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Elevation Partners Director and Co-Founder Roger McNamee on What’s Next

Posted in Advertising, Android, Apple Computers, Apps, Computers, Futurist Predictions, Google, HTML5, Internet, iPhone, Mac OS X, Marketing, Media, Microsoft, Mobile Apps, Nature of Social Networks, Smart Phones, Technology, Venture Funding, Video Blog on July 25th, 2011

If you don’t have time to watch the video below, read this summary now.  It’s well worth the investment of your time. This is visionary.


Two Camera Views: A Crazy Italian Packers Fan In The Best Superbowl 2011 Fan Story

Posted in Humor, Media, Miscellaneous, Symbolism, Video Blog on February 12th, 2011

Crazy Italian Packers fan celebrates on the Super Bowl field – Shutdown Corner – NFL  – Yahoo! Sports.

The above story tells all of the fantastic details of this incredible “crazy  Green Bay Packers’ fan” story.  But here are the two Camera Angles you need to view to really get this story, and not with jaded view, discount it as some stunt.  It appears to have been a real coincidence and this gentleman leads a charmed life, apparently.

1.  Gio (the fan’s) camera (view at minutes 3:00-3:15):

2.  The Aaron Rodgers’ Disney commercial (Gio is in the last angle of Rodgers):

In the video by Gio, be sure to watch between 3:00 and 3:15 and you will clearly hear Aaron Rodgers giving the line for the Disney Commercial.  One view is chaotic fan insanity, the other is strangely, amusingly ordered.  Enjoy!


Jobs Takes Leave at Apple Again, Stirring Questions –

Posted in Apple Computers on January 18th, 2011

Jobs Takes Leave at Apple Again, Stirring Questions –  I have to admit that I read this article filled with concern for and well wishes to Mr. Jobs, his family and to Apple.  I hope this is a part of a therapeutic break that he is taking to get his health fully on track and that he will be back as soon as he is feeling up to it.


Magazines Pursue Tablets, but iPad Limits Subscriptions –

Posted in Apple Computers on January 17th, 2011

Magazines Pursue Tablets, but iPad Limits Subscriptions –  
I think this article really gets at a substantial criticism of Apple, especially with regard to the iPad, which is widely perceived as a product meant to deliver mostly only consumable items.  In this context, the impression that magazine publishers appear to be dissatisfied with Apple’s model, for this platform, is very telling.  I don’t think this is similar to the music industry’s dissatisfaction at all. These are very different issues, much more complex and nuanced, and I don’t think Apple can expect to control this entire transaction reasonably. Even in that instance, the big hurdle to having a legal market for digital purchases of music was the industry itself. I’m not sure this is the case in magazine publishing. What would really be impressive is if Apple created an infrastructure that allowed anyone to publish a newspaper or magazine. That might not jibe with the publishers, but that would be worthwhile. In the mean time though, I think Apple’s limitations and heavy hand may be undermining its own product and the credibility it brought to the negotiations at the beginning.

My impression on the iPad is consistent with most of what I know about owners of the iPad, who are all delighted with the general idea and Apple’s implementation, but not all are happy with the limitations imposed upon the device from a users’ perspective. I bought one as a gift, but I have not yet bought one for myself for these very reasons. Apple needs to allow more realistic usage of the device, and not be so controlled. It’s not making anyone happy in that context, and sooner or later, that strategy will backfire.

I expect that the Android tablets should shake things up and will be a welcome addition to the evolution of this market. Google’s advertising model should also bring instant revenues as well, for publishers.  In this instance, I think competition from Android will improve the entire space. This is a space that Apple almost, again, single-handedly created, but it is very possible, after some time, that they will flub this one. Not to mention that, News Corp is a questionable company to make the center of the new subscription strategy, for the obvious reason that many Apple users, I predict, will be hesitant to subscribe to a News Corp product, even for one dollar.


With Verizon, iPhone’s Flaws May Become More Apparent –

Posted in Ambiguous Language, Apple Computers, Business on January 16th, 2011

With Verizon, iPhone’s Flaws May Become More Apparent –

Let me premise my column with these points. I have been simultaneously on Verizon and AT&T for about 4 years. I do not personally use an iPhone, but I own one for a family member, and I use it occasionally. My primary personal phone is on AT&T, and my work phone is on Verizon. Generally, I get very good coverage by both companies. I’ve never experienced bad service with the iPhone or my regular phone on AT&T. There is a periodic dropped call on all of my phones, but, that has happened with all of my cell phones, on all of the services I’ve used over the years.

I like Joe Nocera, I really do.  I have always thought his finance columns were great, but after reading what passes for a technology piece, but which seems to be filled with some very poor factual assumptions, I am disappointed.

His piece reads a bit like a rant, prefaced with an obligatory, “this is not a rant”.  It reminds me of old guys I know, I’m not that young, who are not tech savvy, but want to seem so, and get very angry, when pressed on a new topic that they are not yet fully comfortable with.  I think the article displays a profound lack of understanding about how Verizon (all the big phone companies) operated, prior to the iPhone, about software and phones, and how those rules HURT consumers, and how applications work and bandwidth is used.  Joe presumes things, that seem very unlikely, without seeming to know himself that these are faulty presumptions.  The truth is, however, that many of these assumptions are made by younger, more widely known technology writers, so Joe’s not alone and I don’t mean to single him out.

In my estimation, the piece reads a little like Verizon’s advance defense (by blaming Apple)  for its fear that its own service may not pass the test, once people really start using a REAL smart phone on its network.  In other words, it reads like Verizon’s underhanded attack on Apple, before it gets the phone and is shown not to really be greater than AT&T at all.  It’s hard to sell a product though, while attacking it. Nocera’s assumption that Verizon was great because it embraced old technology (and focused on its network) is problematic also, along with the assumption that Android phones are the same as iPhones, it’s just that their users use less bandwidth… how is that possible? They are the same, but their users use them differently? Hmm… Maybe they are not exactly the same device, in function, but are just called the same, for marketing purposes. My friends who have the Android, do not use their phones the same as my friends who have iPhones, but they take comfort that they have a lot of aps that are similar.

Also, the columnist makes the point that Android, as an operating system, is available on a lot of phones since the iPhone first launched, as if that is a negative for Apple. Unfortunately, that’s the simple man’s way out on this. The marketers might have us believe this, but an observant consumer or consumer advocate would see it differently. This is way more complicated than is being let on here, and I think the NYTimes should know that, but the gaps in this column, show that the columnist may not fully grasp this commercial space at all. The unfortunate truth is that this columnist is not the only one writing about this space that really isn’t grasping key details.  It’s easy to broad brush it, and maybe that’s all the space they have. But it ends up being misleading. I’ll touch on this later, but the real challenge in this space, is that most of the columnists seem to have a perspective, and then their view is informed by that perspective first.  I do like Apple.  I don’t own shares.  But I do think their ability to innovate, despite being attacked for it for years by a certain element that is hard to describe and categorize, is admirable.

Here is one example, the most obvious and easiest flawed presumption to reference, though the article is chock filled with this kind of misunderstanding  (Apparently, Craig Moffet at Sanford Bernstein is not well informed on this technology, or is blowing smoke for Joe):

Mr. Moffett described to me, for instance, an app he saw at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which allowed parents to turn their iPhone into a baby monitor at night. That might not sound like much, but it would require the iPhone to stream video while the baby was sleeping. It would be a huge data hog. “Eventually, that kind of thing clogs up the network and starts to compromise the user experience,” he said.

Have neither of these guys ever heard of wifi?  No one in their right mind will be streaming this by phone, except maybe that person who has a smart phone, their first month and doesn’t know what they are doing – if the ap is badly designed.  Additionally, this ap will likely run on iPads and other devices, I am guessing, given I don’t know which Ap, Joe is referring to.  But, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would use it on a phone frequency.  Check this application out, for instance:  Wifi Baby.  Why would a Verizon related person or Sanford Bernstein person reference this sort of ap for Joe?  Was it possibly a misdirect? Or a lack of sophistication?

The columnist, and I say this hesitantly, but there is no other way to read this language, also snidely criticizes Apple for not redoing its product for the JUST launched new 4G LTE network, but it’s currently only available in 38 citites.  Would remaking a product, and delaying its availability on Verizon for such a small potential market, probably not global at all, be in anyone’s interest?  Probably not.  The article shows very little understanding of the challenges or issues and reads like an attack piece, and a snide piece, than a bona fide review.  For an unsophisticated reader, which means most people, this kind of attack piece can be influential.

At the Verizon Wireless-iPhone extravaganza on Tuesday — in which the two companies announced that the iPhone 4 would run on Verizon Wireless’s 3G network — Apple’s chief operating officer, Timothy D. Cook, was asked why Apple wasn’t going with the carrier’s faster, newer 4G LTE network. Mr. Cook replied that doing so required “design compromises” that Apple was unwilling to make.

They never make design compromises at Apple. They make consumer compromises. Yet consumers have always been willing to overlook those compromises so they can claim they own some of the coolest products on the planet.

That’s snide, but it also betrays such profound lack of understanding of business, of scale of markets, of technology. It makes me wonder at other pieces of I have read presuming that this same author is more sophisticated than this. Given the consumer response, and the high ratings and satisfaction amongst consumers for these products, this article seems born more of indigestion than reality.

There are all sorts of other complaints, buried in this odd piece, which seems less about the iPhone being on Verizon, and more about Mr. Nocera’s annoyance the afternoon that he wrote this piece. It’s quite intemperate.

I think the inability to surf, while speaking, is a very negative thing. That ability, is an important enhancement that the iPhone brought to calls, that will not be available on Verizon. That Verizon will control the user experience, again, a step backwards. But in the columnists world, apparently this is a step toward reliability. Ah, the reliable old phone company… not something I dream about.

Battery problems have NOT been a problem with the iPhone we use, but have consistently plagued my Android user friends’ phones. They are constantly in search of chargers, and fight over them at times. Is Mr. Nocera generalizing here? Also, most commentators seem not to understand the issue of the battery in phones. Having off the shelf batteries, virtually guarantees battery problems and short life. I know there are many who like to take theirs out, but in my experience, the biggest problems have been with friends using Androids, with off the shelf, standard batteries not designed will for this kind of usage nor these kinds of devices. Replacement has NOT been an issue. Moreover, with my old phones, even the old Palm phones, replacing the battery was too expensive, virtually the cost of a new phone. Typically, when it came that time, there was always a better and newer phone to upgrade to… This is not really a legitmate issue, for most users, in my opinion. It is something to crank about.

Without the iPhone, in my opinion, if there would have even been an Android launch, it would have failed.  I think it is hard to argue that Google would have been able to leverage itself into this space, on its own.  Google’s own initial, integrated phone, did not succeed.  But Android, as a stop gap, gave many plucky, existing phone manufacturers around the world, like HTC, a way to step into the high-tech world of Apple and compete immediately, if not on every real useful function, then on the basic hardware and appearance.  In my opinion, the iPhone shifted the paradigm for phone technology, and Android has been riding that train all the way to the bank since.  Android, is an operating system, but it gives other companies a useful tool and ecosystem to innovate for themselves.  It allows other companies to leap into competition on this playing field, while within a larger cooperative ecosystem nurtured by Google.  But, at this stage, though this could certainly change, the complete products are not as elegant nor do they have the capacity, I think, in the long-run, to innovate in completely new directions, as Apple with its iPhone and broader technology platforms.  They are all followers. The broader ecosystem (aps, media and accessories) is another matter though, as that ultimately includes both Apple and Google. I think Apple has crafted a fairly powerful combination of open and closed systems with an elegant outcome.  I do not think Apple will sell every phone, and that’s good.  They can’t, and I don’t think they want to go that broad.  Android will continue to innovate also, and serve a broader market.  The fact is, these systems will thrive TOGETHER.  There is hardly a need to bash one, at the expense of the other. Android is a great phone operating system.  iPhone is a great, completely integrated phone system.  The two are very different things, but as competing and broadly cooperative ecosystem products, they both make for a better phone experience.

As for Verizon, who knows. I think that story has been overhyped for consumers, but there is no doubt there will be big sales for Apple and Verizon. And there will, of course, be plenty to complain about, because, that is business.

I could go on… But I won’t. Read Joe’s piece above and make your own conclusions. No doubt, there will be many different opinions.


Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Leaders of the Nation’s Medical Schools Protest Stem Cell Ruling

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Policy, Public Policy Debate, Regulation, Science, Society, Technology on September 2nd, 2010

A diverse group of top scholars at the nation’s leading medical schools is appealing to Congress to pass legislation that ensures continued federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research under the NIH’s current rigoorous and ethical guidelines.  They are appealing to be allowed, with immediate effect, to resume the many research projects that have been put on hold, and possibly destroyed, by the results of the recent court ruling.

Click here to review the statement and signatories.


Should Other Parties of Interest Motion to Intervene In Embryonic Court Case?

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Politics, Privacy, Public Policy Debate, Regulation, Science, Society, Tech Links, Technology, Uncategorized on August 31st, 2010

I’m curious if anyone has any opinions on this.  Please send me a direct twitter message if you know of anyone contemplating intervention.  I’m curious why various interested parties, including States Attorney Generals, on behalf of state universities that benefit from funded research, are not seeking to intervene on this issue? Surely various universities, companies and foundations are affected just as much as Dr. James Shereley, the plaintiff in the case.  Surely these groups could come together and file a common motion to intervene?  What about interest groups related to various diseases that may be cured by means of human embryonic stem cells?  I’m not a litigator, but it seems like a means to add some more color for the judge to consider.

This is my personal opinion, but I think the judge’s ruling in this case showed very little understanding of the real stakes, and suggest that he took plaintiff’s claims about the relative states of viability of Human embryonic stem cell (“hESC”) research versus adult stem cell research at their face value rather than allowing the case to be heard before making a preliminary ruling with disastrous results for many people, institutions and potential patients.

Motions to intervene in Federal Court fall under Federal Rules of Procedure Rule 24.

I suspect that the judge, in this case, would have been less free to make such an overreaching preliminary injunction accepting virtually all of the arguments of the plaintiff, had other interests aggressively intervened.  I’ve wondered at the passiveness of the many communities that are potentially impacted by the ruling.  Where are they?  I know they are out there.  But why are they so dependent upon this legislator or that President or this agency to represent their interests?  Perhaps they are less accustomed to being activists in the interests of their fields of research or themselves than other very politicized and active interests?  The best person to represent one’s interest is oneself.  That’s the nature of democracy.  Liberty doesn’t come free.  There will always be people on another side of an issue, with passion. When both sides are represented, courts can better reach equitable results.

I worry that, to some degree, my sense of the Judge’s failing, may ultimately be due to the failing of the many parties in interest failing to represent themselves well and failing to develop vocabulary that represents what they do morally and equitably.

The pro-hESC research community has accepted the vocabulary of the interests that are opposed to hESC research, and many pro-hESC researchers, while more than adequate at this kind of debate when you hear them in the media, often still find themselves repeating the points of opposition advocates, without challenging the phrasing or the vocabulary of a certain question or presentation of what the research entails.  The advocates need to work on articulating better, what it is they actually do, and not accepting an anti-stem cell vocabulary thrust upon them that creates a picture that is, from what my research tells me, a false picture.  The media is guilty of this as well, often using the vocabulary of those opposed, to describe a process in a manner that is fundamentally inaccurate.  Note that the New York Times has still not corrected the error in its article that embryonic stem cell research is now “illegal”, as referenced in my posting of a few days ago.  How is that possible?  It’s a major publication, posting a fundamentally wrong “fact” without correction. If the error were in the opposite direction, the anti-hESC crowd would have been on that in an instant, and the error would’ve already been corrected.


Embryonic Stem Cells: US DOJ Files Emergency Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction Pending Appeal

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Legal Research, Legislation, Policy, Politics, Privacy, Public Policy Debate, Regulation, Science, Society, Tech Links, Technology on August 31st, 2010

The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has filed an emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction, pending appeal and an expedited briefing and consideration.  You can find the links to the filings here:

  1. US DOJ Defendants’ Emergency Motion to Stay Preliminary Injunction relating to human embryonic stem cells
  2. US DOJ Notice of Appeal, James L. Sherley, et al vs. Kathleen Sebelius, in her official capacity as Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services, et al.


Shocking Stem Cell Ruling Throws U.S. Scientific Community Into Disarray

Posted in Biotechnology, Dickey-Wicker Amendment, Health care, Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Law, Law Links, Legislation, Liberty, Litigation, Media, Policy, Politics, Public Policy Debate, Science, Society, Synthetic Biology, Tech Links, Technology on August 24th, 2010

Reading this opinion, and being very well versed in the science of stem cells, let me say that I’m shocked at the ignorance of the judge in this case.  His factual statements are so far off and so wildly inaccurate as to show, in my opinion, quite a bit of reckless disregard for the impact of his decision, if such a thing is possible in the exercise of judicial powers.

Hopefully, and I’m not a litigator, this can be addressed on appeal.  But the fates of many people are tied up in this, in profound ways that this judge appears to not really have fully understood.  Perhaps the NIH, in approaching the litigation, did not approach it with appropriate zeal.  I think anyone in stem cell research who didn’t try to intercede in this case, should be joining together now in the appeal process for the injunction and thereafter.  Major efforts to lobby Congress probably also have to get into high gear.

You can read the decision, here.

By the way, some of the media are reporting that the decision makes stem cell research illegal.  I came across this in my brief review of the comments for the New York Times story.  This appears to be part of an unfortunate tendency to misreport on the subject of Human Embryonic Stem Cell (“hESC”) research.  The ruling makes the NIH policy, stemming from President Bush’s first decision to provide some funding to stem cells, through Obama’s executive order, illegal.  That means that Federal Funding for research that destroys, discards, or knowingly subjects embryos to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for fetuses in utero under federal law is prohibited.  It doesn’t mean the research is illegal itself.

For an example of an incorrect article, see The New York Times:

For scientists, the problem with the judge’s reasoning is that it may render all scientific work regarding embryonic stem cells illegal — including work allowed under the more restrictive policy adopted by President George W. Bush in 2001.

I think this is a case where a journalist misheard the point of a lawyer perhaps.  The ruling affects Federal Funding for ALL scientific work regarding embryonic stem cells… it doesn’t make the research illegal.  The judge is certainly wrong about the impact of his own decision, which will possibly be embarrassing even to him, when he eventually realizes it.  However, the NYTimes, in recognizing that the judge got it terribly wrong, takes it too far as well.  It’s shocking how many sources get this stuff wrong.

One additional note, the pending NIH approval of a proposed change to the definition of stem cells may yet also have an impact in the context of hESCs.  Stay tuned.


Culture Networks: Understanding the Culture Code

Posted in Advertising, Business, Entertaining, Futurist Predictions, Futurist Predictions, Internet, Marketing, Media, Nature of Social Networks, Science, Society, Technology, Trademark, Video Blog on August 15th, 2010

In the context of my previous posting of the Culture Networks 2010 presentation, Clotaire Rapaille, is referenced quite frequently. (If you haven’t gone through that fascinating presentation, please do so now.) As a general primer on social network science and study, please see Wikipedia: Social Network.

Clotaire Rapaille is more about the organic nature of our ideas and thought processes. Apparently he developed his key ideas about marketing from, according to wikipedia, his work

as a psychologist for autistic children and studying Konrad Lorentz theory of Imprints and John Bowlby theory of attachment. This work led him to believe that while children learn a given word and the idea connected with it, they associate it with certain emotions. He called that primal emotional association an imprint. This imprint determines our attitude towards a particular thing. These pooled individual imprints make up a collective cultural unconscious, which unconsciously pre-organize and influence the behavior of a culture.

So I thought it might be worthwhile to drill down a bit into his concepts, and the easiest way to do that was to reference this fascinating 2004 episode of Frontline, called “The Persuaders”. I don’t claim Rapaille is necessary or relevant to the social network concepts, but I did find quotations from his book in the presentation both fascinating and compelling enough to want to know more. It may be that his ideas are potent via the evolution of modern social networks and the shrinkage of distance as a meaningful barrier to the transport of ideas, among people and cultures. The focus of Rapaille’s efforts is on why people do what they do, not on what they say are the reasons for their actions. In the context of understanding Social Networks, this distinction is very useful.

The review on Amazon is not encouraging, but the book has sold very well, so that review may not be an indicator of anything. The ideas are worthy of understanding. And since he was quoted quite a bit in the presentation, I’m thinking, why not spend a little time contemplating what his ideas are about? Honestly, I may buy his book to get a better sense, after I’ve done this bit of research.

Check out Clotaire Rapaille’s book The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do.

Below is a short video segment, on Rapaille, from the PBS Frontline report on modern marketing called “The Persuaders”. Only a small segment is about Rapaille:

After you’ve watched the above segment which comes midway into the program, you may want to click HERE to view the program from the beginning.

The complete program offers a fascinating insight into how advertising influences us, in many ways. The discussion on media embedded advertising, of which we very likely are often unaware, was both interesting and a bit troubling. I thought the segment on Sex and the City, and the Absolut Hunk episode, was amusing, for instance. But I also found myself disquieted by the discussion. I do often enjoy advertising as entertainment, but the suffusion of advertising throughout our culture and daily experiences appears to be driving culture and meaning in ways that undermine our sense of self and our well-being. In those moments of revelation, it might not be an exaggeration to feel like culture, where it may have once been life affirming, is dead (or dying) and commerce, the usurper king of our competitive social drives, may destroy us with all of the junk of our basest wants and puerile emotional needs.

On the other hand, given the presentation on Culture Networks, to some degree, perhaps less overt and obvious, all of our communications via commercial networks have been evolving toward this ultimate revelation: Commercial memes are taking over the evolution of our very notions of culture and society. If you don’t have some time to watch the above videos, honestly, the more interesting thing to do first, is to go through the Culture Networks presentation.