Author Archives: Jose Miguel Cansado

New Foreword for Digital Renaissance

Digital Renaissance was meant to be a nonfiction essay on some of the changes our society is going through. Digital Transformation is a term very much used in business to address how the Internet, computers and mobile have blown everything to bits, and disrupted entire industries.

There are plenty of examples of large companies taken by the digital storm.

Digital photos took over film, and now smartphones are quickly eroding the market of compact digital camera makers that either create new categories, as GoPro did, or extinguish. Change is disrupting even the disruptors. Microsoft is no longer the company that powers most computer gear, also because computers now fit in the palm of your hand. Blackberry went from leader to laggard at fast as it rose in the first place. It is it not only industries and companies that have transformed. Our society is under huge change.

Social media changed how people discover things, how they share what they like, complain or fight for a cause. Narrow-agenda movements like vegans, animal welfare or even separatist and radicalism move faster than ever with social media echo chambers helping them create polarized viewpoints. With an amount of information that overwhelms people, complex issues are oversimplified. To make it worse, Media does not help with headlines that seek traffic and audience rather than truth. Conspiracy theories are easier to frame and fake news spread in a post-truth politics world.

With the rise of sensors, wearables and the Internet of Things, more data is generated than ever before, which make us more traceable and predictable. In two days we now generate as much data as all that was generated by humankind up to 2012.

Robots are coming, though not in the humanoid shape of sci-fi movies, but in the invisible shape of driverless cars or digital assistants in your phone or smartwatch. It is not a coincidence that Android gives name to the software behind so many of those invisible robots.
The key role of algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence in shaping our future is not yet fully grasped.

The future was not as we imagined it and the future won’t be as we imagine it now, yet we must imagine it in order to build it.

Digital Renaissance was drafted by end 2011 and it was meant to showcase through the eyes of a millennial the powerful changes that technology is bringing to our society. It takes some of the key elements that still today are the driving forces behind the society of the 21st century.

Through the eyes of a millennial we explore different angles and implications of technology changes and of the values that could lead us to a new cultural Renaissance of prosperity and arts, or to a nightmare in which inequality breeds populism and unpredictable consequences.
• Open-source Vs. patent protection (or over-protection)
• General interest Vs. corporate greed
• Long tail power Vs. winner-takes-all due to the network effect
• AI/robots/algorithms for the benefit of all Vs. for the profits of a few
• Stand up for your ideals Vs. go with the flow

This story is about all those elements that are part of the everyday debate among the people that are creating startups, putting ideas together, and that share values that will shape how our future will be.

It is about the nature of jobs, of intellectual property, about the role of startups and the role of money. And especially it is about the impact that each of our decisions play in the society we want to create.

Big Data & Disruption at the South Summit

4 Forces of Disruption

These are the four major forces shaping our world, driven mainly by the result of years of tremendous technological, social and medical improvements all around the globe:
1. The Growth of Emerging economies and of their urban middle class, derives in a different global consumer landscape.
2. The Internet of Things: growing automation will increase productivity, and as a side effect it will change jobs for both knowledge and physical work.
3. An aging World: We live longer, and that will bring new market opportunities and new social challenges.
4. Global Connections: supporting an increase in trade, people mobility and markets volatility.

The growth of Internet is the direct engine behind two of this forces and a significant enabler for the other two, making clear that the beginning of the 21st century will be known in History as the Digital Revolution that brought us into a Digital Era.

Disrupting Updates

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Amazing. The first night that you decide to sit down to write at your desk since the baby was born, and what do you find?

The brand new HP laptop you purchased a few weeks ago is busy installing 1 out of 10 updates!! God knows how long will it take for it to finish. And I wonder, who the hell told Windows that I wanted to waste my time updating right now!!It is ok, I say to myself. Relax, accept the issues as they come. Go take your iPad and write on it. Like in the old times, when you wrote Digital Renaissance on the tablet. The iPad is always ready and won’t disappoint you. Or so I thought, because the only grayed “waiting” icon on the iPad screen this time is Evernote! Evernote is also updating now, just at the time I wanted to use it! For God’s sake. Who on Earth decided that 22.30 is the time to update software when you don’t ask for it?

Forget the iPad! You have the MacBook Air you use for work. It was not what I wanted, because I can’t unplug the HP while updating and I can not shut the lid down or it won’t update. So I try to put both laptops on the desktop. Not the cleanest desktop, and not the most inspiring minimalist environment. And just when I was about to get inspired after the techie things were resolved…. the baby cried. What a wonderful writing session. I am going now to put him to sleep. I hope I’ll be back in a while….

I am back. It took me a while to sleep the baby. I just checked the Windows update: still 8 out 10. I check the iPad, it sure has finished… but what? Now it is not only Evernote that is waiting, the Chrome icon is also waiting to make sure I can not access Evernote from the web either. Thanks good the Mac Book Air is not part of the conspiracy against me writing tonight, so here I go.

You can only wonder how the computing industry has reached so far as to understand speech, recognize faces, propose automatic improvements to photos and videos, and yet computer still don’t get something as simple as not disrupting you with an update just at the precise time you want to WORK!!

Can’t Windows updates, or Apps updates or Antivirus updates or whatever updates stop interrupting you when you want to work? Is is that difficult to achieve? We already know that Microsoft is a true specialist in that area, in forcing you to update and restart your computer whenever they feel like that, without any respect for want YOU want to do with the computer at that time, whether it is important, critical or simply entertaining to you.

A few minutes have passed, and my iPad crashed. Dead. Now I realize the reason why Evernote and Chrome apps were stuck in Waiting was because I ran out of memory space. It seems 32GB is not enough for my apps, regardless I do not take any pictures of videos with the iPad not to consume the precious Apple tiny storage.

Apple sins with “disrupting updates” are clearly not the same kind as of Microsoft. Apple issues have more to do with being stingy. Very stingy. When smartphones continue increasing their power to run heavy software, when their cameras get more an more megapixels, 4K video, slow-motion video and so on, how can Apple still think that a 700 Euro iPhone 6 can live with a miserable 16 GB? These guys are STINGY, GREEDY.

Apple is sitting on a ton of piles of billions of dollars in cash, and is reportedly strategizing on what to do with it. Let me do one suggestion: Apple please return to please your customers, instead of starting to piss them off!

It is ok that you charge more than double the price of what the equivalent device for competitors charges, but at least do not be MISERABLE with memory.  I am pissed at Apple heavy updates eating my memory, forcing me to delete apps every day and forcing me to ignore the camera in the iPad.

If the next iPad does not come with more of the cheap memory you can buy for a few bucks, I swear this iPad that I was just forced to restart to complete those disrupting updates will be my last. As of today I would rather buy an Android device with TONS of cheap storage so that I can actually do things other than get “disrupted” by updates.

5 Keys to Analytics

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Big Data technologies and Analytics promise to unleash an unprecedented amount and depth of insights from huge unstructured datasets of infinite data. But it is not all about technology. Big data need big brains, and here are 5 keys to structure your analytics designs and experiments:

1. Questions. Without the right question you won’t get the right answer. Knowing what to ask is the #1 key success factor for any analysis.
2. Listening. It is important to acquire and capture all data that might be relevant to your questions. You need to identify all sources and make use of technology to cope with real-time data in any amount that is required to reach your goal.
3. Structure the data, so that you can model it. The model should enable you to pose diverse questions to your dataset, so that you can test different hypothesis.
4. Categorize. Find categories, discover attributes, similarities or abstractions that put a higher layer of structure.
5. Find patterns that will hold true in new situations not yet encountered -> predictive analytics

Analytics is a circular process where the analyst must constantly seek for patterns to set hypothesis and the drive experiments to validate them.

Computer scientists are interested in finding the needle in the haystack.
Social scientist are interested in characterizing the haystack.

Both approaches have a big role in data science and analytics. Data scientist must understand which one of the two they are pursuing when they design the strategy and questions to reach the goal for your analysis.

With so much data to mine for, you need the right tools and methodology to find your gems. Still, big data needs big brains because “a fool with a tool is still a fool.”

 

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Lean Analytics: Why is Big Data so Disruptive?

 

Big Data technologies have changed the way we collect data, enabling us to handle infinite amounts of data.

In the old model, with relational databases, you first define the schema for what you collect and then put data into that schema, before analyzing it with BI tools. This is how data warehouse and data mining have been used during decades. You first needed to figure out the question, then you collected the data.

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Big Data enables you to change that order. Now, you collect unstructured data first, and you ask the question later.

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Modern analytics start by collecting everything, and then formulating your question.

This is what Alistair Croll explains in his book and in the slides and charts above.

The new paradigm allows you to search for the “unknown unknowns.” In analytics, most good answers will lead to another question. Data driven decisions depend on the ability to ask better questions and then ask again.

Implications for Business

In times of rapid market changes, what differentiates your business is how fast you experiment, how fast you can ask iterative questions and measure your progress, and how fast you readjust your business based on your learnings.

These are the principles behind the lean startup, and behind innovation. The most important metric for modern companies becomes “how fast does your organization learn?”

Big Data changes the cost of making data-driven decisions. It is an enabler for a more disciplined and empirical thinking about innovation and strategy.  In that sense, Big Data analytics becomes one more enabler for disruption.

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Money & Business

Money is a by-product of success, and it is a means to achieve success. It’s not a goal.
—Nick Denton, Gawker Media