Word of the Day Archive

October 14, 2007  12:51 PM

Overheard: Data analysis is scary

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
rachel_hinman.jpg “Part of what makes data analysis scary is: 1) There is a lot of data and 2) It is all in disparate forms. Slogging through all that data can feel intimidating because there is simply so much stuff.I often relate this phase of analysis to the television show Clean Sweep. It’s a show about people who have a house so crammed with crap that it’s unlivable.”

Rachel Hinman, Demystifying Data Analysis

October 13, 2007  4:11 PM

Quiz: What are these people talking about?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
DIRECTIONS: These are real statements from real people discussing real technology in the blogosphere. I’ve removed one word from each quote. Can you still figure out what they’re talking about? Click on the link to see if you’re right! Then click your back button for another question.

1. ____________ adoption has been discussed for a number of years now, but the form factor hasn’t been embraced in the way it was initially expected. One of the main reasons is that they are often referred to as “hot little power-suckers.”
What are they talking about?

2. Today, I think of __________ as the zombie operating system. It stumbles around, and from a distance you might think it’s alive, but close up it’s the walking dead.
What are they talking about?

3. The __________ industry is like women’s clothing, except it’s more fashion-driven.
What are they talking about?

4. You know __________ have moved beyond the novelty stage when they are embroiled in that classic business action: A fight over trade secrets.
What are they talking about?

5. Sure __________ is a big, boring enterprise software company, about as far from the furious consumer innovation of Web 2.0 as you can imagine. Yet it’s been clear to me for years that this company takes the ideas of Web 2.0 very seriously.
What are they talking about?

6. __________ have become the unexpected buzzword of 2007; just a few weeks ago I discussed how they can be used for marketers to disseminate information. But I’m realizing that this buzz is eerily similar to the buzz that surrounded desktop applications in the late ’90s.
What are they talking about?

7. As with any of this company’s announcements, this one comes with more than its fair share of misleading assertions and what I’ve come to refer to as __________ . It’s a modernistic form of algebra that arrives at irreproducible results that also have the unique property of having absolutely no bearing on reality.
What are they talking about?

8. There are now almost 600 consumer products made with _____________ technology, including computer processors by Intel and AMD, high capacity hard disk drives, battery pack systems and memory. Even the iPhone uses it.
What are they talking about?

9. But in China, ____________ key feature is its software, dubbed “Road to Riches.”
What are they talking about?

10. Many years ago, way back in 2003 or so, a computing model called __________ was being shopped around by The Open Group. In this model, a big processing job gets split up into lots of little jobs and sent to different computers around the country. The objective? To get super-computer power without having to build or buy a super-computer.
What are they talking about?

October 13, 2007  3:12 PM

Overheard: If you get the lead out, the tin man will have 5 o’clock shadow

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
dr_richard_north.jpg “To prevent lead from being incinerated or accumulating in landfills after electronic devices have been disposed of, the health and safety zealots have not so much thrown — as hurled — the baby out with the bathwater.”

Dr. Richard North, Whiskers!

Agree or disagree? We should allow lead to be used in electronic devices.

October 13, 2007  1:19 PM

Overheard – Forget about being a CIO when you grow up

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
nicholas_carr.jpg “We’ve entered the long twilight of the CIO position, a sign that information technology is finally maturing.”

Nicholas Carr, Twilight of the CIO

Nicholas writes: It will be a slow transition – CIOs will continue to play critical roles in many firms for many years – but we’re at last catching up with the vision expressed back in 1990 by the legendary CIO Max Hopper, who predicted that IT would come to “be thought of more like electricity or the telephone network than as a decisive source of organizational advantage.

Agree or disagree? IT should be thought of more like electricity or the telephone network than as a decisive source of organizational advantage.

October 13, 2007  12:03 PM

Overheard: Social software and group dynamics

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
clay_shirky.jpg “People who work on social software are closer in spirit to economists and political scientists than they are to people making compilers.”

Clay Shirky, A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Clay writes: We had every bit of technology we needed to do weblogs the day Mosaic launched the first forms-capable browser. Every single piece of it was right there. Instead, we got Geocities. Why did we get Geocities and not weblogs? We didn’t know what we were doing.

One was a bad idea, the other turns out to be a really good idea. It took a long time to figure out that people talking to one another, instead of simply uploading badly-scanned photos of their cats, would be a useful pattern.

Writing social software is hard. And, as I said, the act of writing social software is more like the work of an economist or a political scientist. And the act of hosting social software, the relationship of someone who hosts it is more like a relationship of landlords to tenants than owners to boxes in a warehouse.

The people using your software, even if you own it and pay for it, have rights and will behave as if they have rights. And if you abrogate those rights, you’ll hear about it very quickly.

That’s part of the problem that the John Hegel theory of community — community leads to content, which leads to commerce — never worked. Because lo and behold, no matter who came onto the Clairol chat boards, they sometimes wanted to talk about things that weren’t Clairol products.

“But we paid for this! This is the Clairol site!” Doesn’t matter. The users are there for one another. They may be there on hardware and software paid for by you, but the users are there for one another.

Agree or disagree? A group is its own worst enemy.

October 10, 2007  2:10 PM

Overheard: Is the Enterprise Service Bus just a bunch of hype, or do we really need it?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
mark_richards.jpg “Too many times in this industry we get carried away with buzzwords and their definition, and that leads to more confusion than clarity. ”

Mark Richards, The Role of the Enterprise Service Bus

October 10, 2007  6:40 AM

Overheard: VARs are the R of R&D

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
vlad_mazek.gif “In the long term, our VAR partners will give us feedback, feature suggestions, be our front line of support, our support lead, our go-to direct managers and our R of R&D.”

Vladimir Mazek, Why doesn’t anyone care about us?

October 9, 2007  6:37 PM

Overheard: Apple, the iPhone, Von Hippel and The Clash

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
iphone_att.jpg “I think what’s very interesting is the fact that thanks to blogs and the popularity of the iPhone, we’re starting to see platform hacking become a spectator sport for the masses.To be sure, hacking as a spectator sport has existed for years now, but this seems to be the first time that I can recall that the audience has gone beyond video game users or deeply geeky folks. I imagine that iPhone hacking is now common conversation in churches, coffee shops, and around the water cooler.”

Alex Hutton, New iPhone Exploits
Image by Falon

As economist Eric Von Hippel teaches in Democratizing Innovation, real product improvement comes from users.

To celebrate the mighty end user, let’s all join in and sing that Rock-the-Casbah song by The Clash that nobody knows the real words to anyway. Ready?

Von Hippel has a theory
About product improvement
He says it comes from users
Because they’re the ones most interested
Von Hippel wrote a book about it
Democratizing In-no-va-tion
Apple didn’t pay attention
And now “unlocking” is a buzzword


A. T. and T. don’t like it
HACK the iPhone
HACK that IPhone
A. T. and T. don’t like it
HACK the iPhone
HACK that IPhone

Alex Hutton added to the song — it’s too much fun to leave it buried in the comments.

By order of Steve Jobs
You better lock that iPhone down
“We have to play the cat and mouse game”
To sell it to the crowds

AT&T wants exclusivity
and to give us revenue
So we’ll play ball with Ma Bell
And the hackers we will screw

But as 2 weeks after update
the hackers did their thing
3rd party apps are running
and ringtones they did ring!


A. T. and T. don’t like it
HACK the iPhone
HACK that IPhone
A. T. and T. don’t like it
HACK the iPhone
HACK that IPhone

October 8, 2007  11:51 PM

Overheard: What the heck is computing in a cloud?

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
steve_lohr.jpg “The two companies [Google and IBM] are investing to build large data centers that students can tap into over the Internet to program and research remotely, which is called “cloud computing.”

Steve Lohr, Google and I.B.M. Join in ‘Cloud Computing’ Research

Steve Lohr’s New York Times story started a buzzfire. The trouble is, even as I was reading it, I had no idea what Steve Lohr was talking about.

It’s not his fault.

“Computing in a cloud” is something Jeff Bezos name-dropped like crazy a year ago at MIT. Now here it is again.

What the heck is it?

Allow me to explain, Graszhoppa.

Many years ago, way back in 2003 or so, a computing model called “distributed computing” was being shopped around by The Open Group.

In this model, a big processing job gets split up into lots of little jobs and distributed out to different computers. The objective? To get super-computer power without having to build or buy a super-computer.

Clever eh? The University of Illinois thought so back in 1979.

So did SETI.

SETI stands for “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.” Because looking for ET requires a lot of computing power, scientists running the project asked for volunteers — ordinary people — to sign up on the Internet and donate their their home computer’s extra processing power. All this extra power could be harnessed over the Internet and coordinated to make a kind of virtual supercomputer. The project was called SETI@home. Lots of people signed up, including me.

Still following? Good.

Jump forward to 2007. Today, Wikipedia, Facebook and Google use this same distributed computing model — without the volunteers at home. It’s what you need for applications that are so big that you could never build them on a single server.

It’s what the future is going to look like when we don’t have to install our own software anymore. That’s right, Grazshoppa. Pretty soon we’ll access all our software applications over the Internet. Google and IBM Adobe are betting on it. So is Microsoft.

Now here’s the important part. For some reason the name “distributed computing” never caught on with the press. I’m not sure why. It seems to be a perfectly logical name, but it was kind of dull and well…ordinary. It never really got the attention it deserved. The name “Web computing” was vague and equally dull. It too, quickly faded out of the headlines.

So techies, being the patient persistent type, thought up a different name and promoted the model again.

This time they tried calling it “parallel computing.” It sounded important. But the name confused people. Parallel computing sounded too complicated, like it might have something to do with the inside of a computer.

So the techies changed the name once again — this time they decided to call it “grid computing. ”

Grid computing was a friendlier name. It even sounded like it might have something to do with football. It looked good in headlines. Unfortunately, it made headlines right around the same time green computing did and people got confused, thinking it something to do with power grids and saving money on electricity.

Cluster computing didn’t work either. Somehow, it sounded vaguely sexual — an orgy of processing, cables and cords entwined in a hot server room. Nah. People felt embarrassed talking about cluster computing.

They considered “hardware as a service” but that brought up images of suits and budgets and contract negotiation. Better to avoid anything that smacked of service contracts. Big business likes to have control.

And anything with “outsourcing” in the title scared the hell out of people in the U.S. — so they wanted to avoid that word.

What to call it? Hmmmmmm.

Frustrated with stupid media people who were unable to understand and get behind a concept that is really quite simple (dividing up work and distributing it out) — those clever techies got together and thought up a name that:

1. Didn’t sound too complicated.
2. Would be easy to remember and look good in headlines.
3. Wouldn’t scare anyone.

They decided to call it “computing in a cloud.”

How clever! Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

IBM marketers thought so. They jumped right in and created a Blue Cloud.

No? You still don’t understand what “computing in a cloud” is?

Here’s a way to understand it: SETI was the only example of the distributed computing model that tech media people seemed to understand and SETI looks for intelligence in outer space — up there in the clouds.

By choosing this name, they’re joking that they’re looking for intelligent life.

So the new name they’ve invented for the press and hope we’ll finally accept and promote like crazy is “cloud computing.”

Get it? The intelligent life they seek is us, the media.

Those techies are so amusing.

It’s just distributed computing, young one.

October 8, 2007  6:34 PM

Overhead: Unconferences, like all social media, must be controlled and monetized

Margaret Rouse Margaret Rouse Profile: Margaret Rouse
douglas_welch.gif “Organizers are afraid that the unconference won’t come together, that it will be boring or unproductive. They lack trust in the attendees to produce a conference that meets their own needs.”

Douglas E. Welch, When is an unconference not an unconference?

I’ve always been a fan of Douglas Welch. Today I not only tip my hat, I give him this month’s “But the Emperor Has No Clothes!” award. Douglas writes:

Some of my best experiences this year have been the “unconferences” I have attended. These ad hoc events allow for a sense of spontaneity and serendipity that regular life often denies us. Unfortunately, I am starting to see a disturbing trend that threatens to suck the life out of unconferences — too much control.

Organizers of unconferences need to control where and when the conference will occur, sponsors for meals and other perks, bathrooms, etc., but more frequently now, I see organizers pre-scheduling the events more and more tightly. Instead of the typical “sign up wall” of a more open unconference, I am seeing schedules completely decided long before the event occurs.

Douglas has bravely asked what the rest of us have been thinking, “What’s happening to the unconference?”

I’m afraid the answer is marketing.

It was probably only a matter of time until the unconference, that underground ultra-hip name Dave Winer came up with to describe a “tech happening” where the attendees determine the agenda, would grow up.

And by grow up, I mean sell out.

Literally. Continued »

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: