment enables that?

One of the things that enables scientific discovery is time and funding for research, a luxury we don’t often get in corporate life. Also in business failure is rarely accepted, while scientific innovation is built on top of failures (since each failure adds information to build with).

Further, consider most ‘new’ products. Often they are not really ‘new’, instead they are line or product extensions. The truly new products are usually the result of a persistent few and are brought to market in spite of corporate efforts to strangle them quietly in a corner.

It is an interesting area to think about, I don’t have many answers but have lots of questions. Any thoughts are most welcome.

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Australia’s First Female Governor General

Appointment of Ms Quentin Bryce AC as Australia’s next Governor General is good news. She has had a distinguished career as a lawyer, academic, senior public servant and governor of Queensland (not to mention the 5 kids & several grandchildren). IMHO an excellent choice as Her Excellency (although I do suspect she will prefer to be called “Ms Bryce”).

More in the Sydney Morning Herald

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Analysis of how people use tag clouds

Here is Garrick Schmitt’s presentation for the IA Summit on consumer behaviour and Web 2.0 called Do Real People Really Use Tag Clouds?: Research To Help Separate Web 2.0’s Hits From Hype. It builds on the consumer behavior research AARF did late last year and provides some interesting insight into online consumer behaviour. Of particular interest is the information regarding importance of distribution, as I’ve always considered this to be a key issue to address. Also of interest is the growth in niche-ness.

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Email is now largest security threat

One of the largest gaps in our security is email. An example from a recent experience reported in Business Week highlights the risks:

“The e-mail message addressed to a Booz Allen Hamilton executive was mundane—a shopping list sent over by the Pentagon of weaponry India wanted to buy. But the missive turned out to be a brilliant fake. Lurking beneath the description of aircraft, engines, and radar equipment was an insidious piece of computer code known as “Poison Ivy” designed to suck sensitive data out of the $4 billion consulting firm’s computer network.

The Pentagon hadn’t sent the e-mail at all. Its origin is unknown, but the message travelled through Korea on its way to Booz Allen. Its authors knew enough about the “sender” and “recipient” to craft a message unlikely to arouse suspicion. Had the Booz Allen executive clicked on the attachment, his every keystroke would have been reported back to a mysterious master at the Internet address cybersyndrome.3322.org, which is registered through an obscure company headquartered on the banks of China’s Yangtze River.” [Source: Business Week April 10, 2008]

When you consider why we use email so much in business you realise that it is mostly used as a collaboration tool. But we are using a collaboration tool that does not enable us to ensure the identity of the other party. This does not seem secure or sensible now that we have viable online collaboration tools.

Given the risks inherent in normal everyday email communications isn’t it about time we started coming up with alternative collaboration techniques for business?

For the record I should note my deep and abiding dislike of email. I firmly believe it to be a primitive and inefficient means of communication.

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BarCamp Canberra Saturday 19th April 2008

BarCamp Canberra Described by its unorganisers as “A free unconference for the innovation, media, web, and development communities focussed on sharing, learning and new ideas.”

I went to the recent BarCamp Sydney and had fun, met some nice people who are passionate about technology, and learned some new things. Worth a look if you’re in that part of the world.