Friday, July 18, 2014

What’s Driving Tesla’s Open Source Gambit?


Should a car be treated like a piece of software? That is essentially what Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, has done. The billionaire, who made his fortune by co-founding and selling PayPal, recently dropped a bombshell on the automotive industry: In the spirit of the “open source” movement, he announced this month that Tesla would share patents that cover its revolutionary electric vehicles for free.

CEO Elon Musk’s decision to share Tesla’s patents could spur innovation and help establish shared standards in the electric vehicle market. Still, experts say that the automaker’s offer is less generous than it looks.


The debate about "disruptive" innovation

Innovate on Purpose

If you are interested in innovation, and you should be, and have been awake and sentient for the last week or so, you have probably noticed a slight dustup in the innovation force.  Jill Lepore, a writer for the New Yorker, penned an article that calls into question the idea of "disruptive" innovation as framed by Clayton Christensen.  Since the publication of that article, many people have weighed in, on both sides of the debate.  Some noted innovation specialists have leapt to Christensen's defense, while others have been happy to knock old Clayton down a peg or two off of his high innovation horse.

Christensen based his book The Innovator's Dilemma on much of his PhD thesis work, and it's this research and the conclusions that he drew that Lepore calls into question.  For many of us, The Innovator's Dilemma was and to some extent still is a seminal kind of book - one that defines a new way of thinking.  Lepore calls into question a lot of the research Christensen uses to draw his conclusions, basically accusing him of "cherry picking" the industries and studies, and ignoring data that didn't meet his hypothesis.  Further, she notes that in many of the industries he selected for review, where the initial leaders in the market were 'disrupted', many years later those leaders are still the leaders in their space.  Was Christensen wrong, misguided or simply viewing the data in the best possible light?  Or, should we ask another question:  did Christensen set out to define a science, and a provable scientific thesis that is iron-clad, or did he introduce a new way of thinking about innovation and new product development that is applicable in situations and usefully strategically?


STEM Pipeline Problems to Aid STEM Diversity

Brown University

Brown University scientists have written a paper suggesting four research-based ideas to lead more underrepresented minority students into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, based on an analysis of the STEM pipeline. Representation of minorities in STEM college degrees and Ph.D.'s diminishes over time, with many of those entering the programs not completing them. "That pipeline we've laid? We're stuffing it but the yield is less than we expect," says Brown professor Andrew G. Campbell. "That's because it's not a horizontal pipeline, it's a vertical one. You can't just stuff it and walk away." Among incoming college freshmen, similar proportions of underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM students express interest in STEM subjects, but URM students are less likely to graduate in STEM subjects. The discrepancy intensifies at the graduate level, and again in the workplace. The paper suggests educators and policymakers should improve conditions to help move URM students through the pipeline. Specifically, the researchers suggest alignment of culture and climate, partnerships between research and minority-serving universities, critical masses of minority students, and faculty engagement in diversity.


ESPN breaks record for streaming viewers with U.S. World Cup match


ESPN metered market numbers for yesterday's 12 p.m. match between the U.S. and Germany got a 6.3 rating, including an hour of pregame starting at 11 a.m. That's great, considering the game kicked off in the middle of a day and much of the viewership would have been in workplaces.


Indeed, the sports network's digital platform, WatchESPN, got so many concurrent viewers—a peak of 1.7 million, which breaks the platform's record—that the digital edition of the game sputtered and died for quite a few folks who wanted to contribute to that number. Still, that's more peak concurrents than the Super Bowl. Viewership on Univision's digital platform peaked around 750,000.


Fast nationals for ESPN and overnights for Univision are not yet available, but the digital explosion suggests that networks and digital video providers can ill afford to buy data that doesn't include advertisements delivered in the workplace. Whether people are watching on their lunch breaks or surreptitiously in a tiny window when the boss isn't looking, it's become clear that if you're sitting in front of a computer all day with what is probably a faster Internet connection than you've got at home, you're going to watch TV.


Microsoft Makes Bet Quantum Computing Is Next Breakthrough

New York Times (may require free registration)

Microsoft is exploring a new approach to quantum computing based on braiding particles called anyons to form the building blocks of a supercomputer. Anyons are described as quasiparticles that exist in only two dimensions rather than three. Microsoft's "topological quantum computing" involves precisely controlling the motions of pairs of subatomic particles as they braid themselves around one another to control entangled quantum bits. This subatomic particle braiding process would in theory weave together a powerful computing system, with the mathematics of particle motions capable of correcting the most elusive errors facing quantum computer designers. However, scientists believe this topological approach is risky, because the type of anyon particle needed to create qubits has not been conclusively proven to exist. To address this, Microsoft is investing in academic research groups exploring a long-hypothesized class of subatomic particles known as Majorana fermions. If the existence of the Majorana can be proven, the particles could likely be used to generate qubits for topological quantum computing. The most compelling evidence the particles exist was presented in 2012 through Microsoft-backed research at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. While acknowledging they have not yet produced a working prototype of the basic element of their system, Microsoft researchers are considering how to build a prototype if efforts to create the qubits succeed.


Exploding the 10,000 hours myth - it's no guarantee for greatness

BPS Research Digest  

Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson has studied elite performers in music, chess and sport for decades, and he says the main distinguishing characteristic of experts is the amount of deliberate practice they've invested - typically over 10,000 hours.

This is painstaking practice performed for the sole purpose of improving one's skill level. Best-selling authors like Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Matthew Syed and others, have taken Ericsson's results and distilled them into the uplifting message that genius is grounded almost entirely in hard work.

But now a team led by
David Hambrick have published a forceful challenge to the 10,000 myth. "We found that deliberate practice does not account for all, nearly all, or even most variance in [elite music or chess] performance," they write.

The researchers looked for studies into chess players that provided information on people's highest ability level achieved and their past history of practice. They found six studies supplying this information, published between 2005 and 2012, and involving collectively over 1000 international players.


The Man Who Saw Time Freeze


At BBC Future, David Robinson interviews a patient who saw drops from a shower appear like slowed-down bullets in the Matrix movie. One day, a man saw time itself stop, and as David Robson discovers, unpicking what happened is revealing that we can all experience temporal trickery too. It started as a headache, but soon became much stranger. Simon Baker entered the bathroom to see if a warm shower could ease his pain. “I looked up at the shower head, and it was as if the water droplets had stopped in mid-air”, he says. “They came into hard focus rapidly, over the course of a few seconds”. Where you’d normally perceive the streams as more of a blur of movement, he could see each one hanging in front of him, distorted by the pressure of the air rushing past. The effect, he recalls, was very similar to the way the bullets travelled in the Matrix movies. “It was like a high-speed film, slowed down.”


5 Reflections on Innovation Talent

Stefan Lindegaard

Here you get 5 reflections on this in the context of innovation.

       Future versus past: What are the traditional competencies that innovators were hired for in your organization?

       Adaptability is key – but in what direction?: Organizations – as well as the talent – must know what they must adapt towards.

       Future innovation leaders create communities.

       Build the right conditions and frameworks: There are no blue prints or off-the-shelf solutions on how to make innovation work in big companies.

·         • Future innovators are intelligent in many ways: It’s no longer enough just to be strong on technology or products; you also need to understand the value that other people and functions bring to the innovation process.


Massimo Vignelli & organizing information

John D Berry

When Massimo Vignelli died last month, the obituaries and remembrances all mentioned his famous 1972 map of the New York City subway system. The New York Times, of course, spent a good deal of ink and pixels on the subject. In retrospect, everyone keeps talking about how confusing that map was to people at the time, implying that it may have been a brilliant design object but that it was a failure as a navigational tool. That’s not what I remember.

The maps we used before 1972 were already highly stylized; they were really diagrams, not maps, despite the nod to geography in the background shapes of the city’s waterways and landforms. The 1966 subway map, was already nothing like a realistic map; the lines in the outer boroughs were compressed and condensed, while Manhattan was shortened and fattened, not reflecting the actual geography at all.

Strangely, many of the people who complained about the 1972 Vignelli subway map would be perfectly content to use the equally abstract London tube map, which was introduced decades before New York’s attempts. Nobody in London would claim that the tube map gives you any idea of the layout of the city; but it’ll get you from station to station within the system brilliantly. The 1972 NYC subway map did the same.


The Science of Laughter with Sophie Scott


Video of the cognitive neuroscientist speaking at London's Royal Institution.


Want a World Cup Retweet? Say You'll Kiss the Queen

Wall Street Journal

This World Cup is shaping up to be the biggest-ever global event for social media.

Mario Balotelli Had 180,000 People Retweet His Message

Going into a key World Cup match last Friday, Italy's Mario Balotelli made a request: he wanted a kiss from Queen Elizabeth II if his team beat Costa Rica, which would have kept England's chances for advancing alive.

He didn't get that smooch. Costa Rica upset Italy 1-0, bouncing England from the tournament.

But what the Italy's star player did accomplish was getting 180,000 people to retweet his message, generating even more buzz for a game that spawned 3.2 million tweets.

The World Cup in Brazil is shaping up to be the biggest-ever global event for social media. Facebook said a total of 141 million users posted 459 million interactions to their site during the first week of the World Cup. That's more people than posted during this year's Super Bowl, the Oscars and the Sochi winter Olympics, combined.



How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day


What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? For many of us, checking email or listening to voice mail is practically automatic. In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day. Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage. They are the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub.

A better approach is to begin your day with a brief planning session. An intellectual mise-en-place. Bourdain envisions the perfect execution before starting his dish. Here’s the corollary for the enterprising business professional. Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?

This exercise is usually effective at helping people distinguish between tasks that simply feel urgent from those that are truly important. Use it to determine the activities you want to focus your energy on.

Then—and this is important—create a plan of attack by breaking down complex tasks into specific actions.

Productivity guru David Allen recommends starting each item on your list with a verb, which is useful because it makes your intentions concrete. For example, instead of listing “Monday’s presentation,” identify every action item that creating Monday’s presentation will involve. You may end up with: collect sales figures, draft slides, and incorporate images into deck.

Studies show that when it comes to goals, the more specific you are about what you’re trying to achieve, the better your chances of success. Having each step mapped out in advance will also minimize complex thinking later in the day and make procrastination less likely.


What it Takes to be Excellent

Leadership Now

The Bleacher Report created this well done video: Cristiano Ronaldo—Greatness Awaits. It’s an inspiring look at what it takes to be excellent—at anything. The video concludes with:

And legends aren’t born from mediocrity. They are born from excellence. They are born from being the best. From being the hardest working. Legends are born from failure. They are born from falling down time and time again and having the grit to get back up again. Legends are born from adversity. They are forged in the crucible of struggle. Heroes come and go. But legends, legends live forever.


Is There a Crisis in Computer-Science Education?

Chronicle of Higher Education

Mother Jones editor Tasneem Raja recently wrote a report on computer science education trends in the United States and found the country graduated proportionally fewer computer science majors in 2011-12 than in 1985-86. In 1985-86, 4.3 percent of college graduates received computer science degrees, compared to just 2.6 percent of graduates in 2011-12. However, the report also found a steady fluctuation in interest among undergraduates and graduates in computer science. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, many elementary, middle, and high schools taught computer science programming to students, according to University of Oregon professor Joanna Goode. However, "as the PC revolution took place, the introduction to the CD-ROMs and other prepackaged software, and then the Internet, changed the typical school curriculum from a programming approach to a 'computer literacy' skill-building course about 'how to use the computer,'" Goode says. In addition, fluctuations in college-degree attainment are often connected to changes in the job market in certain industries. The peak in computer science degrees came in 1985, about four years after the introduction of IBM's first personal computer and the Apple II. Similarly, a second wave of computer science graduates came in the early 2000s, about four years after the dot-com bubble. The latest data indicates the U.S. currently is in the middle of another rise in interest in computer science at the college level, according to Raja.


Coming Soon to Walmart: A New Way to Find Products from Women Entrepreneurs      

Business Week

Walmart will soon sell goods bearing a logo signaling the product was made by a woman-owned business. Retail labels are full of signals designed to appeal to shoppers’ preferences and values: Made in America, gluten-free, fair trade, or kosher. Soon, shoppers will be able to look for a new one: A small, circular symbol indicating that the company behind the product is owned by women.


The logo is the work of two nonprofits and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), which, beginning in September, will sell products with the stamp ranging from lingerie to salsa. The retail giant pledged in 2011 to source $20 billion of goods by 2016 from women-owned businesses in the U.S.


“People are looking for reasons to feel good about the company they’re buying from,” says Pamela Prince-Eason, chief executive officer of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Her group, along with WEConnect International, certifies businesses seeking contracts earmarked for women-owned businesses. Any business that gets the stamp of approval from either organization can use the logo, Prince-Eason says.


33 Entrepreneurs Share Their Biggest Lessons Learned from Failure

Business Blog on The Huffington Post

A successful career is like a rollercoaster with many ups and downs, whether you're an employee or an entrepreneur. Understanding how to maintain your success and move past your failures can help you lead a more productive and fulfilling career.


To help provide some insight on how to navigate a career you're proud of, I've asked 33 tech entrepreneurs to share some of their biggest lessons learned from their own failures.

1. Welcome detours and failures with open arms.

2. A successful business requires 100% attention, everything else is a distraction.

3. Your company's focus comes with trial and error.

4. Mistakes will surface new opportunities.

5. Agree upon the direction of your company from the beginning with key stakeholders.

6. Use your negative experiences to regroup.

32. Success isn't necessarily found by being an employee.

33. Be patient and adjust on the fly.


Brazil-Chile World Cup Match Breaks Twitter Record


RIO DE JANEIRO — Nervous Brazilian soccer fans took to Twitter to breathe a collective sigh of relief as the final, tension-filled moments of a penalty shootout against Chile broke an all-time record for online buzz during a live event.

Almost 389,000 tweets were generated in the minute after Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara’s penalty shot hit the right post and allowed the five-time World Cup champion to avoid an early exit from the tournament that it’s hosting for the first time since 1950.


That broke the previous mark set during this year’s Super Bowl. About 382,000 tweets were sent just after the Seattle Seahawk’s Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, according to data compiled by the microblogging site.


But don’t count America’s pastime out just yet.