Sunday, March 9, 2014

Online Experimentation at ESPN

Michael Roberto   and   WSJ

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article today about ESPN's efforts to experiment with online video offerings via its WatchESPN app for smartphones and tablets.  You can watch games live via the WatchESPN app, but you must be a cable subscriber to do so.  What about the "cord-cutters" - i.e. the young people who have never bought cable television subscriptions, or who have terminated their cable television in favor of simply having Netflix and other modes of viewing programming of interest to them?  Those folks can't take advantage of WatchESPN.   Why not?   Well, it's all about worries regarding cannibalization.   Sound familiar?  Most incumbent firms facing disruptive threats are fearful of embracing innovations that might cannibalize their core business.  Of course, they often end up in a situation where someone else just comes along and eats their lunch, after they spent years worrying about eating their own lunch.  Here's an excerpt from the article:


To Foster Your Creativity, Don't Learn To Code; Learn To Paint


Earlier this month, Samuel Arbesman argued in Wired that the world needs more generalists, dabblers and polymaths. He notes (and he’s certainly not the first to note) that the body of scientific and technical knowledge has grown so large that no one person can know everything. And as a consequence, people tend to specialize in one field or another. This is a problem, he writes, because “the most exciting inventions occur at the boundaries of disciplines, among those who can bring different ideas from different fields together.”


To foster polymaths, Arbesman argues that more people should “embrace the machines.” In particular, by learning to code. Arbesman argues that “through code, and the recognition that algorithmic similarity occurs over and over, we can see the similarities between different spheres of knowledge.”


Creative Leadership: Why You Need To Think Outside The Box

Tanveer Naseer

People emerge or are elected as leaders in nearly every aspect of our lives, both personal and professional. While leadership does come in many ways, shapes, and forms, there are some people who go above and beyond when it comes to being a creative, inspiring leader. Thinking outside the box when it comes to your leadership style can be the difference in becoming a successful leader or one that people don’t look up to.

I would venture to say that many of us are somewhat immune to conventional leadership styles. That’s not to say that traditional approaches to leadership or management are totally ineffective. But taking the time to think about your leadership strategy and incorporate some ideas that are a little different can really affect those that you lead in a positive way.


The First Woman to Get a Ph.D. in Computer Science From MIT

The Atlantic

Irene Greif, who in 1975 became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded the research field of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). Recently retired from IBM, Greif now wants to encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. As a researcher, Greif says she "moved from these very mathematically oriented computer science areas to much more people-oriented work--office automation and human-computer interface and so on." In the 1980s, she launched the CSCW field, which she describes as "getting a set of people together across disciplines who would look at social systems and computer systems at the same time." Working in office automation, Greif says she learned that making processes too invisible can damage the social aspects that help advance work. "And that was really the beginning of the notion of who needed to be talking to each other among researchers, in order to really get things right around using computers to help people work together," Greif says. She believes female role models are beneficial to women entering STEM fields, and stresses that women should be visible at by-invitation conferences and panel sessions.


3 Women Changing the World Through Technology

Skype Blog

International Women’s Day. This year’s theme of “Inspiring Change” encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere, in every way. At Microsoft, we are celebrating women who have and will change the world through technology with a particular focus on those who are inspiring more women to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math — commonly known as “STEM.”

Heather Heenehan, “Sounds of the Sea”

Heather Heenehan is one such woman who is passionately inspiring young girls to explore their STEM interests and follow their dreams.

Jennifer Reiter, Iditarod Teacher on the Trail

Jennifer Reiter is a Baltimore-based teacher who just started her mission as this year’s Iditarod Teacher on the Trail.

Sarah Weldon, “Oceans Project”

Sarah Weldon, a cognitive neuropsychologist from Great Britain, first became acquainted with Skype when she played BBC’s ‘Oceans’ series to her classroom in the Soviet Republic of Georgia in 2010.


18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

Huffington Post

Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don't have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.


Here are 18 things they do differently.


They daydream.

They observe everything.

They work the hours that work for them.

They take time for solitude.

They turn life's obstacles around.

They seek out new experiences.

They "fail up."

They ask the big questions.

They people-watch.

They take risks.

They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression.

They follow their true passions.

They get out of their own heads.

They lose track of the time.

They surround themselves with beauty.

They connect the dots.

They constantly shake things up.

They make time for mindfulness.


How Technology Trends Have Influenced the Classroom


Between societal changes and technological breakthroughs, it’s become abundantly clear that the human brain is transforming the way it processes and learns information. While there are many discussions about whether or not this is good or bad for us as a society, it’s definitely a change.

…let’s examine which features of society (and media) have changed and then consider what we can do in education to use it as an advantage for learning.

·         The Increase of Interactivity

·         On-Demand Living

·         Self-Publishing the World As We See It

·         Everything is Mobile (and Instant)

·         Embracing the Digital Brain


Mitsubishi Planning Predictive User Interface for Cars

IEEE Spectrum

Mitsubishi Electric recently demonstrated prototype technology that predicts in-car operations. Drivers will be able to use the Ultra-Simple human-machine interface technology to find alternative driving routes, change radio stations, make phone calls, and adjust climate controls. The suggestions of the predictive technology will be based on operational history such as past destinations, previous use of the radio, phone, and air conditioner, as well as time of day, location, speed, fuel level, and current traffic and driving conditions. The technology will display the three most likely operations, but users will be able to override them. Drivers will be able to operate the system in one or two steps using a set of three buttons on the steering wheel, while viewing three predicted operations on a 44-cm heads-up display on the windshield above the dashboard. The system includes voice-recognition technology for making voice commands. Mitsubishi plans to ship the technology to automakers by spring 2018.u


13 of Today's Coolest Network Research Projects

Network World

Research labs at universities and vendors are developing a wide variety of technologies, from networked honey bees to evidence of time travel. For example, Michigan Technological University researchers have used three Internet search implementations to look for signs of content that should not have been known about at the time it was posted. Meanwhile, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed an algorithm that is more computationally effective than other approaches, because it scales in a near-linear fashion. Microsoft researchers are developing a smartphone app that can tell whether the device is being used by a driver or passenger, and the U.S. Department of Energy has invested more than $30 million to help devise systems to detect and stop cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as utilities and power grids. University of Michigan researchers have studied the timing of cyberattacks, examining the incidents from the perspective of a cyberattacker but providing information that might be used to sniff out such attacks. Meanwhile, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is equipping up to 5,000 honey bees with tiny radio-frequency identification sensors to monitor the insects with the goal of improving pollination and productivity on farms and gaining insights on widespread colony collapse.


Separating Curiosity from Creativity

Artist's Road

Can you be creative without being curious?

I find myself curious to learn the answer to this question. On some level it seems like asking if you can enjoy peanut butter without peanuts. Loads of creativity scholars tell us that curiosity is what drives creativity. But what if forces in our lives reduce our level of curiosity?

What does it take to help our creative thoughts take flight?

A company that derives its name from the word for a very large number–1 followed by one hundred zeroes–has hired as its director of engineering Ray Kurzweil, the visionary who predicts we are approaching a “singularity” where we become one with machines. Now it would be too easy to list the parade of horribles I envision from my consciousness being consumed in a global network of artificial neurons. But Kurzweil’s employer will benefit from his research in artificial intelligence because it will be able to better predict what we want to ask before we ask it. That, folks, is the future of online search.

Creativity may be the result of curiosity, but curiosity is all about asking the seemingly unanswerable question. A smartphone tells us what is; it cannot tell us what might be.


Bringing Users Into Your Process through Participatory Design

Frog Design

We've been seeing an intense pressure on businesses to rapidly make sense of customer needs and demands, then incorporate that feedback into new or existing products. For today's designers, it can be challenging to make well-informed decisions about the large and small details that comprise these products, especially when working within the constraints of an agile/scrum methodology.

At frog, one of the methods we turn to regularly to identify and incorporate user feedback into products is participatory design. Participatory design aims to bring users into the design process by facilitating conversations through the creation and completion of a wide range of activities. We create activities to facilitate sharing and conversation with users, providing them with materials to descriptively discuss their personal experiences and express their desires for ideal solutions. By doing this, we are able to work directly with current and future users of products and services, quickly discovering important criteria to fold into the next iteration of a product, service, or experience strategy.

In the past year, Erin Muntzert and I had a chance to teach our approach for conducting participatory design to UX designers in workshops globally at Interaction 13, UX London, and UX Week. Based on the feedback from participants in those workshops, we wanted to publicly share the slide deck we used in the workshops, which delves into how Erin and I plan, construct, and facilitate participatory activities to incorporate user feedback into product and service solutions.

This workshop was informed by our own practice in designing and conducting hundreds of participatory design sessions, paired with additional input from other leaders within frog's design research practice. Along with frog's open-source Collective Action Toolkit, which Erin and I helped co-author, this workshop is part of our hope to better share the tools and skills that designers use with individuals and organizations around the world.


If This Then That


Cool idea


The power of science lures viewers (and famous people) to NASA’s original videos


There aren’t a lot of things the internet loves unconditionally, but on that list, right behind cats and bacon, comes the video game Portal. Created by Valve, the series challenges players with mind-bending puzzles while being taunted by a snarky, evil artificial intelligence, known as GLaDOS and voiced by actress Ellen McLain.

“Fusion vs. Fission,” stars Casey McKinnon and Mike Romo as two bumbling technicians learning the difference between fusion and fission in a kid-friendly fashion, while McLain’s evil AI formulates a plot for world domination.

Thanks to McLain and the short’s numerous other Portal references, “Fusion vs. Fission” received huge pick-up by video game blogs, which led to it becoming the most-viewed video on the NASA Spitzer Science Telescope’s YouTube channel in just three weeks. Which is a pretty impressive feat, given the star power that Pyle has been able to enlist for his IRrelevant Astronomy series, luring celebrities in largely by appealing to their love of science.

Guest stars in IRrelevant Astronomy videos have included Felicia Day explaining galactic collisions, Linda Hamilton battling evil robots, and Cameron Diaz as actor Cameron Diaz. “We work with a lot of people who like NASA, but who also like science and education,” Pyle said. “Their hopes tend to mirror our own.”

According to Pyle, when Diaz actually showed up for her shoot, she brought with her a few of her own custom-printed “I [Heart] NASA” T-shirts.

“If there’s a mission statement to IRrelevant Astronomy,” he added, “It’s to reach out to people who might not be interested in science themselves.”


Worst. Innovation Quote. Ever.

Leader Lab

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. – Emerson

Now, to be fair, it’s actually a paraphrasing of Emerson. Or, to be more accurate, a misquote.

Nevertheless, it reflects a very common innovation misconception – that it’s all about the idea.

Andrew Hargadon has written a terrific post on this topic, which I encourage you to read. In it, he points out that since the U.S. Patent Office was founded in 1828, there have been more than 4,400 patents granted for mousetraps, with about 40 per year still being granted. Yet out of all of these, only a handful have made money.

Why? Because for the most part, the mousetrap problem was solved in 1894.