25 May 2005


You know what's a cool site? Technovelgy, which explores the technology of science fiction - which modern breakthroughs were anticipated by writers 50 years ago, which haven't come to fruition yet, and which sound like they're right out of a book (that maybe hasn't been written).

Anyway, an interesting way to "lower your associative barriers" which is a fancy way of saying "stimulate creativity." Enjoy!

24 May 2005

Personalize Your Google

Google just rolled out a new feature that lets you personalize your Google page. I added local weather, national news and a link to my gmail account, and the screen still has the elegant, minimalist feel Google has always had.

I'm a big fan of Google for a lot of reasons, this is just the most recent. Check it out when you get a chance...

23 May 2005

Oddness of Everything

George Will had a great article in the 23 May issue of Newsweek, talking about the dangers (intellectual & moral & maybe even physical) of "an excess of certitude."

It reminded me of a book by David Bodanis, titled The Secret House, which takes you on a micro-level tour of an ordinary day. It blew my mind when I was in high school (and still blows me away today).

It also reminded me of something I read in Juan Enriquez's book As The Future Catches You. In 1996 (less than 10 years ago!), scientists discovered an organism calledMethanococcus jannaschii, and concluded they belonged to a third branch in the tree of life (the other two being prokarya [bacteria] and eukarya [fungi, algae, plants & animals]. They're called Archaea, and they don't breath oxygen - they breath iron. We didn't know they existed until the mid 90's, and now that we know about them, we are finding them everywhere. In fact, they may account for one fifth of the biomass on Planet Earth.

So tell me, what do you know for certain?

20 May 2005

Tech Connect

Did you know AFRL has a thing called Tech Connect? It's basically a gateway to info about AFRL's technology - and it's also an entry point to TriNET (a joint-service technology information network). So if you're looking for info about tech solutions and you think AFRL (or the Navy or Army) might have what you need, check out the website or call 1-800-203-6451.

Pass it on... please!

17 May 2005

New News Service

Check out the newest service offered by the nice people at the Tom Peters Group - the TP Wire Service, which offers "breaking news, tracking trends and innovation."


What freaks you out? What scares you? (hint: you probably answered that question reflexively as soon as you read it, then subconsciously scrambled to cover up that answer...)

Don't worry about overcoming your fears just yet. Let's start by simply recognizing it... and not letting a subconscious, unrecognized fear of something drive our behavior without us even knowing it...

12 May 2005

Sportsmanship, Civility, Integrity

As a general rule, I hate sports metaphors, sports stories, and that sort of thing. But I just came across a story I couldn't pass up.

Andy Roddick recently lost a tennis match in Rome. Actually, he temporarily won the match when a line judge called a ball out and awarded him the game winning point. But he checked the mark in the clay, saw the ball was actually in and declined the point. He went on to lose, which cost him about $27K.

He described his act of integrity this way:"I didn't think it was anything extraordinary."

Extraordinary or not, I think it's worth mentioning. I'm glad to see there's a professional athlete out there whose integrity is worth more than $27K. Almost makes me want to watch tennis.

Disruptive Innovation

When you get a chance, you've got to check out Clayton Christensen's stuff online - he's the Disruptive Innovation dude & Harvard Business School prof who basically explains why Southwest airlines, Apple's ipod shuffle, Gen McArthur's "hit 'em where they ain't" battle of the pacific, all managed to make such a big impact.

The basic principle is that incumbents (i.e. successful organizations & companies) keep making "good" decisions and doing the "right" thing, taking care of their most profitable & loyal customers, which leads to their destruction when small, sneaky, innovative organizations come in and provide goods and services to two distinct customer groups: overshot customers and nonconsumers.

The overshot customer is me and my home computer. The past 3 computers I've purchased have all had WAY more capability, bells & whistles than I ever use (same with my cable service, for that matter). That is, the computer guys are overshooting my needs and providing me with more technology than I really want… which means if someone figures out a way to provide me LESS than the current cutting edge desktop capabilities (or fewer tv channels), and can charge less for it, they are going to get my business and eat the incumbent computer provider's lunch…

The other category is the nonconsumer. That's the spec-ops guy who's never had access to real time imagery until this new thing called BRITE came along. From the official imagery provicer's perspective, these dusty, muddy guys were not imagery consumers. But they wanted to be, and were delighted to have anything at all... and they loved that it did not require much in the way of training, money or ability. That's also me with my new iPod shuffle. I never would have shelled out $300 for a full-up iPod (sadly, I'm just not that hip)… but a low-end, minimal capability, low-cost gadget that's kinda fun and within reach of the amazon.com gift certificates I got at Christmas time… I went from nonconsumer to consumer...

Key line: "Disruptive products or services initially are inferior to existing offerings, at least along standard value metrics." (emphasis added). That's the thing - disruptive innovation does not involve going after the incumbents where they are strong, but rather hitting 'em where they ain't, like MacArthur in the Pacific. Pursuing new value metrics.

Ebay is another great example - they started out swapping beanie babies, and the used car salesman down the street ignored it because it was serving nonconsumers (who's going to buy a car on ebay?). By 2003, more than 300,000 cars were sold on Ebay. Dang.

Apparently, there are ways to see this sort of thing coming, if you're the incumbent. And there are ways to make this happen, if you're not. Read the article, and check out his books (The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution).

09 May 2005

Pushing The Envelope

"If what you're doing isn't almost getting you fired, it's probably not that interesting." - Hugh MacLeod

02 May 2005

The Illusion of Control

So many people seem to be fighting so desperately to assert control over their world - from dictators to bureaucrats (but I repeat myself). In a recent example, there's Dr. Hammer's "process enterprise" theory, which is based on the belief that control is 1) possible and 2) desirable.

My pastor recently pointed out that fear is always the result of a perceived lack of control. Not that a lack of control always causes fear (it can be quite exhilarating) - but every fear is caused by feeling out of control. Seeking to control is basically seeking to avoid fear.

The thing is, control is generally an illusion, so recognizing that we are not in control means we are facing reality. And that can be scary, but it's generally a good idea. Ignoring or denying reality is generally a bad idea.

Fear is not bad. What's important is to respond appropriately to fear. Don't let it be your primary motivator. Don't let it run your life or drive you to seek safety and control. That is, don't let fear blind you to reality.