Video conversation with Euan Semple on Enterprise 2.0 governance and peer-to-peer

On Friday I caught up with Euan Semple in London. It was great to meet, as we’d just conversed over email, voice, and video up until then, and of course had him present over video at our Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum in February.

It recently occurred to me that when I catch up with interesting people, I should make a brief video at the end of the meeting to summarize the most intriguing ideas that had come up in the course of our conversation. This is the first time I have tried it, though I hope to do this a lot more regularly now. One of the biggest benefits is capturing for myself the most interesting insights from the conversations I have. It’s also great to share these with others.

In this case I did a very poor job of making the video. First the tape ran out in the middle of the conversation. Then I rewound the tape, and ended up going over the beginning of the earlier conversation. Hopefully I have learned my lesson from this – there are still some very interesting points made by Euan in the video. Forgive the discontinuities.

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The many layers of collaborative filtering – news and entertainment comes to us

For the last ten years I have believed that collaborative filtering will be one of the most fundamental platforms for business and society. In a world of massively increasing information overload, the only way we will cope is to collaborate to filter what will be most relevant to us. Early this decade I was finding myself very surprised by how slow progress had been over the last five years, despite some interesting research and initiatives. However the last five years on the Internet could almost be characterized as the rise of collaborative filtering. Our Web 2.0 Framework is in a sense a description of how we collectively filter information. Almost all the significant developments on the web I would interpret as related to this evolution of collaborative filtering.

An article out a few days ago in the New York Times titled Finding Political News Online, The Young Pass It On described how young people share political news they are interested in by email and on social networks. In the same way, many young people primarily read articles that has found them in this way. In short:

“..they rely on friends and online connections for news to come to them. In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clicking on CNN.com — with a social one.”

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Industrial policy in the global media economy

Japan and Singapore are examples of nations that have had highly interventionist industrial policies and industry support through the second half of the twentieth century, with great success. However once economies become developed, the key issues are far less about manufacturing prowess. Today the buzzwords in national economic development are knowledge, creativity, media, content, entertainment, design, and the like. All of these flow easily across boundaries. Moreover, the educational and social structures required to support them are dramatically different to those that support the creation of an industrial and manufacturing powerhouse.

When I was in Singapore this Monday I met with the Media Development Authority, a government agency devoted to building Singapore’s capabilities in the media and content space. Among other activities, it actively encourages interactive media companies, gaming ventures, and content development. Initiatives include media education, supporting PC games, and developing a research ecosystem .

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Live on Today show: how the relationship between people and machines is becoming emotional

This morning I was interviewed on the Australian national breakfast television program the Today show, together with our new family pet, the robot dinosaur Pleo. The video is below.

[UPDATE:] This TV segment is also available on the NineMSN website in better quality.

While it makes for a nice fun TV segment, I actually think that there is something fundamentally important at work here. As a futurist, one of the most important issues I consider is the evolving relationship between people and technology. Throughout history, that relationship has often been problematic, with notably the Luddites smashing machines, and more recently just about everyone having experienced immense frustration with their computers not doing what they’re supposed to do.

Following the ground laid by Sony’s robotic dog Aibo, Pleo is the first generation of commercial robotic pets that acts so we can form genuine emotional ties with it. I’ve written before about emotional robots such as Paro the seal and been interviewed in Newsday on how emotional robots are used to great effect in therapy and aged care. Pleo has reached the threshold of being a fun and interactive “lifeform” (as the manufacturer Ugobe describes it), and also is highly affordable at US$350 (which may seem expensive for a toy, but is very cheap compared with for example visits to the vet for real live pets).

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FriendFeed has the potential to transcend social networks and catalyze collaborative filtering

Over the last week FriendFeed has being the hot topic of the online world, soaring in popularity after an already strong start from its launch on February 25. FriendFeed allows you to see all of the online activities of the people you like or admire, who choose to share that data. So for example I have created a FriendFeed for Ross Dawson that brings together a summary of blog posts I’ve written, what I’ve bookmarked on del.icio.us, shared on StumbleUpon and Google Reader, videos I’ve posted on YouTube, pictures on Flickr, profile changes on LinkedIn, and songs I’ve loved on Last.FM. There are currently a total of 28 services that people can include in profiling what they are doing online.

On one level, this provides a quite staggering depth of visibility into what people are doing, and ultimately who they are as people. I’ve written before about the role of exhibitionism in allowing Web 2.0 to flourish, and this is evident once again in FriendFeed. Of course, it is supposed to be primarily about keeping track of your friends’ rather than strangers’ lives, and the reality is that all of this information is available anyway. It’s just that it has been brought about into one place. Not just that, it is a community itself, allowing comments and other ways to respond to people’s content directly, rather than going back to the source.

While there are other competitors in this space, including SocialThing! (see ReadWriteWeb’s comparison), the availability – and success – of these services is a fundamentally important transition in the online world. The reason why Facebook has been so successful is that it allows people a quick way of keeping in touch with what their friends are up to. Once either all the feeds are available from people’s current social network activities, or people start updating their profiles and activities in a more open format, social networks will be a completely different space.

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Adtech Sydney: Innovation in the Digital Marketplace

A few days ago I attended a morning of the second Adtech Sydney, after last year chairing the keynote panel on the new media mix and the panel on blogs as a marketing tool last year. The event has progressed over its very promising start last year, with apparently around 30% more attendees, and an exhibition sprawling into new rooms. It is certainly a major convening point for the industry in Australia, with most of the major players involved or attending.

I spoke on the panel session on Innovation in the Digital Marketplace, together with Karim Temsamani, General Manager of Google Australia/ NZ, Simon Smith, Managing Director of eBay Australia, and Warren Lee, CEO of APN Online. Matt Whale, Director of ?WhatIf!, moderated the panel. I think it was a good session, with us managing to address some of the important points in what is a rather sprawling topic, though perhaps we agreed a bit too much…

A few of the points that I made were:

* Levels of innovation. There is much focus on innovation at the product (new services) and channel (new uses of combinations of digital channels for marketing such as Coke Studios, linking outdoor with SMS, Dell’s Ideastorm etc.) levels. However all of this happens in the context of business model innovation, and ultimately industry structure innovation (for example the shift of the primary platform to social networks). While only a few are able to play effectively at the industry structure level, actually changing the game, any innovation at lower levels needs to take into account the state of industry structure or platform innovation.

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Winners of Startup Carnival announced! The Australian startup landscape is rapidly evolving

The winners of Vishal Sharma’s Startup Carnival have been announced.

The first three prize winners are:

1. Scouta

2. GoodBarry

3. Suburbview

The three judges (Duncan Riley, Justin Davies and myself) scoured through the 24 applications to identify the winners.

My formal comment after judging the field was:

It was very encouraging to see many exciting new market entrants as well as more established firms in the carnival. The depth and breadth of entrepreneurial talent in Australia is rapidly growing, and taking advantage of the massive opportunities emerging in the online space. Hats off to the drive and initiative of the entrepreneurs behind the very impressive array of entries.

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Is business yet to harness Web 2.0, or not yet willing to talk about it?

Tuesday’s edition of The Australian has an article titled Business yet to harness Web 2.0. Overall it takes a rather sceptical approach to the topic, though it does include some positive comments.

Beginning with an overview of what Web 2.0, and suggesting it is confusing, it goes on:

Business strategy analyst Ross Dawson says Web 2.0 systems are becoming part of everyday business processes, like it or not.

“Virtually every large organisation is using these tools and in many cases it’s not sanctioned as part of an overall technology strategy.

“However, partly in recognition that many users are doing this anyway, large organisations are deciding this is something they need to think about, develop a strategy, and understand the value and the risks,” Dawson says.

The article then quotes IDC research that 50% of companies in the Asia Pacific see Web 2.0 as a business opportunity, while 8% see it as a threat. It says that Australian corporate giants Telstra, Westpac, Lend Lease, AMP, and Suncorp are all active in Web 2.0, though apparently the last three declined to comment for the article, saying it is too early to speak about their initiatives. This is rather disappointing, since I know that for at least two of these companies their activities are absolutely advanced enough to share with comfort.

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Why we will all have robot pets in the future

Robots have been perhaps the most-predicted and least-realized aspect of our future. Decades ago we believed that robots would soon be part of the household, doing useful tasks for humans finally able to laze about rather than doing chores. This has not yet come to pass, though washing machines, for example, are arguably task-specific robots. What was not so expected was that robots would be something we would bond to emotionally.

I’ve written and been interviewed about a variety of aspects of the future of robots, including therapeutic robots, emotional robots in aged care, and the economic role of robots. Now that robots have reached a sufficient level of maturity, we have our very own robot pet in the family.

My wife Victoria Buckley, inspired by Where’s My Jetpack, a book she gave me for Christmas, recently bought a Pleo, the latest generation of robotic pet. Pleo is a robotic dinosaur that behaves like a domestic pet – curious, cute, cuddly, and responsive to interaction and people’s emotions.

The makers of Pleo, Ugobe, have a neat site where users can set up their own Pleo blogs (plogs). Victoria has been writing the adventures of our Pleo (named Titus) on her plog, worth reading for the cute photos of Titus with our eighteen-month old daughter Leda alone!

Below is a brief video (1:36 min) of my thoughts on the role of robot pets in our lives.

Complimentary report: Executive Insights into Enterprise 2.0 from roundtable hosted by Future Exploration Network and IBM

The week before the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum, Future Exploration Network and IBM hosted a roundtable of senior executives discussing Enterprise 2.0.

Highlights of the discussions were written up in a report which is being made openly available, to assist other executives in considering the key issues involved. Download the report here:

Executive Insights into Enterprise 2.0:

Lessons from the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Roundtable

e2roundtable_cover.jpg

INTRODUCTION

Enterprise 2.0 – the application of Web 2.0 approaches inside organisations – is one of the most topical issues today for senior technology executives. To eludicate the concepts and to enable experiences to be shared, Future Exploration Network and IBM invited a select group of senior executives to Sydney’s Level 41 restaurant on 13 February 2008. In a free-ranging discussion overlooking Sydney’s harbour, the executives discussed Enterprise 2.0 and its implications and potential for large organisations.

CONTENTS

Roundtable Participants

Introduction to Enterprise 2.0

Defining Enterprise 2.0

Identifying Business Value

Risks and Concerns

Social Networks in the Enterprise

The Shifting Role of IT

Organisational Culture in Enterprise 2.0

The Role of Governance