jerryking + digitalization   30

Looking Ahead After a Quarter Century Into the Digital Age - CIO Journal
Aug 16, 2019 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

* Large economic potential is linked to digitization—and much of it is yet to be captured
* Digital superstars are rising far beyond the U.S. big four and China’s big three
* Digital natives are calling the shots
* Digital changes everything—even industry boundaries
* Agile is the new way to compete
* Playing the platform economy can boost earnings
* Self-cannibalization and innovation are a necessity for digital reinvention
* Going after the right M&A is key
* Effective management of digital transformation is vital—but challenging
* Leveraging and transitioning from digital to new frontier technologies is an imperative


Effective management of digital transformation is vital—but challenging. High incidences of failure can be found across industries and countries regardless of the objectives of the digital transformation, including customer experience, the most common type of transformation.

The report recommends five key actions to improve the odds of a successful digital transformation: shared responsibility and accountability; clarity of objectives and commitment; sufficient resources; investments in digital talent; and flexibility and agility.
artificial_intelligence  digital_economy  digital_natives  digitalization  industry_boundaries  insights  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  McKinsey  M&A  millennials  platforms  self-cannibalization 
august 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’
Jan. 29, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

Recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going deep........how did we get so deep down where the sharks live?

The short answer: Technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites.

Suddenly connectivity became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous that it felt like you could touch someone whom you could never touch before and that you could be touched by someone who could never touch you before.

Around 2007, we took another big step up. The iPhone, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced before.....as big data got really big, as broadband got really fast, as algorithms got really smart, as 5G got actually deployed, artificial intelligence got really intelligent. So now, with no touch — but just a voice command or machines acting autonomously — we can go so much deeper in so many areas....DeepMind, the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s parent, developed an A.I. program, AlphaGo, that has now defeated the world’s top human players of the ancient strategy game Go — which is much more complex than chess — by learning from human play......Today “virtual agents” — using conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence — can increasingly understand your intent... just by hearing your voice.....The percentage of calls a chatbot, or virtual agent, is able to handle without turning the caller over to a person is called its “containment rate,” and these rates are steadily soaring. ....But bad guys, who are always early adopters, also see the same potential to go deep in wholly new ways.....On Jan. 20, The London Observer looked at Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, the title of which perfectly describes the deep dark waters we’ve entered: “The Age of Surveillance Capital.”....“Surveillance capitalism,” Zuboff wrote, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”
5G  algorithms  AlphaGo  artificial_intelligence  automation  books  chatbots  complexity  connectivity  dark_side  DeepMind  digitalization  gaming_the_system  human_experience  massive_data_sets  patterns  rogue_actors  surveillance_profiteers  surveillance_state  Tom_Friedman  trustworthiness  virtual_assistants 
january 2019 by jerryking
Where You Should Move to Make the Most Money: America’s Superstar Cities - WSJ
By Christopher Mims
Dec. 15, 2018 12:00 a.m. ET
Technology is creating an economy in which superstar employees work for superstar firms that gather them into superstar cities, leading to a stark geographic concentration of wealth unlike any seen in the past century.

The latest example of this is Apple announcing this past week a billion-dollar investment in a new campus that could ultimately accommodate up to 15,000 employees in a city already red hot with talent (Austin, Texas).....When economists talk about “superstar” anything, they’re referencing a phenomenon first described in the early 1980s. It began as the product of mass media and was put into overdrive by the internet. In an age when the reach of everything we make is greater than ever, members of an elite class of bankers, chief executives, programmers, Instagram influencers and just about anyone with in-demand technical skills have seen their incomes grow far faster than those of the middle class.

In this winner-take-all economy, the superstar firms—think Apple, Google and Amazon, but also their increasingly high-tech equivalents in finance, health care and every other industry—appear to account for most of the divergence in productivity and profits between companies in the U.S.

As firms cluster around talent, and talent is in turn drawn to those firms, the result is a self-reinforcing trend toward ever-richer, ever-costlier metro areas that are economically dominant over the rest of the country.
Christopher_Mims  cities  clusters  geographic_concentration  geographic_inequality  hyper-concentrations  start_ups  superstars  winner-take-all  disproportionality  digitalization 
december 2018 by jerryking
Commodity trading enters the age of digitisation
July 9, 2018 | Financial Times | by Emiko Terazono.

Commodity houses are on the hunt for data experts to help them gain an edge after seeing their margins squeezed by rivals......commodity traders are seeking ways of exploiting their information to help them profit from price swings.

“It is really a combination of knowing what to look for and using the right mathematical tools for it,” ........“We want to be able to extract data and put it into algorithms,” .......“We then plan to move on to machine learning in order to improve decision-making in trading and, as a result, our profitability.” The French trading arm is investing in people, processes and systems to centralize its data — and it is not alone.

“Everybody [in the commodity world] is waking up to the fact that the age of digitisation is upon us,” said Damian Stewart at headhunters Human Capital.

In an industry where traders with proprietary knowledge, from outages at west African oilfields to crop conditions in Russia, vied to gain an upper hand over rivals, the democratisation of information over the past two decades has been a challenge......the ABCDs — Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Company — all recording single-digit ROE in their latest results. As a consequence, an increasing number of traders are hoping to increase their competitiveness by feeding computer programs with mountains of information they have accumulated from years of trading physical raw materials to try and detect patterns that could form the basis for trading ideas.......Despite this new enthusiasm, the road to electronification may not come easily for some traders. Compared to other financial and industrial sectors, “they are coming from way behind,” said one consultant.

One issue is that some of the larger commodities traders face internal resistance in centralising information on one platform.

With each desk in a trading house in charge of its profit-and-loss account, data are closely guarded even from colleagues, said Antti Belt, head of digital commodity trading at Boston Consulting Group. “The move to ‘share all our data with each other’ is a very, very big cultural shift,” he added.

Another problem is that in some trading houses, staff operate on multiple technology platforms, with different units using separate systems.[JCK: one Don Valentine's criterion for making an investment: "Are there great installations of incompatibility that need to be linked?"]

Rather than focusing on analytics, some data scientists and engineers are having to focus on harmonising the platforms before bringing on the data from different parts of the company.
ADM  agribusiness  agriculture  algorithms  artificial_intelligence  Bunge  Cargill  commodities  data_scientists  digitalization  food_crops  grains  incompatibilities  informational_advantages  legacy_tech  Louis_Dreyfus  machine_learning  office_politics  pattern_recognition  traders 
july 2018 by jerryking
Start Spreading the News: Digital Fuels Superstar Cities - CIO Journal. WSJ
Dec 29, 2017 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Superstar companies are primarily driven by economies of scale, generally achieved through platforms and network effects. Whenever a product, service or process is captured in software and digitized, it becomes digital capital and the economics of abundance take over. The more products or services a platform offers, the more users it will attract, helping it then attract more offerings from ecosystem partners, which in turn brings in more users.....The result is that a small number of companies become category kings dominating the rest of their competitors in their particular market – the Facebooks, Googles, Twitters, Ubers and AirBnbs. Category kings generally take over 70 percent of the total market value in their category, leaving everyone else to split the remaining 30 percent.

“Cities have been caught up in this winner-take-all phenomenon, too,” noted Mr. Florida. “Just as the economy confers disproportionate rewards to superstar talent, superstar cities… similarly tower above the rest. They generate the greatest levels of innovation, control and attract the largest shares of global capital and investment.”

Network dynamics apply to cities just as they do for companies and talent. “They have unique kinds of economies that are based around the most innovative and highest value-added industries, particularly finance, media, entertainment and tech; businesses in superstar cities are formed and scaled up more quickly. All of this attracts still more industries and more talent. It’s a powerful, ongoing feedback loop that compounds the advantages of these cities over time.”

But, such a concentration of talent, wealth and economic activity in fewer and fewer places has led to what a recent Economist issue called the changing economies of geography, the rising inequalities between a relatively small number of superstar cities and the many towns and regions that have been left behind by technology and globalization.
Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  cities  winner-take-all  platforms  superstars  network_effects  disproportionality  geographic_concentration  geographic_inequality  feedback_loops  compounded  increasing_returns_to_scale  digitalization 
january 2018 by jerryking
What the Tax Bill Fails to Address: Technology’s Tsunami -
DEC. 20, 2017 | The New York Times | Farhad Manjoo.

Manjoo posits that the Republican tax bill is the wrong fix for the wrong problem, given how tech is altering society and the economy....The bill (the parachute) does little to address the tech-abetted wave of economic displacement (the tsunami) that may be looming just off the horizon. And it also seems to intensify some of the structural problems in the tech business, including its increasing domination by five giants — Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — which own some of the world’s most important economic platforms.....some in Silicon Valley think the giants misplayed their hand in the legislation. In pursuing short-term tax advantages, they missed a chance to advocate policies that might have more broadly benefited many of their customers — and improved their images, too......This gets back to that looming tsunami. Though many of the economy’s structural problems predate the last decade’s rise of the tech behemoths, the innovations that Silicon Valley has been working on — things like e-commerce, cloud storage, artificial intelligence and the general digitization of everything and everyone around you — are some of the central protagonists in the economic story of our age.

Among other economic concerns, these innovations are implicated in the rise of inequality; the expanding premium on education and skills; the decimation and dislocation of retail jobs; the rising urban-rural divide, and spiking housing costs in cities; and the rise of the “gig” economy of contract workers who drive Ubers and rent out their spare bedrooms on Airbnb....technology is changing work in a few ways. First, it’s altering the type of work that people do — for instance, creating a boom in e-commerce warehouse jobs in large metro areas while reducing opportunities for retail workers in rural areas. Technology has also created more uncertainty around when people work and how much they’ll get paid.
Farhad_Manjoo  preparation  job_loss  job_displacement  Silicon_Valley  tax_codes  corporate_concentration  platforms  income_inequality  short-sightedness  e-commerce  cloud_computing  artificial_intelligence  gig_economy  precarious  automation  uncertainty  universal_basic_income  digitalization  Apple  Amazon  Netflix  Microsoft  Facebook  Alphabet  Google  inconsistent_incomes  Big_Tech  FAANG 
december 2017 by jerryking
Global shipping boss charts course through troubled waters
August 14, 2017 | Financial Times | by Richard Milne.

When AP Moller-Maersk came under cyber attack this year, chief executive Soren Skou was presented with a very basic problem: how to contact anyone. The June attack was so devastating that the Danish conglomerate shut down all its IT systems. The attack hit Maersk hard. Its container ships stood still at sea and its 76 port terminals around the world ground to a halt. ...Skou had no intuitive idea on how to move forward....Skou was “at a loss”, but he decided to do three things quickly.
(1) “I got deep in.” He participated in all crisis calls and meetings. “To begin with, I was just trying to find out what was happening. It was important to be visible, and take some decisions,” he says. Maersk is a conglomerate, so IT workers needed to know whether to get a system working for its oil business or container shipping line first.
(2) He focused on internal and external communication. Maersk sent out daily updates detailing which ports were open and closed; which booking systems were running and more. It also constructed a makeshift booking service from scratch.
(3)Skou says he made sure frontline staff in the 130 countries it operates in were able to “do what you think is right to serve the customer — don’t wait for the HQ, we’ll accept the cost”.

He says that he has learnt there is no way to prevent an attack. But in future, the company must “isolate an attack quicker and restore systems quicker”. He adds that Maersk will now approach its annual risk management exercises in a different spirit. “Until you have experienced something like this — people call them ‘black swan’ events — you don’t realize just what can happen, just how serious it can be.”

Danish conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk is planning to expand into transport and logistics ...

....Mr Skou’s plan for Maersk is about shrinking the company to grow — a “counterintuitive” approach, he concedes. Maersk’s revenues have stagnated since the global financial crisis and the solution has been to jettison what has often been its main provider of profits, the oil business.

In its place, Mr Skou has already placed his bet on consolidation in the shipping industry.....His real push is in bringing together the container shipping, port terminals, and freight forwarding businesses so as to make it “as simple to send a container from one end of the world to the other as it is to send a parcel with FedEx or UPS”. That requires quite a cultural shift in a group where independence was previously prized.....Another priority is to digitalise the group. “It is pretty messy,” Mr Skou says cheerfully. Unlike most businesses selling to consumers who offer few possibilities to change much, almost everything is up for negotiation between Maersk and its business customers — from delivery time, destination, cost, speed, and so on. “It’s easy to talk about digitalising things; it’s quite difficult to do in a B2B environment. It’s hard to digitalise that complexity,”
crisis  crisis_management  malware  cyber_security  cyberattacks  conglomerates  black_swan  improbables  CEOs  Denmark  Danish  IT  information_systems  think_threes  post-deal_integration  internal_communications  counterintuitive  digitalization  shipping  ports  containers  Maersk 
august 2017 by jerryking
The résumé is dead: your next click might determine your next job | Guardian Sustainable Business
16 February 2017 | | The Guardian| Tim Dunlop.

The traditional CV and interview are being abandoned as firms use new forms of data aggregation to find employees. This new field of recruitment, dubbed workforce science, is based on the idea that the data individuals create while doing things online can be harvested and interpreted and to provide a better idea of a person’s suitability than traditional methods.

Whereas in the past employers might have been impressed with the school you went to, practitioners of workforce science are encouraging them to prioritise other criteria. A New York Times article on the topic noted: “Today, every email, instant message, phone call, line of written code and mouse-click leaves a digital signal. These patterns can now be inexpensively collected and mined for insights into how people work and communicate, potentially opening doors to more efficiency and innovation within companies.”

Organisations including Knack and TalentBin are providing companies with information that, they claim, better matches people to jobs. Peter Kazanjy, the chief executive of TalentBin, explained to Business Insider Magazine: “Résumés are actually curious constructs now because, for the most part, work and our work product is fundamentally digital. Sometimes you don’t even need [résumés]. The reality of what somebody is and what they do … is already resident on their hard drive or their Evernote or their box.net account or their Dropbox cloud.”
digitalization  exhaust_data  job_search  Knack  LinkedIn  Managing_Your_Career  recruiting  résumés  TalentBin  workforce_science 
february 2017 by jerryking
Center for the Future of Museums: technology trends
Thursday, October 6, 2016
The Future of Ownership

Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAMs) are already grappling with the migration of content (records, correspondence) from paper to digital, including challenges of scale and readability. Now we face an additional complication: increasingly people don’t even own their digital collections of music, books or video content—they rent, borrow or pay to play.

Content that used to be contained in physical objects (books, records, photos, DVDs) is increasing being leased to us via digital devices. What does that mean for the legacy people can (or can’t) leave to document their life and work? Instead of an historic figures’ beloved book collection, will we be able to preserve her Kindle library? Would that collection even be stable over time? Will it contain (digital) marginalia? Photo collections increasingly live on the cloud, and if a service unexpectedly disappears, years of documentation can simply disappear. The podcast Reply All recently devoted a sobering episode to one such story, about a mom named Rachel who panicked when PictureLife folded, erasing her visual record of her daughters’ childhoods. What if one of those girls grows up to be president?
trends  ownership  sharing_economy  minimalism  end_of_ownership  decluttering  galleries  libraries  archives  museums  content  legacies  preservation  streaming  on-demand  physical_assets  artifacts  digitalization 
december 2016 by jerryking
Trump and the Lord’s Work
MAY 3, 2016 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

This was a really bad time for us to be stuck. I’m just finishing writing a new book, which is partly about the inflection point we hit around 2007. In 2007, Apple came out with the iPhone, beginning the smartphone/apps revolution; in late 2006 Facebook opened its doors to anyone, not just college and high school students, and took off like a rocket; Google came out with the Android operating system in 2007; Hadoop launched in 2007, helping create the storage/processing power for the big data revolution; Github, launched in 2007, scaling open-source software; Twitter was spun off as its own separate platform in 2007. Amazon came out with the Kindle in 2007. Airbnb started in 2007.

In short, on the eve of Obama’s presidency, something big happened: Everything started getting digitized and made mobile — work, commerce, billing, finance, education — reshaping the economy. A lot of things started to get very fast all at once. It was precisely when we needed to double down on our formula for success and update it for a new era — more lifelong learning opportunities for every worker, better infrastructure (roads, airports, rails and bandwidth) to promote the flow of commerce, better rules to incentivize risk-taking and prevent recklessness, better immigration policies to attract the world’s smartest minds, and more government-funded research to push out the boundaries of science and sow the seeds for the next generation of start-ups.

That was the real grand bargain we needed. Instead, we had the 2008 economic meltdown, which set off more polarization, and way too much gridlock, given how much rethinking, reimagining and retooling we needed to do....It’s clear: Capitalism driven more by machines and robots poses new challenges for both white-collar and blue-collar workers.
Tom_Friedman  Donald_Trump  Github  Campaign_2016  GOP  populism  blue-collar  economic_downturn  white-collar  digital_economy  mobile  recklessness  automation  infrastructure  R&D  smart_people  digitalization  inflection_points 
october 2016 by jerryking
Where Value Lives in a Networked World
Mohanbir SawhneyDeval Parikh
FROM THE JANUARY 2001 ISSUE

In recent years, it seems as though the only constant in business has been upheaval...Business has become so complex that trying to predict what lies ahead is futile. Plotting strategy is a fool’s game. The best you can do is become as flexible and hope you’ll be able to ride out the disruption.
There’s some truth in that view…..We have studied the upheavals and concluded that many of them have a common root--the nature of intelligence in networks. The digitization of information, combined with advances in computing and communications, has fundamentally changed how all networks operate, human as well as technological, and that change is having profound consequences for the way work is done and value is created throughout the economy. Network intelligence is the Rosetta Stone. Being able to decipher it will shape the future of business.

Four Strategies for Profiting from Intelligence Migration

Arbitrage.
Because intelligence can be located anywhere on a network, there are often opportunities for moving particular types of intelligence to new regions or countries where the cost of maintaining the intelligence is lower. Such an arbitrage strategy is particularly useful for people-intensive services that can be delivered over a network, because labor costs tend to vary dramatically across geographies.

Aggregation.
As intelligence decouples, companies have the opportunity to combine formerly isolated pools of dedicated infrastructure intelligence into a large pool of shared infrastructure that can be provided over a network.

Rewiring.
The mobilization of intelligence allows organizations to more tightly coordinate processes with many participants. In essence, this strategy involves creating an information network that all participants connect to and establishing an information exchange standard that allows them to communicate.

Reassembly.
Another new kind of intermediary creates value by aggregating, reorganizing, and configuring disparate pieces of intelligence into coherent, personalized packages for customers.
arbitrage  centralization  collective_intelligence  decentralization  digitalization  disruption  flexibility  HBR  networks  network_power  resilience  taxonomy  turbulence  turmoil  uncertainty  value_creation 
november 2015 by jerryking
The Evolving Automotive Ecosystem - The CIO Report - WSJ
April 6, 2015| WSJ | By IRVING WLADAWSKY-BERGER.

An issue in many other industries. Will the legacy industry leaders be able to embrace the new digital technologies, processes and culture, or will they inevitably fall behind their faster moving, more culturally adept digital-native competitors? [the great game]

(1) Find new partners and dance: “The structure of the automotive industry will likely change rapidly. Designing and producing new vehicles have become far too complex and expensive for any likely one company to manage all on its own.
(2) Become data masters: “Know your customers better than they know themselves. Use that data to curate every aspect of the customer experience from when they first learn about the car to the dealership experience and throughout the customer life cycle. Having data scientists on staff will likely be the rule, not the exception.
(3) Update your economic models: “Predicting demand was hard enough in the old days, when you did a major new product launch approximately every five years. Now, with the intensity of competition, the rapid cadence of new launches, and the mashup of consumer and automotive technology, you may need new economic models for predicting demand, capital expenditures, and vehicle profitability.
(4)Tame complexity: “It’s all about the center stack, the seamless connectivity with nomadic devices, the elegance of the Human Machine Interface.
(5) Create adaptable organizations: “It will take a combination of new hard and soft skills to build the cars and the companies of the future. For many older, established companies, that means culture change, bringing in new talent, and rethinking every aspect of process and people management.
Apple  automotive_industry  autonomous_vehicles  ecosystems  Google  know_your_customer  adaptability  CIOs  layer_mastery  competitive_landscape  competitive_strategy  connected_devices  telematics  data  data_driven  data_scientists  customer_experience  curation  structural_change  accelerated_lifecycles  UX  complexity  legacy_players  business_development  modelling  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  SMAC_stack  cultural_change  digitalization  connected_cars  the_great_game 
april 2015 by jerryking
How to De-Clutter Your Magazine Pile - WSJ
By SUE SHELLENBARGER
Updated March 10, 2015.

Consciously filter your reading load, limiting your Facebook visits for industry news to once a week. When I travels, practice ignoring the Wi-Fi on planes and immerses myself in reading. I can also consumes more news and books in audio form, listening in subways or cabs or while walking....Other timesavers include reading synopses of books, rather than the whole thing. Executive book summaries can be found at Summary.com. Another site, NextIssue.com, offers access to 140 magazines via a single subscription.
filtering  howto  reading  GTD  productivity  Sue_Shellenbarger  mobile_applications  information_overload  decluttering  Evernote  scanning  digital_life  digitalization 
march 2015 by jerryking
Jobs: optional
March 28, 2014 |Report on Business Magazine |Eric Reguly
Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp - $19 billion for 55 people - shows how technological change and employment growth are becoming uncoupled
Eric_Reguly  Facebook  WhatsApp  digital_economy  productivity  the_Great_Decoupling  technological_change  digitalization 
march 2014 by jerryking
Max Levchin talks about data, sensors and the plan for his new startup(s) — Tech News and Analysis
Jan. 30, 2013 | GigaOm |By Om Malik.

“The world of real things is very inefficient: slack resources are abundant, so are the companies trying to rationalize their use. Über, AirBnB, Exec, GetAround, PostMates, ZipCar, Cherry, Housefed, Skyara, ToolSpinner, Snapgoods, Vayable, Swifto…it’s an explosion! What enabled this? Why now? It’s not like we suddenly have a larger surplus of black cars than ever before.

Examine the DNA of these businesses: resource availability and demand requests — highly analog, as this is about cars, drivers, and passengers — is captured at the edge, automatically where possible, then transmitted and stored, then processed centrally. Requests are queued at the smart center, and a marketplace/auction is used to allocate them, matches are made and feedback is given in real time.

A key revolutionary insight here is not that the market-based distribution of resources is a great idea — it is the digitalization of analog data, and its management in a centralized queue to create amazing new efficiencies.”
massive_data_sets  data  Max_Levchin  radical_ideas  sensors  start_ups  incubators  San_Francisco  sharing_economy  analog  efficiencies  meat_space  data_coordination  match-making  platforms  Om_Malik  resource_management  underutilization  resource_allocation  auctions  SMAC_stack  algorithms  digitalization 
february 2013 by jerryking
The secret race to save Timbuktu’s manuscripts - The Globe and Mail
Dec. 27 2012 | The Globe and Mail | GEOFFREY YORK.

Timbuktu’s greatest cultural treasure: its ancient scholarly manuscripts, are under threat from Radical Islamist rebels who have repeatedly attacked the fabled city’s heritage, taking pickaxes to the tombs of local saints and smashing down a door in a 15th century mosque and demolishing mausoleums...Timbuktu’s most priceless remaining legacy is its vast libraries of crumbling Arabic and African manuscripts, written in ornate calligraphy over the past eight centuries, proof of a historic African intellectual tradition. Some experts consider them as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls – and an implicit rebuke to the harsh narrow views of the Islamist radicals.

But now the manuscripts, too, could be under threat. And so a covert operation is under way to save them....The manuscripts, dating back to the 13th century, are evidence of ancient African and Islamist written scholarship, contradicting the myth of a purely oral tradition on the continent.

Many of the manuscripts are religious documents, but others are intellectual treatises on medicine, astronomy, literature, mathematics, chemistry, judicial law and philosophy. Many were brought to Timbuktu in camel caravans by scholars from Cairo, Baghdad and Persia who trekked to the city when it was one of the world’s greatest centres of Islamic learning. In the Middle Ages, when Europe was stagnating, the African city had 180 religious schools and a university with 20,000 students.

Timbuktu fell into decline after Moroccan invasions and French colonization, but its ancient gold-lettered manuscripts were preserved by dozens of owners, mostly private citizens, who kept them in wooden trunks or in their own libraries.

Today, under the occupation of the radical jihadists, the manuscripts face a range of threats. Conservation experts have fled the city, so the documents could be damaged by insects, mice, sand, dust or extreme temperatures. Or the Islamist militants could decide to raise money by looting and selling the documents.
Mali  Africa  Timbuktu  Geoffrey_York  cultural_institutions  covert_operations  antiquities  art_history  threats  art  collectors  collectibles  Islamists  sub-Saharan_Africa  digitalization 
december 2012 by jerryking
How I Scanned My Family History: Life Electronically Preserved - WSJ.com
July 16, 2012 | WSJ | By KATHLEEN A. HUGHES
Scanning My Life
A decision to digitize a family's papers brings smiles and heartache.
reminiscing  preservation  scanning  digital_life  decluttering  digitalization 
july 2012 by jerryking
Who will preserve the past for future generations? - The Globe and Mail
J.L. Granatstein

The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jun. 12 2012,

A national library is by definition national, the repository of the nation’s past and its treasures. It makes available the record of triumphs and failures, of glories and disasters, the sources for literature and history now and forever. But in Canada, for fear that the government be seen as elitist and Ottawa-centric, LAC’s priceless collection is to be broken up and dispersed.
libraries  literature  history  institutions  Canadian  archives  decentralization  heritage  J.L._Granatstein  preservation  digitalization 
june 2012 by jerryking
Innovation and the Bell Labs Miracle
By JON GERTNER
February 25, 2012

Why study Bell Labs? It offers a number of lessons about how our country’s technology companies — and our country’s longstanding innovative edge — actually came about. Yet Bell Labs also presents a more encompassing and ambitious approach to innovation than what prevails today. Its staff worked on the incremental improvements necessary for a complex national communications network while simultaneously thinking far ahead, toward the most revolutionary inventions imaginable.

Indeed, in the search for innovative models to address seemingly intractable problems like climate change, we would do well to consider Bell Labs’ example — an effort that rivals the Apollo program and the Manhattan Project in size, scope and expense. Its mission, and its great triumph, was to connect all of us, and all of our new machines, together....Consider what Bell Labs achieved. For a long stretch of the 20th century, it was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. On any list of its inventions, the most notable is probably the transistor, invented in 1947, which is now the building block of all digital products and contemporary life. These tiny devices can accomplish a multitude of tasks. The most basic is the amplification of an electric signal. But with small bursts of electricity, transistors can be switched on and off, and effectively be made to represent a “bit” of information, which is digitally expressed as a 1 or 0. Billions of transistors now reside on the chips that power our phones and computers.

Bell Labs produced a startling array of other innovations, too. The silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered devices, was invented there. Two of its researchers were awarded the first patent for a laser, and colleagues built a host of early prototypes. (Every DVD player has a laser, about the size of a grain of rice, akin to the kind invented at Bell Labs.)

Bell Labs created and developed the first communications satellites; the theory and development of digital communications; and the first cellular telephone systems. What’s known as the charge-coupled device, or CCD, was created there and now forms the basis for digital photography.

Bell Labs also built the first fiber optic cable systems and subsequently created inventions to enable gigabytes of data to zip around the globe. It was no slouch in programming, either. Its computer scientists developed Unix and C, which form the basis for today’s most essential operating systems and computer languages.

And these are just a few of the practical technologies. Some Bell Labs researchers composed papers that significantly extended the boundaries of physics, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics. Other Bell Labs engineers focused on creating extraordinary new processes (rather than new products) for Ma Bell’s industrial plants. In fact, “quality control” — the statistical analysis now used around the world as a method to ensure high-quality manufactured products — was first applied by Bell Labs mathematicians.
innovation  history  AT&T  Bell_Labs  R&D  lessons_learned  incrementalism  breakthroughs  quality_control  inventions  moonshots  trailblazers  digitalization  high-quality 
february 2012 by jerryking
Nicholas Carr on E-Books - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 31, 2011 |WSJ | By NICHOLAS CARR

Books That Are Never Done Being Written
Digital text is ushering in an era of perpetual revision and updating, for better and for worse.

As electronic books push paper ones aside, movable type seems fated to be replaced by movable text.

That's an attractive development in many ways. It makes it easy for writers to correct errors and update facts. Guidebooks will no longer send travelers to restaurants that have closed or to once charming inns that have turned into fleabags. The instructions in manuals will always be accurate. Reference books need never go out of date.

Even literary authors will be tempted to keep their works fresh. Historians and biographers will be able to revise their narratives to account for recent events or newly discovered documents. Polemicists will be able to bolster their arguments with new evidence. Novelists will be able to scrub away the little anachronisms that can make even a recently published story feel dated.

But as is often the case with digitization, the boon carries a bane. The ability to alter the contents of a book will be easy to abuse. School boards may come to exert even greater influence over what students read. They'll be able to edit textbooks that don't fit with local biases. Authoritarian governments will be able to tweak books to suit their political interests. And the edits can ripple backward. Because e-readers connect to the Internet, the works they contain can be revised remotely, just as software programs are updated today. Movable text makes a lousy preservative.

Such abuses can be prevented through laws and software protocols. What may be more insidious is the pressure to fiddle with books for commercial reasons. Because e-readers gather enormously detailed information on the way people read, publishers may soon be awash in market research. They'll know how quickly readers progress through different chapters, when they skip pages, and when they abandon a book.
Nicholas_Carr  e-books  digital_media  shortcomings  protocols  unintended_consequences  abuses  digitalization  market_research  publishing  dark_side 
january 2012 by jerryking
The Digitalization of the World - Adam Smith, Esq.
11 January, 2010 | Adam Smith, Esq. | post by Bruce MacEwen.
"Education, as a role for us, should I hope be obvious. We educate our
clients, " and "We don't just rent this knowledge out to our clients, we
should impart it so it becomes their own.
Financial/medical advisers are people to whom we entrust (one hopes) our
every secret, hope, and fear. We should serve the same function. ... We
should be able to provide them with various roadmap's, decision trees,
alternative ways of pursuing their objectives, with lesser and greater
ratios of return and reward. Hands-on personal care? Yes, because there
is no substitute for being there. The more amazing technology and
collaboration-at-a-distance becomes (what the Web, ultimately, is all
about), the more important face to face personal meetings are. The more
people you know "virtually," the more you want to meet them in person."
Bruce_MacEwen  JCK  client_management  inequality_of_information  trustworthiness  knowledge_intensive  management_consulting  indispensable  professional_education  digital_life  teaching  decision_trees  ratios  roadmaps  risk-assessment  strategic_thinking  risks  face2face  personal_meetings  personal_touch  generating_strategic_options  client_development  expertise  digitalization 
january 2010 by jerryking

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