Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Music releases us from the bonds of gravity ..."

I used to make posts about my favorite classical or modern music (see this set of posts). But this weekend I took (or was taken by) my son (22) and his friends to London to HMV Forum for two nights of amazing music.

The concerts' star was British band Current 93, and the concert was organized for its leader, David Tibet birthday.

For the readers of my blog — this was a kind of music I was not used to listen to, though I knew from my son, that it is as deep and ambitious as the kind of music I used to enjoy.

But these two concerts changed it all. I guess I will not say to much. Instead let me quote the intro to the concert uttered by Sebastian Horsley:

David is poet - and a poet is someone who looks at the world in the same way that a man looks at a woman. A poet is someone who stands outside and rises his fist and hopes that lightning strikes it.

Music releases us from the bonds of gravity, takes the most innermost part of us and puts it outside. We connect heaven with earth by its thread. No other art form or activity provides such a reliable antidote to life, just so long as we bring to it the necessary surrender. And surrender this evening you must. Music has saved more lives that God and Samaritans put together.

Rock music used to be sung by young people to offend old people, now it's sung by old people to embarrass young people.

But there are exceptions to the rule, and Current 93 are one of them....

There was also the legendary Comus, Nurse with Wound, Rameses III and others.

It was just gorgeous....

We have recorded many (beware: low-quality) videos using my plain camera. Here is my son's recording:

and here is my:

As we were told — there will be DVD edition of of this concert.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Is "Power of Pull" the Cluetrain of the second decade ?

I have been reading "The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion" in about the same time I was finishing reading of „10 years anniversary edition of ClueTrain manifesto”. And not long time after I proclaimed that the famous „Groundswell” was a ClueTrain fulfilment !

Today, I found the another concept and, in fact, another trend, that is the realisation of ideas inseminated by ClueTrain 11 years ago ...

Written by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison who form „The Center for the Edge” of the famous consulting giant Deloitte, is the book that is as important as is the „Grundswell”.

So — what is the Pull ?

„Pull is the ability to draw out people and resources as needed to address opportunities and challenges. Pull gives us unprecedented access to what we need, when we need it, even when we’re not quite sure what “it” is.

Pull allows us to harness and unleash the forces of attraction, influence, and serendipity. Using pull, we can create the conditions by which individuals, teams, and even institutions can achieve their potential in less time with more impact than has ever been possible.”

As such, pull is the opposite of push — the ideology of traditional business, organized in top-down manner. „Pull is about expanding our awareness of what is possible and evolving new dispositions, mastering new practices, and taking new actions to realize those possibilities. ”

The great value of the book lies in the very practical approach to the main theme. You can almost find prescription how to create an environment of pull in your company or organisation.

Let me name here just a few of concepts elaborated in this book. First I call triple A path: Access, Attract, Achieve — as the strategy to implement Pull in an institution or in a business. Next would be the need for creation spaces and connection platforms to help serendipity (yes — serendipity) to be a driving force of the organizational change.

The authors deeply analyze how things and ideas that are on the EDGE of the current business can transform it deeply. Disruptive innovation strategy is probably no longer a buzzword for many progressing businesses and organizations.

When it comes to knowledge — they underline the importance of "Tacit knowledge" and passion — and everything they write there about them — is deeply convincing.

The personal profiles used as illustrations to the book are well known — yet when you read about them in the context of "pull" — it is just amazing. For example, the way Shai Agassi transformed S.A.P. is just breathtaking. Or Yossi Vardi with his deep listening technique.
Or Ellen Levy — just to name a few ....

So — do you know why I call it Cluetrain of the second dacade?
The clue train has arrived, are you going to take the delivery?

The book's website is here.

ClueTrain Manifesto - 10 years after ...

As I promised almost a year ago, I read the new edition of „The ClueTrain Manifesto” issued as 10 years anniversary edition in 2009 with the introduction written by the authors of original Manifesto. This very introduction is exactly what makes this edition so interesting.

Let me however, start with short summary about the original book. When it was first published in 1999 it was like a storm for corporate marketing strategies. Long before Web 2.0, and starting with 95 thesis it predicted the revolution brought about by blogs, forums and all open communication platforms that started to appear.

We were reading it and holding our breaths — it had such a powerful impact. We were almost certain that the ominous slogan: „The end of business as usual” will come true in the next 2-3 years ...

So ... what has happened after these 10 years... Certainly we do not yet see the end of business as usual ... and as one of the authors asked: „Did the original edition of CLUETRAIN commit the Fallacy of Hyperbolic Subtitle?”

As it usually happens, the answer is not straightforward and simple. From one point of view we do have Web 2.0 and socionomics, on the other hand „Huge corporations still stalk the earth. We still report to hierarchical structures that cut us paychecks in exchange for obedience” (DW)

The events of last 10 years show that the path to the new way of doing business is paved with obstacles — and the delicate interplay of successful prophecies with false once is the essential content of the reflections upon the decade after Cluetrain...

If I was to summarize, what are the authors feelings, I would probably say:

David Weinberger — is positive and full of hope and optimism. However his matured optimism knows that we must fight to defend optimism. It is certainly not automatic...

Doc Searls — is positive, but with a grain of salt. He admits the value of growing number of relationships, he sees the potential of his VRM vs. old CRM — yet he admits that „attention economy” still grows in power — only with changed medium: „Transaction we already have. Conversation we are only beginning too develop. (...) Relationship is the wild frontier. Closed "social" environments like MySpace and Facebook are good places to experiment with some of what we'll need, but as of today they're still silos. Think of them as AOL 2.0”

Chris Locke — seems to be less optimistic. „Between the Bubble and the Towers, business cooled considerably in its fanatical whoring after e-commerce billions”. He mocks of certain events of the decade (like Oprah Winfrey and some of her almost occult programs) . He ends his sarcastic essey by a quote from Bob Dylan song: „Don't follow leaders. Watch your parking meters” :-)

Rick Levine — is perhaps also a bit moderate. „How does it taste”? He asks — because he knows we can't ask such questions easily other the net. While he notices the positives (access, data scale, usability and participation) but as he expresses it: „The details we neglected (in Cluetrain prophecy — note by MS) to address were manifest”. It seems Rick rediscovered the power of physical relations between people — and knows well that this is unattainable in the Web...

So — 100 years later — and we have quite mixed impressions...

And we must fight for optimism...

BTW, the 10 years edition finally explained the name of the original book:

„Doc was reminded of a Silicon Valley company about which a friend had said, „The clue train stopped there four times a day, and they never took delivery” :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Heidegger case ...

This is not a review yet. This is just an announcement that I started reading, the excellent book by French philosopher Emmanuel Faye: „Heidegger. The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy”. Probably it will take me some time to read it, and maybe I will be posting more posts while reading it — because it seems so important.

Of course, we know that Heidegger'sBeing and Time” is one of the most important philosophical books of XX century. And although Heidegger was accused of sympathy to Nazism — his thought continues to inspire philosophers. But, does it rightly, though ?

Emmanuel Faye says: no. He thinks, that not only Heidegger's Nazism was not an accidental affair of his life in Nazi Germany, but that his entire thought is saturated with inhuman ideas.

„Heidegger does not present a philosophy of individual existence but rather a doctrine of radical self-sacrifice, where individualization is allowed only for the purpose of heroism in warfare.”

Let's read the Preface to the book:

„We have not yet grasped the full significance of the propagation of Nazism and Hitlerism in the domain of thoght and ideas — that mounting tidal wave that sweeps up minds, dominates them, and eventually overcomes all resistance.
Against it, the military victory was but the winning of a first battle — a vital one, to be sure, and a costly one for humanity, since it took a world war. Today a different battle, more protracted and sinister, is unfloding: a contest in which the future of the human race is at stake. It calls for a heightened awareness in all areas of thought, from philosophy to law and history.

Whatever we are considering the case of Heidegger, Schmitt, Jünger (in many respects), or Nolte, these main propagators of Nazism in the life of letters have taken the time to refine their strategy of reconquest after the defeat of the armies of Hitler's Reich.”

I'm sure it will is very important book. It was just published in English. I hope for high temperature discussions...

Friday, May 07, 2010

My „discovery” of Douglas Noël Adams

I probably should not admit to it - but Douglas Noël Adams was not quite known to me, until very recently. The author of „The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” was an English writer, comedian and dramatist. He was also a musician — close friend to bands like Pink Floyd or Procol Harum.

My first Adams's book is „The Salmon of Doubt”. It is a set of posthumous Adams's writings, collected, edited and published in 2001 — one year after Douglas Adams sudden death.

The most important part of the book — „The Salmon of Doubt” itself is only a part of the book. To me it is totally surrealistic, absurd, satiric story that has — as always with Adams — deeper philosophical sense — as it describes absurdity of our life and our habits...

But my deeper attention was directed to the „Is there an Artificial God?” speech Adams gave at Cambridge in 1998 — which is also a part of the book. In that speech Adams recapitulates his views on religion. He was a devout atheist and based his atheism on logical thinking and the belief in science.

Where does the idea of God come from? Well, I think we have a very skewed point of view on an awful lot of things, but let's try and see where our point of view comes from. Imagine early man. Early man is, like everything else, an evolved creature and he finds himself in a world that he's begun to take a little charge of; he's begun to be a tool-maker, a changer of his environment with the tools that he's made and he makes tools, when he does, in order to make changes in his environment.
Early man thinks, 'Well, because there's only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he's probably male'. And so we have the idea of a god.

I must say — that is some sense I like his opinions. Although I'm not an atheist, well, I'm strong believer — I value his thoughts — because what they ridicule and oppose is not the true faith — but it's typical distortion...

However, I must also say that Douglas's arguments, as well as most atheists arguments are also very superficial...

They usually (and so is Douglas doing) build their arguments on the fact that since Darwin and all other scientific discoveries — we no longer NEED G-d's idea. Certainly — we no longer need it !

We, indeed, don't need the idea of G-d which is the last resort for our failing minds and ideas ...
But we (those who believe) don't think of G-d as the EXPLANATION — we think of him as of the "who — who is calling” ....
To all those who do not seek for philosophical tones — it is fantastic, homourous and witty book. Strongly recommended.

Suresnes @ Paris @ France, 6.15 May 9th, 2010

Monday, May 03, 2010

Dalai Lama meets western business culture

The Leader's Way” by His Holiness Dalai Lama and Van Den Muyzenberg is the book of unusual meeting. It describes the important, yet metaphorical meeting between 14th Dalai Lama (Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso) and the modern businessman who was consultant and business developer for many large corporations. The book shows how one can practise buddists doctrines in the modern world of corporate citizenship.
It shows that practicing Buddhist Perfections (Generosity, Ethical discipline, Patience, Enthusiastic effort, Concentration & Wisdom) gives enormous benefits to responsible business practices.

But what was very interesting in this book, was the sincere admission by Dalai Lama, that in the past he was fascinated by socialism and its ideas. He used to read Marx and was sure that socialism/communism was the right way for humanity happiness. He also describes how he slowly discovered the plain untruth in communism. He then read Adam Smith and his rendering of this author's thoughts is just amazing. The important part of the book is then devoted to the importance of freedom — Dalai Lama describes deep reasons why the lack of freedom cannot balance the prosperity in nation's search for hapiness. There are also some strong between-the-lines references to Tibet.
He also have noticed how important European Union „project” is in human history....

These two last thoughts of Dalai Lama, i.e. the initial fascination with socialism and approval of the greatness of EU - I dedicate to all who used to blame many people for the choices ot their youth and to all sceptics of EU - who are so many among us....

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Where does Internet goes - aftermath of Steve Jobs explication

Steve Jobs published his poignant explication why Apple will not endorse Flash. Jobs is quite right when he lists the reasons why Flash is not most liked standard. We can only support him in saying that Flash is proprietary standard owned by Adobe, so it is not Open Standard, that full web experience (including video) should not depend on proprietary pieces of code, that Flash has some security and privacy issues (e.g. Flash Cookies), that it consumes too much of processor time, that interaction model of Flash is bound to personal computer (keys & mouse) paradigm....

But when he utters his final „why” it makes my spine tingle. The problem is in the fact that Flash is cross-platform, and even worse: because it has cross-platform development tools:

„This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms.”

I'm shocked. Of course, Adobe could make Flash better, could open source it. For lack of these steps, I personally, don't like Flash very much. But what in fact is Steve Jobs saying against Flash can be easily said about HTML, and literally against ANY standard, de-facto commercial standard or true Open Standard.

The world according to Jobs is the world of software specifically written against Apple devices, the software that will run only on the devices — and which always give Jobs 30% of revenues...

Come on. This is not the vision of Open World, personal computing and Internet.

Want to see comic version of my denial? See this.


Saturday, May 01, 2010

Is the World truly flat?

The relatively short book by Jack Goldsmith and Tim WuWho Controls the Internet? Illusions of Borderless World” is absolutely a MUST for all who speculate, philosophize and ponder about Internet. It should also be read by all who hold quite naive concepts about globalization — or are sometimes against it.

In essence, it demonstrates, that contrary to popular views, Internet IS controlled by nations states and their policies. What is more, the authors argue, that this control is not only bad thing, not only it is not a censorship, but it is the imposition of law, which benefits the Internet.

The book devotes a lot of thoughts to the initial revolutionary movement for the freedom of cyberspace — the freedom from nation states governments. The analysis of John Perry Barlow famous declaration, in the framework of new, post-territorial order is amazing. We all still think of John's declaration and his EFF movement as ours ! While thinking this way we almost overlooked the DNS struggle, a fight of famous Jon Postel („If the Net does have a G-d,” wrote the Economist (1997), „he is probably Jon Postel”) with US government over the control over DNS. Not long time ago, in 1998, Jon tried to detract the impact of US government on the DNS system — but fe failed and the control was resumed, and is such to this days. We sometimes tend to forget it. Is that really bad ? Who knows ?

Technically, even with wireless and 3G networks — they are technically very (geo) localized, so not only with naming, but also with transmission — we are bound within boundaries — the fact we so often tend to forget ...

But the most interesting parts of the book deal with legal aspect of the net. From the initial successful French litigation against Yahoo (for allowing of nazi memorabilia to be sold online by Yahoo), to the incredible Dow Jones vs Gutnick case (won by Joseph Gutnick) we have a spectrum of cases that prove the one simple thing — despite seemingly „borderless” world of Internet — when it comes to content — it is in fact confined to state borders and their laws !!!

The analysis of music distribution on the net, from revolutionary Napster, through lawless Kazaa to Apple iTunes — shows the evolution toward the respect of copyright and its associated laws.

The same conclusion can be drawn when we read about eBay. Here the discovery of the positive effect of legal means of coercion against fraud and indecent hucksters is even more obvious. The facts about WHERE eBay does business are even more striking — it does not in Russia !
One can easily conclude why...

On more general level — when it comes to ecommerce itself — we observe that Internet did not remove the middleman — it just changed its kind !

The book is somehow paradoxical — it shows how important is localization for Internet, how important are physical, cultural and legal borders — but it says it is positive !

The ramifications of this book themes go somehow in a different directions than those of „The World is Flat” or „Lexus and the Olive Tree” — I guess I must again rethink it all....

Before reading it — I probably could argue against. But today....

What do YOU think ?

The review of WWW: Watch

As promised few weeks ago, here is my review of WWW: Watch.

Robert J. Sawyer second part of his sci-fi WWW trilogy (my review of the first volume is here) continues the story of WebMind — a spontaneous emergence of conscious AI-like mind on the Web. The intelligence and later consciousness grown out of cellular automata created by "lost" packages of data on the net. I must say, that I was very positive year ago, when I read the first volume. Unfortunately, the second volume does not stand up to the challenge of convincing description or plot related to Artificial Intelligence. The WebMind becomes too human-like mind with too many naive dialogs and scenes. The introduction of top secret government watchdog agency, which, after the discovery of the intelligence tries to kill/stop it, is in the aura of today's sci-fi genre (oh these bad guys from Avatar...) - and is, unfortunately very superficial. The author even did not try to elaborate on the nature of the danger for the officials from the emerging AI.

The only plot that is fine, is that mysterious one about Hobo, the intelligent chimpanzee/bonobo crossbreed. In same sense, these plot - that points us to the future, third volume, was the for me like a lifebuoy during the reading.

The book ends with extremely naive invocations to peace, humanity and beauty. Come on - that was not what I expected...

Finally, let me say at least one good thing - it is real page turner or ear defender (if you happen to listen to it as I did :-))

Macrospherology of humans. Globes - volume two of Peter Sloterdijk's Spheres

I have been reading the second volume of Sloterdijk's magnum opus for a couple of months now. I still haven't found the time for a f...